In a world dominated by maniacal impersonating wolves, magical beanstalks, and naked kings, it seems as though fairytales have been tailored for the video game industry. Whether Mother Goose intended for this or not is still to be found out by our greatest minds, but one thing’s for sure: fairytales are generally an untapped source of inspiration, and one that could provide wonders to an IP.
With the same logical thinking, Playlogic hopes to capture the magic through their first venture into the developing world, Fairytale Fights. This ain’t yo’ momma’s fairytales… actually, wait, they are; but with enough blood, brains, and dismembered appendages to keep even the most psychotic of us pleased. But will gore alone be enough to keep the masses happy?
Playlogic certainly seems to think so. Fairytale Fights is a hack-and-slash, side-scrolling adventure through the land of Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and others of classic, Brothers Grimm stories. While the concept is unique and the combat feels fresh, the rest of the game seems to have been haphazardly pieced together. Fairytale Fights is fun at first, however it falls very quickly into a mess of repetition, flawed depth perception, and annoying glitches that will find your character dead as often as he or she is alive.
The story is fairly straightforward; the core group of heroes: the Naked Emperor, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and “Jack Beanstalk” have all been targeted by a malicious prince who is out to ruin the good names of our beloved characters. But, being of the psychotic, criminally insane notion, our heroes journey to restore their defamation through good, old fashioned, beat ‘em up fun. Too bad most of the fun seems to have been left at the curbside.
As you enter the fairytales, you’ll find that all of your adventuring will occur through the hub-town of Taleville. Through the hub, you begin your adventure to regain the heroes’ fame by accessing chapters to progress. Just like any other side-scrolling beat ‘em up, you’ll have to hack-and-slash your way through each level, while maneuvering through a good deal of platforming to reach each chapter’s end.
With the help of “140″ different kinds of weapons, you’ll be slicing and bludgeoning through many, many enemies. This 140, though, is not entirely accurate. Each weapon is either a slashing weapon or a blunt object, and they are ranked from one to five stars. You’ll find that weapons may look different, but many of them are relatively similar. A two star lollipop is just as good as a two star steel hammer, and, since they are both blunt objects, they are essentially the same weapon, with only an aesthetic difference. While this allows for some creativity in disposing of enemies, it ultimately has no affect on gameplay (other than rank), which is a shame.
Utilizing these weapons is a great deal of fun – at first. Combat takes a page out of the EA Sports powerhouse series, Fight Night. Instead of button combinations, you’ll be using the right control stick to slice and dice through your enemies. Vertical attacks are performed by flicking the stick up or down, while horizontal strikes are done by going left and right. Its a unique change to button mashing, but, because of the sheer amount of fighting there is, it still becomes repetitive, as many beat ‘em ups tend to do.
Though combat may get tedious, it still is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull endeavor. Platforming and depth perception are disappointing and fundamentally flawed; you’ll have to be very cautious before you combo your enemies near edges, unless you enjoy falling to your death over and over again, as well as jumping from obstacle to obstacle. More often than not, you’ll die a frustrating number of times just because you were too close to the cliff while killing someone, or you thought you lined your jump correctly, but actually needed to jump in a slightly angled direction in order to go straight.
Bosses, while being a nice change of pace, are simply more repetition on a smaller scale. Sure, they’re different from normal enemies, but you’ll have to continue to use the same strategy over and over while they sit back and magically blast you from their area, depleting your health bar in one hit. Each boss also includes cutscenes, and if you’re not careful with where your character is placed when they happen, you’re more than likely to be dead after the scene occurs. While I understand that this game takes into account many player deaths, dying is ultimately annoying due to the poor programing. It can even get to the point where it needs to be turned off, especially considering that the only motivation to continue playing is for currency that depletes with every death, and is only used for one arbitrary thing.
Speaking of arbitrary, graphics and level design fall into the same uninspired direction that the rest of Fairytale Fights falls into. Many of the levels feature “cut and paste” sections that are reused throughout similar themed levels, adding to the repetitive nature that the game already holds. The graphics, sporting a great amount of gore, look great from the overly zoomed perspective you’ll be watching from most of the time. But, when you get in close, you’ll see that all of the characters and levels are very boring and bland.
One thing that is noteworthy, however, is the ease of versus and co-op play. It supports full drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, giving you the opportunity to fight against your friends in an arena, or together through the story at anytime. But, when gameplay is so mundane, this does little to help the experience.
Fairytale Fights has some significant problems in principal areas that hinder the game from ever becoming what it was meant to be. It ultimately feels much more like an XBLA title than a full, $60 game. Unless you’re in dire need to exact revenge on the three bears on Goldilock’s behalf, I wouldn’t waste your hard-earned cash on a mess of mediocrity.
The blood effects and levels boast some creativity, but the characters are dull, especially when you zoom in close, and reusing sections of a level is just plain lazy.
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While combat differs from the usual button mashing affair, it still remains too repetitive, and quickly becomes boring.
The sound effects are so-so, and voicework is completely non-existent.
The ease of multiplayer is great: too bad you'll be fed up with the game too quickly to even care.
Though Fairytale Fights has a really great idea, it seems to have been slopped together with little thought pertaining to gameplay.