|Game ROM||Fire Emblem: Awakening|
|Region||Europe, USA, Japan|
Released in 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS, Fire Emblem: Awakening quickly became a beloved classic in the strategy RPG genre. Developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo, this game revitalized the Fire Emblem series and introduced it to a whole new generation of gamers. With its engaging story, memorable characters, and deep tactical gameplay, Fire Emblem: Awakening stands as a shining example of why the franchise has garnered such a dedicated fanbase.
The Revival of a Franchise
Before Fire Emblem: Awakening, the Fire Emblem series was on the brink of extinction. It had always been a niche franchise, mostly confined to Japan. Several factors, including the high level of difficulty and the perception of a steep learning curve, kept many gamers from diving into the series. However, Awakening changed all that.
The developers made a conscious effort to make Awakening more accessible to newcomers while retaining the strategic depth that veterans cherished. This balancing act was executed brilliantly, making the game accessible to players of all skill levels without alienating the core audience.
Story and Characters
One of the standout features of Fire Emblem: Awakening is its gripping narrative and well-developed characters. The story revolves around the player-created character, referred to as the “Avatar” or “Robin,” who wakes up with amnesia and joins Prince Chrom’s Shepherds, a group of warriors who are trying to protect their kingdom from the invading forces of Plegia.
As the game progresses, you’ll encounter a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique personalities and stories. These characters aren’t just pieces on a chessboard; they have depth and complexity, and the game encourages you to build relationships between them. You can pair characters up in battle, and if their bond grows strong enough, they can get married and have children, who then join your army. This mechanic adds an emotional layer to the game, as you become invested in the relationships between these characters.
The main antagonist, Validar, and the mysterious Grima, the Fell Dragon, provide formidable challenges and keep you engaged in the overarching plot. The story is filled with unexpected twists and turns, and your choices throughout the game can lead to different outcomes, adding to its replay value.
At its core, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a turn-based strategy game. You control a group of characters on grid-based maps, moving them strategically to engage enemies and complete objectives. The game’s tactical depth shines through its rock-paper-scissors weapon triangle system, where swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. This system forces you to carefully consider your unit placement and matchups, adding an extra layer of strategy to battles.
Additionally, the game introduces the concept of “Pair Up,” where two units can join together in battle, boosting their stats and enabling support actions like dual attacks and defensive blocks. Pairing up is crucial for success in tougher battles, and it also contributes to character relationships, which, as mentioned earlier, can lead to marriages and the birth of future warriors.
The permadeath feature, a Fire Emblem hallmark, is also present in Awakening. If a character falls in battle, they’re gone for good unless you’re playing on Casual mode, which allows fallen characters to return after the battle. This feature adds an emotional weight to each decision you make in battle, as losing a character you’ve grown attached to can be devastating.
Customization and Progression
Fire Emblem: Awakening offers a wide range of customization options for your characters. You can choose their classes, which determine their abilities and weapon proficiencies. This allows for experimentation and tailoring your units to suit your preferred playstyle. The game also introduces a unique character progression system through the Second Seal, which allows you to reclass characters into different classes. This mechanic not only adds replayability but also encourages you to explore various character builds.
Outside of battles, you can interact with your units at the Barracks, where they engage in various activities like sparring, singing, and cooking. These activities provide stat boosts and contribute to character relationships, making it a fun way to enhance your army’s capabilities.
Art and Music
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a visual and auditory treat. The game’s art style is a charming blend of traditional 2D sprites and 3D models, with beautifully detailed character portraits during dialogue sequences. The battle animations are a joy to watch, and the unique designs of each character and class add to the game’s appeal.
The music, composed by Yuka Tsujiyoko and orchestrated by Hiroki Morishita, is simply exceptional. From the epic battle themes to the emotional character themes, the soundtrack elevates the game’s atmosphere. “Id (Purpose),” the game’s main theme, is particularly memorable and has become an iconic piece of video game music.
Reception and Impact
Upon its release, Fire Emblem: Awakening received critical acclaim, earning high review scores and praise from players and critics alike. It not only revived the Fire Emblem franchise but also contributed significantly to the popularity of the Nintendo 3DS console. Its success led to the development of several more Fire Emblem titles, including Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Awakening also played a crucial role in introducing the Fire Emblem series to a global audience. Its accessibility and engaging gameplay attracted a new fanbase, many of whom went on to explore other titles in the series. This revitalization cemented Fire Emblem’s position as one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises.
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a masterpiece in the world of tactical RPGs. It successfully combines accessible gameplay with deep strategy, a gripping narrative, and memorable characters. Its impact on the Fire Emblem series and the Nintendo 3DS cannot be overstated, and it continues to be cherished by fans years after its release.
If you’re a fan of strategy games or simply enjoy a well-crafted story with engaging characters, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a must-play title that will keep you hooked for hours on end.