I have always loved Fire Emblem, ever since the titles started coming to Western shores. It’s a shame knowing I could have been having those experiences way back on the NES if Nintendo had more faith in Western tastes, but really I will take what I can get. But the past is the past, and since those GBA games came to us, Nintendo it seems has been pretty good with getting us more Fire Emblem. This is a good thing, as the game are typically of a uniform excellence. Does Awakening keep to this tradition of rockin games? I think so, but we should get into why. Maybe…yeah. We will get into why.
First, let’s get into the most obvious difference. While previous Fire Emblem games had serviceable, if very bare graphics, Fire Emblem Awakening (Awakening) is a very different beast altogether. Foregoing the very stiff animations, Intelligent Designs has put a beautiful graphics engine in place in which the characters have a lot more personality to them. This visual upgrade is put into each individual encounter in the large-scale Fire Emblem battles we’re used to. While it looks nice, there are only a small set of animations available for combat scenarios, and those animations get shared over a lot of units, friend and enemy alike. Luckily, you can speed up individual encounters by holding down the A button, or skip them altogether by hitting start. Also I think you can just turn them off entirely in the options. So really you have choices available to you if it gets to be too repetitive.
These pretty graphics don’t just get shown off in combat however. In a series that almost always used static backgrounds and character portraits talking back and forth as its main means of exposition; seeing a fully 3D scene play out in a Fire Emblem title is a very welcome sight, especially since it looks so damn good. The characters even have voices! Usually these voices are used in short bursts of exclamation, which I quickly turned off. However, when the voices happen in the larger, fully spoken scenes, it was plain Intelligent Designs and 8-4 Play (who localized the game excellently) put a lot of work into making sure these voices came across as fitting the characters very well. Not once did I want to turn down the speakers during a speaking part, and I often found myself playing the game with headphones on, a first for a 3DS game with me. Continue Reading