Tag Archives: Nintendo

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS – 2013)


After my first taste of Fire Emblem in the form of The Sacred Stones on the Gameboy Advance, I was itching for more tales of intrigue from this universe. Fire Emblem: Awakening was a thrill ride to be sure, with believable characters and nods to the legends of the entire franchise. I was in awe about how gripping this installment was. I hadn’t been as compelled by a story since Golden Sun, and we all know how much I love that franchise (minus Dark Dawn). With some enhanced features that both save time and bolster the experience, this game was a perfect addition to the growing array of 3DS games.

While being very similar in gameplay to the originals, there were some features I feel that helped the game along. Some of the battles could be long and drawn out, so with the inclusion of the Dual Strike Support system, you aren’t just getting a stat increase, but you also have a chance for your ally to join in your attack. This can increasingly affect the tide of battle in your favour, as these attacks are usually fatal for the computer’s attackers. Not only can you do this with any character for boosts to your accuracy and avoid, but characters can latch onto each other in a more permanent role in the “Pair Up” feature.

The great inclusion, which I believe brings a lot of heart to the story, is the fact that many of the characters, including your own Avatar, can marry. When you reach Support Level “S”, your characters will enter a cut scene in which one proposes to another, and most are very cute as it follows their equally enjoyable banter through the game. When they pair, they also may unlock certain Paralogue chapters in which they find their children displaced from the future and have them join the party.  For example, I had my Avatar “Yvelle” marry Lissa, sister of the hero Chrom. I found their relationship to be the cutest out of all the ones I had encountered. Virion and Tharja came in a close second with his willingness to be her guinea pig for hexes.

Have you ever wondered what your favourite hero would be like if he picked up a bow instead of a sword? I do. Switching classes is one of the fundamental musts while playing this game. Allowing your characters to grow and learn new abilities and use new weapons allows for you to tailor the combat to your tastes. One of my characters can instantly kill and move again after bringing her potential count to two kills a turn. Mathematically speaking, a number of battles in this game are over in moments. Another gains health from kills and simultaneously always regains and restores health to those nearby.

What I enjoyed about this game is that all characters had well written personalities. I really felt for them during their falls and cheered with them during their triumphs. With the many characters in the roster, it feels like an entire universe of stories. Even your implacable enemies join you eventually and the story gets even more interesting. Even the trusted Lieutenant of the main bad joins you during another Paralogue. He’s a beast to tame, but when you do, my god is he a powerhouse.

Explosive action encompasses this game.

Explosive action encompasses this game.

This game included the first paid DLC in the history of Nintendo-exclusive franchise and it did a poor job of executing it. I didn’t feel the game warranted the DLC until I reached the end of the rich and full main story. When I did get to the end, I wanted the adventure to continue. When I did this, I found out that the DLC doesn’t level with your characters. This ended up making them stupid easy for my already maxed out characters with insanely powerful weapons and abilities. I didn’t even have to look at the screen; I just set the game to auto-battle and won each with ease. Although the stories were interesting and the tasks fun, when you have absolutely no craps to be given because of the ease; it gets boring.

While the in-battle sequences and the manga inspired 3D cut scenes are beautifully executed, they must have cut the funding when making the battlefield and overworld map. They didn’t utilize 3D at all for the sprites and barely with the field. It was a bit disconcerting to switch between the two. The overall execution of the 3D animation in all the battle scenes and cut scenes was nothing short of spectacular. Fluid animations of battle graced the top screen as I watched my characters slice or get diced.

If you can overlook the DLC and the battlefield graphics, then you can easily call this game a shining testament to this franchise’s longevity. I was really happy with the way it turned out. With the game’s heavily customizable characters, brilliant story and a backstory for each main character; Fire Emblem: Awakening is a must for anyone who owns a 3DS. If you can’t find yourself a physical copy due to the rarity and apparently unintentional shortage of copies, it is available to download directly from Nintendo’s eShop.

Final Score: 9/10



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Pokemon White (NDS – 2011)

The series that needs no introduction produced a new game earlier this year. You’d think by now people would be tired of the mundane travel between Gyms, battling enemies and what I would like to deem the “Team Rocket of the Week”. However, you’d also be surprisingly wrong. Its record breaking sales and critical reception have made Pokémon Black and White two major hits for 2011 in video gaming. The series creates some new features and brings back some series classic techniques that make gameplay all the tougher and the plot all the more exciting.

So where are we now? We’re in Unova region, another oddly named but largely populated area in which Pokémon and Humans live in perfect harmony. Or so we think. Team Plasma, this year’s version of Team Rocket, is running rampant around Unova. In a twist and unlike any other team in the world so far, Team Plasma is not interested in using Pokémon for their own gain or changing the climate of the planet; this team is interested in separating humanity from Pokémon and allowing them to flourish on their own without interference or being captured by people. They do this by using Pokémon to battle other people. What?

I have to admit that they got it right this time. I really enjoyed the plot and it was the first time that I have actually been able to differentiate between Pokémon games using a filter that was not ‘What Pokémon were in the game?” For the first time the script was compelling and the characters were interesting. So you can imagine the surprise when I played this Pokémon game with an actual plot.

The score of the game is your standard affair. However there is one track in particular I thought was above and beyond the normal shtick that  Junichi Masuda and the gang pump out every two or three years. However the ‘Battle – Team Plasma’ track was pretty darn entertaining. Just the first two seconds of it really get you in the battle mood and then you’re trapped in the battle listening to this rocking battle anthem the likes of which any Pokémon game has never seen, until now.

I also praise the overall layout of this Unova Region and the different places in it. From the quiet little town of Nuvema Town to the bustling metropolis of Castelia City, you can’t help but feel at home in this area. There are many interesting routes and with each brings a type of weather condition that you have seen before. Another new piece of content is the ever changing weather, which is supposed to change depending on the month that you’re currently playing in. However I found instead that the season would randomly change when I left a building. Not sure if that was a bug or if it was intentional.

So with a good plot and a good score, what could possibly detract from the game? There are quite a few things that make Pokémon Black and White a little tiresome. I’ve noticed a painfully large amount of enemy critical hits to the players Pokémon when there are no status modifiers that could account for such a frequency. Right in the first battle I took a critical hit and lost, the second time I trained a bit more, got another critical hit against me and lost. Not interested in losing a third time, I made it impossible for me to lose by training well above the enemy levels. I did not receive a single critical hit that battle and won easily. However, throughout the entire game I received an inordinate amount of critical hits.

I was also pretty disappointed with the battle graphics. The Pokémon on your side, are really pixelated and the Pokémon on the opposite side are just as bad. I have a hunch on why. I would go as far to say that this game was originally going to be released on the Nintendo 3DS, which was released merely a week later than the game. When the creators of this game had realized their deadline was a day away they got to work but failed to get the game ready in time. Instead of pushing back the release date, they kept the crappy attempts at a third dimension in the game and released it unfinished. That is a decent explanation for the half-assed battle graphics.

Also, what is with the Pokémon names? Is it just me or are they getting more and more lazy to the point where the names no longer resemble or even fit with what they are attached to. Here are some fantastic examples.

Accelgor: The hell?

Simipour: Eyes... burning...

Do you get it? Neither do I. Half the Pokedex is like this too. There are weird Pokémon names and weird looking Pokémon. Remember a time where it was so easy to spell snake backwards to create the name of a Pokémon that looks and animates like a snake? I do. Kids these days.

Final Word: Pokémon Black and White were great efforts to make an old franchise more interesting and it only fell short in two areas. I would definitely recommend it to fans of the series, but there are certainly signs of franchise stagnation in this beautiful game. Also, they really should have waited for the 3D. That feature would have made the game much more impressive to play.

Grade: B

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