Fairune Collection Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: SKIPMORE, ESQUADRA inc.

Publisher: Flyhigh Works

Release Date: 17th May 2018

Price as of Article: $9.99, £8.99

Game Size: 126 MB

Story

A magic sentient talking book appears before you, and 4th wall breakingly tells you that you are the chosen one… or maybe not, and must therefore embark on an epic quest to save the world… maybe.

Yeah, the story really doesn’t take itself too seriously, at least not in the beginning, which I dislike no matter the genre, but thankfully the beginning and the ending are the only times in this 4 hour game where you are given any direct dialogue. All the rest, is just you and the game, with no interuptions. Fairune believes that less is more, in that the absence of cutscenes, is made up for by the visuals and set pieces, as well as occassional stone tablets, giving you the background story you need.

Although both Fairune 1 and 2 are very simple and by no means super deep games, I still won’t spoil anything, as I believe, that what little is here, during the few hours it takes you to beat each title, should be experienced on your own as I actually think, for as simple as the story is, it’s really good, and will pull a few surprises on you.

Gameplay

You are a nameless maiden in white, and much like in another classic tale of bravery we all know so well, you start off completely naked. You have no sword or shield, not even a set of armour, and what’s funny is, that until you become combat ready, enemies are harmless to you, and will merely push you back. As the book tells you, even monsters wouldn’t dare hurt a defenceless maiden.

Nevertheless, a few steps to the right and you quickly find yourself with the sword of hope, and are ready to traverse and explore.

A twist to the combat, is that all enemies die in one hit, but you also always take hits defeating them. What do I mean by that? You don’t even have an attack animation, you simply slay enemies by walking into them, however, this also damages you, so for every enemy you defeat, you lose health but gain experience. You can heal yourself at no cost at magic plants scattered about the landscape, otherwise you will eventually fall in battle. Death is a no penalty though, as right as you die, the game informs you that it has autosaved your progress, meaning all you have to do, is follow a narrow path representing the afterlife, in order to come back to life where you spawn by a gravestone.

Fairune Screenshot 2

As you level up, new varieties of enemies will be introduced, one kind being a level above the previous ones you fought. For you see, weak enemies that are far below your current level, will no longer net you experience points, but on the other hand you can kill them at no damage to you, so you always need to look for the next variety of enemies that can help you increase your power. Don’t worry though, as the game is very well paced, to the point where you will always be around the type of enemy that equates to your current level. Don’t go off the deep end though, as going into battle with enemies far stronger than you, will result in you getting pushed back and only you taking damage.
If you are in doubt, the magic book that you always have with you, will tell you what is the enemy you should be farming at this point in time.

As you begin the game, you are merely a tiny dot on a medium sized map that is all greyed out. Grid by grid you need to explore and uncover the map. At first the world in which you travel may not seem big, but trust my words when I say, there is more to this world, more layers to it should I say, than immediately meets the eye.

The game is heavy on puzzles, though many are straight forward if you have common sense. Throughout the game you will stumble on different landmarks, like a mural of an ancient bird with red stones etched into it, you then need to search the nearby vicinity for these red stones, and then insert them in a nearby bird drawing in the ground, in the same spots they were placed on the mural, in order to trigger an effect and move on with the story.
If you see a tree, you will need to find an axe to chop it down, and later use the wood for a raft. A seed must be planted in soil, and then watered in order to grow a climbable beanstalk. The game is filled with all of these small things, where everything you do, every puzzle you solve, leads to something else, at a brisk consistent pace. Granted I did find myself stuck a few times, but then I returned to the game later with a fresh pair of eyes, and immediately spotted the solution I had overlooked the first time. Only few times was the solution borderline troll-ish.

And that is what I love about the game, for as short and simple as it is for a so-called Zelda clone, it is varied on puzzles and locations, never using the same one twice, and always has more surprises up its sleeve. And every time you find the solution to a puzzle, A goes to B, you feel immensely satisfied and no less clever, for figuring it out. By the end, I constantly found myself think, ”okay, this has to be the final puzzle”, but was then pleasantly surprised as that riddle still lead to yet another one, to then culminate in a really surprising final boss that changed up the gameplay in a way that felt natural.

Fairune Screenshot
Everything having a purpose in the game though, unfortunately also means that there are no optional puzzles to solve, leading to extra goodies or what not. You don’t even get anything for covering the map 100%. So unless you are the type who can easily go back and replay a game you love multiple times, even if it goes the exact same way every time, Fairune is pretty much a one and done deal.
But again, that is not necessarily a bad thing, as like I said before, it is a very short game, but it is a tightly packed experience that leaves you very much satisfied.

The gameplay itself only takes up 1/2 of the screen, with the other half being shared between the map of your current location, and your inventory. That may be annoying to some, and personally I hate games that constantly has the logo shown in the top corner, like the game feels it constantly needs to remind me what I am playing.

Regardless, the gameplay itself not being fullscreen, I didn’t find to be a bother or hindrance, just an awkward design choice that I myself would have done differently. I first played the game on the 3DS, where the upper screen was entirely dedicated to gameplay, and the lower screen being shared between the map and inventory, so maybe when converting the game, the developers felt they needed to fit everything on-screen, instead of putting the map and inventory on seperate subscreens? I don’t know, I’m just guessing at this point.

The Quest Goes On…

Fairune 2 follows pretty much the same formula as its predecessor, the differences being quality of life improvements, like the game now taking up the whole screen… or most of it anyway, with the map and inventories being dedicated to their own seperate buttons, which was a much welcomed change for me. Other than that, whereas stronger enemies in the first game merely pushed you away, in Fairune 2, you can slay them for more experience than normal, but in return they will do massive damage to you. Finding an enemy that is slightly more powerful than you can however be recommended if you are near one of those healing plants, as this is a great way to rack up some fast experience.

One other thing to note, is that where the first game took place on a single map, although it did have multiple layers and realms to it, Fairune 2 this time sports no less than three overworlds, each complete with their own unique layouts, set pieces, and subspaces.

Fairune Screenshot 7

The story, much like the first, also starts out fairly simple and doesn’t take itself too serious, but does evolve in its narrative as you go along. Keeping surprising you at every turn with its lore.

What I do like about both games, is that although they are obviously set in a fantastical outdoors location, they combine modern- and future-esque technology, with more traditional puzzles. Like how you will both find ancient gemsstones to open temple doors, but also keycards and other gadgets. This reminds me of how the original Zelda was allegedly supposed to have a future-esque sci-fi setting, with the three pieces of the Triforce being three micro chips or something like that. And if that was indeed the case, I feel like Fairune 1 and 2, fun, addicitive, and competent games in their own right, give an idea of what could have been.

Again, Fairune 2 is pretty much just more of the same of what Fairune offered, only with quality improvements, more world to explore, and a new tongue-in-cheek story to invest yourself in.

A Pocket-Sized Appetizer

The third game in the package is a bit special. Fairune Origin is an 8-bit simplification of the first Fairune, with even simpler puzzles and only a measly 12 panels of map space to traverse. It is an ultra short, but no less fun little bonus experience, beatable in just about 10 min on your first run, and in this version you can slay enemies at no cost to you, but in return there is no experience to be gained. Enemies can only hurt you if they run into you from the side or behind, but this rarely happens, and even if you take damage, your life meter will rapidly replenish over time.

Fairune Screenshot 3

Just having a Blast!!

For a final encore, the fourth and final game in the Fairune Collection is a little mini-game called Fairune Blast, which is the only game not playable from the moment you boot up the collection. With three massive locks to its name, you must first play and beat the other three games in the package in order to take a shot at this one. On one hand I love having stuff to unlock in my games, as it gives me something to strive for, on the other, considering these are their own little titles and not just sub-games within a larger game, I would have liked having them all available from the start.

But I digress!! Fairune Blast, in all its simple nature, is a shoot’em-up featuring our lead heroine as she takes to the skies in a single one-and-done stage, seeing how many points she can rack up against familiar enemies from the main games, before ending the stage with a boss battle and comparing your score to the world to see how badly you actually performed. Nothing more to it than that, perhaps even being shorter than Fairune Origin, but a fun high-octane little dessert in its own right.

It even lets you play as bonus characters Yamato and Uzume from the developer’s other title Kamiko (also available on the Switch for dirt cheap).

Fairune Screenshot 5

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Audio

Not much to say about Fairune 1 to be honest. The game’s tracks can pretty much be counted on one hand, with the overworld and underground themes being the ones you will hear the most, but the few tracks we have here are in turn not bad at all. I even managed to pick a legit favorite in the lava world, and the tracks you get to hear most, again, like the overworld, don’t become repetitive at all, but remain pleasant background noise.

Fairune 2 being bigger, better, faster, stronger, with more worlds that each sport different themes and aesthetics, naturally means that it also has a more diverse soundtrack, and like the first game, all tracks are easy on the ears, never get tiresome, and fit the fantasy theme very well.

As for Fairune Origins, it may be shorter and beatable in a lunch break, but that doesn’t mean the developers gave it any less love. The music, now being scaled down to 8-bit to fit the game’s graphical style, is just as good as that of its big brothers, and easily identifiable as “Fairune music”, although its playlist is obviously much shorter.

Visuals & Performance

Fairune’s graphics harken back to the days of early Zelda, settling somewhere between Zelda 1 and Link’s Awakening. It is bright and colourful, with its various locations keeping the visuals fresh, making the world feel bigger, and the various set pieces makes it feel alive. The fact that the map loops also makes it easier to memorize map layouts, quickly making you familiar with the world once the whole map is uncovered of course.

As previously stated, less is more in Fairune, and because of the lack of the lack of animations, when you actually trigger something to happen, it sticks out more, making progress that much more satisfying and fullfilling.

Value

The ”Fairune Collection” consists of Fairune, Fairune 2, Fairune Origin, and Fairune Blast, with 1 and 2 clearly being the meat of the package and the main attractions, and Blast for some reason having to be unlocked by beating the other three games. Being decently lengthed short charming adventure games, I think they are excellent value for the measly price of £8.99/$9.99 the collection asks for, so if you need your Zelda fix but are looking for something a bit different, I highly highly recommend this sweet little deal!

The game features in-game achievements for all four games, and it was available physically from Super Rare Games for a limited time, though now only being available through greedy scalpers on eBay for outrageous prices.

Please don’t buy into that, believe me I would like a physical copy too, but I don’t condone buying something that is already in very limited quantity for the sole purpose of re-selling it at double price, that’s just scummy.

Pros

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Super fun package

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Great value

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Charming graphics

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Cute soundtrack

Cons

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No fullscreen

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Plot doesn’t take itself serious

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Fourth game must be unlocked