If you can, download this game right now. You need more than just that? Well OK, then let’s get into a bit more detail. Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo’s latest venture into the smartphone gaming scene and finally it feels like a deep and interesting title. The game takes all of the strategy of the main-line Fire Emblems and streamlines it down to a quick and simple to understand title for pick-up & play. You pick a team of four characters and go against another 4 characters on a small, phone-sized, map and do battle.
The weapon triangle is in place and has been colour-coded so that it is easier to follow: red beats green, green beats blue, blues beats red. There is a magic and physical triangle that follows this scheme while grey characters are special and often support based units. This simple adaption of a Fire Emblem mechanic is the key to all of Heroes strategic planning and makes the game feel very much in-depth.
The opposite to this is the main campaign which is as shallow as it is full of fluff. You do nine chapters with five missions that all follow the exact same story-pattern. For a mobile game this was to be expected and it never focuses on the story. It all flies past and the missions help to train your units up for the arena challenges and special missions where you can show off your squad to other players and compete on the scoreboard for prizes.
While the game is clearly catered towards bringing in new players, fans of the series for a while will find the nostalgia really caters to them. While Heroes only takes from five/six games so far it really goes all out to show as much love as they can for these games. From over 100 hundred characters available to the remixed maps, the familiar music and the returning skills there is a to that tugs successfully at those nostalgia heartstrings. And it doesn’t end there as each of these characters has been given brand new artwork from guest artists and new voice clips that play in battle. All in all, they went out of their way to make this game appealing to the old fans and it makes randomly getting a character through the games gacha-style system a lot of fun. If your favourite games missed out though then fear not as Intelligent Systems has promised that new content would be added every two weeks from new story missions to new characters so they will be here in due course.
Now, this game isn’t all positives. Constantly being connected to the internet makes more sense here than it did in Super Mario Run but I still don’t like it as it kills the portable element of the game for me. At the beginning everything seems fine and the need to spend money always feels like it is your choice. There are plenty of opportunities for orbs and stamina seems to last forever. However, the deeper into the game you get the more stamina is needed per-map and it drains fast, especially when one round can take about 1-2 minutes. You might think you can avoid this by just sticking to earlier maps but you’ll find that to be a waste of your time. Once your character ends up a certain level above your opponents they stop gaining exp. from battle, forcing you to go to the more difficult and more stamina consuming levels. While I understand this it did bum me out, especially when the AI might just attack my strongest character, despite having no chance of beating her, and die, wasting all of the experience for my weaker units.
One final nitpick is that I find swapping out characters to be a pain. You can make up to five pre-set teams but if you want to make any team combinations you have to jump back through menus and it becomes cumbersome. This especially becomes a pain as outside of the story missions have random enemy types so you have no chance until you reach that screen to know who you are up against and then you have to work back from there. You can’t prepare any tactical advantage.
Overall I am really enjoying Fire Emblem Heroes. I was playing Fire Emblem Fates before this dropped and suddenly I have now found myself dropping Fates for this title. Despite what you think of Fates, the fact I am more enthralled by a smaller mobile title than a big, main-line, Fire Emblem game speaks volumes about how much fun I am having and I implore you all to pick up the title if you can. It is free, so what other excuse do you have?
I don’t really care for Fire Emblem. I’ve tried playing Awakening, and I just couldn’t get into it. However, Heroes has really catered to me, and I’m enjoying it. At NantenJex has stated the story is extremely shallow, and feels very generic. Despite this, the simple, quick almost arcadey like gameplay Heroes offers is extremely fun, and has renewed my faith in Nintendo’s mobile strategy (Note: Super Mario Run isn’t out on Androids yet, so I haven’t fully sunk my teeth in it). Like NantenJex, I think the stamina system can be readjusted to fit better play. Currently, Nintendo is offering a lot of bonus potions, and has stamina requirements in half or outright removed for certain parts of the game, but once those back to normal levels, players will quickly find themselves out of stamina in later, higher levels. Speaking of stamina there’s a lot of different types of currencies to keep track of and farm. There are orbs, which are required to upgrade the player’s’ castle (so units gain more XP), and to summon heroes. Then there are Hero Feathers which can be gained by greeting friends, and completing a score in the Arena. Dueling Crests to actually fight in the Arena, Light’s Blessings which act as Continue. Then Badges and Great Scarlet Badges for each color + colorless, and finally Shards and Crystals for each level + colorless, and all colors. Whew! Completing training missions and quests will grant some rewards, but I fear with later levels it will be much further apart.
When summoning heroes, players currently a 3% chance of summoning a 5, or a 5+ character. I got lucky with my first summon, and got Ryoma. He’s been essentially carrying my team, especially with a special skill that damages enemies whenever he is attacked regardless. However, after 13 summons, I’ve only gotten two 4 star characters, six 3 star characters, and seven 2 star characters. I just wish there was a better chance of getting characters. Overall, I’m enjoying the game for what it is. I’m not sure if it will suddenly sell me on Fire Emblem, but it’s a good effort by Nintendo. I’d highly recommend it for fans and non-fans alike. Worth noting is the My Nintendo integration, which means players can use 100 coins to buy more potions and some other goods. Not the best, but it’s helping it keeping FE Heroes free for those who don’t want to pay to win. I’ve completed up to 9-2 before writing this review.
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