Fire Emblem: Awakening is the thirteenth entry in the Fire Emblem series and the first for the 3DS. It was announced at a Nintendo press conference held on September 12, 2011. Originally released in Japan in the spring of 2012, it features polygonal graphics similar to the GameCube's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Wii's Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Unlike the previous two entries that appeared on the DS, the game is not a remake and tells an all-new story with new characters. The game is set in Ylisse, previously known as Archanea, 2,000 years after the conclusion of Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo.
On June 6, 2012, following Nintendo's 3DS-focused E3 press conference, Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aime let slip word to reporters that the game will be released in North America. The news was later confirmed on Nintendo of America's official Twitter account. During a Nintendo Direct conference on June 21, 2012, Nintendo announced that the game will be released in North America in 2013, and the DLC released in Japan will also be made available for its international release.
The localization was handled by 8-4, Ltd. who previously also worked on the localization for Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.
An Expanded Support System
Fire Emblem: Awakening features a combination of the standard support system from the past few games and the unique second-generation mechanic present in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, as well as some new mechanics, allowing for a considerable amount of relationship customization. When characters work together in combat, they gain support points, which will gradually raise the level of their relationship(if they're compatible), from C to B to A. If these two units are romantically compatible as well, then they can progress from the A rank to the S rank and get married.
Roughly midway through the game, the children of these pairs of units become available to the player through a series of special Paralogues. Unlike the original use of this system in Seisen no Keifu, however, this second generation can fight alongside their parents as adults, due to them arriving via time travel.
The other aspect of this expanded support system is the pair-up function. A first for the series, pairing up units allows them to both occupy the same tile, and assist one another in battle.
A special cooperative multiplayer mode is included in the game, a first for the series. In it, players pick three units each, and pair them up with one another to take on an arena-based challenge. In this mode, there's no map view, as the game simply takes the characters and pushes them into combat against the chosen opponents. Though the game ships with a number of challenges included, there are addtional ones being distributed for free via Spotpass, many of which are more challenging than any included in the base game.
The World Map System
Similar to Fire Emblem Gaiden and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, the world map makes it's third appearance in Fire Emblem: Awakening. Players use this to navigate the world of Fire Emblem, taking on story missions, side-quests called 'Paralogues', encountering randomly-spawned enemies and shopkeepers, and also to fight and recruit new characters met via Spotpass or Streetpass.
A Variety of Gameplay Options
Fire Emblem is known for it's high difficulty and strict permadeath, but Fire Emblem: Awakening appeals to a wide variety of players by including a number of adjustable options, to help the game suit multiple playstyles.
The game has two 'modes', Classic and Casual.
In Classic mode, as in past Fire Emblem titles, when a unit is defeated in battle, it dies(or, occasionally, 'retires' or 'flees') and is no longer usable. Though this is a trademark of the series, it's something that's long frightened away more casual players from trying the game- and that's who Casual mode is for. In Casual, when a character is defeated, they return to you at the end of a battle.
Additionally, and selectable separately from these modes, are the Difficulty settings. Initially, the game has three difficulties available to players: Normal, Hard, and Lunatic. Normal is a good difficulty for players new to the series, or ones mostly interested in the game's story. Hard is generally considered the go-to difficulty for series veterans, or players familiar with the strategy game genre.
On Lunatic, the game's AI is practically devious, and the enemies basically cheat. They have access to powerful weapons earlier than the player does, and as the game progresses, their forged weaponry breaks the rules put in place for anything the player can make. Upon beating Lunatic, Lunatic+ is unlocked. This variation of Lunatic is even more difficult. Lunatic and Lunatic+ are meant for veterans of the Fire Emblem series seeking a challenge, or players who have completed Fire Emblem: Awakening multiple times and want something more difficult.
Players can also opt to have the game voiced in either English or Japanese.
Player-Created 'Avatar' Unit
Upon the start of the game, the player will create a protagonist called the Avatar that accompanies the main character throughout the game, similar to the Hero of Shin Monshou no Nazo and the strategist in Fire Emblem. This character has access to every class in the game(unless restricted by gender), and starts off as the Strategist class, who can use both swords and magic tomes. The player's unit is also special in that if it dies, then it's game over, and the player is asked to reload their last save. The only other unit this applies to is Chrom, the de facto protagonist of the game's story.
Chrom, the prince of the Halidom of Ylisse, defends his country from the increasingly mysterious and aggressive neighboring nation Plegia, with the help of a tight-knit band of soldiers- and one mysterious, amnesiac stranger who seems to have good intentions.
As they work to ensure the continued freedom of Ylisse, Chrom's knights become wrapped up in an elaborate web of political manipulation, desperate missions, and even trans-continental war. And the recurring figure throughout it all is someone who claims to be Marth, the heroic king of legend.
Fire Emblem: Awakening features both paid DLC as well as free DLC available through SpotPass. Over SpotPass, players can download special DLC battles in which the player's forces are pitted against characters from past Fire Emblem games. Special versions of past characters can also be downloaded at a cost.
The first character who became available over DLC was Prince Marth from the original Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi. The game's DLC maps have been released on a weekly basis, with typically two new DLC maps being released each week. While not all of these maps have new characters to recruit in them, they all feature unique locations and dialogue, and many of them feature unique audio tracks as well.
Additional characters are available for free via SpotPass. The Spotpass characters can be divided into two categories: roughly 120 returning characters from previous Fire Emblem titles (typically 10 per game), and additional recruitable characters from Fire Emblem: Awakening's storyline. The lone exception to this pattern is Priam, who has not appeared in any previous Fire Emblem title, nor does he appear in the storyline of Fire Emblem: Awakening outside of this unique Spotpass paralogue.
Spotpass Paralogue Characters
- Gangrel (Trickster): Paralogue 18
- Walhart (Overlord): Paralogue 19
- Emmeryn (Sage): Paralogue 20
- Yen'Fay (Swordmaster): Paralogue 21
- Aversa (Dark Flier): Paralogue 22
- Priam (Hero): Paralogue 23
While the returning Spotpass characters are recruitable after a short battle or by paying them a sum of gold, the recruitable Awakening-based characters are a bit more complicated. These Spotpass characters add new, unique maps and full paralogues to the game, only accessable after the player has completed chapter 25. Some of these characters will join upon successful completion of their Paralogue, but others have more complex requirements to meet before they'll join the player's team. Not all of the Spotpass content is readily available, however, and will be released over time.
While the characters from the paid DLC content have new, unique character portraits done by guest artists, the returning Spotpass characters have portraits based on art dating back to when their games were originally released- some of these being of dubious quality. However, none of these characters have unique in-game models. They're all slightly modified versions of the player's custom Avatar character, with whatever hairstyle is closest to appropriate chosen and changed to the correct color. This is more obvious on some characters than on others, especially if they have an unorthodox appearance or outfit. Additionally, none of the DLC or Spotpass characters from previous Fire Emblem titles have any ability to be involved in the game's support system. While they can be paired up with other units in combat and provide some stat bonuses, they can never rank up their relationships and have no unique dialogue for interacting with other characters. They also have no voice clips during combat. Finally, some of these returning characters have had their starting classes changed to fit within Awakening's class structure, with some changes being more dramatic than others. For example, Nephenee begins as a soldier in Path of Radiance before promoting into halberdier (and eventually sentinel in Radiant Dawn). Because Awakening does not feature these classes, Nephenee's default base class has been changed to knight.
The recruitable Awakening-based characters, however, don't follow these rules. All of them have unique voice clips, models, and support rank options. Many of them can even be selected as a romantic partner for the player's custom Avatar character, and pass on unique abilities to their children.
The game's artwork was done by Yusuke Kozaki, previously known for his work on the No More Heroes games.
The British English version of the game contains some amended dialog. During a certain exchange, a female character refers to another female character's breasts as "boingy bits" in the North American version of the game, localized by 8-4, Ltd. Nintendo of Europe, during its internal re-localization process removed this reference and instead referred to the character's hair. This is notable since North America is typically thought of to be more sensitive towards sexual content whereas Europe is viewed as being more freely able to reference things of that nature.
On April 19, 2012, Nintendo released a special Fire Emblem: Kakusei 3DS bundle in Japan. It's a special cobalt blue version with the game's logo, a sword surrounded by two dragons. The bundle also includes a prepaid eShop card worth 1,000 Yen.
In addition to the 3DS bundle, players can purchase the Knights of Iris art book that is illustrated by Yusuke Kozaki. It's released on December 7th for 3,990 Yen (approximately 50 dollars). It has 320 pages of character art, full support conversations, and more.
An identically packaged bundle with the game pre-installed on the system but without the eShop card was announced for North America in early January 2013.
Gamestop included a limited edition character artbook if the customer pre-orders the game. On February 4th 2013, customers can purchase a special Fire Emblem 3DS bundle that includes a cobalt blue DS, a 4GB SD card, and the game (that's preinstalled) for a total of $199.99.
Customers can purchase the special 3DS bundle at their local Best Buy and Future Shop stores. At EB stores, customers can receive a limited edition character art book while supplies last.
Contrary to the North American release, Fire Emblem: Awakening's European launch will be accompanied by 3DS XL hardware bundle instead of an original model. It comes with a Blue x Black 3DS XL that has the same Fire Emblem logo engraved on the outside of the top screen. This bundle, titled Limited Edition Pack, also comes with a pre-installed copy of the game and is exclusively available in Europe on April 19, 2013.
Block Size: 8,579 Blocks (1.5GB)
On the week of January 17, 2013, a demo of this game is available in North America via 3DS eshop. In demo's gameplay, there are two chapters available, and their modes are normal, hard, and lunatic. Classic game mode follows the original Fire Emblem mechanic where units die permanently, and it cannot be accessed in the demo mode. Instead, players can play casual mode where fallen units return. Units can support each other (meaning fight together in battle), but they cannot pair up (sharing a same spot in the map).