The Awakening

by bhayden
22. February 2013 23:50

I didn’t own a 3DS.  I didn’t have any plans to own a 3DS.  Then Nintendo announced the release of a game that gave me pause; a new Fire Emblem.  I was reticent still, clinging to the belief that it would be ok to wait.  Then they upped the stakes again.   They released a special edition 3DS with Fire Emblem bundled.  It was like kryptonite.  A special 3DS along with the new entry in my favorite series?  Sign me up.  One credit fraud alert and a call to customer support later and my 3DS arrived on Valentine’s Day.  I told my wife thanks for that even though she had nothing to do with it .  She shook her head and smiled.  I bought her flowers.  I think I got the better end of this Valentine’s Day for once.

This game.

I don’t know how often I repeated that phrase to my former Gamer’s Logik alumni and fellow Fire Emblem enthusiast, Watts.  It has been some time since a game has reached out and grabbed me in such a manner.  I found myself consumed by the game, head buried in my DS while my wife and kids wondered what happened to Daddy.  My toddler found it especially enlightening.  I play games around him, but I never played games around him if you catch my meaning.  He loved the roads on the map, and always wondered where the cars were.

I was this obsessed before I discovered that who you married your units to really mattered this time.  I spent some amount of time debating if I should restart to scratch that power gamer itch.  I came to a compromise and made the best of my army with what I had already done.  To be clear, the damage was not crippling but it niggled at those power gamer instincts that WoW sharpened in me. 

I’ve always maintained that Fire Emblem games exist for the sole purpose to display their exquisite battle system.  While Shadow Dragon challenged this assumption; being a remake of the first Fire Emblem you could see the evolution in the series that was present in newer versions.  I almost gave up hope of ever seeing a Fire Emblem stateside again.  Awakening answered with a bang.  Like Lebron in the open court, Awakening is breath taking and beautiful sight to behold.

Back to the dating simulation.  By simulation I mean that you pick and choose who your characters love through the sheer act of killing things.  That’s romance and love.  Hi honey, I know we just killed fifty swordsmen together, I’m so hot let’s go make babies!  I’m being flippant. I made a spreadsheet of who should marry who.   That’s love.

This is the best strategy RPG since Final Fantasy Tactics.  Yes it maintains the tropes of the series.  It pays homage to its forbearers but it also cuts a new swath.  The brilliant battle system is still there, intact and refined as it has become.  It’s the new additions that raise it a level – swapping classes along with promotions and pairing up.  Those two things don’t sound like an awful lot, but they add depth and richness that I didn’t even know were missing.

The story is there, did I mention I play the game to enjoy the battle system and not the writing?  I actually found the writing to be ok.  It’s a Japanese RPG, and if you’re down with the anime, you’ll make it through this game.  The characters take a turn for the wacky, especially some of the second generation ones.  This adds to the game’s endearing charm.  It vacillates between serious and silly as anime often does.

The worst part about this game was that it ended.  Sure that’s kind of their purpose but it’s been a long time since I was disappointed that I finished a game.  I’ve still got that glossy stare and a hole in my mind that it burned through.  The after image lingers and I whisper to myself, we will meet again and you shall be broken once more.

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