Friday, 7 April 2017

Why I didn't enjoy (and sold) Fire Emblem Fates

If you've been reading this blog for a while (and I thank you for doing so - seriously), you may remember that I was once-upon-a-time quite angry about the Fire Emblem Fates Limited Edition being snapped up by scalpers. I was subsequently angry with Nintendo not printing more copies or even simply releasing the all-in-one cartridge outside of the LE for gamers not interested in the extra physical bonuses to get hold of. I made a few posts devoted to my disappointment in fact.

But then there was a light at the end of the dark tunnel for earlier this year, I finally managed to snag a copy of this illusive set for the sum of £100 (still expensive but way better than the previous ebay scalper prices). I was stoked to finally have it in my possession and couldn't wait to get stuck in rather than leaving it on the shelf for months/years as is so often is the case with my videogame purchases. This I did and to my severe disappointment, I actually found that I couldn't be bothered with the game any more after 30 hours of desperately trying to love it. Coming off the back of being thoroughly and dangerously addicted to Fire Emblem Awakening, I was shocked at my apathy towards that game's successor(s). How could I adore one game so much then feel nothing for a sequel which wasn't really that much of a departure?

I began by playing the 'Birthright' side of the game which is the easier of the two scenarios but I thought that it didn't really matter if I intended to see everything anyway. The presentation was still a top-notch affair and the classic Fire Emblem gameplay was ever-present but two things really ruined this game for me:

1. The story
2. The characters

Now I know for some, the tactical gameplay of Fire Emblem is the all-important selling point but for ME, I also need a story and characters that I want to invest my time into as is the case with any RPG. With Fates, I found myself not caring about characters who were struck down and killed-off permanently. Sometimes, I was even glad to see them gone because they were just irritating or dull to deal with. The story is something I can't even be bothered to try and summarise but it was daft and I really wasn't interested in where it was going which is rarely a positive sign in a game. Also, the game commits a major sin in being a fictional/fantasy world featuring a Japanese-styled nation with samurai, ninjas etc. I've always found this a lazy and nonsensical move by game designers, another notable instance being the village of Wutai in Final Fantasy VII.

But the characters were easily the worst part of the game. Aside from 95% of the cast being dull, generic and uninteresting, the actual designs themselves were uninspired and just downright weird in my opinion. I think Fates really overstepped a boundary and became far too anime-inspired. I mean, take a look at the character of Camilla for example:

"Look at my eyes you it that difficult?" Yes actually; it is.

Yes, Fire Emblem characters have always had blindingly-bright hair but traditionally, they've also looked ready for battle too. I'm in no way a prude who moans about scantily-clad girls in games (because I openly enjoy it) but I was also always an admirer of how the FE games starred attractive female characters in full armour with strong personalities. Now I have no issue with the design of Camilla in principle but does a sparsely-armoured, sultry woman with supermodel hair and enormous knockers - barely contained by her outfit - belong in a Fire Emblem game? This is what I'm talking about. If you look this character up online however, you will see figurines, masses of fanart and appreciation so you can see that Camilla has really blown up, proving that the anime approach for this series seems to be selling. It appears that the current audience for Fire Emblem are digging the sexy chicks, hot spring scenes and deluge of zany anime tropes so the complaints of long-time fans such as myself are probably a lot less in number than we would like to imagine. If these sorts of design choices keep the series alive here in the West and even expand its reach then that can only be a good thing but for me, it's just not my idea of Fire Emblem.

Not gonna lie: I like this.
Again, I will re-iterate that the character designs for the most part aren't offensive to my eyes (I even have a terrible urge to look up the price/availability of the figure on the left for instance) but they just aren't my idea of what Fire Emblem should 'be'. This design direction definitely began with Awakening but I feel that it was a tad more restrained in that game and not so in-yer-face as Camilla's monstrous cleavage.

In conclusion, I gave the game 30 hours of my time and I still felt nothing towards it other than a sense that I was playing it for the sake of getting my money's worth and hoping that something would eventually click. I don't believe in wasting precious time on something that you don't enjoy however so eventually, I decided that enough was enough, wiped my save data and sold the game. Do I miss it? Not at all. I'm glad that I did at least get a copy in the end and I'm glad that I was able to give it more than a fair shot but in the end, I didn't enjoy it and I would now say that the Fire Emblem series is no longer one that I would feel safe about pre-ordering or buying Day One without needing to read a review or something beforehand. That's a massive shame but unfortunately, just the way it goes. Gutted.

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