Fire Emblem is just one of those series that I want to love, but I just can’t anymore. It’s one of those series about which I understand why so many people do adore it. I understand why it’s a great series. Lately, though, I’ve found myself facing a conundrum. While I do appreciate the characters, the gameplay, the mechanics of how battles flow…I just can’t bring myself to enjoy it any longer.
I was probably what most would consider a latecomer to the Fire Emblem franchise. I’ve been an avid Super Smash Bros. fan since the original on the N64, so naturally, when Marth and Roy made their grand appearances in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I had no idea who they were or where they came from. My curiosity piqued, I looked them up—I’d no idea who those characters were or what the game was even like or about. So to learn that these two characters were from a series called Fire Emblem, I did some research. It was then I learned the series started in Japan, which is probably why I’d never really heard of it before. This was 2001, so the first Western release wouldn’t come for another two years. So I was out of luck until then.
I guess I’d just forgotten about the series for a while, because it wasn’t until 2005 when Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance released on the GameCube that I finally jumped into the series…and I was hooked. The weapon triangle, the grid-based combat, and the always-looming threat of permadeath kept me interested and on my toes. I never did finish Path of Radiance (though a friend who borrowed my GameCube just to play Path of Radiance did), but I played enough of it to know it was a more than enjoyable experience, and the characters are still etched into my mind today.
Next, I picked up Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn on Wii. Same thing as with Path of Radiance—I played a ton of the game, enjoyed every bit of it, but never finished it (the same friend also borrowed my Wii and finished it, too). I guess this is going to be a recurring issue for me.
Following that, I ventured into Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on DS. It was great to finally have a portable version of Fire Emblem, but this time, I got to a point in the game where I couldn’t beat a certain battle without some of my favorite characters biting the dust. I replayed the battle over and over, but to no avail. I didn’t want to move on without preserving my favorite characters, so I dropped it.
Then, of course, as soon as I got my hands on my 3DS XL, the very first night I downloaded Fire Emblem: Awakening, with the intent of finally beating a Fire Emblem game. The cinematic cutscenes were gorgeous, the battle animations were fluid, but…it wasn’t enough. I can’t even remember how many times I put the game down, came back, remembered nothing of the story, restarted, and put the game down again. It was an endless cycle. Each time I pass the game’s symbol on my 3DS, I’m reminded of the commitment I could never keep.
Since then, I haven’t purchased another Fire Emblem title. While Fates and the more recent Echoes: Shadows of Valentia have looked amazing and certainly piqued my interest, I know I’m going to buy them only for them to sit there. Given that I’ve yet to complete a Fire Emblem game start-to-finish and that I seem to have an issue with losing my favorite characters (and no, I’m stubborn and refuse to turn permadeath off, like a reasonable person would), I guess I just find Fire Emblem to be too daunting a task for me anymore. While I continue to adore the grid-based battle system, the combat mechanics, and the beautiful anime-inspired art style, I just can’t put myself up to the task.
I’m getting to the point in my life where, despite running this site, I’m finding myself having less and less time to spend playing games. Increasingly, lately, I’m finding myself wanting to relax when playing a game, not stressing over which troops to bring into battle, or having to start all over because my favorite hero fell on the battlefield. I’d rather sit back and play a fun platformer or some other RPG where I’m not terribly punished for making one wrong move.
I’m sad to even admit any of this—I wholeheartedly respect and adore Fire Emblem for what it is, and I’m happy to see it succeed so well globally. I wish I could get back into it, and perhaps someday I will. Right now, though, it’s simply a series I can’t keep up with anymore, and it would be foolish of me to continue to purchase games for a franchise at which I’ve found myself at such odds for so long. While I will continue to support the series and watch it from a distance, I’ve come to the realization that the Fire Emblem series just isn’t for me anymore…and that sucks.