My thoughts on the Jan. 17th Fire Emblem Direct

New games! Yay! Or maybe not? Buzzwords.

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time and I’ve mainly just been dumping opinions onto twitter like an orange buffoon. But I feel just so… conflicted about the stuff that was announced that I felt like legitimately writing about it instead of just messaging my friends or talking shit in comments sections.

So let me berate the Direct titles in order of appearance.

Fire Emblem: Echoes

Well… This one is the one that has me the most confused and conflicted. I know I feel something, I just don’t know what. It is similar to the feeling I get when trying to give myself a prostate massage: I know I should be feeling something, but I don’t know if what I am feeling is the right thing or not (this joke is really fucking bad and im sorry, please don’t change your opinion of me as a person because of it).

The things Echoes has going for it are probably enough for people to already be pre-ordering it. It’s a new title for the 3DS. That’s cool. It shows us that Ninty really won’t be abandoning the 3DS just yet. It’s a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, a game I never really knew about until today, but it’s a game that a lot of people like apparently. It’s also coming out soon. Like REALLY soon. April 20th, soon. That’s cool I guess, no waiting. But each of these things that make it appealing to some are making it confusing for me.

For instance, I’ve only played a handful of Fire Emblem titles to be completely honest, so I have no ties to “hardcore mechanics” or any other older, more classical styles of gameplay. I was really just drawn into the series like most fans right now by the excellent Fire Emblem: Awakening. Once I downloaded and played the demo for that game, I was hooked. I knew vaguely what the Fire Emblem series was, always seeing it here and there in gaming magazines and at the local game stores, but never actually playing it, but Awakening changed that. Once I played and beat that game, I quickly became a fan of the series and began playing the GBA titles. I even bought a shitty bootleg version of FE7 for the GBA just because I wanted to play it on the actual hardware. Stupid decision. Anyways, the draw for older fans of the series is obviously strong, but for me I don’t feel it. I will be approaching Echoes as if it were completely new to me because, well, it will be.

The release date of April 20th in JP and May 19th elsewhere, sure. That means that there won’t be much time waiting; but it worries me. The game coming out so soon relative to Fates makes me wary of it’s quality; and the visual style shift from the trailer just makes some of my qualms about the game stronger. Compared to the mobile game that was also announced, Fire Emblem: Heroes, it really looks like Echoes got the short end of the stick in the art department. I feel like for whatever reason, Intelligent Systems made the Awakening/Fates art designer focus more on Heroes and kept him from touching Echoes at all. While apparently this is cool for people who don’t like how “anime” the Fire Emblem series’ art style has become, I don’t really like the art style of Echoes currently just because of the inconsistencies I see. The trailer, promo art, and in-game art all boast different stylistic renditions of the same designs, which just irks me.

I can’t vouch for Echoes’ story at all since, again, I don’t know shit about Gaiden. But I know the announced features set to appear in the titles do sound a bit appealing, if also a bit polarizing. The 3rd person dungeon-crawling exploration seems very intriguing. I feel like it has the potential to make the areas you explore more rich with combat, which is kind of a double edged sword. Yes, you get more of the complex and rewarding high risk, high reward combat you have come to know and love, but you could also potentially be getting it at the price of bland, repetitive environments and fights. The different leveling up systems and revival systems definitely seem to be aiming the title towards veterans of the series since they allow for a lot more control and hardcore-ness. I will admit that even I am excited for the more controllable stat progression just because even I, a casual Fire Emblem player, get very involved and obsessed with finding the best characters and builds for each. So being able to control the stat aspects of my team is definitely a cool thing. I just hope that it isn’t done in a way that is too complex for people just off the high of playing either Awakening or Fates.

Another thing I worry about is the potential additions Intelligent Systems may or may not be adding to the title to make it feel more “comfortable” with newer players. Will the whole Live-2D waifu touching come back? Are we going to do kids and romance again? What is the DLC going to do? Why are Amiibos going to be involved? What will be the community’s opinion on the inclusion of any of these features? Intelligent Systems probably had a serious internal discussion figuring out which group to satisfy more: the purists who have always supported the series or the new fans that helped saved the series from the brink, even if they have weird ships, criticize the localization of the titles, and get very offended when the game doesn’t cater to their interests. But whatever.

I dunno. I guess that’s all I have to say about Echoes. I am most definitely not going to get it day one. I am eager to see if there will be any sort of demo released to let people preview the new mechanics and stuff, but I guess we’ll see.

Fire Emblem Warriors

I am actually really excited about this. I loved Hyrule Warriors Legends on the N3DS, pop-in issues and all just because it is mindless hack-n-slash fun with so much shit to do. You could spend hours grinding, feeding little fairies, doing the seemingly endless adventure mode and so on. So naturally, I was pretty amped to see Fire Emblem Warriors make it’s debut at Jan. 12th’s Switch event. Even though the 18th’s direct showed little more than the teaser from the 12th did, we did see a smidgen of Chrom gameplay and we also learned that the game is being developed for the N3DS as well as the Switch. That’s some cool shit. Now I don’t have to stress about the game, since either way I know I will enjoy it. Sure, the Switch version might be prettier to look at, but the N3DS version will likely be cheaper, plus that way I don’t necessarily HAVE to have a Switch to play the game come Fall 2017.

I am glad that Koei Techmo are applying the Warriors formula to other IPs from other developers. The standard Warriors titles never managed to reel me in just because the settings and stories all seemed a little much for me. Plus I am really just unfamiliar with Chinese or Japanese lore, so all of the story bits with Nobunaga and stuff just flies right over my head, whether it’s true or not.  I’ll be damned if the games aren’t still fun though. Even if the stories make no sense or bore me, the gameplay is slick and fun. Nothing beats slaughtering entire armies per mission. Plus, I have no real issues with pop-in and overall aesthetics so long as the game runs well, which I thought Hyrule Warriors Legends managed to achieve well.

Plus the Fire Emblem IP is just a gold mine to mess with. You have 15 games to pull hundreds of characters from, plus you can make original ones to play. There are so many different kinds of skills and weapons that I can see a really unique and robust roster already. Imagine playing as Draconic Rage Kamui! That’d be pretty sweet if we could mow down foes as a dragon-thing in real time, especially since Fates doesn’t let us do anything like that. Plus, in all honesty, the rosters from Awakening and Fates alone are probably enough to make a warriors game, so I can imagine that the amount of characters in the real game will be sick. My personal votes go for Tharja, Donnel and Rinkah. There is already image files for Camilla-the-boobstress on the game’s JP site, so I guess she is confirmed along with Chrom. Plus, Robin and Kamui NOT being in the game would probably cause riots or something.

Anyways. Day one for me, probably. Looks like it could be the shit on both consoles, so I am ready either way.

Fire Emblem Switch (TBA 2018)

I mean… well, what can I say? We know nothing so… neat I guess? I hope it’s good? Bring back Advanced Wars?

Fire Emblem Heroes (a.k.a. Fire Granblue Heroes Fantasy)

It’s Fire Emblem! Woo! Another game! Ahh! But it’s a mobage! Shit!

I am a bit tired of mobile games, and I don’t even play any significant ones other than Granblue Fantasy. They all have a bad reputation, and I mean, I know why. IAPs out the ass, gacha hell, and of course, addictive elements to keep you coming back for more. Luckily, Fire Emblem Heroes doesn’t look like some sort of shitty, lazy cash grab made for Facebook or something. It does actually look like effort is being put into the game to make it fun and entertaining for users.

What is bugging me though is just how much it borrows from other mobages; more specifically, how much it borrows from Granblue. The whole gacha system seems the same to me, and so does the process of which you obtain new characters to play as. They’re all kept as cards with a star-based ranking system. They can be fused with other cards to create more powerful cards. Yeah. The same stuff we’ve already seen.

But you know what, it could turn out okay. So long as the Orb economy isn’t fucked like it is in Granblue and so long as the story is actually worth drudging through, I am sure people will play it. I am sure people will pay out the ass for that one sacred gacha pull that will guarantee that they get their favorite waifu on their team.

As far as the actual, meaty gameplay goes, I am cautiously waiting to see what it will actually be like. Right now it seems like normal Fire Emblem combat, but… well, without any skills or anything. Your unit is either magic, healing, ranged or up close (with lances, axes and swords). Sure, that adheres to the classic weapon triangle the series is known for, but what doesn’t seem normal is the lack of options when it’s your phase. You can move your unit and attack (or heal, if your unit is a healer). At least that’s what it looked like from the Direct’s footage. That is kind of a bummer if we can’t have more battle options. It does, however, look like we can upgrade skills through the whole Orb economy, but who knows if those are active or passive skills.

The art style, at least, seems a bit more inspired than Echoes in my opinion. It uses the same art director from Awakening and Fates for new characters, which is nice. But then it uses the original art styles from returning heroes from the Fire Emblem universe, which may or may not be a mixed bag. I don’t know how well all the different, wildly varying styles will gel together in the final game, but at least the original characters will be neat lookin.

I mean Heroes probably won’t feature the most robust mechanics in the entire series, but for a mobile game, it should do alright. It will likely meet the same response as other Nintendo mobile ventures have though: become immensely popular for about one or two months then sizzle out into oblivion over that one feature everyone hates or something.


Anyways. So yeah. I only intended on this being a few quick thoughts but well. Look at it. It should have been “just my two cents” but instead it’s more along the lines of “HERE’S MY ENTIRE BANK ACCOUNT WORTH OF OPINIONS!”

Hopefully I’ll write more soon. I’ve got some big thoughts about the Switch I’d like to write down, so I might go with that. Plus I have tons of unpublished works stored that I should really get around to posting, but I’m lazy, even at the things I enjoy! Neat!

Yeah.

EDIT: I had previously thought that Echoes was coming out 4/20/17 worldwide. I was wrong, that’s the JP release. US release is 5/19/17.

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