Nintendo is an unpredictable company in recent years, especially when considering their involvement in the mobile games market thus far. By mobile games, we’re referring to the smartphone empire, of course, as Nintendo is obviously the godfather of games on the go. First, they release a strange social media app Miitomo, popular for a month if not less. Next, The Pokemon Company released Pokemon Go in collaboration with a small GPS company Niantic, revolutionizing the world with possibly the most popular iPhone game of 2016. Then, they hyped up a Super Mario game for the phone, only for it to be a smelly piece of crap akin to every other “Blankity-Blank Run” game. Now they release Fire Emblem Heroes, and frankly, I was almost impressed with their addition to and twist on the mobile summoning RPG genre. Emphasis on the word “almost.”
Fire Emblem is the opera of video games; sure, people have heard of it, but are they really going to sit there for hours on end looking at ridiculous-looking foreign people in medieval getups interact in a plot nobody even cares about? The JRPG franchise has housed Fire Emblem for a while, but up until Super Smash Bros. was released nobody really gave a damn about Marth, Ike and Roy. The three stooges all starred in these complicated RPGs that was essentially chess on crack. Every piece (or character) has only one way of taking the enemy out with unique movement for each character and once they died, that’s it, you can never have them come back. It’s just like war in real life, except in reality swords don’t beat axes and axes don’t beat lances: whatever touches skin first wins.
In recent years, Fire Emblem has become more popular for three reasons: emphasis on character interaction and stories that don’t entirely blow, a mode where units don’t die like they would in real life, and crossovers up the wazoo. This iPhone game grabs whatever it can from the user’s almost disturbing amount of love for certain characters, yet most of the characters are from the most recent games, Fates and Awakening. This character-centric gameplay works for a summoning game, relying on the user’s love of certain characters to continue playing for a chance to obtain them.
The plot is the same as every summoning, mobile device crossover game: bad. After gaining units Alphonse, Anna, and m-m-m-my Shareena, you are introduced to the combat system: moving characters on a variety of 6-by-8 tile maps to kick the crap out of each other. After demolishing ass, you are given orbs to summon characters with, as expected from any summoning RPG system. Once you have 20 orbs, you can summon 5 characters, but if you don’t want to summon from the 5 preordained characters that you can’t see yet, you can summon 3 more times separately for absolutely no reason that I can understand. There is also an arena mode where you can fight other players, but they’re all AI-controlled anyway; the difficulty lies in the map layout and less so the opposing players themselves.
The problem lies with the inclusion of 5-stars and the extremely low chance of obtaining them. Sure, there are many characters that Fire Emblem characters people have loved over the years, yet your chances of landing an important main character are 10%, 3% for a 5-star character. Considering how long it takes to get 20 orbs, this is ridiculous, stupid, and dumb, almost as dumb as not being able to ride a horse through around a couple of trees.
In the end, this is another example of great exposure for Fire Emblem: a free game with an easy-to-learn version of their combat system with no chance at missing attacks, evading attacks or crits. Each character gets a special ability and is upgradable, however tough getting the resources to do so is. If you have never played a Fire Emblem game, it’s worth a try, but if you’re a Fire Emblem fan it’s a must-have, despite its faults. Fire Emblem Heroes gives you a fun combat system from a long-running franchise and makes sure you never get any characters you like.