With a whole week off from the endless cycle of work that fills the weeks of the semester, maybe I should branch outside of my normal media library. I’ve got all the time in the world to finally sit down with a season of Fargo or lay back and watch Brooklyn. But I’ll be honest with myself—I’m probably not going to do either of those things. Instead, I’ll be curled up with my recently purchased Nintendo 2DS, playing Fire Emblem and The Legend of Zelda until my eyes are bloodshot and my thumbs hurt.
Now, before you start asking what a college kid is doing with a Nintendo 2DS and why he’ll be playing it incessantly over Spring Break, there are a few things you need to consider. First, I’ll at least be on the beach with my 2DS. This might not be much of a redeeming point for those that are critical of my nerdiness, but hey, we can’t all be people-pleasers. Second, it’s not like I have a choice. Fire Emblem: Birthright came out. Now, all of us longtime Fire Emblem fans are obligated to spend all of our free time running through this 30-chapter installment in the Japanese strategy series.
For those of you who aren’t in the know on what Fire Emblem is, it’s only one of the most captivating franchises in gaming history. For more casual gamers, it’s probably pretty inaccessible, what with the eclectic and vast collections of characters that each game has, but for those of us that have been with the series since its debut on the Gameboy Advanced, there’s nothing quite like Fire Emblem. Each installment has actually brought major improvements to the series, making Fire Emblem one of the more well-developed series in the history of gaming. Unlike series like Assassin’s Creed, where a new weapon is introduced every other game or a slightly varied combat system pops up here and there, Fire Emblem’s recently added buddy system (where you combine two characters on the map into one unit) has virtually revolutionized the series.
This might just sound like a huge advertisement for Fire Emblem, but I truly believe this series is the cream of the crop in the strategy genre and in gaming in general. It’s a ruthless game. Once one of the characters in your troupe dies, they are lost forever, urging many players to try to make it through the game perfectly. You’re left feeling desolate when you lose one of your brothers or sisters on the battlefield, a feeling few games are able to pull out of players.
Fire Emblem also goes through an interesting development process. Like many Nintendo games, Fire Emblem was originally developed in Japan. Installments in the series, however, are still released in Japan years before they are finally sold in America. Fire Emblem: Birthright was only released in America a week ago, whereas the Japanese have had it for over a year. According to ____, the series’ creators will edit the game in the year that they hold off from releasing it to American audiences. They’ll look at the critical reception an installment receives from critics worldwide and tweak the game’s visuals and American translations to conform to people’s critiques before they release the game in other countries.
The latest installments in the series, Fire Emblem: Birthright and Fire Emblem: Conquest, set another precedent in the series. For the first time in Fire Emblem, the two conflicting forces in one story have been given their own editions of the game. In Fire Emblem: Birthright, you play as a feudal samurai clan warding off an invading force, while in Fire Emblem: Conquest you take on the role of said invading army. This is an interesting dynamic in the series, as one of its main critiques is how stark the divide is between the protagonists and antagonists in the story. With the latest games in the series, Fire Emblem has finally gotten out of the rut that many of the game’s critics have pointed to throughout the years, showing the developers’ intent to significantly improve the franchise over time.
This whole column might have flown over a lot of people’s heads, but if you’re looking for something to do over the break and you conveniently have your 3DS (or your little brother’s) just hanging around, give Fire Emblem a try. If you really have to, bring it to the beach, just not too close to the water.
Featured Image By Nintendo