Fire Emblem Heroes Mobile Game Review
By: Mary Rakas
In 2016, Nintendo broke into the world of mobile gaming with its release of Miitomo in March and Super Mario Run in December. Nintendo’s latest installment on the mobile platform, Fire Emblem Heroes, made its debut in February of this year.
The Fire Emblem spinoff, available on iOS and Android devices, takes place in the lands of the Emblian Empire and the Askran Kingdom. The Empire holds the power to close portals to other worlds, while the Kingdom has the ability to open them. War breaks out when the Emblian Empire, ruled by Veronica, begins invading the other worlds, mind-controlling the heroes from other games in the franchise and using them to attack the Askran Kingdom.
Instead of joining the protagonists as a tactician as in past games, players are drawn into the story as a legendary summoner who, you guessed it, can call forth other characters from the franchise to join the Order of Heroes. Sibling Askran royals, Prince Alfonse and Princess Sharena, head the order along with their faithful commander, Anna (fans of the series will recognize her from past games). With the help of the summoner, the Order defeats the mind-controlled heroes in combat to free them from the Empire’s control.
Players earn orbs, hero feathers, badges, shards, and crystals, among other items, by beating chapters of the main story and completing special tasks. Orbs can be used to summon characters, revive fallen party members during combat, etc. Characters are divided into blue, green, red, and colorless units. Five orbs are required for one summon; however, if more than one character of the same color is summoned, the cost goes down for each consecutive character.
Characters range from one to five stars, with five being the most rare. The higher star rating a character has, the better his/her stats and skills will be. Gems and crystals can be used to level up characters, while badges and feathers can be used to upgrade a character’s star rating.
The game also has modes outside of the main story, including Arena Duels, where players can compete in online battles, and Special Maps, which players can complete to earn orbs and gain new characters. A nice aspect of the game is the Training Tower, which is used to level up characters.
I’ve been a faithful follower of the Fire Emblem franchise for about ten years. The first thing I noticed in Heroes was an alteration to the weapon triangle. Swords still beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. Likewise, there is also a magic triangle; in this case, red magic beats green, green beats blue, and blue beats red. However, the effectiveness of magic against weapons has changed. Whereas in past games, magic did not deal more or less damage against weapon-wielding units (barring a few exceptions), it does in Heroes. If, for example, you attack a sword wielder with a blue tome mage, you’ll deal much more damage than you would against an axe user, which is a green type unit.
Another significant change from standard Fire Emblem games comes in the simplicity of the storyline. In past games, there were politics, subplots, and intrigue that held players’ interest and kept them guessing about what would happen next. In Heroes, the story couldn’t be more straightforward. Veronica refuses to the close the gateways to other worlds. She continuously invades those worlds, takes control of the characters, and players defeat them in battle. There is no deviation from this cycle.
However, there are hints of a deeper plot brewing. Extra chapters outside of the main story (paralogues and xenologues) have been released. The Xenologue contains cut scenes showing a masked character, who remains unidentified, asking Veronica if she feels like someone else has been controlling her. She says no, but that she hears a voice telling her to kill.
As with most mobile games, people intent on playing without purchasing in-app are up for as big a challenge as playing Fire Emblem games on hard and lunatic modes. So far, Nintendo has been generous with orbs. Quite a few missions have recently been added that offer three orbs as a reward for each. I have spent zero dollars so far, and have 49 characters out of the 200 character allotment (this can be increased using orbs). I have three five-star characters and many four-star ones, but it’s difficult to upgrade a character to the highest level. It takes 20,000 feathers and twenty badges of the unit’s color to upgrade a character from four to five stars. Feathers are awarded for participating in the arena and for sending characters home, but it’s too small an amount to make a significant difference.
Overall, Fire Emblem Heroes is worth a try, but hopefully more updates will be released. I’ve beaten the entire main story, and after that there isn’t much replay value. I’m hoping Nintendo releases more paralogues and xenologues, and delves deeper into the potential mysteries surrounding Veronica.