Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Game 34: The Faery Tale Adventure: Book 1 (1987)

Faery Tale Adventure is definitely not a famous CRPG. Barton doesn't mention it. It's Wikipedia entry is barely more than a stub. Its manual exists only as a text file on the Lemon Amiga site. And yet, after a few hours of play, I find it very promising. Its graphics and sound are quite good for the era; it features an original story; and it has a very intuitive top-down screen that (as Wikipedia notes) anticipates Ultima VII by several years.

And it has a cool storybook graphic.

The setup is as follows: The peaceful kingdom of Holm has fallen into dark times. Ogres and goblins maraud the land. A magic talisman is stolen from the village of Tambry by an evil sorcerer and his undead army; without its protection, the village comes under constant attack. The mayor sends the Master at Arms to beg the king's assistance, but the Master soon returns, fatally wounded, with the news that the king's daughter has been kidnapped, and the necromancer threatens to kill her unless the king submits to his will. The land's champion, the Red Knight, is missing and feared dead.

It's not all about your village, you know.

With his last gasp, the Master at Arms charges his three sons--the brave Julian, the cunning Phillip, and the bookish Kevin--to fulfill the prophecies of the seer Malbareth, find a series of magic artifacts, defeat the necromancer in his stronghold, and recover the village's talisman.

You start the game playing Julian, and frankly I don't know how and when you switch to the other brothers. In true CRPG fashion, I looted the houses of my fellow townsfolk, finding various magic items and sundries, before attempting to leave the town.

I never claimed to be a hero.

Gameplay is from a top-down perspective. The interface is smooth and continuously scrolling--the first isometric live-action game that I've played so far, which ought to give Faery Tale Adventure some bonus points. The game uses the mouse, although (unlike Dungeon Master) there are analogous keyboard commands to every mouse command, and I find the keyboard much more intuitive.

The lower left corner narrates your actions in the past-tense, as if it's part of a (very boring) story, in keeping with the "faery tale" theme. Under the narration are your vital statistics: bravery (battle skill), luck (affects chance of being resurrected after death by a "good fairy"), kindness (helps in communication), vitality (hit points), and wealth (gold).

After looting Tambry, I headed out the front gates and was promptly slain by a passing skeleton. As the manual promised might happen, a fairy glided along and resurrected me.

An inauspicious beginning.

My second trip out was a little more promising, as I quickly dispatched two ogres and looted their bodies. Combat is a little unexciting. Essentially, you wield a weapon (all I can afford right now is a dirk) and press the number pad key corresponding to the direction of your foe, repeatedly, until one of you dies.

I noticed that my "bravery" went up two points after defeating the ogres, so this is perhaps how your character develops. There's no other suggestion of levels or experience points in the game. I'm not yet sure how to develop luck, kindness, or (maximum) vitality.

As for other discoveries: it appears that there are chests sitting around in the wilderness to plunder; there are various magic items (totems, skulls, orbs) with various properties I have to figure out on my own; my vitality increases as I wait around; and when night falls in the game, the screen darkens.

Holm at night.

The biggest gameplay mysteries I have is if there's any way to rest or wait. The innkeeper/shopkeeper asks if I want to stay the night, but I can't figure out any command that lets me do that.

So far, The Faery Tale Adventure seems slight but intriguing. I'll give it a few more days and see how it develops.


  1. It's probably more of a "beginner CRPG". Lots of running, many stereotypes, more or less easy fights, lots of running, interface not too complicated, colorful but ultimately simple scenery and did I mention lots of running?
    Played it on the Amiga back then and I remember the graphics to be very smooth and the audio to be tolerable.
    I thought it had a nice atmosphere, though. Not too epic - rather a bit rural...

  2. I used to have this for the Amiga. It's lost quite a bit in the conversion to pc in terms of graphics and sound. I don't think the gameplay is very complex but I seem to remember the map is quite large. I quite enjoyed just wandering around the nice scenery and finding new special locations.

    Might be wrong but I think you get to play the other brothers when you die.

    I always thought the game was reasonably popular and it seems to have been converted to the SNES as well (videos on YouTube).

  3. Yes, you play the brothers one after another if you die.

    I never could stand the thought of having to finish a "fairy tale" with one of the brothers dead so I reloaded when necessary to have a happy family reunion at the end.

    Come to think of it...while I remember some locations quite vividly I don't remember the ending at all...

  4. I never finished it, but even with the limited gameplay options and rather sparsely populated world, I had some fun exploring. I think it was one of the first (and biggest) open-world games I encountered - which doesn't really fit the novice CRPG premise that well.

  5. Man that font looks annoying, that's all the opinions I have on this game, having never heard of nor experienced it.

  6. I played this on the Amiga as well - never finished it though. I remember the map being huge, and the areas distinct and interesting enough that when you reached an important area, if felt significant and different.

    I sure hope you stick it out and finish this one - with lots of updates and video. One of the real gems from my early years and one I'd love to play again.

  7. I always wanted to try this game, but never got around to it.

    The action RPG that really survived into this modern era where most RPGs are action RPGs was Ys (PC port is like 89-90. Its had a ton of remakes since with another due in February IIRC.).

    The other early ones like this one, the Dreamforge SSI titles and the later Questron Engine games all mostly disappeared from everyone's radar.

  8. I have the very rare and mostly useless cluebook (its nice and thick) and map. This some some sparkle in translation from Amiga to PC. The world map is BIG.

    @rufus, I loved questron 2, legacy of the ancients and legend of blacksilver used with the questron engine...

  9. Calibrator, man, you're not kiddin gabout the "lots of running"--except that I'm mostly walking. Is there really a "run" option that I'm missing?

    Dammit, Andrew. I was just thinking I'd probably cut this one short. If you were anyone else, I'd dismiss your hopes with a guffaw, but you've been with me since Rogue, so I'll see what I can do.

  10. Sounds like a console action "RPG", Zelda an the like. While I enjoy those a lot, I've never thought of them as RPGs. Looks fairly interesting though, especially as an 80s home computer game! Any dungeons, puzzles?


  11. The combat mechanics of Faery Tale Adventure sound like a real letdown--especially after DM. As Eino suggested, so far your description reminds me of Sega Genesis JRPGs of the early '90s (several of which were actually quite good, and one of which--Phantasy Star II--was seriously challenging). In fact, it looks like FTA was also ported to the Genesis, though I must have missed it the first time around ...

    In historical news, probably you and others have seen this, but in case not, a guy at just started writing a series of reminiscences about golden-age CRPG companies--starting with SSI:

    The highlight is his inclusion of vintage ads; great to see the box designs for games like Phantasie and Rings of Zilfin!

  12. I remember this game. Fantastic game. It's a huge world, but you do get some things that speed it along later. Once you get the hang of it, the game pace picks up and it's over pretty quickly.

    I think you'll find it not an overly huge game in story length.

    Otherwise, it has lost a LOT in translation from Amiga to PC.. It's like it as created for EGA with CGA resolution. (not really. But considering the change in quality, it's an apt analogy)

  13. This game doesn't immediately strike my fancy, but I'm reading these for your insights anyway. If it's really a chore, don't worry about skipping it.

  14. And now for something completely different: the mention of Dungeon Master's glyphs and the logic behind them has made me try to start a TV Tropes article for magic systems where the player constructs spells.

    I'll spend a bit of time asking around, seeing if the folks there think it should be a separate page from the ones on item crafting, socketed equipment, tweaking one's gear and designing one's gear. If it should, then the name it'll receive will probably become the established term. (Weird.) Now's the time to get your name suggestions in. Unless there's a marvellous alternative, I'm planning to do the obvious and go with "Spellcrafting."

  15. Speaking of the forced perspective in Faery Tale and Ultima V, I've always found Ultima's 45-degree graphics angle disorienting and off-putting.

    The shallower angle here in Faery tale seems a lot more natural and easy on the brian, while still giving the graphics some depth.

  16. Eino, I've encountered one HUGE dungeon but no real "puzzles" so far. I would have given up on this one a while ago if a few of my commenters (like AD up there) didn't repeatedly assure me that it gets awesome.

    Kevin, I hadn't seen that blog, so thanks for posting it. I need to do a "special topics" posting on other good old-school blogs.

  17. I loved this game back on my Amiga, you get a turtle later, you ride on its back....What more could you want?

  18. The main problem with the game was that it was too enamored of the size of its world. The manual boasts how many screens it contains. But all you can do with these screens is WALK through them. When gamers were asking for bigger worlds, this isn't what they meant. Phantasie III was a better game because although the world was tiny, every screen had something to DO in it.

    I might have stuck it out, but I got too impatient when it took 30 minutes of real time to walk from one town to the other, with nothing interesting happening along the way.

  19. how do i control the chars on the PC version by fuison? arrows move him but cant attack or anything.

  20. Anon, I think you're going to find that my blog is pretty useless for tech support-style hints, especially when it's been so long since I've played. I'm afraid I don't remember, and I don't have the game any more. Maybe if another kind reader comes along...

  21. "I need to do a "special topics" posting on other good old-school blogs. "

    As you can guess i'm reading the blog for 2 months in chronological order, so I dont know if you did it.. If not, please do it :D

  22. Nah, I never got to it. I haven't had time to investigate or read them yet.

  23. It is interesting that you gave up on this; I do not remember it being nearly so boring as you describe, and only did not beat it because I kept losing all three brothers before reaching the end. But then, I seem to recall having at least a rudimentary guide to work from, so I was probably just doing the steps you needed to win in order rather than wandering aimlessly.

    It is funny, though; I bought this game at around the same time as Prophecy I: The Fall of Trinadon and Tangled Tales, so I am amused to see the latter two games at the top of the page as coming up (2.5 years after this entry was written); I assumed those games were all chronologically related if I got them at the same time, but clearly not. All fun games that never made any real impact on the genre, though, unfortunately.

  24. This game was probably THE best when it came out. Best graphics and biggest world at the time. Although maybe not as encompassing as Ultima, FTA was far more fluid with tremendous 3rd person playability. A true classic of gaming!!

  25. I played Faery Tale to its completion on the Amiga nearly thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, it was groundbreaking and brilliant. By today’s standards, it would likely seem sparse and boring. If you have a love for retrogaming, it’s a gem. But even by late 80s standards, I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as for a beginner. The game doesn’t hold your hand or give you any hints as to what you need to do to win. There is a lot of “explore everywhere and hope something good happens.” That was absolutely epic in the late 80s, but, as another poster mentioned, the walk from Tambry to Marheim is painful by today’s standards.

    A few hints, beyond what’s been previously posted:

    • Play the Amiga version, it’s by far the best. In any version, use a joystick or game pad; while other inputs are supported, the game is much easier to control that way.
    • If you want to go faster than walk, you need the swan. But it will be awhile before you can get it.
    • Get a bow (probably off a dead monster). If you can’t get or afford that, use a sword.
    • You lose luck when you die. There’s someplace you can visit to gain luck (when you get there, I think you need to Talk...). When you run out of luck, that’s when you really “die,” and move on to the next brother.
    • As near as I can tell, bravery is how well you defend in melee. I say this because I think damage is measured by what weapon you use, and if your bravery gets high enough, you’re invulnerable to melee damage. But not ranged damage, drowning... or falling.
    • Because of this, Julian is the easiest brother to use (at least at the beginning); Kevin is the hardest.
    • You are going to get hurt early on (before you get your bravery up). Run away. Use vials to heal. It’s much better to spend money on a vial than it is to die and lose luck (see above).
    • IMO, the endgame (if not the ending) is epic. There will be no mistaking it, once you’re there. And it will take awhile to get there.


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