I’m a man with an eclectic taste when it concerns video games, but there are certain genres that I enjoy over others, and one of my favorite genres is the Strategy Role Playing Game, or SRPG. Needless to say, my love for the SRPG has made me an expert in the SRPG field, and I had always viewed myself an authority on the subject. So you can only imagine the hit to my pride as I first experienced the Fire Emblem series.
Fire Emblem is a franchise that has long alluded the West until recent years. When I played Radiant Dawn, I was introduced and instantly humbled by Permadeath, the concept that a KO on the field means the permanent lose of that character for the rest of the game. Playing the game became stressful and annoying, which is counterintuitive for a hobby. So I swore never to play another game in the series.
Of course, I broke that oath as soon as the franchise hit handhelds with Shadow Dragon. Shamelessly, I played through the first half of the game… until I just got bored with it. SD was generic and tedious. I then decided Fire Emblem sucked balls and played Rondo of Swords instead (that was a great decision, FYI).
It’s ironic, considering the character designs are generic as hell.
But then Fire Emblem: Awakening came to the West and blew my mind with its presentation, double teaming, and the fact that you could turn Permadeath off. Hallelujah! No more sweating the small stuff as I play my vidja gaymes! So, again, I swallowed my pride to venture back into the world of Fire Emblem sans Permadeath.
Little did I know that I was playing the game completely wrong, and now my Manhood is in jeopardy. Let me tell you why.
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Year: 2013
First off, I want to say that I loved Fire Emblem: Awakening. In fact, I beat it, got pissed that I beat it, started playing Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, decided it sucked (seriously, I didn’t intend to have this horrible pun; I found it in editing), and started playing FE: Awakening again. But this time, I resolved to play it the right way!
The Year of Luigi? This is gonna be the worst year of my life.
What do I mean by “Play the game right”? Well, there were two offenses that I made during my first playthrough. The first of which has to do with the fact that I played like a vagina. And I did that by…
1.) Playing Without Permadeath
Sometimes what you want isn’t what you really want, but you’re just too stupid to know any better until it’s too late. That was exactly the case when it came to Permadeath in Awakening. The very thing that kept me from enjoying the series is the exact thing that makes the series unique and fun. Playing without Permadeath did in fact make the game less stressful, but it made the game far less intense, too. In all respects, the lack of Permadeath made the game too easy, sapping the strategy and negative consequences entirely.
You’re my boy, Lon’qu! You’re my boy!
Without Permadeath, winning each battle was as easy as charging everyone forward and recklessly attacking whomever got close because the enemies aren’t designed to overpower you. This is made abundantly clear by the developers giving you Fredrick the Overpowered right out the gate.
“Clearing the path of pebbles” obviously meant “wrecking everybody’s ass!”
The game’s designed to have Permadeath on. Its goal is to wipe out your characters one by one whenever you make that one bad move, ultimately screwing and defeating you in the long run with its twisted battle of attrition. Permadeath forces you to constantly think strategically at higher levels than you would without it, and I feel completely foolish having only learned of its true value after finishing the game.
I can at least say that playing without Permadeath granted me access to view the story in its entirety and meet possibly the manliest man in all of gaming, Cervantes!
You can’t argue with science.
Playing without fear of losing my team members also deprived me of the game’s most brilliant mechanic: Relationships. So, my second offense can be attributed to me….
2.) Being Socially Awkward
Unlike Persona 4, building relationships in Awakening has a lot of benefits. First off, as the punchline to Tim Buckley’s comic shows in the above pic, building your characters’ relationships makes them bone each other furiously! Or, to put it in Nintendo terms, allows them to get married and have children that gain both of the parents’ abilities. Reaching S rank with opposite-sex characters not only produces offspring but also opens up side quests that are pretty fun. I mean, any side quest that involves fighting and not fetching shit is great in my book.
Simulated chores? Is that what you think we want, Games Industry? Really?
So why didn’t I build relationships other than the fact that I’m a socially awkward gamer who lacks that ability in real life? Because I turned off the goddamn Permadeath, that’s why!
Let me explain: Having strong relationships gives characters bonuses during battle, such as stat increases, pushing characters out of harms way, and double teaming. To build relationships, you must either pair up units (which I never did because it essentially halved your attacks each turn, and I love me some attacking!), or attack a unit with a friendly unit adjacent to you. Seems easy, but not when you play like you’ve got nothing to lose, which was exactly how I played without Permadeath. I’d always surround the enemy on all four sides, creating a plus sign with the enemy in the middle.
Like this but with characters actually from Awakening.
If I would have placed a character directly next to or behind an ally, their relationship would have strengthened. But, because I never saw the value in relationships and teaming up, I never did it. I could send my characters in to kick some ass, gain enough experience to level up, and then die only to come back with the increased level for the next fight. With my characters improving without having to worry about trivial things like death, who needed to make friends? I’ll tell you who: I did. I missed out on a bunch of the side quests, best items, best characters, and – worst of all – the ability to kick more ass than I already was. Unacceptable.
That could have been me kicking ass if only I had spent more time with my wife!
So what can I take away from my failure? All the knowledge needed to have more fun on my second playthrough! Fire Emblem: Awakening truly is a blast to play. If you love SRPGs, then you owe it to yourself to play this game. But heed my above advice; you need to play it right! It’s going to suck, but it will pay in the long run. Just keep your wits about you and take your time with your moves. I promise you’ll get better. And if you don’t, turn it off and play Luigi’s Mansion or something, wuss!
It’s really not that bad of a game, guys. I just hate Luigi.
Thanks for your Playing! Now I’m off to save Ylisse again! This time with Death constantly breathing down my neck. No more of that girly non-dying bullshit! I’m getting my units killed LIKE A MAN!
Meet me next time for my redemption story about how I saved my Manhood and regained my Stud Status!