Published on January 10th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Fire Emblem Awakening
The newest instalment to the Fire Emblem series came as a bit of a surprise, after the unusual move of not releasing the Shadow Dragon game on the DS. Reception was the highest in the west for any FE game, and has topped lots of Game of the Year, and even came 5th on my list.
Fire Emblem is a Strategy RPG series created by Nintendo and first was released on the NES in 1990, it was unreleased and unknown in the west until the release of Super Smash Bros Melée on the Gamecube where a character from the series, Marth appeared. Many fans were keen to play the series after and Nintendo released Fire Emblem on the Gameboy Advance.
Fire Emblem Awakening is the 13th game in the series and the 6th released in the west, it is also the first Nintendo 3DS Fire Emblem game and features 3D EVERYWHERE, fortunately the game looks great without it. The sprites and playing field is in 3 dimensions but retains 2D hand-drawn portraits for dialogue segments. This also features animé-styled cel-shaded graphics during FMV cutscenes, which look very impressive.
Fire Emblem Awakening’s presentation is much better than its other 3D instalments, where the feel of the game is lost. The game retains the look and feel of the GBA titles, the characters are very colourful and have nice armour design, the layout of the maps are similar and the battles have the same pompous showyness. However there are some key differences to the gameplay, the terrain appears to have no effect in this game where in former ones it was integral to winning a map, this means formation and marches were more important than anything else and you can also choose who you would like to use based on the enemy and not on the terrain on the map and their ability to traverse it.
Awakening sees the first FE game with dating sim elements in, characters can level their relationships up with one another by standing on adjacent squares of teaming up during battles, when the level reaches S the characters marry one another. Unfortunately, characters can only marry persons of the opposite gender and can only do this with one person. Once this happens the couple are then able to have a child which can be used during battles with much better statistics and abilities. The new tactician is customisable and has a much larger role in the game and battles as well as the story, this is great and gives a lot of variety with how you choose to play through, especially as it changes the children that can be had.
The story is vastly improved compared to the only other title I have played, the first one released here on the Gameboy Advance, there are many more characters and the bigger focus on player control allowed me to enjoy the game outside of battles, the character dialogues are much better translated and more relevant, the relationships can be fun to progress and the new children characters and their situation add greater depth to the lore of the franchise.
The turn-based combat is a lot easier in this game as the enemies are not as difficult and player team-ups can grant extremely high chances of avoiding attacks, the overworld is a lot more detailed and you aren’t forced to progress, there are random enemy battles as well as other things that happen which can improve characters allowing players that have a hard time to level up.
When characters have reached max, they can promote to a higher class, when they max that, it is possible to ‘reclass’ in either the same class or a new one. This allows the character to continue increasing the statistics relevant to that class and getting better and better.
Sound effects are pretty much the same as in earlier games, inspired by 8 bit soundchip as in the game’s roots, the music isn’t incredibly memorable, but is fitting with a few rather good tracks. Voice acting is minimal still, with a choice between Japanese or English, but you can’t go wrong with either, unlike the one I played the translation appears to be accurate and well scripted, with no typos.
Tere are lots of features that enhance the experience and it is a lot more welcoming to newcomers, with useful abilities and ways of enhancing the character. The user experience is improved with the likes of speeding up battle animations and skipping them completely on the fly, instead of having to choose either long or short animations in the menu.
Is this the best Fire Emblem game? I would say so. A great game for completionists or people who like to replay games, this one refreshes the series and has re-established as a truly important Nintendo franchise not to be left on the sidelines.