Positioning your units and sending them against the right enemies is crucial, as well as pulling them back if things go awry. While that is important in any tactical strategy game, this particular habit will be ingrained in Fire Emblem veterans. In previous titles, when a character would die, he or she was dead for the rest of the playthrough. Luckily, Heroes does not have this mechanic.
Now that we have gotten through that explanation, let me point out that Heroes is the simplest Fire Emblem yet. It is easy to pick up and learn; the first levels are meant for you to play around and figure out how the game works.
Each mission requires the use of stamina, the energy system that limits how many rounds you can play until either the timer gives you more or you pony up the Orbs/cash.
For the sake of spoilers and brevity, I will not go into the story too much. What makes this game a fan’s dream is that it includes heroes (get it?) from many past games, such as fan favorites Ike, Marth, and Roy. Each hero’s world is connected via portals, which the antagonist uses to enslave the various characters to her will.
There is definitely an element of grinding to this game. I reached a point where my characters were not strong enough to take on the enemies in each encounter without exhausting my supply of Orbs.
P2P (player vs. player) exists in the form of a dueling arena. Instead of stamina, this requires you to use Dueling Swords (another finite resource that requires Orbs to replenish). You can pit your best teams against other players to see who comes out on top.
Here’s what I mean — you have a team of four characters, each with their own weapons, skills, and strengths/weaknesses. Each unit can only move a certain amount of squares. Where things get tactical is when you start fighting enemies. When playing any Fire Emblem title, there is a battle triangle to keep in mind: sword (red) beats axe, axe (green) beats lance, lance (blue) beats sword, but this time the color coding makes it a bit easier to remember.
Fire Emblem as a whole translates very well to the mobile screen, but this particular entry has an element of grinding that is entirely new to the series. However, there are still many good things to the game. Fans, recent and old, will feel right at home with the gameplay and some (if not most) of the characters. New players will find Heroes easy to pick and enjoy for a while.
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Finally, there are multiple challenges to complete in order to earn rewards, like in-game items and Orbs. These range from logging in to defeating certain levels under specific circumstances. You access these rewards from the “Home” section, which is also where some of your characters linger.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of Heroes are simple, yet effective. Battlefields and sequences represent each unit as a “chibi” (a cute little sprite), but every one has a hand drawn model that appears during dialogue and other points in the game. If you have played Awakening or Fates on the 3DS, then this style of things will feel familiar to you.
I found the game’s overall sound to be very good, although the background music and limited voice-acted lines do begin to grate on your ears after a while. Some of the levels feature parts of the soundtracks from the older games, which is a fantastic touch for long-time fans, but even that gets old after extended gameplay.
Orbs are used for a lottery system to summon new heroes, restore stamina and Dueling Swords, revive fallen characters in combat, upgrade your castle (for EXP bonuses and whatnot), and expand the number of heroes you can summon (you start at 200, and an upgrade of five costs one Orb).
You get one for completing each mission, but you can buy more. Things start at 3 Orbs for $1.99 to 140 for $74.99, which is quite ridiculous.
Should You Play It?
If you like tactical strategy or even anime-styled games, then I definitely recommend that you play Fire Emblem Heroes. It is a fantastic game, though it is certainly not my favorite in the series (Path of Radiance, for the win). It follows along with what makes the series great, but adapts it for the smaller screen and speed of mobile gaming. The story is fine, but the nostalgia is what made it fun for me.