IT’S FAIRY TAIL, NOT FAIRY TALE
An anime spanning over 300 episodes, with a few video game adaptions. There’s no denying Fairy Tail has been successful. Even I haven’t been able to escape hearing of it, despite never having seen it. The size is intimidating and will be a massive time sink to binge. So, when I heard Koei Tecmo were developing a game, I took an interest. It’ll be bite-sized, and easier to digest. Only, each advertisement I saw depicted it as yet another arena fighter. Then, my Editor-in-Chief showed me game-play. This is a JRPG with all the bells and whistles. Leveling up, side missions, and an interesting cast of characters. It also promises around 40 hours for the campaign. I’ve beaten the game, but I still have a few things to do. My play-time to date is 53 hours. So, in that regard, I suppose it delivers, but will it elsewhere?
Please be aware that this will cover 2 arcs. The Grand Magic Games, and Tartaros. Spoilers for the anime follows.
WELCOME TO TENROU ISLAND!
We begin on a ship. Lightning is cracking the sky as rain pours. The entire Fairy Tail guild confronts the Master of Grimoire Hearts. He begins speaking, talking down on the newest generation. Then, he challenges them before disappearing into the boat. Eager to comply, Gray steps forward, creating an icy staircase. It solidifies instantly and everyone rushes up into where their foe awaits. As they enter, they are thrust into combat. Elements fill the room as magical abilities are used. Victory seems at hand, but then it happens. Hades – Master of Grimoire Hearts shoots a dark energy beam at everyone, one by one. The tides have turned and all seems lost. That is until someone else joins the battle.
WE’RE BACK IN MAGNOLIA!
I came into this with limited knowledge. My expectations were as thus; this would be a buffet of fantasy set pieces with fan-service moments. To my surprise, it‘s all of this but so much more. I didn’t expect the roller coaster of emotions I stepped into. There was genuine laughter, sadness, and intrigue. I couldn’t tell you the last time an anime game gave me all these feelings. For the purposes of showing this, I’m choosing to harness sections.
- Around an hour or so in, we fall into a flashback. It’s Lucy being the motivation to another female of the guild – Kanna. In it, she helps her teammate confront her father. It’s after this ordeal that Lucy decides to visit her own father. It’s a bit odd as she doesn’t usually want to. To be frank, she dislikes him. It’s a bit different now. After being sealed for 7 years, it’s only right. However, As she tries, she’ll learn a horrible truth. He’s passed on. This isn’t what affects me. What truly hit was what came after. After speaking to Natsu and confessing she doesn’t feel an urge to cry, they pass her home. As they do, the landlady stops them. She’ll invite them in, where they find 7 packages on the table. It seems one had been sent every year. Lucy can’t process any of this though. The landlady immediately hands her a letter. She opens it and learns that her father had sent those gifts. Not only that, but he paid the rent owed. What broke me was the idea that he kept on sending packages. While the rent money tells me he knew of her absence; I don’t think he knew it wasn’t her choice. It’s possible he assumed she was purposely ignoring him. That she had gone to get away from him, and died thinking it.
- Further into the game, and without going into specifics, a character will be trying to save the world. However, as they attempt to, they’re confronted by one of the evils in this specific chapter. I’d like to preface this by saying that I adored the writing. I legitimately got invested in the characters. The idea of this invoking sadness speaks to that. As this character faces the enemy, they eventually win, but not without struggle. Then, while trying to disarm the threat, a harsh reality is revealed. I let out an auditable “no” after the scene.
- I’m not quite sure if this is part of the actual anime, but Gray has an affinity for getting naked. It especially comes into play in the extras. More on this later. I let out an exhaled chuckle each time he’d be chatting with one of his guildmates, only to suddenly appear shirtless. Every time he’s called out, his reaction is always the same. Surprise and bewilderment by his clothes missing.
- One of the more humorous exclusive stories has to do with breasts. Wendy receives a picture of herself 7 years into the future. She wants to see what she‘d look like if they were never sealed. The issue is that she’s lacking a chest. This kicks off a miniature story that dubs Lucy as the blessed one. Nothing about back pain though, so not a realistic thing to happen.
- Keeping with Gray, both he and Natsu have a rivalry. Quite fitting as they use conflicting elements in fire and ice. They’ll always try to one-up one another, challenging each other to a fight. However, as soon as Erza pops into the picture, attitudes change. Their demeanor is that of friends, and they walk back any threats made.
- Eventually in the game, you’ll learn of warriors called Dragon Slayers. They’ll represent varying elements like fire, to even metal. Then some are simply represented by colors. White, Black, and so on. The significance of these is not only the type of magic they use but also their favorite food. The one that’s just White enjoys anything matching that color. By activating a character story of his, you’ll be asked to find him food. Lucy and Natsu assume eggs. However, Happy – the little companion – has a different idea. As the innocent discussions continue, he’ll blurt it out. Hey Lucy, just hand him your panties.
- Another point of perversion is one I want to touch on. Wendy is a young girl but is depicted as being jealous of women with developed breasts. In one scene, she is offered clothing by Lucy. Wendy thinks it’s cute, but realizes it won’t fit her. It won’t be verbally said, but the silence and delivery of the Japanese VO made it obvious. Lucy has a bigger chest, and so the extra fabric would hang. What I’d like to point to is Wendy herself. I get uncomfortable when young girls are thrown into overly-sexualized situations. When their bodies are exploited. While breast envy is still juvenile, it’s tasteful. There’s no nudity and no outright vulgarness. It’s weird, but it’s easier to stomach compared to barely clothed underaged girls.
I’M LITERARY OBSESSED, JUVIA!
My purpose in showing the above is as such. I want to illustrate what you can expect. From the wholesome moments to the perverted ones. To show how versatile Fairy Tail is. As a licensed game, there’s an inherent stigma. It was fully possible that regardless of how great the show is, the game would bomb. It didn’t though, and I believe that a lot of it can be attributed to Hiro Mashima overlooking the project.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t issues. The localization is great for the most part. There are a few minor grammatical mistakes or missing words. Luckily, Koei Tecmo read my mind and will release a day one patch. Unfortunately, those are not all my problems. I felt the original stories and bonding events were a bit rushed. Not all mind you, but there were a few that could have been so much better.
It’s important to note that Fairy Tail won’t cover the entire arc. From an outsider’s point of view, it seems only the important aspects are playable, while lesser portions are shown through illustrations. I’m okay with this as it assured I’d only played the climax of a given part or something that built towards a bigger reveal.
A BARRAGE OF ELEMENTAL MAGIC!
I like to think of the battle system as a drink. It’s turn-based with just a hint of strategic elements squeezed in. Then, the exploitable weaknesses are the salt placed around the rim. In other words;
Enemies will be placed on a 3×3 grid. Each of the playable characters will have one or two attacks that either pushes or pulls enemies by 1. This is where the strategy comes in. Because your abilities have a pre-determined range, you’ll be able to manipulate the positioning to maximize damage. As Natsu, you’ll have spells that strike two adjacent foes. Now, say two are on the grid, and while they’re on either side, they don’t align. Simply pulling one forward, will enable you to use a much more powerful ability, defeating two instead of one. Now, you won’t always feel the need to take advantage of this. I certainly didn’t, and that’s only because there’s a better way available.
At the bottom right of your battle UI, you’ll see a gauge. Once filled, you’ll be able to obliterate your enemies. Taking a page out of Disgaea’s book, the numbers you can reach are insane. Easily seven figures. This‘ll be useful because you’ll periodically find obstacles. They usually block off chests, special items, or shortcuts. To destroy these, simply cause more damage then specified before entering battle.
Now, Fairy Tail is centered around magical spells. Physical attacks are enormously weak by comparison. Of course, each time you use an ability, it’ll cost MP. However, this is kind of circumvented in a unique way. With each enemy defeated, they’ll leave behind what’s known as “Ethernano Particles”. These recover your MP. It’s important to keep in mind that each character has a color assigned to them. For example, a blue orb goes to Lucy. Essentially, the element they use signifies the orb that’ll be of benefit. I loved this. It alleviates the worry of running out of points. It’s not foolproof, and I recommend always purchasing recovery items. It will still prolong your usage of magic before needing to manually heal.
For those worried about post-game content, you’re covered. You can partake in the S-Class certification and once passed, you’ll be able to undertake the harder requests. You can also revert characters that are level 99 back to 1. They’ll lose strength but will maintain the majority. This is how you’ll achieve those big numbers. For achievements hunters, there’s one that requires 1,000,000 damage. And if you’re worried about grinding; well, good news.
After you unlock your Guild building within the city of Magnolia, you’ll have access to a pool. With it, you’ll gain access to an ability called “Link”. What this infers is attracting various enemies towards you. By grinding in this manner, you’ll easily gain a level every battle or two. Of course, the enemies have to be of close level to yours. Thanks to the fairy gauge, you’ll be able to breeze through tough battles. As an added bonus, even characters not in your active party still gain experience, albeit at a smaller rate. If you upgrade your facilities though, you can increase this.
WHO’S BEST GIRL AND WHY IS IT LUCY?
Someone that quickly became a permanent fixture in my party. I immediately connected with her. As a writer, I’ve dabbled in novels myself. With three to my name, I understand her struggle and pain. Lucy is a creative soul. She’s a strong woman that doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s strong-headed, and will always see a task through. Her heart is huge, but she understands that sometimes tough choices need to be made. Her transformations are great, and I love how she harnesses the power of the zodiac. Lucy is so multi-faceted that I consider her one of the best written in this game. She’s adorable.
…AND THE FAIRY TAIL VERDICT IS
If you want an accolade, then here it is. Fairy Tail is one of those games with characters you miss after completion. It’s one of those titles that you connect with because each character is humanized. They’re relatable, and despite their harnessing of magical powers, you can still invest. That’s excellent writing. The grinding aspect of JRPG’s has been streamlined, and you can easily get upwards of 60 hours out of this.
Fairy Tail is an amazing journey. Full stop. As someone that never watched the anime, I have to say, this convinced me to find the time. I’m in love with all the characters and their unique personalities. While the humor is subjective, I personally found it great. Sometimes it was a case of so bad it’s good.
There is definitely an issue or two. Environments aren’t as fleshed out as they could be. I assume this is due to its inclusion on the Nintendo Switch and the limits of that console. The pros I feel far outweigh the cons. The music in this franchise is just – it’s so good. It perfectly goes with the aesthetic of the world. The impact of each track goes far in enhancing the tension during a face-off. It’s worth mentioning that there’s no English dub.
I wouldn’t call this a perfect game, but I’d call it a great one. Now to buy it on my Nintendo Switch.
FAIRY TAIL IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to KOEI TECMO for a PlayStation 4 review code for this title.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.