Fire Emblem Fates

10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Fire Emblem Fates’

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Fire Emblem Fates

I played my first Fire Emblem game in 2003, and it instantly became one of my favorite series. Moreover, alongside Advance Wars, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and the Super Robot Wars franchise, it helped make turn-based tactics games my new favorite genre.

In a mere two days, the latest entry in the series, Fire Emblems Fates, will release here in North America for the Nintendo 3DS. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know before you make your purchase.

So these are those guys from Smash Bros, right?
Yes and no. Corrin, your player avatar in Fates, was recently made available as a new DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. However, as much as you may like Corrin (or Ike or Marth or Roy or Lucina or Robin) in Smash, don’t go into Fire Emblem Fates expecting a madcap multiplayer fighting game. Instead, it’s a story-heavy turn-based strategy title.

FEF Conquest gridAnd turn-based strategy is…
The best thing in the world! Seriously, though, imagine your favorite fantasy RPG–a classic Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, if you will. Now, rather than a massive overworld map with tons of random encounters, imagine if the action instead took place on a series of smaller, gridded battlefields. Each side moves his characters in turn, and, when they come within range, can initiate combat. This also opens up the gameplay for larger parties, additional support options, and–you guessed it–deeper strategy.

Ok, but what was all that talk about the “petting mini-game”?
Well alrighty then–let’s go there! In the original Japanese iteration of Fates (released last year), there was an option included where potential paramours could be invited back to your quarters between combat missions and “petted” on the face and neck using the 3DS touchscreen to build up affection. Romance and marriage aren’t exactly new elements of Fire Emblem gameplay, and this “come on over to my place” (RIP Teddy Pendergrass) element is still there in the domestic release. The petting option, however, has been removed.

A rather questionable component of the game’s treatment of support character Soleil also got the axe. Basically, in the original release Soleil was a lesbian who gets extremely nervous around “cute girls.” As the game continues and the player character converses with her–these support conversations are very important in Fire Emblem both within combat and without–an option eventually opens up to spike her drink with a powder that makes her perceive other characters as the opposite gender. This can ultimately result in Soleil falling in love with a male character, and, if you ask me, is even weirder and potentially much more troubling than a little face pokin’. Either way, both have been excised from the US release.

So they cut out all the objectionable stuff for the American release?
That’s really dependent on your own personal sense of what is and is not offensive. Sure, the petting and magic straight girl potion were removed, but there are still elements of sensuality throughout Fates.

FEF camillaAs I said, you can still invite characters to your house in the game’s castle-building simulator to try and make a love connection, and, even though they don’t coo when you touch ’em, you are treated to a close-up of their head and torso, so there are ample opportunities to ogle bosoms if that’s a thing you’re into. Speaking of which, a number of the support characters–particularly Corrin’s adopted sister Camilla–are fairly sensualized in both their design and vocalization.

And that’s not even taking into consideration that the title is crazy violent. I mean, while it’s never bloody or graphic, Fates is a game about warring empires, so opportunities for death, destruction, and mayhem abound.

TL;DR Fire Emblem Fates is rated T by the ESRB, specifically for “Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes.” I understand that lots of kids enjoy Super Smash Bros. and may simply want to pick up this game because they have grown fond of the included Fire Emblem characters, but this is a very different game designed for a very different audience.

Duly noted, but what exactly is this game about?
Ok, now we get to the really good part! Outside of the turn-based combat and vibrant fantasy world, there are some things that old fans have come to expect from Fire Emblem: amnesia as a plot device, people who are actually dragons, one or more characters afflicted by a mysterious ailment, evil emperors. Yeah, Fates ticks all those boxes–and so much more.

Fire Emblem Fates tells the story of Corrin, a young prince/princess of the Hoshido kingdom who was captured and raised in isolation by the rival kingdom of Nohr. On his first mission for his adoptive father, King Garon, Corrin comes face to face with his blood relations–his mother and siblings–as well as Azura, a Nohrian princess who, like him, was taken from her rightful home.

It quickly becomes apparent, however, that even this seemingly coincidental meeting was cleverly engineered by Garon, who takes the opportunity to strike a critical blow to Hoshido and its citizens. It then falls to Corrin to make the hardest of choices: does he return to Nohr and serve with the family that raised him, or does he betray them in favor of his blood kin?

It all depends on which version of the game you decide to pick up.

Wait–there are how many different versions of this game?!
That’s actually… kinda complicated. Essentially, there are two different versions of the standard Fire Emblem Fates cartridge: Birthright and Conquest. In Birthright, our hero sides with his hereditary family to fend off the Nohrian interlopers. In Conquest, he (or she) instead returns to the side of his adoptive family, fighting the armies of Hoshido while simultaneously attempting to overthrow the power-mad Garon.

Birthright offers an easier, more straightforward campaign, while Conquest ratchets up the difficulty as well as the drama. However, there is a third (downloadable) option entitled Revelation; this path sees Corrin reject both families and strike out to uncover what great mystery truly lies at the heart of the rival kingdoms’ longtime animosity. Fans are encouraged to download the two alternate paths at a sizable discount–$19.99, as opposed to the original game’s MSRP of $39.99–and explore all the facets of this already expansive title.

FEF special ed

There’s also a special edition game targeting Fire Emblem diehards that includes all three paths on a single cartridge, as well as a gorgeous 80-page art book and Fates-themed carrying pouch. Retailing for $79.99 (or $63.99 using Amazon’s new Prime incentive program), it’s the definitive version, but, sadly, it sold out quickly online.

And lest I forget the Fire Emblems Fates GameStop bundle. Priced at $279.99, this one nets you Birthright, Conquest, and a New Nintendo 3DS XL with an exclusive Fates design. You can also scoop up the New 3DS XL on its own for $199.99 via Amazon.

How is this one different from the previous 3DS title?
In addition to the already discussed My Castle mode–in which you can not only romance suitors but also customize the surrounding village and fend off invaders via StreetPass–Fates brings a lot of new features to the table. Most obviously is a change from the more traditional western fantasy of previous titles to Fates roots in Japanese culture and mythology. This influences the overall visual representation and music of the title, as well as the addition of new weapons (shuriken, katana, naginata) and classes (maid, butler, oni savage). Characters of royal blood also have access to a new Dragon Vein ability that allows them to alter the battlefield at specific points on some maps.

Another notable difference is a third difficulty mode. In addition to the game’s Classic Mode of play–wherein support character perma-death is a constant threat–and the more forgiving Casual Mode that sees characters flee a battle once their health has been exhausted, Fates also introduces Phoenix Mode. In Phoenix Mode, fallen characters can be revived on the next turn.

The game even forgoes the old limited-use weapon system for all armaments save special assets like healing staves. Rather than having a weapon break after a set number of uses, most instead can be used an unlimited number of times, but this comes at a price. More powerful weapons negatively affect the holder’s stats, essentially lowering things like Defense or Speed while bolstering attack damage.

FEF Conquest hthIs Nintendo even bothering with the 3D elements anymore?
Yes, and the developers at Intelligent Systems have done a phenomenal job on Fates‘ visuals. The opening cinematic is nothing short of breathtaking, and the depth afforded by the 3DS to its cut-scenes make them equally inspired.

While the 3D may not offer a lot on the movement map, it combines with an adjustable camera system to make the combat even more frenetic. (Though, admittedly, sometimes this title does rely a bit too much on the old Vaseline-on-the-lens effect to simulate the speed of battle.)

Is there any amiibo support?
Yes, and it’s an easy way to bring those other Smash Bros. favorites into your game, albeit in a limited capacity. You can use your amiibo to lure Marth, Lucina, and the rest in to your village in My Castle mode–they may even bring you a special item!

What about newcomers? Is this a good starting point for Fire Emblem newbs?
In truth, I’m rather torn on this issue. Fire Emblem: Awakening was, from its straightforward character generation to its single cohesive narrative to its tightly tuned approach to gridded warfare, a great on-ramp for new Fire Emblem players. And Fates is no Awakening.

In fact, on some levels, Fire Emblem Fates is the antitheses of Fire Emblem: Awakening. Awakening told the story of a man (or woman) desperately trying to avoid hurting those he cares for most–whereas in Fates that outcome is practically guaranteed from the onset.

Mostly, though, I think that–particularly as a longtime fan–Fates perhaps didn’t seem as Fire Emblem-y as I had anticipated. In its more eastern cultural leanings, its deeply multifaceted storytelling, and even its departure from the classic limited-use weapons system, Fire Emblem Fates is something new. But, just like the reboot of a movie franchise or a continuity shuffle in a comic book never invalidates the media that came before, the new slant of Fates does not tarnish all the amazing Fire Emblem titles that I’ve loved in the past.

Now that all that’s been said, I can honestly state with that Fire Emblem Fates is its own thing. Moreover, it is several things. If you are a returning fan looking for more of that perfectly punishing fantasy combat you found in the previous entries, Fates can give you that. But if you’re a turn-based strategy novice in need of a fun and forgiving first tentative step into the genre, Fates can be that as well.

Fire Emblem Fates tells a number of stories in any number of ways, with the common denominator being its exquisite production values and finely tuned combat. Whatever distinct brand of handheld adventure you seek, it can very likely be found on this same little cartridge.

Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America

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14 thoughts on “10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Fire Emblem Fates’

  1. Great review…but the information on the Fire Emblem Fates bundle needs revision, or there will be hearts breaking everywhere Friday morning when they do not find copies of Birthright or Conquest for that price of $ 199.99…

  2. Although I’m a huge Fire Emblem buff, I found this article very informative and well-written. Great job!

  3. you didnt number your list of ten things i should know so i dont know shit. still buying the game binch. 0/10.

    1. Sorry but she was, she only had male romance options for the male fans and people who are homophobic

      1. She was not gay/lesbian or it was never confirmed she was. This was an assumption made in the Japanese version of the game because she mimicked how her father acted around women and in truth was much more successful at it than him. However even though gay mariage is allowed in the game for the tharja reincarnate child and niles, soleil does not have that option. Before you respond with a because of all the homophobes and male fans, they put gay mariage in the game it’s in there if they were worried about homophobes there wouldn’t be any gay mariage allowed same with the male fans they could have made her bi and no one would have complained any more over what’s already in there. Soleil copied her fathers personality like alot of the children in the game do. you can believe she is lesbian all you want but the facts are she can marry male characters not female ones so at the very most she would be bi like niles and the tharja reinacarnate shara.

  4. Great article, for a adult. Didn’t expect a “grown-up” to understand modern gaming. >;)

    But that petting thing just isn’t… displayed properly. In Japan, that practice is called “skinship” not “petting” (This was a very inaccurate Western term that in my opinion, serves to try and make this seem inhumane.) and it’s something you do with your partners to boost affection. And no, I don’t mean just groping.

    The controversy surrounding Soleil wasn’t explained very well in the article too. For anyone else who’s reading, allow me to give a short but indepth summary:

    Soleil is, as the article stated, “shy around girls”. She may, or may not, roll towards people of her sex. (Which is fine, quite a creative character if I say so myself. And the comment section seems to disagree on her being a lesbian. Not in a offensive way of course.) The main character learns about this and tries to genuinely help her. (The avatar isn’t exactly the best in making decisions, and is very naïve and innocent.) They give her a drug that makes them see all men as women to try and help them overcome their fear. This fails, but if you get them to try and pursue a romance, Soleil realizes that she loves the main character and they get together even if she isn’t exactly interested in men.

    From what I remember, due to early rough Tumblr translations of the Japanese game, this was misinterpreted as something else and the politically correct Tumblr blew this out of control. People got to the truth surrounding this and found out that this was wrong, but it was too late.

    This certainly pissed people off, I got a bit annoyed as well. Western culture could apparently not handle this and due to the translators, waaaay too many modern stuff was put into this game (one of the main characters, Azura, mentions “sexism” during one of her later supports with Saizo ((the modern concept and definitions of “sexism” would NOT exist in a time period like that)) as well as Sakura saying she couldn’t have her coffee during the gold DLC map because she was waken up so early ((which this type of time period would not have))

    Sorry for the miniature rant, but this links into a bunch of other political ideas, “political correctness” has a hand in this and it’s being called “censorship”.

    My only requests is that you try and reword the “petting” section and try and explain this practice. As well as rewording the controversy surrounding Soleil. This article is intended for parents after all. Here, I have a link to help you get started on skinship:

    If you can’t, then I’m sorry for this long comment. You probably already knew all of this and tried to word all of this as best as you could. Maybe it’s just me who sees it like this.

    Your article is really great and well-written regardless. 10/10 Would read again.

  5. Good thing they removed the petting feature from the game. If it had remained I don’t know what manner of perverted nightmares my son would have gotten, he’s only 14. Perhaps they should also remove the romance feature altogether? This feature might induce inappropriate thoughts on relationships in minors playing the game. Actually, just ban the sale and distribution of the game completely, it is the only way to be safe.

    1. Not really sure if you’re being serious or just joking. I do believe its a cultural difference, but skinship in Asian cultures is not equivalent to petting. And in the game, all you can do is touch them on the face (which apparently to Westerners, is reason to cause a massive uproar, and yet they allow people to dance on stage with little to no clothing at all).

      Perverted nightmares? Everything is so sexualised these days I’d be surprised he isn’t getting them already, unless of course, you’ve denied him access to things such as YouTube and on second thought, the internet in general.

      The romance part is basically a declaration of love, and even kisses just involve everything fading into a white screen. There are no sounds either, so I’m not sure what you’re ‘concerned’ about in that regard.

    2. if that’s the case, then just lock him in a windowless room and ban him from crushing on someone, because basically the unit’s are just marrying…
      It’s fluffy parents like this that made all the Overwatch Tracer drama, my mom’s a hardass mom. She doesn’t take shit from nobody, but she’s chill too, she’s cool. But the over reactive parents annoy me, voting to ban everything. (And this game’s art style is anime, and if you don’t like THIS, then you BETTER not watch ANY anime EVER)

      (P.S. please be a troll, don’t reply with “yeah, that’s me, the fluffy parent”

      I’m 14 too, and I don’t get off to anything from that game, I just LOVE the story, I am not caring about “skinship”)

    3. I’m sorry for my last reply, my best friend just killed herself. I am pissed because of that. But still, it’s Nintendo’s game, let them decide what they do and do not remove from their games when shipping over seas. And this game DID make Nintendo a lot of money, same with awakening. I think because of the new art style and the romances feature that the series is still growing strong.

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