And now it’s poisoned Fire Emblem as well.
- Fire Emblem Awakening was the first brand new non-remake game in the franchise to be released after Radiant Dawn five years later, and it’s also known as the game that single-handedly saved the franchise from being cancelled after the poor sales caused by the console games and Marth coming to America in something that wasn’t Smash Bros almost forced Nintendo to dismiss it as a lost cause. It’s now an extremely popular game to discuss amongst the anime video game crowd, particularly for its marriage system and hot girls in spotlessly clean outfits showing off skin whilst setting their enemy on fire.
- Because of my fondness for the Tellius saga combined with my dislike of handhelds after my limited experience with the Nintendo DS, I never played Awakening when it came out. I did know who some of the characters were thanks to the latest Smash Bros as well as their crossover with Shin Megami Tensei, but I didn’t even know Lucina was Chrom’s daughter until that mandatory marriage he goes through after the eleventh chapter or so. Plus, I wouldn’t base my knowledge of Chrom on this demonic being, especially since most Chrom haters seem to think that dude is alright.
- With Standing on My Neck being more video game focused as of late as well as Fire Emblem sort of making a big splash as of late with that mobile Heroes thing, the recent remake of its second game, and a few more upcoming releases on the horizon, it was time to dive back into this franchise and see what the big deal was. Is there more to this game than fulfilling shipping fantasies? Or are the Tharja fanboys just really rampant?
- Well it sure as hell isn’t for the writing. Everyone with a brain assured me beforehand that Awakening’s story was awful, and lo and behold, they were right. It starts off with the player avatar, who is known as Robin by default and “Bastard” when I’m in the mood to abuse the naming mechanics, discovered with amnesia by a young prince named Chrom, only to instantly get thrown into a fight against bandits before suddenly setting zombies on you. Then a mysterious masked man who is obviously female named Marth appears to fight and/or help you. Then you fight an evil king who suddenly declares war on Chrom’s sister because he’s evil. Then time skips ahead a few years before you end up in a new conflict that eventually leads to fighting an evil god.
- The usage of time travel was the sticking point for me. I mean the concept alone introduces all sorts of plotholes, but something about its addition here bugged me, probably because it’s nothing more than a convenient reason to put Lucina and her motivations in the game, as well as justify the results of marrying off your characters. Did they ever explain how that shit worked? And why the only people brought to the past are those with relations to your army?
- Most people will say that the plot is nothing more than a method to get absorbed into the characters and gameplay, but the thing is that the characters are only fleshed out through optional support conversations that almost have no bearing on what’s actually going on. Otherwise, they’re pretty much non-existent from the main plot. I didn’t hate Chrom like a lot of other people seem to, but he is pretty bland as far as hero characters are concerned. His Mirage Sessions form had way better characterization, and he had amnesia the entire time during that game.
- Gameplay is pretty much the same turn-based strategy it was in the previous Fire Emblem games, although now the fights are performed in low-res 3D cinematics that I instantly turned off because they were boring as shit to watch. There’s a new mechanic where you can pair up soldiers in order to increase a unit’s stats, but I found it to be a waste of space and just stuck to characters standing next to each other in order to perform double attacks.
- Otherwise, all the other mechanics are back and mostly refined to prevent gameplay bloat whilst making the game accessible to newcomers. Weapon triangle and overall advantages works the same as usual. You can grind limited experience points and money for your party members by fighting random zombies. Using staves gives you a lot more experience than before. Magic users can walk through desert sand whilst knights can barely move a space before gasping for air.
- I played the game on normal difficulty whilst keeping the perma-death function on, and soon realized that the game is way too easy on that setting. By the time I got to the final level, I was commanding a giant army of fully promoted units that I waited until they were Level 20 before Master Seal-ing them, and their was very little that could put a scratch on them. Except for the dancer that is. No matter how much I leveled her up, she never seemed to dodge anything, and is about as well-built as a Pringles chip.
- Also, giving Chrom a sword that never breaks and does expert damage to certain units at the very beginning of the game was a major miscalculation on the designers’ part. With very few exceptions, I never used any other weapon for him, which is probably why he leveled up so fast compared to everyone else. Well that and I tend to max out lords and healers as quickly as possible so the former can survive and the latter can fight.
- Awakening is very absorbing to play, and I put a lot of time and effort leveling up a lot of my units and marrying them in order to see what offspring they produce like most Fire Emblem fans. But after defeating the final boss, I lost all interest in playing any more of it due to the lackluster characterization and shitty storytelling becoming too hard to ignore now that the main mission was complete. What exactly am I supposed to do after beating that, Awakening? Your DLC isn’t worth it, and you don’t have any real challenges after the final boss, meaning there’s no reason to keep training my characters to max level unless you’re dying to see what kind of kid Tharja could possibly birth.
- While I can never accuse Awakening of being boring and I do respect it for bringing this franchise back to life, everything has a limit, and that limit was pushed the moment the franchise brought fucking time travel into the mix.
- Gangrel was also a lot cooler in Mirage Sessions as well. At least he seemed to be enjoying his insanity in that game.
- Apparently it’s possible to pair Chrom up with a random NPC. I honestly don’t see how that works, but there’s a plot reason for it, which I’m going to use as further proof that time travel really does hinder things more than it helps.