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Fire Emblem Awakening Review

See PixlBit's Review Policies

On 07/04/2013 at 12:00 PM by Julian Titus , Jon Lewis , Angelo Grant

Let's go old school with a magazine-style three man review!

Fans of strategy RPGs should take note of this one. Just keep in mind that it's not for everyone, especially reviewers named Angelo.

(Editor's Note: Since Fire Emblem: Awakening was translated by many ex-EGM reviewers courtesy of 8-4, I thought it would be cool to do a classic three man review. Since the PixlBit system only accepts one score per game, we're going with Julian's score, since it was based on an entire playthrough from start to finish. Enjoy!)


My first experience with Fire Emblem has been so positive that I’m sitting here asking myself what took me so long to jump in. This strategy/RPG really shines on the 3DS, with impressive visuals that take good advantage of the portable’s power. Characters are big and wonderfully detailed, and I can forgive the fact that they don’t have feet when everything else looks this good. The cel-shaded cutscenes really flesh out an intriguing story of politics, succession, and all-out war between nations.

The real star of this game would of course be the tactical battle system. In its default setting, characters lost on the field are gone forever, or until you reload a previous save. This makes each battle just a little bit more tense and meaningful, and I’ve probably never spent as much time rethinking my moves as much as I have with Fire Emblem: Awakening. Of course, such high stakes for each fight also mean that each victory is even more rewarding. I never got over the thrill of paring a couple units up in such a formation that would cause enemy ranks to break against us like waves against a cliff wall.

Keeping characters fighting side by side increases their personal relationships, which has tactical benefits as well as some great backstory outside of battle. The translation from 8-4 is simply pitch-perfect, and it makes me want to replay the game with Classic mode turned off so that I can get to know the characters that fell in battle too soon.

I have a fever, and the only cure is more Fire Emblem: Awakening. Do yourself a favor and grab this one before it vanishes from store shelves. Don’t have a 3DS? Go get one—it’s worth it.



I knew that there was something special about this game from the get go. The astounding presentation was top notch, something I hadn’t expected since Fire Emblem is generally treated as a B tier franchise here in America. Thankfully, Awakening was able to build upon that great presentation with extremely solid gameplay, which is basic enough for beginners and challenging enough to engage veterans like myself.

The mechanics have been expanded upon with the additions like the pairing system and the pseudo-open world. The pairing system makes battles all the more tactical, as you must constantly be aware of all units on the battlefield and who is next to who. This also leads into the interesting relationship system, which became a highlight of my experience. Being able to go back to certain areas to take on monsters and level up is also a very welcome addition, though it did come at some cost.

One problem I have with Awakening – which I’ll admit might be a personal problem – is the fact that level grinding (something that wasn’t really possible in previous entries) often distracts from the main objective. I opted to play on Hard/Classic and doing so made the opening missions pretty difficult for me. The ability to grind for levels and items initially seemed like a godsend, and for the most part it is, but I get so wound up in grinding that I forget that I have a story to get to. This gripe is minor, but the distraction didn’t necessarily exist in previous games.

Still, despite that, there aren’t many games that offer victories as satisfying as this game. Going into a battle, and realizing that you might have made a mistake only to have a good partner character save him and then retaliate with a critical is gaming nirvana. I’ve physically cheered more times playing this game than I care to admit, and each mission feels challenging. Strategy is still at the heart of this game, and never does it feel like the game is being unfair. It hits all the right marks.

With an astounding amount of features, expanded and refined gameplay, and fantastic production values, Fire Emblem: Awakening is easily one of 3DS’ best games. In all honesty, I wouldn’t even be surprised if it ended up on a few Game of the Year lists. If you have a 3DS, go get this one. It’s worth it.



Oh Fire Emblem, I wanted to love you, but you and I just never clicked.

This by no means is an indication that Fire Emblem: Awakening is not a good game; far from it. The translation is top notch, the visuals are great, and the characters are entertaining. My problem lies with the fact that I have a particular itch I look to scratch with strategy RPGs, and Fire Emblem just doesn’t hit it.

To put it bluntly, Fire Emblem isn’t flexible or forgiving enough to suit my tastes.

When I have an army full of characters, I want to fully explore all of them. I want to level them all up and be able to use them how I like. While Awakening technically does allow this, the amount of grinding it would take to actually carry out such a goal simply isn’t something I’m willing to commit time to. Were this my only complaint, I probably would have eventually resigned to doing what everybody else is doing and just picked a core group of characters I like and ran with it, but my biggest fault with the game is what really held me back.

I found the interface cumbersome to say the least. I hated, literally hated the process of playing the game. If I put these characters together, will I be able to use them afterward? Maybe... What if I separate them? Can I have them both attack even though they haven’t moved at all? Nope! Well can I undo this and just cancel back to the start of my move since I haven’t really taken an action yet? Oh goodness no. Well crap, this actually screws me over! I thought I could do this! Tough beans son, looks like you gotta restart the battle.

I don’t know how other people operate or think, but issues like these made the experience frustrating to me, not fun. I applaud a lot of the decisions Intelligent Systems made when developing this game, such as how they handled difficulty, but I just cannot play this game the way I want to, and that ruined the experience for me.

Just because my opinion is skewed toward the negative doesn’t mean that the game is broken. My compatriots at PixlBit have already done a stellar job of extolling the virtues of this title, and what they’ve stated is very accurate. My experience represents the issues I expect some will have with Fire Emblem, and I felt were generally overlooked by those who fell in love with the title. Simply put: Fire Emblem is a great game, but it’s just not the game for me.


Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




07/04/2013 at 01:27 PM

I really would like to start this game.  All the reviews I've read have been positive.  I have my copy ready.  I just don't have a 3DS. Tongue Out


07/04/2013 at 02:38 PM

I'd like to play this game but I don't know. So many good 3DS games, so little time and money. Cool change up of the review format though. It's nice to have several opinions to compare at once. Who were the actual translators, by the way? I wonder if I'd recognize the names.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

07/08/2013 at 10:17 AM

The big one is Mark MacDonald, but some of the other 8-4 people on the game were John Ricciardi and Justin Eperson.


07/04/2013 at 02:54 PM

While the death of main characters is something that may add suspense to a game it's also something that kept me away from the Fire Emblem games awhile. I dunno, I've seen plenty of death in real life so when it comes to characters I can potentially care for I rather they not die on me.

As for grinding, it's something I did not mind in my youth but now I have less time to do it. I guess that comes with becoming an adult,Julian. Our parents used to handle paying the bills,laundry,and grocery shopping. Now we have to do all that ourselves. lol.

PS: Just realized I was agreeing with Angelo. lol. Sorry, I'm not accustomed to 3 points of view being on the same page so everything kind of bled together. My bad!


07/04/2013 at 03:44 PM

Now i can play a FE game without crying over every dead soldier Wink

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