Fantage (short for Fantastic Age) is an online flash game aimed primarily at girls ages 6 to 14. My daughter is 10 and a lifelong gamer, so she’s the perfect test subject for me.
There are a lot of things you can do with Fantage. It really depends on what you like to do. Fantage is a lot of things rolled into one, from chatting to gaming to customizing your avatar and room.
You’ll start the game creating your account and then getting your starting avatar. Given the customization options available, you are by no means stuck with your first avatar if you want to make some changes (other than being set to boy or girl). Although Fantage offers boy and girl avatars, the chat options, variety of outfits and character customization (including hair, eyes, skin tone, outfits, etc.) and the fashion show events, lean toward a definite girly emphasis. This is not to say that boys don’t play the game. The arcade games can appeal to everyone, and I did see a fair number of boy avatars while I was playing (which doesn’t necessarily mean that boys were playing them — but I did see the avatars). There were definitely more girl avatars, but not exclusively.
I like that the developers have really worked hard to have safe chat options. One of my biggest concerns when my daughter is playing her other online games is chat — what she is seeing other people say and what other people are saying to her. Even the open chat is censored to make sure the kids can’t give out addresses or personal information. They can only use words from the approved dictionary. Safe chat only allows them to select things to say from preapproved phrases, and if you set them to safe chat mode, they can only see other safe chat. If you totally want to restrict chat, or want to play yourself and don’t want to be bothered, you can also set the account to no chat. You can’t chat on your avatar, and you don’t have to see anyone else’s chat. In all of these modes, you can, however, still see messages generated by the game.
The avatars can easily move through the game. In your immediate area, you can either navigate with the mouse pointer or use the arrow keys. (I have to say that as a gamer, I miss not having the WASD movement options.) If you’re traveling further, open the world map and click to the area you want to visit. You’ll find shopping and games spread hither and yon. The world map is done very well. You’ll know exactly what kind of shopping and which games are available for every location.
From what I’ve seen of the games so far, many of them are variations and easily recognizable arcade games. The graphics may be a bit different, but it’s easy to jump in and play and know what you’re doing right away. There are some I haven’t seen before, like Bubble Bug, where you’re capturing flying insects in bubbles; I did have to actually read the instructions, but they’re all pretty straightforward. My daughter’s favorite is Bricks Breaking in the Arcade area. She tells me she loves to play and try to beat her high score.
The graphics are cute and very brightly colored. All of the areas I’ve seen have been very cheerful looking. The music is upbeat — both wandering around and in games. I wanted the music muted, and I found that while I could automatically mute all of the wandering around music, I had to mute the game music within each game. I would like if one mute worked for everything. My daughter is perfectly happy with the music — I guess I’m just older and want things a bit quieter.
The primary currency used in game is stars. You get some stars when you create your new character, but you’ll earn the majority of your stars playing the games. I haven’t played enough yet to know if there are any really big-ticket items out there, but all of the clothing and accessories I’ve seen seem to be reasonably easy to buy given some time spent playing the games. There’s also an option to buy ecoins with real money, but I have not explored that option.
One thing I quickly noticed is that while there are a lot of outfits and whatnot to purchase for your stars, a number of items are marked as premium. There are two levels of membership to Fantage. The standard game doesn’t cost anything to play, but you are restricted from buying some of the nifty outfits and accessories. To have access to everything, you either need to pay the monthly subscription (really quite nominal in the world of online games — under $6 per month at this time) or purchase ecoins with real money. I would be perfectly happy to just play the games and wear the outfits that are available to everyone, but I think my young fashionista would be unhappy having her selections limited without that premium play.
Overall, I think Fantage is a nice gaming option for the young gamer. It has the potential to be more socially involving than games for the younger set but has enough other things going on that a lot of social chit-chat isn’t a requirement to have fun. I especially like that it’s a safe social environment. I feel like I can let my daughter play without having to watch over her shoulder constantly, as I do with some of the other games I let her play. I’m free to let her have fun in Fantage while I raid in my game of choice. Good times.