Fat Princess Adventures

Regardless of whether or not you cared for the aesthetic, Fat Princess tried to do something original with a very tried and true multiplayer concept. Changing the flag in a Capture the Flag game to a monarch with a variable weight and allowing you to switch classes practically at will proved, at least to me, that it was worth putting a couple of hours in, while the bright colors, over the top announcer, and cutesy gore made it easy to feel good about my decision.

The next game in the Fat Princess saga, if we can call it that, seemed to follow the same general guidelines. Take a well worn genre, in this case the Action RPG, apply the bright colors, role swapping and cutsey gore, then reap the rewards of a well crafted, fairly casual take on something that most ARPG enthusiasts pour the equivalent of months or years into. It all would have gone according to plan, except for the tiniest little flaw: Fat Princess Adventures is missing nearly everything that makes an ARPG worth playing.

Now on the surface, FPA looks like it checks all the boxes. You, as well as a group of friends should you choose to bring them, embark on a journey to do something. You accomplish this by killing all manner of people, places, and things, following each story beat to the next while collecting gobs of loot before doing it all again, following less story and collecting more gobs. Is this an absurd simplification of the game? Yup. But I tell you that in the 6 hours I played, I would be hard pressed to tell you what I was doing or why I was doing it.

In fact, I would do one better and say that the minute-to-minute action of Fat Princess Adventures is pretty poor all around. Your character gets to pick from one of four classes, which, like their previous game, can be switched out whenever you have the inclination at an appropriate “hat checkpoint.” Each class determines which weapons you use and how many hearts you have in your life pool; the warrior tools along with his sword and shield, dealing out punishment up close with the largest health total, while the other melee class, the Engineer, has less life but more options in a ranged, secondary bomb attack.

The ability to swap back and forth is a great way to test out the classes and determine their capabilities. Where it falls apart is that you only need about two minutes with each class to see what they can do. Despite having a leveling system, there is no progression for the classes at all. No different abilities, no alternate builds. Instead, FPA mixes the experimentation that normally accompanies leveling classes and new abilities by tying all unique effects to it's loot system. Each class has a set number of pieces of loot that can drop, with each fitting into a slot, like main weapon, or hat.

The neat part about this is that each piece's visual style goes a long way into describing what it does. Want to shoot poison arrows? You should equip the bow dripping with poison. Want to randomly turn enemies into a chicken? Grab the Engineer's chicken bomb and go to town. In the visual department, these items really shine, and do an excellent job of enforcing Fat Princess's cutsey gore aesthetic. If you like a piece, you can even make that piece better by upgrading it with the gold you find either off enemies, or by auto selling any duplicate pieces of loot you receive.

The either/or proposition when dealing with loot, both with the selling of the additional pieces and the manual upgrading, robs the system of any of its inherent mystery, turning the whole process into something rather rote. In fact, rote goes particularly far in describing just about all of Fat Princess Adventures. Almost nothing about it stretches beyond the check boxes for what's required in your standard action RPG.

I was tempted to end that last paragraph without the "almost" qualifier, but I feel compelled to mention the rather exceptional boss fights. While each is more then capable of being conquered alone, these are perhaps the only part of Fat Princess Adventures that felt truly deserving of a rag tag group of overly cute death munchkins. My favorite fight by far involved a large goblin/troll, who could only be weakened by having him charge through an electrified puddle of water, which was only electrified when you managed to catch a chicken and place it on a treadmill. The fight starts with a handful of chickens around the arena, but quickly devolved into chaos when those died and we were forced to improvise by using a polymorph potion to transform some of the goblins that came to help their champion into chickens, and then rush them onto the treadmill before they turned back. It highlighted what this studio was capable of producing, while also casting an impressive shadow over the rest of the world's mundanity.

Beyond those moments, there's nothing else I can recommend about this title. If you are looking for a cheap way to spend a few hours with some friends, and want something light enough to tear through and easy enough to put down when you've had your fill, you might find some enjoyment here. Otherwise, I'd look elsewhere.

Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!