So Fire Emblem is now on mobile, eh? Nintendo’s fresh mobile career has been middling so far – highs like Super Mario Run and the zeitgeist Pokemon Go have been balanced out by more forgettable efforts like their social app Miitomo. The announcement of Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing mobile installments were, in my opinion, genius; long term games with short term objectives seem fit for mobile gaming and have the opportunity for mass appeal.
Fire Emblem Heroes is mostly similar to the traditional Fire Emblem games. Turn based, weapon based, chess like 1 army v 1 army combat on a large board with multiple character management. Heroes is a natural progression that caters to mobile devices by featuring more bite sized battles on a horizontal battlefield.
In Heroes, you are conscripted because of your ability to summon iconic heroes from past games into a new world to defeat the evil conscripters on the other side. This premise allows you to use characters from Marth to Corrin, presenting players with a vast range of familiar faces. It also gives you the opportunity to explore fantasy battles never before possible (outside of Smash Bros.), like “what if Robin killed Chrom?” Or “what if Chrom killed Chrom?” The fan service is heavy by finally enabling you to have all the big names facing each other. The characters are written faithfully to their original appearances and add a nice amount of heart to the game.
Regarding gameplay, as mentioned it’s a smaller version of a traditional Fire Emblem game. You move your units – capped at 4 per team – on the grid, positioning them then eventually attacking opponents. The game flows beautifully on the touch screen and rarely lags, allowing you to move units without worry of putting them in the wrong place or not attacking. The weapon triangle (sword beats axes, axes beat lances, lances beat swords idea) appears again and the icons appear on each character making match ups in fights easy to decide and plan.
Summoning is by far the most time consuming thing at the start. You can reroll the game over and over to get different characters like Robin or Lucina early (which is exactly what I did) or you can live with your rolls and continue through. Each summon begins costing 5 orbs then decreases as you got through to the maximum spending of 20 per summoning session. These five characters can be summoned through five portals which are always randomized each time you summon. Orbs come slowly, meaning those seeking instant gratification might opt to purchase more orbs with real world currency. Fortunately, it is not expressly pay to win, and so far it seems you can still enjoy the game without spending a penny.
Fire Emblem Heroes is great. The art style is cute and faithful to the original animations but still fresh. Gameplay is tight and very easy to follow without being too strenuous. Difficulty can be adjusted for more experienced and hardened Fire Emblem players. Between the pantheon of classic Fire Emblem characters, the made-for-mobile gameplay, and the non-necessity of in app purchases, Fire Emblem Heroes is certainly worth your time.