Fire Emblem: Awakening is the latest iteration of this long running series that spawned on the NES. The story follows Prince Chrom and his companions as bandits, war, and corruption plague his beloved land of Ylisse. It’s a somewhat long-winded tale of political intrigue that’s a little too text heavy for it’s own good. The anime inspired characters are both good and bad, following cliché tropes, but for the most part they’re well designed, likeable, and actually pretty funny. It’s not the most engaging story overall as it plays out close to most Fire Emblem games, but the characters make up for that.
The hook of this game is the Strategy RPG gameplay. Each unit has strengths and weakness and follows a rock, paper, and scissors formula close to Pokémon. For example, swords are strong against axes, but weak against lances. The other big characteristic of the Fire Emblem series is permadeath: if an ally falls in battle they stay dead. This has finally been addressed in the form of causal mode, which can be implemented on any difficulty, allowing fallen allies to come back. Some would argue it cheapens FE, but I argue it makes it more accessible for everyone. And whether you’re hardcore or not, the gameplay is as solid and addictive as ever especially with the added SpotPass additions. You can gain items, recruit allies, and even fight alongside a friend in a CO-OP match. Again, just a nice, well rounded experience for everyone.
Visually, the game is a mixed bag. The on map sprites are rather bland, but the in game models are gorgeous. The 3D is even good in the game, which I don’t say often enough for the 3DS. The music fits the mood, though nothing as engaging or memorable compared to other recent RPGs. It’s packed full of content to keep the player going and with the additions of casual mode and SpotPass functions, it’s the best, most accessible Fire Emblem yet.
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a magnificently crafted Nintendo title that highlights all the best features of the 3DS. With great visuals, fun gameplay, and awesome SpotPass functions, it’s a great package. The only real issues lie in the somewhat slow story, but hey, nothing major. To veterans and newcomers, this game is for you.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on March 3, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.