Platform: iOS / Android
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: February 2nd, 2017
When someone brings up the words Fire Emblem to me, something special happens down low for me. No, higher than that. In my gut. I get butterflies thinking about how special this game series has been for me ever since it’s SNES days. When I heard Nintendo was tapping this series to develop their mobile presence, I was crushed – mobile games and I just have not clicked. So, with a healthy dose of skepticism, I downloaded Fire Emblem: Heroes, and decided to give it it’s, Broken Review.
What They Did Right
One thing that is noticeably done well in this game, is that its story and gameplay fits the platform. I’ll speak to my dislike of how the platform is treated later, but you can tell that Intelligent Systems took a hard look at the franchise and how it would work best on a mobile platform.
The story is based around gathering past heroes from the earlier games in the franchise, a solid play to fans who are just in it for the nostalgia. It’s delivered in short chapter forms with dialogue easy enough for younger generations have a chance to discover the series. They’re not breaking any new ground in a literary sense, but it does allow you to skim through and not get tangled up in dialogue while you’re just trying to make bathroom time.
Art in this game is very solid. There are multiple styles, with varying layers of depth, and they all fit together without it feeling detached. This could easily be taken for granted, but the art direction at Intelligent Systems is top notch for a mobile gaming and looked at by the mobile industry as it’s high watermark.
What They Could’ve Done Better
With all the good things that this game has going for it, there are area’s that the game could have nailed a little better. The story while easily grasped is a bit abstract. I never had a sense while playing it that I was being pulled into the world and it’s story. Nothing about it gripped me and that’s a problem in an RPG. What role was I actually playing? I found myself at times clicking through the game, disengaged by the lack of a strong storytelling but still being successful in the game.
The sound design in this game is blaring in your ears. Loading up the game for the first time, the main theme song is ironically taunting in your face. I feel like this error and other voice over dialogue took me out of the game’s setting.
What They Shouldn’t Have Done
The largest glaring issue that I found myself hating in Fire Emblem Heroes was it’s stat’s / hero creation process. Although they have done a good job not fully leaning into a greedy token system, the randomness within their hero creation and stat allocation are suspect. It’s not the biggest problem you’ve seen in an online game but one that is a large frustration.
A big issue that takes a lot of fun out of this game, which I think made the past in the series great, is how they limit you to four characters on the field. I have the fantastic memories of controlling multiple units feeling like I was commanding the battlefield to my victory. Limiting the gameplay to four controllable unit’s feels as if they are gutting the heart of Fire Emblems gameplay.
If you into mobile games, Fire Emblem might be the RPG that you’ve been waiting on to give you the brief stints of enjoyment that you have been looking for. Intelligent Systems has done a very noble job porting this series into its mobile self. A lot of this game is done well, but the major issues that strike me have to do with the nature of mobile games. I think that there was a massively missed opportunity to elevate the mobile platform from a quick fix, money driven model – to a longer form, deeper gaming experience that can take place at times in your life where traditional games can’t fit in.
Reviewed by: Brian @drnkie
Broken Review is a segment on the weekly podcast Broken Controllers. You can find us live every Saturday night at 8 pm est on twitch.tv/backspacenomads. To connect with us, follow our twitter, @backspacenomads.
Brian @drnkie: Fire Emblem Heroes is a solid game if you’re looking for a mobile experience. I’m not the type of gamer that is, and I wish the developer would have pushed the boundaries of the platform.
Monica @UnicornholeTV: No, it’s not anything akin to a console game but, Fire Emblem feels like an improvement in the mobile gaming sphere. The strategy aids in the enjoyment while the story and pay-to-continue elements may induce dry mouth.
Josh @JoshuaGoode: :