Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia launched today to fairly solid reviews, closing out a strong run for the series Nintendo 3DS. But Intelligent Systems is already thinking about the lessons they learned from the remake and how they would apply them to the next game in the suddenly popular franchise.
Asked what feedback the team wants to address in future Fire Emblem games, Nintendo's Kenta Nakanishi told USgamer, "One of the things we want to improve on in the future is the growth rate of the characters. We changed the growth rate by two times or three times from the original; but we've heard feedback that it wasn't enough, so that's something we will keep in mind for the future."
In this instance, growth rate refers to the number of points characters earn each time they level up. Points are randomly applied to a handful of stats.
Fire Emblem Gaiden was notoriously stingy with these points, making it tough to appreciably improve a character even with grinding. Shadows of Valentia is a bit better, but it's still less generous than Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem Awakening—the most recent games in the series.
Nakanishi also hopes to see the number of class promotions expanded in the future. "In Fire Emblem Echoes the characters can become many different characters from villager to mercenary to archer, and we thought this was what we could do at the most. But perhaps there's more room to consider more options in the future."
A refreshingly inventive take on Fire Emblem is partly undone by poorly-balanced difficulty.
One aspect of Shadows of Valentia that's a bit more up in the air is Mila's Turnwheel—the mechanic that allows you to rewind back to a previous turn. While director Toshiyuki Kusakihara feels the device worked well, he's not ready to commit to it appearing in another game. "We introduced Mila's Turnwheel because we wanted to make the simulation part interesting. In a lot of the past titles there have been moments where you would get stuck or make mistakes and have to reset, but Mila's Turnwheel definitely alleviates that frustration, and I think it works well. But as for Mila's Turnwheel specifically, I think it would determine the theme of the game we would work on."
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of a Valentia is a remake of the Famicom era game Fire Emblem Gaiden. It's faithful to that game's various quirks, but it also features an expanded story, as well as a number of mechanics that were not in the original, such as the Support system.
On the whole, I was impressed by the quality of Shadows of Valentia's presentation, as well as by how fresh its new mechanics felt, but I was frustrated by what I felt was some very cheap map design.
I conducted an extended interview with Kusakihara and Nakanishi earlier this week about Shadows of Valentia's new characters, its updated mechanics, and its notorious difficulty. You can find the full Q&A next Tuesday.
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