Feed the King Game

More Stacking Games to Play

Feed the King - Medieval Cake construction as you’ve never balanced it before!

Due to the fact that there are many, and I mean many games in existence which fall into the popular category of ‘Balance’ games, it has become increasingly difficult to stumble upon one which has something unique to offer that keeps the player interested beyond one brief look at the title and the resulting disregard felt towards it. I’ve played a considerable number of these types of games and have found relative disappointment and adherence to the very ordinary, the soul-numbingly mundane, and even the downright unapologetically irritating. I’ll acknowledge that these games are limited in their scope to experiment since there are only so many ways which one can portray the act of balancing objects on top of one another. ‘Feed the King’ is a game which manages to use this basic format, yet pushes the genre a little further out onto the limb of light experimentation.

The objective of the game is as the title indicates; you must feed the king with as many cakes as physically possible since it appears our greedy monarch didn’t eat his Shreddies and as a result, his hunger has not remained locked up until lunch. Before his royal highness receives his almost-certain dose of diabetes however, it is first your responsibility to compose a mountainous stack of precariously-balanced cakes, the height of which will later contribute to your final score. Once the confectionery has been suitably stacked to the highest possible altitude, it’s feeding time, and the King is a little peckish after witnessing his less-than-healthy lunch being arranged vertically before his eyes.

Controlling the sweet-treat action is remarkably simple and self-explanatory (though the game still feels the need to explain it for you, which is very kind for those who aren’t well versed in standard flash-game procedures); each cake moves back and forth laterally across the top of the screen and it is you who controls when the cake drops by pressing the down arrow. You begin with an empty cake-platter held up by a chef with a look on his face that appears to be a mixture of longing desperation and sinister enthusiasm for your imminent efforts at sending his cakes skyward in a progressive and organised manner. The cake platter acts as the base on which you construct your tower of dessert ridiculousness, but this is only the beginning.

You may be thinking that there can only be so many ways that a person can position a cake onto another cake; this thought is correct and is one I cannot argue with, but ‘Feed the King’ rewards you for slight variations in construction technique and relative positioning of the different snacks of spongy goodness. A minimum number of points are awarded to you for simply managing to land each cake in the first place, with the actual number of points depending on the type of cake you bring in for a safe landing. If you’re feeling a little risky in your pursuit, why not try and go for the ‘edge bonus’? This means you are rewarded for the precarious positioning of the currently-falling cake onto the extreme edge of previously placed one. Dessert construction doesn’t get more risky than this.

As if there wasn’t already enough pressure on you to perform, I inform you with deep and almost-sincere regret that your in-game lives are limited to three wrongly-placed cakes before your turn is over and the second challenge of this dual-faceted game makes itself apparent. Your three lives are indicated by the display and disappearance of three hearts; once your lives are no longer you are then responsible for guiding the eternally-hungry King as he is launched into the air by your aesthetically-questionable servant. Guiding the king left and right as he ascends, you must now make him eat as many of the cakes as possible in order to gather more points, making your balancing efforts worthwhile.

Guiding the king on his way to satiety is as simple as using the directional buttons to guide him left and right, following your pattern of cakes by zig-zagging or simply staying straight, depending on how well you managed to stack your cakes. Getting a ridiculous number of edge bonuses may have seemed a good idea when giving culinary birth to your tower of sponge but this then makes it more difficult to follow the resulting disjointed shape of it. I found that the best way of keeping the King’s insulin level at a steady ‘lethal’ is to construct a mixture of straight and disorderly shapes in order to strike the balance between the edge bonus and actually being able to eat the cakes you’ve miraculously stacked.

I very much enjoyed the insertion of extra quirks of the game such as the random positioning of bombs sporadically throughout the stacking zone. If you stack a cake directly onto one, it will explode (this is to be expected since it’s a real bomb and Victoria sponge just isn’t that durable, which is incidentally one of the reasons why it isn’t used in actual construction) and you will lose a life. Stacking your cakes perilously close to the bomb without setting it off will reward you with ‘danger’ points, but I myself did it just to feel alive again. Waking up the sleeping guard also rewards you with the ‘Back to Work’ achievement, which is one of many small rewards for completing various tasks within the game ranging from eating three thousand cakes in a row (called the Om Nom Nom award) to gathering a set number of birds in a level.

As if you weren’t already presented with a startling choice of ways to fill your time, the game offers no less than three different modes in which you can put your medieval cake-stacking skills to use, because let’s be honest, these skills aren’t really transferrable to many life situations aside beyond the very narrow realm of this game. Classic mode has already been exhaustively explained and in short is limited by neither time nor cake supply, only the number of lives you have. ‘Time Mode’ (should this need any further explanation) is comprised of the same gameplay but with the only limit being the sixty seconds you have to stack as many cakes as possible.

This brings us onto ‘Cake Mode’ which, as the name should imply the astute readership, restricts our King of remarkable dental recklessness (considering the limited medical provisions in medieval times) to fifty cakes in total, leaving the player to use his or her skills of cake arranging to finagle as many points as possible from fifty cakes. There are many reasons why games such as ‘Fruit Ninja’ are so successful, and one of these is the inclusion of a variety of game modes in order to entice the player into playing the game repeatedly in different contexts with only the need for subtle changes between game modes: ‘Feed the King’ manages to maintain this sort of addictiveness whilst not becoming excessively intricate at any stage.

The longevity of the game is augmented through the inclusion of a shop in which you can purchase various upgrades and items to further your progress within the game. These upgrades are purchased with the coins that are awarded to you at the end of each round, of which the number you receive corresponds to your relative success in that round. The upgrades available follow the pattern of the game modes themselves, offering you such niceties as increased life, time or number of cakes; other provisions include time slowdown, bomb removal (if you just can’t handle the danger) and even the exchange of ‘Mochicoins’ for in-game coins. This last feature is only for those well-versed in the practices of the online flash-gaming community.

For those who are partial to a lovely bit of Jenga (and indeed those capable of thought in general), this game should be a walk in the imaginary park. Players should be familiar with the concept of stacking objects and the principles of basic cake physics; therefore anyone who stumbles across this game should have no problem picking it up very quickly.

Judging by the speed at which our King ascends, it must be true that Mr. Kipling really does make exceedingly good cakes. While this poor joke is a flaw in an otherwise OK review, this quick speed at which the King ascends feels like it is one of the only flaws in ‘Feed the King’ It makes it difficult to properly control him on his ascent and as a result, you feel as if you are not controlling him effectively enough to make your construction effort worthwhile. However, the depth of playability in ‘Feed the King is enough to forgive this minor flaw; this makes the game more than simply a case of ‘stack and repeat’, which is effectively all that most balance games offer the player.

As far as online gaming goes, ‘Feed the King’ hit the spot quite well. I picked up the game easily, I enjoyed the design and general feel of it, and when it comes down to it, I was just thrilled to simply be given the opportunity to launch what is essentially a miniature monarch as high as you can into the air with both full consent  enjoyment of the victim. The game is rich with replay value due to its various gaming modes and some may even feel compelled to play with such frequency that they accumulate enough money to buy everything available in the shop. I must admit to such behaviour, since ‘Feed the King’ is extremely addictive and enjoyable to play. Also, for the developers, the opportunity for a sequel in which a medieval dentist gets to work on this man’s teeth would be equally as enjoyable.