Whew, this game has been getting so many polemical comments throughout the last couple of months, eh? Before I could finish off Code:Realize (just missing Lupin’s route), I wanted to share my opinion on this tactical role-playing adventure. I’ve been waiting to play this game since last year and it was only around a month before release that controversy came about.
First of all, a certain support between the male avatar and a character named Soleil (from Conquest), which made several people cringe, was changed to avoid trouble. Secondly, the amie element, where you could pet the characters, was removed, only leaving the dialogues that came afterwards. And last, but not least, dual audio was not included, unlike it’s predecessor Fire Emblem: Awakening.
So, what’s the plot behind this story? The avatar (Kamui in japanese, Corrin in USA), a prince/princess living in the kingdom of Nohr, has finally become of age and is now allowed to go on missions against Hoshido, the neighbor kingdom they are in bad terms with. During one of these missions, the avatar founds himself/herself wandering near Hoshido’s entrance. He/She is recognized as part of the Hoshido royal family and brought to meet her blood relatives at the capital city, along with the mysterious songstress Azura. Nohr soldiers then invade the city and the avatar is forced to choose who to side with. Will he/she choose the family he/she grew up with in Nohr, or the newly found one in Hoshido?
Note: This review contains spoilers so read at your own risk (it contains spoilers of Fire Emblem: Awakening too). If you want to avoid them, though, just jump to “conclusive thoughts”. Also, since I played as a female, I’ll be referring to Corrin as a she.
After five chapters with no differences between the two kingdoms, chapter six pushes you to choose between Birthright or Conquest. I chose Hoshido first because of various reasons: the gameplay is more similar to that of Awakening (it allows grinding), it’s easier, many fans recommend to start with this one and then head over to Nohr, there were several characters I was interested in and…Takumi. Anyway, haha, this game surprised me with some of the plot twists that started appearing. Unfortunately, I was spoiled on some stuff (like Mikoto and Flora‘s death), but that didn’t make the experience any less enjoyable. I assume one of the reasons Hoshido’s easier, is because many people hate Nohr guts (apart from the grinding that is not present in Nohr) so you don’t have as much enemies. Basically, it’s all Garon‘s fault, so you kill him and everyone is lives happily ever after 😆 .
The story focused heavily on the royals and Azura (who is pretty much the “Chrom” of Fates), so you could perfectly advance through the game without bothering to play the paralogues. This is one of the things I didn’t like about the game, it feels as if the kids were just and excuse, added only because they were popular in Awakening. Don’t get me wrong, they are all absolutely adorable (especially Selkie, Kiragi, Hisame, and my cutiepie son Kana) and I love them, but story-wise…they are worthless. In Awakening, the kids had an actual purpose, they came from the future in order to avoid their parent’s death and stop Grima. Here, not only are they conceived during the war, but when you get back to the main chapters of the story, it’s as if they didn’t even exist. The same happens if you marry one of the royals. I married Takumi and he still treated me like a sister (DUDE, WE HAVE TWO CHILDREN, I’M NOT YO’ SIS ANYMORE). Oh, and yeah, you’re not blood related to any of them. I know many people find this strange but it’s really common in Japan to get romance with brotherly and/or sisterly figures who are not blood related. The truth will probably be told in Revelations but, in essence, you are only Mikoto’s child and the other royals are only Sumeragi’s children. Ok, back to the topic, whether you have children or get married to a royal, it doesn’t change ANYTHING in the story. I’m not saying I wanted a major change, just, you know, a couple of dialogues like the one with Lucina in Awakening (some of it changes if you are her lover, her mother or just her friend).
Moving on, the game system was amply neat. At first, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing in My Castle but, after I got the hang of it, I enjoyed it a whole lot!! You can visit others’ castles, bond with your teammates (and your spouse, once you get married), relax at the hot springs, buy equipment and accessories, make your army cook 😆 , really, lots of interesting stuff. If you have an amiibo, you can also scan it and it’ll visit your castle!! I scanned my Marth that I got for my birthday last year, and he gave me a Dragon Hairpin. I read somewhere that if you scan them a few more times, you can battle them and recruit them. Sounds good to me! 😀
Another aspect I liked a lot from the game was the fact that it wasn’t so simple. And I don’t mean battles only. For instance, in chapter fifteen, you arrive at Mount Garou and battle the Wolfskin. So far, so good, right? Well, after you beat Keaton and his furry friends, you have a heartwarming conversation with Kaze, who asks to become your retainer. The thing is that, unless you’ve reached A support with him…KAZE FREAKIN’ DIES. And that was totally unexpected (and super painful) but, story-wise, it was brilliant. There are also some characters (like Izana, for example) that join you, not in a specific chapter, but after you update certain buildings in your castle.
A few cliché moments did make an appearance when traitors came into the picture, but I must say I really admired the avatar’s kindness. The deaths in this game broke my heart in a million pieces, though it was worth it since it complemented well with the story. It’s a war, so it’s understandable that some may die. And it teaches us that war doesn’t help with absolutely nothing, only death and more death. And for what exactly? Greed? Pride? Glory? That’s why Corrin feels she should side with Hoshido, because Garon needs to be stopped from spreading more pain and suffering. There’s also a very interesting dialogue that she has with Xander (who I must say is the best character in the game, imo) were he says that justice is a mere illusion and she answers that justice isn’t black and white, like some may believe, but it’s still there. Seriously, Corrin’s relationship with her family, especially her Nohrian siblings, is the best feature of this game. There is so much character development…I even cried when Xander died. And let me share why I think Xander is the best character. It’s not because he’s an heir to the throne or because he’s a major antagonist, but because of the reasons he fights for. Unlike Corrin, he can’t choose a side. He’s the crown prince of Nohr and a lot is at stake for him. He has to fight for his kingdom and his family. It’s not about glory, it’s about responsibility. But even with all that in mind, he lets Corrin win. Because he loves her that much. And because he had noticed that his father was not the same man he used to be. I swear, he’s the best brother ever. And don’t even get me started on the other Nohrian siblings. Camilla? Leo? Elise? They’re all so endearing and great. I didn’t expect to love them this much. They’re all amazing and deserve a million hugs and all the happiness in the world. I guess that when you side with one kingdom, all the feels for the other kingdom hunt you. I’m sure the same will happen to me when I play Conquest: all the Hoshido feels will make me sob like a baby.
As regards the Hoshidan siblings, Takumi and Hinoka were fabulous. Takumi is one of the deepest characters I’ve ever had the chance to encounter. He’s distrustful, serious, short-tempered, but he’s also someone who yearns for love and attention. He has a huge inferiority complex and works harder that anyone to surpass himself. The poor guy also has the worst nightmares in the army. Honestly, Takumi deserves to have a happy family and lots and lots of cuddling. Hinoka is the tough big sister on the outside and a marshmallow on the inside. Super sweet, super strong, super awesome!! Her supports with Azama tell you a bit of her past, she used to be a crybaby. But when Corrin was kidnapped, she desesperately tried to change and become stronger. Sakura is also mega adorable, and very shy. She cares for others deeply and aspires to be strong and dependable like her siblings. The one who left much to be desired is Ryoma. Sure, he had a lot of screentime and courageous speeches, but I can’t help thinking that his character was kind of bland. I couldn’t see much growth, it’s as if he was too perfect. Hopefully, when I play Conquest, he’ll get more development.
Now, let’s talk about Azura. If I had to describe her in one word, that word would be ENIGMA. This lady is a total mystery with her strange pendant and her badass song. The power in that song is so great that it also affects poor Azura, making her suffer everytime she uses it and, eventually, claiming her life. Or so we are led to believe, since she makes a brief appearance at the end that leaves you wondering what the hell is going on. She’s not the only mystery, though. Garon says some pretty weird stuff when he’s about to die and, even though he only appears on a cut scene, late King Sumeragi is a big question mark himself. I doubt these questions will be answered in Conquest, though, so we’ll have to wait for Revelations ‘to reveal’ the truth.
Let’s move on to the localization of the game. While I know that this is no easy task, I must say Fire Emblem Fates’ localization wasn’t a very good one. Here, I’d like to share a certain interview which talks about Ace Attorney’s localization (imo, Ace Attorney has one of the best localizations I’ve ever seen in video games). Quoting one of the interview’s most interesting points: “In essence, translating between languages is like that experiment – translators take a shared experience in another language and try to put it into words another person who speaks a different language will understand, but because of differences in the way people perceive things and their life experiences, different people will phrase things in different ways. That’s not to say that inaccurate translations are acceptable, because translations that convey completely different information are never acceptable; it’s just that there are many ways to express the exact same thing in equally accurate ways.” This is my problem with Fates’ localization. When you take a piece of information and transform it into a completely different thing, that’s not translating, that’s a freaking convertion. James Wynne’s article in Gamezone shows exactly what I mean. Changing a character’s personality, changing dialogues just because, and more. Then, the voice acting. I won’t lie, there are some voices that are pretty good (like Kaden’s and Hinoka’s), but many of them are either mediocre or flat out horrible. Also, several of the amie lines have trouble with the lip sync, but I understand that would be difficult to solve, since the animations were specifically done for the japanese voices. What’s not cool is that they cut out content. I get that the amie game was removed, not thrilled, but I get it. What I don’t get is why they couldn’t record more lines for the bonding part. The japanese version has loads of them while this one has around four or five at most. It just feels as if the localization team got lazy (and the price of the game didn’t get any cheaper). That’s what pissed me off the most, the fact that they changed stuff for no reason and that they removed content and DIDN’T replace it with something of equal quality. Other than that, the game’s brilliant.
Fire Emblem Fates is a great game. It has a great system, great story and many interesting characters. It’s not perfect, of course, since there are bits of cliché situations and the fact that the characters can have kids adds nothing to the plot. Corrin is a good protagonist too, I don’t get why many don’t like her. Sure, she may not be as smart as Robin from Awakening, but she grew up secluded from the world, it’s no wonder! Also, she has a lot of character development and has to deal with a lot of stuff (finding out she has another family, deaths of companions, etc), so when I think of her, I don’t exactly picture the word weak. The no dual-audio is quite a shame, to be honest, but it seems there were issues with the licensing so, unless the japanese agencies change their mind, english voices will remain the only possible audio. Hope the agencies do, because the english voice acting in this game leaves much to be desired compared to the brilliance of the japanese cast (Miyuki Sawashiro, Mamoru Miyano, Yuuki Kaji and many others with great talent). And, finally, I hope NOA starts hiring people better suited for the localization job because, honestly, changing a character’s personality is just too much.
Well!! This game was certainly nice to play. And now, it’s Conquest time!! And time to cry forever when Takumi tries to kill me.
Hope you enjoyed the ride! See you next post! (≧∇≦*)/