Welcome to a Fantastic Age!: One Man in a Land of Children
By Stephen Boyd, OnRPG Journalist.
Fantage is for kids. And I'm not saying that because I think it's childish, or silly. The game was designed for children. It is closely monitored by the developers to try and provide a safe environment for children between six and fourteen and I think that anything that builds the next generation of gamers is a great thing.
Fantage starts with creating your avatar in the nigh omnipresent ‘kiddy manga' style used by most free to play games these days. While the art style does not appeal to me personally, it is obviously popular with the seven million players of Fantage worldwide.
While the initial options for your avatar are limited, in-game stores sell new hairstyles, clothes, shoes and accessories. From investigating the first few ‘Towns' in-game, the variety of looks on display seems to almost limitless.
Navigating the game world is very simple. Your standard old school point and click interface navigates you around the screen and a World Map can be used to fast travel between destinations.
Fantage currently boasts ten towns, each with its own social hub. These hubs are used as meeting places for avatars and also host a set of mini games. The Star Café in the starting zone was packed when I entered. Icons on the wall displayed portals to each of the mini games. Fruit Stack was a Connect Four like game where you chain apples or oranges to win. Memory Mix Up plays like your standard match the tiles puzzler. Snack Tac Toe, as you may imagine, was a Tic Tac Toe or Noughts and Crosses using Cookies and Donuts rather than Xs and Os. Winning these games earns you stars and these stars can be used to buy certain items.
Each town has shops to purchase new looks for your character and house. When I tried to buy a stylish new moustache, even though I had enough stars, I was blocked as many items are only available to Premium members. This may be a problem if you have to explain to your child why they cannot buy that sparkly pink hat they want.
Adding a touch of variety to the mini games I have already discussed are the Special Agent Missions. It seems that even in the peaceful land of Fantage, dastardly villains are out to get us.
By accessing the secret underground base, your avatar can be drafted in to assist the Secret Service to battle all manner of ne'er do wells and malefactors.
In your first mission, if you choose to accept it, you will face off against evil Ninja Monkeys to rescue General Gopher and retrieve the Golden Monkey of Hanoi. But you will not face them alone; at your side will be the ninja's natural enemy, the pirate.
While you do not go into combat directly on these missions, Flash animations show your allies battling enemies while you go off and solve puzzles to achieve your objective.
All in all, I felt that during the two hours I spent in Fantage I barely scratched the surface. There are dozens of mini games and missions to complete, each leading to currency rewards and unlockables. While Fantage may not be for me or you, the game seems fun and likely highly playable for the younger gamers out there. The UI is simple and intuitive and a great learning tool for those using a PC for the first time. And let's face it, any game where you get to smash Ninja Monkeys with a giant hammer can't be a bad thing, right?