Franchises either live or die by their audience – both long time followers and prospective ones alike. Whether it is a change in approach or reaffirming its appeal, the challenge for most brands is staying relevant and being where the eyes of its consumers are. Fire Emblem is certainly one of many long running titles doing just that as it passes through the years modifying its mechanics, incorporating new elements, and even changing how it markets itself. With Fire Emblem Fates being a good example of the latter, one place I never expected to see the series is on mobile as it was so beholden to Nintendo consoles, but thanks to the minds at Intelligent Systems and Nintendo, Fire Emblem Heroes bucks that trend. Being quite the paradigm shift for the series to date, it does tend to take advantage of the franchise’s pedigree and proves to offer something worth while…or at least I think so.
Title: Fire Emblem Heroes
Developer: Intelligent Systems
System: IOS, Android
Most like many mobile games littered throughout the Google Play and the IOS stores, Fire Emblem Heroes is a collectible game that brings all (well, almost all) the classic faces and names from the franchise under one setting while still keeping true to the traditional turn-based strategic gameplay. Where many improvements have been made to the series over the years, the game is a little watered down when it comes to the mechanics since there is no pairing up of units or any of the other refinements found in the present day titles. However, with smaller maps, the weapon triangle still in play, and adjustments made for a more personalized and pocket-sized experience; the battles can be just as taxing if you are not careful. Thankfully, losing a unit does not spell death for them since they return after battle, but if you are on a challenging map with little means of fending off whatever comes your way, achieving victory might be a little more tricky. Then again, since only the units that stay alive gain the experience and level ups they earned…well, you want to make sure everyone pulls through.
Since this is a game where collecting units is one of the prime reasons for playing, the gachapon system really does not differ a lot from many other titles of the same ilk, but it is far less invasive and greedy. Using a currency called “orbs” you can summon new units to join your forces. With each having different rankings and abilities, you are sure to find units of the same name and rarity with different stats, but can turn them into their ultra rare counterparts using a currency known as “feathers”. It takes a lot of feathers to get a common character to max out, but that is nice since you do not have to worry about sinking a ton of resources for a character you will astronomically never get flat-out ultra rare. With both orbs and feathers given as daily login bonuses and first time clear of stages, you probably will find yourself hurting for the former if you cleared the many difficulty levels, but can buy orbs. In my opinion…. I recommend against it, but the option exist. Besides, I’m pretty sure you can find better ways to blow your tax refund/paycheck/government stipend/child’s welfare check/whatever funds on much better pursuits.
When your done with the campaign, there are other options such as taking on the training tower to grind for levels, take on event challenges, duel other players at the arena for an extra chance at some feathers, and the paralouges will give you a chance to go up against some newly added Fire Emblem characters. With the main campaign being miserably short (for now) and newly planned events on the horizon, there is not much to do once you plod through everything (probably why the stamina system exist), but the game does have some longevity left. And with new characters surely coming along in future updates, it would be a good time to work on the dream team while you wait. Come on, Nintendo. I need my lovely Lute soon.
In conclusion, Fire Emblem Heroes is probably the best possible fanservice the series could ask for and a fine tribute to the years it has been around. The marginalized gameplay is definitely no replacement for a main line title, yet for those that have an insignificant amount of time on their hands during a commute (where you are not driver) or waiting for life to happen, it is a nice time killing savior. Joining hands with a lot of amazing talent (all the characters are voiced and also each character is done by a notable mangaka/artist) it’s a mobile game, but of far better quality than the usual suspects. My only hope is that they manage to keep it around for 3 years at least, but knowing the company, I’m pretty sure they will find a way.
Pros: Great map variety, some specials challenges/events require more strategy, nice pool of units, unique system for getting units, different art designs for the units, new content added periodically.
Cons: Daily rewards could be better.
Final Verdict: Whether it be in short burst or some slightly extended playtime, Fire Emblem Heroes is a nice celebratory cheer for the series and step into the world of mobile. It will not be a replacement for any mainline title, but at least, a nice elixir to help ease the wait for the next big thing.