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Gaming: Fat Princess

Red warrior feeding Blue princess.

Wikipedia Fact: "Some feminist groups criticized the game's premise, accusing it of promoting prejudice against fat people."

Year of Release: 2009

Developed by: Titan Studios

System(s): PlayStation 3 (PlayStation Network download)

Summary: Rival teams of multiple classes try to rescue their princess from the enemy castle while keeping their own prisoner safe, and can fatten them up with cake to make them heavier.

Thoughts: Despite the unusual styling, Fat Princess is essentially capture the flag.  Each team has a princess in their fort to protect while they try and steal the enemy’s princess.  The game’s twist is that you can feed cake to the princess to fatten her up, which slows the enemy when they carry her.

There are multiple classes in the game that you can switch to at any time just by picking up their hat, which are all stored in the fort or can be taken from dead enemies.  The worker isn’t much of a fighter but is responsible for harvesting wood and stone, which are used for upgrading classes and building/repairing defences, and when upgraded workers can throw bombs.  The warrior has the most health, a shield to block projectiles and does good damage (especially when upgraded to have a spear).  The mage does lots of damage with his fire spells (which can be charged up for area attacks) and can be upgraded with ice magic for slowing enemies, but isn’t tough.

The priest is the healer and can be upgraded to a dark priest for leeching health from enemies, but otherwise isn’t much of a damage-dealer.  The final class is the ranger, with a bow (or a gun when upgraded) for decent ranged attacks.  If you don’t pick up a hat at all then you stay as a commoner, who does little damage and doesn’t have much health, but can move very fast and is able to slap people to make them drop the item they’re carrying.

There seems to be a good balance across the classes.  There are points awarded for a variety of things – killing, healing, harvesting, building, repairing, rescuing a princess (or assisting her rescue) or capturing them, and so on – so there didn’t seem to be an obvious advantage to playing specific classes to top the scoreboard, and the online games I played weren’t dominated by certain classes.

Three Red soldiers rescuing their princess.

You can 'attach' yourself to the person carrying the princess to make them move faster, which can be vital to help them successfully escape.

The biggest problem I had with online is that each game I found used the maximum number of players, sixteen on each side.  At that level everybody is formed up into fairly large swarms and it’s difficult to feel like you’re actually making a difference in the chaos.  Matches would either last a very long time (there doesn’t seem to be a time limit) as both sides struggled to make headway through the mass, or took no time at all as one team got lucky and was then able to just sit in their base and wait for victory, with the other team unable to break though in time.  I don’t think the large numbers add anything to the experience, and if anything actually harm it (for me, anyway).

There are other multiplayer modes as well – team deathmatch, a capture variant that requires three captures for victory, a capture-and-hold Invasion game of seizing key outposts and even a sort of football (soccer) game – but the only two modes that seem to have real activity are the standard capture the princess and the team deathmatch, as I was unable to locate any games on the Soccer map or the Invasion mode, and the three captures mode was underpopulated.  Team deathmatch has the problem of being all about the combat, which in large numbers (and the matches are always in large numbers online) is just chaotic, with little chance to tell what’s happening or have any influence on the outcome.

Fat Princess technically has a single player mode.  I say technically, because it’s a multiplayer game at heart, so the solo offering is essentially a series of tutorial bot matches with basic cutscenes in between.  The story revolves around the two princesses finding the cake and becoming addicted to it, with each king deciding that the cake must be cursed, the only way to lift it being to marry the princess off to a prince.  With only one prince to choose from, the two kingdoms go to war, each trying to capture the other princess to ensure their princess is the one to get married.  Pre-mission storytelling aside, there’s no real reason to play it beyond earning the trophy for completing it (assuming you’re interested in trophies).  The AI of your computer-controlled allies isn’t great either, especially on the final lava level where there are shifting routes and lava traps, which at times can make it quite frustrating.

The other solo offerings are a free play mode, which is essentially a fully customisable bot mode that serves as a good way to explore and learn the levels before going online, and a gladiator arena where you choose a class and have to fight off waves of enemies alone (unless you play as the priest, in which case you have AI allies to heal).  It’s actually quite difficult because it’s more of a team game than a solo one, so taking on large groups by yourself and expecting to survive isn’t something that comes up often.  It’s not a bad way to hone combat skills though.

The graphics are deceptively cute, with bold colours and cel shading. There's a lot of blood and gore, which can be turned off in the options.

Combat is easy to get to grips with, with L1 being used for targeting (which adapts to your class, helping you target enemies to attack, resources to harvest, or allies to heal).  A lot of the humour revolves around popular gaming or internet memes, but even if that kind of thing annoys you it’s not particularly obnoxious here.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for an entertaining solo experience then Fat Princess isn’t a good choice, but there’s more there for people after a fun online game.  The main caveats for the multiplayer experience are that there are only a couple of different modes being played by this point, and in large games it can be difficult to feel like you’re achieving anything.  It also sits at the more expensive end for a PSN game (£11.99/€14.99/$14.99), but it’s still heavily played in certain modes (I had no trouble getting a game) and at times it’s a fun and fairly accessible game.  There’s a demo on the PSN that introduces all the important concepts, so if you’re curious I’d recommend that as a good place to start, but if you’re looking for a competitive team multiplayer game there are probably better choices available.

Image Sources: Eurogamer gallery.

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