When Fire Emblem Fates was announced at E3 a couple of years ago, my heart was full of excitement. I loved Fire Emblem Awakening, and this game boasted that it would improve upon the last. In Fates there would be big decisions that would alter the way events played out. You would be able to choose to fight in the traditional style of fire Emblem or choose to take a different angle. You could fight an opposing army, or try and quell the evil from within a kingdom. It sounded intriguing, challenging, and fresh. One path would play more towards beginners, and the other towards veterans of the franchise. This sounded amazing, that is until they announced that Fire Emblem Fates would NOT be a single game, but instead three separate ones. This was almost a deal breaker for me, but had faith in the positives and decided to give it a go! There will be SPOILERS!
The story of Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest follows young Prince Corrin whom has the difficult choice of deciding whether he wants to join his blood family to which he was recently reunited, or his adoptive family whom raised him. In this specific version he follows his brothers and sisters of Nohr. I chose this route myself after careful consideration. In the Hoshido path you defend your kingdom from the evil of Nohr. Pretty standard plot there. In Conquest, however you fight to change Nohr from the inside challenging the very way your kingdom is run. Sound interesting? Well it isn’t really.
This brings me around to my biggest complaint, which is Corrin, or the avatar. I thought this was the biggest flaw in Fire Emblem: Awakening as well. Corrin is referred to as an “avatar”, but I feel that this word has been bastardized over time. Characters, such as Robin, and Corrin are just that, characters. An avatar can not be a “character”, because as soon as it develops a personality and backstory it loses its connection to the player, thus ceasing to be an avatar. Fire Emblem doesn’t offer enough choices, and has far to much scripted dialogue for these characters to symbolize the players. Simply adding customization does not create an avatar…
The second problem with Corrin is that his inclusion causes the story to feel forced. If the game had focused on the two families warring over the land instead of their younger sibling the story would have been more solid. Instead both sides come off as petty, and unwilling to listen or rationalize the situation at hand. Corrin feels weak. There are several points throughout the story where Corrin’s loyalty is tested, and where he just goes with the flow. It really feels like wasting a lot of time. I was going to say that I spent the first ten or so chapters proving my loyalty to King Garon, but after looking back I realized that I spent the first twenty-five chapters doing nothing at all ,but proving my worth to a worthless king, and squabbling with my family.
Fire Emblem Conquest leaves a plethora of questions unanswered. Where is Corrin really from? He has pointy ears, unlike his “parents”. Why can Azura travel to the floating Islands? How did Gunter survive when no other human inhabited these islands? What possessed the king and why? Why was Corrin kidnapped in the first place? I am aware that many of these questions will likely be answered in Fire emblem Fates: Revelations (Pre-order Available Now For An Additional 19.99). I don’t think this would be so bothersome if I could just start my game over and play another route to gather more from the other arcs, but to fill in the gaps I must purchase two more games. This is not a stand alone game by any means. It has been said that the separation into three is because each version is a full game. When I finished Fire Emblem Awakening I had clocked 133 hours, upon finishing Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest I had clocked 51 hours. Not a bad run, but these could have easily been sold as one. I am positive that they were broken down solely for financial gain. It will cost a minimum of 80$ to play a game that has three routes.
The first six chapters are spent getting to know both sides of the cast so you can make an educated decision on which path to choose. Realistically since you can only choose the path that you bought, the choice is made when you purchase the game, not during. So even though these are three “complete games” 1/3 of each run is the exact same. I didn’t want to spoil anything for myself, so god help me, I made my decision based on play style and Xander. Pretty weak way to choose, a demo would have been nice.The big decision also feels forced. Corrin meets his “real” family in the first couple of chapters, but is then asked to return home to the family that raised him. If you side with Nohr, your family in Hoshido does not care about your happiness at all. They don’t take into account that you were raised by Nohr, and probably genuinely love them. Hoshido are virtually strangers to Corrin, in this sense they are entirely selfish and blind to Corrin’s feelings regardless of their “love” for him. As far as decisions that impact the story go, well this was the only one, and it is a decision made at Gamestop.
The game plays a lot like Fire Emblem Awakening. The fights take place on a tactical grid, and when the characters engage one another they are transferred to a battle screen. The Rock, Paper, Scissors weapon weaknesses have been tweeked just a bit to add staves, bows, and knives. If you fight beside, or paired with an allied unit you gain support. The higher your support with neighboring units is, the more likely you are to get bonuses. The best part of gaining support is the conversations shared between the characters as they come together. This is a really fun aspect that lets you get to know your army.
In the Japanese version of the game there was a mini game in which you could invite the characters to your room, and share additional dialogue. Here you could touch their face with a stylus. This was a pretty harmless, and cute addition. Here in the west though we can’t touch faces on our 3DS, well unless we are playing Tomodachi Life or Conception 2. This didn’t stop me. Since it was intended to be touched, I touch it, besides if you don’t it looks really weird. The character is blushing and saying sentimental fluff or no reason. It makes it look like the touching has gone from the face to below the belt, where it can’t be seen. Awkward for sure. Once you have married a character you can touch them with the stylus to wake them, and you can blow steam off of them after a bath. Seriously Nintendo of America was concerned about us touching the characters faces, but not blowing on them. Really!?
These conversations happen in your private quarters, in the “My Castle” section. It is here that you do your shopping, your supports, and various other activities. You build your castle as you acquire dragon points. Your buildings can be upgraded for better items, and defense. There are a couple of really fun places to visit here. Aside from the equipment shops you can visit the mess hall, the lottery, the record hall, and the hot spring. In the mess hall one of your random companions will cook the items you give them for various battle effects. The lottery can give anything from weapons to materials, whereas the hot spring gives you dialogue between your friends. If you want to view past supports, or cinemas you go to the record hall.
Other players may access your castle to receive material or in an attempt to invade. This is pretty fun too. It is interesting to see how others set up their fortress. The layout has a lot to do with the way battles play out. Street pass directly ties into this feature. If you connect with someone they will appear in your traveler’s plaza. Here you can choose to engage them in combat, recruit them, or visit their castle. I do like this aspect a lot.
The animation in the cut scenes is really pretty. It has a nice anime appearance to it. There aren’t many such scenes, but the few that are peppered through the chapters look really nice. This is a good thing. If it weren’t for gorgeous cinemas, Takumi would have nothing left.Fire Emblem Fates has a really good soundtrack. The music suits every situation. The battle music makes you want to kick something’s ass, and the emotional music tugs on the heart strings. There isn’t ever a point where the music feels out of place.
On a related, but didn’t different note the voice acting is ok. Just ok. Some of the characters have voices that fit them pretty well, but in other cases the voices are terrible. Kaden for instance is pretty awful. It just depends on the character. Azura sounds flat even when her dialogue seems emotional. Her song also has lines in it that feel off beat. There is also the fact that several characters were voiced by the same people and you can tell. Whereas I didn’t hate this dub, it isn’t very good.
Conquest is supposed to be the harder of the two games, but I really only had issues with two fights. Chapter 10 in which you must guard four select squares for eleven turns , against an onslaught of enemies proved to be extremely taxing. It took me three tries. The final battle also caused me trouble, but in truth only because you can not save or shop in between the last two chapters. With a bit of extra shopping before chapter 27 it was pretty damn easy. I played on standard/ casual mode. My next play through will be standard/ classic. Hopefully that adds a challenge. In truth I thought it was just to easy. I would like someone to explain to me why I was fighting Takumi after King Garon. He should not have been my end boss, Also two possessed characters in a row is pretty redundant.
Another thing that made it feel less challenging was the addition of Dragon Veins. There were a couple of truly unique and challenging maps that were ruined by Dragon Veins. One of which the ninja had position pots all over that were full of poison or medicine. The poison was really meant to hurt, and affected all within two squares. I was pretty excited about this map, until I found the vein that broke all the pots. The other was a huge army of faceless that you had to escape from. This would have been ok, but there were a ton of Dragon Veins that froze all enemies for one turn. It was pretty lame. If all of this didn’t make the game easy enough they also added Phoenix Mode in which all dead units return with full hit points after one turn. What!?
The characters in this game are really a mixed bag. The weakest aspect of the characters is the shoe horning of Awakening characters. I love that game a lot, but this trend of forcing characters into a situation just because they were popular in another game is ridiculous. I never wanted to see Severa again. These three roster spots would have been better suited for original characters. This is blatant use of fanservice that was entirely unnecessary. Speaking of fanservice Effie is my heavy arms tank character. She isd clad in scale mail, and everytime she wins a battle the camera pans in on her pantsless ass. I am ok with fanservice, but why did she forget her pants. This was a strange choice. Amongst other strange choices was Nyx. Her design is so cool, but she is just another woman in a child’s body so it is ok to marry her to a thirty year old man. No thanks. I love the way her character looks, but just a bit of dialogue exiled her from my party. She, Peri, Charlotte, and Severa are standing in the corners in exile. I am so glad I don’t hate anyone else, because I have run out of corners.
To easily break this down, if I were playing with permadeath on would I reset the game for a character or not?
In closing I can say that this game isn’t a total waste. The story is garbage, but the gameplay is amazing. The support links are mostly amusing, though several were cut for our release. The touching minigame is more awkward now than it was before the switch, but whatever. I still think blowing on it is stranger, but it’s fun so who really cares? The ending is stupid, but would have been fine without the fight with Takumi. King Garon should have been the final boss. I have never fought a filler boss as my final confrontation!
Overall I would rate this game at a 6.5.
Also a special shout out to Nintendo for inserting a pop-up virus into my game. Everytime the game is loaded it tells me, about the DLC I already bought, and how it is available for purchase. This message randomly pops up in My Castle as well. There is no reason I should be getting in game ads on a cartridge. It is ridiculous.