Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

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Fire Emblem Echoes:
Shadows of Valentia
Fire Emblem Echoes cover.png
North American cover art
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Toshiyuki Kusakihara
Kenta Nakanishi
Producer(s) Masahiro Higuchi
Hitoshi Yamagami
Designer(s) Naohiro Yasuhara
Ryuichiro Kouguchi
Programmer(s) Susumu Ishihara
Artist(s) Hidari
Akio Shimada
Writer(s) Sakoto Kurihara
Composer(s) Takeru Kanazaki
Yasuhisa Baba
Takafumi Wada
Sho Murakami
Series Fire Emblem
Platform(s) Nintendo 3DS
Release
  • JP: April 20, 2017
  • NA/EU: May 19, 2017
  • AU: May 20, 2017
Genre(s) Tactical role-playing
Mode(s) single-player video game

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia[a] is a tactical role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS handheld video game console in 2017. The game is a full remake of the 1992 Famicom title Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second entry in the Fire Emblem series. Following childhood friends Alm and Celica as they fight on opposites sides of a war between their respective nations, Fire Emblem Echoes carries over the core gameplay mechanics of the Fire Emblem series while incorporating mechanics from Gaiden and new elements including dungeons.

Development of Fire Emblem Echoes began in 2015 following the completion of Fire Emblem Fates. Intended as the culmination of the Fire Emblem series on the 3DS platform, several staff members from both Fates and Fire Emblem Awakening were involved. The game carried over the unconventional mechanics of Gaiden while expanding and rebuilding the story and gameplay based on recent Fire Emblem games and the team's wishes for added role-playing elements. While Gaiden remains exclusive to Japan, Fire Emblem Echoes was localized by 8-4. The game released to strong sales worldwide, receiving positive reviews from critics.

Gameplay

Screenshot of a battle in Fire Emblem Echoes, showing a player unit attacking an enemy unit. The basic mechanics of the battle system are all displayed.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a tactical role-playing game in which players command two armies on opposite sides of a war on the continent of Valentia. There are two difficulty settings (Normal and Hard), two modes that dictate the fate of characters that fall in battle. In Classic Mode, a fallen unit is subject to permanent death, a recurring mode in the Fire Emblem series that removes fallen characters from the rest of the game (though it is possible in Echoes to revive fallen units a limited number of times). Casual Mode enables units to be revived at the end of a battle.[1] The player navigates Valentia using a world map, going to different story-based and optional locations. Environments are split between battle maps similar to earlier Fire Emblem titles, towns which can be explored to find friendly non-playable characters (NPCs) which run shops, and dungeons the player can explore. Encountering enemies on the world map or in dungeons will trigger a battle.[2][3]

As with other Fire Emblem games, Fire Emblem Echoes uses a turn-based system where each unit on both sides is given their chance to move and act. Battles take place on a grid-based battlefield, with turns being given for players and enemies. During an attack, the view transitions from a top-down perspective to a third-person view.[1] Unlike many other Fire Emblem titles, the Weapons Triangle — a rock–paper–scissors system where certain weapons have advantages over others — and limited weapon durability are removed. Units instead have standard weapons that last the whole campaign, and can be given special weapons which replace their standard weapon and grant passive advantages. Each unit can only carry one weapon, which grows in power as its wielder gains experience points and levels up through battle.[2][4] Each unit is assigned a unique character class, with the class dictating their weapon and consequently their actions; archers can attack at a distance, melee fighters are limited to close-range attacks, while mages must sacrifice a portion of their health to perform an action. Once a unit has reached a certain level, their class can be evolved into more powerful versions. Villager NPCs can also be recruited in towns; while initially weak, they can be strengthened and assigned any available character class.[3][4]

Each time a unit is used in a battle, their Fatigue meter is filled and their maximum health is decreased. The meter is depleted by either giving that unit gifts or purifying them at special statues.[1][2] During battles, adjacent allied units can engage in Support conversations.[1] In dungeon environments, players can roam freely through a 3D environment with a party of ten units, able to avoid encounters if they wish and smash objects or open crates to obtain money and items. Upon engaging an enemy, the perspective switches to the standard top-down battle screen.[1][2] An added function is Mila's Turnwheel, a mechanic whereby players can undo three turns to redo moves if something has gone wrong such as a unit falling in battle.[2][4] In addition, Fire Emblem Echoes features Amiibo support, with compatible figurines being main protagonists Alm and Celica, in addition to characters from earlier Fire Emblem games: using an Amiibo summons a phantom unit for a single turn at the cost of a character's health. Amiibos not related to the Fire Emblem series summon allied monsters.[2]

Synopsis

The main storyline remains the same as in Fire Emblem Gaiden. Long ago, the sibling gods Mila and Duma fought for control over the continent of Valentia. Eventually, they called a truce and each took half of the continent. Mila's worshipers would form the kingdom of Zofia, a land of plentiful bounty that over time spoiled and corrupted its people through complacency, while Duma's worshipers created the kingdom of Rigel, a desolate land whose people grew in strength but became numb to emotion. The game follows Alm and Celica, childhood friends who set off on their own journeys across Valentia in order to restore peace.

After the completion of the game, a new post-game chapter can be started which allows Alm, Celica, and their allies to journey across the sea to Archanea, the setting of the original Fire Emblem. While there, a large labyrinth buried in the nearby desert can be discovered. Exploring its depths, various stone tables speak of an alchemist named Forneus who attempted to create the perfect lifeform with divine dragon blood as well as reanimating the dead to be subservient, but was sealed within the labyrinth as punishment for his inhumane experiments. At the deepest level, Forneus' "perfect lifeform" is encountered: a monstrous being dubbed "The Creation" which serves as the final boss of the labyrinth and is heavily implied to be Grima, the main antagonist of Fire Emblem Awakening.

Development

Shadows of Valentia is a full remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden.[5] The second entry in the Fire Emblem series, Gaiden was released in 1992 for the Famicom. The game was notable for breaking away from the gameplay precedents set in its predecessor, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light; while it retained that game's tactical turn-based battle system, it included new features, such as navigable towns and overworld, and simplified mechanics. Due to these changes, Gaiden came to be considered the black sheep of the series, with many of its new elements being dropped for subsequent entries. Gaiden did not receive a Western release.[6][7] Development for Echoes began following the completion of Fire Emblem Fates in 2015: Nintendo series producer Hitoshi Yamagami began considering developing a Fire Emblem game for the new Nintendo Switch home console, but it was too early to be developing for that system. While considering what would come next, several Intelligent Systems staff said they wanted to implement features that had to be cut from Fates in a remake of Gaiden. As Gaiden has received little attention up to this point, Yamagami thought they could quickly develop a remake and release it before the Switch's release.[8] An alternative plan was creating an all-new game, but early planning was already in place for the planned Fire Emblem title for Switch, so it was considered too late to begin a third original 3DS game.[9] It was initially planned for release in September 2016, but they could not reach this deadline without compromising the game's quality, so the release was delayed into 2017.[8]

Nintendo staff member Kenta Nakanishi—who was a fan of Gaiden—came on board as the director of Fates, Genki Yokota, was busy with another project. The director for Intelligent Systems was Toshiyuki Kusakihara, who had acted as art director for Fates its predecessor Fire Emblem Awakening—he took up the role due to his sympathetic understanding Gaiden's unconventional gameplay. Rather than calling it "New Gaiden", the team chose the English word "Echoes" to give it worldwide appeal, enable its differentiation from the other side story projects within the Fire Emblem series, and as the potential branding for a new series of remakes. Echoes was intended to be the culmination of the Fire Emblem series on the Nintendo 3DS.[8] The characters were redesigned by Hidari.[5] Hidari was chosen due to Kusakihara's frequent praising for his work. Kusakihara had tried to hire Hidari to work on both Awakening and the Fire Emblem trading card game, but Hidari was too busy with other projects, but for Echoes, a meeting was set up well in advance and Hidari was able to accept. Hidari's first character design was Alm; he underwent four redesigns, which enabled Hidari to get a handle on the game's artstyle and design the rest of the cast on his own.[8] The game features animated cutscenes by Studio Khara.[5] The game's music was composed and arranged primarily by Takeru Kanazaki, who had co-composed the music for Fates. Kanazaki had assistance from Intelligent Systems composers Yasuhisa Baba and Shoh Murakami; and anime composer Takafumi Wada of Dimension Cruise, who also handled mixing and editing. The composer for the past few entries, Hiroki Morishita, was not involved with the project due to his commitment to scoring Fire Emblem Heroes.[10]

According to Nakanishi and Kusakihara, the original story had been underdeveloped compared to later Fire Emblem titles, to a remake would enable them to redesign the narrative to suit the tastes of modern Fire Emblem players.[11] The story of Gaiden was expanded significantly with the inclusion of the core conflict between the two nations that was previously confined to the original version's manual, and cast the character Saber in the role of narrator so as not to limit the scope of the story.[8] Another issue they wanted to address was the original game's poor character writing.[9] The theme of royalty and its impact on the characters was one of the story's new elements. To further emphasis the theme, the characters Berkut and Rinea were introduced, who also expanded upon the original themes of duality by acting as opposites to Alm and Celica. Berkut was designed as a direct foil for Alm, with the latter's common roots contrasting with Berkut's royal lineage.[12] While the team contemplated adding elements from earlier 3DS titles such as a player-created avatar, but the team wanted to focus on original protagonists Alm and Celica. The sibling relationship and their positions in separate rebellious factions was what had originally drawn Nakanishi back towards the game.[11]

The gameplay was rebuilt from the ground up based on the technology developed for Fates and Awakening, with its redesign being seen as a necessity with remaking the story due to the original version's "obtuse" mechanics.[8][11] Rather than bring the game more in line with the rest of the Fire Emblem series, they preserved the role-playing mechanics and combined them with more recent Fire Emblem mechanics. The free roaming mechanic had been developed for Fates, but quality concerns led it to being cut. As Gaiden had this featured originally, it was considered a "perfect" match. It was also decided to lower the difficulty when compared to the original, allowing series veterans and newcomers to enjoy the game.[8] The character growth rates were increased by two or three times compared to the original.[12] While the team considered adding the Weapons Triangle, it would have required adding more characters or altering the original characters, which would have gone against the team's intentions. An element that was not carried over from Awakening and Fates was the Marriage system, as it would have disrupted established character relations too much. Despite this, the Support conversations were added to properly flesh out characters.[9]

Release

The title was first announced in January 2017 during a Nintendo Direct broadcast dedicated to the Fire Emblem series.[6] In Japan, multiple versions of the game were released; in addition to the standard release, there was also a limited edition with a special soundtrack, and a "Valentia Complete" edition featuring the contents of the limited edition with added items, including an artbook.[13] The game was released in Japan on April 20, 2017;[14] in North America and Europe on May 19;[6][15] and in Australasia on May 20.[16] Amiibo figures of the game's protagonists Alm and Celica were released alongside the game.[6] The game features full voice acting—a first for the Fire Emblem series—for all but minor characters, but the English release does not include dual audio unlike Awakening.[3][17] The game's localization was handled by 8-4, who previously worked on Awakening and the 2008 Nintendo DS title Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.[18] Post-release, five downloadable content packs are set for release over the following two months, and a Season Pass giving access to all five packs at a reduced price.[19]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 81/100[20]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 7.5/10[21]
EGM 8.5/10[22]
Famitsu 37/40[23]
Game Informer 7/10[24]
Game Revolution 4.5/5[25]
GameSpot 9/10[26]
GamesRadar 4/5[27]
IGN 7.8/10[28]
Nintendo Life 9/10[29]
Nintendo World Report 9/10[30]

Gaming journal Famitsu gave the game a positive review, with all four reviewers praising the mechanical quality, dramatic story and the mechanics carried over from Gaiden. One reviewer said that the efforts spent on Fire Emblem Echoes had elevated Gaiden from being the series' black sheep.[23]

Sales

During its first week on sale in Japan, Fire Emblem Echoes sold 135,195 units, topping gaming charts and selling through 80% of its initial shipment.[31] Upon its debut in the United Kingdom, the game was #5 in the all-format gaming charts.[32] In Australia and New Zealand, the game was #2 in the all platform gaming charts, and #1 in 3DS charts.[33] In North America, Shadows of Valentia reached #7 in the all-format gaming charts. According to the NPD Group, the release of Shadows of Valentia prompted a rise in portable sales.[34] In their quarterly financial report, Nintendo stated that Fire Emblem Echoes had been a popular title during the period.[35]

Notes

  1. ^ Known in Japan as Fire Emblem Echoes: Another Hero King (ファイアーエムブレム エコーズ もうひとりの英雄王, Fire Emblem Echoes: Mō Hitori no Eiyū-ō)

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Sullivan, Lucas (2017-04-20). "What's old is new again in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-04-28. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Graeber, Brendan (2017-04-20). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Takes A Calculated Risk By Revamping The Strategy RPG". IGN. Archived from the original on 2017-04-20. Retrieved 2017-04-28. 
  3. ^ a b c Koopman, Daan (2017-04-26). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS) Hands-on Preview 2". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on 2017-05-01. Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Koopman, Daan (2017-03-30). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS) Hands-on Preview". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on 2017-03-31. Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  5. ^ a b c ニンテンドー3DS用ソフト『ファイアーエムブレム エコーズ もうひとりの英雄王』2017年4月20日発売決定! 『FE外伝』をリメイク (in Japanese). Famitsu. 2017-01-19. Archived from the original on 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  6. ^ a b c d Frank, Allegra (2017-01-18). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia heading to 3DS this May". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  7. ^ Oxford, Nadia (2017-01-19). "What is Fire Emblem Gaiden? Here's How it Differs From the Rest of the Series". USGamer. Archived from the original on 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g 『FE Echoes』内容ぎっしりインタビュー. Dengeki Nintendo (in Japanese). ASCII Media Works (June 2017). 2017-04-21.  Translation
  9. ^ a b c Robinson, Martin (2017-05-30). "The past, present and future of Fire Emblem". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2017-05-30. 
  10. ^ Greening, Chris (2017-04-21). "Music and composer details for Fire Emblem Echoes". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  11. ^ a b c Frank, Allegra (2017-05-19). "Fire Emblem Echoes team: 'It's a new experience, not an old game'". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2017-05-20. Retrieved 2017-05-22. 
  12. ^ a b Bailey, Kat (2017-05-31). "How Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Modernized a Forgotten 8-bit Strategy Classic for the 3DS". USGamer. Archived from the original on 2017-06-01. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  13. ^ "『ファイアーエムブレム Echoes もうひとりの英雄王』"LIMITED EDITION"とマイニンテンドーストア限定版"VALENTIA COMPLETE"には豪華特典を同梱" (in Japanese). Famitsu. 2017-01-19. Archived from the original on 2017-01-21. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  14. ^ 「ファイアーエムブレム エコーズ もうひとりの英雄王」が3DSで4月20日に発売。シリーズ2作目「ファイアーエムブレム外伝」のリメイク (in Japanese). 4Gamer.net. 2017-01-18. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  15. ^ Robinson, Martin (2017-01-18). "There's a new Fire Emblem coming to the 3DS this year". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  16. ^ "Fire Emblem games for mobile, Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS in development!". Nintendo AU. 2017-01-19. Archived from the original on 2017-01-19. Retrieved 2017-01-19. 
  17. ^ Sato (2017-02-14). "Fire Emblem Echoes Will Only Be Available With English Voiceover". Siliconera. Archived from the original on 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2017-02-15. 
  18. ^ Casey (2017-03-27). "Localization Team 8-4 Is Working On Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia". Siliconera. Archived from the original on 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2017-03-27. 
  19. ^ Romano, Sal (2017-05-03). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia DLC packs detailed". Gematsu. Archived from the original on 2017-05-03. Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  20. ^ "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for 3DS Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  21. ^ Carter, Chris (2017-05-16). "Review: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia". Destructoid. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  22. ^ Carsillo, Ray (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia review". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  23. ^ a b ニンテンドー3DS - ファイアーエムブレム エコーズ もうひとりの英雄王. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain (1480). 2017-04-13.  Translation
  24. ^ Gwaltney, Javy (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  25. ^ Vacheron, Griffin (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review". Game Revolution. CraveOnline. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  26. ^ Kemps, Heidi (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  27. ^ Schilling, Chris (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia review". GamesRadar. Future. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  28. ^ Sullivan, Meghan (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on 2017-05-16. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  29. ^ Sleeper, Morgan (2017-05-16). "Review: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia". Nintendo Life. Gamer Network. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  30. ^ Koopman, Daan (2017-05-16). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS) Review". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  31. ^ 【週間ソフト販売ランキング TOP50】3DS『FE エコーズ』が14.3万本で1位(4月17日~23日) (in Japanese). Dengeki Online. 2017-04-27. Archived from the original on 2017-05-01. Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  32. ^ Whitehead, Thomas (2017-05-22). "Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Enjoys a Reasonable Debut in UK Charts". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 2017-05-27. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  33. ^ Makuch, Eddie (2017-05-24). "Top 10 Best-Selling Games Of The Past Week In Australia And New Zealand". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2017-05-27. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  34. ^ Hillier, Brenna (2017-06-20). "Injustice 2 tramples May NPD charts, poor old Prey not so hot". VG247. Archived from the original on 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  35. ^ "Earnings Release: Three Months Ended June 30, 2017" (PDF). Nintendo. 2017-07-26. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-08-02. Retrieved 2017-08-04. 

External links

  • Official website
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