Catch, collect and care for clans of colorful Fairies

There’s a big difference between making console games and making games for mobile, and one of the biggest is content. While the console arena is often dominated by licensed movie adaptations and franchise sequels full of bad language and violence, the mobile arena allows for more creativity and a gentler approach. This month, Bay Area developer inlifesize takes advantage of the more flexible mobile platform with Fairy Magic, a fun little pet sim that gives us a peek into the enchanted land of Fairy.

While it’s no surprise Fairy Magic is entertaining, game enthusiasts might be surprised to learn who created it. Development company inlifesize was founded by three heavy-hitting entertainment industry veterans, including Phil Campbell, former creative director on the Tomb Raider, James Bond and Godfather franchises, Greg Maguire, formerly of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Industrial Light & Magic, and Lucasfilm Animation, and Barry O’Neill, former President of Namco Bandai Networks Europe. In its simplicity, Fairy Magic seems like the kind of thing these guys could make with one hand tied behind their backs, but as any expert will tell you—simple is often best.

The idea in Fairy Magic is to interact with and catch the members of seven different fairy clans. Holding the iDevice (iPhone, iTouch or iPad) upright (albeit oriented horizontally) enables these ethereal little creatures to flit all over the screen and enables you to spot and capture them. What’s coolest about it—and thanks to what inlifesize is calling “3D Enchanted Reality™ technology”—is that the background to it all is the real world. Your iDevice’s built in camera shows your current surroundings and makes it seem as if you and the fairies are inhabiting the same space. Catching fairies is as easy as tapping them (to stop their flight) and then double-tapping them to make them fly closer. Once you’ve got their attention, you can play with them by tapping to tickle them or make them pose fetchingly for photographs (which you can then share through email or on Facebook and Twitter).

Fairy Magic

If a fairy likes you enough, she’ll tell you her name by emitting musical notes that you’re then supposed to mimic. The most fun by far though, is making the fairies repeat what you say. Cleverly using the iDevice’s built-in microphone, Fairy Magic lets you convince the fairies to emulate your speech by first tap-holding on them and then speaking into the mic. As you tap-hold, fairies lean close to listen as if pressed against the iDevice screen, and once you’ve spoken, move back and repeat whatever you’ve said in squeaky little fairy voices. This by itself, is worth a good number of laughs.

Once you’re done with a particular fairy, you can make her fly off by tapping her repeatedly or shaking the iDevice. Either of these actions will annoy her enough to make her leave. The seven fairy clans come in a range of pretty colors, and all the clans wear cute little outfits designed by celebrated concept designer, Kinman Chan (whose credits include Mars Needs Moms and A Christmas Carol). As you collect the fairy clans you unlock puzzle pieces that, when fully assembled, reveal seven detailed fairy images. Fully completing these depends on catching the elusive fairy princesses and queens.

Fairy Magic

You do this by laying the iDevice flat to make the screen into a magical pool. Tapping a button makes the shadowy image of a fairy princess or queen zip across the screen and when this happens, you quickly raise the iDevice up and tap her before she gets away. Less patient or skilled players can avoid this and buy the queens outright for $.99 each or all of them for the bundle price of $2.99. Players who “like” Fairy Magic on Facebook can further unlock a talking pink fairy princess.

The only downside to Fairy Magic is that for adults, (or really anyone over the age of 12) the entertainment value is quickly spent. Activities are fun but limited and are unlikely to hold the attention of a more grown-up audience. That said, it’s a great little diversion for kids (I even tested this with my best friend’s eight year old daughter, she loved it) and one I imagine could keep them busy for hours.

Fairy Magic is a bit of a creative departure for its makers, but no less impressive because of it. At its budget price, it offers great value as a cute, quirky way for you to entertain yourself on a work break or to keep your kids quiet when the grown-ups have things to do.