It does seems rather contradictory that the most high-profile launch game for WiiWare - a service designed to bring simple, accessible and cheap games to a wider audience - is actually the most complex, niche and expensive example of what it has to offer.
Yes, it's a real-time strategy game, hardly the best genre for appealing to the masses. Yes, it's got ridiculously amounts of depth that needs to be explored and takes an absolute age (well, at least three hours) to really get into. And yes, it costs 1,500 Wii Points - around £10 - before you even factor in the downloadable content that, assuming Square-Enix keeps releasing it at the rate it already has, will set you back the same again at least. Does any of the above prevent Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King being one of the best, if not THE best game available so far though? Not in the slightest.
Without wanting to belittle what Square-Enix has managed to create, My Life As A King is essentially the illegitimate love child of Sim City and Crystal Chronicles. Taking the role of a young king who's been left a new kingdom by his mysteriously-absent father, it's your job to create a thriving populous out of virtually nothing. Actually doing that in terms of raising buildings and attracting townsfolk is a piece of cake - you just stand on one of the glowing green areas, shake the Remote to summon Chime (your chancellor and loyal companion) and then pick what you want from a simple menu. Easy.
Not surprisingly then, the complexity lies in the gameplay hidden underneath the simple control scheme. Building requires Elementite - a special kind of crystal that powers your magical Architek ability. The only way to get Elementite is to raid nearby dungeons but, as you're the king and therefore too important, you need to employ adventurers to do it for you. However, as you only get one adventurer per house built, you need to build more houses which costs more Elementite... and so it goes on. The vicious cycle of house building (as well as constructing shops selling weapons, armour, items and even non-combat goods such as bread), dungeon raiding and recruiting is fairly intense to say the least, but it's also ridiculously addictive. Once it gets going, at least.
King For A Day
You see, My Life As A King is horribly slow to begin with. The initial grind of sending a small handful of adventurers out, only to see them slaughtered and bring your plans of conquest to a shuddering halt, takes a good few hours to get going. However (and it's a really important however), it's definitely worth the pain and effort. Once you get into the rhythm of sending people out on quests and then doing your part for the kingdom while they're busy, you'll find yourself playing for several hours without even realising it.
There's more to consider, too. How do you decide where to put your shops and houses, seeing as placement is imperative? Which adventurers do you train up as mages or thieves once you get the chance? What order should you tackle the dungeons in and should you spend time re-treading old ground for better rewards, or press forward and try to see as much as possible? Do you spend your time using your Morale Spheres boosting the relationships of your citizens to earn new adventurers medals, or use them to enhance your kingdom? Although it's not exactly simple in the first place, My Life As A King is as complex as you want to make it and the further you delve into the intricacies of it all, the richer the experience gets.