I love Fire Emblem, and when I heard of its release on the 3DS I was pleased as pudding, and after some annoying mishaps in finding out if it gets localized, the shipping errors, and the lack of a retail copy I was finally able to get it. And boy oh boy was I not bees to honey with this game. I spent well over 3 hours each day with the game since, and this time period went on for a month or so, so really its no surprise that I accumulated some odd 170 hrs. on this game alone. And after all the DLC misadventures, the constant grinding on end for levels and skills, I finally beat the game. And I just got to say I love this game.
I mean think of everything good in the Fire Emblem series, the skills, supports, the roaming free map, The my unit character, the ability to grind, etc. Awakening has all that and adds even more to satisfy any Fire Emblem fans out there. It doesn’t ruin anything about its old formula either. The game still very much acts like a battle chess game, with your units acting as the pieces to the set. It even adds a casual mode for new beginners that don’t feel they can handle the perma death classic mode has to offer. As well , there is also the new option to pair up which replaces the old rescue option with a far better twist to it. Instead of units being pure dead weight they add stats to the character who they paired up with. As well the paired units can also be guarded by their paired unit or have their paired unit use an additional attack of their own on the enemy. The pairing up system works so well with the fire emblem system that I’m surprised it hasn’t been introduced sooner. What makes things even more interesting however is the usage of supports. Supports used to be little hide away bonuses for certain characters throughout the Fire Emblem series; often powering up the units that supported each other during battle. As well, these support bonuses were only with certain characters and limited per character, but you generally were able to support a character from around 2 tiles away. With Awakening however the tradition of it being hidden is no more, as it is one of the things you see when you pair up with another character or stand right next to them. On top of that, the support system got rid of the limit of supports for any given character can have, unless its an S support. These S supports can often become a main stay in any given Awakening run because of there newish feature, marriage, brings to the battlefield. Given that S supports are only given to one character throughout any given playthrough, these supports are the strongest of them all and boost the stats of the character battling way up compared to A or B supports normally would. Not to mention that the S support usually carries a special event pending on the two characters being married. These events are, for the most part, in no way needed to beat the game, but offer for a very interesting, bit time consuming, but wonderful pay off of a side quest. Marrying the correct people together will often spring up characters that will usually end up being the strongest members of your party, aside from your My Unit character.
Speaking of, the My Unit character, the MU is done to a far better degree. Making the My Unit one of the most powerful characters in the game, on top of being fairly customizable really made this game a lot more user friendly. Not only do you have someone who is often a constant in your team, but you get to take part in the action as well. Some Veterans in the series may not like how overly powered the My Unit character is, but overall its a great addition, and improvement over the My Unit character introduced in FE12. Not to mention that the MU is also used for Awakening’s streetpass feature. The really neat thing about Awakening’s streetpass is the ability to beat other passer by’s team of units and their own MUs, only to add them to your team after you defeat them. Unfortunately for folks playing on classic mode, people that die in these streetpass battles, die for the rest of the game, which is rather unfortunate considering its supposed to be more of a fun feature rather than stressing over having your units die. Course its always possible to just use these streetpassing teams as shops or even paying to get their MU character avoiding the hassle altogether.
On top of all this content though, Awakening is one of the first Nintendo games to actually use Download Content and quite well. While it may take a while to unlock, Awakening allows you to engage with a few side chapters either via spotpass or by buying the Awakening DLC. While the spotpass sidequests are completely free and give you a free character to recruit, they can only be played once per file. The DLC side quests however can continually be cleared over and over again. This really helps with grinding for skills and characters; given just the right DLC may be totally worth just a few hours of grinding. Pending on the DLC that was bought, these extra chapters can also give you characters from past Fire Emblem games to use along your Awakening campaign or in your streetpass team. While it is possible to get these characters for free by summoning them on the battlefield and beat them for use, they tend to be mediocre compared to their DLC counterparts. This is mainly due to the DLC giving these counterparts different skills that can not normally be obtain by any other means. The same would go with spotpasses feature with weapons, which are given for free, but only once per file compared to DLC’s grinding ventures. Overall, the DLC really isn’t needed, but it really does help in building a near perfect streetpass team or going through some of the Awakening’s harder campaign difficulties.
The story of Awakening is not one to take lightly either as it involves various parallel universes, time travel, chaos and war, etc. Certainly out of all the Fire Emblems, Awakening has by far the most outright craziest plot lines to it, and in a way makes it fairy charming to play. Not to mention the actual usage of the My Unit character, and a few others are used quite effectively throughout the game. As well, a lot of the supports this time around are given a much bigger thought compared to Radiant Dawn’s generic dialogue tree. While it may not be as in depth as some of the other Fire Emblem games as I recall, the sheer amount of supports more than makes up for the quality. Which brings me to my next point, the translation of this game is pretty much the bees knees. While there is still some error and censorship involved, for the larger part, Awakening has effectively the same type of dialogue as the Japanese version, or at the very least not nearly enough to cause a uproar about it.
The graphics are also far different from the usual Fire Emblem affair, with 3 different sets being shown constantly to please the players eyes. The first of which I find the best is the overworld sprites shown when choosing which units battle each other. The way they just look like NES sprites makes my nostalgia tingle inside. The other set is the one that is used the most, which are the 3D models for the characters. Unlike Radiant Dawn or Shadow Dragon, much of these units have a lot of life to them and don’t feel flat or dead. They move with a lot more motion and action than any 3D model in a fire emblem game has yet, which makes combat far more fast pace compared to the usual 3D fighting in fire emblem games. The last set of course is the official artwork for your units that you will see during supports, or just generally when they are talking. This constant mix of different styles, which may seem jarring at first, actually blends within the game quite nicely and makes for a far more thrilling experience.
The music this time also brings its own mix on the fire emblem spin this time around. With a lot of it being twisted versions of older melodies of the series or orchestrated.A lot of the sounds in this game are really just satisfying to hear overall. The majority of critical hit lines are just some of the best things to hear after having to deal with annoying enemies. In all honesty a lot of the voice acting work is some of the best Nintendo has ever done, and really brings some hope to Nintendo giving more voices to some of their proper characters. At the very least none of the lines are as bad or “good” as Star Fox 64.
Overall this game is just the tops and its honestly my favorite game of 2013. It literally brings everything to the fire emblem table, and just makes them better in some shape or form. The fact that the DLC in this game just adds so much more to it, and streetpass can even extend your playtime even more means that this game is just going to provide you with nearly hundreds of hours of entertainment. If you don’t have this game for your 3DS reconsider everything you’ve been doing, because its one of the best games on there.