Gotta be honest, I had low expectations for the Fire Emblem Direct, assuming that we wouldn’t be seeing anything unexpected since Intelligent Systems would be hard at work creating a new Fire Emblem on Switch. Fortunately, we saw reasons to be excited.
Fire Emblem currently exists in a similar place as Persona in late 2013, taking advantage of widespread popularity by announcing a handful of new titles. Where Atlus revealed Persona Q, Dancing All Night, and Arena Ultimax before topping off the night with Persona 5, the Fire Emblem Direct saw a remake of a Famicom game, teased an upcoming Fire Emblem on Switch, showed a little more FE Warriors, and detailed FE Heroes.
I get why I saw a little concern. How much Fire Emblem is too much Fire Emblem, and is Nintendo and Intelligent Systems able to recognize when we’ve reached that point and pull back? Fortunately, as with Persona, I think making the upcoming games pretty different helps stave off fatigue, at least for a time.
As expected, Intelligent Systems is developing a new Fire Emblem for Switch. The Direct contained no details, but I imagine that the game is still in early development since I imagine they’re busy wrapping up Fire Emblem Echoes (more on that game below). As told, this is the first Fire Emblem since Radiant Dawn to hit a home console, so hopefully they’ll make good advantage of the increased hardware power. Maybe include feet from the start?
Nintendo revealed a hair more footage of Fire Emblem Warriors, the FE-themed Musou game revealed during the Nintendo Switch event last week. No additional characters or details, just Chrom (from Awakening) cutting through enemies with reckless abandon. We did get a confirmation of something that everyone expected: the Hyrule Warriors team is behind Fire Emblem Warriors. Shocking.
The only new information is that Fire Emblem Warriors is also spreading the love to Nintendo 3DS, in addition to Switch. Hyrule Warriors was ported to 3DS (with “Legends” added to the name), so this probably could’ve been predicted, but I certainly didn’t. Speaking of Hyrule Warriors, why is FE Warriors releasing only on New 3DS? Take a look at how Hyrule Warriors chugs a little less on New 3DS compared to older models.
This is where I speak a little less confident. Fire Emblem Heroes is the mobile game that Nintendo revealed in 2016, which is tossing in a sizable number of new and (mostly) old characters to traverse 8×6 maps for familiar, if simplified, Fire Emblem gameplay. Characters battle to become stronger and gain additional abilities. A version of the Weapon Triangle exists, but instead of using a weapon with advantages and disadvantages to other weapons, the characters themselves are imbued with those advantages/disadvantages (called Attributes).
For those expecting certain trappings of the mobile platform, you got them. Orbs are important in that they’re used to randomly spawn Fire Emblem heroes, but while Orbs are gained by playing normally, they’re also available to purchase with real money. Yes, go shake your fists at whatever greedy executive green-lit free-to-play Fire Emblem. (Fortunately, we’re not starved for Fire Emblem, so those unhappy aren’t deprived of their strategy-RPG fix.)
What hardcore Fire Emblem fans should appreciate are the characters themselves, who’re getting new portraits and voice clips. (For many characters, this’ll be the first time that they’re voiced.) Introducing these characters to a wider audience could, perhaps, benefit our chances of seeing Japan-only games released in some form. Okay, it’s unlikely, but I want a Genealogy of the Holy War remake, dammit.
Well, this was unexpected. A remake of the oddest Fire Emblem game? Well, maybe it makes a little sense. Since Awakening and Fates shares a handful of features from Gaiden, reusing elements from those 3DS games for Shadows of Valentia is less costly and time-consuming than creating new elements. That makes sense, right? Ah, probably not.
Of course, fans are already picking apart the trailer, building into theories about additional characters and no weapon triangle. Given the closely the North American/European releases follow the Japanese release, it’s suggested that supports won’t be included. So how closely does Shadows of Valentia stick to the source material? That’s impossible to determine, but I wouldn’t mind a Fire Emblem game that broke a few traditions, and Gaiden did that more than any FE title since.
I’m quite happy with the new character designs, which thankfully shows more practical clothing than certain characters and classes had in Awakening/Fates. The Dark Mage was silly, and Camilla was straight-up pandering. In the very least, it’s a pleasure to move away from the familiar designs of Yusuke Kozaki, who’s working on Fire Emblem Heroes.
So, will Fire Emblem Echoes be reserved for future remakes? Since I don’t expect Nintendo to ever translate the older titles that never left Japan, getting these remakes is probably the only official way to experience the games that we missed. That being said, Intelligent Systems could easily fall into the trap of releasing a remake whenever there’s a lack of new Fire Emblem, and that’s dangerous. As I said above, Fire Emblem isn’t a series that requires being shoved down our throats. On the other hand, c’mon, Genealogy of the Holy War remake.