A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this online medieval shooter/brawler uses obesity as a play mechanic. In this humorous world of war-mongering Kings, their daughters eat cursed cake which creates an insatiable hunger for the sweet confection to the point that they become obese. These portly princesses are neither celebrated nor mocked but they do become so heavy that they are difficult to carry; and consequently, their obesity is a strategic plus or minus depending on whether you want them to stay with you or if you are trying to steal them back. And you become involved in feeding them. With childhood obsesity rates on the rise, parents need to evaluate whether this play mechanic is something appropriate within their family. Also relevant is the amount of blood and gory violence depicted in the cartoon world. Players use a variety of weapons and magic spells to kill their enemies, resulting in big, bright red pools of blood and body parts strewn across the screen. Note, too, that there is some sexual innuendo in the lyrics of the closing credits song, Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts”.
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What's it about?
FAT PRINCESS, a downloadable game available exclusively for the PlayStation 3 through Sony’s PlayStation Network, is an online brawler/shooter played from a top-down perspective. Players take control of tiny cartoonish soldiers belonging to several classes (such as warrior, priest, or ranger) and try to accomplish a variety of objectives. Depending on their character’s abilities, players might spend their time building bridges, gates, and trampolines, harvesting resources to upgrade each class, rescuing or kidnapping princesses, healing others, or simply attacking enemy troops. There are several multiplayer game modes, as well as a short single-player campaign that acts as a tutorial and explains why the titular princesses are obese (they’re addicted to a cursed cake) and why the two kingdoms are fighting.
Is it any good?
There’s no denying the humor in Fat Princess. The cartoonish graphics, though decidedly bloody, will evoke laughs from older players, as will the witty pop culture-referencing taunts uttered by the tony soldiers, such as “Fracking toaster!” (BattleStar Galactica), “I’m going to cut you into little pieces like the ice-truck killer!” (Dexter), and “I’ll bite your legs off!” (Monty Python and the Holy Grail).
What’s more, the game play is marvelously deep for a downloadable game. While the concept of feeding someone to purposely make them obsese is disturbing, in this world it happens because the cake is cursed and creates an unstoppable craving. Whether you’re collecting bits of cake to feed your princess to make her heavy and difficult for the enemy to carry away or building strategic entry points (like trampolines) into enemy castles, there’s no shortage of things to do. However, the game’s cartoonish look will almost certainly attract younger players, and may lead their parents to think that it’s okay for them to play. Make no mistake; this is not a game suitable for pre-teens.
Online interaction: This is a predominantly online game that facilitates open voice communication between all players. With the right group it can make for a very pleasant social experience. However, a few bad eggs can spoil the experience. Players can mute those who bother them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about weight issues and societal perceptions of those who are obese. The game depicts its princesses as being addicted to a cursed cake, but is it possible to become addicted to real, non-cursed food? Do you think that the game handled its obese characters with tact, or do think it would make overweight players feel humiliated? Can you think of other games that feature obese characters? What sort of roles do obese characters typically fill in interactive entertainment?