There are a handful of great PlayStation properties of which I’d love to see more. Parappa The Rapper, Medievil, Heavenly Sword – all games I could see becoming important first-party franchises if given the opportunity. A more likely, lesser known title to fit this bill is Fat Princess. At least, I thought so until playing Fat Princess Adventures (FPA). The wacky little strategic team-based game on PS3 presented some surprisingly unique and interesting ideas. What if instead of capturing a flag, you captured a human? And what if you could feed that human cake, cause them to bloat to obesity and make them harder for the enemy to kidnap as a result? These are the questions Fat Princess answered, and questions Fat Princess Adventures foregoes asking entirely.
Adventures isn’t the competitive team game its precursor was, you see, but a Diablo-style hack and slash loot-grab. It’s not a terrible idea, by any means. My first impressions were absolutely positive, in fact. Customizing your own little man or woman, collecting upgradable loot and swapping between four playable classes is pretty fun. After about 15 minutes or so, though, it starts becoming clear that this is all this game is. Optional quests and gear upgrades try to create the illusion of depth, but I was always aware that all I was doing was heading towards a way-point and mashing buttons.
The monotonous combat is to blame for the disappointingly bland and uninteresting game that Fat Princess Adventures is. Each of the four classes has a primary and secondary attack. For example, a warrior has a standard sword swipe and a guard-breaking shield bump, while the archer can shoot arrows or strike with a dagger. The absence of any kind of evade means your best strategy is to constantly run around, locked on to enemies. The lack of any combos, or enemy types that take specific strategy to take down, mean you might as well just mash your primary attack. I rarely had reason to do anything other than rotate the left analogue stick and tap the square button. The on-screen result didn’t make that any more exciting than it sounds, either.
I questioned whether Fat Princess Adventures (unlike Fat Princess on PS3) was intended for young kids. It’s mind numbingly boring to me as someone who could be playing something infinitely better, but maybe the young ones would be happy enough with the colourful, admittedly enjoyable setting. Here’s the thing, though; the game features unmissable gore, with blood often covering a good portion of the screen. You can turn it off, thankfully, but it seems like an oversight to not present players with the option before beginning, rather than having them drill into the options screen. There’s some salty language here and there, too, and an extremely frustrating difficulty spike at the end of the game. I don’t think FPA was intended for children, and I don’t know that it could be particularly enjoyable to – well – anyone.
FPA is a pretty average looking game, but even then, the art direction is a high point. Put it side by side with its predecessor from over five years ago, though, and I can’t imagine many would consider it an improvement. The wonderful, vivid cartoon style of the PS3 game is sorely missed here, where plain, smooth models make up the world. If Adventures had, at least, looked like a Fat Princess sequel in current gen, it’d be a lot easier to struggle through the incessant, mindless gameplay.
Fat Princess Adventures isn’t a bad game. Everything works; the game controls well and runs well enough. It’s just so boring. I can’t recommend a game that felt like a waste of my time almost the whole way through, even from a franchise that, in concept, I love. I hope Fat Princess returns, and I hope it builds on the solid groundwork laid by the PS3 original. Until then, I’d leave this one alone.