Review: Fable Heroes (XBLA)

I’m not sure what happened between Peter Molyneux and one chicken whose viciousness and fowlness (heh, get it?) we can only assume were such that the world has never seen before. All I know is that it resulted in the common chicken being singled out and having one hell of a hard time in the Fable universe. From a player stat specifically urging the player to kick a chicken farther and farther each time to the poor chicken getting struck by lightning in the opening titles of Fable Heroes, Fable is not kind.

Who could forget this poor guy in the Fable 3 intro cinematic?

Fable Heroes has its fair share of chickens. The aforementioned chicken being struck by lightning in the opening titles is the first instance of mistreatment most fowl (I did it again!). As you progress through the game, you find other examples of cruelty to our fine feathered friends in mini-games and a particularly entertaining boss battle. At least, while there is cruelty to chickens, they get some semblance of revenge (though in one case they must explode to get it).

Chickens aside, Fable Heroes has quite a lot going for it. Visually, it takes Fable’s classically cartoonish style and pushes it to new extents. You play as puppets (sack puppets, it seems) of some very recognizable Fable characters. From the Hero to Jack of Blades, and a lot of people in between, it seems that you’re almost playing in a puppet theater for children. The character selection is reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 2 (but with character statistics available to see), and the world map navigation is both functional and a treat to watch in action. Not only are the player characters chibi’d, the villains are as well. The hobbes, hollow men, balverines, and more all just look so damn cute.

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In order to beat the game, you must, obviously, pass the final stage…”The Credits.” In The Credits, you play through a level that has mixed environments, recalling the environments you’ve played through in the game up to the end. Along with the varying environments and enemies, however, you find destructible names spread throughout. These names are, as you may have guessed, the game’s credits. Destroying the names earns you quite a lot of gold, and in one case, an achievement. This achievement comes only by playing the level in Dark Albion, however.

Ah, Dark Albion. Once you finish The Credits on your normal playthrough, you unlock the ability to play the game again with a new mode: Dark Albion. The levels are the same…but different. The paths are the same, but the enemies and spawns are different, along with the environment. Set in an Albion that has succumbed to the Darkness from Aurora, Dark Albion provides new elements of difficulty and adventure, doubling the length of the standard game. Along with Dark Albion, you have leaderboards, time trials, and multiple levels of difficulty to extend the Fable Heroes experience further.

As you progress through playthroughs, you level up your character using the gold you earn in the levels and the Ability Board. The Ability Board is a Monopoly-esque game board that your puppets find themselves on after each stage played. At the end of each stage, your earned gold is calculated, and a number of dice are awarded. Those dice move you on the Ability Board. As you move on the Ability Board, you land on various squares. Attack squares provide you options to increase your basic attack stats. Enemy specific squares like the Hobbe squares can provide you with enemy-specific bonuses. The Gold square increases the amount of gold you earn while playing. Through the Ability Board, you can customize your favorite puppets and change the way you play the game.

Trials Evolution was an incredibly game, but I have to say Fable Heroes has edged it out as my favorite Arcade NEXT title, and possibly my favorite XBLA title of the year, so far. I know that at least two other XBLA titles coming out this year have incredibly high chances of unseating Fable Heroes, but as of right now, it’s king of the hill. At 800MSP, it is the cheapest of the Arcade NEXT titles, and the best. If you’re a fan of the Fable series, and enjoy great co-op hack-and-slash play, whether it’s online, on the couch, or a wonderful combination of the two, Fable Heroes is a must buy.

Review

ProsCons
Everything not in the cons section to the right.All characters are solid, results in getting stuck now and then.
Rating
96 out of 100

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