King’s Wordcounty: Armored Princess Pt.1

By Alec Meer on November 18th, 2009 at 4:30 pm.

Well, I’d hoped to have loads to tell you by now. Remember the zombie bride, the battle inside my own belt, the dragon with a toothache? Last year’s King’s Bounty: The Legend was splendid at generating absurdist anecdotes. I’m a few hours into its addon/sequel Armored Princess, and I haven’t hit anything like that yet, to my chagrin. I met a drunk guy at one point. And a bartender hit on me, until I threatened to pull his arms off. That’s about it, though. However! I am not having anything like a bad time. Quite the contrary – I’m enjoying myself, and I wish I was playing it now. But I can’t because I’m on a train. Oh look, there goes Battersea Power Station. And the man opposite me has eyes that look in different directions. I need the toilet, but I can’t quite be bothered to get up and trudge over to a small, smelly metal room. And… oh yes. Sorry. Armored Princess may not have given me any anecdotes for you yet, but what it has done is make me enjoy KB’s complicated battle mechanics a fair bit more.

With the exception of some over-enthusiastic lore that goes on and on and on and on and on, it feels significantly slicker than KB did in most every regard. It’s less fun narratively, but more fun, more liberated as a strategy/roleplaying game. Remember how quickly you got roundly beaten in that first area, how you’d be running desperately away from roaming griffons and archers for ages? Yeah, none of that. AP eased me in a lot more gently. I guess knowing the ins and outs of its combat helped a fair bit, but it was a while until I hit something tagged as essentially unbeatable at my current strength.

There’s a lot to learn, but the surfeit of shops, units and gold means the early islands (for AP’s world is divided so, with an instant-travel network that releases the dread grip of KB’s excessive backtracking) are places you can afford to be a little slapdash in. There’s enough stuff around to restock your armies, or to experiment recklessly with unit and spell combos. Plus, the really funny units for my army haven’t turned up yet – but they’re hinted at by the forces I’ve been fighting. The teleporting/vanishing assassins are looking particularly tasty. So I’m more than happy to lose all my swordsmen and archers and bears and snakes. I know it’s only going to get better.

There are also welcome tweaks such as weaker foes trying to leg it when, upon chasing you down, they realise you’re going to have them – so you don’t have to fight every battle going now. And you have a couple of reserve unit slots by default, so don’t end up wasting free fighters because, say, a tomb you nosed in contained friendly skeletons rather than gold, and your army was currently maxed out. It’s not KB 2, but it is KB Redux – many of the parent game’s roughest edges sanded smartly off.

This greater accessibility coupled with the legacy buzz grown around KB, means I have a sneaking suspicion AP could go quite big. Hell, Ken Levine just Twittered about it. More tomorrow – specifically, about my pet dragon, Lord Ragington IV.

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38 Comments »

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  1. Vinraith says:

    Glad to hear they’ve sanded down the rough edges, though I hope the core difficulty remains.

    One things I’m curious about: do you have any options at character setup? It seemed odd to me that AP seemed to be dropping us from having three characters to choose from to only the one.

    • Noc says:

      At least in the demo, you’ve a choice of three classes. It’s the same “character,” apparently, but she’s either a warrior, a paladin, or a wizard depending on your choice.

      (She’s still not very well armored *at all,* which makes me grumble a little. Though at least the most egregious non-armor is the “wizard” version. Which makes slightly more sense (in the context of fantasy traditions, which means no sense at all actually), but still grumbly.)

    • Vinraith says:

      Ah, I wasn’t aware the traditional class choice was still present. That’s good news, thanks! And yes, the cliche half-undressed fantasy female art is a bit off-putting, though I was already braced for it based on the “box art.”

  2. Azazel says:

    One of my main concerns about the original was that it was somewhat confusing to learn how to actually play it. This is just my never-actually-played-it-myself preconceived notion by the way.

    Just wondering if you would think of it as being a bit confusing for the average non-strategy playing type.

  3. Tei says:

    “But I can’t because I’m on a train. Oh look, there goes Battersea Power Station”

    Man, you are in a train, to Soviet Russia, and not any random russia, but Red Alert one!.

  4. Railick says:

    Did you name your dragon that or did it come named that I wonder ?: P

  5. Jason says:

    Is this a stand alone sequel or will I need the original Kings Bounty to play it?

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s stand-alone, though KB:TL is well worth playing and can be had fairly cheaply these days. Oh, and as a pedantic note, the ORIGINAL King’s Bounty is from 1990. ;)

  6. Jason says:

    I had & loved the original but it had ridiculous difficulty spikes later in the game and it also got a tad repetitive. Well def buy this though. Is it download only? Can’t seem to find any on line retailers who have it on pre order.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, it seems to be digital only. I’ve no idea if a boxed release is coming later (ala Torchlight) or DD is all there is. Personally, I pre-ordered it from Gamersgate.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      Yeah, it’s coming later. Probably looking at 3-4 months.

    • Jason says:

      Excellent. Me hates bloody downloads, I prefer to have the physical box & manual.

  7. Cooper says:

    I only got the original KB recently, and I really have been loving it.

    However, I tend to play it in waves. I’ll play up to the point where I reach an area where I’m relatively weak. This is normally an indication that i need to backtrack to a previous location and flush it of baddies and quests. That’s the point where I’ll stop playing it for a week or so. When I go back I have a great time again, but that need to backtrack is the only thing which makes me lose interst at times.

  8. Railick says:

    You are a paradoxian Vinraith

    • Vinraith says:

      I view good strategy developers a bit more like charitable organizations than I probably should. :)

  9. Lewis says:

    Alec – I assume you’ve not fought demons on the inside of a possessed, talking axe yet, then?

  10. Lewis says:

    Also, my dragon is called McGubbins.

  11. Railick says:

    Personally I likes it :)

  12. Funky Badger says:

    I think its terrible that a sequel has been released a year after a really good game, with some… oh, hang on… sorry, this is the wrong thread.

    • Vinraith says:

      I’d be careful about making that comparison, it doesn’t end well for your side.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Not sure I follow, Vinraith. Seems at first glance to be the exact same situation, no?

    • Vinraith says:

      Aside from the spectacular differences in amount of content and diversity of content, the most relevant difference is that Katauri never made a bunch of promises about releasing additional materials for King’s Bounty: The Legend. So no, the situations bear no resemblance to one another at all, but your steadfast insistence on bringing your acerbic zealotry into threads where it doesn’t belong certainly should show people exactly why it’s important for games to have a strong single player experience, I suppose.

    • Thants says:

      That’s some of the least acerbic or zealous acerbic zealotry I’ve ever seen.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Thants
      I eagerly await your own explanation for Funky’s motivations in bringing up a game that has nothing to do with King’s Bounty: Armored Princess.

    • Funky Badger says:

      My motivation was in pointing out the ridiculousness of the furore over “that game”.

      Thanks for helping. :-)

  13. Railick says:

    Isn’t it kind of creepy how L4D comments infect other threads/posts that have nothing to do with them?

    • Funky Badger says:

      I’ve got bile on my shoes and want to share. Also, I’m nowon a “side”.

      Marvellous.

      The only bad thing about the current glut of excellent sequels (well, AP and L4D2, and probably AssCreed2) is that I don’t have enough time to play them. By which I mean Dragon Age won’t let me… :-(

    • Vinraith says:

      Some people just can’t let things lie, or at least let them stay where they belong.
      Then there are people like me, who can’t help but take the bait.

  14. Eschatos says:

    I think I’ll do the same thing I did with the original Kings Bounty. “Download” it now, and buy it when there’s a boxed version in a nearby games store. Of course, I never actually opened the box, but it’s still sitting on a shelf proudly.

  15. Rei Onryou says:

    Oh man, you were on THAT train! I’d totally be an RPS roadie if I knew what these guys were doing in advance.

    “Don’t worry Mr. Meer, I’ll keep your seat warm and safe from pesky pregnant women and savage old people. You go and trudge over to that small, smelly metal room. The snacks cart is about to pass, so you’ll have an ice cold beer waiting for you.”

  16. JKjoker says:

    i loved the original game, altho i never finished it because once every single enemy became black dragons (and they would manage to kill several of my dudes thx to their unfair stats forcing me to go restock or put the sacrifice/resurrection combo to use) i stopped having fun, oh yeah and my frog wife kept changing back on me and whining for kids uh

    i tried the demo the other day and i have to say i had forgotten how complex the gameplay was, i got slapped by the sheer number of units spells skills, etc… i think i need to ease in a little slower and that the demo would kick any newbie right in the nutz

    im looking forward to the next posts tho, btw, what did they replace the wife component with ?

  17. Buemba says:

    So should someone who never played any of the KB games buy the previous one or does Armored Princess offer enough improvements to make the other games feel archaic by comparison?

    Normally I’d get both games, but my stack of unfinished games keep growing and I don’t want to add more games than I need to it.

  18. Vinraith says:

    I finally found some time to dabble with the demo a bit. I must say, it’s nice to see the “flying hero” mechanic returned to the franchise, I missed it in the first remake.

  19. mihor_fego says:

    KB was a pretty awesome game, reminding of the times when games were tough to beat, simple in mechanics, deep in gameplay. Of course, in the same spirit, it was very repetitive and some quest backtracking was annoying but I guess many games suffer from that.

    The humor helped, as it gave the feeling that the game didn’t take itself too seriously, which is a common problem of many “rpg” games. FFS, you have your minions/troops fight on a grid, why have any serious undertone? Especially near the ending the story became great, with all the over-the-top revelations on the world’s cosmology.

    So… I’m quite worried about the unroughening (I know there’s no such word), since it might take away some of its old-skool charms. It was fun for a change, getting around in the starting area and getting beaten up, instead of trampling over weakling foes (like in ANY rpg?). The reserve slots from the beginning do sound good though (I’ve thrown away many troops cause of lack of space in the original).

    Still, I’m getting it as soon as it gets released in a box (I’m a fetishist)…

  20. James says:

    I’m almost positive the demo doesn’t start at the beginning of the game. First, you’ve got a ton of shards and you can fill out almost a complete skill tree right from the beginning. Second, the first battle I entered took something like ten minutes and gave me enough experience to jump from level one to five. Subsequent battles rapidly started getting faster, easier, and much more fun. I’ve completed one quest and I’m already level twelve. I think it’s safe to guess that the full game will ease you in a bit better.

  21. KBKarma says:

    Note my nickname. Note that I use it everywhere. Note that people in real life refer to me as KB.

    Now imagine my reaction when I see what appears to be my name pop up in your article. Yeah.

    But King’s Bounty sounds pretty good, based off this and your earlier walking-through.