Fairune and Fairune 2 were originally available as separate games for mobile devices and Nintendo 3DS, but in more recent releases for Switch and Windows PC, you’ll find them packaged as part of the Fairune Collection alongside two pleasant little extras: Fairune Origin and Fairune Blast.
The two titles are fairly self-explanatory — Fairune Origin is essentially the prototype for what would become the first Fairune, while Fairune Blast is a shoot ’em up themed after the series — but they’re both well worth playing in their own right.
Plus they’re pretty interesting in that they essentially represent both the genesis of and the conclusion to the series as a whole — well, that is unless creator Yuumi “Skipmore” Kimura decides to give us any more, of course — so let’s take a closer look at both.
Fairune Origin began its life in 2009 as one of the many free Flash-based games Kimura still hosts on his website to this day. Kimura took great pride in the game deliberately not providing any sort of hints to the player, and indeed this is a philosophy he has kept true to for the remainder of the series, as we’ve already seen.
Well, you’re not thrown in completely blind; when you start, you’re given a brief page of text explaining that the Demon King is about to wake up and start some sort of bad times, so it’s up to you, oh nameless heroine, to track down the four missing fairies and put them back where they should be in order to seal His Dark Majesty back up for good.
From there, though, it’s up to you to figure out what the hell you’re supposed to be doing. Fortunately, you don’t have far to go at any point; the entire game unfolds over just twelve screens arranged in a 3×4 grid, but much like in its more substantial successors, the challenge in Fairune Origin comes from the fact that you can often see your next objective, just not actually reach it.
Origin isn’t quite as devious about hiding secret passageways as Fairune 2 is, but there are still a couple of instances where you’ll want to observe the environment keenly and make some logical conclusions. Everything you need in Fairune Origin is right in front of you; there are no arbitrary “secrets” to stumble across by chance — you just might have to think about things a little bit differently from how you might typically approach a top-down action adventure.
To say too much would be to give away the fun, because Fairune Origin can be beaten in less than six minutes. Your first playthrough will probably take closer to a whopping 10-12 minutes or so, but the game encourages repeat play and speedrunning by showing you your clear time at the end, and the Fairune Collection version of Fairune Origin also features three achievements: one for beating the game, one for beating it without taking damage, and one for beating it in less than six minutes.
If you haven’t yet encountered the Fairune series as a whole, Origin is actually a good place to start, since it provides a gentle introduction to Kimura’s distinctive world design and way of thinking. There’s only really one — maybe two — sequences that are vaguely obtuse, and thus even a complete newcomer to the series shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to blast through and be ready for their first full adventure in Fairune.
Conversely, Fairune Blast is intended to be an endpoint to your time with the series — mostly because the Fairune Collection doesn’t allow you to play it until you’ve beaten Fairune, Fairune 2 and Fairune Origin. It’s right there on the menu, teasing you with its presence, but covered in three padlocks — one for each game — until you prove your worth.
Thankfully, it’s worth the effort, and makes a highly enjoyable, slickly produced extra to round off the complete collection. And while it doesn’t exactly provide “closure” to the series in a narrative sense — mostly because it doesn’t have a story — it does provide a nice way to continue enjoying the look and feel of Fairune as a whole without simply playing through the larger adventures again.
Fairune Blast, as the name suggests, is a shoot ’em up. This isn’t as much of a stretch as you might think, since both Fairune and its sequel conclude with a final boss battle that unfolds in shoot ’em up style. In both cases, they’re relatively sedate compared to dedicated shoot ’em ups, however — a sudden switch from the fairly gentle, cerebral pace of the games’ main content wouldn’t sit right — and indeed in the case of Fairune 2 it’s impossible to actually “lose” completely, though there is an achievement on offer for those able to beat the boss without “dying” once.
Fairune Blast, meanwhile, is not held back by any such baggage, and as such provides a much more frantic, speedy, slick blasting experience that is a lot of fun, providing you the opportunity to play as the nameless heroine from the main games as well as two apparent newcomers named Yamato and Uzume — these are actually guest characters from another of Kimura’s games known as Kamiko.
Each of the three characters has a different shot pattern, which begins at its second power level out of four, meaning it can be upgraded twice by picking up golden fairies carrying “P” tokens. Fairune’s heroine begins with a powerful wide beam that upgrades to have additional bullets providing a slight spread shot; Yamato fires a powerful barrage of swords straight ahead that becomes more intense with additional levels; Uzume, meanwhile, has the widest range of all, particularly when fully upgraded, but her bullets, being magic arrows, are the smallest.
Each character also has a special ability: Fairune’s heroine can throw out a large spinning disc in front of her like a boomerang; Yamato becomes a temporarily invincible whirling death machine just like her charge attack in Kamiko; and Uzume fires a powerful, wide shot that pretty much covers the whole screen width. These abilities gradually charge up over time; a clear, audible cue as well as a meter at the side of the screen lets you know when they’re ready, and you should have multiple opportunities to use them even within the two minutes each playthrough provides.
While the game isn’t as frantic as a true danmaku “bullet hell” shooter, it follows the genre conventions of making your vulnerable hitbox much smaller than your complete sprite, allowing you to weave through intricate bullet and enemy patterns while attempting to shoot down as many as possible. Take a hit and you won’t die immediately, though; you’ll simply get knocked down to the minimum power level and have to upgrade again. Take another hit while at bottom level, however, and it’s all over — no lives here!
Fairune Blast is structured as a series of enemy gauntlets followed by boss encounters, with said bosses being drawn from the different forms of Fairune and Fairune 2’s final foes as well as a few guests from Kamiko. You won’t proceed to the next gauntlet until you take the boss down, so in order to attain the maximum scores — and to unlock the achievement that requires you to have destroyed one of every enemy type — you’ll need to be quick and efficient about dispatching them, typically by making effective use of your special abilities.
Scoring is handled through a combination of factors. Enemies — including bosses — explode into small, shining gems when you defeat them, and these are worth points. Alongside this, shining bonus medals regularly float down the screen, with each being worth a significant number of points. Attaining the best scores, then, involves weaving your way through enemy and bullet patterns, collecting medals, keeping your power up for maximum carnage potential and quickly dealing with bosses when they show up.
That might sound like a lot to think about, but the beauty of Fairune Blast is that it’s a real pick-up-and-play affair. The fact each play session is just two minutes long encourages you to replay, practice and learn the various non-randomised attack patterns you’ll be facing each time, and both local top fives (on a per-character basis) and online leaderboards encourage you to push yourself to be that little bit better each time you play.
As well as playing well, it’s full of really nice little touches that you’ll only really appreciate having played through the mainline Fairune games in their entirety — presumably hence the reason for it being locked in the Fairune Collection until you’ve proven yourself. The fact that all the enemies are creatures you’ve encountered over the course of your pixelated adventures gives a really nice feeling of “authenticity” to the experience — look a little closer, and you’ll notice the scrolling background is actually an accurate version of Fairune 2’s Green Fields map as seen from far above.
Fairune Collection would have been great with just Fairune and its sequel. But the addition of Fairune Origin and Fairune Blast adds considerable value to the package as a whole, allowing you the opportunity to see how the series began — and to continue to enjoy it long after you think you’ve mastered speedrunning the main adventures.
Well then. With that all taken care of, I guess Kamiko is up next, then…?
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