After years of wars between the two kingdoms of Great Bitten, they now live in peace, with the two sides united under one banner and a love of all things cake-like. It’s all just a bit too… saccharine for the Bitter Queen, though, who leads her Gobbling army to invade this land and try to stamp out all the sweetness in the world.
Where the original PS3 game was a fantastically silly and fun multiplayer battler, with two sides squabbling over cake and trying to capture the other side’s princess, Fun Bits have taken the series in a rather different direction. The pop culture references and cake-based puns are very much intact, there’s a similarly vibrant and colourful art style, and there’s still a ludicrous amount of gore, but this is a co-operative dungeon crawler instead of a competitive game.
With four player co-op play in mind, only four classes from the original game’s six remain for you to thwart the Bitter Queen’s plans. Diving into the fray you have the Warrior with a sword and shield, and the Engineer with a hammer and throwable bombs, both of whom are backed up by the spellcasting Wizard and the bow and arrow of the Archer.
It’s a good mixture of classes to work as a straightforward team, but each can stand well on their own as well, with their two contrasting attacks, both of which can be charged up for more damage. The Archer unleashed three quickfire arrows, the Engineer spins around like a whirling dervish, and so on. Oh, and if you eat a slice of cake when you’re already at full health, your clothes tear off down to your underwear as you balloon in size and get to stomp around dealing massive damage to anything you come up against.
As you battle through the various areas that surround Great Bitten, from forests to pirate infested swamps and salt crystal covered mountains, you get to upgrade those attacks and your character with new gear. Finding chests – some of which require an elemental attack to open – and defeating bigger enemies can drop new primary and secondary weapons, armour and headgear, all of which can add some elemental damage or resistance, or some other slight perk.
That gear can then be upgraded further by buying improved damage or resistance at the upgrade vendors. Though you can switch between characters at the fairly regular checkpoints, this means that you’ll most likely end up picking a class, and even a particular loadout and sticking with it. For me it was the Archer, just because I’d dropped a few thousand gold coins into the flaming arrows, which even against resistant enemies in the swamps felt like it was more effective than swapping to the Engineer. After a while, those upgrades start to demand gems as well as gold.
The real problem with the game is that, once you see past the art style, the endless buckets of gore and the cheesy puns and jokes, it’s just not all that interesting. In the heart of Great Bitten, there’s a handful of rather dull fetch quests to complete, running from one end of the city to the other, but these kinds of things tail off after a while, until you’re basically just heading to the next locale and the next dungeon to battle through.
Though there are various types of enemies, they vast majority will run at you as soon as you see them, so all you have to do as an archer or mage is backpedal and keep firing, to keep them at arm’s length. Sure, there’s enemy archers, enemy spellcasters, a few enemies with shields, and bigger versions of these enemies with names, but there’s not really much nuance to the combat.
The boss fights try to mix things up a little, as enemies with much more interesting attack patterns who need a little more thought to take down, but the only challenging aspect of these encounters is that the game is also throwing wave after wave of lesser enemies into the fight as well. That in and of itself, where you can be overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers, is the main thing that adds to the challenge of these battles.
Of course, the complexion of a battle does change when you’re playing in co-op, and with four classes to choose from, it’s ideal for four players to team up. Or at least it would be if there were either people playing or a better matchmaking system to hook people up. When I left my game open for others to join me, I was only ever joined by one other person at a time, while my own attempts to join games on Hard or Cakemare difficulty found no matches whatsoever. It doesn’t help that the game defaults to only allow friends to join your game, and getting friends to join you online or locally is sadly you’re best bet for a full party of four.
Though it will take a good few hours to get through the story for the first time, it’s not a particularly long game. You could replay with a different character and at a higher difficulty level – this earns you the gems needed for later gear upgrades – but there is also the Grindhouse, which puts a little spin on proceedings. It tasks you with playing through one of the five main dungeons but adds modifiers like needing to open as many chests as you can or kill as many goblin archers as possible. Optionally, you can then have it restrict you to a random class or, if you have a co-op partner, add a little competitive objective for you to squabble over. It’s a nice idea, but for me, it’s not quite enough to make me want to return.
Unfortunately, Fat Princess Adventures comes across as something of a missed opportunity. For one thing, it’s a genre shift which will disappoint those who want more of the multiplayer carnage from the original, but while there’s still fun to be had, this is a fairly shallow game which leans too close to the childlike facade of the art style.