Harry the Fairy Review

Some evil mastermind with a penchant for drilling has gone on a fairy collecting spree, and now it’s up to Harry the Fairy (Out Now, $0.99) to free all his friends. His rescue mission will take him to the very center of the world, past plenty of deadly machinery and locked gates — but as long as there’s a barrel to be rolled, you just can’t get a fairy down!

With Harry being completely defenseless, the player’s singular input is to guide him around; he’ll interact with objects automatically provided they aren’t the kind that smash him outright. Levels present a widely varying balance of environmental puzzles and trap evasion sequences, with the latter overtaking the former as the game progresses.

Environment puzzles generally revolve around the task of getting barrels to bust through gates. That, in turn, requires shaping the caverns appropriately by shoving Harry against levers and swinging ramps, plus giving barrels the occasional nudge to get them rolling. The puzzles are executed very cleanly and organically, and yet I’m sad to report that they really didn’t do much for me. Harry’s environments have a way of smoothly ushering the player through, and I found that as long as I responded like Pavlov’s dog to every lever in sight, Harry reached his goal without my brain cells really having to kick in. That’s not to say Harry doesn’t serve up a few clever ones, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. There is a silver lining to the way levels are set up: despite Harry’s lack of maps and some pretty expansive environments, the player rarely gets lost. It’s also worth taking the time to flesh out your achievements list: scoring gold medals for completion time and star collection nets you a faster-moving “Super Harry” – the game’s In-App Purchase – for free.

Far more engaging than Harry’s gate puzzles are its twitch action sequences. Here, the player flies Harry through a series of deadly contraptions or dodges searing hot walls as air currents sweep him through at breakneck speed. If that sounds like it’s only for diehard challenge seekers, don’t sweat it: protective shields and checkpoints abound, so you’ll never have to master a passage twice and it’s certainly exhilarating the first time through. Pity that Harry takes a while to build up to these blood-pumping exercises; half the game passes before its focus shifts away from the environment puzzles.

The success of those action sequences rests on rock solid tilt controls. Players can make Harry swerve around with pixel perfect accuracy and there’s no need for wild swings of the iDevice. There’s just one catch: the game offers only two rest angles in its calibration options, so instead of setting your own goldilocks position you have to feel it out with the aid of some vague diagrams. I found that Harry controlled best while I laid flat, and that was with the game set to the, err, “slightly tilted up” setting. I’m still trying to figure out the correct neck-cramping angle for the “flat” setting. Here’s hoping for a completely player-defined calibration setting in updates. You can also opt for a virtual joystick, which I found very robust on the iPod Touch 4 despite the fact that it’s recommended only while playing on the iPad.

With its organically winding cave networks and an enchanting New Age track playing most of the time, Harry carries a clean and formidable presentation. Some more music variation couldn’t hurt in updates though. The main theme’s low intensity serves to remind the player just how easy it is to make it through the gates; faster-paced tracks that temporarily kick in during action sequences make those parts all the more welcome.

iFanzine Verdict: Harry the Fairy gets bogged down in tepid puzzles during its first half, but if you’re willing to wait for it, there’s some excellent – and excellently controlled – free-flying obstacle course action to be found here.