Most kids in the world have grown up with some sort of fairy tales, although most American children are going to be familiar with the Disney adaptations. Fairy tales are considered to be fairly cheerful G-rated adventures, but the original versions of many fairy tales were pretty nasty and violent affairs. Fairytale Fights can't claim to be true to the original stories, but it certainly brings back the violence. Don't be fooled by the cheerful-looking characters on the packaging; this isn't a game for kids.
Fairytale Fights is set in a sort of combined fairy tale land that houses everyone from Goldilocks to Paul Bunyan, but things are not quite as cheerful as they should be. For an unknown reason, someone has been making people forget certain tales. Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, The Naked Emperor and Snow White find themselves out of place in their own stories, with people forgetting that they had even existed. They plan to re-earn their glory by assisting other fairy tales with their troubles. It's a simple enough story, but Fairytale Fights tells it in a rather bemusing manner. The only character who really talks is the Magic Mirror, who offers advice and tutorial hints. Every other character is relatively silent and only speaks in gibberish, so the game relies on slapstick humor to gets its story across.
On the surface, Fairytale Fights is an average beat-'em-up. You and your friends can choose one of four characters — Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, The Naked Emperor or Snow White — and beat the living daylights out of anything that gets between you and everlasting fame. The left analog stick moves you around, and curiously, you simply move the right analog stick to attack, rather than using a button. Twiddle the analog sticks around, and your fairy tale becomes a whirling dervish of death, tearing apart everything around him or her. You can also jump into the air and perform air combos, although those can be a bit difficult to pull off.
As you deal damage to enemies, you'll slowly build up a Glory Meter, which is a functional super bar. When the meter is full, you press a button and instantly enter Glory mode, which grabs the nearest enemy and allows you to perform a deadly attack by jerking the analog stick back and forth as quickly as you can. If you kill an enemy while in Glory mode, you'll move on to the next opponent, allowing you to clear out multiple enemies at once if you're good.
While their bare fists are a powerful tool, your forgotten fairy tale warriors are almost always better off with a weapon in their hands. Fortunately, Fairytale Fights has no lack of weapons for you to use. You can pick up things as mundane as a stick or a sword, or as crazy as a wooden chainsaw or a stuffed animal, and use them to brutalize your enemies in all sorts of disgusting ways. Depending on the weapon, you'll be more effective in combat — and more capable of drenching fairy tale land in blood and gore. A stick might not cause a lot of bloodshed, but an ax or the aforementioned chainsaw will turn everything a nice shade of crimson.
You can even use weapons that don't focus on killing, but on weakening enemies. A magic wand or potion may stun or disable an enemy, allowing you to kill an entire crowd at once. There are even ranged weapons that let you blast enemies from a distance but only have limited ammo. You'll drop a weapon if you die, but fortunately, you can carry two weapons at once: one active and one that is held in reserve. Using weapons makes your character a better fighter, but you also get new and gorier animations.
Gory animations are the most notable thing in Fairytale Fights. Despite the cute character designs, the game is a completely blood-soaked murder fest. Every attack you do will deal terrible damage to your foes by popping off limbs and causing blood to spurt everywhere. Depending on how you kill enemies, you may even get gruesome close-ups of the foes as they split in half, get torn to shreds, or have their bones broken. Every fight leaves the area around you soaked in blood, which you can then slide around on like it's ice. In short, it's not a game for the younger crowd, regardless of how bright and cheerful everything may appear. Fairytale Fights has an interesting cartoonish art style, which combines with the gore to create a rather bizarre and surreal feel. The fairy tale characters don't talk at all but communicate in grunts and screams. They're actually very reminiscent of the Raving Rabbids from the Rayman games, only significantly more violent.
Each level in the game tasks your forgotten heroes with traveling through some part of the fairy tale world in an attempt to do good deeds and earn tons of cash, which is the most important thing in the game. You need to earn as much as possible in order to build statues to remind the townsfolk of your deeds. You can also use it to occasionally make wishes at a wishing well in order to get new and better weapons. Cash isn't easy to come by, though. You have to beat up enemies or find treasure chests to fill your coffers, and you lose money every time you die. You have infinite lives in the game, but if you die too often, you'll find that you finish the stage without earning a single coin. It's an interesting balancing method, since players are encouraged to earn as much cash as possible. You can't permanently die, but getting careless can lose an entire stage's worth of profits. It doesn't matter if you jump into a spike trap, fall off a cliff or get clobbered by enemies; you'll still lose your valuable coins.
Fairytale Fights is a straightforward beat-'em-up, but where it really shines is in the presentation. The cheerful graphics and blood-soaked combat are such a bizarre mix that it somehow ends up being funny. In the preview build, the combat was easy to learn and lacks any particularly complex or difficult mechanics that would get in the way of making this a solid party game. The variety of weapons adds a fun strategic element to the game, since you'll need to decide if it's more worthwhile to carry a love potion or a lumberjack's ax into combat. The wrong choice can be the difference between fame and obscurity. Those looking for a new beat-'em-up game to play with friends will want to keep an eye on Fairytale Fights. It may not be the deepest or most innovative game, but there's an undeniable draw to watching a psychotic Red Riding Hood and Snow White slaughtering all who stand in their path.
More articles about Fairytale Fights