An ‘Awakening’ for the 3DS

Courtesy of Nintendo

Courtesy of Nintendo

“Fire Emblem Awakening” is one of the best 3DS games to date, and it should be a part of every 3DS owner’s library. Both the story and gameplay of the latest “Fire Emblem” game are incredible, and together they make the game engaging from the start.

For those unfamiliar, “Fire Emblem” is Nintendo’s long-running strategy RPG series. The “Fire Emblem” games are set in medieval fantasy worlds and have gained a reputation of being very hardcore by prominently featuring permadeath. Essentially, if a character dies in battle, he/she is not coming back when the level is over. All of your investments with that character and that character’s contributions to the story are lost forever, provided you don’t reload and try again.

Trying to keep all your characters alive in “Fire Emblem” is tough and forces you to become more creative with your strategies. If permadeath sounds too stressful though, don’t let that stop you, because “Fire Emblem Awakening” breaks tradition by introducing a new casual mode which removes permadeath. There are four difficulties in “Awakening,” and you can choose from the start if you want to play them in either casual or classic mode.

I wouldn’t consider “Awakening” as accessible as I do if it weren’t just for its flexibility in its difficulty settings. Playing Classic mode on Normal is totally feasible for series’ newcomers thanks to the really helpful and unobtrusive tutorials easing you in and also because of the information the game feeds you on both the top and bottom screens. Even better, nearly every aspect of the presentation of the game can be customized, which is awesome for everyone.

Customization doesn’t end with the presentation elements, as “Awakening” reintroduces the ability to create your own character. Your created character not only joins in the battles, but also plays a major role in the story as you become the main tactician for a group called the Shepherds, who are dedicated to protecting the peace.

The implementation of this setup is especially great because of the new focus on developing the bonds between your party members. When in battle, if two characters are standing next to one another, they may help each other out. If the same pairing of characters does this enough, you unlock support conversations that ups the level of their relationship. So not only do you get rewarded with more story featuring the huge lovable cast, those characters also get more and more bonuses when paired up in battle.

One other aspect of the team-building that is really cool is that if the relationship is between certain male and female pairings, they can eventually get married and have children that you can later recruit through side quests. Your created character also participates in the social game, which really makes you feel for the cast even more. As you can expect, given the complexity of the relationships you build with your soldiers, it makes the permadeath feature even more meaningful than ever before.

All of the exciting new features compliment the rock solid gameplay that “Fire Emblem” is known for. The maps themselves are well crafted and constantly introduce new and more complicated challenges. What’s great about “Awakening” is that you can continue to expand your game easily through DLC and Streetpass. The Streetpass in particular is impressive because it lets you fight the teams of people who pass you by and also recruit their leader.

“Fire Emblem Awakening” is an essential game for any 3DS library, as it delivers excellent gameplay strongly connected to an engaging story. Since it is more accessible than ever, both “Fire Emblem” fans and newcomers together can enjoy “Awakening” to its fullest.

Recommended: “Awakening” is a must-have game for anyone that owns a 3DS. This “Fire Emblem” is also more forgiving than previous iterations.