Growing up, I never had the patience for games that required a great amount of time invested into them. I did, however, like to watch them being played frequently. I would always sit on the couch, floor, or just stand in front of the TV just watching characters fight on their own. I always loved how RPGs let you make a choice and in turn, presented you with your decision in a cinematic roundabout of over-the-top action. Fast forward approximately fifteen years, and quite a lot has changed. Role playing games have become my go to game (even to the point of paying ridiculous amounts of money for a classic I missed out on), and I find myself making the time to play them. You can imagine my excitement from here on.
With the upsetting delay and trickling shipments nationwide of Nintendo’s newest game Fire Emblem Awakening, I hope you understand that me actually getting a copy of the game was not such a small feat. I had to call a guy, meet in an alley somewhere…it got weird. Now after an embarrassingly long amount of time put into the handheld gem in such short amount of time, I am now able to do something I have been wanting to for a while now: Tell you about this game.
Fire Emblem Awakening is a game that I cannot put into words exactly, though I will try. You play as a customizable tactician helping Lord Chrom, his sister Lissa, a band of knights, magicians, thieves, animorphs, and who/whatever else you can find. The game takes you throughout the fictional map with many stops along the way that detail your main mission, side battles, or random encounters (though you can choose to accept them or not). For being a handheld game, the Fire Emblem series has never shied away from taking the hours out of your day to provide top-notch entertainment. This is a long game, while at the same time maintaining a “pick up and play” style many people look for when looking for portable games.
The one thing that really stood out right from the beginning was the amount of love and attention that went into everything. The depth of battle and relationships, the story, the classes, and even the 8-bit sprites reenacting the box art on the game card felt like a long ‘thank you’ letter from Intelligent Systems. Even the downloadable characters from previous Fire Emblem installments being presented in their original artwork made me audibly giggle like an 8-year-old going to Disneyland for the first time. Needless to say, I was anxious to play as characters I had forgotten about. From the moment you turn the game on, you are really sucked into this world created out of affection. It is a world you want to stay in long after the ending credits roll.
In terms of the meat of the game, it is tried and true but never dull. You move your army on a grid, developing strategies and equipping the best suited weapons to defeat the group of enemies on the other side of the map. Depending on your preference, there is a selection of difficulties as well as a “classic mode” that really steps the game up a notch by preventing any fallen allies from being playable after the battle. If they die, they stay dead, and it hurts. When I first started playing Fire Emblem, I set it to lunatic classic mode, and had it not taken me two and a half hours to complete the prologue, I would’ve stuck with it, but since there was a review that needed to be written, I toned it down. Setting it to its hardest really makes it feel like a different game, because you are consciously aware of every little decision you make and it really affects you when you know you’ve made a mistake.
Another aspect of the gameplay is partnering up with another ally. Not only does this allow for stat boosts during combat, but they start to converse with each other and get along, sometimes even getting married. From there, you can have children who take on the stats and skills of their parents. This is probably the only time in my life where I’ve been excited that someone is going to have a kid, because I know they’re going to grow up badass. With the diverse amount of classes, enemies, and weapons, each battle feels unique, enthralling, and just downright fun.
The music in this game is phenomenal. It feels that a lot of games don’t put as much time into their music anymore, but that is not the case with Fire Emblem. From cutscenes to cinematics, shops to battles, everything feels and sounds right. There was a moment during a fight where I kind of sat my 3DS down and stopped playing just so I could listen to the music being played during my turn. It’s amazing, because I can’t recall doing that with another game in the past five years.
With additional content such as DLC and Street Pass, the game ensures that you will still have a copious amount of content long after you’ve beaten the main campaign. The DLC provides new stories, maps, and characters that you can grind with and recruit notable characters from the Fire Emblem franchise for a small price. They can be challenging, but in no way is that a bad thing. It serves as a reminder that it is new and fresh while appealing greatly to any Fire Emblem player’s sense of nostalgia. When you’re not playing through the downloadable content, you can activate street pass and will download a passerby’s team to do battle with when you resume. It’s a nice feature just keeps adding on.
I’m not about to complain about the sheer amount of content that is being pumped into Fire Emblem Awakening. Nothing about this game feels dumbed down, dropped out, or missing. This has been a major title for the 3DS ever since it was announced, and it really shows. It easily provides 50+ hours of gameplay alone while still being a fun time waster. As this review is being written, I am on my second playthrough making choices I either decided against or missed out on my first time around, making this a new game. It is unfathomable how Intelligent Systems managed to make a game that is so simple, but complex, deep, brain-wracking and heart-wrenching.
I can’t even think of anything critical to say about this game. If I had to, I would say that lunatic mode is definitely not for everyone and the difficulty spikes in some areas, but can that really be classified as a criticism? It doesn’t force itself upon you, but it is there should you choose it. There is something that I want to make clear if I haven’t already: buy this game. There is no reason for you not to, it’s sold online, through retail, and even available on the 3DS eShop. Fire Emblem Awakening is a game that should not be missed out on.
[+Fun, fresh, and exciting gameplay][+Storyline stays interesting][+Doesn’t stray too far away while still offering something new][+Battles feel extremely rewarding especially on harder difficulties][-Difficulty spikes without warning]