Why this turn-based RPG strategy game series is worth checking out
By Rebecca Peterson, Staff Writer
I’ll preface this by making it clear that this isn’t a review for Fire Emblem: Fates. I’m excited to play it, of course, but it’s midterm season and I’ve been dedicating most of my brainpower to ocean science and philosophy. This is, however, a great opportunity to talk about the series as a whole.
The Fire Emblem franchise has been running for 26 years now, the first game being released in Japan for the NES in April 1990. Developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo, Fire Emblem was one of the first tactical role-playing fantasy games ever made. The first six instalments were exclusive to Japan, but after some of the characters from the franchise were introduced to the Smash Bros. lineup in 2001, the North American audience voiced their interest in the game, and the seventh title went international. Since then, the franchise has grown exponentially in popularity with audiences worldwide.
Aside from being revolutionary in its initial concept and design the Fire Emblem series has a knack for blending strategy with story and style. Strategy games often don’t offer the same freedom of movement and world exploration that other RPGs can grant you. To keep players invested in the story, the story has to be done well, and the battles that you fight really need to mean something to the player beyond just being an elaborate game of 3-D chess.
Discovering each character’s specific romantic and friendship-based subplots, and choosing which characters will end up together, is one of the main draws of the story. As someone who didn’t really have video games growing up, except for the PS2 Harry Potter games, I still find that amount of character control and manipulation amazing. I’m very easy to please in this way.
What I love about Fire Emblem’s battles is that a lot of the wild unpredictability of other turn-based combat systems isn’t there. Not to say these fights aren’t challenging—they are—but you base your moves on reasonable assumptions of what the enemy will do. You’re provided with success percentages that give you an accurate guess as to how a confrontation will occur. For best results, you can match your characters up against the enemies they’ll have the best chance of defeating.
The newest instalment, Fire Emblem: Fates, came out this past week to rave reviews. Primarily, many players are excited about the advanced plot options the new game offers. Whereas personal decisions and dialogue choices in Awakening didn’t largely impact the overall outcome of the game, the new game gives far more weight to your decisions. Like many modern console games, the experience provided to each individual player is far more unique, and the plot changes based on each choice the player makes.
If you’re looking for a series of games that are big on story and design, I would absolutely recommend the Fire Emblem series. Even if you’ve never played this kind of RPG before, the system is intuitive and the series is a great introduction to the genre. Above all, it’s fantastic fun, and I’m very excited to see what Fire Emblem: Fates has in store.