Under Your Radar: Fairy Bloom Freesia
Those of you familiar with Under Your Radar will be wondering why I didn’t open this week’s post with a quote or opening video, as per the usual. Well, the game I’m covering this week just doesn’t have all that memorable a story, so there just aren’t any memorable quotes to give…
In any case, this week’s Under Your Radar is on Fairy Bloom Freesia. The game is a single-screen 2.5D platform brawler for PC by dōjin circle (read: Japanese indie group) Edelweiss, with an English translation and release done by localization group Nyu Media, published by Capcom everywhere except on Nyu Media’s own site (meaning that Capcom takes a cut from sales everywhere but directly from Nyu Media’s site).
The game is the second of two Fairy Bloom games. The first received no English release, but you’re not really missing anything, since the game was apparently not anything special and had no plot of note (or, rather, even less of a plot, if it had one).
It was released on Steam to no fanfare whatsoever. While I’d normally find this to be an outrage, Capcom didn’t help matters when they submitted it to Steam without a video, even a trailer would have been helpful, though the blame for no English trailer may have been solely Nyu’s prerogative.
The game isn’t particularly complex. You’re treated to the story of a fairy named Freesia protecting her forest from monsters that were sent from the neighbouring kingdom, who want to locate and retrieve a stone from the forest that acts as a source of energy. Every level (or “day”, as the game calls them) involves defeating monsters, sometimes while defending certain points from them. Every fifth day gives you a boss fight, after which the stage changes to another part of the forest that has its own subjective season and a different layout. This goes on for 25 “days” in Story mode. While I haven’t tried Guardian mode yet, the in-game achievement list implies that it goes on for 99 days or more.
You collect experience and mana as you defeat enemies. You use the mana to buy skills, be they passive skills, stat buffs, additions to your basic attacks, or equippable special attacks, which all transfer over to a new game plus (though levels don’t, sadly).
Speaking of the new game plus, it’s a good thing that’s there, because this game will kick your arse. I actually recommend clearing it on Easy and working your way up one difficulty level at a time, so you can make things easier for yourself with the skills that were passed on. I initially played on Normal, but caved and went to play it on Easy first, and the effects were noticeable.
Yes, despite the game’s lack of real enemy variety (aside from bosses, there are only about 5-6 different enemies if you don’t count the recolours), simple goals, and all of the other things that make it exceedingly obvious that it’s an indie title, you can’t count on defending the forest being something easy. You’ll get swarmed with enemies, bosses won’t give you openings, the things you’re supposed to defend will get bathed in attacks, enemies will start jumping after you when you don’t expect them to be able to, etc.
There’s an in-game achievement list (exclusive to the Steam version), but it’s kind just… there. There are popups when you get them, but the game occasionally forgets that you’ve obtained them and thus tells you again. They have equivalent Steam achievements, but they aren’t functioning correctly at the time of this writing, as they were broken at launch. Too bad, since the names are fairly witty.
EDIT: Achievements now work, and they apologized for the delay by enabling Steam Cloud for the game.
As a side note, I recommend swapping the bindings for the A and B buttons from the defaults if you’re using a controller, to match North American control conventions. The defaults have B for confirm and A for cancel, when people not from Japan are used to the inverse. I’m of two minds in terms of whether I think Nyu Media should have had those bindings swapped to local conventions by default or not, though.
The game is available on Steam and a few other download portals, as well as Nyu Media’s own site for $7.99 USD, and there’s a soundtrack available, shared with another Edelweiss game named Ether Vapor Remaster, available on Bandcamp for $9.99 USD (which lets you download the entire soundtrack in multiple file formats). The price of the game itself is perfect, since it has more content than I’d expect from a $5 title, but not enough to justify $10, especially not on Steam. The soundtrack is nice (since there are some good songs in the game), and it’s priced the same as other soundtracks from PC indie titles, but the file names are so long that one of the songs went over the Windows file-path character limit when I tried placing them into my personal soundtrack folder, funnily enough.
This game’s launch was messed up, but my saying so on Twitter (and just openly, not directed toward anyone) got me tweets from Nyu Media saying that sites refused to cover it solely because it was Japanese (further conversation revealed they they’re pretty cool guys). Some people from IGN briefly included the game in a video after a blind purchase, though.
Still, this game deserved more respect from the press than it got. Although it’s not a game with a lot of depth, would probably be more suited to handheld platforms, and has a hard time getting me to play after the initial short playthrough due to my having Code of Princess on my 3DS when I want a beat ‘em up, this is still a solid indie title.
It’s definitely worth a look. Despite it not looking all that serious to passers-by (as I learned when I was playing it on my laptop before class), I had no problems playing along with the sarcastic “manliest game of all time” joke that got thrown at me. The game was too enjoyable for me to care.