COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Updated: 01/31/2013 2:36 PM By: Aaron Chalich

I really enjoy video games that involve a lot of strategy, because it makes me think a little bit harder. When I received a review copy of Nintendo’s “Fire Emblem: Awakening” for the Nintendo 3DS I knew I was in for a treat. 

I have played past “Fire Emblem” games on the Gameboy Advance, GameCube and also the Wii and I really enjoyed them a lot. After play “Awakening” I must say that this game is probably the best in the series in my opinion.

In “Fire Emblem: Awakening” your character (which you can name whatever you want) is found lying in a field by another character name Chrom who is the prince of a city named Yisstol. Chrom is also in charge of a group of soldiers called “The Shepherds.” 

A bunch of undead soldiers start appearing and are causing major problems. So Chrom along with you and the Shepherds go out to find out what is going on. You soon learn that there is a group of people who are trying to resurrect an evil dragon. It is now your mission to try and stop the people from awakening the evil dragon.

I really thought that the story was interesting and it made me want to keep playing the game. 

There were a lot of great surprises and I really liked that, because you never knew what was going to happen.

Once you start your mission you can see your character on an over world map. There are certain points on the map that you can travel to. You just move you character to the area you need to go and you can start your mission. As you complete missions, more areas open up on the map for you to explore. 

Sometimes when you complete a level a side quest will appear. And there are quite a few of them.  I really liked this a lot and felt it added something special to the game. Sometimes the side quests will appear as a location on the map or it could be an enemy at a specific location.

I also felt the side quests were really challenging and I think other players will feel the same way.
Strategy plays a huge role in the “Fire Emblem” games and especially in “Awakening.” You take control of multiple characters and you have to try and figure out which is the best weapon and items for them to use.

Each character has a unique style of fighting and their own strengths and weaknesses. The characters also have a their own class/job and skills. Each character can have five skills at one time and you can also change this. The characters get skills when they gain levels by getting experience in battles or by finding it in the battle field.

You can also customize each character by giving them different skills and you can change their class which makes “Awakening” unique.

When you go into a battle, the entire battle field is laid out into a grid. Your team is on one side and the enemies are spread all over. The object is to eliminate all of the enemies on the grid. Each character can only move so many spaces and when you click on the character you want to move the squares on the battlefield light up and show you where you can move. 

If you can move close to an enemy you can attack them. If you cannot move close enough to attack, you can move your character and click wait. You can also equip your characters with different weapons or use items you buy at shops. 

After you move all of your characters, it’s the enemies turn to move. It’s almost like chess in a way, but you can do more things.

When you go into battle you can see before the battle what the odds are that you will beat the enemy. You can also change your weapon and by switching weapons before the fight, you can see if the percentage increases or decreases with that weapon. Each weapon type has a strength and weakness and you learn in the first battle that there is a weapon triangle. Swords beats axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. You can see what type of weapon the enemy is using before the battle so then you can switch your weapon to one that will do more damage.

Once you engage in battle, everything is automatic and you just sit back and watch. The characters look amazing and they are 3D characters. Each character has a certain amount of hit points and your goal is to do as much damage as you can to take away their points. If you are attacking you strike first. 

The enemy may dodge or block your attack and sometimes your attacks miss. Then the enemy may also counter attack doing damage to you. Sometimes you can also do a critical attack and do a ton of damage. You know you are about to do this when a special animation sequence starts. It is pretty cool.

When you are in battle you can speed up, or pause the fight by clicking on buttons that are located on the lower screen with the stylus. I really liked this because you can make the battles go a lot faster. You can also change the view of your character. You can change it to first person, so it is like you are looking through the eyes of the character fighting. I had never seen this in a role playing game before and I really liked it.

Like I said earlier strategy plays a major role in “Fire Emblem: Awakening.” One thing that you can do to increase your odds in battle is move characters close to each other on the map when they are fighting an enemy.

They can support each other in battle. Both of the characters appear in the battle screen and they can help each other out by doing an addition attack or they may jump in front of the character just as they are about to be hit by the enemy an block it.

I thought this was great and very helpful. 

As you are playing the game, you can have all of the characters talk to one another and it increases how they support each other in battle. This really helps, because when they are supporting each other they may attack the enemy more or block more depending on the relationship. You can see the relationship if you pause the game and go into the support menu. 

Another thing that you can do when you have a bunch of relationships between the characters is that they can join each other in battle and move together. This is really helpful because instead of wondering how you are going to move two characters next to the enemy, you can move both at the same time. You can only have two characters join each other at a time. They can also separate and join another character at any time during the battle.

In between battles, you can go to different shops that are located on the map. There you can buy, sell and upgrade your weapons. You can also buy items that will restore your health. When you are in the shops, you can click on each character to see if the weapons or items available will increase their attacks. This is indicated by an arrow pointing up or down.

The graphics are amazing. I would have to say that the graphics are probably the best I have seen so far on the 3DS. The animation looks great and the 3D is fabulous. All of the characters are all very unique and also very detailed. 

The controls are very simple to learn and there is a tutorial that will appear on the bottom of the 3DS when you encounter something new. You can later pull up a menu and read the tutorials again.  I thought that was great and very helpful.

I really think Nintendo’s “Fire Emblem: Awakening” for the 3DS is a great game and probably one of the best 3DS games that I have played so far. The story is great and very interesting and the graphics are stunning. I also really like the fact that there is a lot of strategy involved and that you have to think about where and who you want to move during a battle. 

I also think that most people will be able to just pick up the game and start playing. The controls are very simple and not to complex, plus you can pull up a menu and see all of the controls for special situations. I know that people will really enjoy this game a lot, I know that I did.

Aaron Chalich is a columnist for blogging about the latest entertainment news.