By: Chris Penwell
Nintendo has succeeded in bringing the addictive strategy RPG system from the Fire Emblem series into this mobile entry, Fire Emblem Heroes, with an authentic art style and its simple but still in-depth combat system.
Over the past few years, there has been a trend of free-to-play titles on mobile platforms, called Gacha games. Out of the luck of a draw, you can pull out your favorite characters from the in-game currency. DC, Dragonball Z, Star Wars, Marvel, and many other beloved franchises have made a foray into this genre. Some have failed at using the gacha formula with incredibly expensive currency systems, but some have been fair. Fire Emblem Heroes succeeds at bringing a fair currency system that rewards you for playing the game.
Keep in mind, that unlike the mainline entries, your characters won’t be taken away if they die in battle.
The key to an excellent mobile title is for the game to feature simple mechanics that are hard to master. Heroes strikes that balance well. Different classes work better against others like in the Pokemon series. For example, bows are best against mounted foes. Each character you collect grows in power as each battle mounts up the difficulty. The problem is that your characters may be too weak. Character power is measured on a five-star scale. If you want to use your favorite character in battle and he or she is only a two star, it will be far more difficult to grind them up in a proficient manner. Gameplay wise, you should just stick with the three to five starred characters, which can be frustrating when you want to use your favorites from the series. The star system can also lead to battles that are way too easy.
Fire Emblem fits perfectly on a mobile device. You are given a small plain that can be finished within a few minutes. The player drags each character across the board with a swipe of a finger and it controls well. During each battle, stunning frames of character art appear on your screen as the corresponding voice actor releases a battle cry. This art gives the game a flashy way to show its battles. Characters even become visibly scarred from taking damage. Heroes also has a chibi art style, that is charming and adds a nostalgic hint of the PS1 and GBA era.
If you are looking for a grand story like the mainline games, you won’t find it here. Like many other mobile titles, Fire Emblem Heroes offers a baseline plot that tries to explain why all these characters are in the same world. It’s bonkers, but the writing is humorous from time to time, with in-jokes about how you come from Earth.
Fortunately, Heroes follows the tradition of the Fire Emblem series with its fantastic soundtrack. The game first welcomes you to the epic main theme of the series, and the main menu music afterwards welcomes you with an energetic diluge of strings and percussion. The battle music is on point as well, with engaging melodies and the inclusion of Fire Emblem Fates’ battle theme, “Dusk Falls”.
If you’re in the mood for a great strategy RPG on mobile, this is it. It’s free and battles only take a few minutes – unlike the main games – so go check it out on both iOS and Android devices.
(Featured Image: Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo)