Fairytale Fights ReviewBy Paul Semel - Posted Oct 30, 2009
Fairytale Fights is a third-person hack & slash game with a bit of platforming thrown in for color. Playing as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack of "…And The Beanstalk" fame, Snow White, or that Emperor who got conned into walking around naked, you go on a killing spree through a colorful, cartoony world filled with happy little trees, babbling brooks, and a bunch of jerks who'll attack you without provocation when you get anywhere near them.
- Darkly comic.
- Will offend people who need to be offended.
- Some fluid controls.
- Some divisive controls.
- Rather shallow.
- Should've been a downloadable game.
There are those who believe that clowns, cartoons, and fairytales should be left as sweet and innocent as the children they entertain. And it is against those Disneyfied perceptions that Fairytale Fights plays. Once you’re in the slippers of one of four iconic storybook characters, this very violent and very bloody game has you slicin' and dicin' your way through a magical fantasyland like Brainy Smurf if he finally snapped from all the abuse and went postal. Er, smurfal.
Oh, but if only the execution (pun intended) was as good as the premise.
Scary Monsters, Super Creeps
Fairytale Fights is a third-person hack & slash game with a bit of platforming thrown in for color. Playing as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack of “…And The Beanstalk” fame, Snow White, or that Emperor who got conned into walking around naked, you go on a killing spree through a colorful, cartoony world filled with happy little trees, babbling brooks, and a bunch of jerks who'll attack you without provocation when you get anywhere near them.
Good thing you know how to handle yourself. With weapons you find lying around, you bash, hack, slash, poke, and maim those aforementioned jerks until there's nothing left but red stains on the grass.
Fairytale Fights features a wide variety of weapons, usually some form of a blunt (club, stick) or sharp (saw, axe) instrument, as well as some creative ones (wooden chainsaw, ruler), though it should be known that swordfish are far more effective here than in real life.
The game even celebrates this slicing by going to a close-up when you cut someone good. But while it’s funny to watch the first few times, it becomes less so once you realize that the zoom-in is actually blocking the action. Thankfully, it's optional.
There are also non-melee weapons (guns, crossbows), though they don't give you the visceral thrill you get from whacking someone upside the head. Plus they have little ammo and even less accuracy. There are also bottled potions you can throw at people or hit them with -- such as the Love one that temporarily stuns people -- but again they're not as interesting or as effective as just slicing someone up. They also spill everywhere, and will afflict you as well, which can be a problem when you move in for the kill and end up all googly-eyed.
While Fairytale Fights is spot-on when it comes to its presentation - the game looks like a cartoon and has a sweeping Disney-esque score that's just perfect - it does have a potentially crippling problem with its fundamentals: its combat controls.
To attack someone, you flick the right thumbstick in their general direction. It's the same combat scheme that was previously used in last year's Too Human, in 2004's Jet Li: Rise To Honor, and in 2002's Blade II. But while it works as well here as it did in those games, take it under strong consideration that most people (present company excluded) didn't think the mechanic worked well in those games.
Even if you don't mind this scheme, however, you'll still find the controls rather limiting. While your character can pull off some slightly different moves with a rapid flick of the stick, there's nothing in the way of combos. Fairytale Fights is a very basic button masher -er, stick flicker.
You can also throw your weapon at enemies. The problem is, unless you've already hit them a bunch of times, throwing something at them won't kill them. And since throwing your weapon means you're not holding it, you've actually just made yourself relatively defenseless. Granted, you can always punch and kick people, but your kung fu isn't strong. It becomes especially problematic because you have to first toss a weapon to gain a new one, and then have to hit the button again to pick up the other. Which only takes a second, but if you're surrounded, it's a second you might not have to spare. There's also a button to let you knock guys down, though there's little reason to do that since you're just going to have to kill them anyway.
In fact, there's a lot in this game that's pointless. There are wishing wells that you can pay to give you weapons, but there are more weapons lying around just waiting to be used than in Borderlands, Fallout 3, and Mass Effect combined. Granted, money is also abundant, since it pours out of the chests you find everywhere, but paying for a club or axe is as big a waste as buying a rock because it comes in a box marked “Pet.” Though you do lose your weapon rather easily: when you die, when you start a new level, when you're doing long division and you have a remainder left over…
The game also doesn't do much with the platforming. Most of the traps are things we've known how to avoid since Crash Bandicoot in 1996, and even if you do die, you're often resurrected on the other side of it, out of danger.
Because of all of these issues, Fairytale Fights gets redundant pretty quickly. Played in small bursts, it has its charm - it would've worked better as a short, downloadable game - but over long periods of time, it gets pretty stale. And while things get a little better when you play with friends, especially if you turn on friendly fire, the fun actually comes more from your pals than the game itself. Well, assuming your friends are sharp enough to make jokes about big beavers that don't involve Paris Hilton or yo mama.
Fairytale Fights is not meant for people who buy paintings of unicorns at the mall, have read Twilight more than once, or think it's cool that the co-stars of The Notebook dated in real life. It is for people who own Shakes The Clown on DVD, laughed when Robot Chicken skewered Rainbow Brite, and bought Alan Moore's Lost Girls. Unfortunately, there isn't enough depth here to keep those people entertained for very long, either.