The last few years have been a rollercoaster for the Nintendo Entertainment Company, from the launch of the immensely popular “Super Mario Maker” and “Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS” to the failure of games with high hype and low results, and the passing of company president Satoru Iwata in June 2015.
But there appears to be a bright future for the company this year, from the first console “Legend Of Zelda” game for the 8th console generation (Wii U), to the first “Star Fox” game to be released since 2009’s “Star Fox Adventures”, to the sequel to the upcoming sequel to the franchise saving “Fire Emblem Awakening.” The game in question is “Fire Emblem Fates” for the Nintendo 3DS.
Previously a Japanese exclusive series, the game was brought to America with help from the popularity of the fighting game “Super Smash Bros: Melee.” The game series soon became immensely popular with gamers seeking a challenging change from the usual market, as it is well known for the notoriously unforgiving “Permadeath” system, wherein the player’s choices matter all the more when characters can permanently die on missions in the game, leaving players without crucial units later on in the game.
But, even with all the excellent gameplay and innovations made up until then, the series was in danger of ending. Due to the vagueness of the series, alongside the poor promotion, developers decided to give the final game a tremendous send off, with new features galore, extreme leaps in graphics, and a story that had more work put into it than ever before. This game was the immensely popular “Fire Emblem: Awakening” for the Nintendo 3DS.
Intelligent Systems, the makers of these games, were uncertain on how long the series would be able to last,and they intended to have “Fire Emblem: Awakening” be the final game in the series They included features that had been long since adopted by the general market, like DLC missions and easier difficulties, to unique features that provided breaks from monotony, like StreetPass Battles, as well as children being a reward for relationship building. A game that was intended to be the last of a series, in the end, was saved by the creators daring enough to innovate where others hadn’t.
However, the game series is best known for its tactical combat gameplay, wherein the player commands a group of soldiers, battling enemy units, building relationships and recruiting new units. However, what the game most notable is the high difficulty level and integration of the permadeath system, wherein, if a unit is killed in combat, they cannot be brought back in any way possible. This can leave the player in an uncomfortable, sometimes even unwinnable situation, with the only way to escape being to reset the game and do everything differently.
Even with the low promotion and high difficulty, the series has gathered a loyal fanbase who share information, tips, and tricks to help each other throughout the game. One popular saying amongst players, at least in Japan, is “Reset? Bring it on!”, referring to the need to restart the system if a unit is lost, so that the player can make a perfect run of the game if they want. Senior student Aaron Escalante knows this fanbase well, as he states “I’ve been a fan for a few years. It started with an emulator on my phone, which led to playing Awakening on my 3DS. It has an amazing story and memorable characters, and you can make your army and playstyle adapt to you.” Escalante also said, “I am not only excited, but I am counting down the days. Everything is looking so awesome, (and) the main character being included in Super Smash Bros. 4 has only boosted the hype.”
Even casual players are in love with the series, as senior student Rachel Mills states “When I was 13, (I started) with ‘Sacred Stones’, and I really enjoy playing with the characters in the Smash Bros. Series. But I haven’t had much of a chance to play, due to school.”
The recent games have been newcomer friendly, even with high difficulty, as Rachel Mills advises “Start on easy or casual. You might think you’re good at RPGs, but this is a different style, so really take your time and get to know the characters.” Yet this series is immersive no matter where one starts.
Escalante advised newcomers to the series,“Prepare to get your mind blown. From the aesthetic beauty, to the characters who will stay in your memory for a lifetime, Fire Emblem is a series which always exceeds expectations and never disappoints.”