I never thought I'd see the day that I actually had something positive to say about a mobile game, let alone take the time to write about one. Someone might want to record what I'm about to say because I'll probably never say it again - I played a game on my cell phone, and it was freaking incredible. There, I said it. I still stand by my general rule of "Mobile phone games are for trash plebs," but there's an exception to every rule, and this is the exception to that one.
When I first heard Nintendo announce a Fire Emblem game for iOS and Android, I was more than a little skeptical. Fire Emblem is my all time favorite video game franchise; how could they sully its glory with mobile filth? However, I've learned to trust Nintendo; they're not infallible, but even when the market votes against them, I'm VERY rarely disappointed with their products. I downloaded Fire Emblem Heroes as soon as it hit the Google Play store, and I was immediately impressed. Honestly, stunned is a better word. I know I'm going to get a lot of "I told you so!" from the folks who've spent year(s) telling me that mobile games aren't all the trash I make them out to be, and while I still refuse to acknowledge the mere possibility that there's any merit to such a heretical statement, I will admit that in this ONE particular instance, I stand corrected.
As you can see from my screenshots, the game plays largely like your standard Fire Emblem game just scaled down. You can only deploy four units at a time, the entire battlefield is what you see on screen, and the size of the enemy force will range from three units to five or six units, but the core combat is Fire Emblem through and through. Your units gain experience and level up, and while you can't outfit them with equipment per se, you can upgrade their weapons as if they were skills, from an Iron Sword to a Steel Sword, for example. The game looks fantastic for being on such a filthy peasant platform, and while I'm not a fan of the frankly awkward vocals added to the main Fire Emblem theme, the music and general sound design are really impressive. If you had asked me a year ago if it would be possible to size Fire Emblem down to a freaking cell phone game and keep what makes it "Fire Emblem" intact, I'd have laughed at you and called you an idiot. I'd have been dead wrong.
"But what about the in-app purchases??? Don't microtransactions kill it??" Surprisingly, no, they don't. Unless you're impatient (admittedly, I did have about $6 worth of impatience in me), you'll never need to make a single in-app purchase to get the full experience. Your stamina - what you need to take on quests - refills over time, the training missions will reward you with crystals and shards needed to level up and enhance your units (as well as providing a battle in which to grind), and you can get orbs as a reward for finishing each story mission for the first time. If you want to buy orbs, you may for a small fee; I think it ranges from $2 for 3 orbs all the way up to $75 for 140 orbs. Orbs are what you use to summon new heroes or upgrade your castle (which provides a permanent EXP boost up to 100%) as well as continue if you lose all of your units in a battle. When you summon a hero, it will have a star rating between one and five. You start off with a few two star units, but you really want four and five star. I, unfortunately, was not as lucky as my pal Yukii you see up there (screw you) and never did get a five star unit; I was stuck with all two and three stars for the first half of the game until I broke down, spent $6 on orbs, and got more three stars a few four star units.
Given the microtransaction-y nature of freemium mobile games, I'm very glad that they excluded weapon durability and permadeath from Heroes. I know they're staples of Fire Emblem, but since you have to use orbs to summon units, and it's random how good your units will be or where they fall on the weapon triangle, I'm glad they omitted it. Fans of strategy games need to give this game a download, and fans of Fire Emblem...have probably already been playing it, to be honest, but if you haven't, you DEFINITELY need to download it. I really can't express how impressed I am with this game and how thrilled I am to have been wrong about how this mobile game was going to turn out. Leave it to Nintendo to show me that games can be made for mobile and not suck ass.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.