While Fat Princess Adventures maintains the cartoony, colourful aesthetic of the previous instalments, it veers off the beaten path and enters a different genre altogether. Gone is the frantic, calorie-packed multiplayer the series is known for, this is a Diablo-like hack-'n'-slash RPG, with a story to follow, side-quests to complete, and loot to loot. Of course, this being Fat Princess, it's far less complex than its peers – but is it a sweet treat, or will it leave a sour taste in your mouth?
When you start the game, you create your character, which includes personality type. This seems to do nothing more than change the voice and the dialogue, but it's fun to mess around with. As you play, you're able to switch between four classes at the generous checkpoints strewn about the environments. There are two melee-focused classes, Warrior and Engineer, and two with ranged attackers, Mage and Archer. You can obviously stick with a favourite, but allowing you to switch between the types regularly helps to keep combat interesting, and enemies have weaknesses and resistances to differing forms of attack.
Each class has two attacks: one standard and one more defensive. The Warrior, for example, has a generic sword slash and a shield bash. These can be charged to increase their effectiveness. As a result of this simple setup, expect to push square a heck of a lot in your quest to defeat the evil Bitter Queen. The fights can become rather busy, so a helpful lock-on feature is most welcome. Although the combat is little more than button mashing, it is satisfying to pull off, with the charged attacks spilling a ridiculous amount of crimson cartoon blood.
Patching up your own wounds is as easy as feasting on a slice of cake either dropped by fallen baddies or found throughout the levels. Eat some cake with full health, though, and you'll turn obese for a brief time, with powerful punches and stomp attacks. Just in case you need another super form, you also have an awesome-sauce state, which does much the same thing. You can also find bombs and various potions, the effects of which vary from freezing enemies in place to turning them into chickens.
The equipment found in chests is class-specific and can be upgraded. They also often have special effects in combat, such as increased damage against a specific enemy type, or adding elemental damage to your weaponry. There are plenty of items to find, and it encourages you to replay the game to find better loot to kit out your hero with.
All of this hangs together rather nicely, and while none of it is particularly ground-breaking, the gameplay on offer is simple and fun, and it's made all the better with company. Fat Princess Adventures has been built with online and offline four-player co-op in mind, and though it's entirely possible to play alone, the game is more tactical, hectic, and funny with others. When you do play co-op, any loot collected is shared with the whole party, which is a nice touch – although gold, the currency that you use to upgrade items, isn't.
The writing and voice acting has its moments, with the tongue planted firmly in cheek. There were a few moments in the seven or eight hour story that made us chuckle, with a very silly highlight occurring in chapter two at the lost lake, which we won't spoil here. The narrator chimes in every now and again while you're playing, either with tips or to describe what's happening, and he's responsible for the majority of the game's cheeky humour.
Fat Princess Adventures won't be winning any awards for originality, but as a casual co-op game to play over the holiday, it's a solid choice. The combat is shallow, but fun nonetheless, and the game makes it easy to switch classes and items to keep things interesting. It's made the transition to hack-'n'-slash surprisingly well, and while there are many hoping for the traditional multiplayer to make a comeback, this spin-off holds its own as a family friendly action game – so long as you turn the gore off.