Heinous isn’t a word I typically use in writing a review, but for this game I would like to make an exception and open up on why Winx Club: Alfea Butterflix Adventure is a heinous game.
Heinous because this is an awful port of a mobile game that rather than receiving any sort of update for consoles, simply patches in a workaround to avoid additional payments when your character dies. On the mobile version, if your character dies you need to pay a fee using a premium currency to resurrect, and that whole menu is still present in the console version with you instead being gifted the premium currency needed. But these microtransactions are still present in a game clearly designed for younger gamers, and that is the true heinous act.
Winx Club opens with an introduction that Brafilius has cursed the world of Alfea with his Wild Magic, but rather than as a cutscene it pops up as a text box. The action starts with you having to chase someone – it would be safe to assume that this is Brafilius, though this is never explicitly mentioned. They disappear behind a locked door and are never seen again. To unlock this door, you need to collect six of some sort of fire sconce, but not at any point during my playthrough did I find a single one of them. They don’t appear to be the primary collectible in this game. That is another presumption of mine, because literally nothing is explained in this game.
Gameplay is an infuriating mix of collecting, platforming and collecting some more. Players start off in the central hub area and only have access to the left wing of wherever they are at the start. In this left wing, there is one main level and a smaller level, with the aim being to retrieve keys in these levels. The smaller level only contains one key that can be easily gotten. The first main stage however contains 11 – the second comes with only 8 – with many hidden behind doors and areas that need to be backtracked to once the requisite number of keys have been collected. It could be argued that this is a Metroidvania-style experience, but to give Winx Club any sort of label like that would insinuate the developers knew what type of game they wanted to create, rather than cobbling together what we actually have.
What makes the collecting of keys even worse is that every time you manage to find one, you get booted back out to the central hub, before having to sit through a black loading screen to get back into the level. I’m utterly stumped as to why this happens, other than to prolong the torture.
Other collectibles in Winx Club are dark blue gems, light blue gems, red gems, trading cards and fans. Fans are given out for every single action you do, and are denominated by a blatant rip-off of the old MSN messenger logo. These, along with the keys when you collect enough, give you the opportunity to then buy extra characters using the dark blue gems you can collect. But it’s at this point the game becomes a simple task in exploitation.
To collect all the keys in the game, you need one other specific character that requires seven keys and 50,000 fans, before then being able to purchase it for 2,000 dark blue gems. By the time I got to the stage where this character was required I had around 350 Gems. Gems will respawn every time you enter a level, but then there are also microtransactions where dark and light blue gems can be purchased with real money. The light blue gems would be required when you died and needed to respawn, but as mentioned before they have simply patched this as a workaround, rather than remove the feature.
But these microtransactions shouldn’t be in a game designed for gamers who won’t have any real concept of money in the first place. It’s clear they have been added to exploit the younger gamer and their parents who have their back turned while the child is innocently exploring the game. Hence my earlier comment of heinous.
For 99% of the other people that play this game, it is nothing more than achievement fodder. Each achievement is worth 100G and all 10 can be earned within six hours, if you include that about two of these are grinding for the dark blue gems. Each achievement is associated to finding keys throughout the two main levels and two smaller levels. After collecting all these keys, and returning to the door that was slammed shut in my face, a speech bubble appeared stating it wasn’t the keys that were required, but the aforementioned fire sconces.
By this point though I had all the achievements and that was enough for me and my patience to consider Alfea Butterflix Adventures completed.
Winx Club: Alfea Butterflix Adventures is clearly a game designed for younger gamers, with hidden microtransactions included to exploit their unknowing parents. And in 2018, where microtransactions have taken a backseat in the wake of the loot box outbreak, this kind of behaviour may well go unnoticed. But it shouldn’t.
Take the microtransactions away though and you are still left with a terrible game. No explanations or context are given to anything, and that isn’t how games work anymore – especially in a game targeting younger gamers. They need the hand holding aspect, or at least nudged in any sort of direction. They may just be content with exploring this world and that’s fine. For everyone else though, poor controls and shoddy graphics will take away any last drop of praise you have for Winx Club: Alfea Butterflix Adventures. It is literally all about the achievements for this game – one that is easily set to be one of the worst of 2018.