The Fire Emblem series hasn't seen a new handheld game since 2004 when The Scared Stones released on Game Boy Advanced. So when I found out that Fire Emblem Awakening was going to be handheld I was astatic to play the series again like how I first was introduced to it.
The demo is a great way for newcomers and veterans to get introduced and reintroduced to the series. As you start out the demo lets you pick from three different difficulty settings Normal, Hard, and Lunatic. This doesn't provide a huge challenge but has a small effect on the enemy's power. Next you get to select the game mode, either casual or classic. Casual lets fallen units return and you can save anywhere. In classic mode units are lost forever and each decision you make counts.
For this demo you are only able to play in casual mode. We now get a view of the avatar creation. The avatar represents you as you play through the story. Again many of the opinions are not available such as changing the appearance or the female avatar but these give an idea as to what will be in store for the full games character creation. You can then name your character, give them a birthday, and setup an asset and flaw, what your character axels at and their weakness. Assets and flaws include HP, strength, magic, skill, speed, luck, defense, and resistance. Finally your avatar is ready to head into battle.
For this demo you are able to play through the prologue and first chapter of the game. The story begins as you're character is found by the main protagonist Chrom, his sister Lissa, and his comrade Frederik lacking much of a backstory and memory. Shortly after you are thrown into battle with the three you met earlier. For this demo you are a tactician and have the ability to use thunder magic and wield a bronze sword.
Some of the new additions certainly make gameplay interesting. When attacking an enemy with an ally in a square nearby, you will be granted a +10 bonus in hit as well as a chance for your ally to attack after you do. Characters can also team up with the "Pair Up" option. Now both characters occupy the same square as one character takes damage for the other. It seems to be a more advanced version of the "Rescue" command seen in previous games that let a character take a character with them but the carried character couldn't take part in battle.
Fire Emblem Awakening is shaping up to be one of the greatest Strategy RPGs on the 3DS. It will be great starting point for newcomers to jump right into the series. The casual mode is being offered for the first time since losing characters indefinitely after they are killed in battle seems unforgiving but it has provided a challenge for players of the series for years. Casual mode shall provide people who are playing for the first time a bit of leniency.
The presentation was totally better than expected as cutscenes look brilliant and stunning in full 3D. Character designs are just as amazing as before and I can't wait to build my team. DLC will be available through the eshop and spot pass to add old characters to the fray and I really think this will make the experience very interesting. I'm excited to see how everyone will compose their armies and how to story will pan out. Fire Emblem Awakening will be released on February 4th in North America.