PAG visits Serenes Forest to discuss Fire Emblem Heroes for iOS
On February 2nd, Fire Emblem Heroes will be released for iOS and Android devices. It’s big news for Nintendo fans and mobile gamers, as Fire Emblem has become a juggernaut IP for fans of turn-based strategy games. I’m one such fan. Fire Emblem is my favorite franchise across any system, with it and Zelda being the reason I haven’t skipped a Nintendo hardware release since the Game Cube.
It’s safe to assume, however, that many iPhone and Android gamers have never played a Fire Emblem game. Because the series has only been available for Nintendo devices, Xbox, PlayStation and Vita gamers likely have no idea what makes the games so special. To help everyone understand what to expect on February 2nd, Public Access Gaming took a quick trip to Serenes Forest. Or, more accurately, serenesforest.net, a long-running Fire Emblem fan site. There, we spoke with VincentASM, the site’s webmaster. After all, if you want expert insight into a game, you talk to someone who has been playing it and covering it for more than a decade.
Public Access Gaming: First, introduce the Serenes Forest website and your interest in the Fire Emblem Series. What about the games and the fanbase has led to your dedication with the site?
VincentASM: Serenes Forest is one of the largest English Fire Emblem fan sites on the Internet. We’ve been going strong for over a decade now and we’re proud to be the first destination for many fans seeking the latest Fire Emblem news or information about all 15 games in the series (and counting). In addition, our community is home to many of the series’s greatest fans, myself included of course!
To this day, the reason I continue to work on Serenes Forest is because of Fire Emblem’s wonderful blend of strategic map-based combat and fantasy RPG elements, coupled with the huge and endearing cast of characters. At the same time, the fanbase has definitely been a major driving force, especially during the darker days of the franchise. When I think of Fire Emblem fans, I think of their unbridled passion.
Public Access Gaming: That passion likely stems from the franchise’s deep history; as you mentioned, 15 games have thus far been released for various Nintendo devices, seven of which have been made available to western audiences. Regarding the newcomers, what do you feel mobile gamers should definitely know about the franchise before playing Fire Emblem Heroes for the first time?
VincentASM: The first thing I want to mention is to throw away any preconceptions about Fire Emblem being an extremely hardcore game. True, in the past, Fire Emblem was located nearer the hardcore end of the gaming spectrum. Nowadays, Nintendo and Intelligent Systems have put a lot of effort into making Fire Emblem a game that can be enjoyed by a wider variety of players.
The other thing is that Fire Emblem indeed has a deep history; this year, it will be celebrating its 27th anniversary in Japan. At the same time, you don’t need to worry about being late to the party. This is because almost every Fire Emblem story exists separately to all the others. So when you play Fire Emblem Heroes, you won’t be jumping into a story that’s into its 16th chapter or anything like that.
Everything else, I don’t think is too important. I’m confident that with Heroes, Nintendo / Intelligent Systems have created an experience where knowledge of the previous games in the franchise isn’t crucial to your enjoyment.
Public Access Gaming: The Fire Emblem Heroes announcement was met with plenty of trepidation amongst fans almost entirely due to the stigma attached to mobile gaming. What do you most hope to see in a mobile Fire Emblem game? What has you the most nervous?
VincentASM: Ideally, I’m hoping for a Fire Emblem game that you can enjoy to the fullest without paying a dime. Of course, I understand that Nintendo / Intelligent Systems need to make money, but I really hope that the in-game purchases simply augment (or speed up) the gameplay and aren’t required to progress through the game. Otherwise, I’d be extremely concerned about its viability.
One example of where I think this is done right is Pokemon Shuffle, another Nintendo-related mobile game. I hate to admit it, but I played this (or the 3DS version at least) for a year and a half and, while it had its flaws, I was impressed that you could actually progress through the entirety of the game and even perform well in competitions without spending any money.
Public Access Gaming: Perhaps the justify the IAPs, numerous features have been announced. What do you expect to be the biggest attraction? Story mode? PvP Arena? Collecting heroes?”
VincentASM: I think it will be a mixture of collecting/recruiting heroes and raising them into super-powerful warriors, which have been some of the most well-loved features of the series as a whole. On a basic level, it’s really no different to, say, catching and raising Pokemon. People just love to collect things and get stronger.
For those who are already fans of the series or extremely hardcore fans, I can see the collecting element gaining a whole new dimension. Much like other mobile “gacha” games, I’m sure a lot of fans will spend way too much time (and money) trying to collect their favourite characters. Which I’m sure the developers are banking on…
It also helps that Fire Emblem has a plethora of well-designed characters and, because there are so many characters (almost 800 from the Choose Your Legends Event), everyone’s bound to have a few (or many) favourites.
Public Access Gaming: Speaking of that, Nintendo is running a Fire Emblem Heroes – Choose Your Legends Event that will provide special outfits for the male and female heroes who get the most votes. Although they stand no chance against the likes of Ike, Marth and Lyn, my early votes have been for the likes of Nephenee (female) and (Tibarn) male. Who are your throwaway votes?
VincentASM: If you know me decently well, it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the mage girl type characters. So, just for the sake of it, I’ll be voting for the mage girls from across the franchise, from Shadow Dragon’s Linde all the way to Fates’s Elise. Like you said, it’ll probably have zero impact on the results, but it’s the little things that truly make us unique.
Public Access Gaming: Finally, it’s likely that many Fire Emblem Heroes players will want to dig deeper into the franchise’s history. Where do you suggest they start?
VincentASM: I feel like the next logical step is getting a Nintendo 3DS and a copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening. After all, Awakening was the game that literally reawakened the franchise, and the other important thing is that it’s still currently available. Not to mention Awakening is a fantastic game in itself and a perfect love letter to new and old fans of the series.
After that, if players are still hooked, they can look into Fire Emblem Fates and, eventually, the upcoming Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. To be honest, I can see Nintendo attempting to push players into this kind of direction. You might have noticed the artwork and animated movies for Heroes are in the same style as the ones for Awakening and Fates—and that’s surely no coincidence!
We’d like to thank VincentASM for the interview and for the excellent website. Whether you’re new to Fire Emblem or a long time player, you should check out serenesforest.net. Along with offering an excellent preview of Fire Emblem Heroes, it’s also a valuable resource for history, tips, and some fun discussions, and it’ll do a great job of preparing you for the game’s release on February 2nd, 2017.