It was only recently that I became aware they were making a new Fire Emblem game – it’s definitely been a while! And I’m amazed so far. It’s coming out February 4, 2013 (SOON!!!) and I’m really excited. I’ve never-ever bought a handheld game since GameBoy Advance was the latest system. Nothing like my favorite Tactical game to take my money! Since they made me go home today for being sick, I woke from my much needed nap and downloaded the demo for AWAKENING. They only let you play the prologue and Chapter One (or some of Chapter One?), meaning just about ah….I think it was 2 or 3 battles total. Probably 2. Sorry, my brain is fuzzy with the flu. But it was enough time to introduce what I’m guessing are their core characters. I won’t rehash it all here since you could easily see all that in the trailer and the numerous youtube videos about it.
But I DO want to GUSH about how amazing the cel shaded 3d characters look!!!! They have finally perfected it, they look flawless! The last time I played Fire Emblem was with their first Fire Emblem on GameCube, with Ike as the main guy….titled PATH OF RADIANCE. It was good and I definitely put in dozens of hours in to that game. But it was also their first foray in to 3D, and one could definitely feel that many areas were lacking. The models were looking better than I expected – I think Japanese companies excel at creating 3D characters that look like 2D/anime-style…..but it was only nice when they were still. The animation was absolutely awful….it was slow, clunky, unnatural. You even had to wait like 2 or 3 seconds of watching the characters just stand there during battle, after you had issued the orders to attack, because it was….loading! They seem to have known about this issue so the game devs included the option to switch of Battle Animations, which I of course did. Each battle would take me 40-60minutes to complete, especially since I kept restarting whenever someone died. So those couple of seconds, which sound like a short amount of time in words, can actually add up a lot. It feels like eternity when you’re playing. Another thing that sucked about the older game – no controller reset button so you have to walk to the TV to restart.
But yeah, AWAKENING appears to have everything fixed. The American voice acting is decent, nothing to complain about so far but nothing incredibly stand-out either. No load times in the battle animations…you can even fast forward through them if you hold the “A” button, or you can hit START to skip it completely and go to the experience screen! You can easily skip all of the dialogue and such if you had restarted, which is extremely convenient. I made use of it when I died during the demo after a careless mistake. You can’t save so I had to do everything all over again, and it was a very painless experience. With the stereoscopic-3D turned up on the 3DS, the movie sequences look great as well. It’s a nice subtle touch to have the character dialogue windows popping out over the rest of the screen.
- Two gameplay modes now. Fire Emblem is a series I respected a lot because it was pretty hardcore – death was permanent, and losing certain characters closes off other potential allies in the field and dialogue. So I always had to restart from a save because I never wanted to “miss out”. This made every decision I made during battle even more important….virtual lives were at stake! With AWAKENING, there’s a “Casual Mode” now. It lets you save “anywhere”, which I assume means you can even save during battle. It also makes death non-permanent. Not sure how that works, I haven’t let anyone die yet except my main character…which triggers a GAME OVER, hahaha. I won’t be using Casual Mode because permanent death is one of the things I admire Fire Emblem for. But it’s cool they added that for the lazy peoples. I guess.
- Adjacent characters add bonuses. If this was something that RADIENT DAWN had, then my apologies…but I haven’t played that one. It’s pretty neat. If you position your characters in adjacent tiles on the battle grid, they will give each other stat bonuses or even attack together for a double hit :D You can also specifically team up two characters together, and they will 100% move and attack together. It looks to be a pretty powerful way to play, though it does limit your movement and quantity of characters.
Another thing I was excited to see in the demo …. the appearance of a character named MARTH!!!!
I think most Nintendo fans will know his name from the SMASH BROTHERS franchise, but Marth was the main character of the very first Fire Emblem on the NES. So he gets a special place in my heart, and probably in any F.E. fan’s heart. You can see him in the official trailer linked above, at the 1:21 mark. The character in AWAKENING certainly has a similar build and hair as the original Marth, as much as a 3D character can look like a pixel mosaic sprite of ye olden times, but the voice actor they have for “him” sounds like a female to me. Maybe this is because they loved her acting ability and just had to hire her for Marth. Or maybe it means this Marth is not really a guy, like everyone in the game was assuming? Sadly, the demo ended after “his” introduction. Smart on their part, I was left severely wanting more. I think AWAKENING occurs like hundreds of years after Marth’s story, so I’m really excited to see how this all fits together….by all accounts, despite what I said about his voice, that guy REALLY looks like the real Prince Marth.
Another sketch of Marth floating around the internet from AWAKENING:
What Marth used to look like:
Because why not, here’s also Marth from Smash Brothers:
Hope I don’t seem too fangirlish.
Marth rules. (^_^)v