Fairune 2 3DS eShop Review
An adorable adventure RPG
Charming 8-bit sprite work with an endearing soundtrack
Expanded map creates a lengthier quest with more secrets and puzzles
Plot is a little thin but doesn’t need to be fancy anyway
Sometimes getting stuck is frustrating but a solution is usually a short backtrack away
The Sleeper Hit of the eShop
Not only does Fairune 2 expand upon the first game, it stands as one of the most charming 3DS eShop exclusive titles to date.
Outside of first party Nintendo games, I think Circle Entertainment/Skipmore/Urara-Works titles are some of the highest quality and most entertaining on the 3DS eShop. Witch and Hero, Witch and Hero 2, Fairune, Mercenaries Saga 2, and even Ambition of the Slimes are games that only cost a few dollars but I’ve had more fun playing them than many big budget AAA games. Fairune 2 is another game that easily fits under this bill and is a worthy follow up to the original.
If you missed the original Fairune it is available on the 3DS eShop and even on iOS (but using a physical d-pad is significantly better than using your iPhone’s touchscreen). This sequel, which is exclusive to the Nintendo’s platform, plays just like the original but simply expands the playing field with a significantly larger map and many more items to collect. With a higher emphasis on exploration and puzzle solving than combat, this plays like a more streamlined version of the original Legend of Zelda.
Just like the first game, combat is not performed by pressing an attack button to swing your sword. Instead, the player merely bumps into enemies to kill them. Balance comes into play through the player’s level. If high enough, it is possible to steam roll enemies without taking damage but enemies near your level will die but cause damage. Take too much damage without healing and you’ll have to do a little back tracking but with no other loss of currency, items or experience points. Meaning, this friendly combat experience with little penalty makes the game accessible, streamlined, but still entertaining. It also acts as a guide because the game tells the player which enemy to look out for next. Also, it is worth pointing out the protagonist is female, something not normally seen with a hero brandishing a sword and shield.
The meat of this action adventure RPG is the exploration and puzzle solving. Each environmental situation usually results in an “ah-ha” moment despite looking challenging initially. For example, an item will be seen on the other side of the screen but in order to obtain it, the player must sneakily find a hidden route through some trees or an invisible walkway. And once an ax is obtained, trees can be chopped for wood. Gather enough wood to make a bridge to the next area, for example. Each puzzle blends right into the next and creates a streamlined consistency from beginning to end. Fairune 2’s large interconnected map is rather impressive and will actually make Metroid or original Zelda fans squeal with excitement. And without giving away spoilers, the final ending segment switches up the gameplay formula in a surprise twist.
If the puzzle solving and environments were not endearing enough, the 8-bit pixelated visual style hits the nostalgia bone so hard you will think it is a long lost NES game. The icing on the cake, however, is the hauntingly good soundtrack and sound effects. While some tunes and effects are carried over from Fairune 1, the audio aspect of Fairune 2 is easily some of the best I’ve heard in a long time. The “item get” sound effect is so adorable I want it as my text message sound effect on my phone.
Skipmore has made something so extraordinary with their visual style and soundtrack, I found myself just stopping and listening to the general overworld theme. The soundtrack is actually the glue that holds the entire game together. From beginning to end, Fairune 2 captivated me from a gameplay and presentation perspective. A sound test room also unlocks when the quest is completed and should be used instead of being a neglected afterthought like so many other games.
As good as Fairune 2 is, there are still just a couple of shortcomings. First, the plot won’t exactly set the world on fire and I think it is missing something due to translation. I even spotted a couple of typos along the way during dialog sequences. And with the map being so large, it can be a little too easy to get lost. While some players will enjoy the complete lack of handholding, other players might get lost and frustrated with aimless backtracking. There were times I wasted many minutes just wandering the world looking for the next place to go only to realize the invisible walkway was right in front of me the entire time or I didn’t push a block in the correct direction. Without any indicators or waypoints, there are times of frustration. At least the player can collect gold by killing monsters and chopping down bushes to provide a subtle incentive to spend time aimlessly wandering.
With optional Achievements, unlockable content, and a timer for speedrunners, there is plenty to do even after finishing the half dozen hour quest. Like Fairune 1, this sequel will probably get overlooked on the 3DS eShop but is an old school joy in a modern era.
Also Try: Half Minute Hero
Better Than: most other eShop games
Wait For It: Mercenaries Saga 3
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com