Tag: Fire Emblem Awakening

A song of Awakening and Fates

A song of Awakening and Fates

My last post about Fire Emblem Heroes was pretty negative honestly. I talked all about how tired I felt I was getting seeing things like Tempest Trials show up over and over, burning me out more each time without a substantial break in between.

However… This new banner of special heroes brought me right back from the brink of despair.

I’m not even overemphasizing things that much. Two nights ago when the trailer dropped showing off these four new units, I watched the video at least five times while sitting in the newsroom, waiting for corrections to come back on front page. I was excited to see who was added, I liked the look they were going for and I REALLY liked the music that went with the trailer – though I’ll get more into that later.

Hell, I was so excited about these heroes that even in the midst of a super exciting update to Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links with a billion giveaways to celebrate the launch of a GX-themed world, I still found myself thinking about Fire Emblem. Waiting impatiently for the update.

Now that it’s here, was it worth the wait?

img_6201

Though everyone was expecting some sort of a Halloween-themed update to coincide with the beginning of October, instead we got a summoning banner themed around dancing and singing, featuring characters who do those things from Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. Namely:

  • AzuraLady of Ballads
    • Dressed like she is during her special musical number in the Conquest route of Fates, Azura’s performer ensemble is an interesting departure from the norm in that she comes as an axe-wielder rather than a lance-wielder… Though she generally serves the same niche as her original counterpart. Her special axe Udor (with some weird accent over the ‘o’ that I can’t even start to imagine how to recreate) makes it so anyone she sings for also gains +3 to every stat. Frankly, that’s a crazy buff. She also comes with Triangle Adept to help take out other lances and a passive buff to ally resistance stats during combat, but I would argue the special axe overshadows everything else.
  • InigoIndigo Dancer
    • Clearly somewhat over his stage fright, Inigo is here in his pre-Laslow standing. Rather than coming in as a mercenary like we might expect, however, he’s fully embraced his dancing spirit and… Is a green mage. I’ll be honest, the green mage thing threw me off when I first saw it, but his Dancer’s Ring has the Breath of Life skill built in, so it’s pretty cool. I can’t complain about it, at least. He can also dance for allies and provide them +4 speed if he does, with a turn start buff to attack for adjacent allies as well.
  • OliviaFestival Dancer
    • Inigo’s mother Olivia is also making an appearance, wearing an outfit that’s as revealing as ever but comes with a super nice dark color scheme – I think it’s really nice, at least. Instead of bringing a sword for protection, she carries a weapon called the Dancer’s Fan: A colorless dagger that has a Breath of Life skill built in similar to Inigo’s weapon while also causing a -7 defense and resistance affliction to opponents. Seriously, if you like Inigo’s weapon, this one is above and beyond that, even if it trades off some power and has a physical rather than a magical attribute. She also grants +4 attack with her dance and has Distant Defense, a skill which adds defense and resistance during combat if she’s attacked from afar – something you’ll likely see often with a dagger weapon.
  • ShigureDark Sky Singer
    • Azura’s son Shigure makes his first appearance in Fire Emblem Heroes, but comes in as a blue tome mage rather than a lance-wielding pegasus knight as he is in Fates. Though Shigure was admittedly never really my favorite child unit, it’s nice to see him appear, and the outfit he has to match Azura’s is quite pretty in its own right. His weapon, the Dancer’s Score, is essentially a blue version of Inigo’s Dancer’s Ring. On top of that, he grants +4 to a unit’s defense and resistance stats when he sings for them… Though his final skill only provides SP buffs to other blue tome users on your team. Probably useful for training, but not at all for combat.

From a purely mechanical standing, I love how each of these units come with skills that give their singing or dancing extra utility. I haven’t used a unit with an ability that lets units take a second turn, so the idea of finally getting the chance to do so with whatever extra benefits are brought about is exciting.

Though I also have to say that I think my favorite thing about the specific selection of characters for this banner is the fact that they went with a sweet Mother/Son dynamic with the singing and dancing duets. They do address it somewhat in the story for the paralogue, but just as an idea I think it’s a great little connection that I wouldn’t have thought to pull together until I saw it.

Plus, Inigo and Shigure are both technically brand new characters if you don’t count Laslow. They’re child characters too, which gives me some more hope of seeing some of my other favorite child characters from Awakening and Fates in the future.

Given my excitement for these heroes appearing, I prepared myself for the inevitable orb binge. Things have been storing up for a while, since I got everyone I wanted out of the Crimean Heroes banner a few weeks ago in fact, so that extra buffer finally had its chance to be useful.

It became a little event for me in fact, and as you can see from all of these summon pictures:

 

It was a big bust in the end. Up around 80 orbs more or less down the drain without anything to show for it. I didn’t quite blow everything as you can obviously see from the last image in the set above, but I’m generally not a fan of summoning when I have less than 20 orbs on-hand at least. That way I’m not screwed over if I happen to get five colored summoning choices I want to take on at once.

So, in the unfortunate melancholy of my failure to summon any of the performance heroes, I decided to jump over and see the paralogue for this special banner.

Even from the very beginning, this particular bit of story doesn’t go out of it’s way to distinguish itself as anything beyond filler for the sake of introducing cool alternate costumed characters.

There’s a bit of a joking air at the start as Anna sings Azura’s song, Lost in Thoughts All Alone (more or less the theme song of Fire Emblem Fates as a whole, for that matter). However, not much time is devoted to that before things go right down to business:

Get going you do, and as a result you find yourself in the grand canal-flooded opera house in Cyrkensia from Fire Emblem Fates, arguably one of the game’s most significant and popular locations.

Each of the three maps has you fighting at a different location within the Opera House, which frankly does make sense considering the sheer size of the place in the original game:

map-of-chapter-14.png
Image courtesy of gamerguides.com

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The actual fights on the maps aren’t particularly challenging in my opinion, though having to deal with 2 to 4 units that can all sing or dance to allow their partner a second opportunity to act is a bit of a pain for sure.

Arguably the biggest boon to these maps are how they look. Not only are things inherently interesting considering the special character outfits, but the setting makes for an aesthetically beautiful set piece both in and out of the battle screen.

img_6222
Little in-game Azura singing her heart out. Gotta love it.

However, no matter how nice these maps look and how much I enjoy the characters talking within them, in my opinion there is at least one majorly glaring issue with the new content.

Why is there no special music for the special banner about the performing arts?

That whole thing seems counterintuitive to me, honestly. As a matter of fact, I might even go so far as to say the lack of special music is a rather huge detriment to the update as a whole. It took away quite a bit of my initial hype to hear old music show up again for the three battles in the Opera House.

The idea is especially poignant because a really dope song was already used in the announcement trailer that doesn’t get any play here in Heroes proper. It’s honestly perfect, and I was listening to this video over-and-over for parts of the day leading in just so I could keep hearing the remix.

Don’t want to dwell too much on that however, as music issues aside there isn’t a lot of substance to go over in the story itself either. Each of the three maps starts with a small introduction to the characters that are going to be the focus in that fight, as you’d probably expect.

The first map has Inigo and Azura running into one another, with Inigo having to break away from his desire to hit on such a beautiful lady so they can stop you.

Why are they stopping you? Well… They think you’re intruding on the sanctity of the stage they’re performing on? I guess?

The motivations are a little weirdly specific this time around, I’ll be honest. Though props to the reference of Azura knowing Laslow, who is Inigo taking on a different name at some point the future.

The second map features Olivia and Shigure in a different part of the Opera House, more or less encountering your team under the same mysterious pretense that Azura and Inigo did.

Then finally, the third map features the two groups coming together to fight, dividing into Mother/Son combos of dancers and singers.

Interestingly enough, this part of the paralogue was the most interesting to me because it takes a small detour to delve into lore and character building for this dark-cloaked Azura.

It’s just interesting to me that they decide to talk about the implications of the story in Fates, messing with time by having Shigure appear to be from some canonical timeline that Azura has disappeared in while this special Azura is apparently from some other continuity. I suppose if it’s a subject they can mess with anywhere, Heroes is a good place to do so considering it’s predicated on the idea of drawing characters out from various timelines and dimensions or what have you, but it still seems to be a complicated thing to add just in the middle of another thing going on.

It’s also a little unbalanced in my head to see Inigo and Olivia have a happy little reunion while Shigure and Azura’s interactions are more seeped in sadness and angst… But at the same time that probably fits the characters we’re looking at pretty well. So who am I to complain?

Beyond that side note about Azura, however, there isn’t much else to talk about in regards to story. After you beat the four performers, they acknowledge they were wrong and offer to help you if you summon them later… But it just ends there. No extra banter from the Order of Heroes characters or anything. Just a one-and-done sort of deal.

img_6238

Whether it was “kind” to come in and beat everyone up until they came to their senses is an argument we’ve yet to have extensively, but it’s a nice sentiment to end on either way.

The romp through Cyrkensia may have been overall uneventful, more of a filler ark like I said before, and the lack of special music continues to baffle me… But in the end it serves it’s overall purpose well.

That purpose being offering opportunity to earn extra orbs.

I decided to use those extra orbs I earned from the story missions for one last attempt at summoning. An attempt that had…

Very unexpected results. But certainly not results I’m interested in complaining about.

Got me a special Azura, baby!

With this special Azura comes a special personal distinction in that I’ve never had a good dancing/singing unit before to support my team with double action turns. Now I do, and although I’ve been finding that Azura might be a little too much of a glass cannon for my tastes, I’m still excited to make good use of her.

… Though I also won’t stop trying to get some of the others over the next month. Grinding the Tempest Trials out to the end will net me some extra chances to summon, and in particular I’m looking out for Olivia at this point. A good colorless is something that’s far more widely applicable.

But I digress, since beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

After all, it’s time for me to go get some more orbs and get my GX on. Don’t know whether I want to write a post about the GX world coming since I’ve already basically blown through all the first-time impressions… But I suppose if you’re interested in seeing that, let me know in the comments below.

In fact, if you have any opinions on the performing arts heroes, let me know that in the comments too!

Advertisements
The Heroes we chose, the Power we crave

The Heroes we chose, the Power we crave

Before Fire Emblem Heroes hit mobile app stores, there was a promotional “Choose Your Legends” event that had fans of the Fire Emblem series vote on heroes they were interested in seeing in a game which had only just recently been teased at a token Nintendo Direct for the series.

When the voting period ended and the results were released, not much was very surprising about the results. Taking the top rungs of the ladder for the men were Ike from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance as well as Roy from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade. For the women, Lyndis from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade and Lucina from Fire Emblem Awakening took top billing.

In the six months since the game has launched, we have not heard much regarding these four chosen heroes, the most popular in Fire Emblem history if you believe in the sanctity of a community-driven vote. Democracy at work.

But now we know just what has been cooking for these fan favorites: A new distinction as “Brave Heroes,” bringing along with them a new look, new weapons, new skills and a certain extra sense of prestige.

img_6013

Okay, technically we knew about these Brave Heroes a couple days ago when a new episode of Feh Channel was released…

img_5995
Which you can watch here if you’re interested.

But that came out so close to the actual release of these guys that I figured it would be worth waiting to talk about them.

So, now that they’re here, what are the Brave Heroes we chose packing?

  • Lucina – Brave Princess
    • Lucina wields the legendary lance Geirskögul, which gives her +3 defense and gives allies with physical weapons within 2 spaces +3 attack and speed during combat. She also comes with the special attack Aether, boosting her damage while recovering health, and the skills Sturdy Blow (to add attack and defense during initiated combat) and Drive Speed (to grant her allies +3 speed within 2 spaces during combat).
  • Roy – Brave Lion
    • Roy wields the legendary sword Blazing Durandal, which gives him +3 attack and adds +1 to the special attack cooldown of his enemies if he has a higher attack stat. He comes equipped with the special attack Galeforce, granting him an extra turn if he initiates combat, and the skills Steady Blow (to add speed and defense during initiated combat) and Desperation (which allows for immediate follow-up attacks if he’s below 75% health). Roy is also a cavalier now.
  • Lyndis – Brave Lady
    • Lyn wields the legendary bow Mulagir, which gives her +3 speed and nullifies the bonuses of magic users from skills like Fortify ‘X’ and Rally ‘X.’ Her special skill is Draconic Aura, a consistent damage booster, and she comes with three skills: Swift Sparrow (to add attack and speed during initiated combat), Sacae’s Blessing (disabling counterattacks on foes with swords, lances and axes) and Attack Smoke (which inflicts -7 attack on foes within 2 spaces after combat). Brave Lady Lyn is also the first Bow Knight added to the game, giving her vast mobility and range.
  • Ike – Brave Mercenary
    • Ike wields the legendary axe Urvan, which gives him an accelerated special attack cooldown and makes it so consecutive attacks deal 80% less damage. Fun fact, 80% is a hell of a lot considering this is a game where 40 damage is usually a one hit kill. His special skill is Aether just like Lucina has, and he comes with three skills: Steady Breath (granting him +4 defense if attacked and adding +1 to his cooldown), Beorc’s Blessing (which nullifies the Fortify ‘X’ and Rally ‘X’ and more bonuses from flying units and cavaliers) and Threaten Defense (which lowers opponents defense by 5 within 2 spaces after combat).

I mentioned it before, but the results of the Choose Your Legends event are pretty obvious in hindsight. On the one hand, I can totally see why:

  • Lucina is arguably the most popular character from Awakening, the game that saved the Fire Emblem series from extinction a few years ago. She’s the central tie for essentially everything that happens in that game, and that makes her a very interesting and dynamic character. Plus, she got a chance to be in Super Smash Bros 4 (which as you’ll see is a common theme in this list).
  • Roy was one of the two characters, alongside Marth, who bolstered the popularity of Fire Emblem in the United States. They both appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee and got American audiences interested in the previously obscure RPG, enough so that the next game in the series was released here. Speaking of…
  • Lyndis is a main character from the Blazing Blade, which in America was known simply as “Fire Emblem” because it was the first game in the series to be released there. In fact, though I’m not entirely sure considering I haven’t personally played the game, I believe Lyn is the very first character you encounter in that game as the main character in the tutorial stages. Add to that her legendary status as a one-hit-knock-out assist trophy in Smash Bros. and you have someone quite memorable to many fans.
  • If Lyn is considered quite memorable, Ike is truly a character anyone who has even heard of Fire Emblem can recognize. As a main hero in two Fire Emblem games and a fighter introduced into Super Smash Bros. Brawl, he has had quite a strong presence in much of the series’ history. In fact, much of his popularity probably stems from the memes that Smash Bros. spawned. Not only is he a cool heavy-hitting character that uses a flaming sword, but cries of “Aether,” “We like Ike” and “I fight for my friends” characterize a large breadth of jokes that get passed around for the game. Ike even appears in the opening title screen for Heroes, and the long stretch of time before he was added to the game had many players asking for him to appear.

But on the other hand, that inherent popularity of these heroes makes their appearance here entirely too predictable. In a way, I would almost argue that makes it a boring list of characters to highlight despite how much “fan favoritism” balances that out.

However, I would also argue the way the heroes look and their awesome skills help to balance that out even more. They seriously look and play amazingly just from the offset, so even if I feel we were jipped by not giving other heroes the chance at alternate skins (of which Lucina now has three for whoever is keeping count), at least they’re still worth getting.

Though if I had my way, those abundant votes for Neimi in that original voting session would have held more sway. Just saying.

Another special thing about this new summoning banner comes from the fact that the game is trying something new with it: Allowing players to get one of the Brave Heroes for free.

This unprecedented bit of generosity helps play back on the community-driven aspect of the Choose Your Legends event. Players chose these heroes to represent their favorites, so they all get to have at least one as a thank you for playing the game.

Who did I choose, I hear you ask?

Well…

img_6017

Though it was a tough choice between her and Ike, I had to go with Lyndis. Namely because she’s the first Bow Knight introduced into Fire Emblem Heroes. The horse-mounted archer class is probably my favorite in the series (again dating back to Neimi in Sacred Stones), and on top of that it fits perfectly onto the horse-themed team I’ve been building for some time now.

I’ll probably blow some orbs trying to summon the rest of the three available Brave Heroes, but I likely won’t go crazy over it. They’re all cool and limited-time rare, but I still feel like I should be saving my orbs for a rainy day after a number of recent binges.


Now onto what is strangely still one of my favorite parts of these updates: The story.

This time around it’s pretty bare bones, so those of you who don’t enjoy my endless ramblings are getting lucky.

This Paralogue comes with the usual assortment of bonuses you would expect. Three difficulty levels to get nine orbs, three extra missions for more orbs… But this time, it also comes alongside a log-in bonus to help players get 20 orbs.

In terms of the actual story, this Paralogue is frankly more fluffy than most of the others on our ever-growing list.

And I don’t mean fluffy as in “Let’s watch Anna try to take some click-bait swimsuit pictures,” I mean fluffy as in “This Paralogue is literally just a nod to players about this being a player-driven choice and event.”

It begins with a rather thin premise of enemy forces gathering in an old temple in Askr.

As it turns out, that temple was the original resting place of the weapon that you, the player character, now wields that gives you the ability to summon heroes from the various worlds. So then, why is the Emblian empire stationing themselves there if the one weapon the temple is known for has already been taken?

Well… They don’t really explain that.

They just explain that Brave Heroes, who are exceptionally stronger than normal heroes because of the strength behind the love and belief of others that resides in them (which is another thin way of saying we all voted for them), are there now.

“A legendary rite” say the writers with a wink and a knowing grin.

Interestingly enough nothing goes any deeper than this. Everything about this Paralogue can essentially be summed up as “Hey look at this fan service we’re giving you, hope you enjoy the free stuff.”

Don’t know what it is with me and fake quoting things tonight, but it’s certainly happening a lot.

That aside, in the end you just go through the three battles:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But nothing of substance happens until the end when the four are together and talk in vaguely meta terms about being chosen.

img_6036

And that’s all she wrote.

However, before I move on, I did want to mention an interesting point tying the four heroes together. In their selected descriptions, each of them mentions the fact that these forms are based on their fathers in one form or another.

Lucina is wearing armor similar to her father’s armor. Lyndis is utilizing the bow and horse riding skills of her father. Roy is using his father’s sword and rides a horse like him as well. Ike, finally, is using his father’s axe to battle.

This is arguably a small detail, but I think it’s a really cool way to add some extra world building into the mix. I can always appreciate some extra world building.


The Brave Heroes summoning focus isn’t the only way Intelligent Systems is making good on the Choose Your Legends event from before the game’s launch.

img_6019

The eight highest ranked heroes (four men and four women, including the regular forms of the previously discussed brave heroes) will be pitted against one another in a voting gauntlet.

I personally only have a Roy and a Camilla in my hero storage banks, but neither are leveled up at all, so this will probably be the first gauntlet in which I don’t actively support a hero I use to gain extra points.

That said I’ll be supporting Ike to start. Because I’ll be honest, it’ll be quite the shock for me if he doesn’t wind up winning.

While I won’t personally be buying into them, there are two summoning focuses in place to summon the characters in question:

 

 

My orbs are better spent in other places I would argue, even if a regular Ike or a Hector are heroes I could stand to have eventually.

One thing I think is interesting to note is the fact that of the eight available heroes, six are red units (five of which being sword users specifically). The other two are axe wielders, which means they’re inherently at a disadvantage. Though using the units themselves merely gives you a benefit and isn’t required, thus making it so their one-on-one disadvantages are essentially null, I still think it says something that so many of the community’s favorite units use swords.

It probably says that everyone thinks swords are cool. Which is true.

Swords are great.


Finally, I also figured it would be worth mentioning that the Heroes developers are doing some interesting outside marketing/engagement using players of the game.

The most prominent of those efforts is putting out tweets and giving rewards out if enough people retweet it. This is the second time they’ve done it, and unlike the first time I actually decided to do my part this time around:

They also have a game set up on the official Fire Emblem Heroes website called a Quick Hero Battle mode that lets you choose units that have an advantage over a unit they throw at you repeatedly for 30 second bouts. You can play the game twice a day (unless you post about it on social media, in which case you get more play time) and the current prizes are phone wallpapers of the Brave Heroes.

Don’t have too much to say in regards to these, I just think it’s an interesting little outreach that was worth at least bringing up. Hell, anything that can help encourage me to keep more engaged in social media is probably a miracle in and of itself.


Now, with all of this said, I officially take my leave. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so it would probably do me some good to get more sleep than I’m giving myself.

What do you think of the Brave Heroes? Which one is your favorite and why? Let me know in the comments below!

My night at the beach… Sort of.

My night at the beach… Sort of.

To be fair, this is beach-themed. It’s beach-themed and I am writing this in the late hours of the night (or morning if you want to get technical).

So… I’m going to count this as one of my trips to the beach this summer. Even though it’s really just me playing more video games. Because you can’t really video games at the beach, now can you?

Oh wait, I did do that last year… Never mind.

Anyway, dumb attempt at a clever opening monologue aside, welcome to my regularly scheduled big Fire Emblem Heroes update. I’ve actually been fairly busy the last few days doing some work for my internship (hopefully some Gladeo stuff should be coming around in the next couple of days for me to talk about), so I haven’t been able to update everything as I’ve been going.

Figured I would update it all in one fell swoop, all under the banner of this strange, strange special character addition.

img_5429

That’s right folks, if June was the month of the brides, July is the month of summer fun for the colorful cast of Fire Emblem characters… From Ylisse. Because apparently only the Ylissians get nice things like summer vacations.

Now, just who do we have filling out our roster of summer-themed heroes?

  • Robin (female): Seaside Tactician
    • Can’t have a collection of heroes from Fire Emblem Awakening without including Chrom, Lucina or Robin somewhere in the mix. Lucina’s gotten more than enough love in the time Heroes has existed, so I’m glad to see Robin finally getting some more time in the sun. And no, not because she’s scantily clad and running around spearing seafood. Not strictly, at least.
  • Frederick: Horizon Watcher
    • Never did I ever think I would see this great Ylissian knight don casual clothing, hit the beach with his friends and chuck seashells at people. Seriously. The guy that usually flattens enemies with his horse and impales those who do disservices to his lords chucks seashells at people. Easily the best character added solely for how strange he is, and that’s saying something considering…
  • Tiki: Summering Scion
    • Have you ever wanted to see an eons-old half-dragon of divinity with a pension for feeling heartbroken about the deaths of her friends in the hundreds of years she hibernated decide to smack a watermelon with a stick and use the combined items as an axe? No? Well have this anyway.
  • Gaius: Thief Exposed
    • Besides the fact that “Thief Exposed” is a ridiculous name to bestow upon anything in this context, I don’t have a lot of things to make fun of with old Gaius here. In fact, if there was anyone on this list I would want, it’s him. Not only does he get the skills Vantage AND Astra, but he also shoots the blue ice cream pops from Kingdom Hearts at people. It’s pretty dope.

I’m sure you know exactly what’s coming next at this point.

 

 

New heroes equals new paralogue. New paralogue equals three new missions. Three new missions equals nine new orbs, plus an extra three for included special missions. The return of two orbs daily. Rinse and repeat, as usual.

Oh, but this time they also included an extra event to get us some boosted Skill Points for playing over the weekends.

img_5432

So that’s pretty cool.

In case it wasn’t all that obvious, I don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time on this like I usually do. As much as I love writing far too much about a relatively small amount of content with this game, it is already pretty late and I have some stuff going on tomorrow. However, the writing in this game never ceases to amaze me with how bizarre it is.

If you thought things got weird when the girls of the game were wandering around in wedding dresses… Well…

 

 

Surprisingly, talking about liberation from one’s clothing isn’t even the weirdest thing Anna talks about in this miniature storyline. It actually gets much, much creepier from there.

To sum it up really quick, you and the rest of your colleagues from the Order of Heroes decide to go to a beach in Ylisse to relax for the summer. However, Anna has ulterior motives with the casually dressed heroes under contract with Emblia to defend the beach.

 

 

 

She basically wants to take the four new special heroes and use them to make her own Playboy-esque pictures to sell so she can help fund the army.

I’ve had a couple of hours to stew it over and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this plot point.

However, it just about goes how you would expect. You fight a few maps, Anna fails to get any of her pictures, she actually winds up losing money thanks to a letter from an alternative version of herself and everyone fills her in on the value of spending the summertime making friends and relaxing rather than dwelling over money.

img_5447

Seriously this game has more Hallmark card morals than Hallmark cards as far as I can tell.

The “lore” for this event doesn’t get much deeper than this, so that’s really all I have to say on that matter. Except that getting through this event makes me feel like like the writers for this game are trying to send a message that they could probably stand for a “liberating vacation” of their own.

The map environments are quite pretty however, I have to say:

img_5448

It’s obviously hard to tell with a still image, but the water flows back and forth with a little bit of froth. It’s really nice.

With the summer beach fun out of the way, let’s get into a little lightning round for all the other updates in my games I’ve neglected, big and small.


Clarisse Arrives

img_5433

My upset rantings from a couple of weeks ago were once again proven to be obsolete as we received the second boss character from the recent Mystery of the Emblem Paralogue  through a special map. I updated that post when the first character came through, so I figured I would update that post again with this little blurb here.

Otherwise, don’t have much to say about this. I like the character, she seems cool and I got a three star version of her. However, with my current collection of heroes, I’m not having much luck at the harder difficulties for her mission.


The latest Voting Gauntlet: Battle between the ladies of the cloth

img_5450

Admittedly I’m not super invested in this voting gauntlet. Because healers aren’t prominent or even necessarily good to battle with in this format, you don’t see the headlining characters strongly supported in the battles at hand with this gauntlet.

I suppose there’s an argument to be made for having a balanced cast to prevent any unfair match ups (experiences like Ephraim vs. Eirika one time do come to mind), but when people aren’t using the characters featured it makes it harder to feel invested in the team support. At least in my opinion.

However, I have been supporting my teams all the same. I started with Sakura, the best younger sister from Fates… But she swiftly got beat by Elise. Guess people didn’t agree with me, but at least I can take solace in the fact that people can have their own opinions… They just can’t make up their own facts. So my opinion still stands.

Anyway, now I’m supporting Lissa from Awakening in the fight against Priscilla from the Radiant series. Whether I win or not, at least I know… Everyone who plays gets tons of rewards at the end.

Rewards are good.


Champion of Valentia

 

In other non-Heroes related Fire Emblem news, I finally beat the main story in Fire Emblem Echoes over this last week! It was a long time coming, as I’d been putting it off for quite a while due to other things, but I certainly don’t regret a moment of it.

Seriously, Echoes has easily skyrocketed to being one of my favorite Fire Emblem titles over the time I’ve played it. The characters are wonderful, the story is engaging, the graphics are easily characteristic and exemplary of all the advancements made in the Fire Emblem series in recent years and dungeons are simply wonderful.

I sincerely hope that the popularity of this game encourages the return of similar first-person dungeon exploration in future titles. I would understand if they want to keep it unique to Gaiden and its remake, but in my opinion they would be remiss to not capitalize on how fun the mechanic is.

There are also a striking amount of similarities between this game and the Sacred Stones from my point of view. That added some extra investment personally, as it reminded me of my favorite game in the series. Plus, on top of that, I eventually realized that Valentia is the ancient equivalent of Valm from Fire Emblem Awakening, much like Archanea is the ancient equivalent of Ylisse. Seeing that kind of world building across generations is always phenomenal.

I do have my problems with the game, however. There’s a certain element of “keeping to tradition” with Echoes in terms of its character interactions that I can respect… But disagree with at heart. If you want to keep the original support system from Gaiden and keep the canonical relationships canonical, that’s fine. In fact, I quite enjoy most of the canon in-game relationships. Alm and Celica, Gray and Clair, Clive and Mathilda, Mae and Boey, so on and so forth. They’re great.

img_5410

But for this being a modern Fire Emblem game… They really aren’t enough.

Particularly on the coattails of Fire Emblem Fates, which gave you the chance to essentially learn about, befriend and create your own relationships between two complete armies and their children, Fire Emblem Echoes was sorely lacking.

All of the characters I would love to see have more development essentially don’t. This lack of development is almost uncomfortably disappointing, as many obvious options for connections to at least talk are simply missing. For example, many of the initial villagers from Alm’s route can’t talk with one another despite being childhood friends. Genny, the little sister surrogate from Celica’s route, can’t talk with Celica or any of the other people she starts the journey with. Or, in fact, anyone besides Sonya from later on in the story.

I could go on and on. Saber should be able to talk with Celica, Delthea should be able to talk with Clive, Silque should be able to talk with Jesse. Most of these names are just garbled nonsense to people who haven’t played the game, but trust me. They have hinted relationships through different outlets that get unfortunately ignored by the lack of support conversations.

Again, I can appreciate sticking to conventional things and keeping canonical relationships alive. But if you’re going to revamp a game, to the point where entire characters are added and given integral parts of the story (Editor’s Note: Love you Berkut <3), the least you could do is add extra conversations into the game that I would assume aren’t entirely too hard to implement.

But I digress, as I’ve already probably talked about this game far too much in this unconventional space as is. Time to move on, shall we?


Yami Bakura is a dick

 

Enough said.

In actually non-Fire Emblem related news… I love this character and I love the event he comes with in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. The blood red sky full of eyes and mouths are rad, and when I first started playing the game this event was happening the first time, so it comes with a certain amount of nostalgia as I see how much further I’ve come.

However, dueling him is way too god damn hard thanks to a mechanic he abuses that ends the match within five turns, so it’s a real pain in the neck to collect any points and prizes from him. It annoys me, but not enough to go into immense details about here.

Plus Yami Bakura is great, so I can’t really stay that mad with him. His theme music is still my favorite.

I also figured I would mention that Konami has impressed me recently with all the notices about updates that are coming and have come to the game. Tons of overpowered skill rebalancing, revamping some graphics, adding lots of new and cool cards and more. It’s actually really nice to see how much they seem to be listening to the community with this game.

Good on you, Konami.


2,000 words in and I’m finally done. Geez, I really need to stop doing this to myself. Every time I say I’m going to write short, get in early and get out fast, I always wind up going above and beyond the call of duty without intending to. I do enjoy the writing, but I always hate myself in the morning when I have to drag myself out of bed.

For now, however, that’s neither here nor there. It’s about time I let you all go on with your lives.

What do you think of the summer heroes? Which one of the four Ylissians are your favorite in their special getups? Also, because I’ve been considering it myself, are you interested in a more extended discussion on Fire Emblem Echoes? I thought about it when I finished the game initially, but I’ve been so busy that I didn’t think I was going to get anything official out. However, if the demand is high enough, I just might.

Maybe I should get a better way to capture images off my 3DS. That could encourage me to talk about those games more, since I know part of my interest in the mobile games comes from the ease of getting screenshots.

But once again I digress. For now it is time to sleep so I can stop rambling on and on like this.

The Tumultuous Tempest Trials hit Fire Emblem Heroes

Now here’s a special event I can really sink my teeth into.

img_5301

Today a special event called the Tempest Trials dropped in Fire Emblem Heroes. Like the text I screen captured above says, the event has introduced a new game mode in which you fight through a series of maps that bring to the table an element highly characteristic of Fire Emblem games as a whole: Permanent character death.

Or at least, permanent death in a certain sense.

Before I get into that, however, I figure I should hit this particular discussion in what I would consider a ‘chronological order.’ In this case, starting with a discussion of how the event fits into the game’s lore. After all, this more massive undertaking of an event does present an interesting addition to the continual plot of the game.

To explain the event in storied terms, one new Xenologue has been added:

The Xenologue only has one mission (with three difficulty levels that each give 3 orbs – leading to a net 9-orb profit as per convention at this point), and it isn’t a particularly hard mission. At least, it isn’t particularly hard for the units I have. However, there is quite a bit more plot surrounding this one mission than what a supplemental map usually receives.

Here’s the gist:

The ever-present antagonist of the game, Princess Veronica of the Emblian Empire, has teamed up with a mysterious new shape-shifting entity called Loki… Who for now apparently prefers to take the form of Anna.

img_5313

I’ll just leave the Marvel‘s The Avengers crossover joke here. There’s plenty I could do with it, but it doesn’t quite seem worth the energy right now.

Loki uses Veronica’s assistance to bring forth the Tempest, a magical vortex meant to bring about chaos by… Well… I’ll let Loki (in a different form – because shapeshifting) explain what it is.

img_5311

Yeah, essentially that. Tearing the worlds of Fire Emblem games apart, slamming them together in screwy, cacophonous ways. Cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria. So on and so forth.

The mission ends with the Tempest opening and a new special hero, Masked Lucina (or Marth, as per her canonical cover when she arrives from the future in Fire Emblem Awakening – though that plot is also plenty complicated to explain so I’ll leave it there), coming forth to help fight off the despair and chaos brought about by the disaster.

And that, in a nutshell, is all you need to know. Worlds are colliding and heroes from all those worlds are coming together to fight against Veronica’s contracted heroes in a series of maps. Or at least, mostly worlds from Fire Emblem Awakening, since you’ll see in a second that the 3DS title is the focus of this particular iteration of the event.

Although the actual method of opening the Tempest is left vague at best, the overarching narrative is admittedly pretty engaging considering it’s mostly just supposed to outline a new challenging game mode in a mobile title.

After all, that’s exactly what all this plot has led up to: The Tempest Trials game mode.

img_5304
Coming to an increasingly overpacked menu screen near you…

Over the course of two weeks, players can enter the Tempest Trials and put their stamina on the line to take on a number of successive battles, the number being outlined by the difficulty level they choose.

For example, choosing the highest caliber Lunatic difficulty presents a series of seven battles to fight through. These battles, as I teased at before, implement permadeath for the teams chosen to take it on. The damage units take carry over from one battle to the next, and if a unit dies they don’t return to help you for the next stage.

“But Jason, expecting players to take on seven battles with just four heroes is ridiculous,” I hear you saying from behind the comfortably fluorescent screens through which you’re reading this text.

Well, you’re right, and that’s why the difficulty levels also outline the number of teams you’re permitted to use during the particular challenge you’re undertaking. Here’s how it works:

It’s battle number five. You enter the field battered and bruised, your units not quite strong enough to take on the challenge presented. After just a few hits, you lose. Game over. Those four units you started your journey with are permanently dead.

However… They were just Team 1.

Enter Team 2, freshly composed of units that aren’t quite in your A+ squad, but that just so happen to be a great combination in their own right. Now, it’s Team 2 versus the world.

But it would be unfair for the game to throw you back into a challenge without in some way acknowledging that you did your best with the fatigue of successive battling, now wouldn’t it?

Of course.

That’s why all enemy units start off with slightly less health when you begin to use a new team against them. It’s a small gesture, but an appreciated one. Your Minerva thanks the game developers for implementing such a system as her axe cleaves straight through the Gaius who has slain your first squad with much less trouble.

Maniacal laughter rings out, echoing across the darkened blue walls of your room, upsetting the silent stillness of the Super Mario Galaxy poster set up above your long unused desktop computer.

All is good.

In a fully hypothetical sense, of course.

In all seriousness, at the highest difficulty level, you get four chances. On top of that, the permadeath element only applies to your current run in the Tempest Trials. Once that challenge is over, you get all of your heroes back.

In a free-to-play title where the heroes you have are received through what is essentially a random chance game of color roulette, the merely pseudo-permanent nature of this inevitable death is greatly welcomed.

Personally, I only have enough units to make two good teams with one team of middling strength. So… For me, I basically have two chances to get to the end. Radical.

At the end, you come across Princess Veronica herself, fighting alongside her contracted heroes with all the same overpowered tendencies as she has had in the game’s story mode.

img_5333
Fun Fact: As my friend Jonathan pointed out to me, since I neglected to realize it when I first saw the map at about 1 a.m., the final map is based on the Dragon’s Table in it’s appearance in Fire Emblem Awakening, a game in which it is a pretty significant set piece. Pretty awesome stuff, honestly.

In my few attempts at the Tempest Trials thus far… I have yet to beat this final map. Luckily, the game still rewards you with points even for a loss, and there are two weeks or so for me to figure out the best way to win.

That provides me a nice Segway into the next leg of this journey: The rewards.

Obviously a big challenge event like this can not expect to gain traction without implementing a series of prizes players can receive. If you ask me, the prizes offered up for the Tempest Trials certainly seem to be worth going after.

After each victory or loss in the Tempest Trials, you receive a certain amount of points based on the factors outlined in the lefthand picture above. When you receive a predetermined amount you get a prize like orbs, as seen in the righthand picture above.

While there is a certain economy of scale in that the more points you accumulate the more saturated your prizes will be (more orbs, more crystals, more feathers, etc.), there are some prizes that are clearly what you’re meant to aim for. For example:

img_5334

A four-star Masked Lucina is the prize at 6,000 points, with a five-star Masked Lucina similarly available at 30,000 points. There are also two sacred seals available at 20,000 points and 50,000 points, with 15 additional orbs available between 50,000 and 99,999 points.

Currently I’m sitting at a solid 400 points based on my cumulative efforts. It’s certainly a long road to trek.

However, it will be all worth it for the new unit. Lucina wearing her Marth mask in Awakening is a pretty big source of my imagined personality preferences for her when I play through the game, so I’m looking forward to having the special, meaningful character in my roster.

But I digress.

Though that’s about all for my coverage of the Tempest Trials as a whole, it’s also worth mentioning that a new summoning focus has come with it.

img_5324

None of the heroes in this focus are new, but they are all popular characters from Awakening who provide point bonuses if you use them while fighting through the trials. I might not personally spend my accumulated orbs on this, but it is a nice addition.

Alongside starting to do work for my Internship and beating Fire Emblem Echoes, this event should help keep me rather busy for the next couple of weeks. Frankly, I’m looking forward to it. It’s only been out for a few hours, but I essentially stayed up until well past the witching hour to pull this post together, so clearly I quite enjoy the prospects of the event.

How do you feel about the Tempest Trials, if you play Fire Emblem Heroes? Are you excited about the challenge? What games and special characters would you be interested in seeing coming in as prizes in future iterations of the event – assuming they continue to release new versions in the future, of course.

Let me know in the comments below! Because for now, I’m off to get some sleep. The automatic scheduler will take care of putting this out at a more reasonable hour.

June brides in Fire Emblem Heroes and the luckiest roll

June brides in Fire Emblem Heroes and the luckiest roll

It’s about time I return to one of my favorite pastimes: Writing excessively about video games. It’s been a while, and I’m glad to be at a point where I can without too many distractions. My internship and the build-up to next semester at Cal State Fullerton may interrupt some of that free time, but I’m still working on arranging my timing for all that, so I’ll probably talk more about it in the near future.

Anyway though, that’s enough about work. There’s a time and a place for everything, and this is the place for video game talk at this particular time.

Since Fire Emblem Echoes came out, I’ve been pretty obsessively playing that. It’s a seriously phenomenal game, enough that I’m sure I’ll need another very long post in the future just to talk about everything it does right. Playing that game has also re-ignited my passion for Fire Emblem Heroes, so even though I missed a couple updates I’ll happily start posting about them again.

img_5250

In this update we have four new heroes, special variants of units from four different games, to celebrate the apparently well known traditional cliché of June being a popular month to hold weddings. As a 21-year-old single college student, I was unaware that this was a cliché, so I guess if nothing else this is a good example of video games teaching me things!

The four heroes are:

  • Caeda from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (Though the game lists her as being from Mystery of the Emblem despite it technically not being her first appearance… Consider that a personal gripe if anything)
  • Lyndis (or Lyn) from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
  • Cordelia from Fire Emblem Awakening
  • Charlotte from Fire Emblem Fates

Speaking of personal gripes, why would Charlotte be introduced into Heroes through this special bridal event if she is not even a regular character in the game yet? Not that I can complain since one of my favorite units from Fates has now been introduced, but it seems strange to not use a character that already has an original model in the game.

But I digress.

Along with new characters comes a new spread of maps. As of late the game has been introducing new main story chapters through a world featuring Ike from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn and a world featuring Celica from Echoes, but the “Bridal Blessings” focus maps are instead set in a Paralogue mission.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

As usual, this Paralogue offers three missions with three difficulty levels, which provide nine orbs for players on top of the returning daily two orbs and three orbs from associated tasks to complete.

Story-wise, it doesn’t offer anything too special. It’s more of a goofy little romp through some sort of wedding festival where the four aforementioned ‘brides’ are competing to receive a special bouquet that apparently grants eternal happiness in current or future marriages to whoever catches it.

The oddest part of the setup for this series of missions is Commander Anna being the most excited to bring the player character out to the celebration so she can try to get the special bouquet for herself.

For a character known to have rejected notions of traditional romance in her support with Robin in Fire Emblem Awakening, it’s certainly a strange way to start.

And yes, I did remember that small character detail on my own, because I’m pathetic like that. But I bring it up for good reason.

That reason being that the whole setup becomes a conduit for Anna showing the most accurate expression to her canonical character by the end of the Paralogue, something my friend Jonathan and I both picked out by the end of the battles.

Whether it actually matters that the traditionally greedy character shows a more strong semblance to her canon personality by hoping to sell a magical love-based item for her own profit is not really relevant to anything. I just thought it was great that my friend and I had a moment with a game series we both like, so I figured I would at least chronicle that for the future if I ever decide to look back here.

Really beyond that nothing too special happens with the characters in this Paralogue’s story besides them reacting to wedding stuff in ways that might be expected.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I liked it, but I got through the missions quickly and kind of just moved on… Except for the suggested battle capabilities of the gowns, which I will continue to question for quite some time to come.

img_5249

Sure Cordelia. Sure they will.

.   .   .

.      .      .

Of course I say that, but I suppose I should bank on it being true. Because after Jonathan drew a special 5 star hero from the new bridal character focus, I decided to try my own luck.

I’ve been saving up my orbs for some time hoping that a focus will come soon that has characters I really want (like Neimi, come on already Intelligent Systems give us some more Sacred Stones characters), but with 170 stored up I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use 20 for a try at these special characters.

I got two of them in one pull.

img_5258

Seriously I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this lucky in this game. I’m not expecting to ever get this lucky in the future either, but for now I’m willing to revel in the joy of this blessing from the random number generator. ESPECIALLY since Cordelia’s skills and Cupid Bow make her pretty amazing at buffing other units on my team, something that’s incredibly well-timed considering the re-ignition of my passion for the game has also led to me being more interested in playing with the online metagame.

A metagame which led me to build a unit up that benefits immensely from receiving buffs of any kind:

img_5252

In other words, if there’s anything to take away from this little event, it’s that I love it when a plan comes together.

If you have any thoughts on the new summoning focus, on probably the luckiest thing to ever happen to me in a free-to-play mobile game or really anything video game-related since it’s been so long since I’ve been really active around here, please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Springtime for Heroes

In non-real life related news, my timing with putting out a post catching up on news in Fire Emblem: Heroes yesterday turned out to be impeccable.  Today there was an update to the game, introducing a paralogue and four “new” characters that are incredible in how silly they are.

Much in the tradition of events like the Hot Springs Scramble in Fire Emblem Awakening, Heroes has brought players a Spring Festival to celebrate the season that appears very grounded in the aesthetic decor of Easter. Awakening’s Exalted family members Lucina and Chrom as well as Fire Emblem Fates’ Nohrian Prince Xander and Princess Camilla have been given an alternative character skin and abilities. These heroes can, of course, be summoned through a new focus.

img_5046

As also seems to have become the usual affair in terms of updates to the mobile title, this special focus comes with its own set of special missions and a story paralogue showcasing the new characters. These offer the chance for players to earn 10 orbs and a variety of other small prizes from completion tasks involving the paralogue missions.

Now, the idea of a Ylissian Spring Festival drawing in heroes from various worlds to dress in bunny costumes, paint eggs and fight with weapons like comically massive carrots may seem ridiculous…

It is.  It’s very ridiculous to be completely honest, to the point that when I first saw everything for this event I was pretty turned off to it.  At the core of what it is, the Spring Festival seems to be fan service more than anything – an excuse to get popular characters in silly and arguably sexualized outfits just for the sake of doing it.

But then I actually played through the paralogue, and seeing the goofy, somewhat out-of-character dialogue is a treat in its own right, enough so that I wound up loving it.

The missions start innocently enough, with Prince Alfonse and Princess Sharena inviting you to join them at the Spring Festival, which apparently hosts an undefined battle tournament.

img_5036

Once you arrive, you’re quickly introduced to the re-imagined royal units in a series of three stages, each of which showing just how… Quirky they are.

The characters also talk amongst themselves in pairings that would never get to met outside of Heroes:

Amazing words by the man holding a massive carrot as a spear

On top of that, these special characters get new skills that do things like increase the amount of rewards you get after battles, as well as special weapons and even silly descriptions that reveal more about the “backstory” of the Spring Festival.

img_5038

This description is my favorite – invoking Corrin is a nice touch

That’s about all there is to the Spring Festival. It’s ridiculous in all kinds of ways and I can imagine some people might even find it demeaning… But it hooked me with just how over-the-top everything is.  I’m already through all of the special quests (since they are geared more toward a new player level range for the most part) and I’ve gotten all the orbs that can be collected, so at this point I’ll just be biding my time and hoping to have the chance to summon one of the new spring-specific heroes.

Especially since the last focus disappear when I had a 4.75 percent chance to summon a five-star or a five-star focus hero. Seriously, that stings.

Oh, and also, kudos to anyone who picks up on the reference in my post title, since I’m hoping the callback isn’t lost on everyone but me.

Preparing for battle – The 2017 International Challenge for February

I put a lot of pomp and circumstance around my entry (or lack thereof) in the Pokémon Sun and Moon Alola Friendly battle competition when it came around last month.  With Pokémon standing in pretty consistently as my favorite video game series, competitive team building and battling has been one of the things that has helped elongate my interest and playtime since I began to do it in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Of course, I’d been planning on trying out a team in the Alola Friendly competition, but I missed the registration window.

Luckily, the 2017 International Challenge for February has a prize worthy enough to encourage me to remember to register on time this time.  For participating, players get access to the Mega Stones for Mawile and Beedrill, which up until now have been unavailable in Generation 7.

Mega Mawile happens to be my favorite Mega Evolved Pokémon, so I jumped on the opportunity to get those stones right away:

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-11-23-08-am

See?  Totally signed up this time.

Given that the 2017 International Challenge for February is a doubles battle competition, I decided to breed a whole new team just for the occasion.  I do have a wonderful combination sitting in my box with Wishiwashi and a Speed Swap using Ribombee, but I didn’t have a lot else to work alongside them.

Therefore I built a squad around a doubles combination I wanted to try, and I’m actually pretty proud of how it turned out.  Again, it might not be smart to give my strategy away ahead of time… But I also just love to gush about these things.  So here goes anyway!


Big Chungus

img_4869

My Elective is actually the first Pokémon I have competitively built that I didn’t personally name.  I was a little stuck on just what to call him and let my friend Juan name him instead.  Thus, Big Chungus was born.

It’s grown on me, admittedly.

This Pokémon was the reason I initially wanted to build this specific doubles team in the first place.  I had the idea of running a Motor Drive Pokémon holding a Cell Battery so I could get both an attack and a speed boost at the same time.  Combined with a Discharge user, I figured he could become a real beast in the field.

But of course I never decided to look up this strategy online ahead of time.  If I did, I would’ve found out that Motor Drive absorbs the Electric-type attacks before they can do things like activate items.  So that strategy kind of flew out the window.

While this development was disappointing, it didn’t lessen my zeal to build a powerful Big Chungus to sweep away the competition.  He still gets a speed boost from Discharge and now has the chance to hold a berry so he can heal some health when knocked down a few pegs.  By using a consumable item like this, I still have the opportunity to play with Thief and steal the items of opponents once it’s gone – the plan I had going for Cell Battery use as well.

Thunder Punch serves as Electivire’s primary STAB attack while Ice Punch gives him an opportunity to take down pesky Ground-types that gets sent out (a particularly useful strategy against Pokémon like Garchomp).  Finally, Cross Chop gives him more of a super effective damage spread against Normal-types, Ice-types, Rock-types and Steel-types.

The crux of Big Chungus’ skills only really become fully apparent when combined with his partner, so I should probably introduce him too.  Thus, without further adieu:


Schnoz 

This protruding proboscis Pokémon, aptly deemed Schnoz, is my team’s Discharge dealing defensive wall and the proud partner of Big Chungus whenever I get the chance to use them.  While this is mainly because of discharge, other factors help contribute to that as well.

Firstly, Schnoz has Magnet Pull as his ability.  As a result, no Steel-types can switch out when he’s on the field.  This doesn’t mean a lot for Probopass himself, but it does mean that Electivire can spam some Cross Chops while they’re out together.  Other team members benefit from this magnetic pull as well, like a certain other monkey I’ve trained, but he really is meant to work with Big Chungus.

Wide Guard is another example as to why they’re meant to work together.  Even though the Air Balloon Schnoz holds allows him to dodge Ground-type attacks until hit, Wide Guard lets him block Earthquakes for both himself and his partner.

Let me tell you, it’s incredibly satisfying to block an Earthquake from a Garchomp that’s killed by Ice Punch that same turn.

Flash Cannon and Stealth Rocks finish off Schnoz’s moveset, giving him a pretty powerful STAB attack and another utility option to damage opponents as they switch into battle.

Like some of the other Pokémon I’m using on this team I’ve built, I never expected I would ever use a Probopass in my life.  In fact, I was pretty opposed to his overall design not too long ago.  Now that I know what he can do, particularly in conjunction with my big, strong electrical ape, I’ve come to like the mustachioed magnetic rock.

Or at least, I like seeing the two of them in battle together.  If it wasn’t weird to say it out loud, I might even say that the two are the flagship couple on my squad.

But it is pretty weird to say, so let’s move on shall we?


Capuchin 

This semester I’m taking a course on primate behavior at Cal State Fullerton.  It’s easily my favorite class that I’m taking right now and I could probably argue that it’s one of the most fun courses I’ve taken in college in general.  Something about the subject matter and the professor just really click together for me.

One thing I’ve learned through the class so far is that the Capuchin monkey has to be my favorite primate ever.  Not only are they cute, but their tool usage is pretty incredible to watch, and I still haven’t gotten tired of it.

Seriously, check it out:

That’s some really cool stuff.

Anyway, the reason I’ve gone on this little tangent about primates is because it happens to coincide perfectly with this particular team member, a Passimian simply dubbed Capuchin.

Not only is there an intrinsic pun just in using a monkey name with ‘cap’ in it for a monkey wearing a shell like a hat, my Passimian likes to use stone tools as well.  His Hard Stone both improves his Rock Slide attack that hits both sides of the field and makes Fling a powerful 100 base power Dark-type move.

The Receiver ability works real well in a doubles battle setting as well, allowing Capuchin to steal his partner’s ability when they faint.  He could wind up able to absorb all Water or Electric-type attacks, he could gain an immunity to priority attacks, he could trap a Steel-type opponent against a Pokémon that’s super effective against them and more.

Really it’s just about a win-win no matter what he gets since a jolly speed-oriented heavy attacker is the monster in question.  I really do love having this team member around, and I’m looking forward to seeing him take some lives during the competition.


Tharja 

Tharja the Mandibuzz is essentially my main defensive wall.  While Schnoz fits that role pretty well too, Mandibuzz intrinsically has an immunity to Ground-type moves that balances the two weaknesses I have.

My strategy for using her is pretty simple honestly.  Knock Off and Brave Bird are strong STAB attacks with the prior also allowing me to nullify most of my opponent’s items.  Toxic is there so I can make use of the hefty bulk behind this bird in situations where those two attacks just won’t cut it.

Now Roost is where things get interesting.  With her hidden ability, Tharja gains two speed boosts at the cost of one defense stat debuff whenever she gets hit by a physical attack.  This boost compensates for her middle-tier base speed stat and helps her outspeed most opponents.

Once she’s that much faster, Z-Move Roost recovers her health AND replenishes her stat debuffs, making it so she has all the speed with none of the fallen defense.  It feels fantastic to pull it off on an opponent, especially if a Brave Bird or two can sweep up the rest of their side.  Plus, Z-Move Brave Bird can really pack a punch when I need to use it instead.

Before Tharja came along I never really imagined I’d ever use a Mandibuzz, but now I really dig what she can do.

Oh, and I figure I should add that she’s named after the Plegian mage from Fire Emblem Awakening because she has that darkness-and-death vibe going on.  Also because Fire Emblem Heroes has gotten me way back in the mood for any and all things Fire Emblem.

Seriously that game is like my current addiction.


Peach

Named after arguably the most famous princess in all of video game history, my Tsareena is here to kick ass and take names.

Literally.

Because kicking is her thing.

It’s a joke, see?

Anyway, moving on.  Tsareena actually wasn’t meant to be on this team I’ve built.  Originally I intended to run a Hyper Voice Sylveon thanks to the accessibility of the move via Poké Bank, but with this competition being limited to the Alola Pokédex I wasn’t sure whether I would be allowed to use a Pokémon with the pentagon icon indicating origins in Generation 6.

So, in came Tsareena as a replacement.  Not only is she strong against Ground-types (which I apparently felt was something I needed to correct against), she has quite a few weaknesses to make use of a Weakness Policy alongside her immunity to priority attacks and her diverse move pool.

Plus Trop Kick is just great.  I had quite a few experiences while practicing where I would lower the attack stat of a Pokémon using a super effective move and get a sweet stat boost as a result.  Pretty solid strategy also courtesy of my friend Juan.

Tsareena’s moves round out with Acupressure, which is more of a gimmick I was looking to try out in the moment.  Rapid Spin may have been smarter, but I like the idea of being able to strengthen my other Pokémon during a calm moment.  Hopefully the random nature of Acupressure doesn’t wind up screwing me over.


Nessie 

Like Tharja and Peach before her, my Lapras (named after the infamous Loch Ness monster) has a rather simple role on this team.  She’s the strong special attack wall to balance out the more physically oriented group around her.  With 237 HP and a 161 special defense stat (boosted to about 240 or so thanks to her Assault Vest), it’s pretty hard to take her down.

She even lived against a Thunder in the rain from a Tapu Koko during one of the practice battles I did.  It’s nuts.

Past her amazing walling status, Nessie also has a pretty wide typing coverage.  Hydro Pump is STAB and hits Fire, Ground and Rock-types.  Freeze Dry is also STAB and hits Flying, Grass, Dragon, Ground and specifically Water-types.  Dragon Pulse hits Dragon-types and isn’t resisted by much.  Finally, Psychic hits Fighting and Poison-types.

I’d considered running Perish Song as a way to take down Pokémon that are trapped by either Magnet Pull or a Mean Look from Schnoz, but I preferred having the walling capabilities that only an Assault Vest can bring.

I also decided to run Nessie with Water Absorb rather than Shell Armor so that I can switch her in whenever I’m expecting a Water-type attack to come my way, even if I’m stuck with taking potential critical hits as a result.

Though she has no particular gimmick, Nessie really rounds out my team well.  Her strength and attacks are solid all around and make her a good Pokémon to bring out for a wide variety of situations.

I’ve always loved Lapras, and I’m glad to finally get the chance to help her shine.


Tonight is the last night to register for the 2017 International Challenge for February, and battles will go underway throughout the weekend.  I’ll be keeping a log of how I do and there will probably be an update on that coming by Monday or so… Assuming the world doesn’t fall apart in the newsroom again like it did this last week.

While I’m really looking forward to putting this team to work, I’m also always looking for more ideas to build in the future.  If you have any comments about my team and how it shapes up or if you have any teams in mind you want to see built, I’d love to hear any and all of it!

Good ideas are never a bad thing to stockpile, I’d say.

My thoughts on the 2017 Fire Emblem Direct

My thoughts on the 2017 Fire Emblem Direct

While I’m a day late and a dollar short on this one, there was a Fire Emblem Nintendo Direct held yesterday that I missed because I was hosting some of my friends for a small get together.  However, given that I’ve talked a lot about how much I love Fire Emblem in the past, I figure I should still go back and talk about what the Direct had to offer, at least briefly, now that I’ve had the chance to sit down and watch it.

If you haven’t seen the Direct yet either and want to watch it alongside me, you can check out the full video here.  It’s only about 20 minutes long and showcases four games, so I promise it won’t take too much time out of your life.

Unless you decide to write long-winded posts about it like I do.  Because then it’s going to take up a lot more of your time. That, I can assure you.


Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

3DS_FireEmblemEchoesShadowsofValentia_logo_02.jpg
Image courtesy of gamingrespawn.com

The Direct starts off right away with what I can only call the cinematic trailer for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.  The game, as is then elaborated on after, is a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, which was a Japan-exclusive title from the early 1990s.

A lot about the art style in regards to character portraits and things like the overworked map in the gameplay footage that was shown reminds me a lot of some of the earlier GameBoy Advanced Fire Emblem titles like The Sacred Stones (which, fun fact, is the first FE game I’ve ever played thanks to the ambassador program for the 3DS, and thus the one that got me into the series).  However, the in-battle style looks like it’s going to have the same impressive 3D polish that Fire Emblem Awakening had and that Fire Emblem Fates more or less perfected.

There are also apparently some unique elements to Gaiden that have been recreated for Echoes, such as free roaming fights and dungeon crawling.  Both of which sound like amazing inclusions that I honestly can’t wait to see executed for myself.

The game has been given a set release date of May 19, 2017 for the 3DS, and boy am I now excited for it.  To be honest, the anticipation that’s building after watching just this first part of the Direct really does make me want to go back and play more Fire Emblem.  In my early-games-of-the-series catalogue, I’ve so far only played The Sacred Stones and Shadow Dragon, a remake of the original first Fire Emblem game.  I’ll look forward to adding Gaiden to that list with this remake.

Oh, and there are Amiibo, and considering I have an on-again off-again problem with collecting those dumb amazing little figurines, I just might see my collection grow again.


Fire Emblem for the Nintendo Switch

FireEmblemDirect_19012017-600x346.png
Image courtesy of gameaxis.com

Next up was the announcement of a brand new Fire Emblem title being produced for the Switch, set to come out at some point in 2018.  As the narrator announced, making my job here that much easier, the new game (with a currently working title) is the first in the series to return to consoles since the games featuring Ike: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn.  The decision to do this is interesting, and honestly makes a lot of sense.

Fire Emblem is a game that seems to do best when it’s a mobile experience, when you can pick up your fight wherever you want while waiting for whatever it is you might be waiting for.  The Switch gives the game a chance to have the best possible graphics Nintendo has produced thus far while also keeping the idea of mobile gaming alive, and to be completely honest it’s a clear showcase of one of the reasons I believe the Switch is going to do quite well over it’s lifetime.

That was all we got on the new game in the series unfortunately, but considering we’re still at least a year out it’s understandable.  Just the fact that a new one has already been confirmed so soon after Fates graced the gaming market is nice really, as it means the series is continuing to go strong.  As I’ve said before, we can always use more Fire Emblem.


Fire Emblem Warriors

fire-emblem-warriors

Image courtesy of technobuffalo.com

Speaking of more Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem Warriors was the next subject of the Direct.  There was a small teaser for the game in the Nintendo Switch presentation earlier this month, but this time we got to see a trailer with some gameplay.

The opening did the same cool orbs-with-swords that led into the Fire Emblem crest.  This time, after the mysterious figure – revealed to be Chrom, the royal Prince/Exalt of Ylisse from Awakening – takes the Falchion, he proceeds to just demolish mobs of soldiers all at once in a few fell swipes of the blade.

But that was about it, we then got the same vague Fall 2017 release date.

However, they did reveal that the game is actually going to be dropped on the 3DS concurrently with the Switch version of the game. That alone makes this game infinitely better in my eyes.  Part of the reason I didn’t get Hyrule Warriors was because I didn’t have a Wii U when it was released, and by the time the 3DS port came out I was too busy doing other things to devote my time to the game.

I’m very excited to try this game, honestly.  I’ve never played a Warriors game before, and this seems like it could be a perfect entry point for me.  I just hope that the developers go back and pull some more older characters that I might know for the roster of playable heroes rather than mostly sticking in the modern games like Awakening and Fates.  I love those games, don’t get me wrong, but I’d also love to do something like play Neimi from The Sacred Stones, probably my favorite archer girl ever.

Considering the treatment that was given for the character roster in Hyrule Warriors, I’m sure that kind of possibility isn’t too farfetched.


Fire Emblem Heroes

fire-emblem-heroes-800x420
Image courtesy of slashgear.com

Fire Emblem Heroes, the first mobile smartphone game in the series, had it’s opening shown during this Direct as well.  The cinematic, as usual, was beautiful, and featured a bunch of new characters we haven’t yet seen before apparently summoning heroes from other Fire Emblem titles (though all it showed was Awakening and Fates) to fight one another.

Not a bad way to start a reveal, I’d say.

Rather than just making a mobile game for the sake of a mobile game, however, Fire Emblem Heroes touts its own brand new story, which makes the game that much more enticing.  It might just be a rough skeleton to encase the idea of making old characters fight in a mobile format, but just the fact that the extra effort was put in makes me more happy to look forward to the title’s release in .

Though the cinematic opening only showed Awakening and Fates-based heroes, there was also a screen depicting heroes from all across Fire Emblem’s history, so even if Warriors doesn’t have a hugely nostalgic cast, this game certainly will.  Though the game itself doesn’t look incredibly complex, the art style is rather adorable overall between the pixel art-based world and the occasionally appearing fully-rendered character art depicting their attacks.  I can see myself getting pulled into it at least.

On top of that, the narrator promises the gameplay will be as “intense” as expected in a Fire Emblem game, which either bodes well … Or not so well depending on how it’s handled.  Not sure having a mobile phone game with stages it takes me twenty years to beat because of BS enemy placement or terrain issues would be all that fun, no matter what the subject matter may be.  But hey, at least the weapon triangle still exists.

Then of course comes the real mobile game edge to Fire Emblem Heroes: Microtransactions.  I have a mixed history with this style of setting up a game.  On the one hand, if handled well, I quite enjoy a system using Microtransactions.  If I can manage through the game reasonably without being absolutely required to use them, that’s A-OK by me.  Even better would be if I love the game so much that I feel I should pay the developers something for their work, even if the game initially comes free.  However, if the Microtransactions are used as a significant roadblock, forcing the game to elongate itself because of how long you have to wait between getting the in-game currency if you don’t pay for it… I’ll likely get warded off quickly.

Seriously Fire Emblem Heroes, I hope you take a page from Pokémon Shuffle‘s book.  If you ask me, that game has a pretty perfect system in place for how they’re used.  The fact that the summoning stones used as in-game currency simply summon characters for you to use I doubt the same system would be possible… But it’s the idea that counts.  If anything the game will probably be more like Marvel’s Contest of Champions with a battle style that I believe I’ll enjoy far better, so I get the impression it will have some staying power.

I don’t know, I can see the problems potentially there, but because the heroes you receive don’t permanently die and force you to wait to summon more, I don’t think it’ll be a huge problem.  Waiting a period to revive is far more manageable if you ask me.

Especially since there’s grinding.  After playing through Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, I thank Naga every time there’s a chance for grinding in a Fire Emblem game.

The end slate for this game says that Heroes will drop on February 2nd for Google Play, and gives a vague ‘soon’ for iPhone and iPad.  Just as long as ‘soon’ is sooner rather than later I’ll be happy.  It’ll be nice to have  some Fire Emblem to tide me over before Echoes.

Plus, if I enjoy it the way I have and continue to enjoy Super Mario Run, then I’ll happily continue to finance Nintendo’s trek into the Mobile gaming world.


That was all we got in the Fire Emblem Direct, but honestly I can’t complain.  Having a more compact game-focused Direct felt much better than the big Nintendo Switch Direct, which had to spread it’s time among a billion different games.  Also, I have to say, the narrator for this Direct had a wonderful voice.  I feel like I could listen to him tell me about new games forever…  Er, anyway.  Everything on the horizon for Fire Emblem looks amazing, and I’m hyped to be a part of all of it.

Hell, I already am a part of it.  I just went and took part in the Fire Emblem Heroes’ “Choose your Legends” event, where you can pick any character from any game in the series to vote on as a character you want to show up in the game.

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 12.52.35 PM.png

Naturally I chose Neimi, because I seriously have so many fond memories of mowing down enemies with her mighty bow.  Though looking through the list really brought up a ton of fond memories for various characters… You would’ve been my second choice, Amelia.

If there’s any game on this list you’re particularly excited for, let me know in the comments below!  Writing a post like this feels like building up to Pokémon Sun and Moon all over again, and it’s good to get back into that mindset if you ask me.

With college starting up again next week, having a distraction to help keep myself sane during long nights of work is never a bad thing.