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Fire Emblem: Awakening – Nintendo 3DS

Fire Emblem: Awakening – Nintendo 3DS

url-2Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): February 4, 2013

Genre: Tactical RPG

Rating: 8 out of 10

I’d like to think I’ve had some great luck with game recommendations as, like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX, this game was also recomended to me by a friend. However, I was a little apprehensive at first because I had never played a Fire Emblem game and assumed everything would just go over my head. So I kinda slept on the idea of playing it for a while and then I finally gave it a shot. And as it turns out, I’m now a tactical RPG fan. And I’m really excited to play the rest of the games in the Fire Emblem series.

Robin meets Chrom and company.

Robin meets Chrom and company.

This game, Fire Emblem: Awakening….wow what is with the game recommendations with the word Awakening in them? Weird, huh? Anyway; Fire Emblem: Awakening is a tactical RPG developed by Intelligent Systems. If Intelligent Systems sounds familiar to you, it’s because they’ve also developed a number of other great games such as the Paper Mario games, Advance Wars (Wars in Japan), and some miscellanious puzzle games such as Pokemon Puzzle League. I thought it was quite strange at first to find out that the same company developed both Advance Wars and Fire Emblem, since they’re always compared to one another, but I suppose that just means Intelligent Systems simply enjoys the genre.

From my rather limited knowledge of the Fire Emblem series (read: Super Smash Bros. Melee), I really didn’t know what to expect at first. However, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a pretty great gateway game for beginners of the series, and beginners of tactical RPGs in general. The game is split into twenty-eight chapters, another twenty-five side chapters refered to as Paralouges, and another twenty-five DLC chapters refered to as Xenolouges. The first few chapters begin by teaching players the mechanics of the game, building up as the player proceeds. The way these tutorials are set up is nice because the story progresses as you learn the game, not until you learn it, which is a good way to not overwhelm newer players with so much information all at once.

The huge world map.

The huge world map.

The game begins with the player customizing their avatar, referred to as Robin by default, who serves as one of the game’s protagonists. Once the player has confirmed their choices, Robin and the other protagonist, Chrom, appear in a castle attempting to take out the evil Validar. In this short battle, the player learns the bare-bones basics of the game, moving units and attacking. Once Validar has been defeated, he will launch a final attack at the two protagonists, which Robin will push Chrom out of the way from. When Robin finally gets up, it will appear that he or she has been possessed by something, which causes him or her to kill Chrom.

Robin will then awaken in a field, found by Chrom and his sister Lissa, with no memories of who he or she is and how they wound up in a field in the first place. Although met with distrust by Chrom’s companions at first, Robin eventually joins the group on their journey back to the city of Ylisstol. When Chrom and Lissa are ambushed by a group of undead creatures called the Risen, Robin then finds himself or herself assisting Chrom and the Shepards in their quest to stop the invasion. As the game progresses, a number of colorful characters will join Chrom and Robin as their mission takes them across two continents.

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Bottom screen during a fight.

Each chapter in the game contains a battle scenario in which the player must meet a certain objective to complete. Sometimes that objective is to defeat all enemies, sometimes only a specific enemy, and sometimes it involves defending a character for a certain amount of waves. A number of chapters in the main storyline, almost all of the paralogues, and every xenologue, feature a character which the player can recruit throught some specific method; have Chrom talk to them, defend them, auto-recruit, etc. The game also has multiple generations of characters, like Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, which requires mostly mother characters to be married for specific child characters to appear later in the game. And one specific child character’s gender depends on that of Robin.

The actually battle scenes are similar to other tactical RPGs in that both the attacker and defending characters will go head-to-head in their own seperate screen. What’s nice is that the game provides you with a combat forecast as to whether or not facing a character off against a specific opponent will be successful or not. These combat forecasts are not always acurate however, especially with the ability to pair together units for a double attack. When paired or adjacent to a unit in combat, the secondary character can help by giving the primary character stats bonuses depending upon their support level, pushing them out of the way of attacks, and also laying on a second attack against the defender after the primary unit strikes first. This pairing also is nice because it allows the player to put weaker characters with stronger ones in order to train them. Pairing is also the only way for characters to raise their support levels with one another and in some cases, marry.

Example of the top screen during in-game combat.

Example of the top screen during in-game combat.

As a beginner to the series, I found the battle scenarios were actually really fun the further I got into the game. The story was also interesting, with its use of alternate timelines and such, which I didn’t expect to find in a Fire Emblem game. And like I mentioned in my review for Sprung, the game’s scenes are mostly told in the same fashion as a visual novel using text and character portraits. However, the game also includes a number of animated scenes which were really great. Honestly, the production quality put into them was fantastic, and it really made the game all the more exciting. Sadly, there are only a few of them.

One of the things I didn’t enjoy so much about the game, however, was that during several parts of the story players are seemingly given the opportunity to make a pivatol choice concerning the game’s plot. However, that isn’t the case as none of the choices that could be made throughout the game even matter, it’s always the same outcome. I suppose the reason for that is to drive home the idea of unwavering destiny, but it really takes the emotional aspects out of it. In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, which was the previous English Fire Emblem release, players are made to make a choice during the end of the game’s tutorial as to which character should stay and sacrifice themself so that Marth and company could escape. Although it doesn’t really matter who is sacrificed, the fact of the matter is, the player is given a serious decision to make not even a half hour into the game.

An example of character interactions.

An example of character interactions.

Fire Emblem: Awakening‘s biggest choices mostly revolve around whom should I pair with who and what class should I make such-and-such character. I’m not saying Awakening is bad for not allowing choice though, but it feels silly to tell the player to make a decision that won’t matter in the first place.

Overall though, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a fantastic title for the Nintendo 3DS and a great introduction into the tactical RPG genre! I’ve found myself starting to play more tactics based games that I was afraid to try before such as Fallout TacticsAdvance Wars, Jeanne d’Arc, and the rest of the Fire Emblem series. Intelligent System really did a great job to create a page-turner of a story and characters that were varied and interesting enough to keep me involved in the game long enough to play it over twice. Now I’m really excited for the upcoming game!

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and resident narcoleptic. In the off-chance she isn’t already asleep, you can find her here at the Bacon!

 
 

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