If you love aGame of Thrones style story of family ties, betrayal, and actually having dragons in a video game you can play anywhere you want then look no further than Fire Emblem Fates. The wildly popular tactical RPG is back on the 3DS and I couldn’t be happier. Now you might be thinking to yourself, why would I compare a Nintendo game to one of the most gut wrenching, favorite character killing TV shows of all time? Well because in this game if your characters die on the battle field then they are ACTUALLY DEAD! That’s right, perma-death is back and every decision you make on the battle field can have HUGE repercussions and you get the feeling of sadness when a character you really liked can’t be used again for the rest of the game. However newer players, don’t freak out just yet, you can turn off perma-death when you start a new game. This new way of playing Fire Emblem was put in during the last installment, however to shake things up the developers added a new way to play this new story of choosing which family to fight for and against.
Fire Emblem Fates is actually 2 different games and both have a different story once you get past the tutorial. The main story (without giving away too many spoilers) is that you play a child of two kingdoms and have to make a choice, you either fight with the family of your birth (the brighter, Japanese style kingdom of Hoshido) or the family that adopted you and raised you since you were an infant (the darker, more European style kingdom of Nohr) and once you make this choice the game splits. You make this choice right when you decide on which version of the game you want. I bought Conquest because I know how the bonds you make with people you see as family can possibly reach deeper than from your own blood (not to knock against my own family bonds but I do have some very close friends that I see as brothers and sisters), however both games do have very different play styles that I didn’t know until I had to make “the choice.” The tutorial is the same in both games and the change comes after Chapter 6. Birthright is made for people who are new to Fire Emblem and you can go back and level grind to get certain units stronger and earn more gold to buy equipment. Conquest is the “harder” version, harder as in you won’t be able to go back to certain levels, you really can’t level grind, and (if you kept perm-death on) one wrong decision could mean the loss of a valuable unit. However veteran players may love the challenge of Conquest over Birthright, truth be told the only Fire Emblem game I have ever played is Awakening, the last installment of the franchise. I never touched the older games for the GBA or the Gamecube because I didn’t OWN a Gamecube or didn’t have the money to go out and buy the game. Now I’m searching for the older versions of the game because I LOVE fantasy tactical RPG’s. Also I loved the challenge of trying to keep certain units alive. I enjoyed trying different strategies to see which one kept all my characters alive and the thrill of success was well worth it. I did end up losing some characters and it stung but thats how the game is supposed to be played. After beating the main story of Awakening on Classic mode (the mode with perma-death) I went back and replayed it in Casual mode (the mode without perma-death) and wasn’t that thrilled by it. I still enjoyed playing the game and setting up relationships but the challenge was missing. Now with Conquest I’m thinking, “Bring it ON HOSHIDO!”
What I love about Fire Emblem is that you can expand with side stories and you can have certain characters pair up in battle and their relationship grows. They give you better stats when paired together, can block enemy attacks, and even jump into the fray. Like Awakening, you can have your units get so close they end up married and their kids can show up and fight alongside their parents. It’s a little fun to play matchmaker and the side stories and seeing these character’s grow stronger together is fun to watch. Also when some kids show up they become part of your party so you’ll have an extra unit to fight with.
My one complaint is not against the game but against myself. I didn’t do proper research before I went out and bought Conquest So if you’re reading this and haven’t bought the game yet… RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! While playing the tutorial I felt really bad for my family in Hoshido and kinda wanted to fight for them. However I made my choice and had to side with Nohr and had some guilty feeling. It wasn’t the gameplay or the harder difficulty that made want to switch, it was the story that did that. The good news is that if that has happened to you already, you can buy the other version of the game as DLC for a cheaper price than going out and buying another physical copy (according to Nintendo’s website). That way you can experience the whole story from both sides without having to do the tutorial again. With that in mind, and the fact that another DLC option for Fates is coming out in March, its easy to see as to why the Fire Emblem games have so many characters in Smash Bros. It’s a great game for those who like to be tactically challenged (like me) and the stories in both games are sure to pull at your heartstrings and wonder why there isn’t a novelization out there. If you’re still not convinced, then check out the E3 launch trailer. This game is a must have for fantasy fans.