Before we get into the rankings, I’m going to address the localization briefly. I’ve written about it a decent bit at Game Zone, so there’s no need to go in depth here. It sucks, I think it’s garbage, and I’m glad fans are making a patch to fix the godawful job Treehouse did on this release.
That said, Fire Emblem Fates is an amazing game, and I refuse to let localization woes stop me from enjoying it.
Before Fire Emblem Awakening hit, the series was on its last legs, so the development team upped the anime vibe, started appealing to the shipping community to pull in some extra potential buyers, and brought casual mode to the West for the first time. That was absolutely genius, and it saved the franchise from the chopping block.
Fire Emblem Fates doubles down on that formula, and goes a long way towards making the game more beginner friendly by axing the fairly annoying durability system, adding Phoenix Mode, and adding the enjoyable My Castle feature, which adds more customization and chances to improve your characters outside of battle.
On top of those changes, the weapon and magic triangles have been replaced with a much better, combined system, the Pair Up command has been better balanced to encourage players to choose between offensive and defensive benefits, and addition of utility weapons like the shuriken make the combat even more in depth. The core game play is still Fire Emblem, but it has reached a new height of smoothness that puts it at the pinnacle of the series and genre.
Localized or translated, the story telling could be done a little better: Do you prefer cliches or memes? Pick your poison. However, the core idea of choosing a side when bound to both both is well done. You feel awful when fighting your other siblings. Even if the Nohr side comes across as a bunch of horrible terrorists at first glance, you still love the siblings. Though your mileage may vary, depending on your tolerance for Japanese character archetypes.
The character relationships are a large part of Fire Emblem Fates’ appeal, and the source of my only complain about this game: The localization. As said before, I don’t want to get into this again. My advice to you is to look up translations of the Japanese exchanges, which stay in character and do not devolve into meme bait garbage.
Finally, on the issue of different versions, some will say Nintendo is just chopping one game up into multiple to sell more, and I can see why they feel that way. The differences between versions are far more significant than something like Pokemon though, and you can easily spend over 100 hours in any version if you’re a completionist. No matter how you slice it, Fire Emblem Fates is a good bang for your buck.
I’m hard pressed to find a real negative in the original version (Fire Emblem If) other than some cliched dialogue. With that in mind, and in spite of the localization, I give Fire Emblem Fates my Seal of Awesome Approval, as well as the new #1 spot on the 2016 list of rankings.
Game Rankings 2016:
- Fire Emblem Fates
- Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam (link)
- Gravity Rush HD (link)
- Final Fantasy Explorers (link)
Games in Blue have received the Seal of Awesome Approval.
Games in Red have received the Seal of Dour Disapproval.