ファイアーエムブレム覚醒: Initial Thoughts

The new Fire Emblem 3ds game, かくせい (Awakening—yes I had to look that word up) arrived in the mail today. I haven’t spent a lot of time with it yet, but so far I like it.

When I first get a Japanese video game, especially one that I’ve never tried to play in Japanese, or that may be text-heavy, I’m afraid to play it. I want to. I’m just afraid to fail…at playing. The entire idea of failing at playing seems ludicrous. Play should be fun and effortless. I’ll be honest, sometimes playing a game in a foreign language is more frustrating than fun, but the more you do it the easier it becomes (as with anything).

I waited most of the day to even take Fire Emblem out of the box. But finally I did. And I put it in the 3DS and loaded it up. And then I got excited over the stupidest thing: OMG! I understand the screen that says it’s making preparations to start the game!

ゲームを始める準備を開始します。

Like many of today’s games, you can customize your character. You choose whether to play the game as a male or female. Pick a few different statures (creepy little girl anyone?), a few different faces (angry, squinty eyes), and lots of different hair colors (hooray for purple!). You even get to customize your character’s strengths and weaknesses. I decided to give mine good magic power and weak physical defense. It’s so hard to decide what a weakness should be. You never know when they’ll need that luck stat.

Oh! And if I read it correctly (big if) you have the choice in this game of “casual play” so that if your party members die they don’t really die. While I love the difficulty of Fire Emblem and the constant resetting to replay a board in which the same character dies over and over and over I decided to take the easy way out and set it to casual. Similarly I’m playing on normal difficulty, not hard.

Fire Emblem Bad Guy

Some of the simple parts of conversations I get— like クロム’s little sister wants to stay in the town and sleep in a bed instead of leaving right away, but his knight buddy won’t let them stay. But the deal with the bad guy? No idea. There’s no furigana in it, and it’s kanji heavy, but it’s at least a fairly decent size. In some games (like Monster Hunter 3G) the kanji is miniscule.

Fire Emblem Help Screen

The battle instructions (so far, I’m sure they get a little more in depth) are fairly easy to understand. They’re all shown on the bottom screen, with pictures, so even though the words may make you furrow your eyebrows, the picture illuminates them. For example, the picture above clearly illustrates how to march over and attack the opponent even though you may not know the accompanying kanji.

I only played one real battle before deciding to write this up. Battles operate much like previous fire emblem games, but the actual attacks are much prettier and more animated. The one major difference in combat so far is that adjacent characters join you in battle. I’m not entirely certain how this works because I only fought a couple easy people and while characters joined in, they didn’t do anything because the attacking character killed the enemy right off, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the teamwork plays out.

So, my fear of the game has dissipated. Back to it! 頑張ろう!