Sometimes, in moments of particularly focused age-related bitterness, I wonder if the kids these days have it too easy. They live in a world of Ninkynonks, Fimbles and Ballymory - hanging around in Lazy Town eating space fruits and befriending lime-green time-tigers. Of course, my own generation wasn't that hard-done-by either - I lived in Cities of Gold with Wizbit and Morph. SuperTed was my homeboy.
Way back in the pre-TV mists of civilisation, children were kept out of trouble in more direct ways, usually via the medium of terror. Bedtime stories populated with child-eating witches, ravenous wolves, marauding giants were the norm, and even I can still remember my grandmother telling me that unless I behaved, the Scissor Man would come and cut off my thumbs. Back in the day, kids were fed nightmares, not Knightmare. It's these bloodthirsty and often disturbing tales to which Fairytale Fights owes its heritage, and which it shows no shame in emulating, albeit with pudgy tongue firmly placed in cutely rendered cheek.
Set in a world of classic fairytales gone bad, Playlogic's brawler is part Happy Tree Friends, part Streets of Rage. Vividly bright and edge-of-delirium cute, its a world of drunken Goldilocks, gormless woodland animals and sociopathic lumberjacks. Controlling either Red Riding Hood, Snow White, clotheless Emperor or Beanstalk-climbing, giant-slaying Jack, players must hack and slash their way through themed levels which loosely relate to various classic tales of myth - dismembering minor characters in fountains of gore and body parts in an attempt to regain the fame and glory of their literary past.
Four-person multiplayer is an intrinsic part of the design - adding to the chaos. Thankfully, friendly fire is a toggle-option. Weaponry for the cause is wildly varied, with over 140 instruments of destruction falling into edged, blunt, ranged and potion-related categories. These go from mundane branches, clubs, bows and swords to mailboxes, wooden chainsaws and even fallen foes. Tellytubbies this is most definitely not.
It's telling that a large portion of Fairytale Fights' development time has been dedicated to its blood-propagation mechanics. Every kill paints the cheerfully rendered landscape with pools of claret, scattering limbs and piling corpses to all sides. Especially brutal kills, realised through charged attacks or the use of accumulated fame, fill half of the screen with a close-up of your victim as they're rendered asunder, segmenting or bludgeoning them in real time as you dish out the punishment.
As the puddles of plasma collect, your winsome avatar skates around in a slippery fashion, a look of devilish and yet childish glee on their face. The horror remains lighthearted, however, and defeated foes still pump out piles of shiny treasures to collect once they capitulate. Backgrounds and environments are more Tim Burton than Enid Blyton, ramshackle and twisted - not a million miles away from those of Double Fine's super-fine Psychonauts.