Over the years a number of Shonen Jump properties have made the transition from popular Manga to blockbuster Anime and onward into the world of video games. Fairy Tale is the latest title to make the long pilgrimage to home console gaming, but it looks like it will be well worth the wait.
For those not familiar with Fairy Tale, it follows the adventures of a young dragon slayer wizard named Natsu and his rag-tag guild of wizards and explorers. It takes a strong queue from the worlds of DnD, so it makes a lot of sense that the upcoming title will have a traditional RPG setup with a turn-based combat system.
During our time at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, we had a chance to catch up with Gust, the developers behind Fairy Tale to get a quick glimpse at what fans can expect from the full release. The game starts about halfway through the Anime series and finds the Fairy Tale crew returning to their guild after spending some time apart. Part of the game will involve getting the guild back up to snuff by adding amenities and decorations. Players will get to take control of 10 characters from the series and use their skills to complete bounties and bring the Fairy Tale guild back into the limelight. We sat down with Gust’s Associate head Keisuke Kikuchi to get some extra details on the game’s recent reveal.
Shacknews: Fairy Tale definitely seems like it lends itself well to the RPG genre. What took so long to make a Fairy Tale game?
Keisuke Kikuchi: There have been Fairy Tale games in Japan, but they have been on portable devices back in the days. And even today, there is a recent Fairy Tale smartphone game in China. So I think, yes you are right, there hasn’t been a real home console/PC type of game. And maybe the reason is that there are so many characters to recreate, and the story is so epic and long. Those may have been the obstacles.
And speaking for the Gust brand, we now feel confident enough that we have the technical knowledge and the know-how and the resources to create a game like this; Like I was saying earlier, bringing 2d characters into 3d models. Also, we’ve had a history of making the characters really attractive, compounded with the fact that we make these RPG systems. Everything is right, and that’s why we took on the challenge this time around.
Shacknews: It seems like a daunting task, especially with so many playable characters. You mentioned there will be over ten playable characters. Will you be able to mix and match, or will characters come and go as the story progresses and things change?
Keisuke: Once they are recruited by you or decide to join you, then they are there forever and they don’t really leave at a certain point. But there are some side quests for the specific character episodes where it really just depicts the [one] character. So there are situations where you can only use a specific character in certain battles, but that’s kind of the side story.
Shacknews: Action RPGs are very popular right now, though I’m personally a big fan of turn-based RPG. Was it a difficult decision to pick turn-based over action, or did it feel like a natural fit?
Keisuke: Basically our logic was, from the series fan’s point of view, you would want to be able to cast those awesome magic spells, and because there is a thing called "Unison Raid," where you can basically create your own style of attack by using different characters. Personally, when I play action RPGs, there are times when I can’t really output what I had in mind, that I can fail from time to time. And that might be a frustration with this kind of approach. Fans might get more satisfaction in getting what they want.
Shacknews: The guild aspects seem really interesting to me, rebuilding the guild. Will you be able to pick and choose how you rebuild the guild or will that flow with the story as well?
Keisuke: Detailed information will be revealed a little later, but what we can tell you at this point is that there are various sections of the guild, like the quest board, the shop, the research department, or whatever. Once you invest points into each section, at a certain point they will upgrade. So you can decide which direction you want to go. In that sense, it is up to you, to an extent.
Shacknews: I’m really intrigued by the UI for the combat. It’s got a real flashy design that really seems to add to it. How much time went into designing that?
Keisuke: There were several trials and errors, but it’s still in the development phase so it might end up looking different in the end.
Shacknews: What about the decision to go with five party members? That seems very classic RPG to me.
Keisuke: Well that actually wasn’t so hard to decide. Because when just picturing what the boss battles might look like, too many seemed diminishing to the individual characters. When you consider their roles and their output, five members seemed like the right balance for those more epic battles.
Shacknews: The large roster of characters reminds me a lot of FFVI, and the UI reminds me a lot of Persona. Were either of those series an inspiration to you while planning and developing Fairy Tale?
Keisuke: I guess if there were any inspirations, those were unintended, or on a subconscious level if you will, because the basis for this title is still a Gust RPG, first and foremost. And of course, we RPG developers have all tried out the renowned classics, so even if so, it was subconscious.
Shacknews: Ever since Fairy Tale was revealed, fan reception has been very positive. Everyone has been excited. What has it been like for you to reveal this to the world, and what has the reception been like for you?
Keisuke: Oh, we were definitely thrilled that the fan reception was so positive, and we heard so many encouraging words from fans in France and from the US, and it was very reassuring that this is a very popular IP, even in the West. A particularly interesting comment -and we got a ton of those- was that in the West, the players called out for an Xbox version, which was originally unintended by us. But now that there are so many voices, it makes sense to think about Xbox as well.
For now, Fairy Tail is set to launch in 2020 on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Perhaps we'll hear more about an Xbox release before then as well.