Fairy Tail Switch Review – JRPG Anime Done Right

Developers Gust make the beautiful looking anime style Atelier series JRPGs so really it makes sense they got a license to make a game based on an anime and hot damn did they choose a good’n. Fairy Tail was originally manga following the hijinks of the misfits of the wizarding world: Fairy Tail. The protagonists are Natsu who uses fire dragon slayer magic and Lucy who uses celestial spirit magic. In the land of Fiore many people have magic and through the game you slowly unlock a cast of 16 fan favourite characters each with unique magic.

It’s a turn based RPG where you play as popular characters from the manga.

When starting the game you get thrown into an important battle with Hades; a former master of Fairy Tail, at the conclusion of the fan favourite Tenrou Island arc (rather than the beginning of the story). After a few turn based RPG turns you watch some cutscenes spouting the power of friendship in typical anime fashion. If you’re not into Fairy Tail you’ll be rather confused as the game throws lots of our favourite characters straight at us in quite an overwhelming fashion then BANG! 7 year time skip which does happen in the anime but unless you’ve seen the anime you won’t have any idea what things were like before the time skip. 

It takes a while to get it back but eventually the guild hall is bustling.

There is a handy but very condensed encyclopedia to catch you up on the outings of Fairy Tail that at least give a gist of the characters and story before the game but I would’ve loved the game start at the beginning. The story also mentions things that happened in the past that aren’t in the encyclopedia just to confuse people who are new to Fairy Tail such as quite a few throwbacks to a character called Simon who was killed in an earlier story arc.

A few bits of story are told in picture form.

The game is fairly varied with lots of bits and pieces to do, you start by slowly rebuilding the guild after the 7 year time skip by taking on requests, building bonds between characters and upgrading the facilities of the guild. As you do all this your guild rank slowly levels up and you can take on harder optional requests, usually involving killing a few monsters.

Even winning the Grand Magic Games isn’t enough to top the guild list.

The quest structure is great as you’re constantly achieving, through short side missions that go on the request board you rank up Fairy Tail as they aim for the top so you can make progress even just playing for 5 minutes which is a real rarity for a JRPG and suits the Switch perfectly. There are tons of requests to keep you coming back for long or short sessions too with a lot of them locking you into certain characters and having a small story to them. You’ll find yourself constantly coming back for more as you unlock new attacks, characters and rank up the guild.

Nearly every attack is a powerful signature magic attack used in the anime.

Fights are turn based with enemies on a 3×3 grid, your various magic attacks cover different areas so the only real tactics involved is picking your attacks and managing your MP. There are element types but battles are super easy, barely an inconvenience even on hard difficulty so you can pretty much ignore elements. That doesn’t mean battles aren’t fun, no quite contrary, using all the different magical attacks, team attacks, unison raids, powered up states such as dragon sense and guest attacks from the likes of Fairy Tails guild master Makarov and lovable drunk Cana.

Punching dragons in the crotch is tight.

You rank up the friendship between every individual playable character which gives you little skits to watch and improves chain attacks on top of providing some great fantasy moments between characters who wouldn’t usually interact. 

And now a Mermaid Heel wizard can join in on Fairy Tail fun times.

After a few hours of play you start the Grand Magic Games where Fairy Tail enters a tournament to determine the strongest guild. During this you fight some popular story battles in between your usual questing, there are a few more arcs in the game but I won’t ruin the surprise. Around half way through the game the amount of playable characters opens up from 7 to most of the 16 which allows you to play as dream teams of wizards from various guilds. 

You unlock more wizards through fun events.

The soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect if you’ve played an Atelier game and seen Fairy Tail before, a mix of sea shanty style and chilled relaxing tunes to enjoy. They are a bit repetitive but are so inoffensive and generally pleasant I don’t mind. The voice acting is fantastic as it used all the same actors from the anime however there’s no English dub and some smaller characters aren’t voice acted which makes those conversations really weird.

You quick travel around areas that are handily marked for missions.

I love the graphics of Gust games and the character models in Fairy Tail are perfect looking. Other than character models the world does look quite empty however everything needs taking with a pinch of salt as Fairy Tail is a niche game without the big budget seen in JRPGs such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. As such there’s no character models or even pictures visual novel style for a lot of characters. I understand there’s a lot of characters and not having 3D models for everyone is okay but no 2D static images for many is just lazy and many characters aren’t even mentioned (poor Jet and Droy). It’s a shame there’s probably licensing issues with using screens or scenes from the actual anime as a lot of the game is set before the animation studio change then afterwards there is the occasional screen from the anime. In typical Gust style you mostly fight about 10 enemy types throughout the game with a few colour swaps, I wouldn’t have minded Gust using some assets from the Atelier games to increase the enemy count.

There are some cool unison attacks between characters that I love seeing.

For fans there is every kind of fan service, from swimsuit outfits, to fictional mini stories based off actual episodes such as Kagura from the Mermaid Heel guild asking Erza to help her with a job she took doing some acting for a play.

Would ya look at that view, what a spectacular rack, I mean attack

Fairy Tail is definitely not a AAA game despite being priced like one however the more I played the more I enjoyed the light hearted nature and oodles of bits and bobs slowly unlocking whilst constantly being made to smile. Despite being able to rush through quickly if you want to enjoy the game to its most it’ll take a good 40 hours making the value for money fine. Gust have really captured the ‘just one more go’ aspect of many modern games in a JRPG which is insanely impressive. For any Fairy Tail fan, this is a must have! For anime and JRPG fans it’s a big fat maybe, there’s a lot to enjoy and parts of the story are very well explained, others not so much but Fairy Tail is huge with 100s of characters in it and Gust have done an amazing job for a first attempt. Fairy Tail almost definitely is my favourite RPG based on an anime I’ve played. Let’s hope there’s a sequel or prequel as there’s a whole load of story before this game is set.

A huge thank you to Koei Tecmo for providing the review copy of the game. Fairy Tail is available now both physically and digitally for £54.99.

As if 16 playable characters isn’t enough 4 fan favourites are available as DLC including my personal favourite character the manliest of men: Elfman.

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