JRPG followers have come to appreciate NIS America’s efforts in delivering the latest Japanese productions to the US. Developers like Compile Heart, Gust and Idea Factory have graced North American shelves thanks to the American branch of Nippon Ichi. This fall, the fans in question should consider snagging Fairy Fencer F , which released last fall in Japan to decent reviews. A dungeon-crawling turn-based adventure that will likely boast plenty of grinding and mammoth bosses, this one should be catnip for the JRPG faithful.
Firstly, while the game is indeed turn-based, the wide variety of options during combat greatly increases the depth and strategy. Of course, nothing is purely turn-based these days – not based on the strictest definition of the term – so you shouldn’t be surprised that you can move your characters freely during battle. It’ll be important to customize your team’s starting formation, as each attack has a certain range. This may remind old-school gamers of turn-based strategy titles like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre but make no mistake, the 3D dungeons you explore in Fairy Fencer are very different than those grid-based battlefields.
Enemies roam about in real-time, and as you can directly control your characters in real-time as well, you’re probably asking: “Wait, how is this turn-based?” Well, the selecting and execution of commands still happens in a turn-based format, and the combination of strategic positioning adds a third distinct component to the combat. This is precisely what current JRPGs need; i.e., a complex, innovative style of combat that isn’t completely real-time and yet, doesn’t feel rooted in the past. For instance, combos are a big feature in Fairy Fencer F and that’s not exactly common in the world of turn-based mechanics.
You’ll execute a basic attack and immediately afterward, you’ll be prompted to hit another button. This selects from one of three possible follow-up strikes and as the game progresses, you’ll have access to a wider variety of powerful successive attacks. There are the typical HP and SP meters but again, the developers take an additional step: There’s a third meter that fills up as a character doles out damage. Filling this meter unlocks new fighting abilities, as well as a special transformation skill that increases your base statistics. We haven’t even discussed the role of the Fairies in the game; some are Furies, which you actually imbue into your weapons to make them stronger, and other Fairies can alter the traits of a dungeon.
In other words, some Fairies can be used to increase the amount of experience you’ll earn in any given dungeon, while the Furies (over 100 of them to be unlocked and utilized) can make your weapons super powerful. Combining all these features should make for a dynamic, exciting form of combat that keeps you coming back for more. In regards to the storyline, I’m not really holding my breath, as JRPGs have been disappointing in this category for years. Then again, if the gameplay is good enough, I won’t care too much about a lacking narrative…provided there aren’t any disgustingly juvenile/obnoxious characters. I’ve had my fill of those, thanks.
Fairy Fencer F is scheduled to drop on September 23 in the US for the PlayStation 3.