Fairy Fencer F is a Japanese RPG created by Compile Heart (makers of the raunchy card game Monster Monpiece and the equally titillating Agarest War series.) The game is presently available to buy for the PS3, with a Playstation 4 sequel scheduled for release at some point during 2015. Although Compile Heart products tend to exclusively appeal to their niche fan base, Fairy Fencer F should be accessible to a wider audience thanks to its fun JRPG gameplay and catchy soundtrack (composed by Final Fantasy maestro Nobuo Uematsu.)
The game stars the gluttonous Fang whose life consists of chowing down copious amounts of food and slacking off. One day his carefree existence comes to a screeching halt when he acquires a mystical blade possessed by a fairy named Eryn. The nagging pixie forces Fang to become a Fencer and set off on a quest to revive the land’s slumbering goddess. Accomplishing this goal will supposedly bring about an era of world peace, but racing against the noble duo is an evil corporation who aspire to resurrect a rival deity known as The Vile God. My how sinister. That company sounds almost as malevolent as Electronic Arts.
Over the course of their journey Fang and Eryn join forces with a band fellow fencers including potential love interest Tiara – a posh lass who dresses in maid attire and has the masochistic tendency of getting aroused whenever someone insults her. The colourful cast also includes a dimwit who speaks in a Canadian accent, a homicidal bunny girl and a humanoid feline with a sword sticking out of his noggin. Fairy Fencer F wouldn’t be a Compile Heart production without an element of eye candy, which is duly provided by Harley the well-endowed fairy researcher who isn’t shy about shedding her garments. Needless to say that as far as academics go Harvey is less convincing than Denise Richards portraying a scientist in a Bond film.
Combat in Fairy Fencer F feels almost identical to Compile Heart’s video game parody Hyperdimension Neptunia (I suspect both titles were built using the same engine.) Turn based battles involving a three-man party are therefore the order of the day. During a turn characters can move around the arena and execute one action (cast a spell, use an item, attack etc.) Physical attacks involve stringing together a chain of strikes, were it is possible to launch foes into the air for additional damage. One unique aspect about the enemy encounters is that Fencers can morph their weapons to exploit a target’s vulnerabilities. Fang’s sword for example can switch to an axe, which is far more devastating at harming giant hostiles. Fencer weapons are almost as versatile as a Swiss army knife… although sadly they do not include nail files or weedy scissors that cannot cut through anything.
Emerging victorious from a level will usually reward a player with magical swords that can be impaled into dungeon entrances to adjust various variables (such as the amount of experience you earn, bonuses to the damage you deal and revealing new enemies.) Your party’s characters are equally customisable thanks to the weapon points earned by defeating enemies. These weapon points can be invested into attaining new attacks, learning new spells and increasing the length of your combo. My advice to new players would be to prioritize increasing your combo size, as it is the biggest factor in determining a team’s offensive power. Male adventurers who claim that it’s not the size of your combo that counts, but how you use it, are being disingenuous.
My rating for Fairy Fencer F is a four out of five. I would have been tempted to give it full marks had it brushed up its visuals, which look rather primitive for a title released late in the PS3’s life cycle. The character designs are nice and look great during the 2D cut scenes, but the in game models look barely more detailed than something you would spy in a PS2 game. A good chunk of the budget must have gone into paying Mr Uematsu’s salary, as the developers are guilty of taking a few short cuts by reusing assets and only making a limited number of dungeons. The only reason the game manages to squeak over a twenty-hour competition time is by forcing players to revisit certain stages multiple times.
I personally enjoyed Fairy Fencer F a lot, aside from an unwelcome platforming sequence found in the final stage. Although it isn’t massive, by JRPG standards, there is replay value to be had thanks to optional quests, new game plus and multiple endings. Some hardcore players may deride the game’s lack of difficulty, but that’s okay with me as it spares budding Fencers from mind numbing grinding. As with many Compile Heart scripts, Fairy Fencer’s narrative is packed with amusing banter although it is far more restrained than the exchanges found in Hyperdimension Neptunia. Things never get overly goofy and the plot even manages to squeeze in a few touching scenes. The game may be titled Fairy Fencer F… but if I had to grade it I would award it a solid B.