By: Ted Chow
As a huge Anime fan and a supporter of localizing Japanese games into English and other languages, I was definitely looking forward to seeing Fairy Fencer F come to the States. With Japanese celebrities such as Nobuo Uematsu as composer, Yoshitaka Amano as concept artist and Toshiki Inoue as screen writer, you were bound to get shear brilliance from all the talent in the room. And for what was delivered, I would say that this statement holds some truth as it was a genuine pleasure to have delved into the world of fairies and fencers.
If you have played any console RPGs, then you will most likely feel right at home with the basic control schematics. Basic navigation and layout of the game are given in the earlier tutorials to ease you into the breadth of gameplay customization later down the road. The only nuance you may come across is the camera rotation as it comes off as a bit clunky. You may also wish the field of view was able to extend farther out to capture a wider viewing distance.
GRAPHICS/SOUND (3.75 /5)
The graphics and cut scenes are tailored towards the Japanese anime style with over-the-top animations, kawaii girls and aesthetically pleasing 2D environment backdrops. The 3D models and environments are similar to series such as the Tales series, but they can be rather bland and uninspired at times.
With Uematsu and a little J-Pop, however, the soundtrack in Fairy Fencer F is splendid to listen to as it consistently dictates the right tones in any given stage without dropping a beat. The sounds for the character’s special “fairize” ability and combos have a sense of weight and makes you feel that more of a bad ass when executing your moves.
The characters are only as good as the voice acting, and I found the voice actors (especially the Japanese Seiyu) to really sell each character’s personality. If you love the Japanese language as much as I do, you should definitively go with the Japanese voice acting in the language settings to get the unabridged experience as it was intended.
As a JRPG standard, you will come to find the story progressing similar to a visual novel, with most cut scenes and dialogue being acted out with character stills and gorgeous backgrounds. The overall story is rather linear and predictable, and if you’re in the demographic the developers intend to pursue, you’ll likely be accustomed to the various anime tropes and shortcomings. Still, this doesn’t lower the impression of the game as the character interactions truly pull the story forward.
Speaking of characters, the party members and their fairies are really witty and lovable. We have the main character, Fang, who talks with his stomach, Tiara the Tsundere-Masochist, Harley the carefree exhibitionist and many others. Sure, the characters follow particular Japanese anime stereotypes, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I was able to look past that and enjoy the humorous character interactions. It doesn’t stop there as the level of interaction grows further as the furies you find along your journey have personalities of their own.
In terms of actually gameplay, the combat is a hybrid real-time/turn-based combat system. You move about the world and engage native monsters only to be brought into a turn-based battlefield. While on the battlefield you are free to re-position your character and execute a list of commands from switching characters to initiating your attack skills/magic. You are allowed up to three members in a battle formation. The round plays out until you defeat your enemies and finishes with an end score of your statistics.
Customization is a large part of the game as you try to unlock the best skill combos, synergies and characters to invest in to fit your particular play style. Combine this with the furies that you collect throughout the game, and you are left open to many different avenues on stats and special abilities when building up your characters. Leveling is infamous in JRPGs, but many small character achievements (like using magic X times) will increase a specific stat on a per character basis, which makes farming/grinding more palatable while encouraging character rotation.
With over 30 hours in this single-player experience and a new game-plus option, there are many reasons to replay the game, whether it is collecting furies or quests that you missed or unlocking all achievements for those hardcore completionists.
Fairy Fencer F is a fine inclusion into the library of those that enjoy the JRPGs genre and provides a plethora of humor and action. With the announcement of a sequel coming on the horizon, I am genuinely excited to come back into the world of fairies and fencers.