When I was first presented with this game, I had my doubts of how anyone could possibly derive any entertainment from a game in which your sole purpose was to jump on things, whoop dee doo. It took mere minutes for me to cast those doubts out the window and find myself absolutely hooked. King is a 2D platformer which stars the player as a monarch who must earn as much points as possible by stomping on all enemies in his path. With ever challenging gameplay that continuously adds new elements of play and bright retro graphics reminiscent of the SNES titles of old; there is much fun to be had.
As you can possibly imagine, this sort of game does not utilise a vast array of keys. The Cursor keys dictate movement and Z or Space causes your character to jump. Landing on top of an enemy will increase the height of your jump and aids you in reaching other foes or destinations normally out of reach. Pressing the Z key again just as your little liege makes contact with a foe will execute a super jump. Keeping the down arrow suppressed will reduce the height of your bounce. And that's about it for the control setup really. The simplicity of the button mapping makes it a very comfortable game to ease into.
The first few levels start off fairly tame; the objective is really just to stomp all enemies on screen as stylishly as possible (executing combos and such). But as you progress further, more hazards and puzzle elements are introduced. Suddenly, you find yourself having to put a lot more planning and co-ordination into your jumps; timing becomes crucial and quick reflexes are a must. Really, the first few levels are just to lure you into a false sense of security. Gradually your enemies will start to exhibit far more movement and erratic behaviour, oh, and not to mention projectiles.
I have to say I was well impressed by the escalating difficulty curve as you go from one level to the next. Many designers often fail to find the balance or the correct pace when raising the difficulty bar. However, King does this very smoothly. The layout is also well thought out and some scenarios provide you with several ways to go about achieving success. I tried my best to find exploits or holes in the mechanics, but it's pretty solid if you ask me.
Owing to this game being a Japanese creation, the graphics are typically very bright and somewhat on the cute side, but thankfully not vomit inducing. All the character designs do have a certain nintendoesque feel about them though and remind me somewhat of Warioland. The music is just a bit too enthusiastic for my liking, but becomes less noticeable as you play on.
Overall, King is a really enjoyable and unique title, frustrating at times, but for the most part fun. I can't really think of anything that could be added to the game without being in danger of overcomplicating an already well designed freeware. Definitely worth the download in my books.