Analysis: “Fire Emblem Awakening” [3DS] – aka It’s a game that won’t let you put down the 3DS that easily

Up until now, Kid Icarus: Uprising had remained as one of my favorite, original games for the 3DS. Now there is one more game very much worthy of playing. It’s a game that won’t let you put down the 3DS for hours.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is a strategy/RPG game developed by Intelligent System and published by Nintendo. Since 1990, the Fire Emblem franchise has mostly been reserved for the Japanese audience until the early years of the past decade. Many fans have been asking for more Fire Emblem since most gamers got to meet the characters in both Super Smash Bros. games (Melée and Brawl) and on their own FE titles. Their wish is now realized, and Awakening is an awesome game to play.

The Story
The entire story of the game is very excited, a lot like the one you would see on a complete season of an awesome anime. The story is mainly from the perspective of Chrom, the prince of the Halidom of Ylisse, and his friends, members of his team known as the Shepherds who accompany him in battle. The storyline starts with a premonition, a bad dream of a moment you wish you could change: someone who fights with you in a final battle dies.

As you wake up, you meet Chrom and Lisa and Frederick, but you don’t know your name or where you are or who you really are. You only you have skills to fight. As Shepherds, they want to help you, but their town in being attacked. After defeating your first enemies, Chrom sees your skills as a tactician in battle and also gains your trust. This is just the beginning of a long story where you and the entire team are to save the entire kingdom from being taken over. There are funny moments, sad moments, and when you expect something may happen, you may be surprised.

The Gameplay
As a player, patience you must have (like Yoda would say), patience to think effectively of your strategy ahead of time. Remember this, young warrior.

At first, before you start on your adventure, you must choose the difficulty level: Normal, Hard or Lunatic. Once you make your decision, (I suggest Normal if you new into the franchise),  you have to select a game mode: Casual or Classic. In Casual mode, members of your team will return to battle the next time you decide to fight once more. In Classic mode, defeated members of your team will not return the next time you’re in battle, making the game harder to beat. After selecting the game mode, you can create your own avatar according to gender, appearance and profile. When you are finished making all our choices, you are off to your adventure.

The classic gameplay style of the Fire Emblem stays the same, but this time there are more things that just that. In this strategy/RPG game, you move your team of characters to available blue spots in a map. Think of a chess game (or Final Fantasy Tactics), except there are no specific ways for you to move; you move to any of the blue squares (the ones you are allowed to move). It is recommended for you to view each entire stage before you start playing to think of your strategy. A great feature about the game is that it tells you how to play as you play the game as your adventure progresses. It is a great addition for new players being introduced to the series.

The tactical gameplay is very interesting here. Any character can get together with another one from your team. You would see two characters inside the same square and both move together at the same time. It is not necessary to unite for players to trade items or to fight together though, but you could beat any enemy that you go at or comes at you somewhat faster because they may both attack your enemy. If one character is next to another, they could both fight against an enemy nearby.

As your adventure progresses, your characters will get more experience thereby increasing their level and becoming more powerful according to their abilities. You will also meet new characters who will join you on your quest and acquire more artifacts or other items can apply to certain characters according to their skills. Some may be fighters, other can be magicians, and so on. A few items could let some characters attack twice before they attack you. It’s really important for your main characters to be able to do attack twice, especially in the later chapters.

Gameplay becomes harder as you reach Chapter 15. Characters should be equipped appropriately before every battle, and as a gamer, you must plan ahead before making your first move.

Besides the chapters, there are extra fights that can help your characters get more experience as the levels get harder. They also get more experience by getting to known each other. You see the social aspects of the characters, you get to know more of them, you get to find out what they do in their free time and know what their goals are in life. Outside the gameplay, you can also check out how one character feels about another using the Hubba Tester.

The overall gameplay formula seems like it will never grow old, just like we follow the rules of sports, and coaches and players make their plans to succeed. It has much more to offer than its previous titles.

The Graphics
The game keeps its tactical gameplay and original 2D graphic style intact. Though it is the main aspect of the entire game, it is incredible how this 2D perspective can still bring lots of fun after many years and the 3D effect of the portable console makes the title look cool as well. Once you are in an actual battle, you are no longer in that static 2D perspective. Each one of your characters get to battle in a 3D perspective with the option to fight your enemies from a first-person perspective if you so desire.

During a battle, the 3D animation lacks some details (i.e. seeing characters speak), but everything else seems just right to be a 3DS title. You do get to watch and listen to their expressions when it’s their turn via the static but changing images of their behavior along with subtitles and some audio.

In crucial or important parts of the story, you’ll see actual anime sequences before or after battle in certain chapters. From the sequences I’ve seen, they are very exciting to watch, and a few of them could actually make you cry.

DLC Content
The DLC content brings a great addition to the gameplay. The first downloadable map, Champions of Yore 1, brings characters from previous games to your team. It’s exciting seeing characters from two generations especially if you’ve played other Fire Emblem games prior to this one. You also receive some bonus items. In order to receive these packs and items, you would have to wait until you can enter the Outrealm Gate.

Conclusion
This game is a great example that supports the statement “the best state-of-the-art graphics does not make a great game.” The different perspectives not only keep the original gameplay of the game intact when in battle while at the same time the game offers exciting anime-style visuals during the most important parts of the story. Most importantly, it makes you part of an amazing story. For once, I love seeing a game keeping its original structure, offering new things to do

Awakening is making us aware of a franchise it should have been followed long ago by many gamers. At least, this one title is here for us. Enjoy it, and I recommend you to play the old DS games for even more fun with Fire Emblem. If you still do not have a Nintendo 3DS, this title is the best reason to get one.

Score: 9.75 / 10.

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