Fat Princess: A Fistful of Cake Preview: FatterS

The downloadable PlayStation 3 version of lady-stealing, cake-eating Fat Princess isn't out until mid-summer, but Sony's already showing its PSP spin-off, which might become the beefier version, to mix food metaphors.

What Is It?
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake is a the PSP spin-off of Titan Studio's mid-summer-scheduled PlayStation Network game Fat Princess. The multiplayer-centric PS3 version puts players into one of two teams of cartoon medieval characters who can wear hats that turn them into archers, warriors, mages, builders and others. Those roles make it all the better to cross a symmetrical game map and storm the enemy's castle and steal their princess. To stop one's own princess from being stolen, the secret is to feed her lots of cake so she becomes hard to carry. The PSP game has all of that, Sony says, plus more game modes and more of a single-player story via some set challenges and cutscenes.

What We Saw
I played a few minutes' worth of a basic skrimish, with AI controlling the rest of my team and the enemies. Fat Princess has been at so many press events in PS3 form, that the best I can say is that the PSP version felt just like the console ones. (See screens of the PS3 Fat Princess if you want to know what this kind of thing looks like. Just imagine them being smaller.)

How Far Along Is It?
The game was very early. A Sony rep said that it was unusual for his company to show a game that's pre-alpha, but there was enough confidence in this Supervillain Studios-developed spin-off to do that.

What Needs Improvement?
Connecting With A Crowd: On the PS3 a game like this benefits from a lot of communication, as teams can grow to more than a dozen players apiece. Without being shown multiplayer, I can only guess how well it will be supported. I'm not sure how fun a game like this can be when played solo, as it would put hordes of teammates and all of the rival team all under the control of the computer, leaving the player to potentially feel insignificant.

What Should Stay The Same?
The Icing On The Top: The core PS3 game already has Deathmatch, Snatch, Invasion and Rescue modes which are all variations on capturing the princess and killing enemies. The PSP version will add a Grim Reaper mode which pits everyone against the Reaper player before he or she who kills the Reaper becomes the new one, a Demolition mode that involves snaking a "Trojan princess" into a castle, a Dilapidated Mode which starts a match with all hat-making buildings in need of repair, an an undescribed Jailbreak mode. That's plenty of content for a game that will likely be released after people have bought the game for their PS3.

A Bloody Cartoon: The PSP game retains the winning aesthetic of the original, which means we have cute cartoon characters killing themselves bloody as they try to steal the hefty princess. It's cute. It's vicious. Interesting combo.

Final Thoughts
Fat Princess: A Fistful of Cake was very early and I only got a glimpse of it. But as a proof of concept, it's looking good. The concept it proves? That an increasing number of PS3 downloadable games, like Flow and Super Stardust before it, will fit onto Sony's portable.