Lately there have been a lot of commotions about the scandals at Nintendo of America’s Treehouse studio. The news was upsetting enough to have me consider whether I should write this review or not. However, I decided to do the review any ways since I really like FEF. Any ways, If you want to read more about the issue. Then check out Robin´s article on the matter, you might also want to read Dane´s “Fire Emblem: Fates – A broken trust” article. With that said, for this review, I am going to cover the graphics, audio, and gameplay of the North American release of “Fire Emblem: Fates Conquest” and grade it on those merits only (my grade will not be based on the Treehouse scandals).
However, before I start I want to state my opinion about the petting mini-game and censored accessories, since they were also affected by localization. Well, while I don’t like censorship as much as the next person. I can’t say I was excited over them. I have nothing against showing affections or giving enchanted revealing items to my arm. In this game, I’m more invested in other features such as My Castle and its role in Castle Defense.
With large fictional worlds, I have some hopes of seeing diversity in design and culture. After playing “Golden Sun” and its sequel “The Lost Age” I’ve always liked the idea of having more than one artistic theme and culture to represent different areas of the game world. Fire Emblem Fates not only shown this in their unit classes but also in art design. I was fascinated by the two styles and how different they are from one another. Hoshido’s Eastern and Nohr’s European fantasy influenced armor was part of the reason why I became invested with the game since the trailer. It actually feels like I’m fighting units from a different army instead of seeing enemies with the same body models as my army.
The transition from the overhead map to the fight scene is impressive as well. Instead of seeing the transitions like in “Fire Emblem Awakening“, the camera zooms from above to the point on the map. So, essentially the game has moved from stock backgrounds like in other RPGs to seeing the precise area on the map. Another nice touch falls under the animation. For example, when a unit is defeated bits of armor fly off from the character model. And this adds to the impact of how the battle goes when your units fall. The Battle Forecast also receives a nice feature.
The character portraits will change accordingly depending on the possible outcome, and from this information you can tell from the emotion of the portrait how the skirmish will end. Speaking of character portraits. I have read and noticed that some of the characters in this game resemble a number of the cast from Awakening. I have found a more peculiar design with King Garon’s advisor, Iago. For some bizarre reason, I find that he looks much like Mastema from “Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey”. So I have all the more reason to be wary of him.
The music is extremely good with some tracks inspired by different influences such as “Paradise (Dark)” sounding very Celtic. The one song that will stand out from the entire soundtrack is the game’s theme, “One’s Thought.” If you listen closely to a few other tracks, you can hear One’s Thought’s melody as part of the score. Voice acting in the game, on the other hand, is a mixed story. I didn’t like the “voice over” during the story dialogue because it didn’t really help me invest into reading it (I just want to follow what’s going on even if the translations are questionable.).
I honestly prefer full dubbing over dialogues like in “HuniePop” and “Devil Survivor Overclocked“. It’s a preference of mine to rather hearing them talk instead of making out-of-place sounds regardless of acting quality. That is not to say the voice acting is bad. Some of the best come from battle cries and such outside the story. My favorite lines so far come from Cam Clarke (Liquid Snake) as he voices Arthur. I always crack a smile when I hear him say corny lines such as “In the name of justice!” during battle. He’s like Captain Gordon’s (“Disgaea: Hour of Darkness“) lost fantasy cousin. I consider the voice acting to be pretty good with a bit of hilarity for some of the actors.
The gameplay is still the same formula with what Fire Emblem Awakening brought to the series. As you once again strategize with your units on the map and put the plan into action. While the developers kept what was not broken they (Intelligent Systems and Nintendo) have updated a number of mechanics since Awakening. One of the first updates you need to know is how the skills work in this game. Fire Emblem’s skills have gone from straightforward explanations to “Magic the Gathering” levels of conditions. Skills include damaging after an initiated battle, bonuses depending on what advantages the field tiles give, and being able to swap places on the map after a skirmish. In the last game I was mostly worried about Counter and Lethality. However, now it’s a necessity to look at your enemies’ character sheets.
They have also changed how Pair Ups and Tag Teams work. In Pair Ups, the buddy unit gives the other stat boosts as well as additional boosts based on support ranks during skirmishes (just like in Awakening). What it does differently, however, is that it becomes more of a defensive mechanic. The support unit won’t come in for Dual Strike. They will jump in to protect the other by chance. What is also new to pairing is a gauge that fills with points each time the enemy strikes. When they accumulate enough points, they’ll execute a guaranteed Dual Guard.
Tag Team still works as it did with boosts and possible Dual Strikes. The catch is the units can only be adjacent and the unit you want to tag team with must not be paired up. While a Pair Up unit can’t Tag Team with an adjacent one, it can be done vice versa and the Pair Up can still get boosts. While I’m not crazy about having to fill a gauge for Dual Guard, this new mechanic does balance gameplay out a bit, and it does so even in the multiplayer mode.
Another change you’ll have to learn is the revised Weapon Triangle. In Awakening the usual Lance, Sword, and Axe made the triangle while tomes and bows were ranged weapons. With the introduction of the brand-new weapon type, Hidden Weapon, the new Weapon Triangle goes as: Lance & Hidden Weapon, Swords & Tomes, and Axes & Bows. While this severally takes away the nuking power from Tomes, it does balance the weapons out. On the other hand, it can be easy to forget which weapon has an advantage over what. When I was playing I came up with a little system: Hidden Lances over Magic Swords over Broad Bows.
On the maps, it is possible for there to be a Dragon Vein. These spots will change the area it’s near such as thawing out a lake or building a land bridge. While Dragon Veins can give an advantage timing has to be considered. One of the chapters gives you a Dragon Vein to melt the ice over a lake while enemies are standing there, stopping them in their tracks. On the next turn, however, the lake will freeze up again because some dragon god decided to be a douche.
In place of the overview map seen from “Fire Emblem Awakening”, is the “My Castle”. My Castle is your headquarters for shopping, unit management, and building your own little kingdom. Besides that, My castle also doubles as a battlefield for Castle Defense on wireless & Internet multiplayer, Streetpass, and Invasions (side missions). Furthermore, this is where you will meet characters that are brought in via amiibos. With amiibos such as Lucina, Marth, or Ike you can battle and recruit them for your army. Sadly, I don’t have any of the FE amiibos or the portal device to test this feature out.
The biggest difference between Birthright and Conquest (the current version I own.) is the difficulty. Unlike the Hoshido campaign those who side with Nohr will have little chance to grind for EXP and will have a hard time earning gold. The difficulty can be lowered, but it can’t be brought back up after it is changed. There is also DLC similar to the Gold Pack from Awakening where you can acquire more EXP, gold, and better weapons. I recommend that for Conquest the Casual setting should be considered. It is very easy to lose a unit when the A.I. takes advantage of the same mechanics that you have at your disposal.
+ Revised gameplay mechanics for a more challenging playthrough.
+ Art style is appealing and gives the Hoshido and Nohr factions diversity.
+ Decent voice acting and music.
– It takes some time for you to get used to the revamped mechanics
– Difficulty can be brutal with little EXP gain and gold income
Replay value: 4/5
The localization may have done a number on it on the story department. However, as I stated at the very beginning of this review. I wanted to focus on elements of the game outside of the localization and Treehouse scandals. With all that is said, the North American release is worth playing if you don’t feel conflicted about the situation.
Title: Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Format: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Strategy RPG
Resolution: Played on Nintendo 3DS – 800 x 240/320 x 240
Release date: 2016-02-19
Spent time: 8+ hours
Average grade internationally: 87.05% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI 12+/Teen
Price: $39.99 (DLC shop)
The Gaming Ground
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