The latest XBLA to catch my eye is Fable Heroes from LionHead; those happy people who, you guessed it, created Fable. So I was a little interested to see what they have done with this fun looking, button bashing, side scrolling Albion romp and I have to say I enjoyed it, playing solo and also playing with my 4 year old who found it amazingly funny, and I have to say so did I! It was a fun little game to play and also reminded me of the other Fable games I have. I can’t help thinking though that it was a little nudge to fans saying “we are still here” and “please don’t forget the Fable franchise”.
So I hear you ask what’s this got to do with Fable? Well it’s kind of a parody to all the Fable games, and it’s fun to see Lionhead doing something different from what we have come to expect out of them. It’s also nice to see a very fun art style, but more on that later, what I really want to talk about is gameplay. From the start you will be bashing those buttons as hard as you can to kill those skeletons, or whatever fun type of creature is charging towards you. Combat wise there really is not much to do, you have your general attack which you use a lot and then, as in most side scrolling fighting games, you have that megapower button! You press the buttons together and everything around you is damaged as they are bathed in the red fiery light of your fury… muahahahaha! This however, sadly, comes at a cost of your life. The more you use the power the more life you use until you can’t do it any-more, but fortunately it won’t kill you entirely.
The levels are really easy. You go from point A to point B and try and kill everything in your way. You also get what I call Zoning, this is where you walk into an area and creatures pop out and attack you and then once they are dispatched you move on to the next zone. I don’t mind it when it’s done like this though in a less overused way. While you’re making your way through the level you will collect gold coins, these can be saved up and used to buy upgrades, and they have done this in a really fun way which is basically a mini game, where you roll the dice and your character moves around a game board with different upgrades dotted around the board, a bit like monopoly. When you land on one you can spend your gold and you can keep on rolling until you have run out of gold. You do this for all of the characters even if you are playing single player, or offline as the game says. As you would expect most levels have end of boss fights that are a lot of fun, if not a bit long, but it never seemed to be a chore at any point.
I know this style of game is mostly what indie developers are doing, and it’s good to see a well-known and established company come out with something like this and I think they have won some more people over, such as my 4 year old. She really enjoyed playing it as it was colourful and it kept her interested and she was free to move around and bash those buttons and see things happening on the screen and with me playing alongside her it was an enjoyable family gaming session.
Graphics are very important in this day and age and again it’s nice to see Lionhead taking another risk with the art direction. When I first cast my beady eyes on the screen it made me do a double take as the figures had no hands just round wooden spheres at the end of their arms which was a little bit weird and they looked more like dolls. In fact the whole game had this toy feel, as if it’s more of a play house, set in someone’s bedroom. Even the map you use to move to the next level looks like it’s on a wooden table, it’s all very well done and colourful and shiny.
Overall it’s a great game for the cost of 800 of your Microsoft points and if you like games such as Castle Crashers and the like, then this will be right up your street. You don’t really need to know Fable that well to enjoy this, but if you are a Fable Fan Boy/Girl then you will like this a lot. It’s not the best game by any means but it’s made better by the fact that you can invite 3 more players from Xbox Live and go have some fun.
Reviewed on XBox 360