Rating: 12+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence, Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
Available for: iOS, Android
As I am posting this, it will be nearly a year to the day of Fire Emblem Fates’ North American release date. More over, it comes with the knowledge that a Fire Emblem game remake is just around the corner, with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia being released this coming May. As someone who has been a fan of the series for many years, it’s incredible for me to have seen the Fire Emblem series grow to this level. I don’t think I ever considered the possibility that this series could become among of Nintendo’s top selling games, let alone encourage Intelligent Systems to remake and revitalize older series titles.
With Intelligent System’s mobile Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Heroes, I believe there was an intention to unite the Fire Emblem fanbase with a single game that everyone could enjoy. It does the enormous task of bringing together different games and all the different characters into a single game. Such a concept does not necessarily need a story, much like Super Smash Bros. does not need one to unite various Nintendo characters, but Intelligent Systems still found a clever premise and a simple story to give reason for this crossover and maybe even explain certain overlaps in the Fire Emblem series as a whole.
Fire Emblem Heroes sets up a classic plot of warring countries, with one side in the pursuit of conquest and the other seeking to stop the invading country. It’s always a little risky introducing new characters in a scenario that is meant to give the stage to series favorites, but Alfonse and Sharena come into the story seamlessly and at no point feel like they’re impeding on the focus. In fact, in the moments of dialogue, Alfonse and Sharena introduce their own story in a way that feels just as natural as any other Fire Emblem game. After all, royal siblings defending their homeland is a common feature in many of the series’ titles. Veronica and the Mysterious Man are placed as the antagonists in this tale, with Veronica’s invasion of the Askr Empire reminding us of previous plots of the series. The new characters’ direct relationship to the series comes with the assistance of Anna, who is given the role of Commander and becomes a clever acknowledgement of the many years she’s been a staple in the Fire Emblem series.
So how to explain all of the familiar characters popping into this new world, if you’re dedicating yourself to creating such a scenario…. Immediately into the game, it is explained that this current world oversees all of the different Fire Emblem worlds. Gates will open and close at the discretions of the Askr and Emblian empires, almost to suggest the opening and closing of a story when their time has come and gone. With this set-up, it would also suggest that all of the other games are occurring in parallel universes, something we’ve already seen hints about in recent games in the form of Easter Eggs.
Take Fire Emblem: Awakening, for example: an Outrealm Gate is set up for DLCs, allowing you to encounter previous heroes, travel to different worlds, and to even visit a parallel world where Grima defeated the first generation of characters. Fire Emblem: Fates has the “Before Awakening” DLC, where it is suggested that Fates’ world is fictional to those living in the Awakening universe. Amiibo characters can also make appearances in Fates. With all this being possible, you could even make the case that Anna (and her many, many family members) are truly from the Heroes universe and find their way into each of the other worlds through the portals.
I honestly loved the Heroes concept. It unites all the games in a interesting way without being too much of an imposition on the existing canon. Having completed Chapter 9, currently the last chapter available in the game, I was very, very pleasantly surprised to find that the game/story is not done. I was really worried when I only saw nine chapters and the worlds were starting to repeat. This leaves it open for far more Fire Emblem worlds to be introduced with later updates, potentially with new events to keep the interest high.
I’m trying to keep this short, so I’ll list a few other things I really liked about Fire Emblem Heroes:
1. You are not forced to purchase orbs to enjoy the game. Right now a lot of orbs are being made readily available and new characters are being introduced for recruitment every day, if you don’t want to spend orbs.
2. Maps and music are very familiar to their respective games, making it so the crossover is not limited to the characters. (The map on Chapter 8, Part 3 continues to be the bane of my existence.)
3. I’m still getting used to the new artwork for the different characters, but it is really nice to see different artists’ take on the familiar faces.
4. The special maps are a great way to allow the player to recruit characters they’re trying to summon and to encourage them to log in every day. Weekend Log-In orb bonuses are also wonderful.
Three things I, personally, would love to see in the future:
1. Tellius characters (bias and nostalgia everywhere)
2. Characters from the other games/worlds (some were just released and I suspect more are coming soon)
3. A special event for Fire Emblem Echoes characters, when the time comes to release the game.
As you can probably tell, I’ve been really enjoying playing Fire Emblem Heroes, and it definitively brought in more story than I was expecting. I was glad to see it, because it resulted in a lot more elements of the series making appearances. I am definitely looking forward to upcoming events and updates, and I know it will be an app I keep going back to.
Now I turn this to you: what have been your thoughts on the app? How does it do in bringing the Fire Emblem games together? What do you think of the story so far?