Fire Emblem Awakening: Handheld Amazing

“What do I even say about this game?” I knew I had words for this game just which ones did I want to use?

“It’s more like, ‘What can’t you say?’ It takes the series and flips it on his head, introduces new classes, and even has a mini-dating sim included.” My brother made valid points.

“So what you’re saying is I could say, ‘Hey this game is awesome.’ and be done?”

“Pretty much.”
I have a very love-hate relationship with the Fire Emblem series. While a fantastic turn based fantasy RPG, I can’t help but loathe it whenever my Pegasus Knight gets hit by an Archer and dies instantly, or how some how my Sword Master failed to dodge an attack with a three percent chance to be hit and instantly be in awful situation because of his position on the map. Yet time and time again, I’ll boot up the game to try again. Fire Emblem: Awakening continues this vicious cycle, and is this months handheld review of the month.

Fire Emblem: Awakening follows a very generic Fire Emblem story line. Main character is of nobility, attacked by neighboring country, darker powers are at work, use ancient relic to save the world. I won’t go into details about Chrom, the main character, or too much about the game’s story. It’s a solid story for the Fire Emblem series and probably one of the best they’ve ever had.

The thing that really caught me off guard to start, was the at the beginning of the game you get to create your own character. While initially you cannot edit their class(you can later with what’s called a Second Seal), it was a nice personal touch to start the game off. Your character starts out as a Tactician, a sword wielding magic casting character. Historically characters that do both of these things have been awkward, and in my opinion generally useless, but this character actually has great stats between strength and magic (allows them to do sufficient damage) so making them a vital part of your army from the get go.

The game keeps the general structure of Rock-Paper-Scissors combat (swords trump axes in combat, but take a hit against lances) so newcomers and veterans alike won’t have trouble jumping into the games combat. Also returning to the game is the over world map that was found in Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones for the GBA. Players will be able to go back visit older towns to buy specific weapons, and grind against random monsters. Struggling to beat a map in the campaign? We’ll go level up a bit from random encounters, or side missions and try again.

The biggest new feature however is the pairing command. Characters can team up with other characters to gain a portion of their stats. In addition as they build up support ranks (Think friendship/romance) they gain more stats as well as the chance to attack in the same round, regardless of terrain or distance. I often paired my Knight, a heavily armored character, with a mage to help make up for his lack of speed as well as resistance to magic. At any point during your turn you can switch the point character of your paired characters, deciding which character takes the lead in a fight. This is extremely important because you don’t want the wrong character be caught off guard.
Support rankings have also changed from past games and also play a more vital role thanks to the pairing system. The best part about the new support ranks is that every character can support with other characters any number of times. Before characters only had a few characters they could support with and this had an influence on their stat growths. This is no longer the case and characters can support as many times as they like with each other. The only restriction to increasing the support ranking is that characters can only have one S rank support with one other character.

The last major change they’ve added was actually DLC to the game. Now this is a first because Nintendo has a very big stance against DLC (outside of Rock Band and Guitar Hero tracks). Players can download new maps that present challenges to their armies, as well as give a nice amount of treasure and items. The best part about it is after you complete a campaign you get an iconic character from the Fire Emblem series to join your army. The first map which is free to download until early March, gives you Prince Marth. You can also repeat these maps for bonus experience and items, giving you an alternative for leveling up besides fighting random monsters on the world map.

This is generally the part of the review where I tell you what I didn’t like about the game, but I’m struggling to find anything I didn’t like about this game.  I could curse the 3DS’s low battery life and complain about how I’m constantly charging my 3DS, but that’s not really the fault of the game.

If I had to be upset with anything in the game it would have to be with the game’s characters and how they act, generally being typical Japanese anime character personalities. We have the blond clutz, the guy nobody ever cares about, the stuck up chick who needs to grow up, and other generic faces. However if that’s my only qualm about this game, I think this game is a hit, afterall in Japan alone the made 4.8 Million dollars off the DLC content alone.

Fire Emblem Awakening is a must buy if you’re a 3DS owner, or a rare turn based strategy fan.

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