Fire Emblem series

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

If you're thinking this is a weird order for listing FE games then you're correct, but this is the order in which I played them. I had one of those DS cartridges that you could download a bunch of ROMs on when I was young. I basically put everything on with the tag 'RPG' and Fire Emblem was certainly one of those.

With the power of hindsight, Shadow Dragon isn't really that good, but it was convincing enough to get me excited for Awakening when it was announced. I remember really liking the forced sacrifice of a character in the first chapter. The characters are largely forgettable and I wouldn't quickly go back to replay this one, but it was a fine entry into the series.

Fire Emblem: Awakening

The one, the only. This game is how I properly got to call myself a fan of the franchise. I was extremely hyped for the game before it came out, and it definitely met my expectations. It was a huge step up from Shadow Dragon. Being a huge fan of romance games, I was also really excited for having an Avatar and S-supports. I played and replayed this game to death, in the end I think I got in around 500 hours. It's a testament to how much I liked the game, but also contributed to me getting really burnt out on it.

I enjoyed the difficulty of this game at the time, but when I've tried to go back recently Hard/Classic seemed a bit too easy. I think pair-ups are a big culprit, they were a bad addition to the game. I also dislike the way this game introduced absolutely everyone having supports with everyone. It dilutes the overall quality, some characters just don't have much to say to each other.

The overall plot was pretty decent, especially the first arc. Robin was largely fine as an avatar, but I enjoyed them more when they took a supporting role to Chrom. Chrom is probably my least favourite lord, but there were a lot of interesting and likable characters (Henry, Maribelle, Libra). Fuck Tharja. I'll also commend the localisation, I pretty much always play with Japanese voices but didn't feel the need here.

Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade

I've started this game on emulator... three times now? Every time I end up taking a break somewhere and then I change computers and lose the file, so I've never actually finished it. For me, this is an entirely middle of the road FE game. I like the characters enough, but I don't really care for them or their story. I had to plan out the supports I wanted to get and spend 20 turns at the end of the map just having characters stand next to each other, which isn't really how I like to play my games, and the main storyline was pretty bland in my opinion. Gameplay-wise it's entirely fine, but I just never really got into it compared to other FEs I've played.

Fire Emblem: Fates

I don't really want to waste too many words on this one: It's bad. This is basically when they took everything that was bad about Awakening and amped it up to 11. Sure, the maps in Conquest are decent or something, but most of the characters have internally inconsistent and entirely one-note personalities, if they're not just a piece of wet cardboard personified. There were way too many characters in this game. Why the hell did they add children again?

The localisation is patently abysmal so I thought that playing the fan-translated patch might improve the story, but no, it's just that bad. Maybe I'm overly salty because I had to sit through the same shit three times for no good reason. If you're planning on playing this, do yourself a favour and only play 1 of the 3 routes.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

My favourite FE game. The main storyline isn't particularly groundbreaking, but it was solid and well-executed. Alm is a very likable lord and I liked the split between his army and Celica's. Despite the fact that a lot of characters don't have many lines, I got a good feel for their personality and I got extremely attached to a large amount of them. Berkut was a great addition to the game. The difficulty on Hard/Classic was just right for me, some maps were frustrating (looking at you, bandit castle in the desert) but because of the turn rewind mechanic it didn't get too bad. I also really liked the one equip slot + skill system. The art is the best of any Fire Emblem game in my opinion, Hidari is a god.

One of my only critiques is that the 3D dungeon crawling parts felt clunky and unnecessary. The other is that Jedah was a boring villain and his interactions with Celica undermined her character. While the translation of the dialogue was really solid, I didn't like the English voices at all and ended up playing an undubbed ROM after purchasing the game. I'm glad they didn't force in an avatar, but please make a sequel where I can marry Kliff, thanks.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I think there's a really solid core here but there's just too many embellishments that take away from it. For one, this game really should have been Two Houses. Just cut out Claude entirely, cut out the church route and put the lore we're missing into Edelgard and Dimitri's paths. The story of the game is good, but it's spread so thinly over a vast area, meaning you're left with loads of unanswered questions no matter what route you play. Pair this with the fact that there's a lot of repeat maps throughout the different paths and the school phase gets exhausting after the first or second time and you probably don't want to replay the game enough to get the full narrative, which is a shame.

There's a lot of really strong characters in this game, but there's some misses as well. The huge cast with loads of supports problem is somewhat quelled by the limited class size, but I still think there's quite a few supports that add nothing. The real gems are in the cross-house supports, when they actually had to think "who would have interesting interactions with whom?" instead of just doing them all. (Let's not speak about that Felix/Lysithea support.) I absolutely love Edelgard and the fact that she got her own path, but I'm not sure the path itself was handled the best way it could have been.

Gameplay-wise the way you can raise characters to be almost any class you want is interesting, but also kind of goes against the feel of the series for me. I don't think they should keep the mechanic for future installments, except maybe for the avatar character. Because of the mechanics of the game, NG+ makes everything either really easy on Hard or you have to make sure to use every single advantage available to you on Lunatic, which I find tedious. There was a very small area of 'just right' difficulty. I didn't really like the removal of the weapon triangle, classes kind of lost their identity. On top of that, the class paths didn't feel very streamlined. Why is there no lance flyer Advanced class?


Reviewing every Pokemon generation separately seems like a bit of a silly exercise, so I'll just give my thoughts on all of them here. I'll discuss games by referring to the region in which they are primarily set. My personal ranking goes roughly like this Unova > Johto > Alola > Hoenn > Sinnoh > Kanto = Galar > Kalos. I haven't had too much time to process the newest games so Galar's ranking might change, but other than that I'm fairly sure about the order. It's a very personal ranking. While I think Unova is the crowning achievement of the Pokemon franchise, I am certain that my opinion is influenced by the degree to which I was extremely hyped for its release and participated heavily in the Pokemon fandom at the time. Similarly, my reason for ranking Johto so highly has a lot to do with the fact that Crystal was my first Pokemon game and I feel a strong attachment to the region and its characters; it feels like home.

Still, that doesn't explain all. My hype for the franchise had not died down by the time the Kalos games came around, and I was hoping for something in the same vein as the Unova games, something that might even surpass them. Perhaps this great anticipation exacerbated the subsequent disappointment with the garbage fire story, highly forgettable characters and uninspired region layout. It is certainly the game that I care to replay the least, even though I spent a lot of time with it IV breeding and EV training a competitive team, something I hadn't really done in any other game. Afterwards came Alola, for which I had no particular expectations. In fact, I avoided learning much about it before release and went in with minimal knowledge. The new region and system with trials instead of gyms felt fresh, and the main story was interesting again. I really liked the great relevance of the main legendary. I spent a lot of time lounging in bed with my boyfriend and filling up the Pokedex together, this being the only game where I completed that goal, so it has some nice memories as well.

Besides Crystal, the two Pokemon games I had most contact with in my childhood were LeafGreen and Emerald. I look back upon Emerald extremely fondly, and the region is almost as nostalgic to me as Johto. The Pokemon added in this generation are also some of my favourites. Still, the characters and story were just okay, and... there's really a lot of water. I actually haven't been able to bring myself to finish Omega Ruby, despite buying it upon release. (Okay, that's partly motivated by the fact I just really want a Sableye in my team and it's an Alpha Sapphire exclusive.) Even as a child I recognised that Kanto was kinda boring, however, and I somehow have very little nostalgia for that game. The graphics felt off and the path you take through the region with thirsty guards and sleeping giants blocking your path felt very convoluted. I don't know, Kanto just isn't really that good besides being iconic for being the first. There's a lot to like about Sinnoh, with a very nice soundtrack, a cozy snowy region and the cutest female protagonist. The abysmal variety of Pokemon really doesn't help it however, nor does the excessively large amount of HMs necessary to progress. It ends up being quite middle of the road.

Galar... The most recent region. I liked the feel of the English countryside you get from the early game, in fact, the early game in general is quite strong. Opening up the Wild Area so early is great for building a versatile team. All the characters feel kind of underdeveloped, the entirety of the story was just me expecting things to happen but nothing really happening. It's clear from the start that Team Yell isn't actually an evil team in any sense, but the "real evil" shows up so late, with little explanation that it's wildly anti-climactic and simultaneously extremely predictable. I liked the way the gym challenge was presented as a sort of national sport, but I didn't like the fact that any actual story suffered for the narrative of "go on, follow your dreams of being a professional football player!" It just didn't feel very much like any sort of actual adventure, almost like a kind of Truman Show setup. Of course, I can't fail to mention that the games are really getting a lot easier, and I didn't even realise I was fighting the Elite 4 because it was so easy.

I love the Pokemon franchise, really. While I feel like it's going in a direction that is not really for me anymore, I still doubt I will stop playing anytime soon. Now hurry up and give me that Johto remake remake.