Let’s get something out of the way first. Most anime games are terrible. FACT! Games like Dragon Ball FighterZ and One Piece: Unlimited World Red are the outliers. They’re Beck among a sea of Peach Girl. So whenever a new anime game launches those of us with actual brain cells are understandably skeptical. Enter Fairy Tail – the latest game based on the popular anime/manga series by the same name. The game – a turn-based rpg loosely follows events of the series between the x791 and Tartaros Arcs. Between both arcs are four others but not all their content is covered. The most noticeable omissions being content from the Sun Village arc.
Where do we begin?
Like the source material the game follows Team Natsu as they navigate life after the 7 year time skip on Tenrou Island. This involves taking on requests, leveling up characters, improving the guild, crafting lacrima and improving bonds among friends. When you begin the game you’ll first have access to Natsu and Lucy. You’ll then additionally unlock Gray, Erza, Wendy, Gajeel and Juvia. Somewhere past the half half point you’ll gain Kagura, Sherria, Sting, Rogue and Ichiya. During the Epilogue you’ll gain Jellal with Laxus, Mairajane and Gildarts serving as post game content. Despite being usable during the main campaign, Flare, Lyon, Minerva and Ultear are not playable.
They’ve hoarded Lyon as a part of the game’s first DLC season pass with the others likely to follow in subsequent fashion. Fairy Tail mirrors the same controversy noted in games like Street Fighter X Tekken where content was already on the disc yet players needed to pay extra to unlock them. This extortion practice is even more apparent when playing missions which include these characters with full move-sets, stats and leveling. Why were they omitted if they’re already completed in the game? Greed. Koei Tecmo has some of the best IPs in this industry and they know it. They know fan service sells and they milk that through some of the most voracious practices possible.
Characters with finished models like Levy, Lisanna and Elfman could have been playable but why be generous when drones will pay into anything. If anything playing this feels like an early access build for a title that will be finished at a later date. From missing story content to missing character models, it’s like Gust had another month of development to complete and just said F it. Why make a wonderful cheese crust, chicken teriyaki pizza with pineapples and peppers when people are willing to pay the same price for a crusty piece of bread with moldy cheese sprinkled on top. That’s what the gaming industry has become in a nutshell. People will pay for anything and developers know that.
Games don’t cost $60 anymore
Much to my chagrin Koei Tecmo have continued their unreasonable pursuit of money through overpriced monetization schemes. Just like they did with Dead or Alive 6, Fairy Tail has some of the most overpriced DLC on the market. There’s a season pass for $60 USD, 3 costume sets at $40 each or $3.49 per costume. In total this all adds up to a whopping $180 USD and that’s excluding the base game priced at $60. The unfortunate thing is that this type of egregious monetary practice is actually working because Koei keeps implementing them. The idea probably being that some will purchase the lower priced costumes incrementally while the whales will splash that astronomical cash on what is otherwise cosmetic content a modder can whip up in an afternoon.
What’s most disconsolate about all of this is that at its core the game is actually fun. It’s a simple JRPG with a highly repetitive yet polished gameplay loop. Going out on requests is an easy undertaking thanks to a mission system focused on urgency. You accept requests at the guild then press up on the d-pad to bring up the world map then choose your destination. Once completed you’ll be prompted to return to the guild with the press of a button. Most quests boil down to going to an area then defeating a set amount of enemies. If not you’ll likely just need to speak to a character or pick up a marked item. There’s no sense of discovery or serious difficulty outside of some optional quest. Everything is manageable to the point that this can be considered “babies first JRPG”. Yet despite its simplicity, the ease of play the aforementioned urgency provides eliminates any boredom associated with tedium.
Battles consist of choosing magic attacks with varying grid based areas of effect (AOE). Each attack has a magical type that is super effect, less effective or just average depending on the target’s magical affiliation. You’re also capable of defending, using items and performing physical attacks. Among those options you’ll only find yourself using magical attacks or items. Defence serves no purpose since enemies will either be too strong to battle or too weak to actually defeat you. As for physical attacks, they’re even more useless. They don’t do enough damage to be even remotely viable and no enemies or situations force you to adapt them into play. Most of all you have awakenings which boost magical attacks even further and chain attacks to overwhelm your foe. Those alone would be enough but it goes even further.
(OK Deep Breath)
Characters like Lucy also learn some passive buffs which allow the entire party to attack first, status effects are usually very effective, supporting characters like the first guild master can revive the entire party on a whim, awakenings can stop enemy attacks, attacks can be followed up and most characters can learn a counter attack. What’s even more frightening is that I’m so sure that I’m forgetting some more features which sway battle in the favour of the player. And despite all of that it’s still fun. Yes I would have preferred a bit more challenge but that’s not what this game is for. It’s for the casual player seeking a relaxing time while interacting in one of their favorite anime worlds.
The world of Fairy Tail is a beautiful one in spite of the lower textures on background assets. It being an anime game meant that it just needed to look like the show and it does. No one is actually focusing on the lower textures or pop-in if the game replicates the look of the anime for the most part. What’s even more important though are the character models, which is Gust expertise, especially female anime style characters. With well painted on shadows, cell shading, bright colours and detailed line work we get something that will appease fans of anime games.
Voice work is also on the mark although used sparingly outside of main missions. For most side quests and bonding moments you mostly get grunts and one liners to remind you what the characters sounds like while you read. These side missions are plentiful but totally optional thanks to the low difficulty of the game. As for character bonding moments I only did those because of my OCD. Some were even void of dialogue, just granting me the celebration for completion of… well, nothing. Sadly yet another sign of what seems like an unfinished product that albeit fun one that could have been even better with a bit more polish.
Oh I almost forgot. Don’t use any alternative costumes during the main quests because they don’t work with awakening transformations. The transformations are separate alternative models of the base outfits and so they’re just swapped in whenever certain characters use awakenings with their base outfits. Using alternatives like the swimsuit outfits will just get you a glowing effect around the characters, not the full transformations. Also the game was censored after launch, something I really want to talk about but I’ll save that for a separate article.
Constructive criticisms aside this is a fun game at its core. It takes all the fundamentals of the anime/ manga and weaves them into an easy yet gripping gameplay loop. It may be just an assortment of repetitious fetch quests however that’s the crux of simple RPGs. Mixed in with the fact that this is a game based on a popular anime/ manga series and you have what can be considered one of the better anime games on the market. When most tend to be lazy cash grabs, it just takes a slight amount of effort to be considered good. This is that slight amount of effort. Fairy Tail may feel unfinished, even cheap in some aspects but all of that can be excused when at its core it is an enjoyable experience. Just wait a bit for a price cut before submitting your application to the guild.
The copy of this Fairy Tail used for this review was provided to us by its publisher, Koei Tecmo.