July 30, 2020
Gust Co. Ltd.
We have a new entry into the long list of anime and manga that’s been adapted to a video game! Fairy Tail is that franchise, which originally spanned a series of manga volumes and anime series over its 2006-2017 life-span. Admittedly, it’s a franchise I know very little about. Still, getting to preview the game last year and even a recent partaking in a talk with the game’s producer, had me excited. Promising a fun JRPG forray, complete with Fire Emblem-esque relationship mechanics, I was itching for a fix. Now that it’s out, I can finally say: Fairy Tail is absolutely more for the fans. Newcomers maybe steer clear, hey?
Fairy Tail isn’t shy in thrusting you into its world immediately. You play members of the heroic guild of the same titular name. The game’s world is set in Earth Land, within the country of Fiore. Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Wendy and Erza are the main five of the guild, but the opening of the game comes with a catch. This famous guild returns to the city of Magnolia after being away for quite a number of years. Magnolia was once their home where they were lauded as heroes. Now, barely any of the locals think highly of the guild after all this time, let alone remember their name. It’s up to the crew (in your downtime between main missions) to restore faith and build up the team once more, spreading the word of the guild all across the land of Fiore.
Restoring the guild known as Fairy Tail is achieved in a number of ways throughout the game. Requests that come to you on a request board in your guild hangout is the best course of action. These requests are missions, that can be anything from “kill x number of enemy types,” to more character specific objectives. Character specific missions shine brighter of course; though, because it’s an anime game, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. You could partake in a (poorly acted) play in the regal town of Crocus, where hilarity ensues. Maybe you’ll find some heart in playing the young Wendy, going around asking the younger guild members what love means to them. On the other hand, you’ll also be doing missions such as playing as a group of the female guild members, chasing down a panty raider. I wish I was kidding.
On top of this, two other big functions come into play in working on your guild: upgrades and building bonds. Upgrades can be made to parts of your guild hangout such as the alchemy bench or, in the later bigger guild hangout, the pool or bar. These upgrades are obtained from either foraging environments or defeating foes. Aside from passive boosts such as a larger max health, they don’t do too much besides add some aesthetics to your hubs. Still, it’s certainly rewarding to see tangible ways your guild is growing, rather than just their reputation.
As for building bonds, they work not too differently to the building of relationships you could obtain in games like last year’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Periodically, characters can check in with one another and engage in personal dialogue cut-scenes. For long time fans, it’s an opportunity to see characters interact that wouldn’t otherwise do so. There’s stuff there for newcomers too. Some of the interactions are the most charming parts you’ll see in the game. Definitely still expect some of the old, trusted iffy exchanges that come from anime, though.
Fairy Tail does quite an exceptional job at making you feel like you’re in an anime world. Swashbuckling music plays on your adventures. Heavy electric guitar riffs play during combat. An anime man with spiky hair yells a lot. You’re often confused. It’s certainly an anime game.
“Fairy Tail does quite an exceptional job at making you feel like you’re in an anime world”
Realising this anime world within a video game has undoubtedly come with a cost, too. Fairy Tail does its best to introduce you to its characters and world. Although, in playing it I can’t help but feel like I’m late to a party, awkwardly acquainting myself with everyone around me and doing my best to catch up on what I missed.
This translates through to the main campaign too. It spans several chapters, and across those are several well known and beloved story arcs fans will have seen before. Without spoiling too much here, one of the big takeaways is the Grand Magic Games arc. It’s a brief, albeit fun opportunity to get acquainted with the other guilds, battling it out in a magical competition where only one guild can be crowned. Otherwise, what’s exciting for fans is, obviously, just confusing for newcomers. Although, I did still find myself managing to care for parts of Fairy Tail’s universe as well as certain characters in the game more than I expected to. Damn it, I want to protect Lucy as much as possible.
I have to express, with every fibre of my being, how tired I am of anime tropes. In Fairy Tail, they’re as glaring as ever. There’s a yandere type character. Underage characters will sport size 0 waists and impossibly sized breasts. Same said characters will experience being preyed upon by significantly older men in the cast. Hell, there’s even a scene where the very young Wendy is at a pool with the other female characters. She looks over at the other characters, longing to have breasts as big as theirs. Another character assures her one day they will. Wendy is cheered up. Scene end. Oh, and then immediately after, alternative swimsuit outfits are unlocked for all the female characters. Cool! I’m so done!
At this point, one of the last saving graces for Fairy Tail is its combat. The game allows for parties of up to five on your ventures. Its expected you use this to your absolute benefit. Maybe you’ll pick the pink-haired fire eater Natsu, party him up with Lucy who can conjure the powers of the zodiac, hell maybe you want the pure of heart himbo Najeel (who no joke eats metal) to mix things up a bit. Finding fun and complimentary combat combinations of members is my bread and butter in RPGs. With over 12 possible characters to choose from, Fairy Tail lets you feast on that.
Once you work out your party, picking off and nailing your foes is just as satisfying. When entering these turn based battles, your enemies are laid out to you in a grid. Each character has a wide variety of magic abilities to choose from, and it previews where in the grid these moves will hit. Planning accordingly is important, so that you can hit as many enemies as possible at once. Also important in monitoring in combat is the gauge that fills up as you land blows on your foe. When the meters full, you can chain together special attacks between your team, using as many as 15 attacks in one turn. Whether its the Unison raid that comes from special pairings, or those sweet finishers at the end of a chain, the attack animations are a riot. I adore the combat in this game.
There’s also just a lot of weird omissions from Fairy Tail. Often characters will talk at others in scenes that the developers just simply didn’t bother to animate in the 3D space. In the second last chapter for the game, character animations for attacks in combat just weren’t present anymore. It’s like the developers gave up. Hell, by that point I had too.
- Some badass and rewarding combat, complete with banging riffs
- If you're a completionist in games, theres plenty to keep you busy
- Charming one-on-one character interactions through bond development
- So many iffy, tired and downright unacceptable anime tropes
- Baffling story plots that'll be hard to follow for non-fans
- Weird corner-cutting and omissions in the game
With a side story and progression gameplay loop that felt like it was just built for people like me, I still left Fairy Tail wanting more. Even with all the good takeaways of the game, the glaring faults still soured just about everything. At most, I can chalk this up to a partial guilty pleasure game that I may pick up another day to get that 100% completion. Yes, I still expect it to be torturous at times.
Fairy Tail was always going to be a game for the fans. So, if you’re a fan by all means jump in and bask in a familiar and quite well-realised world. Otherwise, steer clear of this adventure.