When it comes to Japan and popular manga and anime series, there usually are plenty of video games produced for them over the course of their run, and in the case of a few, even after they have ended. That wasn’t really the case however for the Fairy Tail series as, despite its eleven year run, the manga only saw a handful of portable titles released that never saw a Western release. Now however that has changed as Koei Tecmo and Gust have brought the Fairy Tail story into a full sized game simply called Fairy Tail. With the original storyline seeing its conclusion and continuing on in a sequel, how does this RPG handle the long running franchise?
In rather odd fashion Fairy Tail chooses to begin its storyline at the end point of the Tenrou Island arc, setting the starting point solidly into the third season of the anime and over two hundred chapters into the manga, and while there is an extremely limited glossary summing up a few major arcs that happened prior, those who jump into this RPG without knowledge from the series will be doing so at a disadvantage. That being said, the story begins with the key members of Fairy Tail facing off against Hades as an introduction to battle mechanics, before then tossing players into the core storyline.
Thanks to Hades’ actions on the island in search of Zeref, a dark and powerful dragon appears above the island and with the Fairy Tail guild members already exhausted the best they can do is believe that they will survive. Seven years later, through the help of the first guildmaster, everyone manages to make a safe return to Magnolia Town only to find out that in the time they have been gone not only has Fairy Tail fallen to the point that their guildhall is now a small shack on the outskirts of town, but that very few people even remember their names as the best wizards in the guild have been thought dead for nearly a decade.
As such, the newly returned guild members take it upon themselves to raise the guild back up to the ranks it used to be all while making sure their own skills haven’t gotten rusty. Fairy Tail is a bit of an interesting game when it comes to storytelling as it does its best to fit as much narrative as possible into story progression all while trying to give important and dramatic moments the time they deserve while also having to skip over or, poorly summarize with a few images, various events that took place between certain periods of time. This generally only happens during arc transitions but more than a few of these also feature either major character development or story tidbits and it is disappointing to see certain moments cut entirely.
It is worth noting that there are little side-quests for most of the Fairy Tail characters that players will interact with and while these side-quests are new bits of story that were never included in the manga and fans will appreciate these little quests even if they tend to be fairly short in length. The characters themselves are mostly given plenty of time to shine with their interactions with one another and major enemies they face off against, though be prepared for only most of the major Fairy Tail guild members to be playable, or in some cases even have character models, as a few side characters are relegated to portraits or do not appear at all. All in all, Fairy Tail does a solid enough job presenting the Fairy Tail guild’s journey post Tenrou Island arc though it surprisingly does not end up going through to the end of the manga’s storyline, so both newcomers and longtime fans may be a bit disappointed by this fact.
Considering the fact that the entire story of Fairy Tail is based around a guild, it only makes sense in a way that an RPG is the best way to experience the game. Players will be able to take on requests that can be completed for money, fame, and guild points with these requests ranging from hunting a number of monsters, collecting items, or defeating a special monster and unfortunately they do tend to blend a bit together but there is some variation here thanks to the world design and the constant party switching players will need to do as not only will some requests require certain Fairy Tail members to complete, players will want to take advantage of element types as well in battle.
Players will venture out into fields and encounter monsters or take part in story battles with their team of up to five fighters at a time, though players will initially only be able to bring three Fairy Tail members, with Natsu and Lucy being locked in, with them at the start. Battles are turn based affairs that see your team facing off against enemies on a grid-based field. While the standard attack is always an option, it should mostly be treated as a last resort for any good wizard and as such Fairy Tail relies heavily on magic, and limited MP, being the primary attack for all characters. Magical attacks come in various forms and strengths but come with a number of bonuses such as hitting extra spots on the 3×3 battle grid, allowing for most attacks to hit numerous foes at once. These attacks also can provide various bonuses such as an increase in strength or chance to counter-attack an enemy, push a foe around the field to line them up better, inflict various status ailments, and more.
The foes that players face off against are hardly push-overs themselves as they can also use magic and inflict status ailments, though it is worth noting that players cannot move around a grid themselves though, just like the series itself, the Fairy Tail members have the power of their friends to pull them through. As combat progresses players will build up a meter that can be used to chain together combo attacks that deal incredibly powerful damage or perform powerful finishing moves that target the entire enemy team. In fact, while exploring the field there are even some locations with hidden items that can only be broken through by overkilling enemies to a certain degree and usually these finishing moves or things even more powerful such as Unison Raids and more to avoid spoiling a few things for potential newcomers. All of the magic that the characters use is portrayed incredibly well and fits the characters to the letter and one can tell that a lot of care has been put into making sure the magic feels as it should in this game, powerful and flashy.
That being said, there are a few problems here and there though one of these is something the game is upfront about with a warning that, should RPG players want a more challenging experience they will want to go for a harder than normal difficulty as the normal mode quickly becomes easy once characters grow in strength, have various bonus abilities unlocked using guild points, and more party members become available. The other problem lies in the fact that, thanks to the guild ranking system being used to progress the story, players may often feel a bit like they are spinning their wheels while trying to complete the various minor tasks that must be done to level up the guild and advance the story. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it wasn’t for the aforementioned problem of many of these requests being repetitive in nature.
Visuals & Audio
When it comes to designing the characters in Fairy Tail, fans will be able to tell that Gust has tried their best to replicate the character designs as close as possible here. There might be a few missing characters that are unfortunately not represented but those that are are handled incredibly well. This is especially noticeable when it comes to the female cast as, true to Fairy Tail fashion, there are plenty of different outfits available throughout the course of the game and bits of fan-service scattered throughout that is incredibly tame in nature. Of course the real highlight, as mentioned before, is how great the magic attacks can look and how they match the attacks fans are familiar with from the series. This includes things such as Erza’s equipment and appearance changing depending on attack, Gray’s various ice formed magic, and more. It is a bit unfortunate that not all of Lucy’s summons are given the proper presentation here though as most are simply presented with anime icons and nothing else.
As one may expect given the massive cast of characters in the game, Fairy Tail has been released with only the Japanese voice track available but thankfully all of the original voice actors have managed to return to reprise their roles here, providing longtime fans plenty of great voicework for their favorite characters. Considering the Japanese only voice track however it would have been nice if more of the in-battle voice work was subtitled however. As for the soundtrack, fans will recognize a number of remixed tunes from the series itself as well as a collection of new music that fits well with the theme of the game.
Even though it may not be the most accessible for those unfamiliar with the franchise, Fairy Tail feels right at home as an RPG with plenty of care being given to the magical side of things and to the presentation of the series’ signature characters. Perhaps even newcomers may feel the itch to dive into the series proper should they feel like playing an RPG that has flashy turn based combat but a story they may find themselves lost in at key points. Things may get a bit repetitive at times due to there being only a small variation between required requests but a solidly enjoyable battle system with adjustable difficulty fans of the franchise will find Gust’s handling of the series quite enjoyable.