Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop download
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: July 30, 2020 (EU & JP) / July 31, 2020 (NA)
Starting out as a manga series, Fairy Tail is the written and illustrated creation by Hiro Mashima, which was “serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine” starting in August 2006 and ending in July 2017.
Fairy Tail is the result of Mashima wanting to write something different after his previous work Rave Master, an emotional story filled with sadness, so whilst partying with his friends, frequenting bars and imagining them as wizards, he began to pen something fun, and sees a cast of young characters trying to find their calling.
Since its initial debut, the series, which covers the adventures of one Natsu Dragneel, a Dragon Slayer and member of the Fairy Tail guild, has gone on to find success as an anime, receive two feature films and it’s even been on the receiving end of various video game adaptations, which brings us to the game I’ll be discussing in-depth today.
Instead of being a video game that acts as a spin-off of the series it’s associated with, FAIRY TAIL is the real deal as it “invites players to re-live, or experience for the first time, the series’ enchanting storyline from the popular Tenrou Island arc through to the Tartaros arc.” What’s more, there’s even an “all-new never before seen story.”
Now, for fans of the series, I wouldn’t need to say much more than that, but for newcomers, get ready to join Natsu and his fellow wizards and Fairy Tail guild members in a quest that will have you travel 7 years into the future and compete in a tournament to prove your guild as the best guild in all of Fiore.
You’ll also have to go on to stop a great evil, fight dragons, endure an obsessive Juvia and so much more. The road to being the no. 1 guild, starts here!
With developer Gust being well known for their works with the Atelier series and Nights of Azure, FAIRY TAIL, whilst attempting to stay true to the source material, it feels and plays more like Nights of Azure.
It’s still a turn-based RPG with a ton of RPG elements, but instead of a large overworld, FAIRY TAIL hosts a variety of maps based on locations straight from the anime, for players to explore. The journey is limited to Fiore, but with a variety of areas, most of which are encountered in the post-game, there are various terrains to discover, thanks to a woodlands area, a forest, a beach, two main towns and more.
When players are exploring the overworld, they’re free to explore each map to their heart’s content, but there are areas that are blocked off, which requires players to deal a specific amount of damage during battle, in order to clear the obstruction and give way to a new part of the map.
As you’re walking, players can choose to run over to monsters and attack them, causing the game to take you to a battle scene, or have the monster startle you and attempt to attack you. Either way, the result is the same and it’s time for a battle to commence.
The earlier on in the game you are, the fewer options available to you there, you’ll only really be able to attack, use an item, defend and use magic. Personally, a regular attack never really served much purpose and I often resolved all my battles by having my preferred wizards use their variety of skills.
At first, you will start with a team of 3, but as you progress, players can have a full team of 5 characters and there are even points in the game where you will need to assemble 3 complete teams, with up to 15 characters available.
As your team expands, new possibilities and combinations become available to the player and not to mention, it gives a chance for your characters to bond more, thus giving way to a feature of the game called Bond Dialogue, which are discussions between bonded characters that can literally be about anything, including a conversation about the time Gray, a male wizard, asked Lucy, if he could wear her underwear.
When additional battle options become available, players can engage in Magic Chains, to deal serious damage to all enemies, assume their awakened state and in Natsu’s case, eat fire. Whilst playing on Easy difficulty you won’t have to rely on them so much but on a harder difficulty, taking advantage of them can become essential.
During segments where players are in a town like Magnolia, they can converse with fellow guild members and playable characters, head over to Lucy’s house and indulge in certain luxuries, such as changing costumes and accessing the game’s gallery feature, but they can also use fast travel to get to specific areas, as fast travel is not available in the game’s various maps.
Ultimately, like most RPGs, the basics are easy to pick up and available from the outset, with new methods of advanced gameplay, such as Extreme Magic and Unison Raids, becoming available later in-game and explained clearly, with all instructions available for anyone needing a reminder.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
As far as content goes, whilst players will only ever need to do one playthrough to experience everything that FAIRY TAIL has to offer, you can expect to invest a lot of hours into this beauty.
With the main game story stretched across 9 chapters with a playable epilogue upon completion, players can expect to retrace Natsu’s step, undertake a variety of requests in a build to raise your Guild’s rank all the way to the top to S Rank, undertake guild rank challenges, get the means to add amenities to your guild, such as a swimming pool and fully upgrade them for permanent stat boosting effects.
Players can also go on to obtain all 16 playable characters in the base game, with DLC adding 4 more in August 2020, level them up all the way to 99 and go even further beyond that be refreshing their favourite wizards, making them return to level 1, but with higher stats and there is no limit on the number of times you can do this.
What’s more, by clearing quests and earning Fairy Points, players can use said points to rank up their favourite characters in a bid to learn more powerful moves, increase their magic chain prowess and even unlock an alternative costume.
There are also plenty of in-game achievements in the form of medals that can be earned, hidden candy to be discovered and traded, and although not currently supported, this August there will be a free update that adds a photo mode, allowing players to “take snapshots of your favourite characters, moments, and funny scenarios while adventuring through the story.”
For the players who wish their beloved characters really get to know each other better, there’s also many bond dialogue segments to experience, but in order to see them, you will need to make sure your desired characters are banded together on the same team when embarking on quests and for added strength, when done pursing the game’s various upgrades and utilities, you can always S-Class rank each character and equip them with the finest Lacrima you can acquire.
Not only does FAIRY TAIL actually have a great selection of tracks for every occasion and battle, but although the game only features Japanese voice acting, the actors who got involved with this release, are actually the very actors that bring the Fairy Tail characters to life in the anime and films.
Personally speaking, I love that fact and it is not bothersome in the slightest that there is no English dub, I have no issues with reading subtitles and the voice acting is actually a huge highlight and helps all the more to make this game feel more like a true Fairy Tail adventure.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
While some of the backgrounds might look a little bland at times, FAIRY TAIL is still an attractive looking game that puts a lot of focus on making sure each character is a true representation of how they appear in the manga and anime.
Even the various costumes the characters wear in-game are based on actual ensembles they have worn during their adventures, and their attacks, I could watch those animations for hours, just not Lucy’s. Don’t get me wrong, her attack animations are great but some of her moves feel long-winded and whenever she’s on my team, I often make her use Lucy Kick and nothing else.
Still, the level of detail that is given to the characters, is also applied to the enemies you can encounter and the animated cutscenes are positively gorgeous. At least half an hour of my playtime with FAIRY TAIL, consists of me watching them over and over.
The chapter illustrations and game menus aren’t a sight for sore eyes either, as the chapter illustrations are visually striking and all of the game’s menus and explanation text boxes are tastefully put together and never overwhelm the player.
In terms of performance, as a game that was developed as a multiplatform title, with “optimised interactions for the background effects of the Switch version,” FAIRY TAIL runs at 30 FPS and provides a 1080p resolution whilst docked and 720p when played in handheld.
Admittedly, the majority of my time spent with FAIRY TAIL saw me playing the game docked, but during the late-night sessions when I was supposed to be in bed, going to sleep, I would settle for handheld and I’d enjoy it all the same.
Regardless of how what mode I played it in, however, there were some instances where the game would stutter when fighting lots of enemies, and sometimes when you press the – button to access its game menu that allows you to do things like save your game and return to the main menu, you can have a long wait for it to pop up.
Talking of long waits, be prepared to see quite a bit of the loading screen as they can be quite long-winded, but one saving grace in this aspect, is during the loading screen, players can control the character Happy and mash the A button to see Happy swing a fish and attack the “Now Loading” text that scrolls horizontally from right to left, across the screen.
What’s more, although there are some minor performance issues at play and grammatical errors when it comes to text, there is actually a Day 1 available now that addresses these issues specifically, as well as a few others:
- (Scenario) Minor script bugs fixed
- During certain scenes some characters models expressions were adjusted
- Weird camera angle during the awakening scene of Laxus was corrected
- Various textures clipping fixed
- Various text adjustments (misspelling, etc.)
- Some mistranslated parts corrected
- (French Ver.) Various display errors fixed
- Staff roll edited
As a video game, FAIRY TAIL tries really hard to honour the material in which it comes from. It recreates key moments in the series, sees characters saying some of the very same lines they have spoken in the anime and goes out of its way to truly bring Fairy Tail to life. It might not be as lively as the series, but a lot of the humour and antics that make the show what it is, are present, they’re just tamer in comparison.
Because of this, some die-hard fans might feel like this game doesn’t offer a true representation of what Fairy Tail really is, for newcomers, this game does a great job of showing what Fairy Tail is all about and if you like what you see, then you should check out the anime because that is something you will truly love.
So no, you don’t need to be familiar with Fairy Tail as a series, in order to enjoy this offering, as it actually serves as a great entry point for newcomers, and for what it’s worth, yes Natsu and Gray are still terrified of Erza. Yes, Juvia is still madly in love with Gray and her obsession is portrayed very well, especially during her Bond Dialogue scenes with other characters and yes, Gray is still taking his top off at every opportunity.
Lastly, for those curious, before I even considered sitting down to pen this review, I have clocked in over 37 hours, in which time I’ve obtained every playable character, unlocked all their costumes, had them pass the S-Class request, everyone is over level 80, every upgrade has been utilised and I still have a little bit more to do before I can 100% complete the base game content. (I’d say I’m around 80-90% game completion.)
One criticism I have, however, is the text that appears at the bottom of each and every screen and video capture players could possibly take. The text in which you can see on pretty much every single photo used in this review. We capture these moments because we love them and it’s one thing of the photos, but the videos? Really? Was that really necessary?
If you love your RPGs to feature a wide variety of characters, lots of humour and offer at least 30 hours of content for you to play through, then you’re certainly going to want to pick FAIRY TAIL up. It’s not quite Xenoblade Chronicles, but it’s a bundle of joy and you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy it.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A download key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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