“TIME TO TIP THE SCALES!”
Game: ‘Fire Emblem If’
Developer/Publisher: Intelligent Systems/Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: June 25 (Japan) / 2016 (North America)
One-sentence pitch: Turn the tide in a decades-long war between two empires, as you choose your alliance and command your forces to victory in the latest chapter of the iconic tactical RPG series.
At long last, the next Fire Emblem after the 3DS sleeper hit Fire Emblem: Awakening is on its way! I was a huge fan of the previous game, which blended action and strategy gameplay and a memorable storyline, making it my favorite RPG in years. For those unfamiliar with the series (or just know Marth from Super Smash Bros.), Fire Emblem involves leading an army to victory by moving your units across a grid-like map and defeating enemy units. Your army is comprised of people you meet along your journey: knights, archers, even Pegasus riders (yes, PEGASUS riders). Combat occurs like normal RPGs, with you and your opponent taking turns attacking, but in Fire Emblem, the twist is that you not only need to defeat your opponent, but you move your units across the battlefield as well in order to get across mountains, sneak behind enemies and gain control of important locations. Units like Archers can even use ranged attacks that hit enemies all the way across the board.
Fire Emblem: Awakening became the series’ first hit outside of Japan, as it blended the series’ tried-and-true gameplay with a generation-spanning story and some beautiful cel-shaded cutscenes, and the ability to create your own character! Developer Intelligent Systems has promised that Fire Emblem If will continue all those improvements, with your custom character now being the center of the story—unlike a secondary character—as the player character (known officially as Robin) was in Awakening.
The story this time will focus on the player character being caught between two warring empires—the peaceful Hoshido and the battle-tested Nohr. The player character will be born as Hoshido royalty, but raised by the Nohr, and will have to choose which side they want to aid in the two empires ongoing conflict. The player will also for the first time be able to customize their own castle, complete with a town that can house shops, blacksmiths and even a tavern for meeting new characters. Oh, and you can also make a bathhouse, if you’re into that sort of thing (#NextGen!). What’s really interesting about Fire Emblem If, though, is the way it’s being released. Taking a page out of Pokemon, the game’s Japanese release will have two versions: one with the Hoshido campaign and one with the Nohr. Players will then be able to get the other campaign as DLC. The versions will also differ in that the Hoshido campaign is designed to be a classic Fire Emblem experience, while the Nohr campaign is designed to be harder, forcing the player to work harder to level up their troops and think tactically to outwit their enemy.
Which brings us to E3 2015. Nintendo of America has shown off most of the recent Fire Emblem trailers from Japan, but has yet to give any word on a Western release. With the game coming to Japan at the end of June, it’d be nice to know if North America will be getting the two versions that are coming to Japan, or if we’ll be getting a single cartridge with both campaigns as has been rumored. Let’s also hope Nintendo gives us a more firm release date than the rather non-committal “2016.” With all the new Fire Emblem fans popping up, it’d be nice to get the game earlier than the entire year it took for Awakening to cross the Pacific. Not to mention the fact that Fire Emblem If may not even be the game’s official title in the West. Nintendo has been known to tweak the names of the games outside of Japan. But with Fire Emblem now in the limelight here in the States, it’s looking like we won’t be waiting much longer.
Did you play ‘Fire Emblem Awakening’? Are you excited you’ll be able to make your own character in ‘If’? Tweet me @MaxMielecki. And be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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