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Frustrations Of A New Fire Emblem Fan

by Donald Theriault - April 17, 2015, 4:08 am PDT
Total comments: 20

Between impossible to obtain merchandise and doing a bad Pokémon impression, Fire Emblem may be cut off at its peak.

Among the Fire Emblem intelligentsia, I’m probably considered one of the casuals. Although I loved Fire Emblem Awakening, I turned off permanent death and wouldn’t touch Lunatic+ with a 39 ½ foot pole. Apparently, a lot of people agreed with me, since Awakening marked the highest sales ever for the franchise that was at risk of going the way of Intelligent Systems’ other strategy series Advance Wars before.

Unfortunately, recent actions or lack thereof have me worried that it could be all downhill from here for Nintendo's biggest selling non-Pokémon RPG series.

Fire Emblem If (They Mess This Up)

During the last round of Directs, North American and European viewers got details about the next Fire Emblem game’s twin storylines, how they would interact with each other, and that a choice would have to be made somewhere along the line of how you want to play.

However, the Japanese video for Fire Emblem If showed that they’re pulling a function similar to the Oracle of Seasons/Ages model on the Game Boy Color. To wit:

  • There will be two versions of Fire Emblem If: White (easy story) and Black (hard story) at a MSRP of approximately ¥4700, with the other storyline available as DLC for ¥1852. At market rates, that’s approximately $40 + $15.
  • A third storyline will be available for the same ¥1852 ($15), and there are no details on what the story will have.
  • There will be a limited edition that includes all stories plus some additional content including an art book, and trading cards. A price has yet to be revealed.
  • If you buy the game digitally, you’ll have to make the choice and get locked out after Chapter 6. According to reports this is how the game will work in the West.

Fire Emblem fans are used to paying through the nose for additional game content; you only need to boot Awakening’s DLC list to see that. But there’s a giant difference between paying $5-6 for a bit of fan service and being asked to drop $15 for core story content. Should the third storyline be big enough, you’re effectively being asked to pay $40 for half a game.

Nintendo has tried a similar two game set up for another fantasy series in the past; the Oracle Zelda games. The differences between doing it with Zelda and doing it with Fire Emblem are that the Zelda games didn't share content, while Fire Emblem If has the first six chapters the same for both versions. Zelda also has a history of strong sales while Fire Emblem doesn’t. Doing anything to hurt sales of Fire Emblem risks taking what could be a lucrative series for Nintendo and killing it. It’s hard to say whether fans should root for multiple versions of the game to do well in Japan so Fire Emblem keeps going, or root for this to bomb so they don’t see fan wallets as something you can stick a vacuum in and crank on high.

On the one hand, we have a situation where Nintendo wants to take a lot of Fire Emblem fan money. On the other hand, in North America… it's a whole different ballgame.

Hands Off The Merchandise: eBay Exclusive Amiibo And Trading Cards

I pre-ordered Robin and Lucina on the day before Easter, and the only reason I waited that long was because pre-orders didn’t open in store on Friday because of a statutory Canadian holiday. I was the third person in line to pre-order the Fire Emblem Amiibo at a store five minutes from my apartment. There were so many pre-orders for Robin and Lucina that only about a third of all Wave 4 Amiibo pre-orders at EB Games will be filled, and reportedly all future Amiibo pre-orders will be online only.

Of course, as any Amiibo hunter would tell you, limited Fire Emblem Amiibo availability is almost a running gag. Marth was in the original wave and sold out instantly due to the fact that its printing could probably be counted on two hands, and Ike followed shortly after. Robin and Lucina crashing GameStop's point of sale system should have been no surprise, especially once you throw in the rare Ness at the same time.

We're all familiar with the likes of Shulk and Ness being GameStop exclusive; anything Fire Emblem is a de facto eBay/Amazon Marketplace exclusive since the snipers have the advantage on getting them as soon as they go on sale. (This is something we've covered before, for the record.)

Part of the blame for my particular situation would fall on EB Games for opening pre-orders on a long weekend when there was nobody available to give stores accurate numbers. But in general, the failure has to be on Nintendo's end for not seeing the growing demand for these Fire Emblem characters coming. If they're going to use the Fire Emblem Amiibo in other Intelligent Systems games, shouldn't they be at least getting a burst of printing on the level of Sonic or Kirby so that the feature can actually be, you know, used? Even the oft-promised reprint of Marth and rumored Ike reprint can only stop the insanity for so long since the number of figures in these reprints haven't been announced.

It's entirely possible that the previous Amiibo could be used in the next Fire Emblem game to unlock Marth, Ike, Lucina, or Robin as playable characters – much in the way the Outrealm did in Awakening. That's an entirely theoretical function, but if it does happen, will there even be a sufficient number of those Amiibo in the hands of the people who care to make use of it? Probably not. And most of the fans who would care will have given up by then and left the scalpers with everything.

Or aside from using Amiibo, Nintendo can use trading cards. The Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher) trading card game was recently announced for Japan, and the two starter decks contain codes for Fire Emblem If that unlock Marth and Lucina in game. The card packs do come out day and date with If in Japan on June 25, so if these cards are an alternate method of unlocking characters, it may not be as bad... but there's no release date yet for the cards in the West.

So that's where the casual Fire Emblem fan in the West sits now – getting it from Anna on one side and brigands on the other. All we can do is pick a god and pray that things become fair for Fire Emblem fans before the entire mess collapses on itself.

Talkback

Evan_BApril 17, 2015

It's okay- with how much complexity Awakening stripped away from the combat systems and the drastic shift in tone, I'm certain that the fans of the original games aren't sticking around with this series anymore either.

The "lightning strikes twice" mentality that Nintendo is taking with If is laughably ridiculous. The fact that it's being chopped up into all these specific chunks baffles me even further. I wish Nintendo have actually made the game into two separate stories rather than having six of the (undoubtedly bare minimum) 25 chapters per game be exactly the same.

This card game nonsense is insane as well. Oh, and Nintendo, if you want to do Amiibo right, you make buying them unlock character DLC in any game they appear in. Game, set, and match. But no, they seem convinced that this bullshit is going to stick.

Triforce HermitApril 17, 2015

The way this game is being chopped is bullshit. I'm planning to buy the limited edition, but this is all still bullshit.

Zvarri!April 17, 2015

There's not much reason to be mad about multiple versions of FE14. Yes the first six chapters are the same, but you are still getting at least an extra 75% of the game for less than 40% of the cost of the game. This is miles better than Awakening's fan service DLC, which all together costs more than the game at retail. And this DLC will actually be meaningful too! Complaining about it is awfully petty.


But Nintendo still has no excuse for the amiibo situation. And the card game probably won't be localized anyway. I don't include recruiting a legacy character such as Marth, Lucina, or Minerva as DLC. It is more of a meaningless bonus to people who buy the TCG.

ClexYoshiApril 17, 2015

oh, that's nothing! Look up how much a copy of Fire Emblem Thracia 776 or try and get your hands on the Mystery of the Emblem OVA... or a BS Satellaview cart that has the DLC maps for Mystery of the Emblem for that matter! Namely Thracia 776, though. that game is the stuff of legends (and it's a stupidly hard game to play to boot because of how much they tend to stack missions against you.)

Triforce HermitApril 17, 2015

Quote from: Zvarri!

There's not much reason to be mad about multiple versions of FE14. Yes the first six chapters are the same, but you are still getting at least an extra 75% of the game for less than 40% of the cost of the game. This is miles better than Awakening's fan service DLC, which all together costs more than the game at retail. And this DLC will actually be meaningful too! Complaining about it is awfully petty.

The other story shouldn't be a DLC and you shouldn't be locked out of one part of your game.

macverdeApril 17, 2015

I think you are overreacting. Because it's clearly, that the franchise is looking to please more new fans than the older ones.

Despite awakening is a solid game, It's my personal worst. Because the game always feel like a different genre. I love fire emblem because of strategy, and that game looks like a classic RPG, with a little of strategy.

If you want to beat on lunatic+ (just rely on frederick, until chapter 4,) and after the outrealm gates open, grind and grind and grind (boring....)

And for that reason, I'm excited about the 2 versions + 1 dlc. If you buy all dlcs on awakening will cost more than $50 bucks. So i prefer, more stories than, a beach map with tharja and friends.

And you'll probably don't go that far. You will play the hoshido campaingn and you will be satisfied. Or if you like, and want to play nohr + dlc: you will see that (amiibo of lucina, ike, robin and marth) are useless (or just a costume)... because they will lack of bonus support, and no conversations.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not that kind of people who thinks i'm better because i like to play with perma death + higher difficulty. But, i think the way i like to play, i have to be more concerned than you.

PS: i heard the noir campaign will not have backtracking (if this happen i'm glad, because i hate how you can level up so much on paralogues, street pass team, spot pass team and the outrealm gate).

broodwarsApril 17, 2015

I'm really surprised Nintendo hasn't either done a sale on the Awakening DLC or released a "complete" version of that game by now. The sheer amount of expensive DLC is one of the reasons I stopped playing Awakening in the first place.

Zvarri!April 19, 2015

Quote from: Triforce

The other story shouldn't be a DLC and you shouldn't be locked out of one part of your game.

They are essentially making more than one game. There is no reason for them to price it as one game. If the game included both routes but cost $60 no one would complain, but because it is $40 plus optional DLC people get upset. It makes no sense.

Gamer@LawApril 24, 2015

I think everyone should take a deep breath, relax and see how things actually play out with the Fire Emblem If release before we start declaring that the franchise is headed the way of Advance Wars.  The distribution method in Japan has done nothing to limit interest in the game.  The Special Edition (which contains both versions of the game along with the DLC, art book, etc and is being marketed for 9250 Yen/$85 USD) sold out almost instantly and copies have been selling for more than twice the retail price on sites like eBay and Amazon.co.jp. 


The North American market is certainly different, but let's see how Nintendo elects to release the game here before we rush to judgment. Perhaps they will release a version that has both of the main storylines and buyers only need to purchase the DLC?  We need more facts before we leap to judgments. 


Right now I am far more excited for Fire Emblem If than I am for SMT x Fire Emblem (a game that looks far more like Persona x Hyperdimension Neptunia).  Awakening's success has brought well-deserved recognition to the franchise and I would really like to see If continue the series' new found momentum. 

StratosApril 24, 2015

NoA my be a very flawed branch, but they typically understand how Nintendo fans want their DLC... with the exception of the previous Fire Emblem. I am hoping they change it up a bit this time since the series is doing a lot better.

Mop it upApril 25, 2015

I don't like this kind of distribution, but this seems to be the way the industry is headed.

pokepal148April 25, 2015

Quote from: Zvarri!

Quote from: Triforce

The other story shouldn't be a DLC and you shouldn't be locked out of one part of your game.

They are essentially making more than one game. There is no reason for them to price it as one game. If the game included both routes but cost $60 no one would complain, but because it is $40 plus optional DLC people get upset. It makes no sense.

Two games that share the same 1st 6 chapters.

EnnerApril 25, 2015

Ah, Fire Emblem fans are a beleaguered bunch.

Assuming good intentions by Intelligent Systems, I can imagine Intelligent Systems is thinking they are doing their audience a solid by making nearly three games worth of Fire Emblem for the price of two (going on those high Japanese 3DS game prices). However, they seem to be unaware that their addressable video game audience at large absolutely hates to do math or work spreadsheets when they are buying a video game.

azekeApril 25, 2015

You should be more frustrated about 12 previous games majority of which are not available legally.

LazersApril 25, 2015

Quote from: pokepal148

Quote from: Zvarri!

Quote from: Triforce

The other story shouldn't be a DLC and you shouldn't be locked out of one part of your game.

They are essentially making more than one game. There is no reason for them to price it as one game. If the game included both routes but cost $60 no one would complain, but because it is $40 plus optional DLC people get upset. It makes no sense.

Two games that share the same 1st 6 chapters.

Right, but the point is that's factored into the price.

broodwarsApril 25, 2015

My issue with the "2 games" argument is that if a Western dev did this with something like Skyrim (splitting 2 story paths into 2 separately-charged releases) people would be livid.  But because this is Fire Emblem and because this is Nintendo, people should apparently just be happy about it and accept that Nintendo chose to break a large game up into 3 pieces to be charged separately.

If Nintendo effectively communicates what they're doing (yes, I know that's a hell of an "if") they'll be fine. People were pissed about Starcraft 2 being split into three versions until it became clear that each of them had easily enough content to justify it.

LazersApril 26, 2015

Quote from: broodwars

My issue with the "2 games" argument is that if a Western dev did this with something like Skyrim (splitting 2 story paths into 2 separately-charged releases) people would be livid.  But because this is Fire Emblem and because this is Nintendo, people should apparently just be happy about it and accept that Nintendo chose to break a large game up into 3 pieces to be charged separately.

Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not necessarily happy that Nintendo did this. I'm just not willing to throw them under the bus before people have even had a chance to play the game and see how this is going to work in practice. In the end it's going to come down to how much (unique) content is in each of those campaigns and how independent they actually are. Right now we're way too light on details to say that it isn't justified. If the two main campaigns do end up being that big and are truly standalone, this is a much better way to handle it than forcing both on everybody with a $55 or $60 price tag and losing sales in the process.

EnnerApril 26, 2015

Quote from: broodwars

But because this is Fire Emblem and because this is Nintendo, people should apparently just be happy about it and accept that Nintendo chose to break a large game up into 3 pieces to be charged separately.

I smell a polling opportunity if there isn't one running already.

Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are taking a dangerous path where the burden of proving their value is solely on them. That there wasn't a quote from Iwata during the Direct that details Intelligent Systems' intentions on the value or content they are providing is a misstep. Instead, I have a quote in a Siliconera article that I can barely recall where someone from Nintendo or Intelligent Systems talks how each path is or nearly is the length of a regular Fire Emblem story. Nintendo and Intelligent Systems might have intended to not talk about the amount of content at this point in time, but it looks on bad on them when they are detailing the pricing scheme to Japan now.

And now we have the freelancer Sakurai complaining about DLC practices and how they make a game feel incomplete.

Outside of a few bad/questionable buys (StreetPass Premium, Awakenings many extra maps), Nintendo has been tolerable in their foray in to premium DLC. It'll be a shame to see Fire Emblem If be their first time where they mess up an entire game experience because of premium DLC.

broodwarsApril 26, 2015

I think the mistake Nintendo made here was making those 1st 6 chapters the same across both games, and then telling us that they were the same and part of a choice the player had to make. If you're going to make 2 different Fire Emblem games, make 2 different Fire Emblem games. The Zelda Oracle games certainly shared assets and you could trade items between them, but they didn't share content. If we had 2 different Fire Emblem games w/ that 3rd campaign as DLC, I think the conversation would be about how excited people were to have two Fire Emblem games to play within the next year or so. Instead, we know Nintendo cut up a larger game so they could sell it to us twice, and it pisses some people off.

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