The Fire Emblem franchise hasn’t had a huge following here in North America, but it’s been sort of a big thing in Japan. It’s one of those Nintendo franchises you just expect to come around every few years, but apparently that almost wasn’t the case. The franchise has been seeing declining numbers over the years, with each release selling fewer and fewer copies, according to series producer Hitoshi Yamagami; so much so that Nintendo almost pulled the plug altogether.
He had the following to say in an interview with Spanish magazine Hobby Consola:
“Truth be told, sales are dropping. The sales manager of Nintendo, Mr. Hatano, told us that this could be the last Fire Emblem. Due to this progressive descent in sales, they told us that if the sales of this episode stayed below 250,000 copies, we’d stop working on the saga. I remember when I came back from the meeting and told the team, ‘My God, what are we gonna do?! The end has come!’ Our reaction was clear: If this was going to be the last Fire Emblem, we had to put everything we always wanted to include.”
According to unofficial numbers through VG Chartz, the latest entry, Fire Emblem: Awakening, has sold over 500,000 units in Japan, having been on sale for over a year there. Here in the US it’s sold around 250,000 units and a little over 100,000 in the rest of the world with retail sales sitting at over 880,000. Nintendo has mentioned over the last few months that the game has sold very well through the eShop as well, mentioning it anytime they release statements about digital sales, but never giving firm numbers.
The game has had a very good reception being praised in numerous reviews, including ours. I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to see another entry into the franchise and maybe Nintendo wasn’t quite expecting the reception this game received, and that’s a good thing.
While the numbers themselves aren’t actually huge, compared to other big name releases, Fire Emblem: Awakening did have the best first month of sales the franchise has ever seen. According to Nintendo, the strategy RPG sold 180,000 in its first month of availability in North America. 63,000 of those sales came courtesy of the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
To put that into perspective, the most recent handheld release in the franchise, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon has sold 250,000 in the five years that it has been available. Overall the sales of Awakening seem to be doing pretty good and are going to easily surpass those of its predecessor.
I “grew up” playing games like Warhammer, its sci-fi equivalent 40K, Piquet and more recently Flames of War. Those games are all essentially turn-based-strategy games where you and an opponent face off on opposite sides of a tabletop battlefield with hordes of painted soldiers at your command. Much like chess, those games require strategy, the ability to react quickly to opponents and a little bit of luck.
Intelligent Systems are the developers behind the Fire Emblem series that has been around for more than 20 years now, mostly in Japan. The game is basically the video game version of a tabletop strategy game. It’s known for its punishing difficulty, relationship building and most importantly the dreaded “permadeath.” Until now the series has been mostly unknown in the United States, but could Awakening truly live up to its name?
What You Need to Know
Fire Emblem: Awakening is a strategy-role-playing game where you take groups of fighters on a quest to save the world. You, as the Avatar, awaken to find you have no memory of yourself, but you do know the people who find you. It’ll be you and your party’s job to rid the world of Risen, save the kingdom and maybe get married along the way. Battles take place on a grid and turns bounce back and forth between your party and the enemy. Actions are chosen from menus, multiple weapons will be available to many characters and the battles play out in real time on the 3DS top screen.
If you’ve downloaded or bought a physical copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS then you may not know exactly what to expect when you first play the game. If you’re a veteran of the franchise you know that things are going to be difficulty and there are some strategies to keep you alive. If you’re new to the series then you probably have no idea what to expect and need a little help giving yourself the edge in battle.
This game is definitely one of the more hard core strategy games available to players. It utilizes a permadeath form of play, meaning that if a character dies in battle then they’re no longer available to you. If you’re worried about the time you invest in those fighters and you don’t want to lose them the developers, Intelligent Systems, have given you the option to play in a more casual mode that will bring all fighters back after the battle. I like to play with permadeath on as it makes you more aware of what you’re doing and forces you to come up with some really solid strategies that you can take into battle.
With that in mind I’ve come up with a few tips that I use on the battlefield. Read more…
If you were one of the lucky people that were able to snag your copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening on launch day then you’ve got a nice surprise waiting for you. Nintendo has announced that the first batch of DLC is available for the game through the Outrealm Gate, which is the game’s hub for all things DLC. The first playable map available is called Champions of Yore 1 and is available to download for free through March 5th. It features fan favorites like Ike and Marth (popular through Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series), as well as other characters like Eirika from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. You have to complete the fifth chapter of the game to access the DLC and you should have your party leveled up to around level 7 before attempting to play it.
More DLC will be available each week for the first two months of the game’s life. If you’ve had the chance to play the game let us know what you think of it. Did you run into any of the shipping problems with the game? Did you get it straight from the eShop? I’m about 4 hours into the game for review and my early impression is that this game is going to be something special.
That’s what I’m officially labeling the month that features Valentine’s Day. During their most recent Nintendo Direct video, which aired yesterday, Nintendo announced the release date for Fire Emblem: Awakening. February 4th is the date you can mark on your calendar for when I’ll be hanging out with Lord Chrom and the Shepards.
The game will feature many elements of past games like the tactical, turn-based combat. You’ll be able to position troops on the battlefield to increase their relationship with other characters. New 3D animated cutscenes will tell the story.
I love tactical, turn-based RPGs like this and Final Fantasy Tactics. If you haven’t checked out a Fire Emblem game, now might be the perfect time to hit up your classic game retailer and find one of the GBA releases.