Video games are commonly made from popular TV shows, movies, anime, and manga. Sometimes people want to relive the struggles and achievements of these fictional characters, and thanks to KOEI TECMO and its division, GUST, Fairy Tail fans can join in on the adventure with a new game, reliving the journey from the ending of the Tenrou Island arc through the Avatar arc.
Straight from the start, Fairy Tail unsurprisingly kicks things off with a bang. The famous guild finally faces off against Grimoire Heart’s leader. There’s no going back in time and playing through past events just to get back to this part of the game with this one. The story follows the manga to the core. It’s the perfect point of the story to start a new game considering the unfortunate events that occurred, such as having to build back up the reputation of the guild.
The story is a bit rushed and some minor things may have been left out, or have not offered the full extent of the experience that the anime or manga portrayed, but seeing the characters again on the big screen gives off a profoundly nostalgic feeling that leaves chills down the spine. The way how the game’s main story ended was also brilliant.
Do You Need To Read The Manga Or Watch The Anime?
Not reading the manga or watching the anime (at least up to episode 117-118) will make playing Fairy Tail’s game confusing at the beginning. You may become overwhelmed by the many characters it has to offer, with no character backstories or knowledge about their relationships. The optional character stories help mend this, adding additional dialogue and gameplay as a bonus; however, there is an extent to how helpful it can be with no prior knowledge of the series. A short animated opening with a preview of previous events would have been a solid addition to the game.
Ignorance aside, the game can still be enjoyed without the stated knowledge. It may take a while, but further playing will help establish the relationships between characters. Partaking in the character stories also give off pieces of information about past events, but can easily go ignored or forgotten because of the fact that you’re not experiencing it for yourself.
With the guild’s reputability in tarnish, the returning members of Fairy Tail must work their hardest to reinstate their name as the number one guild in Fiore. The game will have you exploring areas as seen in the manga, engaging in combat with enemies, and completing quests to restore the guild to its former glory. Modes such as Dragon Force and overpowered magic such as Extreme Magic make a reappearance.
Exploration and Quests
The number of areas to explore is quite low. The game will have you going back and forth throughout these areas to complete quests and farm for materials to upgrade facilities. Upon discovering new landmarks, fast travel options are unlocked to make traveling through those areas a painless experience. Completing quests also prompts an option to directly return to the guild and claim the rewards, adding to that. Some obstacles may block your path, demanding powerful link combos to overcome.
It shows that more thought has been put into the quests of Fairy Tail in comparison to other JRPGs. There’s a lot more to the character-specific quests rather than simply accepting and slaying several monsters. Quests offer additional dialogue related to them and can get complex with different parts to complete. Although completing the majority is optional, it doesn’t stray far from feeling like core gameplay.
There’s a low chance of getting stuck in the game. A marker on the map properly guides you on where you have to go and what you must do to continue with the story or clear a quest. There are times during the early stages of the game where some quests can get complicated because you may lack the required areas to complete them; however, abandoning them is as simple as returning to the quest board and choosing another quest.
In the stereotypical RPG, you have simple attacks and then the more powerful skills. These simple attacks are more commonly used while skills consume a chunk of SP, causing you to carefully choose when to utilize them. In Fairy Tail, the idea is reversed. You’ll find yourself rarely having the opportunity to take advantage of these standalone attacks while fully utilizing the skills characters possess. While there is a limit to how often these skills can be spammed, the amount of SP under their belts and the cost of using skills are both generous. The only time you may ever find the need to use an SP restoring item is when you’re fighting one of the tough bosses in the game.
These skills derive from the anime/manga and come in a large variety; however, the majority require unlocking on specific levels and reaching specific points of the story. Each skill has its own short animated action scene. Regardless of how many times they’re seen, with the total number of skills each character is capable of wielding, these scenes never feel like a nuisance to watch. It almost feels like a fully-blown action fighting game with turn-based mechanics, making its combat more satisfying with the many eye-candy fight scenes. Link combos, follow-up attacks, and the counter mechanic add to that, ensuring that you’re constantly paying attention to dish out the most damage possible, especially during intense battles where it’s a gamble to unleash the final, deadliest blow.
Before skills are executed, you must choose the area of the field in which the skill affects the most. Each skill has its own range of fire, and the game assigns the best targets on skill selection, making fights even easier. Although it’s easier, it helps speed up the pace of battles to make the flow of fights seem faster for a turn-based combat system. This works in the game’s favor to make fights more entertainable.
The game has three difficulty modes — easy, normal, and hard. These difficulty modes can be changed at any point throughout the game, making it more convenient for you to get a taste of how tough fights are and to adjust accordingly.
Seasoned RPG players will appreciate the Hard difficulty much more than its two counterparts. It doesn’t hit the extremes in its difficulty, but in comparison and as its name implies, it offers a more challenging experience for more fulfillment.
Besides leveling up characters, facility upgrades are another method of strengthening characters in this game. They provide additional perks, such as increasing item drop rates and decreasing item sale prices; however, it requires a lot of grinding to unlock them all. Both money and materials must be obtained to upgrade facilities. Clearing quests reward you with money, however, traveling back and forth for materials you do not have can get tedious if set as an urgent task, especially considering the large number of facilities in the game. Obtaining these materials along the way makes it less of a pain, but requires patience.
A pleasant extra that has been included in Fairy Tail is Duels. At a certain point in the game, you will be able to duke it out in solo matches with other playable characters in the game. Defeating each character for the first time will reward you with a valuable item. Strong opponents like Gildarts and Laxus can also be challenging, but it will end in utter defeat if you do not match their specified levels.
Fairy Tail has a wide range of characters. It’s no surprise that the game lets you play as a decent amount of them. Most of the noteworthy characters can be added to your party, although starting the game will provide you with a limited selection. Character stories is the key to adding additional characters to your party, while paid DLC further adds four more.
The developers have handled multiple characters exceptionally well. Normally, games like these make backburner characters suffer while your primary party grows the strongest. With each won battle, characters not in use will still receive EXP, however, they will only gain a percentage of the total amount. This percentage increases as a particular facility gets upgraded. As you may have to use each character at some point in the game, this method of doing things works fantastically and also encourages the usage of all characters. No one gets left behind!
Characters can modify their appearance with costumes. Apart from paid DLC, these costumes are unlocked by increasing the character’s rank to 4 stars and at a specific point in the game. The amount of costumes each character can change into isn’t a lot, but the addition spices up the character models during exploration and battles, and most rival their original clothing. It’s a shame the ability is only available in one location, but it promotes visits to the house for additional cutscenes and extra rewards.
Soundtrack and Voice Acting
The soundtrack works exceptionally well with the game and brings back some familiar music known and loved from the anime. The tunes compliment the battle scenes, substantially raving you up for a fight.
The game supports Japanese voice acting with English subtitles. The voice actors from the anime all take on their roles once more for the game to maintain the familiarity from the anime. Even the additional catchphrases are reflected in the game, making it feel like a true Fairy Tail game.
Graphics and Performance
Some of the animated scenes in the game are fantastic and truly bring out the magnificence from the anime, however, there are some that do not shine as brightly. Poor quality lingers in some portions of certain scenes, such as a motion cutscene early in the game. Another is the explosion after link combo attacks. Thankfully, this does not overlap into the animated skill scenes.
A lot of work has been put into the character designs and their models in the game. They represent their anime counterparts spectacularly. Changing between characters in the overworld can sometimes make them disappear for several seconds. The delay from lag isn’t just limited to interchanging characters in the overworld; it can sneak up on you during unexpected moments too, but it isn’t consistent enough to drastically hinder gameplay.
The game has an extremely long loading screen compared to other games. Sometimes it instills fear of losing your unsaved progress during the times it feels like it’s stuck in a loop. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, but what’s known is that turning off the game and reloading it loads back up the save data quicker than when it was assumed to be stuck. That’s why the game’s autosave has been godsent. The issue isn’t common, as it has only been experienced twice during the 25-30 hours of playtime for this review.
The developers are most likely aware of the long loading screens. During those troubling times, Natsu’s buddy, Happy, takes up his trusty fish and knocks some of those words to the curve. It helps distract your mind from the wait, but can get tiresome with how often it occurs. Having multiple cats in rotation could have lessened the repetitively.
Fairy Tail starts with a memorable entrance and closes in a similar but superior manner. It’s a game both Fairy Tail fans and newcomers will remember for a long time. Because of where the game starts, it’s capable of overwhelming newcomers with unexplained information, but it has its own means of recuperating from it. With fulfilling, stimulating combat and tons of playable characters to use, Fairy Tail is a worthy addition to any fan’s game collection.
Fairy Tail gets an 8.5/10.