The announcement of the date – or at least the month – of the arrival of Super Mario Run to Android filled all of us Android gamers with joy. But that’s not the only Nintendo game about to roll out on our phones, as in February we’ve got a date with one of the most lauded sagas from the Japanese electronics giant: Fire Emblem is coming to mobile devices with the “Heroes” surname. This is big news, folks. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide about all things Fire Emblem Heroes-related. Enjoy!
What is Fire Emblem?
Fire Emblem is an iconic saga from Nintendo that’s been with us since 1990 and has made appearances on tons of different consoles from the Big N. The odd thing about Fire Emblem Heroes is that it’ll be the first game in the franchise not to come out on a Nintendo console. The Japanese company has placed heavy bets on mobile gaming and this is yet more proof of that strategy.
The story line is similar in most games in the saga and tends to take you to a conflict between different kingdoms where treachery, plot twists, and conquests of territory make up the bulk of the game. All modeled on the typical Japanese roleplay epics set in a medieval fantasy world.
How do you play?
If you’ve ever played one of the Fire Emblem saga games then you’ll already know the deal here. Your aim in this turn-based SRPG involves battling enemy armies. To do so, you move your units around a gridded map where you go into battles that are started either with your attack on an enemy or an enemy’s attack on you.
These battles play out with a rock-paper-scissors-style gameplay, but with weapons: lance defeats sword, sword defeats axe, axe defeats lance. Things gets complicated with remote weapons and magic (that comes with its own advantages and disadvantages), but is focused on this basic triangular system.
What’s new in Fire Emblem Heroes
As this is a game for smartphones and tablets, the map is adapted to mobile screens, with the result divided into an 8×6 grid – ideal for smooth gaming. Send four units from your army into battle and move them around or make them attack by tapping the screen.
One of the most important features of the original Fire Emblem games isn’t here: there’s no permadeath, so you won’t have to worry so much about your characters dying in battle. They’ll all reappear in your battalion after the battle ends.
The characters’ stats have also been simplified: their quality is measured with Attack, Defense, Speed, and Resistance scores. And there are different game modes on top of the campaign one: PvP duels through “The Coliseum” that can give you powerful objects, timed battles to win new heroes if you come out victorious, and training fights to level up your characters.
The different heroes who fill your ranks largely come from other titles in the saga, so gamers like me are probably fanboying at the idea of battling Marth, Roy, Chrom, Robin, or Lucina once again. Every hero has been redesigned and belongs to a set color group (based on the battle triangle) to designate its strengths and weaknesses. That said, you can’t recruit all the characters in the standard way of finding them in your story line and then beating them in duels. To get all of them you’ll have to spend real money.
A free-to-play game
The game is free, but collecting the different heroes uses the “gacha” model. This system is super popular in Japan and involves dispenser machines with plastic eggs that have a prize. This is usually a collectible figure, which fits well with this game’s concept of getting new characters for the title. The problem is that this method can get excessively addictive as you agonize over what prize – or character in this case – will appear when you open a new egg.
The official currency in Fire Emblem Heroes is the “orb.” You’ll get these as you win battles (one victory equals one orb). Summoning a random hero to your army will cost you five, though they get cheaper if you summon five or more. The more the better, really, though you’ll likely be tempted to pay. The prices announced for now are the following: $1.99 for 3 orbs, $5.99 for 10, $19.99 for 35… Obviously they get more economical as you buy more and more, but people who tend to get addicted to smartphone games should obviously have some concerns about this business model.
Plus you might get repeats amongst the characters you summon as their skills can vary. Each character comes with stars, and these can increase as you beat enemies or level up. This is common in tons of games for smartphones, like, for instance, Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons.
We’re not here to criticize the free-to-play model as the vast majority of mobile games use it, we just hope that Fire Emblem Heroes doesn’t got from free-to-play to pay-to-win.
Though at first February 2 was set as the release date for Android only, Nintendo has now made clear that it’ll be the same date for iOS. So mark February 2 in your calendars, folks.