I’m a gigantic Fire Emblem fan. Even before I really liked strategic RPGs, I was enjoying Fire Emblem games. The series fell out of my favor with the DS entries, due to the removal of the relationship elements. However, when I heard about Fire Emblem: Awakening, I got excited again and, after trying a friend’s Japanese copy of the game over the holidays, I had to share what I’d learned about the game after just over an hour of playing.
Let’s talk about my Fire Emblem: Awakening experience
Since my Japanese isn’t fantastically fluent, I’m just going to go over some of the things I experienced while playing my friend’s copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening here. That’s one part of it. The other is that I played from a portion of the the middle of game and what I did understand would be quite spoilerific. So I’ll go ahead and skip to some general experience musings instead.
If you’ve played a Fire Emblem game before, fighting shouldn’t pose much of a challenge. It’s still a strategic, turn-based affair. Players select a unit, move it on the map and then either take action or wait. If near an enemy, an attack can be launched. The attacker gets priority in the attack. There’s a rock-paper-scissors system in effect where axes best lances, lances best swords and swords best axes. Likewise, fire magic bests wind, wind bests thunder and thunder bests fire. What’s new for Fire Emblem: Awakening are Dual Attacks. Two characters adjacent to one another can attack one enemy together. The character nearest the enemy will do the attacking, with the ally offering additional bonuses to attack and defense. How close characters are influence the bond when they team up and benefits.
This entry also marks the return of a system not seen since Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu for the SNES. Like other Fire Emblem games, Fire Emblem: Awakening allows characters to talk to each other on the field to build a relationship. After a while, the characters will become friends or lovers. What’s interesting is characters who fall in love may end up having a child together. The player’s character can take part in romances, resulting in a son or daughter. The child character in Fire Emblem: Awakening is almost always tied to the mother, with the exception of the game’s hero, Chrom. So characters can fall in love, which is cool, and eventually get married and have children which will eventually join the party as warriors, which is even cooler. Practically every male character can end up with any female character, avatar included, so pairing off is a bit easier than in previous Fire Emblem games.
Before we move onto DLC and such, let’s go over some of the characters classes. There are over 10 new classes in Fire Emblem: Awakening. I was able to use two of them. One is the Strategist, which is the player character’s class. It’s a very balanced class that uses swords and books to fight. This means the character is able to handle him or herself even if facing a lance user. Strategists also make characters around the more likely to land and evade criticals, which is quite handy. I also got to see a rather awesome Griffon Knight. It’s similar to the Wyvern Rider, except the soldier is stronger and riding a griffon. The one I used had a rather awesome skill which made it practically impossible for her to be hit with a lance.
Ok, that’s done. Let’s move on to extra content. Fire Emblem: Awakening features two kinds of DLC. The first is paid. After reaching a certain point in the story, people can pay to unlock extra playable characters or acquire new maps with different challenges and rewards. The paid DLC is nice as it allows heroes and heroines from previous games to appear. My friend had purchased Lyn, from the Fire Emblem Game Boy Advance game. She was a a Swordmaster this time, as opposed to a Lord in her installment. She still used a sword, naturally, and could use Astra from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. She also had great speed and skill stats and seemed to pass over terrain easier than other characters. If the price was right, I’m sure I’d consider spending money to put her in my North American version of Fire Emblem: Awakening next month.
The other kind of DLC is free and is delivered to people from Nintendo via SpotPass. Nintendo will occasionally send out extras to people who enable SpotPass in Fire Emblem: Awakening. This provides access to sidequests, duels, items and even characters in the game that couldn’t be accessed otherwise. I didn’t get to experience any of this content directly, however.
I also, sadly, didn’t get to see how Fire Emblem: Awakening StreetPass works. If you pass someone else, their avatar and up to 10 of their companions can show up in your game. If you encounter them, you can interact with the characters. If you want, you can spend money to add the avatar to your army or buy some extra equipment. Or, if you want to try and earn some fame to show how strong you are and get the avatar without paying, you can have your crew battle the avatar and 10 characters. You’re basically fighting the computer as it controls the other person’s group, but it’s still a good way to earn extra experience and perhaps a new character.
If that kind of multiplayer seems a bit impersonal, don’t worry. Players can also team up with a living Fire Emblem: Awakening player for Dual Tag matches. In this scenario, two players work together as a pair against a team of enemies. They take turns acking as the attacker or defender. Succeeding in the fights gives fame and items to both players as a reward.
If all this makes Fire Emblem: Awakening sound extra exciting, you won’t have to wait long. Nintendo is bringing it to North America on February 4, 2013. It’ll be $39.99, like all 3DS games, and will be available on a cartridge or in the eShop.
COMING NEXT TIME: Important Importables talks about Toro, Sony’s mascot.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables took a look at 10 2013 import games you don’t want to miss..