Last year I became fascinated by Animal Boyfriend, a game in which you turned an actual animal into a human partner.
It was pretty cool.
And now Ambition is back with Fairy Doll.
From what I can make out from the App Store description, Fairy Doll is all about getting a fairy, then dressing it up in nice clothes, and teaching it how to do stuff.
Sounds like my perfect game, so why don't I play it for a week, reporting back every few days, and see if that's the case?
When you start the game up you input some details. It asks you your name, which is simple, and then to name your fairy, which isn't.
What will you call this being that is going to be your companion (presumably) for the rest of the game?
My first attempt at naming failed: Fanny just isn't acceptable to the stuck up prudes at Ambition. Apparently you can train a rabbit into being as sexy as you like, but using a real world name that just so happens to also mean something rude is out of the question.
So I ended up going with Sally in a fit of rage / apathy.
The main menu has Sally just kind of stand there in a frilly nightie. She's very cute looking, and drawn very young, but there's nothing overtly sexual about the game, if you're (quite naturally) worried about that sort of thing.
It's all been very kawaii so far, rather than something that might have me wind up on a list.
You can press the Talk button and Sally will prattle on about something mundane but nonetheless quite lovely. Apparently Karume (who?) has invited her to go out digging for sweet potatoes, which is nice.
You can also ask her to Study, which will change her personality and presumably ensure she things to you that aren't about root vegetables.
There's the option to dress her up in a bunch of different outfits and costumes too, but these clothes must be earned.
Playing the Gacha machine randomly assigns you a piece of clothing to dress your fairy in, but to play with it you usually have to spend Jewels
This brings us on to the final major activity - work. Hit the Work button and select a task for Sally to perform and she sets about completing it.
This takes a certain amount of real-world time to complete, but you can speed the process up with special items.
I asked Sally to "walk a dog" for two hours, because I want her to be able to afford some nice new clobber, so now I can't really do anything with her until the time's up.
Nothing except wonder why the developer chose "walk a dog" rather than "walk the dog".
I spiral into daydreams about Sally simply finding a stranger's dog, taking it for a walk against its will, and expecting some sort of compensation from the confused owners in return.
Day 3: Dragonfly
For day two of my time with Fairy Doll, Sally was asleep. Apparently fairies need to nap too, and I'd not told her to go to bed and get some shut eye, so she just kind of crashed at about 2 o'clock.
I took my free go on the Gacha machine, won a pair of angel wings, and waited for day three to rock round.
Day three was a bit more productive. I decided to tackle the Daily Quest, which in this case was to talk with Sally ten times. In return for completing this task I'd be awarded a trinket of some kind, and since it's an easy objective to accomplish, I set about chewing the fat with her.
"Sally seems to be a little bored" said Sally, disturbingly talking about herself in the third person. So I asked if she wanted to go for a walk with me, which cheered her up a bit. Then she saw a red dragonfly, and at that point she was over the moon.
At least I think she was. Quite often the dialogue, portrait picture, and choices you make don't sync up. Like this example...
I've also seen multiple menus now that haven't been translated from their original Japanese text, which further adds to a still-just-about-charming feeling of bewilderment.
Part of the meta game of Fairy Doll is working out what the game's actually asking you to do, and then navigating through the slow and badly laid out menus to do it.
For example, if you're given a present for completing a task, you need to go to a special sub-menu that lists all of the presents you've received, then accept the number of presents you have (if you have three, the button is labelled "3 – Get").
After that you need to confirm on the next menu screen that you want to accept the presents. After all that you can finally use the gift.
It's also not yet super clear as to whether the Studying I'm asking Sally to take part in is having any effect on her.
Getting your fairy to Study lets you mould their personalities by increasing or decreasing certain statistics - Kindness, Modesty, Toughness, Cheerfulness, Curiosity, Naughtiness, Flamboyance, Bashfulness, Shyness, and Frankness.
Want your fairy to be naughtier and tougher? Send her swimming, obviously.
I can't tell if 30 laps down the local public pool have modified her personality in any way, but I really hope to see some change in her by the end of this week, as it feels like my fairy isn't really that different to any one else's.
Day 7: 1,000 hours free
Y'know some of the costumes you can get in Fairy Doll really are amazingly detailed and intricate. When your fairy is overcome by Fairy Magic - a thing I still have no idea how to combat, incidentally - you're given a wonderful and elegant dress, and get to pose against a stunningly drawn night-time backdrop.
It looks great, and wanting to see all of the outfits on offer is really compulsive if you're the kind of person who likes this kind of chibi art.
That said, after a week of play I've started to notice more and more low cut tops and scanties you can dress your fairy in, which is making me feel uneasy.
When you get copies of the same clothing item you can Synthesize them into new threads, and again this is quite compulsive.
However, all of this excitement for the fashion stuff is tempered somewhat by the fact that you can't wear certain clothes if you don't have the right stats. Not modest enough? You can't wear that blouse, sorry.
But let's cut to the chase - Fairy Doll just isn't a very good game.
Playing Fairy Doll is like browsing websites in the nineties. It's slow to load, the screen is littered with ill-fitting text and static images, and navigating around is confusing.
Yes the it's unique, and Ambition deserve the props for having the guts to (mostly) translate a game in this stramgest of genres for an English speaking audience. But the game itself isn't going to entertain any but the most die-hard fans of the niche.How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.