There are very few anime series that I think translate well into video games. I was done with the One Piece games after Pirate Warriors 2 launched in 2013, and don’t even get me started on all of the Naruto games. That said, there are certain anime series whose worlds are incredibly rich with possibilities and can offer up a fun playground to experience the story in. Fairy Tail, with its eclectic characters and over-the-top magic, is one such series that does just that.
There have been a smattering of Fairy Tail games over the past decade, but none of them ever made their way to the West. Thanks to Gust, the makers of the Atelier series, we’re able to enjoy a proper Fairy Tail experience on consoles and PC that, thankfully, isn’t a Musou-style. But does Fairy Tail capture the magic that makes the anime and manga series so great, or does it fizzle out like so many have before? Here’s our review of Fairy Tail on the PlayStation 4.
The Wizarding World of Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail starts off right at the tail-end of the Tenrou Island story arc with a fight against Hades and continues through the Grand Magic Games. For those who have either watched the anime or read the manga before, that’s picking up at episode 117 of the anime or around chapter 242 of the manga. This is definitely not for those who are new to the Fairy Tail universe, as you’ll be pretty confused with many of the established plot-points (like why can Natsu eat magic? And who the heck is Hades?).
The art style of Fairy Tail struck hard in this intro, with characters looking like they’ve been pulled right out of the anime. There’s an almost cel-shaded design to the characters that lend itself to being most representative of their original design. That said, it always takes me a bit of time to adjust to 3D characters that I’ve known so well in 2D, but Fairy Tail pulls it off. What’s especially eye-catching are the special effects and particles when Natsu and others pull off their magical attacks – with flashy, grandiose effects that put the anime and manga to shame.
The intro fight against Hades not only serves as a brief combat tutorial to teach you certain mechanics but also gives quick introductions to several of the main characters in Fairy Tale. This may help those that aren’t already acquainted with the story, but it also serves as a refresher for those (like me) that haven’t watched/read Fairy Tale in a very long time. This intro plays out quickly though, and really serves as a set-up to the main plot:
Thanks to the power of holding hands, the Fairy Tail crew lock themselves in a protective bubble in order to protect them from the attack of one of the deadliest dragons in history: Acnologia. Unfortunately, by doing this the crew is locked up for seven whole years! By the time they get back to their headquarters, the guild is in ruin and has become the lowest-ranked guild around. So you get to build the Guild back up from scratch to reach its former glory!
This is the best story arc for a Fairy Tail game that they could have chosen. It’s a perfect scenario to take an already-established guild with the characters you know and love from Fairy Tail yet still be able to believably start from the bottom and build up your power in true RPG fashion. Although it would be cool to create your own Fairy Tail character to start from a beginning, it wouldn’t feel as immersive as playing as the beloved characters themselves.
Starting Over Again; From Rags to Riches
Once the Fairy Tail crew is back in their old headquarters, the world starts to open up as you perform more and more missions. At first, since the guild is starting from scratch again, only E-rank missions are available. But as you complete missions, there will be new locations to explore as well as new upgrades that become available in the headquarters.
There are many upgrades to unlock in the headquarters, which can increase the available items for sale as well as the combinations available for magic stones which increase your team members’ power. Other guild upgrades will add a passive bonus, such as increasing the amount of money earned in missions or how much experience party members can earn when not actively participating in battles.
The missions can consist of your typical “Kill X Monster” or “Gather X Items” but occasionally there will be some fun side-story quests available as well. Some of these side-story missions can have some fun content; like hunting down a monster to collect a “delicacy” that turns out to be the monster’s poop. These kinds of funny missions are few and far between, unfortunately. The vast majority of missions are typical and repetitive.
The Ferocious Fairy Tail Fighters
Fairy Tail’s combat system helps break down the monotony of missions, however. I was extremely impressed with the tactical grid-style turn-based battle system that Gust came up with, which reminds me a lot of Agarest: Generations of War. Battles take place where your enemies are on a 3×3 grid, and different magical attacks have different patterns or squares that they will hit on that grid. For example, Lucy’s mainstay attack ‘Lucy’s Kick’ only hits one square, but her Aquarius summon spell will hit enemies on a 2×3 area.
Unlike Agarest, the combat in Fairy Tail is really easy to grasp and understand. Yet at the same time, it allows for more strategy to come into play. I was initially thrown off that the physical ‘Attack’ did so little damage because that’s what I’m used to in RPGs – and I save my MP for the big spells to use only when I feel like I need them. But Fairy Tail is all about magic, so it makes sense that the design is centered around constantly utilizing the team’s spells. You don’t have to worry about running out of MP too much though, since every enemy defeated will replenish a small amount of MP for your team.
As someone who always tries to conserve MP in games, like Persona 5 or any Final Fantasy, having the MP replenish a bit after every fight gave me the freedom to go wild and let loose with some of the crazier spells at my disposal. There were only a few instances where I had a party member run out of MP, and it was usually whoever was acting first in fights. That said, like in any RPG, there are recovery items that you can use in order to replenish MP (or HP) either mid-fight or in-between battles.
To add even more to the combat, there are chain attacks that take a while to build up but are able to unleash insane amounts of damage. There’s a mechanic to destroy certain roadblocks via utilizing these chain attacks in battle, which unlock new areas of the map to explore. There are also Awakened forms that can be utilized that unlock even more potent versions of spells and new abilities to utilize. These forms also temporarily alter the appearance of the Fairy Tail crew, which just looks and feels amazing to unleash.
My Last Magical Thoughts
Unfortunately, these new character forms can’t be unlocked permanently, but there are several costumes that can be unlocked and utilized via the wardrobe in Lucy’s home. These new outfits are unlocked several ways, one of which is to increase the party members’ rank by utilizing fairy points, which are gained after missions. Ranking up your members also increases their effectiveness in battle and you can increase their available skills during chain attacks as well.
The combat in Fairy Tail encompasses the majority of what you’ll be doing, which can feel grindy at times. However, I found that utilizing the many different available party members and changing up my party kept things fresh and interesting the majority of the time. There are certain activities to do outside of the missions available from the quest board, like increasing your relationship rank between characters and taking on side-quests from people in town.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Fairy Tail crew, especially if you’re not as familiar with Fairy Tail if you haven’t watched the anime or read the manga. That said, the unfortunate thing overall in Fairy Tail is that the voiced dialogue is only available in Japanese. While I enjoy the Japanese voice actors, I wish that I could have changed it over to English dubs as well. I know when I first got into the Fairy Tail anime, I was introduced via the English dubs first and then went back to watch it with the original Japanese voices later. I’m sure there will be some fans out there who prefer the voices from the English cast, and it feels like a missed opportunity to not include that in the first major Western release of a Fairy Tail game.
The main Grand Magic Games story arc coupled with the fun and interesting side-quests lend itself well to immersing fans in the world of Fairy Tail. The battles can get repetitive and monotonous, but it’s not as noticeable as when you have a diverse team of Fairy Tail wizards with fun and interesting spells to utilize. Seeing the interactions between the guild members and being able to play through one of the most interesting story arcs in the Fairy Tale series makes for a fun-filled experience.
A game key was provided by PR for the purpose of review.