So, I saw Nintendo’s E3 presentation. Two things of note.
-We finally have something for Fire Emblem Switch/Three Houses, which is better than nothing, even if all I’ve seen is A: The characters are surrounded by NPC soldiers, and B: The game is unsurprisingly keeping Awakening/Fates’ art style mostly the same. (I could do a whole big post on how after Awakening, FE is a victim of its own success, but that’s for another time, and I don’t want to jump the gun when the game isn’t out yet).
-The reason everyone was here. SMASH BROS! Now I’m biased for two reasons. Melee and Brawl were my childhood multiplayer games of choice, and Smash Bros. fans have a reputation for being —picky— even by the standards of other gamers. So while a part of me wanted something fundamentally different from the “focus more on past characters than new ones” they’re going for (at least at launch), I can understand it. Still. New. Smash. Bros. It looked very good.
For the anniversary of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the first released worldwide, a group of fans made a tribute video with fanmade voice actors. Take a look.
(My favorite is Farina.)
This time in April marks a lot of Fire Emblem anniversaries. On April 20, 1990, the very first Fire Emblem game was released (in Japan). On April 25, 2003, the first FE game to cross the Pacific after the series got worldwide attention in Smash Bros was released (in Japan, again, it would not get wider releases until later that year).
And of course, in-universe, no doubt as an homage, the FE: Awakening heroine Lucina has April 20th as her birthday.
So, the newest Nintendo Direct was released.
Nothing for the new mainline Pokemon and Fire Emblem games that we still know very little confirmed knowledge of save for the fact that they exist. (Either E3 or a standalone announcement, I suppose, which makes sense given their size and prominence). So, that disappointment was there-if you can call it a disappointment.
As for me, well, it was like “ok, stuff that looks kinda neat, stuff I’m not really interested in, oooh-No More Heroes, ok, ok, Undertale for the Switch-Whoa! Ok, ok, hmm, that was decent, port announcements, ok, uh, uh, so I suppose it’s-uh, wait-SMASH BROTHERS! WHOA BABY IT’S SMASH BROTHERS!”
It is, indeed, the announcement and reveal of the newest Smash Bros. My delight can hardly be contained.
I may have noticed a small developer’s reference to a past game of theirs. In the last Advance Wars game, I noticed that Caulder’s clone daughters have yellow eyes.
The morphs in Fire Emblem 7 also have yellow eyes. Both are artificial humans. It still could be a coincidence, but it looks likely it’s Intelligent Systems doing a little callback/in-joke.
I changed my avatar on some sites to a strange villainess. That would be Limstella, the second-to-last boss of Fire Emblem  for the GBA.
To be honest, although I played the game as a child and loved loved loved it, at the time I only saw her as one boss among many. Now, I’ve grown to like her more. I think it’s the character design applied in greater detail by both official and fan artists giving her the semi-androgynous, creepy look with more justice than a 16 bit portrait.
As a deliberately almost emotionless drone, she doesn’t match her “sister” Sonia in terms of pure evil. What separates her from being just another speedbump is her death quote:
“I am not human. This body and this heart are constructs. Yes, as is this sorrow.”
Whether that’s a “why was I programmed to feel pain” quote, or an instance that there was something there that wasn’t in a mindless morph like Denning is up to the audience, and gives her (possibly unwarranted) attention. Still, she works as a minor villainess. (I even had a “Rosetta Stone” for a weird conlang by translating her name as “Starlight” in whatever language she was named in)
My crazed mind continues.
So instead of stuffing the Fire Emblem cast into one battalion, I spread them out all over other units. This I’ve found is a little different than the battalion idea, in many ways for the better.
- I can sideline physically incapable units.
- I can go across all levels, rather than from “private” to “Battalion commander”.
- I can make the protagonists argue amongst each other about strategy in ways that they couldn’t as small-unit commanders.
- From a meta example, I can put them in different technology levels in a way that’s easier than “Hey, you’re WWII cavalry now, then you’re a Gulf War battalion, now you’re a modern light infantry one!”
- Pegasus knights as pilots, anyone?
So, here’s the thorniest question the FE Battalion faces. What to do with casualties.
Using an old public domain military spreadsheet, I calculated a force of the same size and planned equipment as the battalion would be deploying to fight a defensive engagement. They smash their opponent, a larger yet foolhardy force attacking with far worse skill and equipment. The opponent is crushed (becoming combat-ineffective after only one day), they lose only four dead and some more wounded, most of whom can be saved.
Under normal circumstances, the replacements would be easy. But since the battalion’s cast involves a fixed number that can never grow higher, even lopsided victories like this turn into phyric ones. Thankfully, I can use the power of plot to regenerate the battalion between battles-after all, for obvious mechanical reasons, FE:Heroes has no permadeath whatsoever.
So, I beat the story mode of Fire Emblem Heroes on normal.
Now to give my thoughts on the game. See, for what it is, a free to play mobile hype-building game, it works well. To complain about the simplified gameplay, much less the business model, seems unfair. And to a degree I’m not the game’s target audience. (Not that I’m not a Fire Emblem fan, quite the contrary. I’m just somewhat wary of free to play games)
Now for what my biggest legitimate complaint against the game is. What little there is of the plot. I can understand an excuse plot “summon the heroes to fight the heroes summoned by someone else”. But the game moves just beyond the sweet spot of essentially no plot at all into a repetitive “Sorry I’m contracted to fight you-OW!-Ok I’m not!” mode, and just enough dangling threads to be annoying without being mysterious.
Plus the ludonarrative dissonance is incredible. The story needs to be bare bones in order to accommodate whatever heroes the player gets in the random summoning system. Fair enough. This leads to stuff like one hero slashing apart his own son. Without the slightest comment. It’s a little off-putting.
That being said, the game is still enjoyable, and it’s spurred along my persistent Fire Emblem Battalion concept. Not only is the hero summoning a good reinforcement to whatever excuse plot I come up with for how they all end up in the same place, but the voice acting and detailed drawings humanizes many of the previously dull characters. This means it’s going to be harder to just say “throw the dull ones onto the casualty lists”.
It’s bad form to have that sort of effect anyway. I’ve seen stuff where you have developed characters you know will live and undeveloped ones you know will be killed off. So I guess, thanks to the game for for pushing me in the right direction 😀
To put the FE Battalion on the offense or defense?
I’m leaning towards defense. A basic foot infantry battalion is more capable in defense, especially in closed terrain than it is on offense against a heavier conventional foe. Then again, I’m considering putting them in a mechanized battalion, because a foot one is simply too limited.
I don’t want to put them in some sort of special forces unit, even though bizarrely it’s what arguably fits them the best.
Now for the enemy. In military terms, this is easy-it’s the Circle Trigon/Krasnovia/Donovia. In other words, an enemy made as a bland opposing force in an artificial battle. Good for artificial battles (and it’s not like the canon FE games are the most deep and intricate anyway), not so good for character development or a sense of meaning.
Now for what their parent regiment/brigade will be like-will it be composed of other high fantasy turned-soldier transplants? Regular troops regarding it as a weak link?
Good news is I have a command staff.
Robin as CO.
Cordelia as XO
Mark as Operations Head
Matthew as Intelligence Head
Merlinus as Logistics Head
Oh no, I’ve stacked the staff with people from my favorite game (FE7) and the most popular (Awakening)! :p.
Now to figure out where to put the more problematic ones…
FE characters have some anime physics and a few superhuman strength feats. I call them “Captain America level”, but their lower durability means they can’t be wasted in a line unit. At least if I wanted to be practical.