A couple of months ago my husband and I started to play Fire Emblem: Awakening. And when I say that we played it, I mean that he played while I watched, because I was busy with other games. We actually just beat it, much to both my joy and my sadness. While I know that we were incredibly late to the party, we kept ourselves as spoiler-free as possible and thoroughly enjoyed our first play-through.
I started to think, however, about how Awakening compared to the other Fire Emblem games we had played before. Sure, with time and better consoles, the franchise has been able to make massive leaps in quality over the years, but some aspects of the Fire Emblem core remain the same, with the exception of Awakening.
Awakening really focused on building relationships between characters. Everyone who’s played it knows that, and I feel like it really helped boost the franchise’s popularity in North America and other non-privy countries. It was probably my favorite part of grinding levels, in fact. This mechanic of relationship building isn’t new, however. It’s simply way more justified. In Awakening, the player could pair up whomever they wished, which would essentially guarantee a support conversation at some point.
As Felix was playing Awakening, I was playing Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. This game also included support conversations, but I personally paid very little attention to them. While they helped boost stats between two characters with a high support level, they weren’t essential to completing the game. Not only that, but it was far more difficult to keep two characters side by side in Blazing Blade – at least, personally. Toward the end of the game, I had at least a few support conversations unlocked anyway by sheer length of playing, so I appreciated Awakening making it easier to build relationships.
A big complaint I had about Awakening, however, was its difficulty level, or lack thereof. Felix usually flies through new games, so he was able to beat Awakening pretty fast. I’m normally the opposite, but when I was playing Blazing Blade, I took longer than usual the beat it because of how ridiculous some battles became. I enjoy games that are actually doable in their difficulty, but the game loses some of its luster when it has no challenge. If it hadn’t been for the deep character interaction the game allowed, I probably wouldn’t have liked Awakening nearly as much.
Nowadays, Felix and I are playing two different Fire Emblem games in our attempt to call ourselves true fans. Felix is playing the remake of Shadows of Valentia- Echoes, and I’m playing his copy of Sacred Stones. We’ll eventually make it to Fates, of course; gotta save up some money, first.
I’ve heard from different reviews that Echoes is far more difficult than other recent games in the franchise, which will prove to be quite interesting, but so far it has also surprised us with some new features, like dungeon crawling and full voice acting. Maybe, if the game is difficult enough, I’ll beat Sacred Stones before Felix has a chance to beat Echoes. Wish me luck!