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Fanatic Earth (Android) artwork

Fanatic Earth (Android) review

"After reviewing a few Kemco games, it is nice to see one of their developers show signs of maturing."

It's amazing what a handful of subtle improvements can do. After spending the last few months playing through a number of Kemco's mobile RPGs, I've grown used to awarding the company's games with backhanded compliments, essentially "praising" them for at least being tolerable. Fanatic Earth, however, is different. It has a few flaws, but it also happens to be genuinely fun. Developed by Exe-Create, shortly after that team created Alphadia Genesis, the newer effort manages to simultaneously feel similar to but also superior to much of what I've played from Kemco in the past.

The "similar" part is easy to explain, of course. Exe-Create has become a prolific designer, releasing multiple games over the course of the average year. Certain aspects are recycled from one release to the next. So it is that in Fanatic Earth, I encountered seemingly amazing pieces of equipment that were marred by costly side effects. Several battle skills had their effectiveness determined by factors such as a member's current hit point total. There also were multiple difficulties that I could switch between at any time, a battle arena loaded with optional fights against powerhouse foes and a handful of post-game dungeons that must be completed in order to achieve a better ending.

But don't get the impression that Fanatic Earth is just a carbon copy of previous games by Exe-Create. It's more fast-paced and streamlined than Alphadia Genesis, and I spent about 15 enjoyable hours completing the main quest before proceeding to post-game content. The campaign progresses quite smoothly, with none of the plot-related stuff feeling like blatant filler. There is a mini-map available within dungeons, so that they are easier to navigate. And then there's the premise: a buddy-cop game that takes place in a dystopian futuristic city. That definitely stands out from the Kemco pack!

At some point, a deadly plague eliminated most of the planet's population. Apparently, the group of survivors had read Stephen King's "Under the Dome," so they were able to shield an entire city from the virus. However, much like in that book, certain power-hungry individuals took control of things and essentially established themselves as the ruling class. I mean, what are you going to do? They have all the power and the only other place to go is the desolate, diseased wasteland that composes the rest of the world.

Things start to change when some guy wakes up in a park with no idea who he is. However, he does know one thing: he doesn't like abusive bullies. When he notices a couple thugs harassing a young woman, he promptly issues a decisive beat-down. Out of gratitude, she takes him out to eat and, since he can't remember his name, she dubs him "Zech" (after a notable athlete he resembles).

I'd like to say this is the start of a beautiful friendship, but shortly afterwards, more thugs come to the woman's apartment and kidnap her. Zech follows the trail they leave to the headquarters of Cyphatek, a large corporation that happens to be the center of all the corruption. He winds up being arrested, once his natural belligerence leads to a brawl he can't win. Fortunately for him, the chief of the police station where he is taken happens to be interested in toppling Cyphatek, and is looking for a team of individuals who can help him do whatever is required to achieve that goal. He's already found one recruit in Michael, a by-the-books cop from another precinct whose boss and potential love interest were recently assassinated by Cyphatek goons for actually trying to do their job. With the help of a shock collar, the chief not only ensures Zech's cooperation, but can "discipline" him when his loose cannon ways are put on display.

So there you have it: a serious, straight-laced cop teaming up with an impulsive dude who only cares about doing the right thing, procedure be damned. A couple others join the team, as well, so there's eventually a four-member party working to bring down the evil corporation. The story and the character interactions carry Fanatic Earth. Most dungeons are short and not particularly complicated, and there's a good bit of dialogue to fill the time between each one. To Exe-Create's credit, the lengthy discussions don't come off as awkward and overly-wordy as they did in Alphadia Genesis. The writers even threw in a handful of pop culture references to play off the post-modern setting. Zech sometimes rants about the nature of evil in ways that fall flat, due to how forced they feel (especially given how much of the rest of his time he spends flirting shamelessly with nearly every female he meets). I suppose one could say that the serious moments help to round out his character, but it almost feels like a completely different person wrote those parts of his dialogue.

The game itself is pretty simple. In battle, your characters can either attack or use their special skills. Equipment consists of a weapon, armor and a pair of accessories (known as "cores") that bestow various effects ranging from stat boosts, to the ability to inflict status ailments on foes or even passive abilities that make a character's regular attack always land a critical strike. There's nothing special or original about any of this, but it's simple and easy to get into, which keeps things flowing smoothly.

Unfortunately, the no-frills approach also extends to the graphics. While the character portraits are well done, reminding me of extras from a 1980s music video, the battle sprites for characters and enemies are tiny and unimpressive, placed within a flat two-dimensional field. Only your party members have any real animation. There's also no actual world to explore. You simply get a screen displaying the city, with all accessible locations listed so that you can pick your next destination. It would have been cool to see more of the city than the scattered sewers and buildings I was fighting through, but the interface did at least keep the game moving at a fair clip.

Multiple difficulty levels are available, as I mentioned, but one of the three hardly seems necessary. I started playing on "Hard" and switched to "Normal" when I reached the very first boss fight, since I quickly found that I would otherwise have to grind for a bit in order to be able to endure his attacks. While you gain more experience from battles at higher levels, it seems that the hardest of the three options is only suitable for players who want to spend a lot of time taking part in those repetitive fights. By the time I reached the post-game stuff, I was ready to drop things down to the "Easy" setting, since Exe-Create otherwise expects players to grind like crazy.

I enjoyed Fanatic Earth most when it was smooth and fast-paced. I could go from dungeon to dungeon, advancing the plot toward its natural conclusion without struggling to stay alive from battle to battle, or being forced to camp out near one of those health-restoring points that most Kemco games provide just ahead of boss fights. The dialogue was a lot more witty than what I've seen featured in other Kemco games, as well. For a cheap mobile title, this one gets a thumbs up from me. It might not be the prettiest game, and it might have some minor flaws, but it kept me entertained for its duration and that's all I ask.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (July 22, 2016)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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