Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia suffers from an identity crisis in almost everything it does. For example, one early dialogue exchange sees an enemy drop a surprisingly crude word apropos of nothing, and then the game subsequently wastes ~25 hours holding your hand through a comically absurd story driven entirely by the brain damaged stupidity of both lead characters. Fire Emblem Gaiden’s story has been fleshed out to a certain degree for this remake, but only the inconsequential bits seem to have received this treatment, leaving the lore at roughly the same level as the original. The end result is that the bare-bones prophecies and plot developments force relatively complex characters to act in incredibly simple-minded ways at times, flitting between being legitimate leading characters and idiots so infuriatingly dull and shortsighted that it’s a wonder they can remember to breathe. I desperately want to give this game a pass for all of its many flaws because of my long-running love for Fire Emblem and the amount of time I legitimately had fun with it (unlike the flaming trash heaps that are Fates and Heroes), but you don’t get extra points for being better than the absolute worst, and the sad truth is that this just isn’t a good enough end product. Read more →

Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation (DLC) Review

The header image for this review could be better; I certainly have enough quality screenshots to allow for a clearer, more suitable replacement, and yet I chose to use the one above for whatever reason. If that kind of unimaginably dumb decision bothers you, Fire Emblem Fates games probably won’t be your cup of tea, especially when it comes to the DLC-only “true path” that is Revelation. Put simply, there are a staggering number of of issues it suffers from, the kind of things so glaringly obvious that even a second-rate indie dev would know better, and this somehow manages to be true of everything from the mechanics to the story. Revelation is a train wreck so profoundly dumb and patronizing that my loyalty to the series has finally reached the breaking point, a pale shadow of Fire Emblems past coated head to toe in bad anime fan fiction where everything magically works out once the hero gives a lame speech about the power of friendship. Every facet of this game is a disaster, and while it’s hard to say whether it or Conquest is the worst game in the franchise, both are at the absolute bottom of the pile. Read more →

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Review

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest was complete and utter garbage, but I still ended up feeling like I could have looked past many of its more questionable changes if the story didn’t out it—and this whole “three paths through the same basic game” stupidity—as a giant cash grab that rendered each path an unfulfilling, incomplete fragment of a whole game. Fortunately, Birthright surprised me by having a much more coherent story, and even the gimmicky map stuff ended up being dialed back so that maps proved far more conventional and in line with previous games in the series. That’s not to say that the game is perfect, of course, because there’s still an exhausting amount of random stuff that really has no reason to exist beyond fan service/pandering, but I was nonetheless pleasantly surprised by how much better Birthright is. We’re still talking about a game that’s dangerously close to the bottom of the barrel as far as the series is concerned (it has a great deal in common with Shadow Dragon and I’d consider the two about on par with one another), but after the crushing disappointment of Conquest, even its middling, inconsistent experience proved a breath of fresh air. Read more →

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest Review

Anyone familiar with either me or this site knows that I’ve long been a huge Fire Emblem fan. I started with fan translations of Fire Emblem 4 and 5, and when the series finally started getting localized in English, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase the games. Radiant Dawn remains one of my all-time favorite games for any system. Awakening was a pleasant surprise. In my review of Shadow Dragon a long time ago, I even made a point to mention that the worst Fire Emblem game is still better than most games. Sadly, that’s no longer the case, because Conquest is most definitely worse than most games. Earlier today I saw a review on Youtube for a completely different game where the reviewer mentioned that sometimes developers seem to change things just for the sake of being different, even when it’s not actually to the game’s benefit, and that summed up my frustrations with this game surprisingly well; what we have here is a franchise that’s only ever made small alterations to the combat suddenly changing things in much bigger ways, in the process eroding the balanced strategy that was the cornerstone of the series. If this was all that was wrong with Conquest, though, I could find it in my heart to look past some of the questionable changes. Unfortunately, the changes to the mechanics are nothing compared to the butchery that’s been done to the story. Read more →

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

I haven’t exactly made it a secret that Fire Emblem is my absolute favorite game series of all time, but despite my zeal for it, I had some fairly serious issues with the last game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. That game represented a move to appeal to a wider audience by making everything pitifully easy, and I couldn’t help but feel that the gameplay suffered for it. Naturally, this made me a bit nervous going into Awakening—while I had heard that the game was challenging like older Fire Emblem entries, I wasn’t so convinced that would actually be the case. My first playthrough of Awakening was on the “hard” difficulty, which is actually Fire Emblem code for the “normal” difficulty, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t love it; the new elements add a lot to the series’ tried-and-true formula, the new characters are all surprisingly interesting, and the jump from sprites to polygons (a first for a handheld Fire Emblem) is surprisingly problem-free. Read more →

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Review

Fire Emblem is an obsession for me, reaching down to my very core and bad-touching my soul. It’s crack delivered through sight and sound, a million irresistible things coalescing into something even more amazing, and of all the English-localized games, Path of Radiance is second only to its sequel, Radiant Dawn. This is a game that’s easy to learn, difficult to master, and undeniably addictive to play. Read more →

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