Mobile games are an interesting thing to review and now that we have given Nintendo’s newest mobile app game Fire Emblem Heroes a few weeks to establish itself we have some thoughts for those who may be wondering if Nintendo can really take on the app market.
For those who don know much about Fire Emblem, it is a strategy game developed by Nintendo that typically features units trying to eliminate all opposing units on the map or the player trying to move one of his or her units to a specific point on the map to achieve victory. This usually plays out in its latest 3ds game as a 16 bit style map that then changes into a 3D battle sequence once the chooses to have their unit engage an opposing unit. This mechanic is charming and serves to keep players entertained and relaxed while playing. Fire Emblem Heroes takes most of these aspects and does a good job of porting it over to an even more mobile format than the 3DS. In its current format the game does not have the same level of depth as its predecessors but its an app game designed to be continually updated and it costs players a grand total of $0.00 to play so it gets a pass. And the game gives you all sorts of routes to earn its various items that players can purchase with cash so players don’t even have to spend actual money to gain those advantages either.
As with many Fire Emblem games, Fire Emblem Heroes starts off as a story of two warring kingdoms. The plot does start to thicken later on as you progress through the main story quests but until the next story update, the thickened plot details remain a mystery after you finish what is currently the last available chapter. The story is fairly interesting and features both new and past characters whom you will do battle either with or against. the new characters become more interesting as the plot develops and you learn more about their various histories and experiences and the beloved characters from across the franchise maintain their charm from each of their own Fire Emblem titles. The character that the player “controls” is not quite as interesting given they simply are the tactician of the team and nothing else and aren’t actually talking in any of the conversations. What does make the player interesting however, is their ability to use a legendary bow, Breidabilk, that summons heroes from across the fire emblem timeline to join your ranks and help in your quest. This leads into one of the actual finer aspects of the game that makes it stand out from other free app games.
These various heroes are chosen at random and summoned via an in game currency called orbs. Now as you may well already know from other mobile app games, in game currency usually ends up being a deterrent to a fair play experience between free to play players (F2P) and players who spend money on the game. To an small extent this could happen in Fire Emblem Heroes but Nintendo has done a good job of providing a ton of routes and events to earn those hero unlocking orbs in game. They also periodically feature maps that allow you to earn new heroes if you can manage to complete the map without any of your heroes dying.
Some of these maps are pretty simple and allow you to pretty easily gain a variety of basic heroes but the grand challenge maps can prove to be pretty difficult if you party is not appropriately leveled up and your strategy isn’t set correctly. That being said, if you cant manage to pull a few decent heroes from your free orb pulls the game will progressively get harder, even in its basic storyline. If you don’t have some good 4 or 5 star heroes with a few good abilities, the later parts of the game will shut you down pretty fast and you may find yourself frustrated if you don’t want to spend any actual money on the game. (You could also just start your file over too and earn orbs all over again too if you want though … but that takes a while.)
The various heroes seem to have a decent amount a variation between them and the way the game requires varying levels of strategy to beat the higher level maps. Even despite the fact that what heroes you can add to your team is mostly random minus the map heroes, if you manage your resources well and and level up your characters appropriately, you can put together some pretty good strategies regardless of whatever heroes end up on your team. (But getting heroes that counterattack from any range definitely makes a huge difference.) You can also use duplicates of heroes to power up your heroes to even higher power levels. Eventually I will get my 5 star Ryoma to over 9000.
The artwork of each of the maps captures some of the charm of the previous games as well. The map movement is still classic but instead of entering into a 3D map the battle still keeps a classic look but then when combat happens you are treated to some artwork of your hero (or the opposing hero) preparing an attack. In addition to this, the maps themselves provide some interesting diversity later on into the game. (And i do mean on the harder difficulty settings, not the normal settings.) Destructible terrain and pre determined start locations prove to create some interesting conundrums regarding the various paths to victory to take and in the harder maps, 1 wrong move WILL lead you down a road to defeat, regardless of however you decide to respond. This challenge is probably what has kept me playing continually despite having finished the story over a week ago. (That and still wanting a Takumi pull!)
Overall this entry into the mobile app gaming market seems to have been a win for Nintendo in our book and shows that they do know how to at least pull some of the great elements of Fire Emblem and put it into a brand new system and format and create a win. But Nintendo is a game company that aims to innovate and for players to have fun while doing it, so this shouldn’t surprise me I guess. Now lets see if that fantastic innovative yet fun vein continues in the Switch release next week. See you next week when we cover our first reactions to the new game system.
Fire Emblem Heroes: 9/10 (as far as mobile games go anyways!)
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