Even fantasy kingdoms need a cleaning lady…
What should be done if there are only 15 days left until the anticipated wedding between Prince Charming and Snow White, while the Glade still is a horrible mess? Just ask Beatrix, the cleaning fairy of this fantasy kingdom. Fairy Maids by developer Spark Plug Games allows the player to clean messy rooms in a fairy tale setting, inspired by the stories of our childhood, but the game fails to deliver a consistent and entertaining experience.
Fairy Maids features 46 levels which can be played in both timed and untimed mode. Depending on whether you replay certain levels and how much time you spent on mini-games, the game will keep you busy for around three hours, which is slightly below average for a time management game. Additionally the repetitive nature of the game in more than one respect seriously hurts the overall impression, but I will get back to this point later on.
New levels can be accessed through the newspaper, and for each day there are three levels from which you can choose freely. Levels differ in how much money you are paid, whether there may be additional tasks for you to fulfill apart from cleaning and who your customer is. People you serve are wildly popular from fairy tales, such as the big bad wolf, the dark knight, or Hansel and Gretel. Those characters are presented tongue-in-cheek though, and it is hilarious to read what they have to say in the beginning and at the end of each level.
With regards to gameplay Fairy Maids surely does not reinvent the wheel. Cleaning involves cobwebs, stains that differ in how easy they can be removed, clicking mean little creatures called boggarts who create new messes if not banished, or finding objects that the owner of the house is missing. You’ll be using a duster, a mop, a broom, and various detergents to do so, and mainly by clicking, clicking, and clicking on anything that is dirty or untidy. Apart from that you also have a handy wand which enables you to correct certain messes immediately and can drive away the already mentioned boggarts.
Over the course of the game you are able to upgrade each of your cleaning supplies, which lessens the number of clicks you need to clean stains or deal with boggarts. Apart from that you can also purchase helpful charms that will provide you with more time to finish a level, or point out messes which are still left to be cleaned. Those charms can be activated by making cleaning combos, which simply means that you have to clean similar messes one after another. To earn even more gold than your regular payment by clients you are also able to engage in rather basic mini-games.
There are three different of those mini-games that will help you on your way to the the great wedding day. All of them are timed but still very easy. In the first one you have to create perfumes by selecting the correct flowers from a large field, in the second one you have to click boggarts to earn money. The third mini-game is tied to the upgrades-shop, you have to click as many hidden money bags in a short time as possible, and the more you find, the cheaper the upgrade you selected will become.
While Fairy Maids definitely has its good sides, like endearing graphics and a highly humorous atmosphere, it definitely misses the mark with regards to gameplay. There are only a small number of different houses and rooms you will clean in the course of the game, and they do not vary as much graphically as one would expect. Apart from that the tasks become boring and repetitive really quickly. It is only entertaining for a limited amount of time to clean different kinds of stains, and the lack of movement in those scenes apart from your cleaning stuff does not really improve matters.
Fairy Maids definitely lacks in areas that are crucial to whether a game is a blast or just a filler, and it clearly tends to be the latter. Humorous descriptions, nice graphics and some quirky ideas do not suffice to create a good game, and unfortunately Fairy Maids is not diverse enough to keep the player’s attention for long. Those of you who enjoyed the Nanny Mania series in particular should still give it a try, but anyone expecting a whimsical and challenging time management game might be disappointed.