Fire Emblem Fates was my first game in the series, so I went in very skeptical. I wasn’t without hope, since I had heard the praises of Awakening, but I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Boy, was I wrong. Fire Emblem Fates was and still is a very enjoyable experience on the 3DS. Just to be clear, this article covers the Birthright edition of the game, as I have not been able to finish either the Conquest or Revelation editions. Fire Emblem: Birthright is an RPG, and as such, should have an at least decent storyline. Birthright, though, goes above and beyond “decent” and makes me want to see what happens next after every chapter, almost like episodes of a TV show. In fact, it seemed like this whole game is modeled after a season of a TV show, and it works really well. Every character feels unique, with their own likes, dislikes, quirks, and strengths. Even the villains of the story, the Nohrians, feel like they have their own culture, beliefs, and reasons for doing what they do in the story.
The decision you make in the beginning of the game, choosing Hoshido or Nohr, has ramifications on both families. In the Birthright path, you choose your Hoshido family, which you’ve only just met. Throughout the entire game your character, canonically called Corrin, is questioning if they made the right choice, and is full of regret because of it, and you feel the same way. Since you were the one who moved the circle pad and made that choice, you have the same questions and regret your character does.
Something that made the RPG genre so unique back in the day was the focus on storytelling, compared to the other popular games at the time like Mario or Castlevania, and Birthright has some of the best storytelling I’ve seen in a while. Something that also makes RPGs unique is the turnbased combat. Fire Emblem, takes a more strategy-like approach. Each character has a weapon and that weapon’s class can be either weak or strong compared to the enemy’s weapon’s class, therefore determining how much damage you’ll do, and how much health you’ll lose. This system is very similar to Pokémon. However, I believe this system works better than Pokémon, simply because of how the turns play out.
In Pokémon, turns play out during the battle. You’ll run into the enemy, and then you’ll each do one thing until the other is fainted or caught. In Fire Emblem though, you can tell your character to run into an enemy or heal an ally, and then watch that play out. You’ll do this with all your characters, until all characters have performed an action. This makes battles a lot more exciting than Pokémon, with the same twenty-or-so hours of really fun gameplay.
Finally, the graphics, and these are some of the best on the 3DS hardware. The cutscenes are 3D cel-shaded anime clips, and they look amazing. I can only show a screenshot here, but it also looks nice in motion. However, the in-engine scenes look… off. Nintendo president Kimishima recently talked about movies, which they hope to release in five years or so. Honestly, I think Fire Emblem is a very good candidate for the silver screen. I can say, without a doubt, that Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright exceeded my expectations. It has great gameplay and story, but the visuals aren’t perfect. Graphics don’t make a game, though, and I still highly recommend this game to anyone with a week to spare. Trust me, you’re going to need the WHOLE week.
-Originally written by Aiden “The EpikLemonz” Mroz-Bunnell