Fire Emblem: Awakening Aims to Keep the Series' Flames Burning

Despite a few new options and features, Awakening strives to remain true to the Fire Emblem formula.

125 Comments

It begins in the midst of a heated and crucial battle. Snippets of dialogue make it clear that your character and your ally Chrom have fought alongside each other for quite some time to reach this point. A maniacal laugh from the imposing Validar leaves no doubt that he is an evil figure who must be stopped.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

By letting you create your own character--a Fire Emblem first--and then immediately tossing you into this high-stakes situation, Fire Emblem: Awakening grabs you right away. Who are these people? What are they fighting for? How did they reach this point? The answers to such questions will have to wait. After a brief skirmish with Validar, a shocking turn of events occurs that you may wish to experience for yourself. At this point, the game flashes back to your character's first meeting with Chrom, the proper beginning of Awakening's tale. It's an intriguing start that makes you eager to experience the journey that brought the heroes into that fateful encounter with the villainous Validar.

Awakening aims to be a good entry point into the series for those who have found it intimidating in the past. This is evident in the casual option, which disables the series' famous system of permanent death for characters who fall in battle; with this option enabled, characters defeated in one battle return in subsequent ones. But of course, this is just an option; anyone who wishes to fight battles in which the threat of death hangs over their troops can do so. Decisions are sure to feel far more meaningful when you know that the wrong one could cost you a character whose skills you've built up and whose personality you've grown attached to.

You might worry that a game that lets you disable permadeath wouldn't be a true Fire Emblem game, but Awakening's early moments exhibit all the hallmarks of the series. The quality of the writingis immediately apparent, and characters speak with the alluring formality that is typical of noble warriors in Fire Emblem games. (They rarely use an insult any more crude than "dastard," for instance.)

Characters like Donnel can be recruited during side missions, if you can keep them alive.
Characters like Donnel can be recruited during side missions, if you can keep them alive.

But despite their highborn sense of propriety, the characters' use of language is anything but stiff or off-putting. Your created character is suffering from the all-too-common video game ailment of amnesia when he or she first meets Chrom and his companions, but refreshingly, Awakening demonstrates a sense of humor about this predicament. Frederick, Chrom's rational, skeptical right-hand man, doubts the veracity of your claims of memory loss, advising Chrom that your amnesia is "a load of pegasus dung!" In quick, sharp strokes, Awakening gives its characters distinctive personalities that immediately make you want to get to know them better, and to keep them alive throughout the battles ahead.

Those battles seem poised to maintain the delicious balance between accessibility and tactical depth that has given Fire Emblem its reputation as an excellent series of strategy games. The weapon triangle is still in effect here (swords are good against axes, axes are good against lances, and lances are good against swords), and positioning your troops in these turn-based conflicts is more important than ever. When allied characters are near each other, they can provide each other with stat bonuses, and can pair up to perform coordinated attacks on enemies. As in earlier Fire Emblem games, the relationships between characters can strengthen over time, and in Awakening, it's even possible for your created character to marry certain other characters. Of course, seeing characters level up and learn new skills is rewarding, but it may be just as interesting to learn more about them as people and see their connections with each other evolve.

In most ways, Awakening appears to stay true to the Fire Emblem legacy, but there are a few new elements here that have the potential to enhance the experience without compromising what the series has always been. Random opportunities for battle appear on Awakening's world map; these give you a chance to earn some experience, but you're always free to avoid them if you choose. At a certain point in the story, you gain access to the Outrealm Gate, from which you can access downloadable maps that offer various rewards, if you can win the challenges they face you with. The first such map will be available for free and rewards you for your victory with the hero Marth as a member of your team. Other well-known characters from the series will be available rewards from future DLC. (Those interested in Fire Emblem's fiction may be glad to know that these characters don't naturally exist in Awakening's world; the Outrealm Gate functions as a gateway of sorts to alternate universes.)

  When you approach a team that's arrived in your world via StreetPass, you're greeted by the other player's created character.
When you approach a team that's arrived in your world via StreetPass, you're greeted by the other player's created character.

For inveterate StreetPassers, the most exciting new feature Awakening brings to the series will likely be StreetPass functionality. This allows you to put together a team of 10 characters who appear in the worlds of other players you StreetPass with. Their teams also appear in your world, and if you can defeat them in battle, or afford their price in gold, you can add their members to your own forces. Provided that anyone you encounter in your travels actually plays Awakening, this could keep the game's world feeling spontaneous and alive.

Awakening's first 30 minutes exhibit a good deal of promise. The question of whether or not the game delivers on that promise will be answered soon; it's scheduled for release here in the US on February 4th. If you'd like to get a taste of Awakening yourself and do battle with some brigands and dastards, a demo will be made available on the 3DS eShop on January 17.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 125 comments about this story
125 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for TheProphecies05
TheProphecies05

!!!!!!!!!!! Super Mario RPG Seven stars remake for the 3ds Announced!!!

Avatar image for Nexozable
Nexozable

@TheProphecies05 And you learnt this from where?

Avatar image for Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Wish it was for a system I had.

Avatar image for D3dr0_0
D3dr0_0

I just started playing 2 Fire Emblem games on the GBA and they're fun to play so I'd get this as soon as I get a 3DS.

Avatar image for Big_Daddv
Big_Daddv

@D3dr0_0 While you're at it, you should check out Path of Radiance for the Gamecube.

Avatar image for rpvarela
rpvarela

This game seems like a lot of fun. Too bad I don't own a 3DS.

With that out of the way, Carolyn Petit is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers from gamespot. Her analysis is well-written and very detailed. And, unlike some other members of the website, she doesn't try to raise the common, but tiresome s*storm.


Keep up the good work!

Avatar image for ragnarockw
ragnarockw

@Prats1993 did you even play dead island? It was not that it was a bad game it was the trailer was so missleading and when people did get what they thought they would the stoped playing but those that stuck with it longer found it fun and more people came back to it.But yeh the music just didnt seem to fit this trailer i will give u that lets hope this will final be the blade runner of games.

Avatar image for RavenXavier
RavenXavier

They need to bring this over to the Wii U right away!!

Avatar image for CountZurich
CountZurich

One thing that bothered me about this article: this isn't the first time in the series with a player-created character. Fire Emblem 7 casts you as a tactician (although you could only customize your name, sex, and birth) and the most recent Fire Emblem on the DS had a customizable player character.

Avatar image for hiphops_savior
hiphops_savior

@CountZurich I think Carolyn meant a player-created character that is actually usable on the battlefield.

Avatar image for CountZurich
CountZurich

@hiphops_savior @CountZurich As I said, this is a mechanic already used in the most recent Fire Emblem.

Avatar image for tgwolf
tgwolf

I don't think that innovation and a bit of a twist would be out of line here, perhaps in battle resolution mechanics, but then leave it to me to be unsatisfied with what I view to be a Final Fantasy Tactics clone with considerably less flavor...

Avatar image for Soilworkcob
Soilworkcob

@tgwolf First of all the FE series is older than FF:T and second they play nothing alike. Not to mention FE is better in my opinion.

Avatar image for katanaguy
katanaguy

@tgwolf Whoa whoa whoa... Fire Emblem was first released on the NES, if I have my dates correct that puts it way ahead of Final Fantasy Tactics o nthe PS1. Both are great games, I personally love FFT but you can't say that Fire Emblem is a clone cause 1, that's bullshit ^ and 2, it's likely that Enix got inspiration partly from Fire Emblem. Comparing the two is like apples and oranges, now comparing Tactics Ogre to Final Fantasy Tactics, that makes sense.

Avatar image for axlroselm
axlroselm

Bought my 3ds only and only for this game. Love this franchise so much. I hope Nintendo also give us a remake of Fire Emblem 4 on SNES. Right now the new Fire emblem bundle teasing me!

Avatar image for crmorosko
crmorosko

This is really exciting! Although I would really enjoy getting a strategy game more like Ogre Battle 64. That game was so amazing I still think about it to this day.

Avatar image for axlroselm
axlroselm

@crmorosko Ogre Battle 64 was a masterpiece.

Avatar image for toshineon
toshineon

Good to know they aren't going Final Fantasy on our asses ;)

Avatar image for TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

I want another good Golden Sun and Tactics Ogre, that's all I desire.

Avatar image for senjutsu
senjutsu

Can't they make JRPGs and SJRPGs for the home consoles too from times to time? I've almost finished Tales of Graces f now (Best JRPG I've played on the PS3 with Valkyria Chronicles), but I've only had the chance to play few JRPG in the last years. I even bought an xbox 360 just for Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon (I should finished tales of vesperia too....). I could buy a wii for good JRPG (including SJRPG)! But right now there is about 2 only..

Avatar image for Dark_MetalSonic
Dark_MetalSonic

@senjutsu sony should make a sequel for Rogue Galaxy or an HD version, that was a fun game

Avatar image for Elaisse
Elaisse

@senjutsu Xenoblade and the last story are two of the best RPGs ive ever played. I skipped the wii gen and have a wii u and a ps3, got the best out of all of them in my opinion.

Avatar image for shingui5
shingui5

Why is this game taking two extra months to come out in the UK? it boggles the mind, and fills me with unbridled hate for Nintendo, for keeping me away from my favourite video game franchise >_<

Avatar image for dandare063
dandare063

i'll go ahead and assume that someone somewhere out there probably making new Front Mission for PS Vita maybe?!?!? \ fingers crossed \ all of them \ while i'm at it i'll also go ahead and will try to forget front mission devolved

Avatar image for kiramasaki
kiramasaki

Fire Emblem would do better as a PS franchise or a Xbox/PS cross platformer, especially the former as sony systems have always been jrpg havens. Alas its Nintendo owned and will always bee a second tier citizen to the Tales and Final Fantasies of the world. Although strictly speaking Suikoden needs to be rescued from Konami's clutches. The best jrpg series ever reduced to 2 mediocre handheld titles that no one played.

Avatar image for b09h
b09h

@kiramasaki u mad?

Avatar image for PS3maniac420
PS3maniac420

@kiramasaki Fire Emblem is probably older than you, respect your elders.

Avatar image for WayneL23
WayneL23

@kiramasaki /facepalm

Avatar image for toshineon
toshineon

@kiramasaki JRPG heavens? I hope you know that Final Fantasy, that you praise in your post, was born on the NES, and up to the 6th installment, were Nintendo exclusive.

Avatar image for Elaisse
Elaisse

@kiramasaki Yes you want it on two of the worst selling PS consoles.

Avatar image for bigbeebis
bigbeebis

@kiramasaki You are an idiot.

Avatar image for Selznick
Selznick

@bigbeebis @kiramasaki yep......

Avatar image for rain_ishigawa
rain_ishigawa

wow.

Avatar image for DespVand
DespVand

Can't wait!!

Avatar image for countofhell4321
countofhell4321

Advance wars is better game, no offense xD Anyway im really excited about the new FE, but WiiU need a FE too. :-)

Avatar image for Soilworkcob
Soilworkcob

@countofhell4321 I found Advance Wars boring. I much prefer Fire Emblem.

Avatar image for hiphops_savior
hiphops_savior

@countofhell4321 PS- Advance Wars and Fire Emblem are made by the same developers.

Avatar image for the9thinning
the9thinning

@countofhell4321 I agree, but FE is excellent too! :D

Avatar image for DespVand
DespVand

@countofhell4321 Advance wars is a different game but this franchise is excellent as well!!!

Avatar image for GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

My most wanted game for the 3DS!! Not even Pokemon get me this excited!

Avatar image for Soilworkcob
Soilworkcob

@GunBladeHero Agreed!

Avatar image for Falru
Falru

Seriously considering a 3DS just for this....


The worst FE by far was Radiant Dawn due to horribly botched generic support convos, I heard that this one doesn't have that crap in it so that rekindled my urge for Fire Emblem.


It really is astounding how important support convos were to the game...

Avatar image for CountZurich
CountZurich

@Falru IMO, the remake of the first game for the DS was worse

Avatar image for beardednun25
beardednun25

@CountZurich @Falru i know right. i personally loved radiant dawn, but maybe because that was my first fire emblem game.

Avatar image for CountZurich
CountZurich

@beardednun25 @CountZurich @Falru That's pretty bad. Not only because Radiant Dawn was the direct sequel to Path of Radiance and I don't think the story would make much sense if you haven't played it, but also because IMO out of the games that were localised, 7>9>8>10>11

Avatar image for DespVand
DespVand

@Falru I actually bought (second hand from a friend) a 3ds just for this... and okamiden....

Avatar image for Thunderstarter
Thunderstarter

Gah. So excited for this game!

Avatar image for paxis85
paxis85

i bought the 3ds specifically for this... pity we have to till April in the EU. seriously... we're like the third world for games lol

Avatar image for Fembot_Eulogy
Fembot_Eulogy

Played the first ones. Good stuff. Hope this is equal and/or greater than its predecessors.