Christmas time is here. Gather your friends near. That’s how the song goes, isn’t that right?
We may not be at Christmas just yet, but certainly the celebrations leading up to the much-beloved holiday have begun. Personally, I don’t celebrate Christmas. I come from a hebrew background, so I celebrate Hanukkah, which is something probably anyone can tell from some of my recent attempts to be more active on social media.
Shout out to my sister being cute in this actually good photo I took for once.
That said, even if Christmas isn’t my forte, one thing I’ve always appreciated about the season is the extensive effort everyone goes to so extra things can be given away to celebrate the holiday. For me, that means video games especially.
So, in case you couldn’t tell by the featured image here, of course the subject I’m here to talk about today is Fire Emblem Heroes. We can’t go a holiday without a special summoning banner coming out of the woodwork, after all.
As always, it seems like Fire Emblem Awakening is getting the love this go-around. At least we aren’t seeing Lucina for once. I love her to death, don’t get me wrong, but boy is she over-saturated in this game’s special character roster.
Interestingly enough, every unit on this holiday banner is an armored unit. Why they decided to choose the winter/Christmas heroes to give a buff to armored teams is beyond me, but I can’t say I’m entirely against the idea. It’s kind of cool actually, even if one unit doesn’t exactly fit the armored look. But I’ll get to that.
Also, ‘cool.’ Not an intentional pun, but it’s there.
- Lissa – Pure Joy
- To be blunt about it, right off the bat Lissa is the character I care about getting the most in this banner. Not so much aesthetically, because even though I do enjoy Lissa as a character she’s not necessarily my favorite girl from Awakening. Though her special Christmas clothes covering the armored skirt cage is a nice touch, I’ll admit. My interest comes mostly from a skills perspective. I’ve been paying more attention to skills and building my units up lately, so having a powerful looking unit is an attractive thing right now. Lissa comes packed with a new axe weapon called the Handbell, which grants her a +2 buff to all stats if she’s attacked by an enemy unit. Her special attack is Bonfire, which boosts damage based on the opponent’s defense stat, and she has Fortify Armor to grant a +6 defense and resistance buff to other armored units. She also comes with a new skill called Bold Fighter, which ensures she gets a follow-up attack if she attacks at the cost of a +1 charge to her special attack. All-and-all she sounds like a unit with a balanced powerful attack phase and defense phase, and I like it.
- Chrom – Gifted Leader
- So first things first, Chrom gets some bonus points on a number of fronts. His name pun is pretty good, he pulls off the Santa look well with his bag of toys, and every time I hear him say “Lissa made me wear this” in the trailer that introduced these heroes, I get a nice chuckle out of it. That said, Chrom also looks like a powerful unit but from a more high-risk, high-reward standing. His Sack o’ Gifts weapon offers the same benefit that Lissa’s Handbell does, and he comes with the passive movement skill Pivot that armored units benefit from nicely, as well as Wary Fighter to prevent follow-up attacks if he has more than 50 percent health. However, both the interesting and detrimental point of contention when it comes to Chrom here is his new skill, Brazen Atk/Def. With it, he gains +7 attack and defense during combat when at 80 percent health or below. That’s an insane boost and frankly makes him sound like a physical powerhouse to an extent, but the catch is he has to have lowered health to make use of the ability. Plus, it kind of conflicts with Wary Fighter, making it so Chrom has a strange sweet spot between 50 percent and 80 percent health to have the most combat effectiveness. It’s weird, but given that he and Lissa are both in the green unit pool, I wouldn’t be opposed to get either or.
- Robin – Festive Tactician
- Robin is also fairly pleasing aesthetically, as the change to make his Grandmaster robes into a Santa outfit fits really well. It’s just also, frankly, a little ridiculous to me that he’s going to spend his time running around trying to stab people with a Christmas tree lance. Skill-wise he’s also sort of an interesting case. His Tannenboom! lance has the same effect as the previous two weapons, and his new skill Brazen Atk/Spd offers the same +7 boost below 80 percent health that Chrom’s does, only to attack and speed rather than attack and defense, obviously. His passive Reciprocal Aid is a bit of a throw-away in my opinion, but he does come with the skill Armor March that makes all armored units have extra movement potential at the start of each turn, which is pretty awesome. Overall he seems like the unit that would require the most skill inheritance to make especially useful, but with his Brazen skill, Robin could turn out to be a hell of an armored powerhouse in the end.
- Tharja – “Normal Girl”
- Alright… Let’s be honest. Everyone saw Tharja pop up the first time and flipped their shit. It’s about as bait-y a porn bait I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something considering how much I thought Rhajat was porn bait in the last big banner. Just… Skimpy bra/panties, thigh high boots, a cape and reindeer antlers. I’m not going to say I’m complaining or anything, but it’s definitely a hell of a stretch to consider her an armored unit. Oh, who am I kidding, Tharja was my favorite back in Awakening, I can’t stay mad at her for long. Especially when she’s still all about making herself better for Robin. Plus, she comes with four skills, so who can complain about that? Her red tome, the Candelabra (for some reason?) has the same bonus to it that every other weapon in this banner has. However, it’s made extra useful by the inclusion of Close Combat. Thus, she can attack from any distance, and she’ll probably have the bulk of an armored unit to make use of that kind of ability. Tharja also comes with Iceberg as a special attack to boost damage based on her opponent’s resistance and she comes with a new skill called Vengeful Fighter that allows her to automatically have a follow-up attack if she’s got more than 50 percent health and is attacked – at the cost of a +1 special attack charge. Her last skill, Red Tome Valor, grants all other red tome users x2 SP at the end of a battle, which is good for training but not much else, unfortunately. I’d argue she’s my second favorite unit here next to Lissa, so the girl’s are my goal this time around.
Personally, while I have some high hopes for a couple of the units added in here, I’m mostly just hoping things don’t turn out as screwy for me as they did for the Fates children banner. THAT turned out to be a nightmare.
Got up to 5 percent chance before finally pulling any five star unit, which was god damn ridiculous. Luckily the unit I pulled was Soleil, who was just about the only one I wanted, but it really felt like it wasn’t worth all of the effort and orbs I had to burn getting there.
Spent some money on the game for the first time in a long time, just because I was getting frustrated and didn’t want to waste the increased opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to support this game once in a while because it has been so fun while being free, but I wish I didn’t feel so forced to do it for a dumb random situation.
Anyway… That’s enough bitching for one moment. Let’s get into the story coming alongside this banner, shall we?
As usual for a holiday-themed update, this time around we’ve gotten a three-part Paralogue focused on the Order of Heroes going to join in a themed tournament. It’s kind of a really common theme in Fire Emblem apparently… For some reason.
Yeah… I’m kind of with Sharena on this one, actually. It’s a strangely dark backstory for something like this. But hey, the tournament aspect of things has to make for a better tie-in somehow, right?
Mmm… No it’s still kind of weird. I don’t know, I’m not much of a Christmas person like I said, but this still seems really dark and strange for something in this vein.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about a dark Christmas story once in a while, but especially out of Nintendo property I would expect something a bit more upbeat. Cheery, even. Maybe that’s the Intelligent Systems vibe coming through.
Eh, oh well. If nothing else it’s just an excuse to get 12 extra orbs, right? Either way, from there things basically progress from there as would be expected.
The snowy village maps are actually really pretty in this Paralogue. I always love the specially designed maps, like for the special character events and those they use at the end of Tempest Trial runs.
The only thing that’s kind of off-putting, in my opinion, is the battle background on the 16-1 map.
Like it’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong… But the window to the right of Chrom kind of reminds me of a window display you might see at a Macy’s, or something along those lines.
Just the idea of there being some sort of a large capitalist shopping conglomerate in a Fire Emblem game feels really weird to me, even if it’s just in my own head.
But I digress.
Really the first map sets everything up, but Lissa and Chrom don’t have too much to say outside of their intent to get presents for the Shepherds through this tournament.
However, once you get to Robin and Tharja in the second map, things are infinitely better.
As a concession of bias, Robin and Tharja remain one of my absolute favorite pairings from the days of Fire Emblem Awakening. So I’m pre-disposed to enjoy just about any interaction between the two.
But like it’s honestly so god damn adorable that Tharja is spending her time trying to act normal and enjoying time with Robin while he stays characteristically focused on the mission at hand.
A point which I feel is rather ironically juxtaposed by Robin’s sprite, which makes it look like he’s holding his arms up in a ‘whoa don’t look at me, I’m not responsible for this’ kind of way. All-and-all it’s just a wonderful visual.
Back in the days when I actually had free time to do silly things like character roleplaying on a frequent basis, I would’ve probably loved to do situations in this scenario. I love them that much.
Even when you win and Tharja gets a little terrifying again.
Once you beat them, however, you move onto the final fight with all four Christmas knights:
And… Well, to be completely blunt about it… This fight was uproariously easy for me. On all three difficulty levels.
In fact, all the maps were really easy for me. They pretty much all used only armored units, and I just recently built up my Eirika as an armor killer for the Amelia & Tana Bound Hero Battle.
It was pretty simple to make use of her for another couple rounds, and I got all the orbs on pretty much one go.
Granted, I didn’t get anything with my orbs besides a duplicate five star Minerva for some reason… But beggars can’t be choosers I suppose. There’s another two weeks for me to get my hands on a special hero.
Once you win there’s sort of a weird epilogue where the Order thinks they lost the sack full of gifts that was their prize, and Alfonse tries to teach everyone a lesson about how the holiday festival season is about giving gifts instead of receiving them, but then there’s a 180 degree turn where they find the sack and it’s full of rare gems that Anna feels can keep the organization afloat for a while, then Sharena makes Alfonse wear a santa outfit over text…
It’s just… Long-winded and kind of dumb and confusing. Like the paragraph I wrote to try and reflect it.
Not really my favorite Paralogue overall, to be honest. Outside of watching Tharja and Robin interact, there isn’t too much to take out of it… But hey, it’s got a lot of Christmas-y December charm, so that’s just fine.
Also orbs. Boy do I love getting me some orbs.
Though I do appreciate the Chrismas aesthetic, and I appreciate the wide-range appeal of it as well, I just hope next Winter Festival season we get to see some other holidays represented as well.
Can you imagine a Hanukkah-themed hero? Or a Kwanza-themed hero?
Either would be amazing, though I’m not sure who would best fit the bill off the top of my head. If you’ve got any ideas for a fitting subject, be sure to let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you have any favorite heroes from this banner, tell me about them below as well! Seriously just… Talk with me guys. I know I ask for it every post, but I genuinely do enjoy audience reactions where I can get them.
With that said, if you want to see some of my other holiday-themed festivities so far this season, be sure to check out my post from last night about a trip looking at Christmas lights with members of the Daily Titan. It was a lot of fun, and I think I got some nice pictures, so check it out.
Beyond that, I officially start Winter Break this week, so expect some more posts I’ve been too backlogged to work on coming down the pipeline soon. I’m pretty excited to get the chance to do some extended creative writing again.