Entertainment can be shallow, and sometimes we prefer it that way. Over-the-top, explosive action movies are exciting, and whether we like to admit it or not, a well placed fart joke can be hilarious. Relatively simple games can also be great; a well dressed adventure with focused gameplay sounds like an attractive diversion from today’s large scale, complex adventures.
However, with dull combat and a poor sense of humor, Fat Princess Adventures fails to surface above its shallow setup. It’s a top-down hack-and-slash game, where you and three other players battle hordes of enemies and complete simple quests. The adventure takes you from forests to the grimy deck of a pirate ship, all in the pursuit of saving the world. Along the way, you collect loot to beef up your posse and eat cake when you need a boost of energy. The story picks up where the original Fat Princess left off, with The Red and Blue Kingdoms united to form Great Bitten. Shortly after this union, the Bitter Queen emerges, threatening to destroy everything sweet, including the kingdom, its princesses, and their beloved cake.
Despite Fat Princess Adventures’ comical bend, its dialogue and characters are decidedly unfunny. Cutscenes feel needlessly long, with streams of jokes that consistently miss the mark. The writing leans on lazy referential comedy, with characters who primarily quote viral videos, memes, and television shows, to the game’s detriment.
The biggest problem with Fat Princess Adventures, however, is its combat. Even for a game that revolves around classic hacking and slashing, it’s surprisingly shallow, with only two attacks per class. The melee-focused Engineer swings a hammer and throws explosives, while the Archer bears the obvious bow and a small blade for close encounters. Whichever class you choose, the gameplay loop is the same: You run around, attack anything that moves, and fill up the terribly-named Awesome Sauce meter. Once that’s full, you can activate a temporary phase that allows you to hit harder and move faster than usual. It’s an unimaginative system that, at best, gets the job done. Earning upgraded weapons is the one thing that makes combat occasionally satisfying, if only because it allows you to get through it faster.
Combat doesn’t always have to be deep to be enjoyable; sometimes the thrill of tense battles brought on by well-orchestrated animations and sound effects can be enough to keep you enthralled by a game. Here, again, Fat Princess Adventures fails to deliver; there’s no sense of impact during combat. It’s not always clear when you’ve struck an enemy, and vice versa. I died several times without realizing how or why, which immediately diminished any enjoyment I was experiencing.
Boss fights occasionally offer interesting twists by throwing unique mechanics into the mix. In one encounter, you have to grab chickens and put them in a hamster wheel-like contraption that charges a section of the floor with electricity in order to inflict damage to the boss. Another foe is the host of a cooking reality show who runs off stage to be interviewed between combat phases. These conceits make for the most exciting moments in the game, but they’re still troubling. Frustratingly, regular enemies are thrown at you during these fights, bogging down the imaginative setups with unnecessary distractions.
Side quests are another example of Fat Princess Adventures’ disappointing simplicity. They rarely amount to anything more than glorified fetch quests where you talk to a quest giver, go somewhere to talk to someone or get an item, and return to Point A.
Simple as your objectives may be, there are times when the in-game maps hinder your progress; the full map doesn’t always coincide with the directions on the minimap, forcing you to double-take. You could be facing North according to the minimap, but then facing East when you pull up the full version. It makes no sense and causes a lot of confusion when traveling towards objectives in large areas.
Despite the unwieldy interface, the game looks great in places, with a variety of beautiful touches. Environments beam with colors, and the enemies look and sound appropriately nefarious. The soundtrack fits the tone of each area and there are a few memorable songs scattered throughout.
Fat Princess Adventures can be played with up to three other people, locally or online, and both experiences have the same unfortunate constraint: everyone in your party has to fit on one in-game screen. With four people sharing one TV, that makes sense, but not so when everyone playing online has their own TV to look at. This restriction is most frustrating when you’re trying to go in a different direction than your teammates for the sake of efficiency during a quest.
When playing online, players can replay chapters with different objectives in the Grindhouse mode. It randomizes where you’ll go, what you’ll do, and how you’ll do it, and then pits players against each other in a friendly competition. You could be sent to The Black Forest to smash as many brambles as you can while having to play as an Archer. While this adds variety to the overall experience, it still relies on the same lackluster mechanics, and thus, the same issues arise.
Fat Princess Adventures’ impactless combat, boring side quests, and confusing user interface all add up into something that isn’t exciting or satisfying to play. And its repetitive, unsuccessful attempts at humor are a constant disruption. Fat Princess Adventures’ negative qualities outshine everything else the game has to offer, making it a memorable adventure for all of the wrong reasons.