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.
What did you think? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!