Fairy Tail is one of the longest running and most popular anime series of the last decade. The story of Natsu, Lucy and the rest of the guild captivated audiences until the end of last year’s climactic 10th season. Despite it’s popularity and longevity, there hasn’t been a single video game based on the franchise. It’s only fitting that now, as fans have nothing left to consume, that Atelier developers Gust would bring us a turn based Fairy Tail JRPG.
You play as various members of Fairy Tail (you’ll have played as around 20 by the end of the game) rebuilding their rundown guild after 7 years of neglect when all of their members mysteriously vanished. Long time fans of the show will realise this is around half way through the anime. In your quest to bring the guild to its former glory, you’ll compete in the Grand Magic games, complete requests, and save the world from total destruction a few times along the way.
Be it hunting birds or slaying giant dragons, combat in Fairy Tail is flashy and enjoyable. Enemies are placed on a 3 by 3 grid, and your character’s attacks all hit different areas of the battlefield. Some moves can also push or pull your foes, to help line them up for the next character. It’s very satisfying to set up a perfect line of enemies for your next team mate to blast into oblivion. Alongside positioning, there are also status effects, counter attacks and elemental weaknesses to take into account if you want to effeciantly dispatch your foes.
After you’ve dealt enough damage to your enemies to fill the Fairy Gauge, you’ll be able to unleash huge team attacks on the entire opposition. These ultimate attacks use the strength of your entire team to wipe out anyone in your path, and when used effectively will end a fight before it starts. All of the different combat elements are introduced at a perfect pace, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to get to grips with each of them before another comes along. You’ll need every last bit of your combat knowledge to get your guild to the coveted S Rank.
To rise through the ranks of the other guilds (which you’ll often need to do to progress in the story) you’ll need to complete requests asked of you. Sometimes you’ll need to kill some dangerous critters overrunning the forest, sometimes you’ll have to find missing laundry. You’ll get more of these quests as you hit new letter ranks, although the difficulty doesn’t always seem to match the ranking. The more story based requests are definitely the highlight here, whereas “Kill X Wolves” can just feel a bit grindy.
Grinding away at requests is made much more tolerable by the speedy load times and handy fast travel system. At any moment you can jump between areas and locations at the touch of the D Pad, and if you blink you’ll miss the loading. Teleporting around the gorgeous flower capital of Crocus is so convenient, and means you’ll have quests done in no time. For the few occasions you have more than 5 seconds to wait, you can even play baseball with the “Now Loading” text.
There’s a lot more complexity to Fairy Tail than this, though. Upgrading the guild for buffs, fusing Lacrima for more powerful equipment, friendship levels, character ranks, over damage… There are a lot of systems in the game to get invested in, which all scratch that JRPG itch perfectly.
In terms of gameplay and growth there’s very little to complain about in Fairy Tail, but following the story is *ahem* another story. The game begins with a boss fight against one of the big bads of the series, before flinging you into the future (and past 5 seasons of the anime). If you haven’t watched older episodes of Fairy Tail for a while, or even at all, there’ll be a lot of backstory referenced that you’ll have no way of understanding. There’s also a chance if you’re not used to Fairy Tail, that you’ll be shocked by the regular focus on T&A. They definitely stayed close to the fan service-heavy source material here, and you’ll likely know already if you can stomach this or not.
Fairy Tail is a great turn based RPG, with thoughtful combat and some incredibly deep and satisfying systems. The story (much like in the anime) is great, if let down slightly by a lack of backstory explanation. For fans of the show, this is the Fairy Tail game you’ve always wanted.
Combat is thoughtful and enjoyable
Tons of upgrade systems to invest in
Introduces new elements at the perfect pace
Backstory is never well-explained
Can feel a little grindy
A lot of fan service