SG Roundtable: Fire Emblem Direct

The Fire Emblem Direct has come to pass, showing off an unexpected Fire Emblem Gaiden remake known as Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (which looks more like a retelling), announcing the next mainline entry for the Switch (with just a working title), Fire Emblem Warriors (as teased in the Nintendo Switch presentation) and Fire Emblem Heroes (the mobile title). We at the SG team thought the following about it:

I’m…rather underwhelmed for the time being, honestly. I came into the Direct just expecting the mobile title and Warriors, so let’s start from the top. Rather uninterested in Echoes seeing as I have no familiarity with the original title and I’d rather wait a bit longer for some more FE action after spending loads of time on Fates. FE Warriors looks okay, but on top of showing just Chrom and no one else, it likely won’t be a top priority for me until it shows more content to draw me in. Knowing that there’s a new mainline FE game on the Switch for 2018 is nice, but on the other hand there was literally nothing besides confirmation it’s happening. And as for Heroes, while the format hardly surprises me for mobile games (hi Square Enix), I was ready to be welcoming towards it seeing as I enjoy Super Mario Run for what it is, and what was shown doesn’t really entice me that much (though I plan to try it out anyway). So overall, there was nothing that seriously enticed me this time around. However, I fully expect this opinion to change once we get more info on the mainline Switch title or Warriors.

I’ll be honest and upfront: I’m one of those people that really doesn’t like Awakening or Fates. Gameplay-wise they’re fine, but for me personally, the quality of writing and characterization of the characters has taken a steep nosedive, which started with Awakening and fully metastasized into awfulness with Fates. With that prelude, my faith in the series has dropped considerably, but Shadows of Valencia did have some promising aspects. While it is interesting that they chose to “re-imagine” one of the less popular games in the non-localized entries in the series, the character designs do look better. Hopefully they’ll stick more closely to the roots of Gaiden, and avoid trying to modernize the game by adding the…interesting dating-sim-like elements of Fates.

But overall, this presentation really just makes me question why Nintendo structures their presentations like they do. If they had gameplay and a date for Fire Emblem Warriors, why wouldn’t they show it at their main presentation? The gameplay they showed wasn’t even that substantial, so it easily could have fit into the main presentation without disrupting the flow, and a release date would be even easier to include. Same goes for Fire Emblem Switch, although I understand they didn’t have any footage or even graphics to show. Frankly, though, Nintendo needs to take a page from Sony’s book– even when their games aren’t close to completion, they manage to create hype and excitement for their brand by having slickly produced CGI trailers and well-paced, hype-generating events.
As for Fire Emblem Heroes? Well, guns, Yusuke Kozaki character designs, clothing damage fanservice, and mobile games generally aren’t my thing, but at least they’re opening up representation to include the rich legacy of the entire series.

First of all, I wasn’t going into this with big expectations: I only expected information regarding the mobile game and the recently announced Fire Emblem Warriors collaboration title. First of all, I don’t care about mobile gaming at all, so I wasn’t interested in Fire Emblem Heroes, which was the final game shown, but made up the lengthiest part of this presentation. Honestly, it just seems to be a watered down version of Fire Emblem. It has plenty of characters from the entire series and, being a mobile game, I suppose it adheres to the whole shtick of being a simple game for people to pick up and play for a few minutes. Nothing really special.

As for Fire Emblem Warriors, I expected more than a small extension of the trailer previously shown in the Nintendo Switch presentation held last week. Knowing that it will be developed by the same team as Hyrule Warriors is enough for me to be at ease that the game will be in good hands. There’s also a New 3DS version of the game coming out, but the Switch version is clearly the better version of the two.

Unexpectedly, two new games were announced. The Nintendo Switch will be getting a brand new Fire Emblem title, of which nothing is known outside of a 2018 release date. It is good to know it’s coming out and that Fire Emblem adds to the plethora of franchises that will be present on Nintendo’s newest console. I expect we may see more of this game at E3 of this year or on a later Nintendo Direct presentation. It is a title worth looking forward to for now.

Finally, I would like to talk about the first part of this presentation, which showcased a new Fire Emblem title for Nintendo 3DS, titled Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia, a reimagining of the Japan-only title Fire Emblem Gaiden’s story, but in a brand new game that brings back some of the NES classic’s unique gameplay elements. In addition to character designs in line with those of older Fire Emblem titles, this game feels like a return to form in many ways but at the same time, it takes the franchise a step further in presentation, with fully animated cutscenes by Studio Khara and fully voice acted dialogue. Bringing back the feel of classic Fire Emblem titles, this certainly was the highlight of this presentation for me, who disagreed with some of the new features and direction found both Awakening and Fates, namely dating sim elements and poorer writing and characterization. Taking some good assets from both old and new games, this particular title shows promise and I am very much looking forward to it.

The Warriors trailer was entirely pointless, though I’m cautiously optimistic for the Switch version. More importantly, the mobile title looks fine, and in some ways that platform might be more fitting for the series than the graphically sumptuous home console games. The realistic lack of a grandiose presentation – excellent Kozaki designs aside – makes the focus on fights more important; the series has always felt more comfortable with its tables of stats than with its elaborate cutscenes. But I also think it’s fitting that it’s Fire Emblem that’s getting the chance to be on mobile devices and potentially played by more players than any of the other games in the series. This wasn’t supposed to happen, right? This was the super-niche, hardcore tactical strategy JRPG, so specialized it only got localized on essentially a fluke. And now, it’s just booming, to the point where it’s this integral part of Nintendo that can have four fairly important games announced, three of which are coming out in 2017. I’m not sure I’ll play any of the games discussed here aside from Warriors, but it’s really cool to me that something so niche can appeal to such a wider array of people than its own creators ever assumed.

 

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19 comments

  1. I listed my own thoughts on my blog over here, a bit lengthy to post here!

    https://kantopia.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/fire-emblem-direct-thoughtsimpressions-jan-18-2017/

    In summary though, I didn’t expect much so was more pleased than not. I was happy to see Kozaki was not involved in FE Echoes, and just hope they don’t force in any mechanics they don’t have to (children, marriage, etc).

    FE Heroes, Kozaki did design the few new characters but all the others seem to be drawn by guest artists, so we get a nice variety of artwork there. But I’m not expecting much from its story…

    FE Warriors, as some of you said, was rather pointless… xD

    As was FE Switch, considering nothing was shown. I am not sure if that builds “hype” in people, but it seems generally it had little effect beyond “why?” and confusion. Though, I suppose it is nice to have an official confirmation one is in the works rather than leaving it to the ever growing rumor-mill…

  2. As one of those who also didn’t like the direction Awaken took the series, I was excited to see Echoes.
    So I am certainly going to keep an eye on that.

    As for Heroes, I will certainly try it out.
    I like the idea of being able to make a team of characters from across all the games,
    though I do wonder what the game play will feel like.

  3. First, Fire Emblem Heroes is still a better game than Pokemon Go (Niantic deserves all the criticism it gets). Anyone who defends them is a blind Pokemon fanboy.

    Second, poor Advance Wars fans are already giving up already. Not like I’ve expected IS to return to that series after the travesty called Days of Ruin.

    Third, enough of the “Alm/Celica for Smash” bandwagoning. We already have enough FE in Smash.

      1. My problem with the game is just cutting down most of the features that were established in previous titles like the CO Powers and Super CO abilities. They were a nice addition and I don’t see how were they broken in anyway (that added more to the challenges themselves). You kind of don’t get that same feeling playing a newer AW title without these features.

        The story and characters, I’ll admit that I actually find them good. I didn’t mind the darker, grittier tone of the game, but felt there were other ways to really make the game more marketable than removing half of the charm it had.

        1. I agree with you completely. I actually liked the characterization and story approach, especially because we usually don’t expect much from an AW title in terms of story.

          But yes, they tried to change that formula up a bit and it didn’t really go so well. I kind of wish they did one final attempt like they did with FE. It could either go really well or really bad, but I feel it could easily have broader appeal too…

          1. Funny, I found the story and characters to be unbearable in Days of Ruin, but appreciated most of the new mechanic changes. As a casual player, I missed the more unique and interesting CO Powers, and they were no doubt really fun to find different combinations to make use of in Dual Strike, but some combinations were way too powerful as a result. I don’t think Days of Ruin got balance right either. For example, Catleia’s CO Power is a straight up improvement over some of the other ones, and then COs like Zadia have absolutely no use on maps without airports, whereas COs like Sensei or Eagle could still be used without their main strength. And don’t get me started on Caulder. My ideal AW game would be in the style of Dual Strike, but with most of the mechanics from Days of Ruin.

            1. Of course! I understand the unbearable story thought xD I think I was going by Advance Wars standards, so had little expectation and so was quite surprised in a good way by it. The initial expectations often go a long way in these things…

              Yes, let’s not talk about Caulder at all. xD I agree! A Dual Strike with some Days of Ruin mechanics would be pretty awesome. : )

  4. Let’s be honest: this Direct was more of a blatant advertisement for Heroes, which seems more like a fan service than an actual game; honestly I’d have preferred a flat price like SMR instead of optional purchases.

    Echoes was certainly a surprise, I’m glad to see the 3DS will continue to get support, at least for the time being. I haven’t played a Warriors game since the PS2, so Echoes seems like a viable option until the next main series title hits the Switch next year.

    1. Honestly though, what were you expecting? I’m glad that it does feature actual combat as opposed to the card game I was expecting.

      1. It looks better than most mobage, but whether or not it holds my interest depends on the final product. The character ballot is also fairly interesting… I wonder if they’ll use the same data when deciding characters for Warriors.

        1. I doubt it will affect the main release, but maybe DLC. As for the mobile, no, I probably will get tired of it eventually, but that is true of most games. At least it has critical/skill quotes which are something that I liked from Awakening. Now if only they had GBA style critical animations to go with it.

    2. “I’d have preferred a flat price like SMR instead of optional purchases.”

      Well, we’ve seen how that worked out for SMR… Unfortunately, people don’t seem open to business models straying from the norm.

  5. “dating sim elements”

    Ugh, so tired of this characterization. That’s not how dating sims work (aside from that one mode in Fates). It’s not even mechanically a stretch from supports in older games. Fans have flanderized this aspect of the 3DS games to within an inch of their life. It’s more a commentary on the fanbase than the games themselves.

    As for not the “direction” of those games, do you mean the direction where Fire Emblem survives as an series? Would you rather have seen it retired in the name of purity? Judging by sales, critical reception, and the outpouring of fan enthusiasm, something must have gone right, even if that something feels less targeted specifically at your slice of the gaming community. By all means, criticize the relative weaknesses of each game (hell, Fates disappointed me with its lack of lore), but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Anyway, I look forward to all 4(!) of these games. I find Gaiden underappreciated, while Warriors+Fire Emblem is still the good idea it’s always been. Tossing out a Switch announcement this early was just hilarious, but I won’t complain about a free sample. I don’t know how Heroes will turn out–particularly the gatchapon aspect–but remember that spreading awareness of Nintendo IP is a core reason why these mobile games exist.

    1. “Ugh, so tired of this characterization. That’s not how dating sims work (aside from that one mode in Fates). It’s not even mechanically a stretch from supports in older games. Fans have flanderized this aspect of the 3DS games to within an inch of their life. It’s more a commentary on the fanbase than the games themselves.”

      Agreed… Although I could say it’s less on the fanbase and more on those who are unfamiliar with the gameplay and more familiar with the talk of shipping (and the annoyance of said talk)

  6. Aw, missed adding my thoughts to this one!

    I thought it was awesome. Warriors looks cool, and Heroes is alright, but I’m really excited for the remake of “Fire Emblem Gaiden”. The art looks fantastic, and the “Echoes” subtitle may lead to other games (GBA Series?!) getting remakes. Overall, I’m incredibly happy that Nintendo wants to continue to create more and more Fire Emblem.

    Oh, and the Switch FE? Icing on the Cake. (Or the cake itself…)

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