Release Date: 10/27/2009
At this point, I think that updating old fairytale tropes with graphic violence is old news. Candy Mountain Massacre has been on ye olde Adult Swim site for quite a while, The Path attempted to update the Little Red Riding Hood story to include rape (well, at least it did according to Lucard), and the Happy Tree Friends did the pastel color and ultraviolence combo years ago.
So, does a hack-n-slash game covering well-trod ideas manage to stay entertaining?
Read on to find out…
Lord, no. No, it does not. The storyline is simple enough – someone steals a teapot from a magical kingdom, and you have to become a storybook hero and regain your fame in order to win back the kettle. You fight your way to regain the stolen teapot, all in the hopes of regaining your fame and rightful place in storybook history. This is a pretty thin plot, but I guess who expects story in a fairytale game? Oh wait, me. There are two main modes of play: Quest and Arena modes. Quest mode takes you through the story of the game, paltry as it may be, and Arena mode will allow you to just have a battle royal with friends locally or on Live. This, of course, assumes anyone else bought the game.
Story/Mode Score: Bad
For a 360 game, this looks pretty mediocre. The coloring is done well enough in most levels (assuming you dig candy-coated pastels, of course), and the boss battles do look great, but the overall feel of the graphics doesn’t seem like much of an improvement over XBOX or PS2 graphics engines. Levels are big and fleshed out with a lot of detail, but this works detrimentally to the graphics, as the camera pans back far enough to make it nigh-impossible to distinguish playable characters from enemies or even background. I did notice a few instances of game slowdown as well, which seems odd for a not well-rendered game and only 5 enemies on the screen. I can’t imagine how poorly it would play with 4 characters in addition to the enemies.
Graphics Score: Pretty Poor
I gotta admit, I really dug the plinky acoustic guitar music in the main village. That piece seemed like a perfect fit for the style of the game. Other incidental music worked well enough and matched tension when battles ramped up, but, hell, I’m a jaded musician, it takes a lot to truly impress me these days. Dialog is nonexistent, which is fine, and sound effects worked well enough, although not with a great deal of variety.
Sound Score: Decent
Control & Gameplay
You know, I haven’t played a hack-n-slash in years, so I have no real point of comparison, but the control scheme on this sucker was, for the most part, fine. Attacks are made by using the right analog stick, while the left stick moves you around. Add in a jump button, and that’s about all you need, really. There isn’t any dire need for skill here, just an ability to vigorously move your hand back and forth while lightly gripping the joystick. This is a skill I imagine most of us mastered at 13. (what, you didn’t churn your own butter as a kid?) The problem I had with the controls is the weapons selection. You are allowed one weapon and one secondary, but the right bumper to pick up, left bumper to put away, right bumper to throw layout seemed counter-intuitive and clunky. I ended up throwing away a lot of stuff accidentally as I tried to use acid attacks, which is no good. No good at all. Because acid would make this game a whole lot better.
Control & Gameplay Score: Poor.
Since this is a hack-n-slash, it is pretty much the same thing over and over right from the beginning. Replaying the game would just be an exercise in redundancy. There are collectible items for gamerscore, and 3 difficulty levels, but even the hard level is easy, especially since you have unlimited continues in the game, so I can’t imagine anyone playing this through more than once. If that…
Replayability Score: Dreadful.
As I’ve stated above, even the hardest difficulty isn’t too hard. I actually didn’t notice much difference between easy and hard. Enemies do get a bit harder in later levels, but weapons get better, so it all evens out to be the same constant level of difficulty, assuming you don’t keep accidentally throwing away weapons.
Balance Score: Dreadful
I name-checked everything this game is cribbing in the intro paragraph there, didn’t I? There is not once ounce of originality in this beast. I saw Happy Tree Friends years ago, and this game just plays like an incomplete video game based on them.
Originality Score: Worthless
I’ve stated in other reviews that I can be a finicky gamer – I don’t generally sit for hours at a time any more (this may change with FF32 or whatever number they’re on now.). Most of the time, however, I want to at least stick around to finish the level. Not so with Fairytale Fights. This game is the anti-addict. It was painful to actually play through a level to completion and I only forced myself to do it so that my editing overlords won’t hurt me. With every long, slogging level containing another verse, same as the first, addictiveness is inverted into some sort of mystical realm that will make you dislike and even not trust your xbox. Seriously.
Addictiveness Score: Worthless
Good lord. Do kids still shop at Hot Topic? Because that’s the appeal group: kids aged 13-14, too young to buy the game thanks to our Puritanical overlords deciding what is good for us. The same kids that shop un-ironically at Hot Topic and think Happy Tree Friends are the shit. Yeah, there’s only like 100 of em, but they’re gonna love the shit outta this game.
Appeal Factor Score: Awful
Let us talk for a moment about prurience. Now, me, I love a good poop joke now and then and I do enjoy blood for blood’s sake on occasion, like seeing Beatrix cut off a whole lotta arms and legs in Kill Bill. Fairytale Fights is looking to pull that kind of viscera out of normally cutesy environs, but the attempt is stale and unoriginal in the first place and the execution winds up a muddled mess of…torsos? I guess? It would be like watching a movie where they reshot that Kill Bill scene, only they did it with a Vaseline-coated lens taking long tracking shots. You’d know there’s blood, sure, but art and purpose would fade into the dull gore.
Miscellaneous Score: Awful
Graphics: Pretty Poor
Control and Gameplay: Poor
Appeal Factor: Awful
FINAL SCORE: VERY BAD GAME!
Short Attention Span Summary:
Fairytale Fights manages to crib from already stale genre tropes infusing blood and bunny rabbits, and can’t even pull off the cheat. The game is muddled, gory, and repetitive. But the boss fights are fun. Save it for a rental on a desperate weekend.