Role-playing games haven’t changed much over the years.
Every once in a while there's a game like Half-Minute Hero that attempts to distill the formula to its purest form, but even that had enough text in between missions to make a novel look like a shopping list.
Fastar! boils the role-playing game down even further. There’s no princess to rescue, no previously unknown ancient evil to defeat, and certainly no androgynous characters that make you question your own sexuality. This is a role-playing game in its most primordial form.
As in any role-playing game, combat takes centre stage. You take charge of a doodle hero who trundles across the screen battling an army of square monsters.
As the scene scrolls by, you're able to attack enemies by tapping to slash with a sword. Alternatively, you can tap and flick your device to jump and slash. There are also magic spells to be cast with a tap of the upper-right corner.
You're allowed to select a spell at the start of the game - ranging from flaming FIAR to strengthening BEEF - instead of acquiring magic through the course of the adventure. It's a setup representative of the game's rejection of role-playing convention.
The fast and the furious
Rather than focus on extended character development as in most role-playing games, Fastar! opts for action. You receive experience for defeating enemies and can upgrade your weapon, armour, and magic spell's effectiveness, yet these aren't persistent.
Each game is self-contained, meaning that any upgrades apply to the specific session which you're playing. Much as in Half-Minute Hero, upgrades don't carry forward to the next stage. It prevents any attachment to your character, since you aren't investing time for long term gain - however, this frees you to fully enjoy the action and resulting rewards.
The recommended time for completing some levels is roughly five minutes, which is ideal for pick-up-and-play sessions. Unlike the intense, involved Chaos Rings or quest-heavy Zenonia 2, Fastar! is well-suited as a quick distraction.
Yet that quality is limiting. For all the praise for its easy-going gameplay, Fastar! lacks the sort of long-term appeal of a traditional role-playing game. The generic nature of its scenarios and enemies provide little motivation to soldier on. The combat becomes repetitive, too - each fight is just an iteration of the previous with more hit points added to the mix.
To be fair, Fastar! isn't trying to be anything else. Rather than delivering varied role-playing with tons of enemies and intriguing scenarios, it's about pummelling samey-looking squares with taps of a finger.
It's an worthwhile idea, and for a quick play here and there Fastar! is enjoyable. It won't, however, fulfill the deeper desires of dedicated role-players whose needs are better met with traditional fare.