The mobile market has been gaining steam in the last year with a slew of well produced gacha games from Japan released in the west. People in Japan are well initiated to this style of game, but it has sparked a bit of outrage in the west as a mega evolution of the worst aspects of free-to-play monetization.
For those not familiar, gacha refers to Japanese toy machines that dispense random plastic eggs with a prize inside. Think of it as buying a pack of Magic the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh cards. The real question is, does this cripple Fire Emblem’s latest venture into the mobile market, or does it survive the business model?
Fire Emblem Heroes
Platform: iOS (Reviewed), Android
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Price: Free (With In-App Purchases)
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.
The first thing you will notice is that Fire Emblem Heroes has two distinct art styles it uses. Heroes moves away from the typical pixel art style and goes for an SD style that persists into battle, unlike the most recent additions to the Fire Emblem series on 3DS. The other artstyle is the more typical anime character overlays we have seen in previous games, which are normally used during dialog or special moves.
The art actually works well together, and the animations on the SD character are very well done. But in general art for the game is extremely simple, while being detailed enough to distinguish each character, their weapons, and their characteristics.
This is a big plus, because your ability to distinguish a character’s type and fighting style is directly linked into gameplay. Gameplay revolves around a Rock, Paper, Scissor system, accompanied with levels, skills, and attack types. While being simple to learn there are some nice bits of challenge with creating your team using this system that is quite enjoyable, if you are interested in that style of play.
Players can take on the main story, training, versus, and special missions currently. Story in general gives you the cash currency for every level you finish, which will give a smart player quite a few chances at a shiny five star summon. Training will provide gems that will allow you to level up your units faster. VS battles in the arena take random players characters, put them in the place of NPC, and have you battle those NPCs for prizes. This is on a global cooldown of three battles a day, unless you earn or buy an item to regenerate your battle points.
Maps are straightforward and can be played at a glance, the idea is to pick up and play quickly, while still giving you that strategic gameplay you want. Make no mistake, there are a lot of combos and movement options to be utilized in advanced maps. These include using a flying unit to help your units bypass a barrier or mountain if they have a skill that can help them traverse your own units.
Now we need to talk about the dreaded gacha portion of this game. Yes it’s random, and yes it can be a money sink for fans that want to try to get their favorite Fire Emblem hero for their team, but the game does give quite a few chances to get the real cash currency in game. Most of these are from playing through the story missions and there 3 difficulty levels, but you will also be able to gain it through events and daily login rewards. They also give you the math of the gacha right up front which is nice as it lets you know where you stand right off the bat. This is also a game that encourages you to save and do five rolls at once rather than one at a time, which is kinda the reverse of how most these games work and is a nice change of pace.
There is a surprising amount of voice acting in Fire Emblem Heroes. All characters have a form of dialogue recorded for movement orders. This was a little surprising but a welcome addition to the series nonetheless.
There was also a bit of work put into the music to make sure this feels like a Fire Emblem game. While not massive in scale, it does do its job and makes the experience feel like a sort of Fire Emblem spinoff and not a cash grab. Outside of that, the sound design is fairly basic, but serves its purpose.
When we look at the plot to the game, it tends to fall in line with the rest of the gacha style “summon” games. You somehow have the ability to summon heroes from different realms and are tasked with fighting others with similar powers.
The story’s not great, but it serves a purpose. I am sure they could have done so much more with this but it just comes off cringy and boring, with almost nothing to say about it other then it’s there.
Fire Emblem Heroes is a wholly inoffensive game for your phone. If you are a fan of the series, it might be something to pick up just for the fanfare but as a game it will get boring fast.
For the money you would spend on this game to try to get your favorite heroes, you would be better served just buying the latest mainline game on the Nintendo 3DS, but if you want something to do while you are bored, and are not really into committing any cash to it, it’s worth a gander.
Fire Emblem Heroes was reviewed on an iOS device using a free download via the App Store. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 6.5
- Some good voice acting.
- Cute character design.
- Depth in team building.
- Has no legs to its.
- Story is totally uninteresting.