Fairytale Fights - 360 - Review
Did you ever have a friend who insisted that every fairy tale was about something deep, dark and depraved? Sure, he may have smelled bad and always wore the same clothes, but his belief that Alice in Wonderland was about drugs and that Snow White was a kinky love story made for some entertaining conversation. Enter Fairytale Fights, a cheerful looking yet oddly demented side-scrolling beat-em-up that sends several timeless literary icons out for blood, leaving nothing but a trail of lollipop-coated body parts and countless mangled corpses lining the yellow brick road behind them.
Fairytale Fights is set in a magical kingdom overloaded by mythical creations and colorful characters. Things become slightly less pleasant whenever two of these fellows cross paths, as the civilized bliss of a fantastic world quickly devolves into a slaughterfest of literary proportions. As either Snow White, Jack (of “And The Beanstalk” fame), Little Red Riding Hood or the Naked Emperor (who is, in fact, very naked), you must attempt to take back what’s left of your fairytale land by liquefying thousands of armed, dangerous miscreants that are trying to slice and dice you. Along the way, you’ll be reminded of whimsical childhood fables as you carve Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, a giant, a witch, an enormous beaver, and even poor Pinocchio into itty bitty pieces, with each level taking place in world inspired by these eternal tales.
All of the hacking and slashing of Fairytale Fights is controlled via the right analog stick, which also allows you to charge your moves and pull off a few exploderiffic combos. Weapons occupy every floor, wall and table in these far away lands, giving you instant access to everything from axes, swords, and protractors to baseball bats, rakes, and shotguns. You can also build up a special attack, which unleashes hyperactive fury on the unsuspecting baddies, and can team up with up to three on-or-offline players to journey through the 22-chapter campaign cooperatively.
So yeah, Fairytale Fights feels like an enjoyable jaunt at first, but playing it for more than five minutes will make you realize that the game’s depth is as thin as a piece of paper. The combat is simplistic to a fault, requiring that you mash on the analog stick until your character is the only thing left onscreen that isn’t dead. There are no upgrades or purchasable attacks, and the differences between characters are barely noticeable. The 100+ available weapons may seem like a lot at first, but when you realize that there’s no real impactful difference between a pencil and a ratchet, they all begin to blend together.
Making all of this worse is the fact that the combat is pretty much all you’ll ever do. Each level is a mindless grind that sends endless waves of enemy clones in your direction, with the only variation coming from boss fights and platforming segments. Unfortunately, the platforming is very poorly executed, as the fidgety controls never allow you to feel comfortable about your footing and the traps that lay in your path seem too big to be bounded over. The boss fights can be fairly grandiose in scale at times, but they still mostly involve you running up to a character and bashing away without any need for cognitive thought. It’s also worth mentioning that your character has infinite lives, giving you little reason to block, time jumps, or take care when fighting anything.
All of this is (somehow) made even worse by the game’s bewilderingly distant side-scrolling camera, as it feels as if you’re stuck watching these characters through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. It’s clear that the developers were trying to channel the LittleBigPlanet feel by pilfering its perspective, but since this game is combat-focused, the pulled-back viewpoint makes each battle look like a disorienting explosion of blood and weaponry. Making matters worse, the game occasionally throws a close-up of your character’s finishing move on-screen. When playing with other people, the frequency of these close-up windows means that the screen is constantly being obscured by someone’s dirty deeds, guaranteeing that your multiplayer sessions will eventually become a discussion about how bored everyone involved is getting.
The saddest part about the failures of this Fairytale is that developers really nailed the graphics, bringing these classic characters to life in a unique, charming way. The levels are all terrifically defined from a visual standpoint, with traditional storybook locations like a town, forest, and castle tower all being corrupted by maniacal saw traps and weapon-wielding animals. Also worth noting is the blood, which realistically spurts and stains everything in a perverse (yet delightful) fashion. Less successful are the characters--who look charming enough but have no real personality or identity to speak of--and the main menu--which is a confusing interactive mess that makes it difficult to do anything game-related.
It’s a shame that the gameplay just couldn’t keep up with the candy-coated visuals, as Fairytale Fights would have been a fun romp through the delirious mind of a twisted storyteller. Unfortunately, the nonstop repetition, poor controls, and distant camera will keep those who buy it from living happily ever after. Well, at least until they go buy something else.
Review Scoring Details for Fairytale Fights
The combat of Fairytale Fights is too simplistic for its own good, as the monotony kicks in by the time that you reach the first boss.
Saccharine visuals that look like they were plucked from the illustrations of a storybook and the most whimsically vibrant gore ever programmed to a disk go largely unnoticed because the camera is so far away.
Cheerful tunes and the sounds of metal slicing through bone work pretty well. Sadly, the characters don’t talk, and you’re never really given a reason to like them.
Dying means little in Fairytale Fights, a good thing since you do it so often. The platforming is awkward and the battles repetitive, as mashing the right analog stick will get you through pretty much anything.
The Shrek-like twisted fairy tale setup could have lead to some enjoyable bloodletting, but the simplicity of it all ruins it.
The entire campaign can be played cooperatively with up to four players, as can the game’s Deathmatch arena mode, but there aren’t many people playing and this doesn’t deepen the combat at all.
Fairytale Fights could have been the next Castle Crashers, but its lack of depth and overabundance of repetition shows that some tales are better left untold.