Reviewed: January 3, 2010
Released: October 27, 2009
With the recent rise in popularity of cutesy-ultraviolence from the likes of Alien Homonid, Castle Crashers, and Happy Tree Friends, it's no surprise that we would start seeing a number of new gaming franchises emerge that use this wacky sadistic styling.
Hence, we have Playlogic's Fairytale Fights - which takes the already dark world of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales and adds a hefty dose of blood-spurting tongue-in-cheek violence. If you have ever had wondered what it would be like to see Little Red Riding Hood slicing and dicing forest animals and enemies - well Fairytale Fights is just the game you are looking for. Just don't expect a whole lot of depth, because Fairytale Fight's incredibly-simplistic analog stick mash-and-slash action is about as shallow and unrewarding as it gets.
When I first booted Fairytale Fights, I immediately had fond memories of the Xbox classic (yes, I said classic) Kung Fu Chaos - a game which expertly blended simple combo-based martial arts, sarcastic and entertaining humor, and gameplay that was equally enjoyable in single player story as it was in four-player party gaming.
Fairytale Fights' visual styling may be reminiscent of Kung Fu Chaos, and the slasher gameplay reminiscent of Alien Homonid and Castle Crashers, but it only takes about 5 minutes to realize that Fairytale Fights differers greatly from any of those games mainly because it is nowhere near as enjoyable as any of those titles.
There are three main issues that cripple Fairytale Fights right out of the gates. The first of which is the gameplay camera, which is far too distant from the scene to deliver any sense of detail to the onscreen action. Not only does this hide most of the game's signature goriness, but also results in an almost total disconnect between controller input and character response. Most fights devolve into blind mashing of the analog stick, hoping to find victory once the dust settles.
That leads me to the Fairytale Fights' second glaring problem - the terrible analog control scheme that is devoid of any precision or finesse. At least with the standard button-based schemes employed by similar games there can be a sense of reward that comes with the learned skill - but Fairytales' analog control scheme is nothing more than wild swinging and swooshing of the analog stick and dealing with whatever onscreen melee actions that result.
Finally, if the camera and controls were not debilitating enough, the horrendous level design serves as the straw that breaks the camel's back. It is hard to imagine that anyone could screw up a mostly-linear 2D level design, but Fairytale Fights had me plunging to more unfair platform slips than 1983's Congo Bongo (look that one up, youngsters) - and that was when I could actually figure out the inconsistent collision detection that made navigating a straight line a frustrating exercise in trial-and-error gaming.
The visuals and sound are all very rudimentary - and the lack of quality cannot be glossed over with terms like "stylization" and "atmposphere". The background visuals are flat and muted, and the the sound quality lacks any pizazz to get your attention. Does Fairytale Fights have any redeeming qualities? Well - there is the online play, which includes multiplayer meatmatch and co-op story mode. Neither are implemented all that well, and lobbies are sparsely populated - so most players will never get to enjoy these features. But I will say that playing with - or against - a friend definitely improves the experience...so we thank Playlogic for taking the time to add this feature.
If Fairytale Fights were a $5 or $10 Xbox Live Arcade title it would be easy for me to recommend the title based on the novelty of seeing Snow White and Jack (of the Beanstalk) square off in a bloody fight to the death, but as a $30 retail release it is difficult to approve. If you are looking to get an ultraviolent fairy tale fix, you would be better off to use that $30 to download Castle Crashers and buy a DVD of Shrek II.