Nintendo’s Fire Emblem Direct presentation lasted just shy of 20 minutes, but what it managed to detail in such a small amount of time was pretty astounding. It’s clear that Nintendo now sees the once unheard of strategy role-playing series as a mainstay, and as long as you own a smart device, a 3DS, a New 3DS, or plan to purchase the Nintendo Switch, there will be new Fire Emblem content for you to enjoy in 2017 (and beyond).
Oh, and that asterisk in the title? That’s if you solely on a Wii U. Sorry doods.
The presentation started off with Nintendo confirming a brand new core Fire Emblem entry coming to Nintendo Switch in 2018. This will mark the series’ first console release since 2008’s Radiant Dawn on Wii.
We received little more than confirmation of the series’ future on Switch, but it’s a display of confidence on behalf of Nintendo. The fact that they’re assuring fans that Switch will be the new home of a traditional Fire Emblem experience in 2018 is promising.
However, there’s plenty to enjoy in the meantime.
Fire Emblem Gaiden released in 1992 to Japanese audiences on the Famicom, but never made its way stateside. It not only laid the foundation for future entries in the series, but featured mechanics that would now feel foreign; free-roaming, dungeon crawling, and flexible character progression, to name a few.
Now fully reworked as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the 2nd game in the series will receive a noticeable facelift, voice acting, and grander scaling when it releases stateside for the Nintendo 3DS on May 19th.
Alm and Celica, the game’s dual protagonists, will receive their own amiibo 2-pack that’ll launch alongside Echoes, though what their functionality is within the game has yet to be confirmed.
Fire Emblem Warriors was teased during the Nintendo Switch presentation, but today’s Direct debuted an extended gameplay trailer and confirmed a stateside release window of fall 2017. It’s once again being developed in collaboration with Koei Tecmo, the team that brought us Hyrule Warriors.
The accompanied gameplay reveal only featured Fire Emblem: Awakening’s hero, Chrom, though I imagine Nintendo will be drip-feeding the musou’s roster between now and its fall release.
I was not only surprised to see Fire Emblem Warriors given a 2017 release date on Nintendo Switch, but that it’ll be releasing simultaneously on the New Nintendo 3DS (emphasis on the “New” part) as well. It’s no secret that Hyrule Warriors’ 3DS port ran like pickled dog shit on the standard hardware, while being vastly superior on the New 3DS model.
Fire Emblem’s current popularity is mostly due in part to its handheld releases, so Warriors making its way to the New 3DS makes sense for Nintendo. As of June last year, nearly 9 million New Nintendo 3DS models have been sold worldwide. One would imagine it’s well above the 10 million mark now, creeping up on the Wii U’s paltry ~13 million mark. Chances are the Switch won’t be sitting at 10 million units manufactured this fall, let alone sold.
Nearly half of the Direct presentation focused on the upcoming Fire Emblem mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes, which releases on Android devices February 2nd (iOS’s date is “soon”). Pre-registration for the Android release begins tomorrow, January 19th, right here.
EDIT: Immediately after posting this, Nintendo of America tweeted out confirmation that both versions will now release simultaneously. That was fast.
Heroes will offer a tactical role-playing experience similar to what the series is known for, but unlike Mario Run’s paid option, Fire Emblem will be free-to-play with microtransactions. While this Gacha-style is sure to turn a few heads here in the west, Heroes will no doubt ring in big bucks for Nintendo in the east where its investors will likely be swimming in piles of cash like Scrooge McDuck.
Fire Emblem Heroes uses a scaled-down 8×6 battle grid, in order to fit more comfortably on mobile devices. Users can spend real-world currency to recruit characters from other games in the series, such as Awakening and Fates, which can then be upgraded and summoned to battle.
Again, all of this was featured in the span of 20 minutes. It was clear and concise, and Nintendo did an excellent job appealing to Fire Emblem fans on a variety of formats. Aside from Wii U owners without access to another gaming peripheral, nobody was alienated. And since Fire Emblem has yet to appear on Wii U, barring Virtual Console releases, I can’t imagine that target market is in any way substantial.
What did you think of the Fire Emblem Direct? Personally, I’m just happy to see another 2017 release for Switch. Fall is a solid time frame for Fire Emblem Warriors, giving Switch owners something to gnaw on before Super Mario Odyssey’s holiday arrival. I thoroughly enjoyed The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest musou mash-ups from Koei Tecmo and Omega Force, and I’m sure Fire Emblem Warriors will be right up my alley.