The Intelligent Systems has created a cast of memorable heroes throughout the decades while working on the Fire Emblem franchise. Has Nintendo been able to capitalize on that for Fire Emblem Heroes?
Insert Sad Trombone Noise Here
With a cast of memorable characters and a brand like Fire Emblem it should be safe to assume that making a Fire Emblem game for a mobile device would be a slam dunk. The immense popularity of Fire Emblem recently stems from Fire Emblem Awakening, and Fire Emblem Fate both of which have their origins on the Nintendo DS family of systems. Going from one type of mobile to another should be a piece of cake, right?
“None of that matters much because the story is just terrible.”
Wrong. Unfortunately in situations like this the business of a mobile game gets in the way of actually making a good game. That’s where we come in. The player. Or in this case the summoner. We have somehow been summoned to this land that is being invaded by Fire Emblem heroes from across the franchise’s history. We need to put a stop to this by defeating these heroes thus breaking their contract with an evil queen that has essential enslaved them. In some instances, the more devious heroes, (anti-heroes?) will decide to stay on her side. None of that matters much because the story is just terrible.
The “story” is a loosely connected way to tie battle maps together. These maps are only 8 squares tall by 7 wide. These small battlefields don’t allow for much variety. In the end what matters is the gameplay. Matching up the correct colors, blue, red, and green, and attacking the color it is strong against. This does carry over from the traditional Fire Emblem franchise and works like rock, paper, scissors. You can see ahead of time what enemy units will be on the battlefield so you can plan your team accordingly going into the map.
Moving around on the map is a distraction but not very tactical. There isn’t a lot of choice. You are essentially funneled where you need to go. Any real sense of choice is an illusion. The game sets itself up to get you to expand your cast of heroes through purchasing them in the store. You’ll need to obtain 4 of each color to be effective at the highest levels to attack whatever your opposition’s loadout might be.
A really glaring omission is the tutorial. The game does a terrible job of teaching you how to upgrade your characters or even how to purchase new characters with orbs. Which is funny because buying orbs is one of the major ways the game funds itself. I can only imagine Nintendo is losing out on 100s of thousands if not millions of dollars, but probably more like 100s of thousands. This is Fire Emblem not Star Wars.
“This is essentially the same game as Boss Monster, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle whatever its generic name extension is…”
It’s a shame that they couldn’t find a better way to make a good mobile Fire Emblem. Fire Emblem Heroes is essentially the same game as Boss Monster, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle whatever its generic name extension is, with just with a new veneer. Every time I played it though it did make me want to jump back into Fates. Which could be part of the allure for Nintendo. Not to make a lot of money off the app but to drive sales on the franchise’s other entries.