Given the current events and following the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we want to dedicate this piece to the protesters fighting for human rights. We’ll feature five stories in video games where characters stood up against authority figures who spread nothing but lies, hatred, and ruled with an iron fist. These uplifting stories of rebellion will hopefully bring some peace of mind and a brighter outlook on the future.
Please keep in mind that the following game sections contain spoilers. If you see the game’s title and are even mildly curious, I strongly suggest buying them.
Final Fantasy X
The Al-Bhed people were shunned by the followers of Yu Yevon, the guardian deity of the world of Spira. However, throughout the game, you begin to notice corruption within the church of Yevon. As your team became branded enemies of Yevon, the Al Bhed came to your rescue. This aid came, in no small part thanks, to Rikku, the Al Bhed girl that you befriended early on in the game.
This connection bridges the party to the Al Bhed working together for a better cause. Even though the Yevon loyalists in the party, such as Wakka, initially reject such a radical change, they eventually warm up to the Al Bhed. Eventually, you join up with them in a united effort to save Spira, using their machina to destroy Sin, and set a new course for the world.
Tales of Symphonia
From the beginning of the game, you befriend Genis and Raine, your elf friends. Only later do you learn that they were half-elves, a being repressed throughout Sylvarant and Tethe’alla due to their mixed heritage.
While their secret comes out later in the game, the protagonist, Lloyd, still unites his friends and continues his journey to save both worlds. Genis, despite saying he hates humans, reassures Lloyd he’s still his best friend. Even when the mayor of the town, Iselia, preaches his racism towards your half-elven party members, the people stand against him.
Regarding the overarching storyline, you later learn that the Sylvarant’s folk hero and eventual antagonist, Mithos, began his entire crusade because of the half-elven oppression and the death of his sister, Martel.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
“Sub-humans.” That was the word used to describe the laguz, or beastkin people, in Tellius. The country of Gallia waged battles with the beorc, or humans, and faced discrimination simply due to their appearance. When Ike fought against the Daein army, he traveled to Gallia, which he later learned was his birthplace. Throughout his travels, he encountered new laguz friends, united them for the cause of liberating the country of Crimea, and took down the Mad King Ashnard.
The story comes full-circle when Ike would unite the Tellius continent once more to defeat the Begnion Senate and their army. Near the end of the game, Ike’s forces, the Greil Mercenaries, defeat Senator Lekain and the Begnion Senate, ending a decades-long struggle between Begnion’s iron grip and the laguz who fought against their oppression.
Persona 5’s story tackles sensitive social issues. Authority figures who bully, exploit, and even murder become the victim of the Phantom Thieves’ vengeance. The whole point of the story is to help your friends rebel against oppressive authority figures and, as they join you, take the fight against other horrible people in Tokyo.
You’ll enter their cognitive Palaces, fight their Shadows, and change their conscience. Doing so will change their heart, forcing them to own up, confess their crimes, and relinquish their positions of power.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Three Houses marked the third Fire Emblem game where racial injustice became a major focal point of the plot. Claude, one of the House leaders, wants to unite Fodlan. He does so due to his Almyran background. The people of Almyra, dark-skinned warriors, faced oppression from the Fodlan continent for decades.
When joining the Golden Deer route, you’ll fight alongside Claude and his quest to reform Fodlan’s government. This includes allying with the church, the enemy of the Black Eagles route, and uniting your forces against the Adrestian Empire and Those Who Slither in the Dark.
For anyone keeping up with the protests, we’ve all gone through a tough time. Supporting our fellow human beings, including those who are different from ourselves, becomes an important cause in these times. Hopefully, this list helps inspire you with these courageous stories of people fighting alongside friends and make the world a better place.
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It’s no secret that Nintendo has used Super Smash Bros. to market their series for decades. Even when Roy was included in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo has continued this tradition through the release of Byleth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, this marketing method dates even further back than Melee. The original title, Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, introduced players into many series as well. In this week’s Smash Column, I’ll go over the importance of Smash Bros. for marketing and how it’s impacted us as players.
Super Smash Bros. (1999)
The original Nintendo crossover started with 8 characters. Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Fox were among the many classic staples with a legacy on NES, SNES, Game Boy, and N64. I had not yet played Metroid or Kirby until sometime after Smash’s release, so I did not feel as familiar with Samus or Kirby. However, because I enjoyed playing as Pikachu, and summoning the Pokémon out of Poké Balls, Smash got me into Pokémon. It was the first of many times that this series would influence my gaming choices.
When you fulfilled certain conditions, you would unlock four characters: Luigi, Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon, and Ness. Luigi’s inclusion was due to being in a game with his brother, Mario. You would think it was an obvious inclusion. Yet, after the release of Super Mario 64, his lack of appearance spawned many rumors and questions as to why he wasn’t there.
Jigglypuff, on the other hand, became a favorite among the Japanese audience who watched the anime. This would later lead to the inclusion of Pichu, Mewtwo, and Lucario. All of these Pokémon had anime movies featuring them.
However, Captain Falcon from F-Zero and Ness from EarthBound were two characters I was completely unfamiliar with. Captain Falcon comes from the F-Zero series, Nintendo’s racing series that predated Super Mario Kart. In those games, you don’t play as Falcon outside of his Blue Falcon vehicle. He only appears in the SNES title’s manual and in the select screen of F-Zero X.
Just who was this person? Why was he dressed as a superhero and why were his quotes so memorable? Falcon’s battle quotes, including his popular Falcon Punch, became popular Smash Bros. memes throughout much of the series’ existence.
Ness, on the other hand, came from the SNES title, EarthBound. Before JRPGs became big in the west, EarthBound was known only to a small niche group. Even among RPG fans, Nintendo’s worst attempt to market the game may have turned away potential fans. Whoever this Ness kid was, however, must have been a big deal in Japan. America largely knew nothing about him. But before long, Super Smash Bros. would invoke the curiosity of many players wanting to try EarthBound. Not only would people emulate the title on their computers, but copies of the game would sell for absurd prices on eBay.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Melee introduced a plethora of new characters and worlds from even more series than the original. Not only did Peach, Bowser, Zelda, Ganondorf, Young Link, and Falco join the fray, but it introduced new series as well. While the inclusion of Ice Climbers, and Mr. Game & Watch, took a page out of Nintendo’s ancient history, an even more surprising introduction gained immediate notice: Fire Emblem.
Introducing Marth and Roy, the characters became an immediate hit due to their character design, fighting style, and their memorable theme music. Fans speculated if Nintendo’s Strategy/RPG series, Fire Emblem, would ever come to America. Smash series creator, Masahiro Sakurai chose to include Roy, in Melee, prior to the release of his home game, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, in Japan.
Nintendo ultimately chose to keep these mysterious characters in the western release, opening us to a revolution. Fans demanded Fire Emblem be localized and Nintendo gave in. This preceded the American release of Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade in 2003.
Not only did Fire Emblem’s characters fascinate players, but the introduction of trophies gave us a new dimension to look through Nintendo’s history. Fully rotatable, 3D rendered models of characters, items, and stages fascinated us. But the lore that came with it introduced its history.
At the end of each description, Nintendo listed the original title that featured the trophy. For anyone interested in trying out these games, this little database gave them what they needed. I spent hours reading these descriptions and admiring the models.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In one way, Brawl did the opposite of the past two games. As opposed to introducing us to series we weren’t familiar with, Snake’s surprise inclusion invited fans to demand another popular video gaming mascot – Sonic the Hedgehog – into the roster. While your average gamer needed no introduction to Sonic, Metal Gear Solid was known primarily as a Sony PlayStation title. While Snake had appeared in several Nintendo games, Snake’s inclusion in Smash would introduce many Nintendo fans to a new world.
In addition to various new characters, stages, and Trophies, Brawl also introduced the Masterpieces collection. These featured 1-2 minute demos of Nintendo games from their past consoles. Each game also invited the player to download these games to their Wii via the Virtual Console. For anyone new to these games or series, this was the ideal introduction to new series.
The inclusion of Lucas also prompted fans to demand the release of Mother 3 in the west. Being the second EarthBound character to join Smash’s roster, fans of EarthBound wanted to know more about Lucas’ origins. While a fan-translated product was eventually released, Nintendo has yet to officially translate, and release, the title outside of Japan.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
Smash 4 featured fully animated trailers featuring new characters. One trailer even introduced two characters – Lucina and Robin – from Fire Emblem: Awakening. While these two characters were popular among series fans, this would inevitably lead to the “too many Fire Emblem characters” discussion prominent among the Smash community.
Both Smash titles featured DLC expansions to the roster. In Smash 4, Sakurai introduced the “Smash Ballot.” Fans could vote for a character and the winning character would be added to the roster. While that winner was Bayonetta, Sakurai added one character just for his popularity: Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. Appearing from one of the most revolutionary JRPGs, Cloud was a heavily demanded, but unlikely, favorite.
Despite the love for Cloud, much like Snake, fans were well-aware that Final Fantasy VII’s only console release was on the PlayStation. This also meant a world of introduction for people who have scarcely ventured outside of Nintendo. Notably, Final Fantasy VII would not appear on a Nintendo console until its release, on Nintendo Switch, in 2019.
While Fire Emblem Fates had been released in Japan, the title would not come to America for several more months. Similar to Roy’s inclusion in Melee, Corrin would enter the Smash roster prior to the release of their home game in the west. Despite Nintendo’s obvious attempt to use Corrin’s inclusion to market their game, their efforts resulted in Fire Emblem Fates becoming the best selling title in the series.
Sakurai’s passion extended through his characters by giving these DLC characters special videos explaining to players their fundamentals and origins. He would remark about their home game, the game mechanics, and how he translated them directly into Smash, including the sound effects.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ultimate’s new roster featured many leftover favorites which came from unrequited fan demands. Prior to the game’s release, Ridley (Metroid), Simon and Richter Belmont (Castlevania), Isabelle (Animal Crossing), Chrom (Fire Emblem), and King K. Rool were all added to the roster. Sakurai’s fulfillment served as a sign of good faith representing the relationship between the fans and himself. The DLC introduced five characters. While some included heavily requested characters, several came out of nowhere and shocked the world.
In terms of marketing, Joker’s reveal might have had the biggest impact. Coming one year off of winning RPG of the Year at The Game Awards 2017, Persona 5 had introduced many new fans into a cult favorite series. At The Game Awards 2018, Joker and The Phantom Thieves stole the show with Joker’s surprise reveal trailer airing during the broadcast.
Sakurai not only included the Mementos stage, and music, from Persona 5. He included a blue and yellow thematic, representing Persona 3 and Persona 4, as well. These also included musical themes from those respective titles as well as their victory themes should Joker win on the stage. As someone who loved Persona 5, I heard good things about the other titles. But I think playing in the Persona 3 thematic prompted me to finally play Persona 3 FES, a game released in 2007, for PlayStation 2. Likewise, beating Persona 3 FES lead me right into playing Persona 4 Golden which, at the time of this writing, I’m about 20 hours into. Keep in mind I also did not own a PlayStation Vita, or TV, to play it on until I felt the need to try P4 Golden.
Even the littlest details could influence my decision. One of the featured songs, “Time to Make History,” appears exclusively in Persona 4 Golden. This re-release of Persona 4 came out exclusively to PlayStation Vita.
Despite owning a digital copy of Persona 4, on my PS3 (via PS2 Classics), I could only appreciate this song more if I played Golden, the game it came from. Researching the laundry list of exclusive content, and improvements, over the original title only helped persuade me to purchase a PS Vita with Persona 4 Golden.
When Hero from Dragon Quest was revealed, it was followed by a trailer of his home game, Dragon Quest XI, coming to Nintendo Switch later that year. While many westerners scratched their heads wondering, “who,” Dragon Quest had always maintained a heavy following in Japan. Nintendo’s method to introduce new Dragon Quest fans in the west involved clever marketing idea.
That idea involved showcasing his trailer to reveal, not just who he was, but where he was from, and when his game was coming out as well. This, in turn, helped lead to Dragon Quest XI receiving some of the best sales in the series history. Dragon Quest’s newfound success in the west further cemented Smash’s success in marketing game series including those not developed by Nintendo.
For a rare change of pace, Smash itself did not get me into Dragon Quest XI. Rather, it was one of the top Smash competitors, Nairo, who influenced my decision to try the game. As a fan of the player, I also checked into his Twitch streams from time to time. One of those streams happened to be Dragon Quest XI, which had not yet been announced for Switch at the time. The gorgeous design of the game and its polish really caught my attention. Eventually, I caved in and chose to buy it for myself.
If yall never played a dragon quest game before and are interested, DQXI is a good one to start with imo, it's out on ps4 right now and will have an upgraded one on the switch in September
Banjo-Kazooie, stars of the legendary N64 title, finally entered the Smash Bros. roster in summer of 2018. Given their large fanbase, they became one of the most massively requested characters to enter the series. However, I’m going to shorten this section because there was little marketing involved. While Banjo-Kazooie’s feature included a fantastic throwback to a legendary game, from 20 years ago, there was no real “marketing” involved, per se.
Banjo-Kazooie still remains absent from the Nintendo Switch and has not been released on a Nintendo system since the N64. Until there’s any sort of re-release of the game, Banjo-Kazooie’s reveal served a purpose similar to Sonic’s. Rather than market the game, they wanted to introduce fans to a character largely loved and remembered by fans.
Months later, Terry Bogard, from SNK’s Fatal Fury, would debut in Smash. Despite western Smash fans once again bewildered with confusion, Sakurai gave fans an entertaining history lesson on Terry in a video explaining the origins of Fatal Fury as well as his recommended choice for series beginners. Incidentally, these titles went on sale, for discounted prices, on the Nintendo Switch’s eShop. Any curious player immediately had the chance to see what Terry was like in his home game.
As someone largely unfamiliar with Terry at the time, I resonated well with this video. Sakurai’s history lesson invited me to get into a series I never thought I would love as much as I do now. Furthermore, the King of Fighters Stadium stage boasts the largest number of music, including remixes, of any of the DLC character stages. The love Sakurai showed for the SNK music marketed not just good music and arcade classics, but showcases an impactful level of passion as well.
With Fighter Pass 1 wrapping up with its last character, the inclusion of Byleth gave way to controversy as well as positive reception for the character. On one hand, it brought forth anger from Smash fans who felt the roster was, at this point, overly saturated with Fire Emblem characters. On the other hand, Fire Emblem: Three Houses won numerous accolades, including the Player’s Voice award at 2019’s Game Awards. This highly successful title immediately became one of the best selling in the series. Given that it had quickly become one of the most popular titles on the Switch, Nintendo had already decided to add the character to Smash in order to boost sales and introduce fans to Three Houses.
While Sakurai himself admitted that Smash has too many Fire Emblem characters, he gave Byleth a trademark ability to distinguish him from the other swordsmen. By allowing him to wield three additional weapons, his varied playstyle added new flavor to the roster. The additional weapons gave Byleth a different flavor than most would expect from a Fire Emblem character. Despite the initial protests, Byleth eventually made themselves at home in Smash along with several noteworthy tracks to add to Smash’s already renowned soundtrack.
Nintendo has used Smash Bros. to market gaming series for over 20 years. Fans, like myself, got into Metroid, Kirby, EarthBound, Fire Emblem, and many more. I was fascinated by the music, the stages, the characters, and the Trophy lore. This introduced me to countless worlds of wonder and many new series I would love for years to come.
While Fighter Pass 2 has already confirmed the first character to be from the Nintendo Switch fighting game, ARMS, five more characters will be revealed over the course of the next year. Therefore, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come to Smash. Given that many of the most-requested characters have entered Smash, it truly becomes anyone’s guess as to who will enter. Nintendo has already chosen their picks for Smash Ultimate, so perhaps they’ll be used to market an upcoming Switch title. We will keep you updated with the next wave of Smash info. In the meantime, stay tuned for our next Smash Column!
What series has Smash gotten you into? Let us know in the comments below.
Perhaps one of the most defining traits of Fire Emblem is its character design. Super Smash Bros. Melee created icons out of Marth and Roy. But the series is widely known for its colorful artwork and memorable character designs. While the fantasy storyline tasked you with saving the world, you would also learn about the backstories of your comrades-in-arms.
Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade quickly became popular thanks to its addictive Strategy/RPG (SRPG) gameplay. The grid-based gameplay offered movement similar to Chess. However, the level of flexibility and variety Fire Emblem offered, in its map design, classes, and overall gameplay, resonated well with fans.
But Fire Emblem introduced the permadeath mechanic. Lose a unit and they will stay dead. Your option would be either to press forward without them or restart the entire map and give them another chance. Note that later games, from Awakening onward, became much more forgiving in that department.
While the west had seen other SRPGs, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Shining Force, prior to Blazing Blade’s release, Fire Emblem offered more to the genre. Fire Emblem quickly became known for its addictive gameplay. You could promote your units, earning a new weapon and more powerful stats. Plus you could support units, growing their bonds, and even giving them a special ending together. Blazing Blade featured several difficulty modes, including one that let you play through Hector’s Route. This began a series tradition where you could replay a title to see another part of the story.
Additionally, Fire Emblem is known for its remarkable storytelling. Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn speak of relevant, worldly themes such as racial and class divide. It showcases horrors of war and even pit former friends against each other, something you would see in Fates and Three Houses. Even the Japanese-exclusive titles, like Genealogy of the Holy War, weren’t afraid to showcase dark themes, such as incest and genocide.
Fire Emblem also gained recognition for its music. The map, battle, and recruitment themes all share special recognition. Many of them appeared as remixes in the Super Smash Bros. series. “Together We Ride,” the recruitment theme from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, stood out as being one of the most famous due to its inclusion in Melee.
Decline and Rise
Despite several releases appearing in the west, none of them sold as well as Blazing Blade. In fact, the remake of Mystery of the Emblem, for DS, never came to America. Plus, due to its poor sales, the series began a major decline. It was thanks to every possible effort by developer Intelligent Systems and Nintendo to make Awakening the success it would become. What could have been the final game in the series breathed new life into Fire Emblem.Thanks to heavy marketing, new mechanics, and broadening the fanbase, Fire Emblem: Awakening would go on to become the series best-selling title. It would later be succeeded by Fire Emblem Fates, also released for 3DS. Nintendo would continue to appeal to fans, and reel in new fans, with spin-offs, such as the free-to-play mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes, which was released in 2017.
Most recently, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Three Houses, for Nintendo Switch, in summer of last year. The title features over 100 hours of gameplay and story and quickly became one of the Switch’s most successful titles. Among its accolades includes a score of 89, at Metacritic, and winning the Player’s Voice award at last year’s Game Awards. Additionally, Three Houses’ success would also influence Nintendo’s decision to include Byleth into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
How is Nintendo celebrating?
In Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo has released a new orb banner celebrating the 30th anniversary. This includes a throwback, of sorts, to Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. These two stories feature Marth and the origin of the series. Keep in mind that Mystery of the Emblem’s “Book I” is a remake of Shadow Dragon, for the Super Famicom (SNES), while Book II continues the story after.
In this banner, you can summon childhood versions of Marth, Caeda, Merric, Palla, and recruit Minerva as a free unit. As a duo-unit, Palla also comes with her little sisters, Catria and Est. This throwback also features maps based on the original Shadow Dragon. Nintendo will continue posting updates on their social media channels for Fire Emblem Heroes. Keep up to date with their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts for more info.
Additionally, Nintendo and Cygames’s collaborative mobile JRPG, Dragalia Lost, will also hold another Fire Emblem crossover. While the series has crossed over in the past with Fire Emblem, as well as Mega Man, this event will also center around the series’ 30th anniversary. You can check it out in the tweet below.
Twitter has already begun trending #FireEmblem to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. If you search for the trend, you will find numerous works of fanart and cosplay dedicated to the series. Be sure to check them out!
Happy anniversary to #FireEmblem!🎈 I didn’t discover this series until later than most, but I’m so happy I did because it provides me with constant inspiration and brings me so much joy 💕 pic.twitter.com/Z1ApbhlX8q
Many players will surely celebrate Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary by clearing routes in Three Houses. I, for one, hope to clear my Golden Deer run before the month ends. Also, if you own Three Houses but haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the Cindered Shadows DLC from the Three Houses Expansion Pass, which released earlier this year!
How are you celebrating the 30th anniversary of Fire Emblem? What’s your favorite game in the series? Let us know in the comments below.
Nintendo recently released version 10.0.0 for the Nintendo Switch. The new update features a controller button mapping system, news bookmarks, and the ability to transfer software data between the console and the MicroSD card. If you were expecting more from the update, then I’m afraid that’s all there really is. As the Nintendo Switch has been out since March 2017, people have been clamoring for numerous features to be added to Nintendo’s latest console.
Unfortunately, even after three years worth of updates, Nintendo Switch shows itself as a gaming console with bare-bones features otherwise. While Nintendo’s previous handheld, the 3DS, was capable of multiple features, Nintendo seems much more conservative with updating the Switch for reasons unknown. With that said, we’ll go over some of the most demanded features players want Nintendo to implement.
Topping the list of most wanted features, people have wanted Themes on Switch for years. While themes have been a part of consoles since the Sony PlayStation 3‘s release in 2006, even Nintendo’s handheld, the 3DS, implemented them within 2 years of the system’s release. Featuring a pretty background with music accompanying it, themes add all kinds of life to your menu. Unfortunately, the Switch only has two themes: Light and Dark. Despite fans clamoring for it for years, Nintendo has remained silent on the subject.
Netflix, Crunchyroll, WWE Network, and other streaming apps all appear on modern consoles like PS4 and Xbox One. Even the Wii U, Nintendo’s last generation console, had Netflix on it. With the Nintendo Switch, it’s entirely possible to take the system with you and it should be able to play most of the same apps as other systems. Yet for some reason, Nintendo has once again decided to take a step back on their console’s possibilities. The only multimedia apps available for the Switch right now are Hulu and YouTube.
While Nintendo featured avatars from Mario, Zelda, and Kirby, fans believed that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would open the floodgates for dozens of profile pictures to be featured. Yet again, Nintendo failed to deliver on an opportunity. Even with the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Nintendo never bothered to update their avatars with the game’s characters. But at least Nintendo updated it with Animal Crossing: New Horizons characters, right?
If Nintendo added folders, this would make it much easier and more compact to find the games you want to play. Yet another feature missing from the 3DS, folders allowed for easy organization for games. Instead, you have to scroll all the way to the right of the menu just to pull up the library and find the game you want to play.
Music for eShop
The eShop in Wii U and 3DS played catchy music. In fact, this even dates back to the Wii’s Shop. The music was so catchy it was even added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a remix. Why the eShop remains silent to this day no one knows. Much like with Themes, this would bring out more life in the Switch’s potential.
Pro Controller Disconnect
Specifically for Smash and potential fighting game players, Pro Controller Disconnect would become a massive help for the tournament scene at large. Right now, the only way to desync your Pro Controller is manually. Otherwise, you’ll have a synced Pro Controller prevent a character select screen from progressing into the tournament match just because the controller is still active. Without a way to immediately desync controllers by simply removing the USB cable from the Switch, this will continue being a nightmare for tournament organizers and pool captains wishing to go home from an event.
The list itself isn’t big by any means. It’s a few simple requests which Nintendo has chosen to stay silent about. Even after a 10.0.0 update, “stability enhancements” are about the most constructive thing Nintendo has done with the console save for one or two little features, such as zoom. While people will continue supporting the console due to its extensive software library, many fans remain skeptical that Nintendo will ever bother updating the system with the aforementioned features. But if the day comes, better late than never, right?
Which features would you like implemented most? Let us know in the comments below.
Released nearly one year ago, Fire Emblem: Three Houses quickly became one of Nintendo’s most successful Switch titles. Breaking sales records and even winning Players’ Voice at last year’s Game Awards, Fire Emblem: Three Houses has celebrated a year’s worth of love from its ever-growing fanbase. While the series has maintained ebbs and flows of success since its western debut in 2003, Fire Emblem: Awakening began a massive climb to mainstream success.
Followed by Fire Emblem Fates, Nintendo would allow players to choose sides, marketing the choice function that would affect the plot and divide fans over which side they would fight for. Shortly thereafter, Fire Emblem Heroes, the free-to-play mobile game, invited thousands of newcomers to try the series. This in turn would lead them to try other games in the series, such as the final 3DS title, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, in 2017.
With Three Houses, developer Intelligent Systems stepped into uncharted territory. Using new gameplay mechanics and exploring the story in a different wind, Three Houses maintains a new level of appeal evolving from the series’ history, but what elements make it so appealing to come back to? Even after 100 hours on one House playthrough, players are coming back to finish the story completely in all four routes.
The Four Routes Include Different Storylines
While the title is “Three Houses,” in truth there are four routes to play. In the Black Eagles route, one decision will change the direction of whom you side with. This in turn will change the timeskip route and your alliances in the process.
In a developer interview, Toshiyuki Kusakihara admitted his surprise that players would go through the game more than once. Despite largely playing through the same exact maps, but with different teams, the story would end with different twists, turns, and antagonists to fight. Theoretically, at least one playthrough should be sufficient to finish a game, such as the case of two highly successful JRPGs of this generation: Persona 5 and Dragon Quest XI. While one playthrough of Three Houses should suffice to clear a full game’s worth of story, you’ve still left many mysteries unsolved. The only way you’re going to unlock the full story is to clear the game three more times.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses features a New Game+ feature. This alone encourages a replay. In doing so, you can transfer over certain stats and abilities through the use of Renown. This functions similarly to the Grade Shop system in the Tales games. New Game+ modes allow you to transfer bits and pieces of your last playthrough over to your next one.
For the players who want a challenge, Maddening Difficulty was added in a post-release update. The Maddening Difficulty functions as the “Lunatic” or “Very Hard” mode of the game. With the New Game+ feature, players are encouraged to beat the game at least once so they can transfer over Renown and buff their characters as needed. Fire Emblem titles have allowed players to unlock more challenging difficulties for many years, dating as far back as Blazing Blade, if not sooner. Note that in Blazing Blade, players were encouraged to beat the game four times to play through every single difficulty level.
Bonding with Characters
Three Houses brims with personality across its entire roster. Typical for a Fire Emblem game, the title features many charming characters spread throughout the game. However, with the game split into four routes, each one will give you a chance to bond with different characters from their respective houses. Additionally, this will allow you to choose your partner over the course of four playthroughs
Fire Emblem: Three Houses brims with replay value and delight. It’s not a perfect game, but one that’s heavily enjoyable from start to finish. The gripping storyline and the choices you make will change with each playthrough. In order to uncover the true mystery of Foldan, Sothis, Seiros, Nemesis, and the motivations behind each Lord, you’ll have to play through it more than once. If your first playthrough is close to 100 hours then imagine sinking in roughly 400 hours when it’s all said and done. Plus, with the newly-released Cindered Shadows DLC, you’ll get an additional 8-10 hours worth of story content.
Normally, I clear games after one playthrough. If it has multiple endings or compelling extra content, like NieR: Automata, I’ll try and clear it 100%. As a longtime Fire Emblem fan, though, it’s hard for me not to clear this title and learn all of its lore. I’ve cleared multiple playthroughs of many games in the series, including all three routes of Fire Emblem Fates. Granted, this will take much longer than Fates ever did. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it.
How many times have you beaten Three Houses and what’s your favorite route? Let us know in the comments below.