When I first heard that Nintendo would be getting into mobile gaming, I was incredibly excited. This excitement only grew further when I heard two of my favorite gaming franchises, Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing would be included in the first batch of releases. With Fire Emblem Heroes having finally released, I can honestly say for sure that Nintendo is off to a great start.
I’ve been a Fire Emblem fan since Radiant Dawn, but since then I’ve been able to go back and play all of the games released in the west that I missed out on. I’m also pretty used to free-to-play mobile games, so I sorta knew what to expect going into Fire Emblem Heroes, but as a fan I wanted to hope for more. Nintendo definitely delivered.
Now, I know most are probably thinking, “Free-to-Play? Gross, why would I ever want that for Fire Emblem?” However, it works so much better than I ever could have imagined. Battles take place in a very similar style to those in the main series. You pick out your units, and battles take place on a grid as the player and opponent take turns moving their squads into battle. There is a very familiar weapon triangle for strengths and weaknesses of each unit type, a system simple enough for many to learn by heart pretty quickly. Battles end up taking no more than a few minutes at most, depending on the difficulty and strategies of each player. It ends up being fairly simplistic and quick, a design essential to mobile players who will likely be playing on the go. This system also allows long-time fans to have fun developing strategies as they are used to doing within the main series.
Speaking of long-time fans, this game is an absolute love letter to them, delivering not only in character variety, but in just about every aspect of the game. Players will recognize heroes and heroines from across the entire series, as well as familiar music. Maps within the game are even based off of ones found within the main line of games as well, which is a very subtle and fun touch that I’m glad they added. It’s been an blast meeting characters from across the games all over again, and trying to figure out which game a map might have been from.
My only flaw with this game is actually not from the free-to-play aspects of the game, bur rather the amount of grinding out exp and promotion items a player will have to do, even if they end up using real money to try to buy their way out of situations. Not only is it very difficult to get EXP and promotion items to upgrade your units, but the game also hardly gives you an stamina to go on the missions to get those items. What makes the situation worse is the fact that your stamina meter never grows, so as missions begin to require larger sums of stamina, you will find you’ll only be able to play a couple missions before the game tells you its time to take a break or use an orb. It really takes away from the fun of the game, and I hope Nintendo makes a change to the unit promotion system sometime soon.
Overall, the game is an absolute blast to play, and while it is in no means perfect or completely up to par with a fully realized Fire Emblem title, it is far better than most mobile games I have played in recent memory. I can certainly see myself and many more Fire Emblem fans playing this game for several months to come.