Over the years I've discovered that the most disappointing games are often the ones that are born out of great ideas. There's nothing worse than getting really excited about a great game idea, only to realize that it's a disgusting mess of game with almost no redeeming qualities. I can put up with another generic shooter or me-too role-playing game, but to see a good idea crash and burn really hits me in the gut. After playing through Fairytale Fights I didn't feel like it hit me in the gut, but rather like I had a cannon ball rip through my stomach and leave me behind.
Fairytale Fights has one of the best set-ups of the year. The game introduces the idea that some of the world's most well-known fairytale characters aren't as inspiring as they once were. It's true, fame is fleeting; just ask Dustin Diamond and MC Hammer. But that doesn't mean that these former fairytale favorites are going to take this lying down, they're ready to fight for a possible return to their former glory. They don't care who they have to massacre, what weapons they use or how much blood they spill, the "heroes" of this story are going to do whatever it takes to live happily ever after.
You play one of four different characters, each with their own unique personalities. There's the young Little Red Riding Hood, the completely insane Snow White, the clothing challenged Naked Emperor and of course Jack, the generically named title character from Jack and the Beanstock. Together they will battle whatever the 'Storyteller' throws at them, ready to remind the entire world that they were stars from the very beginning. I'm not sure why they didn't try one of those "reality" shows hosted by Dr. Drew, but who am I to judge?
The concept of having a bunch of down-on-their-luck celebrities fighting their way through twisted versions of well-know fairytales was enough to make me push all of my other work to the side and load up what promised to be a fantastic game. Unfortunately Fairytale Fights proves that you need a lot more than a great concept to make a worthwhile game. From the moment the game started I was struck by one major problem after another, up to the point where I just threw up my hands and realized that it would take more than a 'Storyteller' to make this game worth playing.
The back of the box promises that Fairytale Fights will be a "blood thirsty hack and slash platform adventure." But that's only the half of it. What they don't tell you is that the game has a paper-thin story, none of the characters are fleshed out, the levels are far too long and the whole game is brought down by an insane level of repetition. And believe me, we haven't even started talking about what makes this game not only one of the most disappointing games of the year, but also one of the very worst.
The core gameplay in Fairytale Fights centers around the two analog sticks. Your left analog stick controls all of your movements, while the right stick is reserved for all of your attacks. That's right, you attack using an analog stick. If this very idea makes you cringe, it's probably because you've played Rare's horrible Grabbed by the Ghoulies or Sony's Jet Li game, Rise to Honor. Both of these last-generation games attempted to use the dual-stick approach, and sadly both failed miserably. But this time it's going to be different, right? Not even close. Fairytale Fights throws away the idea of complex combo attacks and sticks to whatever the analog stick equivalent of button mashing is.
The game plays out like a cross between a traditional platforming mascot game and a twenty year old brawler. You run through the level jumping over obstacles and dodging anything that gets in your way. Along the way you'll end up having to fight, which means that you'll have to face your enemy and push the right analog stick in one of four directions. There are some differences between attacks, for example you can hit the enemies up into the air, smack them across the level and so on so forth. The game suggests making combinations, but this system is about as rudimentary as the original Double Dragon or Final Fight games back in the 1980s.
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