- Developer: Gust
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo Europe
- Release Date: 30/07/2020
- Price: £54.99/ $59.99
- Review code provided by: Koei Tecmo Europe
- Version reviewed: 1.0.0
Introducing: Fairy Tail Switch Review
Let’s get this out at the very beginning: Fairy Tail is a video game spin off of the immensely popular manga and anime series by the same name. It’s not the first foray into video game territory, but it is the first RPG entry available on home consoles. The game was developed by Gust and Koei Tecmo, both of Atelier fame, and its release had been postponed a few times because of the recent pandemic. The wait is over now, time to be fired up! Oh, by the way, I wrote the review without any big spoilers. Fairy Tail fans will probably know most of the story anyway, because the game follows the anime/manga in parts. But in case that you have no prior knowledge about it, I don’t want to ruin the story for you.
In the game, you take control over the magicians’ guild Fairy Tail. And what a guild it is: a motley crew of quirky characters leaving nothing but destruction (intended or otherwise) in their wake. The opening sees you fighting a dark make called Hades and the aftermath of this fight puts the complete guild as well as the island they’re fighting on completely off the map of the known world. After reappearing the magicians return to their hometown of Magnolia only to find out that during their absence they’ve not only lost their precious #1 spot in the guild ranking chart, but also accumulated a huge pile of debts. Your mission is therefore cut out for you: get back to that sweet #1 spot and pay back all the money (and save the world while you’re at it, too!) Yeah, I know I just spoiled the beginning, but hey, I needed to set the scene for the game and review. Spoilers end now, really! I promise!
“I’m looking forward to it, Blondie!”
To fulfill your destiny, you need to create a team of mages drawing from a roster of 16 characters. Naturally these are the people making up your guild at first, but over the course of the game you will make friends with mages from other guilds and can recruit them for your quests. At the start your team will be limited to three mages, with both Natsu Dragneel and Lucy Heartfilia available. Later on, the number of teammates will rise to five.
Now either progress the story with a story quest, pick up a request from the quest board, help your community-the city’s folk is not exactly enamoured with your guild, or construct/remodel/upgrade your guild’s facilities. All of this will get you hard sought dosh as well as popularity and experience. You’ll need all of that to rise through the ranks and become the strongest and most respected guild again.
Popularity influences your guild rank. As your rank raises, more and harder quests will become available. Remodeling the guild’s facilities will cost you, but offers benefits to your team like better quest rewards or higher experience for the mages not accompanying you on quests. Experience will let you grow as a fighter. The more experience you have the higher your level is. Reach another level and you’ll learn a new and more powerful spell.
“I’m already fired up!”
So pick a quest and off you go. Whatever quest you take, you will run into monsters. Either attack them or get too close (Monsters can see you and start chasing you!) and you will enter battle mode. Fairy Tail uses a clever thought out turn-based battle system. Each character has the following options:
- Magic: Use MP to attack, heal or support your team members by using one of your spells. The stronger the spell, the more MP is necessary.
- Attack: Use one MP to attack one enemy.
- Defend: Enter a defensive stance to take less damage from an enemy attack.
- Item: Guess what, use an item from your inventory.
- Flee: You flee. Not available in boss battles.
- Awaken: When the corresponding gauge is full, your character can awaken and thereby get stronger.
- Chain: When the corresponding gauge is full, your can have your team perform a chain attack.
This all sounds like standard RPG fare. But wait, there is more! You see, your enemies are arranged on a 3×3 grid. Your magic spells not only differentiate in power, but also in which fields of the grid they influence. Some attacks focus on one field only. Some on one and the neighbouring field. Others on a row or a column. To give you more room for strategic planning, the attack’s power might be greater in one field and weaker in the others. Add the various elements of magic (fire, water, ice, etc.) and the differing resistances towards these elements found in monsters into the mix and you have a lot of food for thought. Careful consideration is necessary to get the upper hand in battles where you stand off against more than one kind of monster, especially if you’re playing on ‘hard’. You wouldn’t want to waste precious MP on an ineffective attack.
“If it’s for my guild, then even I can fight!”
You need to be the strongest team to become the strongest team. As you are playing an RPG, the way to get there is by using all available options. Grinding is one of these and done by doing quest after quest after quest. This isn’t a boring task as there is some variety here. There are, as they are standard RPG fare, subjugation quests (kill x of monster y) and fetch quests (find x of y in locations z). Rinse and repeat!
Even more interesting are the character stories which help you understand the relationships between the various people that make up Fairy Tail. These are full of humorous interactions and do a lot to flesh out the different personalities. Also, these quests help you create stronger bonds between characters which in turn will lead to stronger attacks.
Then there are upgrade tasks for your base’s facilities (usually fetch quests). And last but not least you need to reach the guild rank goals which force you to do a certain number of the aforementioned quests. There is a lot to do in the game, not even counting all the trophies (aka medals) you can collect on your play-through.
“Leave everything to me!”
As already mentioned, Fairy Tail was developed by Gust/Koei Tecmo. They’ve been doing beautiful work with the Atelier series and Fairy Tail is no different. The environments are beautiful, the characters are well animated, the whole game feels like you play an anime. It’s a gloriously pretty game both handheld and docked. The only drawback is the light stuttering you sometimes get when you move the camera and the character at the same time. But that is only a minor drawback and easily overlooked.
The music is pleasing, being a mixture of what I would call melodic metal/folk metal and folk melodies. It’s satisfying as well as intriguing and gives the various parts of the world their distinctive flavour. Also, it doesn’t annoy you when you’ve listened to it a hundred times (like the battle song). Indeed, I found the soundtrack of the game rather refreshing.
“Let’s just enjoy ourselves!”
I’m happy to report that Fairy Tail runs well in handheld and docked modes. The font used in the game is well readable, even with lots of text being displayed while playing handheld. And while there are some stutters as I’ve already mentioned, the game runs very nicely.
There is, however, a glitch that can freeze up the game and make you lose progress. During the course of the story, you will fight battles where further characters join your team after you have dealt a certain amount of damage to your opponent. If you happen to have a strong team and use a chain attack on your enemies, you might wipe them out completely. The battle being over, the additional character didn’t get a chance to join you and therefore the game freezes on the chain attack result screen. This happened twice to me in chapter 6.
Fairy Tail might not be your typical JRPG. It is nonetheless a very good one and if you are a fan of the original manga or anime, or have a weak heart for way-out characters, you should definitely give this game a chance. Its charming over the top story is simply out of this world and perfectly executed!
The story can be hard to follow if you have no prior knowledge of the manga/anime series. It is still very enjoyable to play the game as the mechanics, writing and quirky humour are totally awesome even as an introduction to the Fairy Tail universe.
- Lovable characters and ridiculous story
- Excellent battle system with lots of options for fine-tuning
- 100% Fairy Tail, but also enjoyable if you don’t know anything about it (yet)
- Lovely silly mini-game on the loading screens
- Lots of subjugation quests (but good for grinding)
- Some stuttering while moving the camera
- Writing could be hard to follow if you’re not a bit familiar with the characters
- You might lose progress because of a nasty glitch, save often!
100% Fairy Tail. Its impact will set you on fire!