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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King - My Life as a King
What's so good about all this is that the game has its own relaxed pace, and what at first seems like a very simple kingdom management sim turns into a surprisingly rich and deep affair. In terms of feel it's a bit like the cult-classic Harvest Moon series, but with a bit more action and a slightly more urgent pulse. The smaller scale keeps things down to earth, and while the game surrounds you with quirky characters typical of the Crystal Chronicles series, most taking up an advisory role, it's not long before your adventurers develop personalities as well.
In the Andrews household Mark is renowned as a solid, no-nonsense hero, Iago is the guy who runs away when the going gets tough, while Ben is the black mage to go to when you want results. Your experiences will differ, but that's all part of the fun.
On top of all this, My Life as a King even packs in an over-arching story, with the game divided into chapters that take you through the struggle to establish the kingdom, solve the mystery of your missing father and take on an evil dark lord. If it's all slightly clichéd - and it is - then it gets past that with a knowing charm and a wit pitched
And that last bit is important. If you're a battle-scarred veteran of a dozen PC strategy games then My Life as a King probably isn't for you. You'll feel constrained by the number of buildings you can build, the number of subjects you can manage and the lack of direct control over the adventurers while they're out on quests.
The visuals, too, will be off putting to some. My Life as a King looks like a decent Gamecube game (which is more than many full-priced Wii games can say) and makes good use of the visual style Square-Enix has built up in previous Crystal Chronicles games. It's short on spectacle, but bright and lively, and watching buildings erect magically always gives you a warm glow of satisfaction. It is, however, all rather cute and more than a little twee. If that makes you gag, stay away.
But for the more casual or younger gamer - i.e. the Wii's biggest audience - it all works brilliantly. Time and time again I've been impressed by how well Square-Enix has retooled a genre to make it appeal to a new audience, giving them just enough to do then slowly drip-feeding in more detail and complexity to keep them interested. The cycle of exploring dungeons, unlocking new buildings and building your heroes is compulsive, and you'll find it hard to tear yourself away once a few hours have effortlessly passed.