I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s very rare that I get the pleasure of seeing my two passions – video games and journalism – meld so nicely together at this stage in my career.
So I really enjoy the times that they do come together, like with this review I wrote about the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga remake.
After a couple of long, rough weeks dealing with a mass shooting and some crazy local fires, it’s been a blessing to have a game to unwind with recently, particularly a game that holds such a strong place in my heart.
Seriously, re-experiencing Superstar Saga has been an absolute joy, even if the whole time I feel like I’ve been focused more on deeply examining what’s different, both the good and the bad changes. That kind of critical eye did make it easier to pull things apart for a review, but it has certainly made the actual act of playing a whole different animal for me.
Oh, and pull things apart I did, as I focused this review much more on how things differ compared to the original game than I did on the game itself, since I figure that’s what should be done for something like the review of a remake.
While I did have a great time with Superstar Saga (and I’m not quite done yet – I’ve beaten the main story but I haven’t yet finished collecting everything 100 percent, and I’m still working my way through Bowser’s Minions), it isn’t perfect by any means. It is vastly improved upon compared to the original in almost every way imaginable, but there is a lot that feels like a backpedaling as well.
I try to address some of those points in my review, but the chief complaint I had with the game really boils down to the battle system. Compared to the original game, this remake has gorgeous sprite work that lends itself to really complex and over-the-top character animations, which are nice but make each action feel longer. On top of that, the battles are easier than I remember them being (much like the rest of the game in all honesty) and the music contributes to slogging battles down and making them grow to tedium faster by sounding far slower, seeming more eclectic within itself and has more synthetic tones.
If that makes sense. I’m not much of a music reviewer, but that feels right in my head.
Despite this issue, the game is still hilarious, beautiful and sounds great by all other accounts, and I’d highly recommend picking it up if you have experienced the story or if you haven’t before. It’s just too bad that the system you spend 90 percent of your time experiencing is arguably the worst part.
Oh, and when I say the game feels way easier than I remember, I’d say take the comment with a grain of salt. There are a lot of gameplay functionalities which have been vastly improved upon to streamline aspects of the experience, and those improvements do make the overall experience seem easier… But at the same time I also had the entirety of this game memorized like the back of my hand before walking in, so it might not be that much ‘easier’ for someone who’s never heard of the game before.
Plus the endgame still has a big difficulty spike when going through Bowser’s Castle in my opinion, so there’s always that.
Either way I certainly don’t mind an easy game here or there, if nothing else that ease helped this be a wonderful stress relief and trip down memory lane for me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t want to burden my editor Sarah with too much in regards to putting this article together (even though the 900 words I have can already easily be considered overkill), so much of what I wrote out in my drafting process got left on the cutting room floor.
Luckily this blog seems like the perfect place to rectify that. So, if I have the time, expect a more complete unabridged version of my thoughts on Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions sometime here in the near future. It’ll be long, it’ll be hella involved, but that’s the magic of a personal blog. It offers you a place to shout your endless opinions into the void.
At least, that’s how I like to use it anyway.
If you want to see my article in it’s entirety (the theatrical release version at least, as I like to put it), you can see it here. You can also see my full catalog of articles for the Daily Titan over on the right!
Turns out, the game review wasn’t the only thing I wound up getting published today. It was going to be, but then we decided to run an update on the Anaheim Hills Fire, and I got slated to work on that.
So, since I already had the entire gaming part written up early (shows me for trying to be ahead I suppose), I figured it’d be worth adding this portion to the bottom here.
I don’t really have a lot to say necessarily, this story was more of a straight-forward deal. I pulled together some tweets from the Anaheim Fire & Rescue department that gave the most recent updates on containment of the blaze, as well as some information from the California Department of Transportation talking about a local highway that was partially reopened on Friday.
Then, once I had those basics down, I got in touch with the Orange County Fire Authority, where I was directed to the Public Information Officer for the Canyon 2 Fire, Mike Yeun. The guy was real nice, more than willing to chat even while he was driving, and he gave me a bunch of good information to fill out my story. It definitely made things much stronger than the basic 200 word short update I had before.
For anyone curious, the fire was 75 percent contained as of 7 p.m. on Oct. 14, and authorities are expecting full containment by Oct. 17. Things are well on their way thanks to the effort of apparently over 1,600 firefighters at one point at least.
If you want to see that article in it’s entirety, you can check it out here. Or, once again, everything I’ve written for the Titan is over on the right, so you can check that out too if you want.
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.
Okay, technically we knew about these Brave Heroes a couple days ago when a new episode of Feh Channel was released…
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?
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:
But nothing of substance happens until the end when the four are together and talk in vaguely meta terms about being chosen.
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.
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:
Nothing wrong with a little collective action experiment, I'd say. Even if I was literally the problem by free-riding last time around… https://t.co/zKcsRVj49Q
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!