It almost seems like the art of making expansion packs for games has become lost to the annals of time, with every game these days coming with some sort of locked out content, day one downloads and "season passes" that ask you to cough up for pre-planned expansions in advance. In the past, expansion packs used to be substantial extras on their own disc, released several months down the line, once they'd seen how well the original game had done, and what fans were left wanting. With the advent of downloadable stores, however, it's almost as if the process has become too easy, with publishers left, right and centre trying to nickel and dime their loyal customers. However, all is not quite lost, as a small portion of developers still do it right, sending a game out on it's own, then spending the months after trying to come up with new ways to expand the experience.
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One such developer is NinjaBee, the small studio behind the Keflings games (as well as other awesome Xbox Live Arcade titles such as the space tycoon 'Outpost Kaloki X' and chicken-obsessed puzzler 'Cloning Clyde'). Originally released in December 2010, A World of Keflings features three distinctly different kingdoms that need your help to rebuild - playing as your giant avatar, you lift, shift and kick your way around a lush green forest land, a frozen tundra and a scorched desert harvesting materials, constructing buildings and meeting up with all sorts of colourful characters along the way. But rather than rest on their (admittedly, rather impressive) laurels, the team have instead started churning out extra kingdoms to make the Kefling world bigger - an alien one, a zombie one, and now a sweety-themed land completing the trifecta (as voted for in the 'which Keflings add-on do you want to see next' poll - we're keeping our fingers crossed that the third and final pirate-themed kingdom will be coming our way soon too).'Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice' takes place atop Candy Peak, a sugar-stuffed land where caramel lakes flow, cotton candy trees grow and volcanoes erupt with chocolate lava. But all is not well, as Waldorf the evil wizard and his rotund nephew Augustus have stolen the land's Everlasting Globplopper, erasing the true ruler's memory (a unicorn called Charlie) in the process. Playing as your giant avatar, it's up to you and your new found friends to thwart his evil plans in the only way the Keflings games know how - build, build and build some more until you can reclaim Candy Peak, hopefully before Augustus devours the lot.
As always the characters are the usual mix of insane, with the oft-carried away Kari the Last Chocolatier, a forgetful Unicorn called Charlie and the unicycling Fluffton Nuttybuns - a blue bear who thinks he isn't, despite all the evidence to the contrary. But besides the sugar-coated theming and new cast of characters, there's nothing that drastically changes the tried and tested Keflings formula here - although that's certainly not a bad thing. There's something strangely compelling about rounding up your villagers to chop down trees, and gather together chocolate, in order to bake them into new building pieces, before plonking them on the ground to create new structures.
Given the edible emphasis of this latest addition to Keflingdom, the building blocks of your kingdom are all manner of tasty treats. Harvested from the blue candy floss trees that dot the landscape, your principal resource is sugar, which can then be baked into other useful items such as lollipops and gummi fish. Combining these unorthodox building materials in the Sugar Refinary, Pastry Pasteuriser, or Confectioner yields various building parts - Peppermint Platforms, Cotton Candy Pandas and Custard Conservatories to name but a few - which can then be placed in the positions shown in the blueprints in order to have a building pop up in it's place. With a dozen or so buildings to work through, you'll find that, with a well managed Kefling work force keeping your buildings well stocked, it shouldn't take too long to assemble them all...
Which is where the only problem with the new kingdom comes in. Much like the 'It Came From Outer Space' before it, you can complete the whole thing in a few hours, possibly less if you work in multiplayer. And it's such a shame. After going to all the lengths to create funny new characters, new buildings, and a whole new land, it just doesn't make sense to not fill the game with more quests, to let both you, and the developers, get the most bang for their buck. Weighing in at 320 Microsoft Points, though, things aren't really all that steep - with a healthy dose of humour, a whole load of charm and a unicycling bear in denial, those who've got a kick out of Keflings in the past (like us) will likely enjoy this latest offering too.
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360