Fairytale Fights Review

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Fairytale Fights Publisher: Playlogic Entertainment
Developer: Playlogic Entertainment

Platforms: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Reviewed on Xbox 360

There are plenty of former stars, living in the Fairytale Kingdom whose fame has faded and whose glory is gone. Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of beanstalk fame), the Naked Emperor and Snow White were all once big deals and are now virtual unknowns. In an effort to reclaim their lost fame, all four characters are desperate to do something to attract the Storyteller's attention and once again see their names written in the Fairytale Kingdom's latest books. What should they do? Nothing captures the attention of the masses like some old-fashioned violence.

Kyle Ackerman

Fairytale Fights is the kind of game that's meant to be played with three friends while drinking heavily. It's a brawler, but the real fun of Fairytale Fights isn't building up huge combos or completing the extended levels – the fun comes from stabbing your buddy in the back with a swordfish skeleton just as he was about to deal the killing blow to a giant gingerbread man, or knocking him off a cliff with a swat from the Twig of Destiny.

As a game, Fairytale Fights has the kind of sense of humor you might expect from the offspring of a schoolyard bully and the girl who ran around smugly telling everyone that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren't real. It comes down to repeatedly decapitating and slicing the limbs off fairytale creatures with weapons that range from a jawbreaker candy gun and a rabbit to the Spoon of Destruction or Excalibur (which happens to be a blunt weapon because it's still stuck in the stone). These fairytale creatures ooze so much blood that you can skate in it (I earned an achievement for sliding in blood continuously for three minutes), and are armed to the teeth. If you think it's hysterical that some of the advertising for Fairytale Fights cast Ron Jeremy as the Naked Emperor character alongside two other porn stars, the game is right up your alley.

Death After Death

The problem with a game that's meant to be played with three friends while drinking heavily is that just about anything (save driving or operating power tools) is more fun that way. That doesn't make the game itself good. There are enough frustrating problems with the campaign that even a group of drunk friends may give up and walk away. A single person playing through the campaign will probably grit their teeth in irritation at some of the sequences. The brawling action is fun, but the game is filled with "gotcha"-style death traps. Many of the traps are obvious, but plenty of them surprised me the first time. When playing with buddies, there was always someone to laugh (cruelly) at those surprise deaths. When playing alone, it just sucked.

It's as if a group of developers sat down and said, "We want to make something that plays like Lego Star Wars, but is as kid-unfriendly as possible." Along those lines, you can die all the time (only losing cash), there's tons of weapons and plenty of cash to collect. Fairytale Fights is a great game to leave out at a party, letting guests in altered states drop in and out of the campaign or just play arena battles. However, if you sit down and play for any length of time, the game's flaws can become blinding.

Hack 'n Slash ('n Slash... 'n Slash)

The controls for Fairytale Fights are simple. The left analog stick controls movement, and the right analog stick controls a variety of attacks. Certainly, there are hundreds of weapons, and a few buttons to do other things like jump or block, but it mostly comes down to running at things and flicking the right stick until everything dies. Sure, occasionally I dodged or blocked, especially during boss battles, but death only costs a little cash, so there's not much incentive to doing anything other than bashing everything that moves along a series of linear levels.

The main attraction, beyond creating vast pools of blood, lies in slicing enemies to bits or smashing their bones. Truly gruesome deaths cause the game to create a pull-out panel that gives a close-up of the focal dismemberment. Special glory attacks, that power up over time, even show the actual bones being broken or give precise control over the slices that can part head from shoulders.

Wild-Eyed Death Dealing

The game could have worked even if bashing absolutely everything were the only play, but the controls are mushy, the physics is poor and the levels are filled with "gotcha" death traps. Because of the physics and controls, I found that if I fell into such a trap, I lost my weapon and tended to die over and over again until I got lucky or someone else moved far enough to help me out of the trap. Also, I died a lot while attempting to attack and accidentally falling to my death after going right through my enemy. The boss fights feel like they were designed for a full team of four, and respond better to a group bludgeoning than any attempt to strategize. Worse yet, attempting these battles alone makes them interminably long.

Fairytale Fights is presented in the style of a Northern European children's cartoon, and huge swaths of the world are built from books, giving the game a distinctive visual style. Unfortunately, the graphics are lackluster, and would be equally at home on the last generation of consoles. I did appreciate that the main menu is actually a village, with various options activated by reading books, but the lack of any voice-overs in the game became wearing after a while. Certainly, other games have used this device well, but without much in the way of voice acting (or even text) to further the story, my takeaway from most cut-scenes was that everyone was mad and violent. Of course, that's about all I needed. Finally, there just wasn't much variety in the enemies. First I fought a slew of lumberjacks (actually lumberpetes and lumberbobs), then gingerbread men, then guards and so on, but the lack of enemy variety made the game interminable.

Fundamentally, Fairytale Fights is a party game, so at least there are arena battles. These are good for a few laughs, but it goes back to the playing-with-drunk-buddies issue. There's no real skill involved, so if you need to inebriate your friends to enjoy the game, you should probably just play something else.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on October 30, 2009 8:49 AM.

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