Yuumi “Skipmore” Kimura is a modern Japanese independent developer who deserves a lot more attention.
His Fairune series provides a fascinating twist on the item-based action RPG formula, emphasising puzzles of traversal rather than all-action combat.
And, as it turns out, his game Kamiko does precisely the opposite… while still maintaining that distinctive Skipmore magic. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Kamiko: Fighting for the Transient World
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.
Continue reading Fairune Origin and Blast: Beginning and End
After the first Fairune successfully proved that you can make something that looks convincingly like an action RPG into a two-hour puzzle adventure, the natural next step for creator Yuumi “Skipmore” Kimura was to go bigger.
With that in mind, Fairune 2 is a considerably expanded affair over its predecessor, but maintains the same compelling, enjoyable and oddly relaxing blend of light action RPG elements, item-based puzzle solving and mind-bending navigation brainteasers.
If you’re coming straight from the first one, it might not subvert quite as many expectations as that one did — in that it’s a lot more of “the same” — but it is similarly delightful, and a pleasure to explore. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Fairune 2: It’s Exactly What It Looks Like
1985’s Saboteur! is a well-regarded title in the ZX Spectrum’s considerable library of games — and, as we’ve seen, it still holds up surprisingly well today.
Two years later, creator Clive Townsend brought us a full-on sequel that was an extremely noteworthy title for a number of reasons — and, just like the original Saboteur!, this can now be played in enhanced form on modern systems.
So grab your shuriken and hop on your hang-glider — we’re going in.
Continue reading Saboteur II: Avenging Angel – Dropping the “J”
Fairune is a game that, at first glance, could be mistaken for an homage to the original The Legend of Zelda, the early Ys games or perhaps even Hydlide if you’re a real hipster.
It’s a top-down open-world game presented in chunky pixel art, in which you defeat enemies by simply running into them. You collect items which allow you to access new areas or provide you with new abilities, and your ultimate aim is to explore the whole world thoroughly until you locate three plot-critical doohickeys, at which point you descend into the final dungeon, rescue the three equally plot-critical fairies, kick the snot out of the Big Bad and then relax, safe in the knowledge of a Job Well Done.
However, it does just a few things a little bit differently to what you might expect from that description. And those little differences are enough to make it a unique experience well worth your time.
Continue reading Fairune: It’s Not What It Looks Like
The 8-bit home console era is, at this point, pretty well documented; how many times over the years have we seen an article or video purporting to tell “the story of Super Mario Bros. 3” for the umpteenth time?
But what about the 8-bit microcomputer era? For one reason or another, this has always remained much more niche-interest, with far less in the way of online historical explorations and even less in the way of reimaginings, remakes and rereleases.
Here’s Saboteur!, a Nintendo Switch and Windows PC rework of a ZX Spectrum game from 1985 — put together by the original author, no less — and a title I’ve found myself surprisingly wrapped up in since downloading it from the eShop for 89p a couple of weeks ago!
Continue reading Saboteur!: Full Spectrum Ninja
We devoted an episode of The MoeGamer Podcast to the idea of “homage” — specifically, games that deliberately adopt both aesthetic and mechanical conventions of titles from the past in order to pay tribute to them.
There are other ways you can show your appreciation and respect for the influence old games continue to have, though, and a powerful means of doing that can be through the use of pastiche and parody.
Old School Musical, a rhythm game from indie developer La Moutarde, very much falls into this category; it may not play like the old-school games it’s paying tribute to — but few could say that it isn’t still a wonderful homage that demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of gaming history from the 8-bit home console era onwards.
Continue reading Old School Musical: Tapping Through Time