Club Nintendo, the company’s long-standing customer loyalty program, comes to an end today. In preparation for this sad day I needed to rack up just a few more points to get Star Fox 64 3D for free, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to hit up the eshop and buy a couple of $2-$3 games to push me over the edge. Since I was still struggling with Unepic on the Wii U at the time, I decided to concentrate on 3DS games. I barely did any research before just impulsively buying a couple of games, and the results were mixed. The first game I grabbed was Darts Up 3D because, hey, I like darts! Unfortunately, the game is pretty damn lame and unless I am mistaken, I don’t think there is even a single-player mode! The next game I bought was a little RPG called Fairune, and fortunately that turned out to be a much better choice.
Fairune takes place in a top-down retro-styled fantasy RPG landscape which, with very little in the way of explanation, you are tasked to explore. By solving little puzzles and fighting monsters, you eventually reveal the game world bit by bit. Here is the completed overworld:
Look at it! LOOK AT IT!! It’s so wonderful! I love old-school video game maps (I can – and have – spent hours looking at the Zelda II map, for instance), and this one is just so charming. In addition to just being awesome, this map has a pretty unique feature – its geography is wraparound. In other words, if you continue north from the very top of the map, you will suddenly be at the extreme southern point and vice versa, and the same applies to going left or right. If you look carefully at the map above, you can see how it’s all connected. I’ve never seen something like this outside of a single-screen arcade game like Mario Bros, and while it can be disorienting at first, eventually it makes traveling around so much easier and more fun. And by the way, that map doesn’t represent the entirety of the game, only the overworld – there are also underground and interior areas to explore. Sorry I’m gushing so much, but I was just so enamored by this great little game world!
The combat is also unique, or at least unlike anything I’ve ever played before. You initiate “battles” simply by walking into an enemy. If the enemy’s experience level is equal to yours, they die instantly and you get an XP point, but you also lose one hit point. If the enemy’s level is lower than yours, you kill them without consequence or reward. If the enemy’s level is higher than yours, you lose a hit point and they take no damage. What this leads to is a lot of “grinding” (ie, walking into level-matching enemies) to get to the next experience level so that you can take on the next group of higher-leveled enemies. It’s extraordinarily simple, but really clever and it makes for quick-paced and fun gameplay with your next goal always within reach.
If I have one complaint about Fairune, it’s that the final boss seems really out of place. After playing through the entire game in the manner described above, you suddenly and inexplicably have to fight the final boss shmup-style! I hate when video games all of a sudden demand that player utilize skills they haven’t previously been introduced to, especially towards the end of the game, and this stupid-ass Galaga battle is perhaps the most egregious example I’ve ever seen of this phenomenon. Still, after a handful of tries, I triumphed and beat the game.
Fairune costs $3 on the 3DS eshop, and for that you get a very pleasant bite-sized chunk of adventuring, that you can most likely finish in one or two sittings. My clear time was just over three hours:
For the price, it’s absolutely worth it. I loved the game, and I am looking forward to the forthcoming sequel.