Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ghost's Arcade: Fire Emblem Fates

"I'm sorry everyone... I feel like I have no choice but to..."

Ghost here, thanks for joining.
Just gonna get that warning out of the way.  I have a lot to say about Fire Emblem Fates and that is compounded by the fact that it's actually 3 games.
If you don't have the patience for all of this just skip to the conclusion.

Let's talk about Fire Emblem shall we?  When it comes to video games there are few franchises harder to follow than Fire Emblem.  Originally, Fire Emblem was a Japan only series until, to American's surprise, Super Smash Bros Melee brought over Marth and Roy into our collective consciousness.  Due to the popularity of those characters, Nintendo decided to begin bringing the Fire Emblem series over to America and the rest of the world.  That being said, not all of the games have been brought over and not all of them that have been released since they starting porting the games to our shores have been released to us either.  In fact, the first Fire Emblem game we got localized was a prequel to a game we have never received.

Ready to make matters more confusing?  Fire Emblem Fans often refer to each game as their number of release such as "FE13."  According to Fire Emblem fans there have been 14 entries into the series.  Now this shouldn't be a problem.  With a simple numbering system you should be able to just go down a list and count them right?  Well no, it's actually is more complicated than that.  If you look up how many games there are in the series, there are actually 15 separate entries listed with one of these entries being four separate games and fates actually being three separate games; for those of you counting at home that gives us 20 Fire Emblem titles that only count as 14 games.  To make matters even stranger one entry is considered both a remake and a sequel somehow, and two other entries are remakes of previous games yet they are all still counted in the numbering as separate entries in the story.

That being said, I see the 3DS games as being a sort of re-birth of Fire Emblem series as a whole.  It's like they are finally learning some of their lessons from previous mistakes and confusions and making these titles more accessible and approachable for a modern audience.  I am, of course, referring to the fact that both 3DS games have been released internationally, and both include a different casual setting to allow newer or unskilled players to enjoy these titles.  Inclusion is always a good thing and it seems like this series is finally embracing inclusion!

What's my personal history with the series?  Like most American fans, I only knew about the series thanks to Smash Bros Melee.  I really enjoyed playing as Roy and he became one of my mains.  When Smash Bros Brawl came around I wept for Roy but still enjoyed throwing down with Marth and Ike.  When I heard that Marth's game, Shadow Dragon, was finally being remade and released internationally I was ecstatic and pre-ordered the game.  I finally got my copy of the game and... I didn't like it... at all!  It seemed insanely difficult to me, it was hard to understand, and it made me choose a character to instantly die the second I started the game without knowing who is the best choice to keep around.  I tried watching Ike's games on a Let's Play but they seemed absolutely boring; I had pretty much decided then that this series just wasn't for me.  Flash forward to 2014 and with that year came a brand new Smash Bros game for the 3DS and WiiU.  With it were two new Fire Emblem characters from the latest title Fire Emblem Awakening.  Lucina quickly became one of my mains and I became interested in her game.  Eventually, I caved and purchased the game.  It was an absolute treat!  I loved practically every minute of it.  Sure, there were a few things here and there I'd have liked to see different, but it was easier to understand, it wasn't anywhere near as difficult, and it included a Casual mode so that my characters would never truly die.  If the next entry in the series had these similar traits, then I would certainly pick it up.

Finally, we arrive at 2015 and Fire Emblem Fates is announced.  It was going to be on the 3DS and include the majority of the enhancements that Fire Emblem Awakening had given us and then some more!  However, it was going to be unlike any other game we've seen in the series so far.  It was going to be three separate paths that don't come to the same exact ending.  Effectively it was going to be three separate games activated by one single cartridge.  That sounded extremely promising and after some research I decided to dive into Birthright.  Why Birthright?  It's considered to be the most similar to Awakening in its missions and simplicity; it's also considered the first game you should play if you intend on playing all three paths.  What did I find?  Well I ended up getting the other two paths in the game if that gives you any indication.

So is Fire Emblem Fates the right path for you?  Let's take a closer look

The Plot

Corrin is a prince (or princess, but for the remainder of this I shall assume he is male) of the kingdom of Nohr.  Nohr is a dark European inspired kingdom ruled by King Garon which has been at hostilities with the lighter Japanese inspired kingdom of Hoshido ruled by Queen Mikoto.  Corrin has been stuck in a single castle his whole life by the order of his father, King Garon.  There he has been trained for battle as often as possible by his brothers Xander and Leo, and his sisters Camilla and Elise.  Finally, the day has come when Corrin is strong enough to fight in the war and his siblings bring him before their father.  King Garon provides Corrin with a special sword and orders him to slay some Hoshido prisoners.  Corrin disarms them but refuses to obey his father's command to kill them.  The king orders Xander to kill them and kill anyone who stands in his way, but Leo steps in and knocks the prisoners out with a spell making it seem as though he had carried out his father's wishes.  The Nohr children release the prisoners away from their father's gaze.

As punishment for disobeying a direct order, Garon sends Corrin to scope out an abandoned Hoshido stronghold at the bottomless canyon assisted by his maid Felicia (or butler Jakob for female), his guardian Gunter, and a criminal known as Hans.  Upon arriving, the stronghold is far from abandoned.  As Gunter attempts to flee, Hans goes on the attack leaving the other three no choice but to do the same.  Once backup arrives in the form of the Nohr children, Gunter and Corrin are attacked by Hans and both end up falling into the bottomless canyon.  Though Gunter falls, Corrin is saved by Lilith, a maid from Corrin's castle who turns out to have actually been a small dragon.  As she brings him back to the surface, Corrin is knocked out by the Hoshido forces and taken prisoner.

Corrin is taken to the palace of Hoshido where he expects to be executed, but instead Queen Mikoto hugs him and calls him her son.  As it turns out, King Garon is not Corrin's father and he is not related to his siblings by birth.  Corrin was Queen Mikoto's child who was stolen from them by King Garon at an extremely young age.  Corrin spends the next few days coming to terms with this and meeting his blood brothers, Ryoma and Takumi, and his blood sisters, Hinoka and Sakura.  They show him first-hand of the cruelty and evil of King Garon.  While in Hoshido he meets with another member of the family named Azura.  Azura, however is a princess of Nohr; she was captured and while technically still a sort of prisoner in Hoshido, she is treated well and like one of the royal family.

After a few days, Queen Mikoto plans to reveal Corrin to her people, but upon that day a hooded figure appears.  Using some form of magic, Corrin's sword flies from its hilt toward the figure who causes the sword to effectively explode.  Queen Mikoto sacrifices her life to protect Corrin from the blast and dies in his arms.  In a full rage, Corrin suddenly transforms into a large dragon and goes on the rampage destroying the intruders.  Thankfully Azura is able to use a magical song to calm him down to normal and provide him with the means of controlling his transformation.  At this same time, the legendary blade Yato appears and chooses Corrin as the person to bring peace to the world.  However, there is no time to mourn for the Queen as word reaches the Hoshido family that the Nohr children have come to their borders to bring Corrin back.  On the field, both Corrin's birth family and adopted family are begging him to stay with them and it's up to Corrin as to which path he will choose.


Corrin chooses to stay with his birth family in Hoshido.  Though he still loves his other siblings, he cannot stand on the same side as the evil and cruel King Garon.  Xander believes the Hoshidans have brainwashed him and attempt to bring him back conscious or not.  This is the final straw that starts the full war between Hoshido and Nohr.  After Xander retreats from Hoshido, Ryoma and Takumi go missing.  Corrin, Azura, and his sisters begin searching throughout Hoshido picking up several new recruits along the way.  Eventually they find their brothers and some Nohr rebels who are against King Garon.

With so much strength and cunning in their army, the team pushes on into Nohr territory to place a sneak attack on King Garon at an opera house.  Azura takes the place of the original singer and begins singing her magical song which begins to cause the King pain.  Unfortunately, King Garon believed that the opera house would be a good ambush spot and sent his entire army there.  Having narrowly escaped, Corrin and the team decide that the only way to end this war is to march on the capitol and take down Garon by force. At the same time, Azura is seen in severe pain; singing the song causes her to slowly use up her life force.

As they approach the capitol, Corrin runs into Elise who tells him that their family has completely fallen apart.  She decides to travel with Corrin in the hopes of talking her father out of dying.  The group also meet up with Camilla and Leo who are eventually convinced that Corrin is doing the right thing though they refuse to join him in fighting their own people.  When Corrin reaches Xander, the two fight to the death with Xander overpowering Corrin.  As Xander goes in to finish off his former brother, Elise steps in the way and sacrifices her life to save Corrin.  Xander continues to fight Corrin who eventually wins striking a mortal wound to his former brother.  Xander congratulates Corrin on finally fighting without hesitation and that though his heart told him that he was in the wrong, he couldn't help but continue fighting for Nohr as it's crowned prince.  Finally, Corrin and the Hoshidan forces take on King Garon who practically kills Corrin.  While in the spirit world, Corrin meets with Xander and Elise who encourage him to return and take down their father once and for all.  Corrin does so as Garon turns into a gigantic dragon himself.  With Azura going all out to sing the magical song, the team defeat the creature Garon and claim victory for Hoshido, ushering in a new era of peace between the new King Ryoma and King Leo.  Unfortunately, Azura fades into the wind having used up all she had to secure victory.


Corrin realizes the unique position that he is in.  Though his heart goes out to his birth siblings and his mother, being a Hoshidan freely accepted in Nohr is a rare thing.  Rather than turn on his adopted family, he has decided to help the world by changing Nohr from within.  Corrin returns to King Garon who begins sending him on various missions to quell rebellions within Nohr or secure certain territories; each and every one of these missions being almost suicide missions if it weren't for the friends and family picked up along the way.  Though Corrin knows that the King is wrong he begins instructing his party to never kill anyone, only to disarm and defeat so that Nohr's nobility will be seen rather than its brutality.  This becomes increasingly difficult when King Garon sentances Corrin to suffer and be a new vessel for a god named Anankos.  To make matters worse King Garon either directly orders the death of people or sends his right-hand man Iago and the newly appointed General Hans (yes that Hans) to go with you who slaughter everyone in their path.  Corrin is having a difficult time understanding if the path he chose was correct since so many innocents are being harmed despite his efforts.

Suddenly, everything takes a turn when Azura disappears into a lake.  Corrin follows her to make sure she is OK and finds himself in another world full of soulless creatures intent on killing them.  Azura and Corrin meet back up with Gunter who has been living in this strange world sine he fell out of the Canyon.  Upon escaping, Azura speaks openly with Corrin that the only way to achieve peace is to dethrone King Garon.  King Garon is not the man he once was and his body has been taken over by some sort of demonic presence which has also corrupted his soul.  Unfortunately, the only way for the other Nohr nobles to see what their father has truly become is for him to sit on the throne of Hoshido which has revealing properties to it.  Corrin has to gain King Garon's full trust and aid as they march across Hoshido to take over their kingdom and dealing with the consequences of following King Garon's every order no matter how cruel.

With no choice but to turn on the land of his birth, Corrin leads the Nohr army into Hoshido attempting to maintain his non-lethal policy despite Iago, Hans, and Garon's presence.  With some hasty movements and quick decision making, Corrin was able to capture his sister Sakura unharmed and imprisoned her for her safety.  Next, he faced off against Takumi who began acting in a strange and maniacal manner; once defeated, Takumi jumped from the castle wall and vanished entirely.  Hoping that his brother was safe, Corrin pressed on to the castle where he encountered his other sister, Hinoka.  Although being ordered to slaughter her, Corrin took her weapons as proof of her murder and told her to flee quietly through the woods.  Both Corrin's forces and Iago's forces convene outside the throne room where Ryoma sat in wait.

Ryoma is still partially willing to hear his brother out, but that changes when he is shown Hinoka's lance.  Believing his sister to have been murdered, Ryoma fights Corrin in single combat.  Ryoma is defeated as Corrin whispers to him that his siblings are still alive.  King Garon appears and orders Ryoma's death.  Corrin refuses but Ryoma simply gives his brother a smile and commits suicide; he knew in his heart there was a reason Corrin had chosen that path.  As King Garon made his way to the throne, the other Nohr siblings have simply had enough of Iago and Hans' cruelty and the group turns against the Nohr army determined to rid their kingdom of that kind of filth.  With both Hans and Iago meeting the business end of the sword, the children go to meet with their father only to find him transformed into a monster.  Seeing that their father truly is lost, they defeat the behemoth but suddenly Takumi appears.  Takumi has also been taken over by the same evil force as King Garon.  Corrin refuses to fight his brother and is struck down by his arrows.  In the spirit world, Corrin meets with Ryoma and Takumi who encourage him to return to the living world so that he can bring about peace and release Takumi's body from the evil possession upon it.  Corrin's group defeats Takumi's body and restores peace to both kingdoms thanks to the combined efforts of the new King Zander and Queen Hinoka.  Azura, however, returns to the lake she first met Corrin in and fades away from the world.


Corrin decides that he cannot possibly choose between his birth family, who were wronged so many times, and the adoptive family he has always known and loved.  He decides to choose neither side in an attempt to make peace between the kingdoms.  Unfortunately this plan backfires as Ryoma and Xander both see this as a traitorous move and declare him an enemy of both kingdoms.  Thinking quickly, Azura flees with Corrin and Felicia/Jakob to the Bottomless Canyon where they all jump into its depths.  The small group wakes not at the bottom of the canyon but in a different kingdom called Valla where they finally meet back up with Gunter who had fallen down previously.  Azura, as it turns out, is actually a princess of Valla whose parents had both passed away.  The kingdom is hidden away from the other kingdoms by a sort of gate that opens and closes when the skies change color over Nohr and Hoshido.  This happens only once every several decades and the skies will be changing soon to cut Valla off from the rest of the world.  Why is this a problem?  There is an ancient dragon named Anankos who has lost his mind and is ruling Valla in order to destroy the world.  Anankos is the one causing Nohr and Hoshido to be at war by sending his own spirit fighters to both kingdoms disguised as members of the other.  To make matters worse, you can only talk about Valla while you are inside it's borders.  If you speak of Valla outside the world, a curse shall fall upon you and you will die.

So, Corrin must find a way to gain allies and strength in order to take down Anankos before the skies change.  Believing Hoshido to be the easier land to make allies, Corrin heads there and fairly quickly gains his sister Sakura, and brother Takumi who follow him despite his inability to explain who this "real enemy" is.  Word has reached King Garon of Corrin's choice and he sends Camilla to kill Corrin.  When she fails, Corrin invites her to be a part of the group as well.  As Corrin's party tracks down more allies, they come across a port town where Ryoma and Xander are engaged in battle over a town being destroyed.  Neither of the armies could see the Vallite forces who were actually to blame.  Corrin destroys the Vallites and pleads with both of his brothers to trust him and meet at the bottomless canyon on the day when the skies change.  Both princes leave Corrin to think upon his word.  When Xander and Leo return to their father, they receive orders that both Nohr and Hoshido are to be destroyed, which doesn't set well with them.  Why would their father want to destroy their home?  Elise, who was eavesdrops on a conversation Iago and Hans are having about Camilla being with Corrin, decides to flee and join Corrin as well.  On the day of the changing skies, Ryoma, Hinoka, Leo, and Xander all join up with Corrin in full trust.  Ryoma and Xander agree to a truce between the two kingdoms.

The now-large group plunges into the bottomless canyon on Azura and Corrin's command.  Unfortunately, some strange being attacks Corrin in their free-fall.  A Nohr resistance fighter named Scarlet blocks the death blow and sacrifices herself for the cause.  Landing in Valla, Corrin is finally at liberty to explain about Anankos and how they must defeat him.  Before too long, they run into a troubling sight as they find that Anankos can reanimate the dead and use them as his pawns.  The group must face friend and family alike in order to kill them and free them from Anankos' grip.  The first is Azura's mother, followed by Scarlet, Queen Mikoto, and finally, the late king of Hoshido.  Upon reaching Anankos' throne room they find it empty and learn that Anankos has been keeping tabs on Corrin for quite awhile as he had possessed Gunter this whole time.  The group frees Gunter from the evil as Anankos reveals himself.  Fearing that his power may be too small, Anankos summons King Garon, whom he had been pouring power into, and consumes him on the spot to gain his power back.  Finally at full strength, Anankos appears in his true form as a gigantic fearsome dragon.  With the combined powers of both kingdoms, Corrin is able to defeat Anankos and lift the curse from Valla.  Corrin and Azura become the new rulers of Valla and help usher in a new era of prosperity and peach among the three kingdoms with the new King Ryoma and King Xander.
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
That was a lot to cover so I'll be brief here

The preferred order to play these games is Birthright, Conquest, then Revelation.  I can easily see why as they build upon each other and leave a couple of clues to the next game.  Birthright is the feel-good option for your first playthrough as clearly Hoshido is the "right" choice.  You get to be the straightforward hero while getting hints that maybe not everyone in Nohr is a complete jerk.  Conquest is picking the harder decision of the two and dealing with the consequences of siding with the "bad" kingdom, while briefly learning that there is another kingdom doing something.  You end up harming the people you grew to love in Birthright, but grow to love this set of siblings and characters just as much.  Then, Revelation is just pure ecstasy wish fulfillment as you get to see the full picture and are allowed to have every one of these fantastic character that you have grown to adore join you on the adventure.  I won't lie.  When Xander and Ryoma shake hands and join with Corrin, I had tears in my eyes.

Now there is ONE drawback to the whole multiple games thing but... I'll get to that in a later segment.


If you are familiar with the gameplay mechanics of Fire Emblem
Honestly not that much has changed in the way or core mechanics.  The game is still chapter based, you still move units, and you still fight and meet chapter goals the same as you always have.  Birthright will have one of two goals in the chapters whereas Conquest and Revelation have far more variety.  For veteran players, the biggest change would have to be the manner of which you go through the routes.  You purchase one game's cartridge and utilize that.  By using the menu, you can purchase the other two routes at a discounted price.  At the start of Chapter 6 you choose with pathway you wish to play and can go from there.  The other "big change" is the fact that weapons now have a background color on their icon to help you better know at a glance what weapon is strong against the enemy.  This is especially helpful if you are familiar with pokemon as it's effectively the same grass, fire, and water we are used to in those games... plus it gives me a reason to post THAT picture so it's a win/win.   That's it, you can skip on to the next section unless you just want to see me attempt to explain these games to people unfamiliar with them.

If you are NOT familiar with the gameplay mechanics of Fire Emblem
I won't go into extreme detail here but I will attempt to get the basics down.  Fire Emblem is a turn based strategy game where you fully control a number of units in battle.  You control who moves to what position, what weapon they have equipped, who they are paired up with (if anyone), and if they plan to attack this turn, stay out of the way, heal, or boost their defenses for the enemy's attacking turn. It's a bit like Dungeons and Dragons, Chess, and Rock Paper Scissors rolled into one game as it pulls certain elements from each of those games.

The first thing to take note of is the manner in which the game is progressed.  Each of the paths have 27 chapters and an Endgame chapter for you to complete.  Each of these chapters has a specific goal that you much achieve in order to move along.  Birthright's path mostly consists of defeating a boss or defeating every enemy on the map.  Conquest will still have the good old "rout the enemy" and "defeat the boss", but it will also provide varying goals such as defending a spot on the map, visiting three houses on the map then defeating the boss, or having all of your units escape the map.  Revelation is more of a combination of the two with a twist.  While there are more boss and total enemy defeat levels than Conquest, many of them have a twist where you have to break through ice to progress or find the hidden pathway to move forward.  Revelation also likes to play around with platforms that move on their own.

The next thing to take a note of are your units.  At any point in the game you will have between 3 and 50 some people at your disposal and can utilize around 12-16 per chapter.  Each of these characters have their own stats and can level up along the way as well as change the type of fighter they are or become a stronger version of that same type of fighter.  The map you are fighting on is divided into a sort of grid and each unit can move a certain amount of steps per turn.  You'll need to note where the enemy can reach, and what sort of enemy is around to make sure you aren't taking one of your weak characters into a slaughter.  Because guess what?  When you are playing this in casual mode, if a character dies they are gone for good!  Now obviously you can play a lesser difficulty such as Casual (units return at the end of the chapter) or Phoenix (units return every turn) but the way it was originally create revolves around permanent death.  So taking a very close look at the map and planning out EVERY single move is key.  This is not a game to rush in and play quickly; you are supposed to take a long time in every map.

Lastly, it's vitally important to remember the weapons triangle.  Swords and tomes are strong against axes and bows which are strong against lances and knives, and the circle continues.  This closely ties in to what I was mentioning above with planning every step that every unit has to say.  Because you don't want to attack a character who has a weapon advantage against you, and you certainly don't want to be on the defensive side against two or three guys with a weapons advantage against you!  Fire Emblem Fates decided to make memorizing the triangle a lot simpler by adding colored backgrounds to the weapon's icons.  Well... it's a lot simpler for those of us who are pokemon fans.  In pokemon, fire types are strong against grass types who are strong against water types.  So if you like pokemon or can just remember that simple analogy then it will make matters simple.

I'm sure there are a few other gameplay mechanics I could discuss here such as the hit rate (accuracy) and how certain terrain effects your movements, but what I've said above should give you a reasonable idea if you will like this kind of game or not.

What's Good About It?

While there are many aspects of this game which are good I'd like to focus my attention on three of them.

The first thing that came to mind was the inclusion of My Castle.  My Castle is exactly what it's called... it's your castle.  This is the place that you and your team rest up in between chapters.  You can completely customize your castle in it's overall design, layout of the buildings, leveling up the buildings, and many other aspects.  Gone are the days where you have to travel all over the map finding an item that you want to purchase; you just simply walk into the weapons shop on your castle grounds.  To make things even more awesome you can visit other people's castles and they can visit you.  While visiting another's castle you can send gifts, purchase items, or fight the enemy in order to obtain a duplicate of one of their units, or a skill that one of their units has.  I can't even begin to tell you the amount of time I spent placing my buildings in the proper spot so that anyone fighting my team would have a difficult time.

One of the greatest parts of a Fire Emblem game is building support between characters.  If two compatible units are stationed side by side or paired up, their affinity will grow during battle which eventually leads to three separate dialogue scenes between them as the two characters get to know each other better.  In the past this has basically been a "one and done" thing where if you missed out on what the character may have said then it's too bad.  A lot of character and humor can come from these scenes.  Fates has finally recognized that sometimes people may miss something or want to see what was said again.  This game has included a way for you to re-play every previous support cutscene that you have initiated.  While this may not be a big thing for people who read them meticulously the first time, I found this a very nice addition.  I can go back and read every support at any point in time!

Lastly... you need to prepare yourself for this.
I'm not even joking here.  The Feels Ocean is strong in this game and will probably overwhelm you. 

What am I talking about?  Well you asked for it.  In order to get all of the feels you will need to play all three games and play them in the preferred order of Birthright, Conquest, then Revelation... though the feels start before you even get to a path.  The first onslaught of emotion comes with Queen Mikoto's death.  You only knew her briefly but she was very kind and loving towards you that you end up feeling the pain that Corrin and the Hoshido children have.  Revelation doesn't have many emotional moments as it's mostly the "feel good" option but it decides to punt you in the stomach towards the end with Elise shows up.  Elise is one of the kindest, sweetest, and most amazing characters in the game.  You only travel with her for a couple of chapters but you start to adore the little Nohr princess... and then Xander accidentally kills her in front of you followed by his own death.  It was something I wasn't prepared for.  Having played Birthright, Conquest was even harder due to the familiarity with the Hoshidan units.  You have to spend a whole game defeating, and destroying people who you loved from your first game while having to follow the rules of an evil madman.  Its a difficult journey to take emotionally after Birthright.  Then Revelation hits you for both happy and sad reasons.  Happy comes in the form of both families working together, but sad comes in the form of the fallen people's corpses having to be re-defeated.  ... and then there's Scarlet...... *sigh* my poor Scarlet.

Scarlet most likely won't hit you the way she hit me.  When I realized that the only way to get every child unit is to pair Corrin with a child or Corrin-only unit, I decided to pair him with Scarlet for my Birthright playthrough.  She was awesome, a bit of a tomboy, and rode a dragon; what's not to love?  So I grew an attachment to Scarlet because of my character's marriage to her.  When conquest came along, we don't even get the chance to have her as a unit... she is defeated and it's implied that Hans murders her by ripping her body apart into multiple pieces.  Revelation wasn't any kinder.  We get to have her for only a couple of chapters before she sacrifices herself in order to protect you only to have her corpse reanimated by Anankos and have to be defeated once again.  She barely gets out a thank you as she passes on.

For a game to hit so many emotional chords... that just really speaks to the overall quality of the experience.

What's Bad About It?

I'm going to just outright say it.  While I will be pointing out a couple other bad things about these games, this one is the granddaddy of them all.  The accuracy in this game is absolutely atrocious and honestly feels like the game was designed to spite you accurately hitting anything. I'm fairly certain that, at times, a blindfolded fish would be able to more accurately hit an airplane with a slingshot than my units would be at hitting an enemy.  I know what you may be thinking.  "When you are about to attack an enemy it gives you the accuracy percent so, or course if it's only 30% accuracy its more than likely going to miss."  While that IS true, that's not what I'm talking about.  If you are attacking an enemy and your accuracy is lower than 85% you will basically always miss.  Sure you may hit the occasional random attack at that percentage level but anything under 85% and you might as well forget it.  The same is NOT true about enemies.  If an enemy is attacking they will still hit you at a much lower accuracy rate than you will hit them.  In fact, anything above 50% accuracy is pretty much a guaranteed strike for them.  It makes no sense and it's absolutely brutal.  Why they didn't do a better job at calculating accuracy for the player's units is beyond me.

One of the staples in the Fire Emblem franchise is promoting units to a higher position or re-classing units to behave differently.  For Example, I could make my dark mage character promote to a sorcerer to become even more powerful, or I could completely re-class them to be an archer so that they have different skills and can promote to different units.  This is an excellent way to keep a wide variety on your team.  In Fire Emblem Awakening all you had to do was give them one item and you could re-class any unit into any other class that you would like.  Fire Emblem Fates, however, has decided to make that entire process an absolute nightmare.  Gone is the ability to simply re-class any unit into any other type of unit.  Now you only have one option to re-class a unit to depending on what the game says their personality would allow for.  Alternatively you could re-class them to a DLC class, the class of the person who has become their best friend (A+ Ranking) or the class of their spouse.   For Example.  Silas is a Cavalier.  I can re-class him to a Mercenary if I so choose and that's it.  If for some reason I wanted him to become a Ninja, I would have to make him best friends with Kaze then use a different item in order to accomplish that goal.  If I wanted to make him a Knight I would have to have him marry Effie and then use a completely different item in order to accomplish that goal.  The old system was just so simplistic to use.  You just had one item to re-class people and that's it!  I have no idea why they decided to make this so tedious and complex when the system worked FINE before.

Lastly, If you want to get on my bad side then all you have to do is mention censorship.  I am completely anti-censorship when it comes to entertainment outlets.  The artists involved should always be able to produce the kind of content they want to produce and we should always be able to consume said product if we wish.  Unfortunately Nintendo of America disagrees with this as they ended up censoring this game for our shores.  They removed an entire gameplay mechanic where you interacted with the units by touching their face (not their body JUST their face) in order to gain more affinity from them.  They also decided to remove certain outfits from the accessory shop.  Japan was able to get multiple kinds of swimwear for their units but all we get is a bundle-some towel.  While I realize neither of these things are main components of the game, I still feel that we have lost a portion of the experience.  We should have been able to turn on and off those features rather than Nintendo deciding all of America wasn't fit for those features.  I bet they aren't even that bad.  Let's take a look at what all we were missing.
OH?  well that's not bad honestly.  Yeah it's kinda sensual but nothing perverted or wrong.  Heck you still get scenes like this with the individual you marry so that's no reason to censor this.  If this is the worst they've got then I'm afraid they were idiots for
....I... Oh...well umm.... *cough*
But seriously... screw censorship.  1. The game is rated T so no small child should be playing this.  2. If someone is bothered by OPTIONAL content like this then they can simply opt not to participate or don't purchase the item whatsoever.  3. If Nintendo feels the need to censor things then make it an optional censor in the game's settings so that those of us who want to enjoy the same content as Japan can.  I'm not just talking about petting people's faces and seeing underboob here... I'm talking ALL games with anything questionable or semi-questionable content.

Will You Press The Button?

Have you ever gone on that website where you choose to press the button or not?  You know the one.  You get to have something really awesome but have to deal with something strange, bizarre, or unfortunate because of that decision.

There are certain aspects of this game where I feel the developers were playing a "Will You Press The Button" and decided to press the button each time.  As such I wasn't sure where to talk about them in this review so I put my own section here.  Two specific examples came to mind where the game gave us something awesome but gave us something unfortunate in exchange.

All items except staves now have infinite uses BUT now better weapons have penalties for using them.  One of the most annoying aspects about Fire Emblem games before was that you were constantly having to purchase weapons.  Everything would eventually break and if you didn't pay attention you could end up in a real mess out on the battlefield.  I was relieved to hear that Fire Emblem Fates had done away with that; an iron sword once equipped could be used for the rest of the game.  Unfortunately as I upgraded my shop and found better items I started noticing weird things like some items reversing the weapons triangle.  Some items critical hit more often but were terrible unless it was a critical hit.  Most notorious of all was that the Silver Weapons, which used to rule all, now lower strength by two and takes two turns of non-use to gain back.  So while I can now use an item for all of eternity, I'm stuck using weaker items than I used to do unless I want to slowly constantly make myself weaker or confused in battle.

There is a new Phoenix mode which causes units to re-spawn next turn for people who are having difficulty with this game BUT this game's difficulty has been jacked sky high!  Now I'm not one to shy away from the fact that I absolutely refuse to play Classic Mode.  I realize that Classic Mode is the way that these games are designed to be played, but I like having that extra buffer of Casual Mode so that I don't have to reset my game innumerable times.  When Awakening brought Casual Mode I chose it from the beginning and had a very pleasant time.  When I heard that Fates was bringing a Phoenix mode I was intrigued that they would include a game mode that was even easier than the Casual Mode from Awakening that I honestly thought was pretty easy.  I was afraid that they would bump up the difficulty due to this new mode... and I was right.  These games are quite quite difficult unless you level grind with the experience DLC.  I was attempting to just go through the game without grinding at first and my units just kept on having their butts handed to them over and over especially in the chapters that have a difficulty spike.  So while Phoenix Mode will make life easier, choosing not to play the game like that will give you a very challenging (and sometimes far too challenging) experience.

Nitpick Corner
It's time for another nitpick corner where I gripe about stuff that doesn't really matter or change my viewpoint of the game as a whole.

First, one of the greatest features that I didn't mention above is this game's use of the Fire Emblem Amiibo.  When you scan Marth, Ike, Robin, or Lucina into the game they will give you accessories and even join your party!  It's something that's really fantastic.  The only problem?  Roy got an amiibo and for some reason they decided NOT to give him the same treatment as the other Fire Emblem amiibo.  Why??? It's not like adding a few lines of dialogue and ONE more character would be that much!!  Why does Roy always get the shaft?

Secondly,  I have to mention the inclusion of a same sex marriage option.  I'm not nitpicking the existence of this option as I feel it is an excellent inclusion for those who may want to explore that option.  As I said in the introduction, inclusion is always a good thing especially when it's an option.  My problem with the same sex relationships is that they make absolutely no sense.  In Birthright you are given one lesbian option only.  In Conquest you are given one gay option only.  In Revelation you are given both options since the two people who can be gay from the previous games are included in that one.  Since Revelation has both as an option, I don't have a problem there but why only a lesbian in one and only a gay in the other?  Why not at least one option for both?  Also what's up with the choices in gay partners?  The lesbian partner is Rhajat, an antisocial mage child character.  The gay partner is Niles, a suave outlaw character.  While Niles makes a tiny bit more sense than Rhajat it seems to me that they just picked someone at random as the characters that SHOULD be a gay option already exist in the game.  Soleil is a tomboyish female who actively flirts with girls all the time yet she's not a lesbian option.  Forrest is a fashionable young man who dresses effeminate yet he's not a gay option.   And then there's the whole thing of Silas.  Silas is your oldest best friend from your childhood who abandons everything for you and will always be there by your side... why is he not an optional gay support as well?   It's like the characters that fully make sense to be a same sex option were just completely ignored.  I mean, I can understand not making EVERY character be same sex compatible, but at least do it to the ones that make sense!

Lastly, The Fire Emblem series is known for it's dragons.  In fact, in Awakening (the game prior to this one) we also had a character or two who turned into Dragons like Corrin.  Let's take a look at what Nowi turns into when she uses the Dragonstone.
That's AWESOME!  It looks like a dragon and it's absolutely sweet!  

Yeah it has some strange green features to it but it's most definitely a dragon.  They've had a couple years to deal with the design choices and make a dragon look even more sweet.  Now what does Corrin turn into?
..... a winged goat????  A WINGED GOAT?!?!?!  are you kidding me???

I just... I can't even...WHAT?  Why in the name of all things holy have we gone from an actual dragon looking dragon to a ripoff of Pokemon's Arceus??


Fire Emblem Fates is honestly a fantastic trilogy of games.  They are full of fun, challenge, laughter, personalization, and emotion.  If you think that you would enjoy a turn based strategy game with varying goals based on both European and Japanese culture then you might want to take a look at these games.  Yes, it is probably going to be difficult, but remember that Phoenix Mode is your friend.  Nobody says you have to beat it on Classic or Casual mode your first playthough or even at all!  Fates is an excellent spot to jump into the series as you don't really need to know anything about the previous games to enjoy these titles.

I highly suggest playing them in the preferred order of Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation.  It doesn't matter if you are new to Fire Emblem and unsure if this is the series for you or if you are an old veteran wanting to play through all of them.  There are a few old veterans who only want to do Conquest and Revelation; I can understand that as Birthright is the weaker one of the three.  That being said, if you skip Birthright you are missing out on some great moments and getting to know some great characters better.  Pick up your copy today and choose your own path to victory!
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for your excelent review about the game, and now i want to buy fire emblem awakening dlc to enjoy more of this game