Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Once a good idea hits the App Store, it usually doesn’t take long for it to be copied indefinitely. On one hand this is a sad, cynical business model as too many rip-off games don’t understand what made the original appealing. However, when the initial idea is so good that breaking it is next to impossible, it just leads to more, better games. It leads to games like Little 3 Kingdoms.
Little 3 Kingdoms is part of the relatively new 2D real-time strategy subgenre that includes games like Swords and Soldiers. There are no resources to collect as they accumulate automatically and no need to micro-manage troops because all they can do is walk forward. All players have to worry about is strategically sending out waves of troops to protect the base, push the enemy back, and destroy the enemy base.
Over the course of the lengthy campaign players will unlock access to new troops types like spearmen and hero units that can do things like increase the army’s speed or ferociousness. Coins earned from victories can be used to buy and upgrade specific unit types but once again this is a game that gives out in-game currency very slowly to encourage players to spend real-world currency. This is especially frustrating once the difficulty ramps up and players are left with no way to bolster their forces.
At least the game makes good use of its ancient Chinese aesthetic. The 2D artwork is smooth and well animated, the music is pleasant and atmospheric, and the action takes place across a wide variety of backgrounds. It’s kind of a shame though that players can only control one faction and will end up seeing a lot of the same characters over and over again.
The beauty of the 2D RTS is that it manages to make the genre simpler and more approachable without entirely removing the strategic complexity that makes it so fun in the first place. The beauty of Little 3 Kingdoms is that it does nothing to ruin this perfectly fine game template. That’s an achievement.