From Gaiden to Echoes – the 25 years wait!
Fire Emblem’s dwindling popularity rose again in 2013 with the title, Fire Emblem Awakening and since then the franchise has also released Fire Emblem Fates that carried three different game paths. This year, Fire Emblem returns but with a remake of the coveted Fire Emblem Gaiden which has been renamed for the remake as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.
As a new fan of Fire Emblem, I was excited that I was finally able to play a game that had originally been exclusive to Japan for so many years. With the remake, fans are given new updated art and character redesigns, a few new characters added, and brilliant voice acting.
The general gist of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is that we have two different protagonists: Alm and Celica who are trying to save the Kingdom of Zofia from invaders. The two were extremely close childhood friends that had to be separated, thus leading them to grow up with different ideals about the world they had come to face when they were older. Each comes with their own army that you can build up by recruiting various people you meet throughout the story. Alm’s route and viewpoint on the war is harsh and defiant manner that will go by any means necessary to help his kingdom. Celica on the other hand is a softer than Alm’s view in helping the kingdom. While playing, you can notice the opposite decisions and viewpoints between the two. The plot’s intricacy and depth will not disappoint fans!
Image via Kotaku
As for gameplay, we have the beautiful and updated graphics. Each character has their own portraits with different facial expressions for each. Also, most lines are voiced out and has a feature to autoplay the lines without having to press any buttons to progress in the conversations. Another neat feature is the dungeons in the game. With the dungeons, we can walk around freely to explore and find items. When encountering enemies, you can ambush or be ambushed leading to a small tactical map to fight on. Also, in each dungeon there is a state of Mila, the goddess, where you can change your army’s jobs at ease. When exploring the towns and other areas in the game, you can use the “examine” option to look around and pick up items for your army. The gameplay itself is without a doubt beautiful and seamless. A warning to fans – this game is on the more difficult side so pick “classic” mode at your own risk! I personally picked this option and I’m having a lot of trouble in some maps. The maps are large and can get difficult requiring you to put your tactical skills to the test.
Awakening and Fates
What’s different from Awakening and Fates is that your characters don’t require weapons from stores to be bought any longer. Each character holds one item that does not necessarily have to be an item. Instead, they are preloaded with abilities that will not break and they will continue to learn more abilities as they level up. Another difference is that there is no “My Unit” character as this is a remake and there isn’t an avatar in the original Gaiden. Thus, there isn’t an option to marry your character of choice or any children. Many new fans may be perturbed by this idea, but I enjoy it because I feel like the gameplay is more genuine and concrete. It makes the game feel like less of a dating sim but rather more like the tactical game it is built on. I did enjoy the options in the previous two games but I do enjoy being able to play the game and see where the real relationships lie in the game. There also isn’t a separate place for the characters to read through support conversations. Support conversations are now held at the tactile field by using a character’s movement to guide it to their support partner.
Get it or nah?
In Conclusion, the game is beautiful and will not disappoint lovers of the series new and old, as well as new fans who are willing to dive into the franchise. It is different from the previous two titles, but in a way where it can still be appreciated. I genuinely hope that this game receives good enough support that we can see more remakes of the old games in the future. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging but fun and charming game to pick up on their 3DS.