Shortly before heading off to MegaCon, I found a retail copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening. That may sound like a rather simple statement, but this 3DS game quickly became rare after dropping in early February in sort of the same fashion as Radiant Historia, with only so many copies shipped to individual retailers. The three GameStops I visited did not have any in stock, nor did the local Target or Best Buy. At last, I found it behind protective glass walls at Walmart. So, y’know, always.
Regardless, I’m glad I got a copy before they all poofed and disappeared, though sadly that’s probably the main reason I purchased Awakening. Not because I have a love for all things SRPG or even any deep experience with the franchise, but because it’s a game that will soon be hard to find, and I’d rather get it now then not and moan and groan later over how difficult it is to obtain, just like I did for Suikoden III and Katamari Damacy for many years. Yes, I’ve become quite a neurotic collector over the past few years, and I’d rather have than have not.
As evident from my bipolar time with Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked, I’m not very good at strategy-based RPGs. I don’t really understand why that is, as I’d like to think myself pretty decent at action RPGs and just fine with regular RPGs, knowing how to level and equip better armor and grind for XP before the next boss fight. But as soon as I’m tossed onto a grid-like battlefield with a number of units to control, I fall apart. Maybe there’s too much info to absorb and understand, and from what I’ve seen so far of Awakening, there is a lot of data to grok.
Where to begin? Well, I guess with the plot: Chrom, the prince of the Halidom of Ylisse, and his companions, must join together during a turbulent era. The neighboring nation of Plegia has been acting suspiciously as of late, and in response Chrom commands a band of soldiers–called the Shepherds–to keep his country at peace. He encounters an unholy force called the Risen plaguing the lands and a masked swordsman claiming to be Marth, the Hero-King of legend. You end up controlling a character with amnesia who joins the Shepherds by chance. It’s kind of both typical medieval fantasy fare and non-typicalness, with hints of time travel. I’ve only gotten up to the start of Chapter 4, so that’s all I know currently.
And yes, I’m playing Awakening on Normal difficulty…in Classic mode. That means dealing with the permanent death aspect the franchise is known for. When a character’s health is depleted, that’s it–they are dead. No amount of Phoenix Down feathers could possibly bring them back. So you best be prepared for each and every battle, for every minute change to the enemy’s tactics, for every possible scenario and decision. Matt Mason over at Obtain Potion has some strong thoughts on defending casual mode, and I agree that people playing Awakening on Classic, but reloading a save after losing a beloved squad member are doing it wrong. If you care that much, switch to Casual and go about your adventuring, knowing every one is safe and sound in their big boy/girl beds after each battle.
For me, I’m embracing perma-death fully and plan to make it a point to share each and every loss I suffer here on Grinding Down, no matter how grand or small. I’m not trying to play the game as best as possible, following a guide and keeping all the best characters alive and paired perfectly. This is war, and war never changes. There will be deaths, and many more to come, knowing my skills. First up, however, is Vaike, an axe-wielding soldier with fun hair, which is a shame, as he seemed like quite a funny guy. But as quickly as he was introduced in Chapter 3, he was chopped to bits by enemy soldiers. My fault for not paying attention to weapon types.
I played a little more into Chapter 4 last night, losing Sully and Lissa, but also then having my own character die, which brings up the GAME OVER screen. So I kind of get a mulligan on that one, and hope that I can mix up my strategy better to keep everyone, including myself, up and moving. But if I can’t, well…them’s the breaks.
If you have any Awakening tips, please, please share them here. I still don’t understand a lot of it, and only just opened up all the Wireless functionality, which seems to offer side quest maps, new items, other teams to use, and so on. Also noticed that you can forge new items in shops. Oh boy.