Smash Stage Analysis: Arena Ferox

Arena ferox

Notes:

  • This article has content based on the author’s opinions that shouldn’t be taken as fact.
  • Some of the screenshots and gifs weren’t recorded by the author and are solely meant for illustrative purposes. Credit goes to the respective owners.
  • This article contains plot spoilers for Fire Emblem: Awakening.
  • Special thanks go to XKan at Kantopia for his help on checking a Japanese term.

Today’s article covers a Fire Emblem stage just in time for the release of Fire Emblem Fates in North America. Coming from the previous game in the series, Arena Ferox is the Fire Emblem stage found in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.

The stage’s origin

Arena Ferox is the setting for the 4th chapter of Fire Emblem: Awakening. As the country of Ylisse is constantly threatened by the neighboring nation of Plegia and the mysterious insurgence of the zombie-like Risen, Chrom leads his army into the northern nation of Ferox to negotiate and find a way to bolster his forces.

Regna Ferox is known for its warrior-like approach to diplomacy where strength in combat dictates who becomes in charge of the country. There are two rulers of the nation, Basilio, the West-Khan, and Flavia, the East-Khan. After Chrom defeats the border guards and proves his strength in battle and intentions, he meets with Flavia, only to find out that, since Basilio won the last deciding tournament, she has no power to lend Feroxi forces to Chrom.

Chosen as Flavia’s representing champion, Chrom duels against Basilio’s chosen warriors to ensure Flavia gets power over the nation and have her help Ylisse in the coming war against Plegia.

Arena Ferox, as seen as a map in Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Arena Ferox, as seen as a map in Fire Emblem: Awakening. Note the pattern in the floor and the surrounding area.

At Arena Ferox, the duel takes place and Basilio’s champion turns out to be the masked Marth he had met before, who also wields a Falchion like his and possesses the same fencing skills as his, claiming to have learned them from his father.

Chrom emerges victorious in the duel and Basilio concedes his rule to Flavia, abiding by Feroxi law and also offers to help Chrom in his campaign.

The duel at Arena Ferox is a turning point in the story of Fire Emblem: Awakening, as Chrom’s victory at the arena will allow him to stand against Plegia and also shows the first clues to the masked Marth’s identity, who later is revealed to be Lucina, Chrom’s daughter from the future.

Arena Ferox seen in Fire Emblem: Awakening during an in-game combat scene.
Arena Ferox seen in Fire Emblem: Awakening during an in-game combat scene.

The arena also serves as the background scenario when creating an Avatar and the duel between Chrom and the masked Marth at the arena is featured in the Fire Emblem: Awakening puzzle on the StreetPass Mii Plaza 3DS application.

Because Arena Ferox is the setting for one of the first important story moments in Fire Emblem: Awakening and in promotional material, it may have been a reason for choosing it as as stage in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.

Chrom and the masked Marth duel at the arena in the chapter's CGI animated scene. Robin and Lucina's Smash Bros. trailer shares the same setting.
A CGI animated scene that plays in Fire Emblem: Awakening, depicting the duel. Robin and Lucina’s Smash Bros. trailer shares the same setting for the animated parts, done by the same studio, anima.

Lastly, it bears mentioning that this is the only Fire Emblem stage in Super Smash Bros. series to be based on a specific location in the series instead of being based on recurring motifs or general themes, as is the case with Castle Siege in Brawl, based on the recurring theme of castles being seized by an opposing faction, and the Coliseum in the Wii U installment, which is based on the many arenas scattered throughout the Fire Emblem series’ worlds where player units can duel foes to the death for money and experience points, appearing in several titles of the series.

As a matter of fact, both the Coliseum and Arena Ferox are referred by the same term in Japanese, 闘技場, which could translate to either word. The term used in the Fire Emblem games’ English localization is “Arena”, making the Wii U stage’s name inconsistent, though not necessarily incorrect. (Note: Arena Ferox is referred to as フェリア闘技場 in Japanese.)

In Super Smash Bros.

Besides the addition of a large bottomless pit around the arena, removing a lot of its ground, the stage is almost identical to its original incarnation, the arena even featuring the same pattern on the floor. The lighting, decorations and audience are all kept intact.

Arena Ferox, as seen in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. Besides the addition of a bottomless pit, the stage is near recreation from the original game.
Arena Ferox, as seen in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.

Stage elements

As stated in the previous section, the stage has a bottomless pit around the arena. This is likely due to gameplay purposes as it allows players to be knocked down easier. Of course, they could have made it a walk-off stage instead.

With the exception of the bottomless pit, the stage is a near recreation of the original game's setting.
With the exception of the bottomless pit, the stage is a near recreation of the original game’s setting.

Originally, Arena Ferox was merely a plain arena with nothing to draw from besides its distinctive interior design. In Smash Bros., several transformations were added to the stage, making it similar to the Pokémon Stadium stages found in previous Smash Bros. titles.

A lot of background elements are preserved in Smash.
A lot of background elements are preserved in Smash.

There are four transformations and each borrows some elements found in the Fire Emblem series overall and add variety to what otherwise would be a plain stage.

One of the forms of the stage. The small platforms can be broken.
One of the forms of the stage. The small platforms can be broken.
In this form, what appears to be a watchtower appears in the background. Most of these elements have nothing to do with Arena Ferox, but depict structures found in many of the Fire Emblem series' scenarios.
In this form, what appears to be a watchtower appears in the background. Most of these elements have nothing to do with Arena Ferox, but depict structures found in many of the Fire Emblem series’ scenarios.
The layout with all the platforms broken.
The layout with all the platforms broken.
This layout is reminiscent of the second part of Brawl's Castle Siege stage, with human statues holding platforms.
This layout is reminiscent of the second part of Brawl‘s Castle Siege stage, with human statues holding platforms.
Lucina standing in one of the platforms. Compared to Castle Siege, the platforms are positioned differently, but the statues are posed similarly.
The statues can be broken. In several Fire Emblem titles, there are maps with breakable terrain, something that might have inspired the mechanic present in this stage, as well as Castle Siege.
The statues can be broken. In several Fire Emblem titles, there are maps with breakable terrain, something that might have inspired the mechanic present in this stage, as well as Castle Siege. In the back, broken pillars are also seen. Ruined places are a recurring setting in the series as well.
Another of the possible layouts.
Another of the possible layouts for the stage.
The platforms on the left side rotate thanks to a mechanism in the background. The mechanism doesn't relate to anything regarding Fire Emblem in particular save for the vague similarities to the ballistae found throughout the series.
The platforms on the left side rotate thanks to a mechanism in the background. The mechanism doesn’t relate to anything regarding Fire Emblem in particular save for the vague similarities to ballistae found throughout the series.
The fourth of the possible layouts, featuring ruins in the background and no interactive elements.
The fourth of the possible layouts, featuring ruins in the background and no interactive elements.

Omega form

The Omega form is exactly what one would expect: the stage simply doesn’t have any transformations. However, closer inspection will tell that the Omega form actually is a little bit different from the normal form of the stage.

The Omega form of the stage. There's no such thing as too many Fire Emblem characters, right?
The Omega form of the stage. There’s no such thing as too many Fire Emblem characters, right?
The platform's shape is different from the normal version of the stage, being less wide.
The platform’s shape is different from the normal version of the stage, being less wide.
If you compare with the normal version, as well as the source game, you'll notice there's texturing error in the pattern of the arena for the stage's Omega form.
If you compare with the normal version, as well as the source game, you’ll notice there seems to be a texturing error in the pattern of the arena for the stage’s Omega form.

Music selection

The main music for this stage is “Id (Purpose)”, the final boss battle theme from Fire Emblem: Awakening, also one of the many versions of “Id”, the main leitmotif associated with the player Avatar (AKA Robin). Though it’s not a new arrangement, the version found in Smash had several parts omitted, shortening the song. This was likely done due to disk space issues. Otherwise, it sounds as it did in the original game. The song was probably chosen as it was one of the most memorable music tracks from the original game, playing during the story’s climactic moment.

The alternate song is “Fire Emblem” from Super Smash Bros. Melee, taken directly from the game. The arrangement, done by Shogo Sakai at HAL Laboratory, combines the recruitment theme from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, the first game of the series, and the Fire Emblem series main theme that debuted in the same game and also heard in nearly every game of the series ever since.

This particular arrangement has become an iconic music piece for the Fire Emblem series due to being the sole song from the series featured in Melee, the first game to feature Fire Emblem content outside of Japan, mainly Marth and Roy as playable characters, bolstering interest in the series for non-Japanese audiences. Furthermore, the song is also featured in Robin and Lucina’s trailer, which also takes place in Arena Ferox for the CGI animated part.

It bears mentioning, however, that aside from the Fire Emblem main theme, the song isn’t featured in Fire Emblem: Awakening. Still, it likely was chosen for this stage as it’s the sole Fire Emblem stage found in the 3DS iteration and is a very well-known song from the series, especially to Western audiences, where Fire Emblem: Awakening also was a success, outselling previous games in the series in the same territories, and its usage in Robin and Lucina’s trailers.

Closing thoughts

Arena Ferox is an interesting choice for a stage to be in Smash Bros. and is the only Fire Emblem stage in the series to be based in a particular location of the series instead of being based on general motifs or recurring elements of the series.

It’s one of my favorite stages in the 3DS version and is a memorable area in the original game, as it marks an important event early in the game’s story, featuring a duel between Chrom and the masked Marth, with proper foreshadowing for events to come and the acquisition of an new allied force to take on Plegia’s Mad King Gangrel.

What is your opinion on this stage? Would you have preferred another Fire Emblem location? Comment and share your thoughts!

Frostwraith

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Frostwraith

One of Earth's millions of people, who happens to be a fan of video games, manga and anime. I also post trivia on our official Twitter account.

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