A great casual game is one that’s simple to learn, yet challenging to master. It has high production values, addictive game play, and a great story to tie it all together. That’s probably why My Kingdom for the Princess is so fun to play – it’s a resource management game with all of those core elements, and more.
When Princess Helen was out visiting her uncle King Sigmund, a horrible tornado hit the kingdom. The castle survived, but the tornado woke up an evil dragon named Firemouth. Legend said that he wouldn’t return to sleep until he ate 37 people. To make matters worse, Helen’s father, King Olgert, was struck by lightning, and no one knew if he’d live or die. Princess Helen knew she had to return home to her own kingdom and father as soon as possible, but the roads were all damaged, and the dragon was wreaking havoc.
Luckily for Helen, a famous knight named Arthur offered to help her return to her father and rebuild the kingdom. King Sigmund promised him a shiny new castle as a reward if he could pull it off, but Arthur was more interested in the love of the princess…and so the game begins.
In general, your goal is to make all the repairs you can in order to clear the road and fix a bridge to get to the next board. Of course, Arthur doesn’t do the manual work himself! He has workers to do it for him. Since workers can only do one task at a time, you need more of them to work more efficiently.
For his very first knightly task, you need to clear the northern road of trees that were blown down by the storms. To do this, you need to click on the branches, and the worker will rush over to clear them. Once removed, these become a new resource – wood.
Workers also need food in order to keep working, and you don’t always have enough provisions. This means that you need to build farms. Building and repairing structures is easy. You just click over the designated area, and it will be constructed for you. As you play, you’ll encounter lots of ruined structures this way, and can repair them in order to make use of their added resource bonuses.
Other tasks, like breaking rocks, also require gold. Your total resources (wood, food, and gold) are shown in the top right hand corner of the screen. Along the way, you will sometimes spot extra resources and provisions lying on the ground. You can click these to collect them.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to complete special tasks, like picking and planting flowers, or gather clams. There are plenty of twists to keep you on your toes. The dynamics change frequently, encouraging you to form new strategies with each level you play.
As you’d expect, there are also special bonuses you can use. These are really helpful, like a worker speed bonus, one that stops time for 10 seconds, and one that gives you a temporary extra worker.
Each time you complete a level before nightfall (shown when the time indicator changes color), you add to the castle King Sigmund is building in Arthur’s honor. You can replay levels to try for a better time and score.
By my estimate, there’s around 8 hours of game play if you play straight through, and more if you go for all the castle upgrades. Because things change slightly on each level, it’s never stale. It may seem easy at first, but play a few levels, and you’ll soon find it challenging. As for production values, they’re good. The game play is smooth, the graphics are cute, and the music is fun. There are good voice overs in the cut scenes, and the story is genuinely amusing.
There are a few little things that could be improved in future versions. For one, you can’t chain tasks in advance, which means you can’t plan too far ahead. Also, your workers insist on running back home before you can send them out again, which mean they sometimes waste time having to go back towards where they just came from. If you’re playing in full screen mode, you shouldn’t try to minimize the game, or you may have a game freeze. These are small things, however, and you quickly get used to them.
My Kingdom for the Princess is a really fun diversion, with easy to learn rules, yet lots of opportunities to form strategies. It offers plenty of hours of entertainment in a simple resource management framework, making it an impressive casual game.