Thursday, December 23, 2010

Faery Tale Adventure: the Necromancer Wins

That sounds too dangerous for me.
Nope. Sorry, lads. I hate to disappoint you. But I've had it with this game. I gave it well over the six hour minimum, and I stand by my summary in the last posting: huge, empty, and boring. Since last night, I did make it to the capital city of Marheim, where I met the singularly unhelpful king: Between the king and some other people in town, I picked up a few clues. The king wants his children back. I need to seek two women--one good, one evil. I suspect the "evil" one is the witch who lives in the "dim forest of Grimwood," whose gaze is death and only the light of the sun can destroy her. Finally, I must seek my enemy on the Astral Plane. There were some apples in a couple of the houses that the game kindly allowed me to save for later bouts of hunger. I kept following the main road until it came to an end somewhere on the east coast. It was during this process that I decided the game and I weren't going to last together. It took about 20 minutes to walk from the city to the end of the line. On the map, this is about 1/5 the total width of the continent. I encountered nothing of consequence along the way. There were two castles that were completely empty. When I reached the peninsula at the end of the road, I did find a watchtower containing a seashell that, when blown on the water's edge, summoned a turtle. He kindly allowed me to ride on his back, with much improved speed. This isn't enough to save the game. I'm bored to tears with it. The thought of making my way to all these far corners of the map, even if I find faster transportation, fills me with dread. Nope, it's over. And the walkthrough makes me feel I've made the right decision. Yesterday, I promised a bit of video, so here it is. I purposefully die so you can see what happens.
From the walkthroughs, apparently finishing the game involves rescuing the princess, finding a series of statues to enter the invisible city of Azal, entering the Astral Plane, fighting a navigation puzzle, and killing the necromancer with a wand. You then get to marry the princess and live happily ever after. If you're really interested in seeing the end, a German guy named Elanarae has a whole series of "let's play" videos on the game. Here's the last one--only a minute.
It appears you get a magical swan at some point which cuts down on travel time, but honestly, I watched the last three of his videos and most of it was simply flying, flying, flying the swan from one place to another while he talked about what game he was going to play next. I feel like I played long enough for a GIMLET, especially since I viewed much of the rest, so here it is: 1. Game World. There are some nice physical features--forests, mountains, farms, and such--but there's not much in it. The back story is the standard necromancer-taking-over-the-world fare. The "three brothers" motif sounded interesting, but the game doesn't really do anything with it. Score: 4. 2. Character Creation & Development. Not much to speak of. Your "bravery" stat goes up as you kill creatures and your vitality stat goes up with it. Luck is influenced by talking to certain people. All the walkthroughs agree with me that your character becomes invincible way too fast. Score: 2. 3. NPC Interaction. Consists of talking to static NPCs and getting a single hint. And there aren't many NPCs. Score: 2. 4. Encounters & Foes. Repetitive and boring. You meet the same foes all over the land, most of which fall quickly to your sword. They do nothing interesting--just charge you en masse. They do re-spawn, so you can kill as many as you want. Score: 2. 5. Magic & Combat. Also repetitive and boring. There are no spells--magic is all through physical items. Combat consists of choosing a weapon--and there's not much choice--and hitting a single "attack" button. It's really hard to survive at first and, very quickly, far too easy. Score: 1. 6. Equipment. The various magic items, and how you have to discover their uses, are somewhat interesting. There are only a handful of weapons, though, and no armor. Score: 3. 7. Economy. You get gold in the game, but all you can use it for is to buy food and give it to beggars (unless I missed something). Score: 2. 8. Quests. One main quest with multiple parts. No side quests, no different outcomes. Score: 3. 9. Graphics, Sound, Inputs. The graphics are actually quite good and probably the best part of the game. Even in the DOS version, they're as attractive as an isometric game up to this point. The music is intolerable--thankfully, there is a "music off" command--but the sounds, while rare, are occasionally interesting. Controls are both mouse and keyboard and reasonably intuitive. Score: 6. 10. Gameplay. The game is fairly non-linear. I'll give it that. But the huge game world offers nothing valuable. It should have been contracted to 1/4 of its size. It's far too easy and offers no replayability. Score: 2. Final score: 27. Definitely one of the lower-ranked games on my blog. My apologies to those of you who disagree, but I just don't understand what you see in the game. The game manual brags that it features 17,000 screens. The developers should have put something in them. Next up: First Expedition, which some of you have said doesn't belong on the CRPG list. Let's find out.


  1. I found Faery Tale Adventure very charming--it had context-sensitive music that changed smoothly when enemies appeared or the sun set or other things. There was a lot of wandering, but the graphics and sound were quite nice on the Amiga version. I played it to its conclusion, back in the day. It wasn't a satisfying epic CRPG, but it stood out by being unique at the time.

  2. I find the experiential disconnect fascinating on this one. Comparing the comments with your writings sounds like I'm reading about two different games.

    And while I'm normally very inclusive, First Expedition is not a CRPG. I suspect it ended up on the list by accident.

  3. I Played Faery Tale Adventure back when it was released, never finished it. I pretty much came to the same conclusion as you, Huge, Empty and Boring, I recall feeling actually lonley. Not RL lonley, but "Virtual Loneliness" the world felt so empty.

  4. Double Post :p

    Was just going through your "List" and I don't see "Star Command" it was a 1987 SSI sci-fi crpg. I loved this one to pieces and have replayed it many times over the years, it's worth a look, especially if you plan on playing titles like "Hard Nova" or "Mega Traveller" (I found "Star Command" to superior to both and one of the best sci-fi crpgs of the times.

  5. Jason, I think the disconnect has to do with what people like and don't like in CRPGs. I agree that the game is very pretty, but I could care less about this. I'd rather have an all-text adventure with interesting gameplay and a challenging combat system than an action CRPG in which your character is all-but-invincible after the first couple of hours.

    Tastes vary. I like fantasy novels, but I can't stand "Lord of the Rings." I've tried to read it three or four times and I find it utterly impenetrable.

    Agreed, by the way, on First Expedition. Short post coming.

  6. I tend to agree with your overall rating. Even with a full walkthrough and maps I think it would take me weeks to finish. I got frustrated with dying from archers. I have so many other good CRPGs I want to finish and very little free time to do so. One review mentioned it taking 80 hours to complete which I can well believe.

    I think the killer for me was travelling from a small keep (with nothing in it but lots of locked doors to waste my keys) and knowing the Tombs of Hemsath were south and taking 15-20 minutes to walk there - the distance was a couple of centimetres on my A4 printed map!

    It's a shame because I like the format and the graphics / sound but there just isn't enough content for me.

    There is a very detailed PDF document here with the full solution and detailed maps which show every object in the game but steer clear if you want to play the game and avoid spoilers:

  7. Glad to see you back!

    Wow, I've been reading through all you comments and the game really looks quite boring the way you all talk about it... I like games which make it hard/long/boring/etc. to travel from place to place in the beginning, but which then give you a "really" better way to go later (not like this swan thing). When you finally get that magic horse/portal key/teleportation spell you feel so proud and relieved...

  8. Adamma, "Star Command" is on my list, but I show it as a 1988 game.

    Acrin1, I had the same experience you describe. I'd note how long it took me to get between places that were relatively close on the map and despaired at the idea of traveling to its far corners.

    Georges, if you're talking about the stone circles, I read about that, but it still didn't sound like it would help a lot. Watching the "Let's Play" videos, it still seemed like most of the player's time was spent traveling from place to place with nothing happening in between.

  9. I guess all the running around prooved too much for you! ;-)

    Back in the days I really completed it (Amiga version, too) but today I don't think I'd have the stamina, either.
    Yes, I too thought it was charming but it's problems were obvious back then (it's very much the work of a single person and for CRPGs this is often problematic). The sequel never really saw the light of the day, nobody missed it and everybody played Ultima 7 & Co. Yadda yadda yadda.

    Back then I had little money and played games to completion because I had *nothing* waiting on my shelf, especially nothing more attractive. I also didn't have to reach a goal in time.
    It was more like Zen Gaming - the road, however rocky, was the game, not the destination.

    I'm not an RPG addict, though -- I just happen to like them because of their approach to gaming worlds. I'm also more of an explorer-type, not a grinder that values intricate combat systems that defy all sense for reality.
    If a game becomes tedious or boring (or "work") I stop playing it. Some games I even played only a single time, sometimes even for hours, to reach a point where I just couldn't bring myself to continue.

    On the other hand I thought an "addict" would have a bit more perseverance than me.

    Don't get me wrong: I have no problems with you skipping a game now and then but I do hope that your blog doesn't mutate into an endless string of "short GIMLET reviews".

  10. Gee, Calibrator. I appreciate your tolerance. I'll be happy if my blog manages to fully cover the seminal CRPGs like "Dungeon Master" and gives the six-hour-minimum to the false-starts and lightweights. Right now, I'm at an exactly 50% completion rate, which suits me okay.

    I'm addicted to vodka, too, but I don't waste time sipping Sky when I see Chopin on the shelf.

  11. No, I didn't mean the stone circles, I never played Fairy Tale Adventure (and probably won't...). I was talking in general : games should make it hard for you in beginning, but then give you a real answer, which FTA obviously failed to do.

  12. I remember drooling over screenshots of Faery Tale in gaming mags before getting my first Amiga. When I finally got an Amiga I was impressed by the very atmsopheric opening sequenced and the fantastic music (which evidently did not translate well to the PC version).
    But alas the game itself was a disappointment. Your character starts weak as a kitten and will die from one blow. So I entered the graveyard and shot monsters through the fence and after a modest amount of kills my character was invincible; just standing there the monsters were totally unable to hit him.
    I remember you need to collect a number of golden statues, but I did things in the wrong order and couldn't progress and gave up on this game. A shame really, as this game had so much potential. :-(

  13. I had a similar experience, Petrus. After I got my character stablized at around 200 bravery and 100 vitality, which took a couple of hours, he never died again.

    Two of my long-time commenters left their last (negative) comments in this thread and never posted again, so I guess I upset at least a couple people by bailing on this game.

    1. Good riddance to him. That is why i hate nostalgia.

  14. For what it's worth, I played this game on the Sega Genesis years ago and hated it back then too. The huge empty world, not having much of anything interesting to pick up other than onions, the randomly wandering back and forth and collapsing asleep. Bleh.

    I truly love a lot of RPGs... FTA, not so much.

  15. I had this one for the Amiga but never played it much. Then about 15 years later when Gamestop was clearing out Genesis games I picked it up for that system but soon realised why I didn't play it much the first time. Aside from the tediousness of exploring, the game tries to be both a CRPG and a console action type RPG and unfortunately fails at both.

  16. Hey Addict, I'm new to your blog. One big russian PC gaming magazine posted an article about your blog, highly recommending it, so I've came to check it out. And now I'm totally hooked.
    Back on subject. Faery Tale Adventure was one of the first of my CRPG's. I have played the hell out of it (played it in early 90's) and loved it. Explored every inch of the game world, made maps with notes, collected supply of apples to go explore - ah, these were good times.
    I doubt that nowadays I'll be willing to spend tens of hours exploring such waste and empty game, but as a kid I had all the time in the world. Through all my later experience with CRPG genre, I can see that's FTA is not a very good game and I probably could not get into it now, but it's nostalgia velue for me is overwhelming.
    To my surprise, I cannot remember the ending at all, though I certainly have won this game.

    Pardon for my poor english. Cheers.

  17. Добро пожаловать, afroyarou! Your English is very good. Thank you for telling me about the Russian magazine article--I was suddenly getting a lot of hits from eastern Europe, and I didn't know why.

    What you say makes sense. As a kid, when you can only afford one game at a time, you play the hell out of it and learn every facet. As an adult, with 1000 games on my list, I get frustrated quickly with games that offer so much needless open space and walking around.

    Пожалуйста, продолжайте читать!

    1. This.

      As a kid/teen I used to have a lot more patience with mediocre games because, well, there simply weren't all that many around to begin with. Whereas nowadays... The options are essentially endless, up to the point where I now need to actively choose which ones I actually want to play.

      If I think back how much time I spent on just a few games at times, finishing some multiple times in a row as well (Doom I and X-Wing for instance), I can't see how I could do that nowadays.

      I'm still on a quest to finish at least every RPG I own twice, and even from that list it looks like it'll take me ages. I just can't seem to concentrate on a single game any more if it kills me too often. After all, hey, if I die yet again in Baldur's gate, off to something else.

  18. Gosh, it's been so long since I played(and won) the Amiga version of this game. But you definitely missed some things here. I remember the game was easy(<20 hour)and not nearly as frustrating as your experience. I remember the game being large at first and then significantly less so when I found a flying eagle mount of some kind. I do remember the turtle as being a faster travel option as well.

    I think you're selling yourself short by not playing the Amiga version of a lot of these games. Not only for the graphics(up until VGA at least) but the sound and music was so much better on Amiga versions.


  19. I remember getting this game and coming to relatively the same conclusion that it wasn't worth my time. I doubt I gave it as long as you did.

  20. Procrastinator at the RPG Codex just finished a Let's Play of the glorious Amiga version of this game -

    Graphics still looks nice, and better than many DOS games did five years later. And I remember the music was great too.
    Too bad Chet doesn't use emulators.

    1. Well, he does. He just doesn't use anything other than a DOS emulator. ;)

  21. Interesting views. I think my opinion of the game was definitely biased by actually having a guide to what I was supposed to be doing. I can easily see how it would have been intolerable otherwise. But as Allen Garvin noted, the context-sensitive music actually always struck me as particularly charming ... but I seem to recall it being PC-speaker music, so I imagine tolerance for that has all but disappeared in the new millennium, haha.

    I do also find it interesting to think about how easy everyone finds one of the only games I recall being so frustratingly difficult that I had to give up from challenge rather than boredom. Clearly I was just too young for the game or something.

    1. Oh yeah, and I look forward to seeing your take on Faery Tale Adventure II ... in ... well, we will just say "in 1997."

    2. Despite it being on my list, I didn't realize there was a II until now. I keep making fun of the game for arrogantly assuming there was going to be a sequel and putting the "I" after it's name.

    3. If it makes you feel better only the first one was ported to the Genesis. So, console owners never saw a sequel.

  22. Wait a minute...boarding a turtle and traveling over water, that reminds me of the famous anime Dragon Ball. Could be a coincidence, but Dragon Ball aired in the mid 80s. First english run however was not not until '89.

  23. Ha, I stumbled upon your Blog few days ago and I was quite suprised to see my name mentioned in it xD Good work, guess I´ll cherry pick some of those not so well known games you played for future LPs ^^

    Take care!


    P.S.: The Video you posted is from the Genesis Version btw, but I also did a Full Walkthrough on the Amiga Version :>

    1. Hey! Great to hear from you. Do you think I made the right decision, or does the game produce greater rewards the longer you play?

    2. Hard to say, I do see the game with Rose Tinted glasses since I´ve been playing it since Kindergarten times on my Uncles Amiga xD

      I guess you have to immerse yourself into the story, it does play like a Fairy (Faery?) Tale, with an Evil Witch, a Good Fairy, a Princess, a Dragon and I just love the music.

      Sure, combat is repetitive, get a Sword and be done, the Maze to get to the witch is nerve wracking if you do not have a HUGE amount of Totems, for a later Dungeon you need to have collected a huge amount of a certain key color and there is one Statue hidden in a castle on the map that is never mentioned in the game at all.

      Sure when I was younger I was happy with just moving through the fields, killing a skeleton here and there and be done with it. During my Let´s Play I used a Guide, though I would have remembered most of it (except the Witches Maze, F That) but it does feel good to finally find the second animal used for transporting :P

      I hope I didn´t spoil TOOOOO much, not sure if you still want to play it ... I guess checking out a few videos of my Genesis Walkthrough (I had no commentary during most videos because I couldn´t record voice and game sounds properly at that time and I thought the music is worth alot more than my snarky comments :P) if you get into Grind Mode for a RPG or something ... perhaps it does interest you a bit.

      But Yeah without a walkthrough I can see this game being unneccesary frustrating and boring because there is barely any "red line" to follow and I understand that you can get frustrated with it.

    3. I was first wowed by this game on my friend's Amiga, bought it and couldn't stand the constant load times on my C64. I did eventually play through the entire game on the Genesis with some Game Genie help, overall I think the game had some great setup and charm, but was really, really dull. The soundtrack was good though.

      Years later someone gave me a pile of PC CDs, which included FTA II - I was never able to get far into it as it basically crashed all the time. Maybe it will fare better being run in DOSBOX...

    4. FTA 2 is way better than 1. For one thing, graphics and sound are nice enough to play, even for modern gamers.

      Othere than that, the various improvements are:

      1. You control all 3 brothers in an entire party instead of having them replace one another like a bloody Grim Reaper's domino line.

      2. The world is still huge but now populated with a lot more things to do; items to find & ruins/caves to explore.

      3. There are a lot of lore lying around as scrolls with answers to puzzles and directions to powerful artifacts.

      4. Spellcasting system is now well fleshed-out. Julian sucks at it but is good as a meatshield. Philip excels at it while Kevin is a balance of both.

      The cons?

      1. Bloody NPCs are 1-line spouting automatons. Most of them even speak the same line. So much so that I can still remember one (or ALL) of the townswomen espousing their obeisance of a Constant Grazing diet.

      2. Still boring as hell. There is just so much to do and so many grounds to cover that it felt more like a housekeeping chore. I've never fell asleep so many times playing an action-RPG in my life. Every time I thought Skyrim was bad, I will fondly recall FTA 2 and say, "Hey, it's not FTA 2. Keep making those damn daggers/brewing those healing potions/casting those Clairvoyance spells".

    5. I thought this game looked somewhat familiar, but now when I go and google FTA 2, I *did* play that one. Man, that's why "so much running" seems familiar! But I did like that you got the whole party of 3 to run around with together.

  24. You know things are going way too slow when standing on a turtle speeds them up. I thought for sure this was a blatant joke when I first read it, but no. Flying on a swan is relatively novel; shame it didn't make enough difference. I'm with the others that it's okay game design to make the player struggle once to reach a place, but it ought to provide shortcuts if it's something you've got to repeat.

  25. Wrapped up the Genesis version a couple weeks ago. Not having the map to at least point out interesting locations would have made the experience much more unbearable. The Mayor of Tambry is the key to getting hints for what to do, but a few times he stopped mentioning anything completely until I went off to do something myself (e.g. collected the wand; found the last few golden statues).

    I have a feeling the world was shrunk a bit for console, as it only took 3 - 5 minutes to get from Tambry to the Tomb. Still, it seemed obscenely large for what little it offered. Finding the swan happens near the end of the game, so while it does make things a bit faster to travel, it's too little too late if you ask me.

    In the end, I think you're better off having not bothered to complete this one. The maze in Grimwood makes the Tomb seem easy, and finding the stone of sunlight to defeat the witch is another quest for a secluded mountain fort that probably would have taken a few hours to find the entrance. As far as I know, three of the golden statues don't have in-game hints: one inside the tomb behind a secret door (found with a crystal ball), one inside the Grimwood maze, and one inside a seaside castle marked on the map, but no other reason to go there.

    Lastly, the sorceress (the good one), gives you an endless supply of luck. So, death really isn't an issue once you find her. It makes combat even more laughable than an overpowered score of 200 bravery. At least the sequel looks slightly more promising, but PC only.

  26. Good times. I grew up with this game and remember it fondly through rose tinted glasses. Especially the music is still haunting me after all these years.

    One curious fact I recall was that you could actually gain fighting xps by hammering away on the poor turtle while surfing on it :)

  27. In response to this:

    "The graphics are actually quite good and probably the best part of the game."

    I would like to offer a bit of perspective as someone who played Faery Tale on the Amiga when it first came out.

    At that time, and on that system, the graphics were not just quite good, but jaw-dropping. Like a few Cinemaware titles (especially Defender of the Crown), this was one of those killer-app games that could sell a 16-bit system on the basis of screenshots alone.

    Although the slightly-off isometric perspective was apparent even at the time, the overall impact of the graphics was really hard to overstate. Something this big, all at the same scale, smoothly scrolling, with day/night lighting, and gorgeous dynamic music -- this just wasn't something you saw much of, if at all, in 1986/87.

    At the time we already knew Faery Tale didn't come close to (say) the Ultimas for depth. There was too little content to populate the big world, and the combat was a joystick-wiggling mess.

    But still, the initial impact of this one is a bit of a 'you had to be there' thing. Yeah, fine, it was a glorified tech demo -- but what a tech demo!


  28. Game Players (issue #7, January 1990) has a lengthy review/walkthrough for this game. The author does not provide a score, but he really enjoyed the game.


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