Opinion: Fire Emblem is Suddenly One of Nintendo's Most Prominent Franchises

Opinion: Fire Emblem is Suddenly One of Nintendo's Most Prominent Franchises

From the brink of death, Fire Emblem is now headlining a mobile game, a Switch game, and more.

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So let's talk a bit about the games that were announced during yesterday's Nintendo Direct.

I think I speak for most Fire Emblem fans when I say that I'm most interested in Fire Emblem Echoes for the Nintendo 3DS. A remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden for the NES, Fire Emblem Echoes is a bit... different... which is evident in the trailer. There are free-roaming dungeons, and many of the basic mechanics are very different, particularly the inventory management (or lack thereof).

It's not quite fair to call it a black sheep, but it did review fairly poorly in comparison to its predecessor back in the day, and many of its innovations were eventually discarded. Many fans compare it to Zelda 2, which depending on your perspective might be a good thing or a bad thing. In any case, it's pretty cool that Intelligent System is revisiting Fire Emblem Gaiden with a fresh eye. It'll satisfy the craving for more Fire Emblem while varying things up and keeping them interesting. But will it have a relationship system? Now that's the real question...

Following their reveal of Fire Emblem Echoes, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems also confirmed that they are working on a new Fire Emblem for the Switch. This should make fans of the series happy, though the fact that they showed literally nothing but the title and a vague release window (2018) should tell you that it's still relatively early in development. American fans probably shouldn't expect a localized a release until 2019 at the earliest.

The next game shown was Fire Emblem Warriors—the latest game to come from Nintendo's partnership with Koei Tecmo. It was about what you would expect, with Chrom slashing through hordes of non-descript soldiers to a butt rock version of the Fire Emblem theme. Whether or not you like Koei Tecmo's Warriors franchise is really down to taste, but Hyrule Warriors suggests that the quality bar for Fire Emblem Warriors should be relatively high. "Relatively," of course, being the operating word here. Sorry, I guess I'm a little jaded from my time with Dynasty Warriors Gundam. At least Dragon Quest Heroes was pretty good?

Finally, there's the Fire Emblem mobile game—the fourth in a line that has thus far included Miitomo, Pokemon Go, and Super Mario Run. Where Super Mario Run was an endless runner, Fire Emblem Heroes is a gacha-style RPG in which you use orbs to randomly obtain characters from throughout the history of the series. That includes familiar faces like Marth and Chrom, but also fan-favorites like Lyndis. To promote the new game, Nintendo is also holding an event in which fans can vote for characters to be included in the initial roster (Correction: The vote is to determine which characters will get alternate costumes, among other things). I voted for this guy.

What's a Fire Emblem without a Jagen, right?

People who follow me know that I tend to be deeply suspicious of mobile games in general, and heavily monetized ones in particular. I'm also not a fan of the gacha style—there's nothing worse than pumping money into a game and drawing a bunch of crappy characters I don't want. I'm still traumatized from my experience with a similar RPG from a couple years ago in which the draws were divided by rarity, with legendaries being particularly hard to get.

Such games tend to require a lot of grinding to get a decent number of orbs; and if that's the case with Fire Emblem Heroes, then you can count me out. Thankfully, there are signs that the gacha mechanic will be more forgiving than most thanks to the ability to narrow the draw a bit by picking the side of the weapons triangle that you want. The orb cost for new draws will also get cheaper the more you pick from the same pool, which is nice.

There's every possibility that Fire Emblem Heroes will be a weak spinoff with maps that are too small and monetization that is too cynical. But if they do it right, it may well be a fun and addicting little spinoff. I guess we'll know more when it drops on Android and iOS (yep, it was confirmed for simulataneous release on both platforms after all) on February 2nd.

In the meantime, I'm legitimately excited to have so much Fire Emblem in my life again. There was a period of time where it really seemed like the series would be canned, and that Marth, Ike, and the rest would be relegated to occasional guest spots in Super Smash Bros. Now it's so popular that it's getting a musou game. What a world.

I guess this is my cue to finally finish Revelation, huh?

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Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

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