Fire Emblem has exploded in popularity in the U.S. over the past decade and remains a best-seller in Japan, and for good reason. It's a great strategy RPG franchise.
Fire Emblem does have its down side, though: The property belongs to Intelligent Systems, meaning it belongs to Nintendo. So if you're one of those people who doesn't buy Nintendo systems, that means you'll never be able to experience the pincer-attacking, waifu-courting, strategic combat of the Fire Emblem games.
Lucky for poor you, Gaijinworks has you back. The company announced its intentions to localize Summon Night 6 for PlayStation 4 and Vita a while back, and in a post on the U.S. PlayStation blog today, Gaijinworks boss Victor Ireland confirmed the game will have a ship date of Feb. 2017... and that it will also come in a terribly elaborate limited-edition box set, which will be available only through the company's website.
The PlayStation family admittedly isn't short on anime-styled RPGs and strategy games shipped in an overload of packaging, but Summon Night 6 genuinely stands a rung or three above your standard Idea Factory and Compile Heart fare. I met with Ireland for a hands-on demo of the game during E3, and I came away impressed with the game's quality. Fire Emblem-starved PlayStation fans (or Fire Emblem fans who don't limit their gaming love to a single faction of the console wars) will definitely want to give the game a look when it arrives in February, because it stands an excellent chance of filling that Marth-shaped hole in their hearts.
It's not unreasonable to assume you probably haven't played a Summon Night game, given that the only proper entry in the franchise to make its way to English was Gaijinworks' conversion of Summon Night 5, which arrived late last year for the original PSP. But imagine a slightly different spin on Fire Emblem and you're on the right track; I'm not making these comparisons frivolously. While it drops strict grid-based movement in favor of more free-roaming control of the battlefield, Summon Night 6 picks up on many of Intelligent Systems' design conventions.
The single battle I played through in my E3 demo felt quite familiar. I controlled a party of heroes possessing a variety of skills as they battled a pair of powerful enemies and their own ragtag troupe of underlings. Midway through the fight, the battlefield conditions changed, forcing me into something of an escort role while still trying to overcome the primary enemy leader. And, as in Fire Emblem, relationships play a role both on and off the battlefield — when an attacking hero flanks a foe that stands adjacent to other party members, the inactive allies are allowed to chain bonus attacks against that enemy.
But really, the most encouraging thing I observed during my demo was that the battle I played didn't have a single prescribed paths to victory. Ireland walked me through the battle by giving advice on how to approach the fight and warning me of the escort ally who would appear after a few turns, and I followed his recommendations generally but not precisely to the letter. This resulted in the mid-battle ally using the shortcut I had created (courtesy of one of my mages, who built a temporary platform to the isolated ridge where the ally appeared) and luring the powerful enemy leader away from his usual path through the battlefield. By cutting off the foe from his support, I was able to make short work of him... well, almost. I was moving in for the killing blow when the demo timer ended and returned the game to the title screen, but victory was a sure thing — and one that surprised Ireland, who hadn't seen that particular outcome in two days of hosting media appointments with the same demo setup.
I haven't been completely enamored with all of Gaijinworks' releases over the past few years, but this time they've picked a winner. Summon Night 6 arrives early next year for both PlayStation 4 and Vita.