Fairy Tail is one of the most popular anime and manga franchises in the world, so it's a surprise that it has yet to really experiment with video games. While there have been some smaller video game releases in Japan over the series' tenure, FAIRY TAIL will be the first console effort so there's a lot of pressure riding on this game's shoulders to really nail it. With Koei Tecmo producing and Gust at the helm, the studio behind a number of successful anime video game releases, the game is shaping up to be a pretty magical experience so far.
ComicBook.com recently attended an event previewing the first few areas of Gust's FAIRY TAIL, and it's clear through my time playing that the team is doing its best to both appease fans of Hiro Mashima's original series and new players coming in hoping for a fun role-playing game.
The demo provided by Koei Tecmo was for PlayStation 4 and set pretty early in the game. Which means it was all about establishing the basics. Set during the Grand Magic Games arc of the original series, the Fairy Tail guild is trying to build their reputation and status among the other guilds in Ishtar. Which means they're going to have to train their hardest in order to really power up enough to take on some of their strongest opponents yet. It makes it the perfect setting to start a role-playing experience.
Players are tasked not only with missions that extend the story, but other missions given by other characters or found on Fairy Tail's mission board. Each of these missions will be improving the guild's reputation, and the Guild Hall as a whole, so players will be tasked with improving their environment alongside the skills and abilities of each of the characters. The demo itself had the party of Natsu, Lucy, and Erza, and has a fun mechanic that lets you switch out the player character in towns. If you wanted to play the game as Lucy the entire time rather than Natsu, you can totally do so!
As you travel from place to place on an overworld map, each area is littered with new monsters to defeat. Striking them gets you an advantage, or you can just avoid these battles entirely. Battles themselves are turn-based. Each character's turn gives you the option for either a regular attack, magic attack, defending, or using an item. Enemies are laid out in a 3x3 grid, and you can hit multiple enemies with a magic attack (with each magic attack having select spaces they'll hit).
Each magic attack takes cues from the original series, and there's some pretty deep dives or hilarious cameos in terms of what's being used. Lucy gets her "Lucy Kick," for example, and it's pretty fun hearing her shout "Lucy Kick!" as she would in the original series. Using characters in multiple battles both levels them up and increases their overall rank. These rankings reveal special add-ons to the battles such as an extra quick follow-up attack, and so on, that flesh out the battles even further.
Successfully landing hits builds up a special meter, which is activated with the right trigger. This enables a super attack which sees each member of the party follow up for an attack before a character uses a stronger magical attack they don't have access to otherwise. But while this seems like players can build their teams to run roughshod over unsuspecting foes, there's a balance in everything.
Magic isn't too plentiful as each magic attack uses a meter that doesn't refill automatically. You can use items, but much of the recovery comes from defeating monsters in the field. The battles get more intense when fighting with other mages too, and this is especially true when facing off against some fan-favorite characters like Jellal.0comments
There are a few hiccups to be found as battles tend to feel a little stiff. There's not quite a lot of challenge thus far, but there's still plenty of time to balance this before FAIRY TAIL's official release. This could also be reflective of the preview build, admittedly, which will definitely not showcase everything the game has to offer. There's the promise that battles will open up even further with team attacks and varied characters as one plays, but the main thing that will definitely bring everyone in is just how faithful FAIRY TAIL is to the original series.
Without giving too much away, there's a special "fan service" moment surprisingly put into one of the first few story missions I played in the demo and if that's not Hiro Mashima's Fairy Tail...I really don't know what is. Koei Tecmo and Gust potentially have another huge anime game hit on their hands if everything continues to progress this well.