Galapagos RPG, for what they say about themselves you could assume they would do something even more obnoxious than Neptunia or Mugen Souls, but upon a more detailed analyses, it turns out their first title is very different from their usual style.
Fairy Fencer F has a concept very similar to that of Elemental Gelade, a world that combines medieval fantasy and modern settings with magical beings that turn into weapons. Of course there are differences and I also could compare it to other works like Soul Eater, but I really feel a similar atmosphere between those two titles, specially in their cute art style with lots of little girls.
The setting takes place in an alternative world (probably a post-apocalyptic version of our world) where two deities are fighting endlessly beyond time and space. In a final desperate move, both decide to release countless swords to seal each others, but many of these attacks end up missing their target and fall in the human realm. These weapons are known as Furies and the spirits that manifest from within them are called “fairies”. Those fairies decided to lend their powers to humans by forming a pact with them in order to unseal their respective master in exchange for granting a wish to the savior. Those Fury wielders have come to be known as “Fencers”.
The game begins with Fang, a good-for-nothing lazy-ass who just wish to eat and sleep everyday without being bothered. He finds a magic sword craved in the ground of a certain village and pulls it off in hopes it could grant him endless food, but he only gets an extremely cute fairy as a partner until the end of his life. Fang immediately proved to be a very untypical main character for a JRPG since he isn’t just a sloth bastard, he is also a genius-dirt-mouth-trickster. I know that, with such “qualities”, I should hate him, but he just amuses me every time he is the focus of the action.Alyn is Fang’s fairy and inseparable partner. She seems to be gentle and delicate, but can also be quite rough with her words when it’s needed, however, she uses her harsh vocabulary exclusively against Tiara, since the two hate each other’s guts!By the way, Tiara is another Fencer who forms an alliance with the main pair. She hides many secrets and has one of the keys to unseal the goddess from her eternal slumber. She is also an even dirtier scammer than Fang, what makes her able to easily manipulate the duo, but she does have an easily exploitable weakness for times she goes too far: She is a super masochist! Which turns Fang and his dirt mouth on her natural nemesis. Harler is a pervert fairy-researcher who constantly uses her profetion as an excuse to “study” the bodies of young and cute fairies. Of course she is only interested in females! Shame on you if you thought otherwise! She isn’t so lucky though, since the fairy she made a contract with is a bald muscular old man named Bahas. At least she got a very caring “father” and she sure needs one since she seems to have been living in the jungle considering her lack of manners.Gald is a happy-go-lucky who becomes an ally because of his great admiration for Fang (Yes! There is actually someone besides me who also thinks this crude dude is great!). For whatever reason he has a Kansai dialect. His Fairy Marisa act as she was his mother and treats him like a 5 years old. Such a weird pair.Pipin is a biped green cat who talks in a dandy manner and has a sword struck on his head…Ah! He is also a Fencer! Which is actually the most normal thing about this weird creature. Nobody knows what he is, but the more people try to uncover, more they want to get unevolved. His fairy is a butler named Souji who seems like a completely normal human and often gets mistaken for being the Fencer of the duo, even by those who already know them.Shalman is an errant Fencer who is the complete opposite of Fang, in other words: BORING! He is just so perfect, handsome, talented and good-mannered, but like it wasn’t enough, he is also a little-good-two-shoes. The main heroines fall for him immediately so this must mean he is a very nice guy, right?
Effole is a very interesting girl who have the peculiar trait of repeating the word “kill” all the time because, apparently, this is the only thing she is good at. She is accompanied by a youkai-like fairy named Karin, who got an obsession for all kinds of animal ears, so she naturally forces Effole to hear bunny ears later on.Apollones starts as a enemy working for the Dorfa company as their strongest warrior, but upon meeting some special conditions, he decides to join the party. He is the first secret character the player can recruit, but you need to see some easily missable sub-events and rise the level of at least 3 party members to 40 before fighting against him a second time or he will just die on you and make your efforts in vain! Nevertheless, it’s worth the pain! Apollones is one of the strongest character in the game, second only to Fang, and he is also significantly bad-ass!Rolo is a very cute loli fairy who has a very high pitched voice and calls Fang “Onii-chan”. She loves money and works selling all types of stuff, what also includes information about Furies, what makes her get involved with the heroes. She is the last secret character in the game and, OH BOY! she is a pain-in-the-ass to recruit! To do so, you have to complete 16 side-quests that involves killing over-powered monsters much stronger than the bosses you should be fighting by that point. The good news is that you get many level-ups by doing so and also get many useful fairies for each of these side-quests. The bad news is that Rolo really doesn’t pay for all the struggle you have to pass. She isn’t really hyper strong and she comes without any upgrade, giving only 200 WP to spend on her.
The game system is very reminiscent of the Neptunia games, which don’t come as a surprise, since this is the same engine used in that game and Mugen Souls. For this reason, people who are familiar with those games will get used to this battle system very quickly.
The mechanics used here are very typical of Compile Heart’s games, with a lot of customizable combos. Just like Neptunia, you move your character freely around a circular field where you can move him to a safe place away from enemies and then attack with magic, or move him closer to foes so he can release a rain of combos on them.
This is a very strategic system and everything works fine. In fact, this could be one of the best systems in a Compile Heart’s game, since they are usually very confusing, lacking decent tutorials, with confusing menus and overly complicated combo systems. Not this time though, since the combo system could be compared to the one from Xenogears, with the difference that you can edit each hit of the combo by editing the character’s weapon. You can also buy new attacks to be used in combos by spending Weapon Points, which can also be used to get new skills, abilities and even raise attributes. Outside battles you manage fairies obtained during the adventure in the form of trading cards that look like it was taken from a social game. Each character can equip those cards and receive a lot of bonus abilities from it. Every fairy card gets EXP from battles fought by their user and can rise up to level 10 achieving even more abilities. You can also insert a fairy inside one of the furies pierced through one of the gods to break one of the seals, by doing it you get to pierce the field of a dungeon, giving many effects to enemies and allies inside.
Visual & Sound
One could say that this game is Compile Heart’s attempt at doing their very own Final Fantasy, just like Mugen Souls fits as their Disgaea. Maybe that additional “F” at the end of the title’s name is just so they have more Fs than SquareEnix’s game…Even though there is nothing similar between FF & FFF, ironically, two main forces behind Final Fantasy are working in this game, with Yoshitaka Amano in charge of character designs and Nobuo Uematsu composing. Only Hironobu Sakaguchi is missing to complete the “Triad of Demons”, but I don’t think I miss him after “The Last Story”.The character visuals used here fit perfectly with the 3D models, since the artist is the same from Neptunia (Tsunako). Songs are of a very high quality, probably the best soundtrack ever featured in a Compile Heart’s game, nothing less could be expected from the composer. Many of the tracks are filled with that classic Final Fantasy feeling, which unfortunately doesn’t always fit too well in this game’s atmosphere. I specially am quite found of the first henshin theme called Full Contact, it is a very high tension song with vocals full of passion while repeating that “With no doubt! This is the Showdown”! Even though it seems that Uematsu doesn’t have anything to do with this track…but the ones he made are also great!
This could be the funniest Compile Heart’s game I’ve played. I love characters interactions, this not being limited by Tiara being turned on by Fang’s insults, there are also many self-referencial parodies and 4th wall breaking jokes. The very concept of some characters could be considered a parody with stereotypes, like Fang is everything a RPG hero should NOT be.
But what intrigues me most is that this game is much more “adult” than one could think. There are some dirt jokes sometimes, like when Fang assumes Alyn “sold her body” to get money. In the case of Eroges, protagonists don’t even have a proper character design and girls are the focus, but this game’s plot is much more serious and complex than most Eroges strive to be: There is a rape attempt between party members, a suddenly betrayal that leads to murder, merciless bloody deaths with no mercy even for cute girls, and much more.I feel that they were trying to sell a very compelling story in this game, but the overly-cute art style used didn’t help to pass that too well. There is too much focus on the cute comic things. For example: Fang is not present in the game’s cover; the opening video has Tiara fighting a minor character on “Squall vs Seifer style”, while Fang is only briefly displayed. It’s worth mentioning that he was one of the last character to be introduced during the first promotions of the game. Well, he is just THE FREAKING MAIN CHARACTER! This should not be done by a game that is trying to do “serious business”.
This was a very good game. It was not fantastic, but I had lots of fun with it, and that’s what is important, right? It’s sad because I feel that it could have been a much better game if it was presented in a different style. Galapagos RPG, hunm?! I shall wait for your next move!