My Kingdom for the Princess
My Kingdom for the Princess is a casual resource management/building game from Nevosoft. Mixing elements from simulation titles as well as borrowing from the time management genre, the game puts a big casual gameplay hat over itself and delivers a deceptively linear resource management experience with a surprising amount of strategy. Don't let the fairy tale setting and simple premise fool you, My Kingdom for the Princess is not a simple kids' game.
While Princess Helen was visiting her uncle, King Sigmund, a monstrous tornado rocked the land, destroying all but his castle and waking the cruel dragon Firemouth. To make matters worse, Helen's father was struck by lightning and now hangs on to his life by a thin strand. The Princess must get back to her kingdom, but with the roads and villages destroyed, it's nearly impossible to travel. Enter you, young knight, tasked with escorting the princess across the land, repairing the kingdom as you go. And King Sigmund has promised you a castle of your own if you're successful. It's a fairy tale beginning that depends upon you for the fairy tale end.
My Kingdom for the Princess uses a simple resource loop to ensure the game stays dynamic. As their name suggests, workers do all the work, dashing across the cobblestone paths at the slightest click from your mouse. They can remove obstructions from the path, gather resources, and make repairs. Some of these jobs require wood, and workers always need food to do their duty. Later, you'll have a third resource to think about: gold. Making sure you have enough of each, especially early in each level, is the key to survival.
Resources can be gathered by picking up random drops from around the map or by constructing specific buildings that bestow resources every turn. Sawmills, for example, give one wood every game minute, while farms do the same for food. Upgrading your cabin allows you to utilize additional workers, an invaluable resource that lets you do multiple tasks as the same time. Which building you spend your precious wood constructing first is all part of the strategy.
At the bottom of the screen you'll notice a meter that fills up as time goes by. This is your bonus meter, a neat little device that allows you to unleash a special power when it's charged. These bonuses include a temporary new worker, faster worker movements, bonus resources, and much more. It's an excellent addition to the game that lends a more arcadey feel to the experience.
Each level has a small set of goals displayed at the top of the screen. As with most resource management/building games, these tend to be fairly simple. Most of the time you'll naturally accomplish them as you move around the map and explore every turn in the road. If you complete the level before the sun sets (shown by the meter in the top left of the screen), your future castle will get an upgrade. It pays to be prompt!
Analysis: My Kingdom for the Princess is dangerous. Dangerous because it's got that "just one more level" quality of addictiveness. Each stage is slightly more complex than the last, introducing new buildings or branching paths on the map, forcing you to adapt your strategy just a bit. Collecting resources and continuing your march across the map is all part of the hook!
Your first (and most important) decision in each level is to decide which order to do your tasks in and which path to clear first. Often you'll have the choice of building several structures which may or may not be one of your tasks for the stage. Take a look at the map before you start clicking, see where the easy resource deposits are and work towards them first. Amassing a pool of wood and food early on will be your ticket to victory.
The only shortcoming in this game is slight and involves the interface. One crucial component in any time management game is the ability to chain actions together by forming a queue. My Kingdom for the Princess doesn't emphasize the time limit so much, but waiting for a worker to clear some branches so you can click on the item behind it seems like a waste of time.
My Kingdom for the Princess gets the casual side of building/resource management games right. What looks like a straightforward design actually opens up a wide variety of strategies. Between that and the game's charming visuals/setting, you'll have a hard time putting this one down.