Name: Fairy Gods series (60.00% in 4 votes)
Release date: 1997
Reviewed by: Mike
I was originally going to write this, but these comments were so much more complete then mine, and I agree with them. I've been given permission to post them by the author.
This review is about the Fairy Gods series (Legend of Faires, and Fairy Knights).
They are new, from Milky House and JList, and retail for $19.95 each.
Now, first of all, these are visual novel-type games, basically, you are reading a story. However, unlike a game like To Heart, they do not have multiple endings or paths. You only have one story to read/play thru. That is one down point. The other down point would be that there is no speaking - the characters don't actually talk. However, considering the price of the games, both these points are minor quibbles, in my opinion. Allowing for these two restrictions, the question would be: how good are the actual games in other respects?
The story of the game revolves around you - Jango Abe, a Shikigami Master who is hiding out from his former employer, the evil Organization, who recruits orphans with various skills and talents from all over the world to control global society from the shadows. You ran away from them after a particularly dangerous assignment cost the lives of both your one, true, best friend as well as your very first Shikigami, Kourou. Currently, you are working in a rundown area of Tokyo, with your new Shikigami, Kumi, who you saved from
being sexually molested by a religious sect. She attached herself to you, even though you were really at a point that you didn't care whether you lived or died.
Ah, the Skikigami! There exists many races of Hitokata, or nature spirits (basically), who do not normally interact with Human, but instead are part of the various elements and living world around us. However, if a person with the ability to do so manages to capture a Hitokata and bind it to him (or her), that Hitokata becomes their Shikigami (what we would call a "guardian spirit"). Within the context of the games, the contest of wills is carried out through Mahjong, the Game of the Gods. Handed down from ancient times, Battle Mahjong is a very serious matter - the winner actually consumes part of the life force of the loser. In cases where this is carried too far, the loser can actually have their entire life force consumed, and become nothing but a dead, mummified husk. Shikigami do not actually eat normal food - or rather, they do not need to - because they exist by consuming part of the
life force of their Master. The closer the spirits of the Master and Shikigami become, the more powerful they are. For more information on
Shikigami, you may want to watch Kishin Douji Zenki, or Ghost Sweeper Mikami... both these stories deal with Shikigami (actually, a lot of the references in these games reminded me a great deal of Zenki).
Different Hitokata have different abilities and powers, depending on their sphere of influence and control. Naturally, a powerful Shikigami Master might have a couple of Shikigami... this is dangerous, though, since the Shikigami must consume part of his (or her) life force in order to survive. Within the game, you start with just Kumi... as the game storyline continues, you eventually wind up with 5 Shikigami bound to you (quite a feat, if you
think about it).
The artwork for the games is fairly detailed, as far as the scenery and backgrounds are concerned. The chara designs are simply adorable... if you love chou kawaii girls, check these out! ^_^ Even the musical themes are very catchy and nice. The script is well-edited, and the lines are matched to the various characters and their personalities. For example, Kumi is naturally the sort of "girl-next-door"... very nice, friendly, and positive about almost everything, with a faith that everything will come out okay (which makes the second game storyline much more dramatic... but I won't say why ^_^) Rakushi is a completely literal girl-spirit of the wind (even though Kumi's older sister Koukaku claims she's really just a bug spirit, with her weak wings... and a weak mind to match ^_-) That is, Rakushi takes everything quite literally, and pretty much believes anything and everything
she's told... she doesn't question the truth of the matter, or consider that someone is just teasing her. Koukaku is Kumi-chan's older sister... she's much more sensitive to auras, and more powerful, in general... with a hot-headed, strong-willed, loud-mouthed nature to match that spirit, of course. Hyoko is a totally wild tiger-spirit... you eventually have to catch her and tame her enough to bind her to you. Etc. In all cases, including even yourself, the dialogue matches the characters quite well, using various speech mannerisms to help convey HOW the characters are saying something rather than just WHAT they are saying. This has always been one of my biggest pet peeves with scripts here, either fan or domestic, because few people pay attention to the actual spoken dialogue during a game or anime. In this game, you don't even have spoken dialogue, yet I still could "hear" the voices, just because of the writing (similar you how you "hear" voices of characters if reading a well-written novel).
The first game has you accepting a job from a young girl named Mika, who has been searching for her father who disappeared 10 years ago. This is different from your usual lousy "troubleshooting" jobs (which really are just
checking on marital fidelity of one spouse or another). Eventually, it pits you against your old employer, the Organization, and brings their wrath against you for leaving them.
The second game has you going back to Kumi and Koukaku's home village, running afoul of the Organization and its nefarious plans for world control once again. The second game storyline is much longer than the first, I thought, and even more dramatic. Eventually, you'll have to face the nightmare of your past - the death of your friend, and your first Shikigami, as well as resolve your relationship with the Organization, once and for all.
There are several surprises in both these stories. This makes them all the more interesting, of course, especially since these are visual novels. There are many different characters introduced and developed throughout the stories. In addition, there are some very nice events that are related to specific Japanese customs or traditions. For example, in the second game, you get to attend a Festival. Also, there's a place where you actually take
a shortcut back to the village, and pass a fertility shrine. (^_^) Nice touches like this are really helpful in making you feel that you are playing through a story that really takes place in Japan, with all that that means. Finally, as I perhaps alluded to above, the focus in the stories of the powers of natural spirits, their nature, etc is a VERY nice feature... for me, since I always loved such things myself and tend to feel similarly about
nature and spirits, this was the best feature of the games (aside from the very cute artwork, of course ^_^).
There's one thing I want to mention: the Battle Mahjong events. I think that many people here might make certain bad assumptions about this, and about the graphics depicted after victory. For one thing, you do not really play mahjong... it's scripted out beforehand, as far as winning or losing (after all, this is a visual novel, not a mahjong game). This might disappoint some people, but it really does not matter... there are other mahjong games on the
market, even here (although I'd love to see Idol Janshi Suchi-Pai or others offered here, myself). The other thing about this is the 3 "strip" or "sexual" screen shots you see of the loser after you play and win. Now, a lot of people will probably feel that this is nothing but "service"... however, I don't think it is (at least, not primarily, anyway). My impression is that it relates to the concepts described in the game - that is, that the winner consumes part of the "life force" of the loser. Specifically, this reminded me of the reference I read about (I think in Pink
Samurai) of the ancient belief regarding Yin and Yang, where a man was required to replenish his supply by making love to a woman. I don't recall the exact reference, though... I just remember it being something to that effect, and the game scenes reminded me of exactly that type of thing. It could be unrelated - but that's how it struck me, at least.
Overall, if you like VERY cute artwork, interesting stories, and learning about "natural" aspects of Japanese beliefs and culture, you should certainly check these out. The price is quite reasonable, so there's really no reason not to.
Please email me if you have any questions.
Mike Thomas (review writen by Dave Endresak)
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