Fire Emblem: Awakening

Players: 1 offline
Publisher: Nintendo
Genres: Strategy RPG
Release Date: February 4, 2013
Developer: Intelligent Systems
MSRP: $39.99
Platforms:
Command your army and shape the course of history! In the visually stunning world of the Fire Emblem Awakening game, you command and fight alongside an army of spirited heroes standing against an enemy with the power to destroy empires; a dark dragon whose agents include armies of the undead. Plan your attack, customize your forces, and guide your heroes as you forge alliances that strengthen your resolve in battle and shape the course of history. Lead a team of distinct characters with unique abilities, rich backstories, and evolving relationships that guide the path of your quest. Plan your attack carefully – the lives of your soldiers and the future of the world depends on it.

Looking nice.

If you have yet to purchase a 3DS the upcoming release of Fire Emblem: Awakening looks to be the latest (of many) perfect excuse to take the plunge with the system. And now Nintendo is making that excuse all the sweeter with the news of a gorgeous new bundle meant to celebrate the game’s Stateside arrival. Originally released last year in Japan alongside the game, this bundle will come with an exclusive 3DS colored a unique shade of blue along with additional iconography taken from Awakening stenciled onto it as well.

Very nice indeed.

Also included in the bundle will be an extra-sized 4GB SD memory card (normally the 3DS comes with a 2GB SD card) that has Fire Emblem: Awakening per-installed on it. This bundle will run $199.99, a bargain when one takes into account that the standard model of the 3DS is normally priced at $179.99 and FE:A will be priced at $39.99 upon launch. The blue Fire Emblem 3DS bundle is set for release on the same day, February 4, Fire Emblem: Awakening arrives on shelves. A demo for FE:A will be available for those of you who already own a 3DS via the eShop later this week. Stay tuned to Blistered Thumbs for continuing coverage of the game and be sure to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Source(s): Nintendo.

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Awakening is definitely an appropriate word to describe my feelings about this one....
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Shaun K.

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  1. January 15, 2013 at 09:29am
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I guess this settles it. I have to get 3DS now, if they bring this bundle to Europe that is. Not only does it look damn sweet, I’m a big Fire Emblem fan from the Gamecube days.

  2. January 14, 2013 at 08:39pm
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)

    I am glad they brought it out over here it is one of the nicer looks 3DS systems would love a XL version.

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Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Fire Emblem, despite the long-running history and very positive critical reception, was one of the many series I never had the opportunity to really dive into. Strategy RPGs aren’t exactly my forte and my one-time experiment with Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on the Wii left me frustrated for a variety of reasons. Considering more than a couple of my issues were series mainstays, I had a feeling Fire Emblem was one of those popular series that just wasn’t for me. Still, I always say that you can’t judge something from only one experience and that brings me to Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS. Did the old issues still apply or did I get positively surprised? Well, allow me to explain.

PROS Solid gameplay systems, Pair mechanic makes battles dynamic, Amazing music
CONS Slightly predictable story, Rare unfair battles
WTF?! Donnel… why do you, of all characters, have such a great skill!?

The story of Awakening has many similarities to previous entries in the franchise. The Halidom of Ylisse is beginning to have issues with the neighboring country of Plegia and Chrom, prince of Ylisse, gets wrapped up in a conflict that leads to something far worse than country disputes. I don’t want to give much more away than that basic synopsis considering the many twists that occur along the way, but suffice to say that there are a few surprises in store for Chrom and his band of Shepards. For longtime fans of the series, the appearance of a masked swordsman calling himself “Marth” and the continuation of the storyline set by the original Fire Emblem will be of particular interest.

However, with all that said, I have to admit that the story can feel a bit too standard at times. It could be because I’ve played through so many RPGs before, but I could see a fair amount of the plot elements coming and the flash-forward at the beginning told me quite a few details upon a bit of thinking. Of course, don’t take this to mean that the story is badly presented. On the contrary, the story progresses at a very natural rate and the plot felt grounded. The major characters all differentiated themselves nicely from standard fare with their own unique quirks and I can’t remember anyone I didn’t like who I wasn’t supposed to dislike. The story serves its purpose well and while it may not be one of the most outstanding I’ve ever seen, I have nothing bad to say about it.

Alright, I’ll call you that. I reserve the right to call you something else later though.

The huge set of characters to choose from in battle all manage to separate themselves from the others just as well as the main characters do. Even with a few unit classes being repeated, I can distinctly recall more or less every person I had on my side, alongside their individual strengths and weaknesses. Every character also has a unique set of support relationships with many other characters that both improve their performance in battle while near each other and expand on their characterization well considering the small amount of time granted. There are also a couple character nods for longtime fans, such as the addition of Anna, a merchant seen in nearly every Fire Emblem game, as a unit that can actually be recruited. Although they are all rather evenly balanced, it still won’t take long to find some personal favorites among the cast. For example, I quickly grew to like both Sumia, a Pegasus Knight with great mobility and attack power, and Virion, an archer with a hilarious personality and great usability in nearly all combat situations.

Speaking of which, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty about how the combat works out. On the surface, the standard Fire Emblem gameplay tropes are all still present. You have your set of units, the enemy has theirs, and you have to take them all out before they do the same to you, barring special conditions on a few fights. Each unit has different qualities, abilities, and weapon specializations that make them useful for different circumstances and the rock-paper-scissors nature of lances, swords, and axes is still in full swing (get it?). Magic tomes, staves, and bows also keep their own special qualities and some units will always be more effective against others. Classes can also be swapped and upgraded with special items to make units both have a greater degree of variability and become more powerful in general. Plus, I have to admit that seeing the various specialty classes is a fun prospect in and of itself, especially the, as the Internet has so eloquently put it, “nuns with axes” War Cleric class.

However, despite the similarities, the big difference this time around is the option to “pair up” different units. By selecting this option in the middle of battle, you put two units on the same space and have them work together, granting each other bonuses while fighting, jumping in with occasional follow-up attacks, and sometimes even blocking attacks against you outright. Both the bonuses and the probability of help is increased as the aforementioned support relationships increase, so pairing up specific units repeatedly for better bonuses is a good idea. Also, as the units occupy one spot, only one is active at a time with the other stands back for support. This means that vulnerable units like clerics and mages can be completely protected behind a tougher unit until they are needed. The system really grants an interesting dynamic to combat and I often found myself pairing up as many units as I could to have party-wide bonus possibilities.

Say hello to the Player Avatar unit. He can use both a sword and a spell tome. I like the Avatar unit.

Another huge difference from series’ norms is the addition of a “Casual” mode. Normally, in Fire Emblem, if a unit loses all of its health in battle, they are dead and never come back. However, in Casual Mode, the unit merely retreats from the battlefield and, once the battle is won, can be used again on the next map. I saw many longtime fans crying foul at this particular design decision, but I find it a great way to let more casual fans enjoy the game just as much as the more hardcore ones. Plus, if you still want permanent death, you can choose Classic Mode at the beginning instead of Casual, as neither is forced upon you. I really hate to lose characters in games permanently, and played through the game on Casual as a result, and had a very fun time doing it. It also doesn’t hurt that, unlike my personal experience with Radiant Dawn, I found the game to be very fair in its difficulty on the whole and any mistake was definitely the player’s fault. Of course, for those with masochistic tendencies, the Luncatic+ difficulty setting waits in the wings. Regardless, the developers made sure to give every possible player the options they wanted to enjoy the game and that is a choice that is greatly appreciated.

On the graphical front, I find the art style to be both appealing and fitting for the game’s world. The tactical maps, character and background models on the screen included, look par for the course with an effective, if simple representation. The character portraits, while also being relatively standard, are appealing and more than distinct enough to give every character a personality through look alone. On the other hand, the actual 3D fighting looks rather nice, with some lovely character animation, smooth-looking weapon flourishing, and immensely satisfying weapon attacks. The anime-styled cutscenes that crop up now and again are also well done, oftentimes including some very cool events that only look all the more awesome with the quick movement the animation style allows for. Even with that mix, I think the best word that can sum up the visuals is “appropriate.”

The music however, can be called nothing less than astounding. I have heard many themes from Fire Emblem before and generally liked them, although I wouldn’t count any among my favorites of gaming. That might have to change considering the soundtrack to Awakening, which uses deep and impacting orchestration to craft some truly standout tracks. Whether the situation calls for an intimidatingly slow piece or a dramatic and triumphant swell, the soundtrack never fails to deliver. Some personal favorites of mine are “Don’t You Dare Mock My Sister’s Words” for having a great buildup throughout that pays off very well and “Nemesis” for truly sounding like the battle with a so-called nemesis. Even with favorites though, I would say that the entire soundtrack is definitely worth a listen in its own right.

Random Plegian #5 looks back and wonders what in the world he was thinking with this matchup.

Finally, I believe I should mention the online functionality for the game, such as the DLC that will be coming out for the game at yet-to-be-determined times, although the first batch is coming out on release day for free. Alongside some tough side missions and stories, the DLC will also feature a bunch of cameo characters from throughout Fire Emblem’s history, including Micaiah from Radiant Dawn and the much-liked Ike from Path of Radiance. Meanwhile, Streetpass will allow you to set a 10-unit team that can appear in other players’ games for recruitment, shopping, or battle purposes. I can’t comment as to how well this works considering, as of the time this review is being written, the game hasn’t officially come out in the U.S. yet. However, the idea is definitely an interesting one and seeing more content for the game and online functionality out of the 3DS is always a good thing in my book. Plus, the cameo appearances are a nice touch.

When I went into Fire Emblem: Awakening, I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about it. Despite having a colored perception, I decided to throw my previous experience to the side and come at the game with a completely clean slate. I am extremely glad I did just that. Awakening was a game I had a great time with. I loved the various characters I got to perfect over the course of many battles. I loved the pairing system and the various gameplay differences pairing different units granted. I loved the pounding music and I liked the well-done storyline. Regardless of how much or how little you know about Fire Emblem, if you own a 3DS, you owe it to yourself to pick this game up and give it a go. After all, if it completely turned around one players perception of a series, who’s to say it can’t be enjoyed by everyone?

A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes and the game was played for 25 hours. This game is exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS.

9/10

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Awakening is definitely an appropriate word to describe my feelings about this one....
  1. February 02, 2013 at 08:56pm
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

    If someone who isn’t a big fan of strategy RPG’s gave this game a 9 then I absolutly need to get it!

    Now if Nintendo would just put the sacred stones back on the e-shop.

  2. February 02, 2013 at 10:11am
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I just started collecting these games, so I got this preordered for sure as the Fire Emblem games quickly become scarce and expensive.

    Glad you liked it despite your prior experience, or should I say lack there-of. I’m in almost the same boat I’ve played A LITTLE bit of older games but never got very far and they were always owned by someone else so I never played for long.

    I now own 4 FE games and I’m about to add this one to my collection. :)

  3. February 01, 2013 at 01:15pm
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

    I’ve been waiting for this fire emblem since the gba games, and it looks like it does NOT disappoint 8D

    Also, create my own character? That’s fricking awesome.

  4. February 01, 2013 at 01:00am
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)

    “the soundtrack never fails to disappoint.” (Yikes!)

    Paragraph 9, line 5.

  5. January 31, 2013 at 05:26pm
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

    So many good DS/3DS games to buy.

  6. January 31, 2013 at 06:57am
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: +2 (from 8 votes)

    “once the battle is ONE” wrong won

    Paragraph 7 Line 3

  7. January 31, 2013 at 04:41am
    In response to Article
    VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I’ve never played a Fire Emblem game before but I’ve been looking forward to this one. I’m glad to see the positive results that this game got and this has just help convince that once Shin Megai Tensei x Fire Emblem will be that much more worth the buy for a casual SMT fan.

    • January 31, 2013 at 11:28am
      In response to Dasvoid
      VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

      you’re missing out on previous titles. They provide quite a challenge if you’re wanting to do things ‘right’ :P

      • January 31, 2013 at 01:18pm
        In response to cbot1
        VN:F [1.9.21_1169]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

        I may have to give them a shot but I’m pretty strapped for cash and I’ve got a number of new games coming out.

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Fire Emblem: Awakening Almost Took Place on Mars

Posted by [ 1 year ]

Also, every dev has a crush on Tharja.