Politically correct it certainly isn’t, but Fat Princess is one of those characters that’s made an impact on the PlayStation both on the PS3 and the Vita’s predecessor the PSP in both its outings so far, to the extent that the game’s heroine has made a cameo in PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale since making her debut back in 2009 and fans are now eagerly awaiting the upcoming sequel Fat Princess Adventures for the PS4. However, Vita owners have had little chance to experience the delights that Sony’s royalty has to offer. Until now, that is…
Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake is something of a departure from the previous outings in the series for a number of reasons. First, the game made its debut on non-PlayStation platforms (iOS and Android) before being released on the PS Vita. Secondly, surprisingly on first glance the game appears to be little more than another entry into the seemingly overcrowded match-three genre and thirdly – and this is what angered many when it was first announced – Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake has been released as Free To Play. Rife on mobile formats, but not something that has been particularly welcomed for Sony platforms so far…
Expanding on the genre, Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake takes our heroine and puts you in control of her band of loyal defenders up against hordes of evil enemy soldiers out to attack, kidnap and generally be nasty to our favourite princess. Your princess is accompanied on her travels by four different types of troops, each having different attacking styles and these are unleashed on your unsuspecting adversaries as you match three or more of their corresponding gems on the main play area. Defeat all of the enemies in an attack wave and you progress onto the next until you’ve defeated every wave to complete the level. Each adversary has a set number of hit points (as do your own troops) and these are depleted with each attack and you can only match gems on your own turn… when it’s not your turn, your enemy gets to attack so you have to hope that you have enough health to survive the onslaught!
As well as the different types of attack, you can match gems for health boosts, diamonds, and gems to collect to bring the Princess into play. Collect enough of these and you can call upon the Princess for a power attack where she’ll pounce on every adversary simultaneously for massive amounts of damage! Once the level is complete you’ll be presented with a mini slots game where you will be awarded with random goodies ranging from powerups to use during play, bonus diamonds or bonus coins.
At this point you’ve no doubt seen where the monetisation of the game comes in to play. Most F2P titles involve some form of in-game currency and Fat Princess is no exception. In this case it utilises two – the aforementioned diamonds and coins. While diamonds can be amassed quite easily, collected throughout play and at the end of each stage, the coins aren’t quite as common. While you can get these at the end of each game, they’re not quite frequent in their distribution and it’s not unusual to spend an hour or two playing and be rewarded with only a couple of coins yet amassing the better part of a thousand diamonds.
In terms of their useage, the diamonds have a single purpose in the game – to upgrade your troops enabling you to increase their health and the amount of damage that they inflict upon your adversaries. As for the coins… they’re needed to purchase everything else in the game. However, after extensive play it has to be said that despite needing the coins to purchase powerups, major game upgrades, and key items that will enhance the game and one other element that I’ll mention shortly, none of these will stop you playing or enjoying the game to its fullest. The reality is that they’re not essential to play the game but they are all nice bonuses. If you want to have them and enhance your gaming experience of Fat Princess, all you really need to do it just wait them out hoping that you’ll earn enough or win them in the slots game but it will take time… a long time!
However, as with every game of this ilk, there IS a catch. Each time you play a level, it requires a point of “stamina”. You start the game with six points and once you use all of these you have to wait for it to recharge before you can play again, with it taking 20 minutes to recharge a single point. Now, with the nature of the game being ideal for casual play sessions and a typical level lasting for a few minutes it don’t really matter too much as it makes the game idea for short gaming sessions and infact you could play this for around 20 minutes on a full charge of stamina. If you’re looking for longer term play… well then you’re pretty screwed! You can win stamina in the slots game at the end of each level or choose to buy them using your coins but at a cost of two coins per unit of stamina it’s an expensive way to play the game. Alternatively, you can use 200 coins to buy unlimited stamina so you never have to worry about this aspect of the game and this will work out at around £10 so the question really is how much do you really enjoy playing the game?
Well I have to be honest and say I enjoyed playing this… a LOT. I don’t know why but this game has become one of the most played games on my Vita since I first downloaded it. The gameplay itself is simplistic so there’s no need to worry about mastering any overly complex strategies and focusing on any deep involving storyline – it’s just straighforward basic gameplay from start to finish and no matter how much we all cry out for deep, involving games on the PS Vita, there’s a lot to be said for games that offer pure, unadulterated fun every now and then and this delivers by the boatload. The graphics are bold, colourful and well animated and the sound (especially the comical speech) just adds to the fun factor and makes Fat Princess an incredibly addictive game that I’ve genuinely had trouble putting down.
Each of the game’s levels sets three challenges for players (awarding one star for each, the first being offered for completing the level) meaning that the game draws you in even more encouraging you to keep coming back for more and the sense of achievement when you manage to grab a three star rating that has eluded you for a while is something that I wouldn’t have expected from a F2P title. Once you get that first three-star rating, it just encourages you even more to keep playing and working towards nailing every level and offers a repeat play value I haven’t seen before in a game like this.
Comparisons are bound to be made between this and the other versions of the game that are available. Released first for iOS and Android platforms, the basic game is identical across all three platforms and adopts the F2P distribution system across all three. Where the games do differ is in terms of presentation, online facilities and one key element which made the game such a draw for iOS and Android in the first place, but I’ll come onto that in a moment. Taking presentation for starters and this is where the Vita version wins hands-down. all three versions of the game take a similar approach to the display, with the main “board” taking up most of the screen and the animated action taking up the remainder.While the Vita version’s action display is smaller than the others, this is more than made up for with what it gives to the player. While every version of the game allows you to see at a glance how many pieces of cake you’ve collected and other key statistics, the Vita goes one step further with a secondary panel under this display showing your progress towards each of the levels goals. While this may not seem important, for those of you aiming for a 100% completion of the game this is a much welcome addition especially as these goals really do extend the game’s longevity dramatically.
Social interaction is another key difference. While all three versions allow you to interact with other players via Facebook, the Vita version goes further offering Leaderboard support. While this is limited to your own friends list and is restricted to comparisons of diamonds collected, it does add an additional competitive element to the game. Taking things a step further, the game also includes 13 Trophies and while some hardcore Trophy collectors will complain about the lack of a Platinum Trophy, it’s another welcome addition to the game extending its lifespan even more.
The only downside for the Vita – and this is something that Sony themselves made considerable noise about when first releasing the game for iOS and Android – is a very disappointing feature missing from this version… With the other versions, when you managed to complete Level 15 of the game you were rewarded with a code to use on the PSN Store allowing you to download a copy of the full version of Fat Princess for the PS3 no matter what PSN region you lived in! Astonishingly, this has been omitted from the Vita with no explanation and would have made gamers far more comfortable with the idea of the game’s microtransactions and even more willing to do so, knowing that a full game was included somewhere along the way.
What the Vita version DOES offer is a slightly different reward to players. When you reach this point in the game you’re presented with a bonus pack of 30 coins for use in the game (a value of approximately £2 should you have chosen to purchase them from the store). It’s certainly an odd choice to make considering the fact that non-PlayStation owners were offered a complete game as a reward and I can only speculate as to the reason why, but perhaps it has been done as an incentive to encourage gamers to take the plunge and purchase further coins.
One thing I have to make special mention of – and this is also something that I must praise developers of when it comes to F2P titles on other platforms – is that Sony certainly aren’t shy when it comes to offering ongoing support to the game. Within a month of its launch, two updates were released adding a large number of new levels, new daily rewards for players, and new game modes expanding the game considerably. While none of this was needed from what was already an extensive game, the addition of so much additional content so quickly can only be praised. All we need now is PSTV support and I’ll be a happy bunny!
I’ve made my views known about F2P games in the past and I generally shy away from supporting these titles financially unless it’s clear that the games can be played properly without the need for financial investment. All too often, in the past I played such games on Facebook only to be confronted with the situation where progress was impossible without the need to spend money and at that point I simply stopped playing. In contrast, if I encounter games where I can continue to play quite happily without the need to look to my wallet then I am only too happy to support developers to some degree financially. If games offer additional content for a charge (extra game modes, levels etc) I’m only too happy to purchase them, and in the case of Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake again I’m quite happy to make a purchase not because I need to but because I want to show my support for the people who have made such a fun, enjoyable game.
Despite being one of the most fun games I have played on the PS Vita for a long time, Fat Princess does have a few drawbacks. First, the game does show it’s mobile origins with a touch-only interface and while this is fine for playing the game on the Vita, it does mean that – at the moment – it’s not compatible with the PlayStation TV. Some of the latter levels can be frustratingly tough without upgrading your troops so plenty of grinding is in order replaying many of the earlier levels but that’s not too much of an issue if you’re enjoying the game anyway but the real gripe I have is with the upgrades and boosts that you can purchase in-game using coins. The user interface is incredibly sensitive here and all it takes is for your fingers to make passing contact with any of the purchase buttons and you can kiss some of your coins goodbye. There’s no “confirm purchase” button – your coins are just deducted and the purchase is made so you really have to be careful while browsing!
Even though at it’s core, this is just a match-three puzzle game, and a dreaded free to play title at that, it’s one of the most compulsive games that I’ve encountered in the genre. I honestly can’t put my finger on what makes Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake so special when compared with other games of this ilk but it just oozes charm and character from the moment you start playing and it’s something that you never grow tired of.
At A Glance
- Title: Fat Princess: Piece Of Cake
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Save: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: Yes
- Local Multiplayer: No
- PlayStation TV Compatible: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 217Mb