If there’s one thing that isn’t associated with fairytales, it’s the dismembering of limbs. If Little Red Riding Hood had a hacksaw hidden up her sleeve things would have been very different. In an outrageously gruesome affair, Fairytale Fights puts you in a wonderful land of vibrancy and lush colour; most of which is coated in blood.
It’s not every day you get to suit up as Jack of The Beanstalk, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood or the Naked Emperor. In your search for fame and fortune you’ll travel throughout Fairytale Kingdom with one thing on your mind: violence. There are endless amounts of cloned enemies to slice your way through, as you’ll often fight in impromptu arenas that don’t allow you to escape. It’s simple hack ‘n slash stuff, as you control your direction of attack by flicking the right stick towards each opponent. Strike first and you’ll be fine, enemies fail to respond once you’ve made the crucial first attack. On the flip side, if a group manage to deal you a blow that knocks you off your feet you may begin to receive some serious punishment, as your opponents prove there is strength in numbers. With soullessly repetitive attacks this is often a major frustration, as the distinct lack of variety shows itself quickly. Worse still, the direction in which you flick the right stick doesn’t co-ordinate correctly, meaning you’re often left flailing in random directions. To top of the awful combat system, your relentless barrage of attacks will see your character regularly falling off the scenery; such is the brilliance of the level design.
That’s not to say that combat isn’t fun. For five minutes. With a handful of human friends things get more interesting, as you slice and dice your way through endless hordes of crumbling gingerbread men, honourful knights, or bearded lumberjacks. With well over one hundred inventive weapons on show (broken lollipops, swordfish, giant compasses etc), there are some laughs to be had. Unfortunately, most weapons have the same effect on your foe, and will leave you feeling dissatisfied as you’ve seen it all already. Picking a weapon that can cut through opponents is by far the most entertaining choice, as the sound of tearing through flesh arrives in abundance. On your final strike, a close-up appears to ensure you can see the damage which has just been inflicted. Depending on the way you slice, a leg or a head may be hacked off, of if you’re lucky, you’ll split your foe straight down the middle. Witnessing the rampage of such gentle characters like Snow White is amusing, and will have you hiding your children’s eyes in fear of corrupting their innocent thoughts of the land far, far away.
“Your relentless barrage of attacks will see your character regularly falling off the scenery; such is the brilliance of the level design”You can expect to stumble across a plethora of well-known characters in Fairytale Fights, many of which appear in terrible boss battles. If you’ve ever wanted to deal a sickening blow to the wooden torso of Pinnochio, set the Pied Piper alight or beat an oddly conjoined version of Hansel and Gretel to a pulp, this is the game for you. Bosses appear regularly and follow simple attack patterns for you to overcome. The first boss, a giant beaver, appears more than once and requires the same method to defeat its sheer size. The pacing is awful, as you’ll often be pitted against two bosses in the space of ten minutes and then won’t see another for an hour. We never ran out of lives after regular deaths, so you’re always a few seconds away from getting back in the action. Fairytale Fights wants you to progress, and wants you to see all of the wonderful sights, so unnecessary game overs are nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, the blocky visual style only just works and with each level being so lengthy, you may have slit your own wrists by the time you reach the next stage.
And that’s Fairytale Fights‘ biggest problem. The ‘salami violence’ isn’t good enough. Battling identikit foes becomes boring, and the overzealous gore is merely a gimmick. Locations are repetitive too, as you literally travel across identical backdrops as if it had been lifted straight from Scooby Doo. Platforming also falls victim to a lack of ideas, as you’re forced to tackle the same obstacles more times than should be allowed. It’s a shame, because in levels such as the Candy Castle the potential is huge. The final minutes of this section sum up Fairytale Fights perfectly, as you battle to make it to the top of the castle’s highest tower. Enemies spew out from doors unavailable to the player, untidy ledges push your character over the edge and to an untimely death, and it all goes on too long. It’s never a good sign when the end of a level is greeted with so much relief, but Fairytale Fights loves to milk every location as much as it can.
“With each level being so lengthy, you may have slit your own wrists by the time you reach the next stage”For a full retail release, Fairytale Fights is also hard on the pocket. Don’t expect to customise anything, level up or even receive some juicy stats, there is nothing here. Playing locally with friends numbs the boredom for a little while, but even then you’ll find something more worthwhile to do; like taking turns at poking each other in the eye. Even neat little touches such as being able to slide on puddles of blood fall short when the game’s entire experience is shown in the opening section. Nothing ever changes and there’s no intelligence involved as the game over-dependently falls back on the gore factor. At this time of the year this kind of ignorance is idiotic, a notion summed up by Fairytale Fights having an online community consisting of zero players each time we went on for a blast. There’s literally no point in analysing the arena mode that pits human characters against each other in a fight to the death, because it won’t hold your attention. The quickest thumb always wins the contest in what is one of the shallowest multiplayer sections to crop up this generation.
As a premise, Fairytale Fights could be awesome. In the same vein as Happy Tree Friends and even Itchy and Scratchy, this game would have maximised its potential if it was available in short bursts. It’s based on fairytales after all, not an epic quest from the mind of Tolkien. I haven’t played such a shallow title all year, as Fairytale Fights’ release as anything but a downloadable title completely boggles the mind. Even then it would fall short, and wouldn’t be worth the time of day. From an intriguing prospect to an abysmal game, Fairytale Fights has turned out more like a horror story.