The game begins with a magical book explaining to you that you must go on an adventure to seal away evil spirits – exactly the type of cliché you’d expect from a game which has the main aim of inducing nostalgia, rather than trying to tread any new ground. However, Fairune is happy to knowingly joke about what it is, with the magic tome telling you, “Don’t worry about the monsters too much, this kind of thing happens every few hundred years.”
The graphics are deliberately old school to the extreme, going so far as to size the text overly big to recall the times when we were playing games on much smaller screens. There is no 3D to speak of, but for a game this cheap one can’t really complain.
The gameplay is about as simple as it gets: you walk into enemies to kill them and gain experience. This experience levels you up, which allows you to walk into and kill stronger enemies. And so it goes on, with the occasional sprint back to your magical tuft of grass to heal. While this may not sound especially exciting (and believe me, it isn’t), the true point of the game is not repetitive monster slaying, but the exploration and puzzles. However, neither the exploration nor the puzzles are solid enough to compensate for the boring gameplay.
The extent of the puzzles is just arbitrarily pushing rocks in a particular direction to open hidden stairways, or using a particular item on a particular obstacle to clear it. The exploration element is no more than walking around the very simple, but admittedly very nice looking, map, searching for new monsters to kill and magic bushes to heal at. Final Fantasy 7, this ain’t.
There is some degree of entertainment to be gleaned from Fairune. Even in this most basic of RPGs, it is still greatly satisfying to go back and easily slaughter the monsters that you had to run away from when at a lower level. And it can feel good to overcome some of the trickier puzzles, even when it’s just a matter of stumbling upon a hidden passage that had eluded you the previous couple of times you’d explored a particular area. The game’s music, along with its pixel art, do a good job of evoking what many consider to be the golden age of video games, at least as far as Japanese RPGs are concerned. This has an obvious drawback though – it can’t help but prompt the player to wonder, “Why aren’t I playing one of those golden age JRPGs rather than this distinctly under average eshop game?”
While it is not offensively bad, it would be a push to say that Fairune is anywhere near being a good game. It is simplistic to the extreme, and it’s difficult to see who this simplicity could possibly appeal to: the simplicity of the game means it could only really be enjoyed by little kids, yet everything about the game’s style is trying to appeal to an older audience who remember classic RPGs.
Overall, even with its budget price, Fairune is not worth a purchase. Put your £2.39 towards buying an old SNES instead, and get a true classic gaming fix.
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