Nostalgia: Am I Doing it Wrong?

One of the bigger pieces of video game related news that came out over the past few weeks was the announcement of the Super NES Classic Edition. As a follow-up to Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, the re-release of the SNES was met with quite a bit of excitement from a lot of people in my peer group. While the NES Classic was largely a draw to those slightly older than me, the Super Nintendo was the primary game console for a lot of people around my age (along with the Nintendo 64 for those slightly younger than me).

The first time I had a Super Nintendo in my home was the fall of 1999. My cousins had a Nintendo 64 and a PlayStation. With the news of the PlayStation 2 that year, my aunt gave their old Super Nintendo to me and my brother, while my younger cousins got the old NES. Not only was the Super Nintendo my first introduction to video games in general, it was also my first real in to the world of gaming — video or board.

The first game I played on the SNES — and still my favorite to this day — was Madden 96. According to original reviews of the game, it was one of the more difficult football games of its time, yet I always found the game incredibly fun to play[1]. I played a handful of other games on the console, including 6 of the 21 announced release games for the console, yet none of the games I actively cared about are part of the SNES’s re-release. The closest thing to a game I loved that’s coming out on the Super NES Classic is Street Fighter II Turbo, but I could get emulated versions of Street Fighter for the WiiU if I wanted it badly enough.

For most of my life, I’ve been a sports video gamer. Yes, I’ve been a fan of strategy games like Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Brave Frontier, and Civilization, but a good football, baseball[2], or hockey video game would keep me engaged much longer than any other game type. It’s why I’m still playing my Xbox 360 copy of NCAA Football 12 nearly six years after its initial release[3]. The problem with sports video games is that even if their gameplay is still good years later, the nostalgia they bring doesn’t exactly stand the test of time.

The aforementioned Madden 96 was the eighth installment of what is now a 29-edition series of video game series. When you’re releasing a new version of the same game every year with nothing more than minimal tweaks and updated rosters, it’s hard to build up nostalgia for that title’s gameplay and/or cast of characters. It’s part of the appeal to games like Half-Life series, where there hasn’t been a release in over ten years. Even when a series has sequels (think the Mario and Zelda franchises), you’re still drawn into them because the story is different enough with each passing game.

I never got nostalgia for that reason. The games I cared about at a young age are still out there, just with newer graphics and updated rosters. Even the non-sports titles are still long enough series that I don’t feel the need to go back and play original titles — unless of course there’s a reason in a newer game I’m playing to do so[4].

As a result, I feel like part of me is missing out on the nostalgia others my age are feeling for the Super NES Classic. The games I played on the original console aren’t being re-released, while the game I like the best of those being re-released is just…meh.

Am I the only one feeling this way? Can you develop nostalgia for yearly series-based video games? Am I just crazy? Sound off in the comments.

5 Ways to Revitalize the Pokemon Go Gym Scene

Edit: Niantic announced massive changes to gyms this morning following the posting of this article. I’m going to keep the article up for sake of discussion of both the ideas here as well as discussion of Niantic’s announced changes.

Though the initial frenzy of popularity that came with the release of Pokemon Go is gone, the game still has a dedicated core base of players. This group ranges from the hyperactive players who spend money on the game to the player who picks the game up once per day for their bonuses, to somewhere in between. As someone who falls solidly into that group of casual, but still somewhat serious players, I couldn’t have been more excited than when I saw that Pokemon Go would be closing its gyms on June 19th (today, as this post is releasing) for “remodeling”.

What will be entailed in the remodeling is up for debate. Data miners on various sites had found code in the game suggesting limits to a specific Pokemon in a gym, however that find has not (yet) amounted to anything. I’ve seen suggestions from various people online with ideas from putting limits on gyms one trainer can be in to changes to the way CP[1] is calculated. That’s to say nothing of the prevalence of spoofers[2] and gym shavers[3] in the game.

I wanted to present a few different ideas that I think could be improvements to the current gym system as it exist. While the problems with the gym system are by no means Pokemon Go’s biggest problem, they do seem to be the most significant problem Niantic is willing to address.

Idea 1 – One Pokemon Per Evolution Line Limit

Let’s lead off by addressing the alleged fix to gyms that was found in code (briefly) a few months back. The current Pokemon Go gym scene features seven Pokemon pretty much everywhere — Blissey, Snorlax, Gyarados, Dragonite, Vaporeon, Rhydon, and Tyranitar. These Pokemon are the seven highest CP Pokemon currently available in the game[4], with two of the Pokemon — Blissey and Snorlax — benefiting from a relative dearth of strong counters to their presence. A solo player, particularly a casual one, has little hope of taking down a high level (6-10) gym is there are more than two Blissey and/or Snorlax present.

One potential solution for this is to set a limit to one Pokemon per evolution line in a single gym. This plus side to this is that players would stop seeing gyms with 4-5 Blisseys in them on a regular basis[5], potentially promoting greater turnover in gyms. On the down side, this likely also means that players would still see 6 of the 7 highest CP Pokemon[6] in a gym on a regular basis. Now those last four spots would be filled with some combination of Donphan, Heracross, Golem, Lapras, and Exeggutor — or pretty much what is seen as occasional filler now.

Idea 2 – Encourage Themed (Mono-Type) Gyms

In every generation of Pokemon until Pokemon Sun/Moon[7], one of the main story lines of the game was to defeat all of the gym leaders in the game’s region before going on to face the Elite Four. If you haven’t played the main games of the series, more about that premise is in my theorycrafting post here.

One of the notable things that was true of all gym leaders/trial captains in the mainline games was that those leaders featured teams that had Pokemon all of a specific element. Whether you were facing Sabrina’s psychic types in Red and Blue, Maylene’s fighting types in Diamond and Pearl, or Valerie’s fairy types in X and Y, you generally knew what you were getting yourself into before you went into a gym[8]. One possible way to improve gym play would be to have gyms rotate what type of defenders are allowed to be in them. For example, let’s say that a specific gym was a water type gym. All three teams could attack that gym with whatever Pokemon they wanted to in order to take over the gym. However, when placing defenders in the gym, they would be restricted to Pokemon with a main or secondary typing of water.

At the end of that seven days, the gym changes to a new typing for defenders. There’s two ways to do this. One would be to kick out all defenders and to set the new typing at random. The second would be to set the new typing based off of the most prevalent secondary type in the gym, then kick out any Pokemon who don’t fit that typing. I’d prefer the former personally, but would be okay with either.

Idea 3 – Randomize Kickout Order

My third idea for improving the gym scene in Pokemon Go is also the one that is now probably the least likely to occur, as it would have been the easiest to implement under the old system. Under the previous gym system, when a team was attacking a gym, defending Pokemon were kicked out in order from weakest to strongest. While this was a great idea in theory, all it ultimately did was to lead to the gym shaving issue I brought up earlier.

If whatever revamp is being done to the gyms is not a major change, I would encourage Niantic to have some level of randomization to the order that Pokemon get kicked out of gyms.While there don’t seem to be a ton of spoofers and gyms shavers where I play, the few I do see are very noticeable, as you’ll find the same group of people in the same gyms after they’re done (typically in the same order with the same Pokemon). Battling a gym down with your alternate account to get your main account in a gym? Have fun with the roulette wheel that could knock one of your friends out in the process.

Idea 4 – Set Tier Limits in Gyms

The main series Pokemon games have a robust competitive gaming scene, thanks in part to competitive battle forums like Smogon and larger world tournaments that occur. These tournaments generally have some sort of tiered system that sets limitations as to what Pokemon, moves, and items can be used within a battle. Aside from the fact that items cannot be used in battle and that legendaries are not in the game currently, Pokemon Go does not feature such limitations.

Why not implement them? Sites like GamePress already do tier lists for top defenders and attackers. Why not have Niantic implement these limitations into gyms? Similar to the mono-type gym idea from earlier in the post, gyms could have rotating tiers on a weekly basis. One week, meta Pokemon like Blissey and Snorlax could be put in the gym with no limitations. The next week, the gym would switch to underused Pokemon, limiting your choices to Pokemon like Raichu and Butterfree. The next week, the gym could be a Little Cup format, filling the gym with Vulpix and Staryu. Different gyms in the same area could have different tiers running at the same time to further enhance play.

Idea 5 – Add in the Special Attack and Special Defense Stats

I get the purpose to the CP number. It’s meant to be a simplified calculation to help people who have never picked up Pokemon before to get acclimated to how the game works while still playing Pokemon Go. But CP makes strong Pokemon weak while making otherwise average Pokemon amazing. Remember Blissey? In the main games, it has the same base stat total as Kingdra. In Pokemon Go, Kingdra’s CP is approximately 3/4 of Blissey’s.

Is that to say Kingdra is a better Pokemon than Blissey? Not really. Objectively it’s not. But by combining Special Attack and Attack into a single attack stat, as well as doing the same with defense, Niantic has put Pokemon with widely skewed stats such as Blissey in a position to be light years better than those with more balanced stats like Kingdra.

The solution? Add in Special Attack and Defense. Blissey remains a wall against psychic/water/fire/other heavy special attackers, but becomes extra frail against strong physical attackers like Machamp (who it already has a weakness to) and Kingler. Meanwhile, Kingdra goes from being an afterthought to being a semi-viable attacker, particularly with STAB[9].

 

I’d like to hear from those of you out there who still play Pokemon Go. How would you improve the gym scene? Is there a particular idea on the list above you love or hate? Sound off in the comments.

My Favorite Pokemon of Each Type

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted on here. I’ve got a few longer posts I’ve been working on that aren’t quite ready to go up (including a continuation of a previous short story), but I wanted to have something up on the blog, as I won’t have a ton of other content going up other places for a little while.

A couple of months ago, I did a post about what the Pokemon League would be like if I were Pokemon champion. The post itself was a fun exercise, though it didn’t quite flow as well as I wanted to. As such, I wanted to take another crack at writing a Pokemon post, this time sharing my favorite Pokemon of each type.

Like my previous Pokemon post, this one too was inspired by a Poketube video, this one by TamashiiHiroka where she covers the same topic as I’ll be doing in this post.

As Tamashii mentioned she would do, I will not reuse any Pokemon on my list even if they’re dual type. For example, if Pidgey was my favorite both Normal and Flying type[1], I’d only use it once on the list, so as to make this list as diverse as possible. Additionally, you may find that my list is biased to early gens (I-III) and Sun/Moon, as I’ve only played Gen IV (Diamond/Pearl) once and haven’t played Gens V or VI at all. With that said, since some of those Pokemon do resurface in Sun/Moon, they may show up here. All images are courtesy Bulbapedia.

Normal – Porygon-Z

Leading off, we have a Gen I Pokemon’s end stage evolution that I didn’t care about at all until playing Pokemon Moon. I’ve never found the Porygon line to be particularly useful Pokemon, despite having one of my favorite designs in the game. Then Z-moves happened, meaning Porygon-Z’s conversion changes Porygon-Z’s type to whatever the first move in its move set is. It’s a great shock and surprise strategy, particularly when I can go in with an Ice type Porygon-Z one battle and a Steel type the next.

Apologies to: Persian, Jigglypuff

Fire – Chandelure

I didn’t carry a single Fire type Pokemon on my end game team until Pokemon Moon. I didn’t see the appeal to them. Everything they could do, Ground Pokemon could do better. And then Chandelure came along. Despite its silly design, Chandelure was an indispensable member of my first Pokemon Moon run through, as its combination of Will-o-Wisp, Hex, Shadow Ball, and Flame Charge made it hard to take down and even harder to out speed.

Apologies to: Vulpix, Blaziken, Litten

Fighting – Hitmonchan

This was one of the only two Pokemon types I immediately knew my answer to who my favorite was. Yes, Hitmonchan was inferior to Hitmonlee in the original games. But I loved the unpredictability of the elemental punches. In later gens, you can combine these punches with moves like Vacuum Wave and Close Combat to make Hitmonchan an adept fighter. It’s not the best fighter, but it’s definitely my favorite.

Apologies to: Hariyama, Poliwrath

Water – Cloyster

This was definitely the hardest choice on my list, as I’ve always tended to use teams heavy in Water, Ice, and Psychic Pokemon. The Cloyster line was one of only two Pokemon in Gen I[2] to learn my favorite Ice move, Aurora Beam. Because of its statistical superiority to Dewgong, I found myself using Cloyster far more frequently. Plus Cloyster is one of the most menacing looking Water type Pokemon, not to mention a hard one to kill at that.

Apologies to: Vaporeon, Dewgong, Lapras, Whiscash

Flying – Fearow

I don’t think there’s a single time where I played through Pokemon Red, Blue, or Yellow where I didn’t have Fearow on my team for the majority of the game. Since I knew Gary/Blue/Whatever you want to call him carried a Pidgeot, I felt like repeating his Pokemon at the end would be pointless. Enter the high-speed Drill Peck machine, Fearow. He looks goofy as fuck, but Dodrio couldn’t match up moveset-wise, and the legendary birds join too late in the game for me to consider replacing Fearow. For that, Fearow holds a special place in my heart. Only one other Flying type is on the same level as Fearow in my mind…but it shows up later in this list.

Apologies to: Articuno, Drifloon

Grass – Oddish

You want a cute Grass Pokemon? Oddish is your bulb. I don’t think I’ve used the Oddish line as my main grass type in any game playthrough[3], but there’s a lot to love about Oddish (at least until it grows up into Gloom). First off, it’s adorable in the anime. Second, it learns a useful moveset that prevents you from needing to stick with Butterfree until mid-game. Third, it has the highest catch rate of any Pokemon other than Magikarp in Pokemon Go, which means stardust for days. Finally, most Grass Pokemon aren’t that great, meaning I’m inclined to replace them with something else anyway. Might as well have one that amuses you — and for me, that’s Oddish.

Apologies to: Tsareena, Exeggutor, Abomasnow

Poison – Toxapex

Like Grass above, I really don’t use that many Poison types in my teams. In early games, they weren’t strong against much of anything, plus most Poison types didn’t have great movesets. They either relied on gimmicks (Weezing’s Explosion/Self-Destruct, Muk’s Minimize) or had terrible stats (Hi, Beedrill). Toxapex, while hard to acquire in Pokemon Sun/Moon, is a legit tank. It’s not quite a god-tier Pokemon, but it’s a dangerous Pokemon in the right hands thanks to its giant defense/special defense stats. Think Shuckle, only cute.

Apologies to: Alolan Muk

Electric – Jolteon

Electric Pokemon are, in my mind, useful, but not likable. Want a badass looking Electric type? Sorry. Since Pikachu exists, everything has to be an attempt at adorable (Minun, Plusle, Emolga, Dedenne, Togedemaru) or so stupid looking you won’t want to use it (Eelektross, Electivire, Luxray, Electrode). If you want a non-legendary Electric type from what’s left, you’re limited to Jolteon, Zebstrika, and Magnezone. I’ll take Jolteon out of that group any day.

Apologies to: Magnezone, Zapdos, Ampharos, Rotom…but only as the Sun/Moon Pokedex

Ground – Quagsire

Look at that face. Look at it.

Apologies to: Dugtrio, Whiscash (again), Zygarde

Psychic – Jynx

Remember that whole thing about liking to carry Ice and Psychic types on my teams? I was a big fan of Jynx in the early games despite its terrible move pool. I mean, she’s serviceable in later games, but outside of Blizzard, if you wanted Jynx to have a good moveset in Gen I, you had to feed her TMs. I carried either Jynx or Hypno as my Psychic in Gen I about 95% of the time. It’s close, but considering my preference to typing over move pool, Jynx wins narrowly.

Apologies to: Hypno, Gardevoir, Slowpoke

Rock – Sudowoodo

Sudowoodo is not a good Pokemon. At all. There are many better Rock types in all of the Pokemon games than Sudowoodo. That said, there isn’t a single Pokemon that you meet in the wild in a more unique fashion than the fake tree Pokemon. After all, you’ve been primed through Gen I and Gen II that you can cut down any small tree in your path. But then…surprise!…it’s a Pokemon encounter a la Snorlax. Sudowoodo wins this category based on impact made on me from the game alone.

Apologies to: Kabutops, Shuckle, Rhydon

Ice – Alolan Vulpix

Though Chandelure was my favorite Fire type, I always found Vulpix to be the best looking Fire type. Brock’s Vulpix was my favorite non-Team Rocket Pokemon in the anime, but I never found good reason to use Vulpix/Ninetales in the early games. Then Sun/Moon came out and we get a Vulpix as an Ice type. I’m sold.

Apologies to: Lapras (again), Dewgong (again), Froslass

Bug – Parasect

Almost all Bug Pokemon are useless. And then there’s Parasect in Gen I. Don’t have a Pokemon that can out-speed Sabrina’s Alakazam? Get a Parasect, teach it Spore and Leech Life, then proceed to curbstomp the hardest gym leader in the game like she’s the fisherman with six Magikarp. Parasect is a super situational Pokemon and largely useless in the rest of the game. But it’s super broken in one specific battle.

Apologies to: Vikavolt

Dragon – Alolan Exeggutor

Before Sun/Moon, I don’t think I used a Dragon Pokemon in an end game team. In my first playthrough of Moon, however, I had two (Kingdra and Alolan Exeggutor). Blame the fact that Dragon moves were terrible in Gen I. I really don’t have strong feelings about this category as a result, so I took the Pokemon I thought had a better design over the one that I used slightly more.

Apologies to: Kingdra, Drampa

Ghost – Mismagius

Outside of Jigglypuff, King troll of Super Smash Brothers, I don’t thing there is a Pokemon more fun to mess with people with than Mismagius. Did your opponent use Protect? You’ve got Phantom Force. Did your opponent Minimize to death? Magical Leaf. Playing doubles and your other Pokemon is obscenely slow like Snorlax? Trick Room. Dark Pokemon giving you trouble? Dazzling Gleam them to death. Mismagius is super fun…and that’s without getting into the Pain Split/Perish Song variants.

Apologies to: Froslass (again), Sableye, Jellicent

Dark – Umbreon

Unlike the type following this one (Steel), Dark has a lot of Pokemon I like. I’ve used quite a few Dark types in-game playthroughs, not to mention many of them have really cool designs. But as a fan of the Eevee line, Umbreon stands out. It’s not my favorite Eeveelution (Vaporeon), it’s not the one I’ve used the most in games (Jolteon), and it’s not even the best designed one (Sylveon). But it is my favorite Pokemon within its type — not to mention a useful one to boot.

Apologies to: Houndoom, Weaville, Alolan Muk (again), Krookodile

Steel – Skarmory

The only other Flying type I liked using in Gen I and Gen II was Skarmory. It looks goofy at best. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t find it useful in the game. Steel typing was surprisingly powerful in Gen II, so Skarmory made sense to use in many cases. While it’s not one of my favorite Pokemon, in a type otherwise filled with Pokemon I don’t care about, Skarmory wins.

Apologies to: Magnezone (again)

Fairy – Primarina

By taking Alolan Vulpix under Ice type, it meant Alolan Ninetales couldn’t appear here. Essentially, this became a coinflip between Primarina and Jigglypuff. Primarina is a far more useful and powerful Pokemon, but Jigglypuff is the master of the Poketrolls. This list may change when I do my next playthrough of Sun/Moon and use a different starter, allowing me to use a different Fairy type in the team. But for now, the opera seal gets the win.

Apologies to: Jigglypuff, Sylveon, Mimikyu

What if I Were a Pokemon Champion?

You might have noticed that I’ve been doing a decent number of video game posts lately. I don’t really have a reason for this, though I realize there’s a handful of my readers that really don’t care about said posts. That said, I’m on a video game writing kick, so I thought I’d try another one.

This time, I’m inspired by the video below by Bird Keeper Toby on YouTube. In the video below, he shares the Elite Four teams, as well as his own team, if he were Pokemon League champion.

The basic premise of Toby’s video is that he is the end game champion of the Elite Four. Toby explains each of the four trainers that precede him in you — the trainer’s — path to becoming a Pokemon League champion. I figured I’d take my own crack at making an Elite Four as well as my own champion team.

In Toby’s video, his Pokemon League theme is a treehouse. In keeping with the idea of having a themed Elite Four, I’m going to have my Pokemon League be a meteorology theme. Weather was introduced into Pokemon in Generation II and my personal obsession with weather[1] makes meteorology a natural fit for the theme. Additionally, I’ve decided to keep with Toby’s theme of making Elite Four members people from previous games. Since my biggest exposure to Pokemon has been in Generations I – IV as well as VII, my Elite Four hails from those groupings.[2]

Battle 1

In the first battle, you’ll be facing off against the first member of my Elite Four, Flannery. For those unaware, Flannery is the fire-type trainer from Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire’s Lavaridge Town. Admittedly, this was the only gym pick I made purely based on previous game skills and not like of a trainer/Pokemon, as there’s not a ton of fire/grass leaders I like.

Flannery is the first fire type leader to use Sunny Day in games, using it on both of her Slugma. In my Pokemon League, however, she’s grown as a trainer from her Gen III days, diversifying her team to include grass type (to fit with the Sunny Day theme) and normal type (due to her familiarity with Norman) Pokemon on her team.

Flannery’s Team

Magcargo
Holds: Heat Rock
Ability: Magma Armor
Moves: Sunny Day, Flamethrower, Recover, Rock Slide

Rapidash
Holds: None
Ability: Flash Fire
Moves: Flamethrower, Solar Beam, Overheat, Bounce

Sceptile
Holds: None
Ability: Overgrow
Moves: Solar Beam, Mega Drain, Dual Chop, Swords Dance

Vigoroth
Holds: Safety Goggles
Ability: Vital Spirit
Moves: Sunny Day, Reversal, Solar Beam, Slash

Torkoal
Holds: Firium Z
Ability: White Smoke
Moves: Overheat, Heat Wave, Iron Defense, Earthquake

Battle 2

Presuming you get through Flannery, you’re on to take on our Rain Dance master, Lana from Pokemon Sun/Moon. Lana is the game’s water trial captain at Brooklet Hill. In nearly every Pokemon game I’ve played, my starter has been the water type starter of the game. You’ll see the influence of my water type starter preference in the second battle, as well as a Alola Pokemon focus in this battle.

Lana’s team also uses rain dance to its fullest by using its powers to improve the accuracy of Hurricane and Thunder via Swanna and Lanturn/Alolan Raichu. I was tempted to add Primarina to Lana’s team as a sixth Pokemon, however I figured keeping all the Elite Four teams at five Pokemon made more sense.

Lana’s Team

Lanturn
Holds: Damp Rock
Ability: Volt Absorb
Moves: Rain Dance, Thunder, Aqua Ring, Surf

Swanna
Holds: None
Ability: Hydration
Moves: Hurricane, Roost, Brave Bird, Surf

Empoleon
Holds: Air Balloon
Ability: Torrent
Moves: Aqua Jet, Brine, Flash Cannon, Rain Dance

Raichu (Alola Form)
Holds: None
Ability: Surge Surfer
Moves: Electric Terrain, Psychic, Thunder, Light Screen

Araquinid
Holds: Waterium Z
Ability: Water Bubble
Moves: Leech Life, Aqua Ring, Rain Dance, Liquidation

Battle 3

For battle three, you encounter the rock/steel/ground filled Sandstorm room of the Elite Four. There’s quite a few options here, particularly considering the prevalence of those types in the first two generations. Of the four Elite Four battles, this one is probably the most straight forward, as you’ll be taking on a familiar face — Gen I’s Brock.

Brock already fields a team filled with rock, ground, and steel types, but he’s got a couple of tricks up his sleeve thanks to his time with Ash, as well as some help he received from Gen II’s steel leader, Jasmine. Brock’s familiar Pokemon do their best to take advantage of Sandstorm, while his new additions attempt to counter those who would damage his main team. And of course, since Brock’s dream is to become a Pokemon breeder, every Pokemon on his team knows a move that can only be learned by breeding (except Magnezone, which can’t).

Onix
Holds: Eviolite
Ability: Sturdy
Moves: Bide, Sandstorm, Stone Edge, Rollout

Magnezone
Holds: Smooth Rock
Ability: Magnet Pull
Moves: Gyro Ball, Discharge, Thunderbolt, Explosion

Golem (Kanto Form)
Holds: None
Ability: Sand Veil
Moves: Stone Edge, Focus Blast, Heavy Slam, Endure

Donphan
Holds: None
Ability: Sand Veil
Moves: Hyper Beam, Rollout, Ice Shard, Thunder Fang

Steelix
Holds: Steelixite
Ability: Study/Sandforce
Moves: Sandstorm, Earthquake, Iron Tail, Rock Climb

Battle 4

You’re finally to the last of the Elite Four members at my meteorology themed Pokemon League. If you beat the final trainer, you’re on to take on me as the Champion. That said, you’ve got to deal with the original ice user and her Hail optimized team first. Lorelei from the Gen I Elite Four is up next.

Unlike the previous three weather types, you know what you’re getting here. Ice gonna give it to ya. There’s just one problem. Lorelei has brought a more diverse team that can learn ice moves — not just ice types. And in the event you plan on bringing in fighting, rock, steel, or fire types here, she’s ready to counter it.

Lapras
Holds: Icy Rock
Ability: Shell Armor
Moves: Blizzard, Perish Song, Surf, Confuse Ray

Froslass
Holds: None
Ability: Snow Cloak
Moves: Hail, Destiny Bond, Thunder Wave, Shadow Ball

Slowking
Holds: King’s Rock
Ability: Oblivious
Moves: Scald, Heal Pulse, Yawn, Dream Eater

Aurorus
Holds: Light Clay
Ability: Snow Warning
Moves: Psychic, Blizzard, Thunderbolt, Stone Edge

Abomasnow
Holds: Abomasite
Ability: Snow Warning
Moves: Blizzard, Energy Ball, Wood Hammer, Ice Punch

Battle 5

Finally, you’re beaten the Elite Four and you’ve reach the champion — me. So what kind of team am I going to bring out? After all, you’ve already ran into the four weather types so far. What else could I have? My team is built around Pokemon who change the weather as soon as they enter battle. The abilities Drought, Drizzle, Sand Stream, and Snow Warning are present on four of my six Pokemon, changing the weather as soon as they enter. As for the other two, they’ll be bent on stopping you in their own unique ways that help balance out my team.

Pelipper
Holds: Damp Rock
Ability: Drizzle
Moves: Hurricane, Surf, Fly, Roost

Torkoal
Holds: Heat Rock
Ability: Drought
Moves: Solar Beam, Heat Wave, Flame Charge, Amnesia

Tyranitar
Holds: Smooth Rock
Ability: Sand Stream
Moves: Dark Pulse, Stone Edge, Dragon Claw, Ice Beam

Scizor
Holds: Scizorite
Ability: Technician
Moves: Silver Wind, Hidden Power, Metal Claw, Toxic

Umbreon
Holds: Chople Berry
Ability: Synchronize
Moves: Yawn, Dream Eater, Confuse Ray, Dark Pulse

Ninetales (Alolan Form)
Holds: Light Clay
Ability: Snow Warning
Moves: Aurora Veil, Toxic, Blizzard, Hex


So. What did you all think? I realize this is a bit different type of post from one I’ve normally done, particularly since it’s a video response. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments.

Fire Emblem Direct Thoughts

A little over a week and a half ago, Nintendo held a Nintendo Direct event for the Fire Emblem series of games. As you might be aware, I like Fire Emblem just a little bit. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the four games discussed in the event below. If you haven’t watched the event yet, you can find the full video below.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Shadows of Valentia is a game inspired by an earlier entry in the Fire Emblem series, 1992’s Gaiden. While I’ve played quite a few games in the Fire Emblem series, Gaiden is not one of the titles I’ve played to this point. From everything I’ve gathered, the gameplay mechanics of Gaiden differ pretty drastically from other Fire Emblem games, which is a disappointment. Gaiden combines the turn-based strategy of a typical Fire Emblem game with a navigable world map similar to games in the Legend of Zelda series. I love the turn-based style combat of Fire Emblem, so seeing a Fire Emblem game deviate from that — as three of the games on this list are expected to do to some extent — is a bit disappointing.

With that said, Shadows of Valentia appears to have a good storyline, at least from what little we can glean from the Direct event. The game itself is reported to copy Gaiden‘s gameplay style nearly directly, though an updated story inspired by Gaiden will be introduced with Shadows of Valentia. Part of me is tempted to get my hands on an emulator copy of Gaiden soon to see if I like the style. But there’s two main things holding me back from that.

  1. Gaiden never received an English translation
  2. I really hate Zelda style games

The Direct event shows a scene around the 5:15 mark where you appear to do a dungeon crawl level that really turns me off to the game. As much as I love Fire Emblem, I have no desire to play hack and slash or dungeon crawl games. That said, a lot of the other scenes focus on more traditional Fire Emblem game play. My hope is that Shadows of Valentia focuses more on the traditional game play than the overworld.

Shadows of Valentia will be releasing on May 19, 2017.

Hype Rating: 3 of 5

Fire Emblem for Nintendo Switch

We don’t get a title for whatever the new Fire Emblem game coming to the Switch is, but that’s alright since the game won’t be releasing until 2018. We don’t know much about the new game other than it’ll be the first full console release of Fire Emblem since the Wii. Even in the Direct event, all we got was a 45 second blurb about the game coming out in 2018. That said, of the coming games, it’s the one I’m most intrigued to learn more about and eventually play.

Hype Rating: Incomplete, though likely at least 4 of 5

Fire Emblem: Warriors

No.

But really though. Dynasty Warriors is a hack and slash series that I have zero cares about. If you want to see an example of exactly how hack and slashy this game is, go to the 7:50 mark in the video at the top of the post. The art in Warriors looks amazing from the preview video, though I’d have to assume that’s console gameplay we’re looking at, not handheld. While Warriors will be released on the 3DS and 2DS in addition to the Switch, I do get the impression that either there will be less stellar graphics on the handhelds, or we’ll see a degradation of play quality. Since I can’t imagine Nintendo allowing the latter to happen, I’ll assume that the handheld versions will have lessened graphics qualities.

But hey, at least Chrom is in the trailer?

Hype Rating: 1 of 5

Fire Emblem Heroes

This game screams Brave Frontier or Final Fantasy: Brave Exivus. Bad. To the point where I had to go back and watch the Direct video a few times to make sure Alim wasn’t part of the development for Heroes.

This is Nintendo’s first foray into the mobile market with a Fire Emblem game. Heroes — at least from what we can tell from the Direct video — looks to combine some of the turn-based attack strategy game from Fire Emblem’s other games with summoning type mechanics found in mobile games like Brave Frontier.

Of all the games announced so far, Heroes is the only game thus far where I’m disappointed with the released art. I don’t know if this is because I’m so used to seeing newer Fire Emblem games like Awakening and Fates, however the actual gameplay art of Heroes is subpar. The non-gameplay art (in particular the summoning art) seems to be pretty good, so perhaps it’s just the preview that I’m bothered with.

Not shockingly, Nintendo has decided to go with the microtransaction model for acquiring the in-game currency needed to acquire units in this game. As much as I’d like to try Heroes thanks to my love for the Fire Emblem series (as well as the aforementioned Brave Frontier), I don’t think I’ll find myself picking up Heroes when it releases on February 2, 2017.

Hype Rating: 1.5 of 5

What If Fire Emblem: Awakening Characters Had Personal Skills?

For the handful of people who actually cared about these posts, it’s been quite a while since I did my last Fire Emblem related post. As you might imagine, I’ve decided to drop the series I originally had planned. After writing the character comparison post (and the fact that it went nearly 8,000 words by itself), I realized I was in way over my head for the level of detail I wanted to put into those posts. It was either drop the series or make this blog completely into a gaming blog. I chose the former.

One of the features of Fire Emblem: Fates that I preferred to Fire Emblem: Awakening was the implementation of personal skills for each character. While there where some characters in Awakening (Chrom/Lucina, Donnel, Robin/Morgan) that got unique classes based off of their starting class, most characters picked from the same skill pool. While that’s still true in Fates, each character was also given a personal skill that could not be removed, adding uniqueness to those characters.

In replaying Awakening recently, as well as getting the Fire Emblem: Awakening artbook for Christmas, I began to wonder what the personal skills for each character in the game would be. I’ve tried my best to base these skills off of the character’s personality or story in the game. Since there are three characters (Owain, Severa, Inigo) that overlap between the two games, I’ve addressed them in comparison to their personal skills in Fates.

Warning: Spoilers for Fire Emblem: Awakening. Also, if you don’t care about video games, this is a theorycrafting post. You’ll probably be bored.

First Generation Characters

Robin

Personal Skill – Invisible Ties – All units adjacent to Robin with C support or higher receive +10 Hit Rate/+10 Dodge/-5% Damage Received. Bonuses increase by +10/+10/-5% with each additional level of support.

Analysis: Similar to Corrin’s skill in Fates, Robin’s skill as the avatar of the game is tied to the support levels between them and your other team members. Since Robin is a tactician, it only makes sense that the better he knows his comrades, the more the bonus increases.

Chrom

Personal Skill – Ylissean Brand – Increase the frequency of dual support events by 10% and increases their strength by 10%

Analysis: Though Chrom’s personal weapon, Falchion, and his shield, the Fire Emblem, both play critical roles in the game’s story line, they don’t gain their power until too late in the game for them to be tied to his personal skill. Building off of Chrom’s Lord skills makes more sense from a game long utility standpoint.

Lissa

Personal Skill – Hidden Lineage – When Lissa is the support unit, enemy critical hits are negated. Weapon and class weaknesses still apply.

Analysis: Most every story line involving Lissa in the game is about how she’s self-conscious that her family brand didn’t appear on her. Giving her this skill leaves players a tough choice on difficult maps early in the game — expose Lissa to level her up as a cleric or keep her as a support unit but sacrifice her growth?

Fredrick

Personal Skill – Pick A God And Pray – When Fredrick is supporting either Chrom or Lissa, +10 critical hit rate. +5 critical hit rate when supporting any other unit.

Analysis: I covered this last time, but I hate Fredrick. His only purposes in Awakening are as an XP suck, to be a better dad than Libra/Virion, and to deliver the most kickass critical hit line in the game. His personal skill reflects this.

Sully

Personal Skill – Dame of Valor – If Sully’s opponent is male, damage dealt increases by 10%

Analysis: Considering almost every support of Sully’s involves her kicking the crap out of her future mate in training exercises — usually because they underestimated her — this makes logical sense. She’s not one of the guys, but she’s probably a better soldier.

Virion

Personal Skill – Thorn of Roseanne – Adjacent female allies deal +10% damage when attacking, however Virion also takes 25% of damage dealt.

Analysis: Virion is loathed for his flirtatious ways, which both helps his female companions fight harder, but also hurts him. Playing him would require a lot more strategy, particularly in middle levels once more female units are recruited.

Stahl

Personal Skill – Ravenous – Effects from items used in battle have double impact.

Analysis: Considering the fact that Stahl is constantly hungry, having a benefit from his consumption of items seems only natural. Suddenly Gaius’s Confect gives him +4 Strength, Skill, and Speed, which is useful in a pinch.

Vaike

Personal Skill – Tenure – If weapon skill level is D or lower, experience growth is doubled. If weapon skill level is B or higher, experience growth is halved.

Analysis: Vaike has always struck me as a guy who got by on strength alone for the longest time, meaning he’s only useful for teaching and learning for a beginner. His weapon growth rates should reflect this.

Miriel

Personal Skill – Meticulous – If Miriel has been engaged in combat with a unit before, Miriel gains +20 Hit Rate/+20 Dodge.

Analysis: Considering the number of support conversations Miriel has where she gives advice to other characters on how to improve their battle style with small tweaks, she’s definitely one for small details. Those details will let her dodge and hit better once she sees an opponent in battle.

Sumia

Personal Skill – Animal Whisperer – Mounted, Pegasus, and Wyvern units deal 10% less damage to Sumia.

Analysis: Probably the most natural fit skill in the game considering how we meet Sumia. Her power over animals causes opposing animals to pull up just enough before engaging her that she takes less damage.

Kellam

Personal Skill – Wallflower – Kellam can end on the same tile as any friendly unit, even if that unit is paired up. If an opponent attacks that tile, Kellam can neither be attacked nor defend.

Analysis: No one notices Kellam. Basically his skill would be Pass on steroids.

Lon’Qu

Personal Skill – Protector of Ke’ri – When paired with a wounded unit, Lon’Qu gains +20 Hit Rate and +15 Critical Rate.

Analysis: Despite never appearing in Awakening, Ke’ri’s existence is critical to understanding why Lon’Qu fears women. He’s now a sell sword bent on protecting those he supports, making him dangerous if his allies are wounded.

Maribelle

Personal Skill – Dignified Entrance – Gains +10 Magic/+10 Skill at the start of each battle. Bonus decrease by 1 each turn.

Analysis: I have to admit, of all the people on this list, Maribelle is the one character that I had a much better name for a personal skill than I did an actual skill itself. Nothing I thought of seemed to really suit her. The magic/skill bonus is at least useful.

Ricken

Personal Skill – Apprentice – When paired with another tome user, both Ricken and his support gain +2 Magic/+2 Resistance.

Analysis: Despite the fact that we don’t actually know most of the the characters’ ages, Ricken certainly feels like the youngest character in the game. Yet he’s always trying to learn how to do better magic. The skill is an extension of that.

Panne

Personal Skill – Last of My Kind – If Panne is the last unit to move in a turn, she gains +1 movement.

Analysis: Yeah…both taguel skills are going to be based on their ability to move. Just want to warn you about that now.

Gaius

Personal Skill – Sticky Fingers – If Gaius battles a unit with a better ranked weapon in the same class, Gaius has a 40% chance of stealing that weapon.

Analysis: Dear god do I wish this were a real skill. It’d be very situational, however if you were to put Gaius with a Bronze Sword up against someone with a Killing Edge, Gaius would have a 40% chance to take the Killing Edge for himself. Provided he survives, that is. And yes, sticky fingers is a play on both his thief class and his love of candy.

Cordelia

Personal Skill – Genius – Additional damage dealt to Cordelia by weapon weaknesses/advantages is halved.

Analysis: Fates took the good names for Cordelia’s skill with Caeldori and Subaki’s skills. Point stays the same. Cordelia is underappreciated. She can do everything. I mean, she can reclass into classes that let her use literally every weapon class. She’s a genius.

Nowi

Personal Skill – Playing House – When Nowi is paired with her S-Support or child, +2 Strength/+10 critical rate. Otherwise, -2 Strength/-10 critical rate.

Analysis: Nowi’s supports with Lon’Qu reference her desire to play house and have a family. Needless to say, being paired with her actual family makes her far more vicious than when she’s not.

Gregor

Personal Skill – Smash – Critical hits do 6x damage instead of 3x damage, but also use two uses of weapon durability.

Analysis: I really wish there was a relevant skill I could come up with referencing Gregor’s broken English. But alas, the best we’ve got is his love for smashing things.

Libra

Personal Skill – Incantations – When Libra heals another unit, he recovers 75% of HP healed.

Analysis: I originally had Libra’s skill as a Nosferatu-like heal-when-attacking skill. That said, considering his high crit rate and penchant for Killer Axes, stereo healing seemed more balanced.

Tharja

Personal Skill – Shadow – If Tharja is adjacent to or paired with Robin, her S-Support, or her child, Tharja can only attack second, however her skills trigger 10% more frequently.

Analysis: Depending on what skills you give Tharja (hellooooooo Vengeance), this has the potential to be broken as all hell. However, considering how situational it becomes unless you’re constantly using Pair Up, it should be fine. That said, you’re constantly using Pair Up. Meet Chrom with Vengeance.

Olivia

Personal Skill – Risque – All male units within 2 tiles receive -20 Hit Rate/-20 Dodge. This applies to both enemies and allies.

Analysis: The first couple of times I played through Awakening, I considered Olivia to be a very demure character. Then I read her support logs. And her other dialogue lines. And saw her official artwork. She’s basically trying to be a stripper. Seems distracting on the battlefield.

Cherche

Personal Skill – Loyal Servant – When paired with any noble character (Chrom, Lissa, Fredrick, or Virion), grants +1 to all stats except Movement and HP to that character.

Analysis: I know Minerva is her dragon and having dragons is her thing, but her support lines indicate she’s a damn good servant and diplomat. She’s arguably the unit I underrated the most in my first assessment, so I’ll make up for it here.

Henry

Personal Skill – Bloodlust – Gains +1 Magic for every 15% of HP lost.

Analysis: Here’s a dilemma for you. With this skill, the more Henry is damaged, the stronger he becomes. Combine this with Vengeance and you’ve got a monster if he has high Skill/low HP. But what do you class Henry as? Do you take him out of the Sorceror class to prevent using Nosferatu? Do you leave him in Sorceror so he doesn’t get Lifetaker from the Dark Knight class? Do you just make him a Dread Fighter and say fuck it?

Donnel

Personal Skill – Farmer – Donnel receives +3 Defense and +10 Dodge if he ends his turn on Plains or Desert.

Analysis: Honestly, I like Mozu’s personal skill from Fates for Donnel, but I didn’t want to repeat it. So let’s make him slightly less frail when recruiting him. Doesn’t help build XP, but doesn’t let him die so easy when defending.

Second Generation Characters

*Note: While Owain, Severa, and Inigo have retained their personal skill titles from Fates, I’ve changed the skill slightly to better reflect their usage in Awakening.

Lucina

Personal Skill – Iai Counter – If Lucina lands a critical hit on an opponent with full HP, the opponent is killed and Lucina heals 25% of her max HP.

Analysis: Smash references! Smash references everywhere! But seriously. The kids are broken without personal skills. This is about to get nuts.

Owain

Personal Skill – Aching Blood* – When Mystletainn is equipped, +10 Critical Rate/+2 Strength

Analysis: As much as Owain makes sense as a Dark Mage in Fates, he’s not quite the same without his trusty blade from Awakening. Even though it’s clearly an inferior sword, Owain is empowered by it.

Inigo

Personal Skill – Fancy Footwork* – All female units within two tiles gain +2 Speed. Inigo gains +1 movement if he starts the turn within two tiles of any female unit, ally or foe.

Analysis: Considering Inigo’s use of Rally commands in Awakening is pretty limited, playing off of Inigo’s flirtatious mentality as his skill still makes great sense. Just don’t tell Noire. She might go crazy.

Brady

Personal Skill – Bard – Whenever Brady heals an allied unit, he gains +1 Magic/+1 Resistance for the remainder of the battle.

Analysis: Similar to Henry’s skill, you’ve got some interesting choices to make with Brady. Do you focus him on healing early to build him up as an indestructible Sage near the end of a level? Note that the skill says heals, meaning using the Rescue staff wouldn’t impact Brady’s stats.

Kjelle

Personal Skill – Duelist – Only receives 50% of Pair Up Bonuses. Kjelle receives +1 Strength/+1 Defense/+1 Skill/+1 Resistance for each turn no allies are within two spaces at turn’s end.

Analysis: Kjelle’s entire recruitment level is all about she wants a one-on-one duel with Cassius. Why not play to it in her skill? Sure, she’ll be handicapped as you’re trying to build her marriage supports, but if you reclass her into a Paladin/Great Knight, she becomes your sweeper.

Cynthia

Personal Skill – Valiant Hero – When Paired Up with another unit, Cynthia’s Dual Guard trigger rate is increased by 25%

Analysis: Basically the inverse of Kjelle. Cynthia wants to be the one to save the day. Needless to say, she becomes quite good at it.

Severa

Personal Skill – Fierce Rival* – When supporting her S-Support Unit or her father, if the lead unit triggers a critical hit, Severa is guaranteed a critical hit (if the attack connects). When supporting Cordelia, if Cordelia triggers a critical hit, Severa is guaranteed a critical hit dealing 6x damage (if the attack connects).

Analysis: The one skill that Fates got essentially right. Just add in a rage factor for Severa when her mom gets a critical hit and you’re golden.

Gerome

Personal Skill – Minerva’s Wrath – Gerome receives 10% less damage from Wyvern/Griffon units and deals 20% more damage to Wyvern/Griffon units.

Analysis: Did you need an anti-wyvern unit? No? Are you really going to turn Batman down though?

Morgan

Personal Skill – Amnesiac – If weapon skill is D or lower, weapon experience growth is halved. If weapon skill is B or higher, weapon experience growth is doubled.

Analysis: Inverse Vaike. It makes sense considering his/her backstory.

Yarne

Personal Skill – Rabbit’s Foot – If Yarne receives a hit that drops him below 50% HP, he has a 50% chance to retreat, even if the enemy is mid-attack, as long as there is a free tile to move to.

Analysis: Yarne runs from everything. Easiest skill to write in the entire post.

Laurent

Personal Skill – Mirage – Once per battle, Laurent may use the Mirage tactic. This ends his turn without attacking. The next attack Laurent takes will deal no damage.

Analysis: The skill is a clear homage to Laurent’s recruitment level, wherein you must find a mirage village. Like his recruitment level, Laurent’s skill is underwhelming and ultimately a disappointment.

Noire

Personal Skill – Blood and Thunder – Noire receives one extra hit per attack.

Analysis: A simple skill, yet a useful one for a unit that will likely be a Sniper or a Nosferatu tank in the end game. If Noire doesn’t have Armsthrift, you’re going to go through some weapons, but it’s worth it. The skill is more a nod to her obnoxious speed growth than anything else.

Nah

Personal Skill – Blade Catcher – Damage from all swords except Wyrmslayers is halved. Damage from Wyrmslayers is doubled on top of existing bonuses.

Analysis: One of the better battle related supports is that between female Morgan and Nah, where Nah tries to learn to catch swords to save herself from her only weakness, Wyrmslayers. Nah realizes she can’t catch Wyrmslayers in her manakete form, which is when she needs to the most. Hence the doubled damage.

 

Fire Emblem fans…what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Pokemon Go and the Mainstream Acceptance of Nerd Culture

Though I’m getting to the age where some of my elementary school memories are (thankfully) starting to fade, one of them sticks out as clear as day. It just took the release of Pokemon Go to fully appreciate it.

In the sixth grade, I made it to my school’s finals of the spelling bee. The top three finishers would move on to our county spelling bee, then if they did well enough, they could eventually move onto the regional, state, and national spelling bee. Sixth grade was the last year you could participate in the spelling bee in my school, so the fact that I made it to the finals was a bit exciting. I was determined to win the school spelling bee — just as I had the geography bee a few months earlier — and qualify for the next round.

As the spelling bee was about to start, our principal was giving introductions and explaining the rules of the contest. While reading through the normal list of rules that we heard in each of our classrooms, he paused to insert an additional rule of his own.

“Just so everyone’s aware, I’m pleased to announce that none of the words in today’s spelling bee will be Pokemon names.”

A cheer went up from the crowd of mostly sixth graders that were watching us compete. While many of the students on stage with me clapped loudly, I sat there with a bewildered look on my face. I knew there wasn’t going to be any Pokemon names in the spelling bee…but why call that out? Why was that really necessary?

On more than one occasion in elementary and middle school, I was bullied. I was a straight A student who was the shortest kid in my grade (guy or girl) up until the eighth grade. I wore hand me down clothes that didn’t fit right or looked like they were out of the 70s and 80s — generally because they were. I shared a house with my own family/stepfamily, as well as another family whose three kids were routinely getting suspended from school. I looked for a way out to escape my day-to-day reality.

From a very young age, that way out became video games. By the time 1998 rolled around, I, like many other kids my age, had gotten caught up in the Pokemon hype wave. I got a green Game Boy Pocket for Christmas the year prior with Monopoly[1] and Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball as a gift. While those games were fun, the allure of a world filled with magical creatures caught my imagination.

My dad ended up getting me Pokemon Blue in early 1999 and I played the game until the cartridge broke. My end game team was almost always the same — Blastoise, Hypno, Dewgong, Fearow, Victreebel, and Jynx — but I loved playing through it no matter what. The Pokemon games really did bring me that escape I was looking for from my childhood.

Back on the spelling bee stage, I recall being flustered and upset that the principal had taken the time to specifically call out the game that I loved playing in an effort to get a cheap cheer. There was no need to do that. I realize that now and I realized it as a kid. Being the first person in the alphabet in the finals, I received the first word, ceiling, and immediately misspelled it. I was eliminated, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to get home and play the game that the majority of kids felt the need to cheer against.

Fast forward to 2016, when the augmented reality game, Pokemon Go released. I downloaded the game within minutes of its US release last week, leading to my wife and I running around outside our apartment complex trying to catch our starters. I was surprised the next two days at work to see just how many people were playing Pokemon Go. People who rarely ever played video games had picked up the game and started playing just because it was the cool, hip thing to do.

It was a strange moment for me to see. 18 years earlier, a room full of my peers had cheered that Pokemon would be no where near a spelling bee. Now, there are strangers who would otherwise have nothing in common coming together to play a later, more technologically advanced, version of that same game.

As my wife and I were walking through the park on Saturday trying to catch Pokemon, a kid — probably about sixth grade or so — and his mom were walking their dogs. The kid saw us playing Pokemon and began talking to his mom.

Kid: Why are so many adults playing Pokemon?

Mom: It’s the cool thing to do right now. I’m glad you’re mature enough to not need video games to have fun.

Ignoring for a moment that the mom obviously doesn’t understand the purpose to video games[2], with her comment I began to realize that the very thing that some kids mocked when I was younger had become cool. I’m betting some of those same kids who laughed in the auditorium at the spelling bee were playing Pokemon Go this weekend.

Why wouldn’t they? It’s the cool thing to do. We want nothing more than to be accepted in life. It just happens to be the time where nerd culture has become an accepted part of life. In fact it’s becoming so much that way that you’d be hard pressed to find a component of nerd culture that hasn’t been somewhat integrated into mainstream American culture.

I’d like to think this is a sign that we’re continuing to progress as a society to a point where everyone, regardless of their likes, beliefs, sexuality, religion, or whatever, is accepted the same way. It’s likely not. I know that. But in the interim — until that moment where I’m disproven in my belief — I’m going to continue walking towards lure modules and interacting with strangers, and bonding over sharing our Pokemon adventures.

Fire Emblem: Awakening vs. Birthright (Characters)

Miss the introduction explaining why I’m writing these posts? Click here. Looking for other comparison posts in this series? The storyline and game mechanics posts are found at the preceding links.

Within this post, I’m going to take a bit more of a detailed look and comparison into the characters between my favorite game within the Fire Emblem series, Awakening, and Birthright, one of the three parts of the most recent iteration of the Fire Emblem series, Fates. As you can probably guess, there will be spoilers in mass quantities[1].

Introduction and Format

As I’m going through the various characters in both Awakening and Birthright, I’m going to break each game’s character sets down into two sections — first generation characters and second generation characters. While I recognize that there are some additional side characters you’ll recruit either naturally along your story path (Anna and Tiki in Awakening, Scarlet and Izama in Birthright), I’m 0nly going to address characters that are either first generation characters that can have children with a unit other than your avatar and any second generation[2] character in the game. This is mostly for space and character count.

For each character, I’ve broken out my analysis into three sections. These areas pros, cons and my takes. Since there’s approximately a metric fuckton of characters in each game, I’m going to limit my analysis for each character to two sentences per section with a couple of notable exceptions.

Awakening Character Analyses

Quick overview for the non-Fire Emblem fans out there. In Awakening, your main character (or avatar) is a customizable character named Robin. You team up with Chrom, the Crown Prince of Ylisse, his liege, Fredrick, his younger sister, Lissa, and a host of other characters to win a war against undead soldiers, win another war against an invading tyrant general, then defeat a dragon bent on destroying humanity. All good? If not, just assume every Fire Emblem game ever ends with you needing to kill a dragon.

Oh…and in most editions of the Fire Emblem series (pre-Awakening), if a character dies in a level, they’re dead for good. As a filthy casual, I was happy when this practice was ended.

All pictures below come from my copies of the respective games. Characters are presented in the order you recruit them in the main story, or by chapter number if certain chapters can be done out of order.

First Generation Characters

Robin

Your avatar unit. Can be made male or female, given a custom name, and can marry any opposite gender unit in the game. Tactician class[3] that wields tomes[4] and swords by default. Father/mother of Morgan and potentially one other kid[5].

Pros: Wildly customizable character that can do pretty much anything in the game. Arguably the one of the few first generation characters that can be used reliably in the end game.
Cons: 
Not enough scales to tip.
My Take: 
I love customizing units and Fire Emblem is no exception to that rule. Robin is one of the better units in Awakening in terms of usage, storyline, and supports[6].

Chrom

Prince of Ylisse and the game’s other protagonist with Robin. Lord class that wields swords by default. Brother to Lissa and Emmeryn[7], father to Lucina and at least one other character.

Pros: Great early game unit without being an experience hog.
Cons:
You have to take Chrom in every chapter in the game, which is annoying as he becomes a fairly weak character by end game[8]. Also, he wasn’t awesome enough to make it into Smash Bros.
My Take: 
One of the least entertaining protagonists in a Fire Emblem game ever. That said, he’s useful in game for a while and Emmeryn’s death make him instantly likeable.

Lissa

Princess of Ylisse. Cleric class who heals by default. Chrom’s little sister and mother to Owain[9].

Pros: She can become a dark flier class, which gives her access to the overpowered Galeforce skill. That’s really it.
Cons: 
Levels up more slowly of the two staff wielders at the beginning of the game, making her very hard to keep alive at higher difficulties. Arguably has the most boring support convos in the entire game.
My Take: 
Lissa is only important because she’s Chrom’s sister and because her son is one of three character’s that’s in both Awakening and Fates. That’s it.

Frederick

Chrom’s bodyguard/retainer. Great knight who wields swords, lances, and axes by default. The first advanced class unit you get in the game.

Pros: Pick a god and pray.
Cons:
An experience vacuum in the early game that keeps your units from leveling up, arguably the worst end game unit once he’s appropriately leveled.
My Take: 
You have the most badass critical hit quote in the entire game and you’re the shittiest unit in the game. This is why I don’t like you, Frederick.

Sully

One of Chrom’s shepherds[10]. Cavalier that wields lances and swords by default. Mother to Kjelle.

Pros: She’s a well-written strong female character, even in (most of) her S[11] supports.
Cons:
Despite being a strong female archtype, she’s one of the worst end game units out there, rivaling Frederick and Virion. The worst possible mother for Lucina.
My Take: 
Sully’s inconsistency in her portrayal versus her skill bother me. Either make her a kickass woman who actually kicks ass or make her weak across the board.

Virion

Archduke of the neighboring nation of Roseanne. Archer who wields bows by default. The JRPG equivalent of the cowardly heel archetype in pro wrestling.

Pros: There are no pros to Virion. Nobody likes him.
Cons:
Let’s see…can’t defend himself in melee combat, weak stat growth with one exception, is outclassed as a ranged combatant by chapter 8 at latest, is essentially the same character as Inigo[12], and runs away from hard times at least twice. Also, his hair is ugly.
My Take: 
Objectively, Virion is useful early in the game. But I don’t use him any longer than I need to.

Stahl

Male Sully. Another one of Chrom’s shepherds, also is a cavalier. Literally a red oni/blue oni thing going on here.

Pros: Generally a slightly more capable unit than Sully. At least he’s not Virion.
Cons:
Pairing him with Sully — who seems to be his natural wife[13] — yields you an exceptionally worthless Kjelle. Since Kjelle is one of the best second gen units in the game, you don’t want to hamstring her with a dad that weakens her.
My Take: 
Arguably one of the few first gen male characters that shows character development in the game outside of Chrom/Robin, as he becomes a more confident and complex individual in his supports. That in itself makes me like him.

Vaike

A shepherd and Chrom’s teacher/fighting instructor/childhood best friend. Fighter class who wields axes by default.

Pros: His strength is off the charts, making his kids hit like trucks.
Cons:
Imagine a pot smoking surfer who was unemployed but thinks highly of himself and teaches teenagers how to knife fight in his spare time. Congratulations, you’ve created Vaike.
My Take: 
Great dad, terrible teacher.

Miriel

A shepherd. Mage who wields tomes by default. My headcanon wife for Stahl and mother to Laurent.

Pros: Her post S-support interactions with Stahl are some of the most endearing conversations in the game. If you can level her up to an advanced class, she’s pretty tanky.
Cons: 
Joins so ridiculously underleveled that it’s not even funny. Laurent is such an annoying prick that there are games where I won’t even level Miriel up just so his paralogue doesn’t show up.
My Take: 
Miriel is essentially your high school librarian if your high school librarian wore a witch’s hat and puritan collars.

Sumia

A shepherd and Chrom’s canon wife. No. Really. Read their support chain. Look at the fact that the way Chrom builds support with females that she’s almost always the default choice for marriage unless you actively avoid her. See that Sumia is the only female that can’t marry almost every other guy. I get that nothing is supposed to be canon in Awakening, but this one is the exception.

Oh, and she’s a pegasus knight who wields lances. Mom to Cynthia and possibly Lucina[14].

Pros: Despite being lesser known, probably the best true pegasus knight/dark flier in the first generation. One of the few first gen units you may use in end game.
Cons:
If you don’t marry her to Chrom, her supports essentially make her a clumsy, female version of Stahl.
My Take: 
Her kids are awesome, she’s a sweetheart, and she’s naturally on track for the best class in the game. Sumia’s not my favorite unit, but I spent a lot of time using her.

Kellam

Shepherd who is ignored or not noticed by literally everyone in the game except Frederick and whoever Kellam marries[15]. Knight who wields lances by default.

Pros: Is the only unit that can be recruited for the purpose of being ignored. The end credits of the game will only acknowledge Kellam if you marry him to a female Robin.
Cons:
The I’m invisible gig is only really funny at the two points listed above.
My Take: 
Useful as a wall and a dad, but not much else. Has the best armor in the game.

Lon’Qu

Sellsword from neighboring Regna Ferox. Myrmidon[16] class that wields swords by default.

Pros: Do you like critical hits?
Cons:
Is essentially Dirty Harry, only he carries a sword instead of a gun.
My Take: 
Despite being one of only two characters in the game that can make Tharja seem human, Lon’Qu is pretty boring when you pair him up with anyone else. Except Cherche. Then there are feels…many, many feels.

Mirabelle

Lissa’s best friend and a Ylissean socialite. Troubadour[17] class who heals by default. Mother to Brady.

Pros: If you can keep her alive long enough to promote her to the Valkyrie class, she becomes insanely overpowered in a hurry. Makes for a nasty dark flier for the same reasons.
Cons:
Really doesn’t do Brady a lot of favors other than giving him Galeforce, making him one of the few children more reliant on his dad than his mom.
My Take: 
Trashy celebrity meets video game royalty. Tries to wear drills, but isn’t Misha.

Ricken

Shepherd who looks at Chrom as a big brother/childhood hero. Mage who uses tomes.

Pros: Is slightly less terrible as a mage when joining than Miriel was.
Cons:
Still woefully underpowered when joining. Really should have been a child character as the canon child of Donnel and Miriel.
My Take: 
Just make him a dark knight and get it over with. You know you’re only training him so his kid (likely Owain or Brady) can get Lifetaker.

Panne

Shapeshifting bunny/rat/rodent mercenary hired to protect Emmeryn from an assassination attempt. Taguel class wielding a beaststone, which allows her to shapeshift, by default. Mother to Yarne.

Pros: You can reclass her. Has the most unique support conversations in the game.
Cons: 
Beaststone wielding characters are shit in Awakening. At least they fixed that in Fates.
My Take: 
If Panne was literally any other class, I’d love her. But she’s a taguel, and taguels are terrible in Awakening.

Gaius

Thief who is part of a raiding party sent to kill Emmeryn, but Chrom talks him out of it. Thief class wielding swords by default.

Pros: His diet is essentially the same as mine was in middle school. Is one of only two dads that can pass down the ability to get Galeforce to his daughters.
Cons:
Unless you marry him to Maribelle (who doesn’t need help giving Galeforce to Brady), you’ll never find out about one of the most intriguing side plots of the game.
My Take: 
Tied with Donnel and Chrom as being the most useful non-avatar fathers in the game. Gives nicknames to every character. He might be one of the best characters in either game for entertainment value (non-Setsuna division).

Cordelia

Sumia’s best friend and the golden child of the Ylissean military’s pegasus knight division. Might be the most tragic character in the entire game outside of Emmeryn. Pegasus knight wielding lances by default. Mother to Severa.

Pros: Her story starts at a 10 on the intensity scale and really doesn’t calm down until the second generation units arrive. Is probably the most unexpected closet intellectual in the game.
Cons:
Ends up being the weakest pegasus knight in the game, especially if you reclass Lissa, Olivia, or Mirabelle. Can’t pass down her awesome red hair.
My Take: 
People either think Cordelia is unimportant to the game or love her. I lean towards the latter. I mean, her entire military division gets mowed down in battle and she has to flee for her life while hearing the sound of everyone dying as she runs away. And then her former commander gets killed right in front of her during an ambush attack. And then you realize that her unrequited love for Chrom will always go unfulfilled because Chrom cannot marry her. And then she has the most rebellious teenage daughter known to man. Cordelia is a cheating husband away from being a Lifetime movie.

Nowi

Manakete[18] who joins Chrom and company while fleeing from bad guys. Uses a dragonstone to shapeshift into dragon form. Mom to Nah.

Pros: TANK. 
Cons:
You have to reclass her to make her anything beyond an above average unit. Also, despite being over 1,000 years old, she looks like she’s 12. Terrible at naming children.
My Take: 
TANK.

Gregor

Sellsword who tends to break contracts if the person he’s set to kill causes an ethical quandary for him. Mercenary class that wields swords by default.

Pros: His lines are spoken with the combination of Rickey Henderson’s third person prose, Dikembe Mutombo’s syntax, and Ivan Drago’s accent. I would play an entire game with him as the main character.
Cons:
You’ll want to marry him to Nowi because they join together, but I assure you they’re both better with other people.
My Take: 
I’m not convinced that Gregor isn’t just Lt. Surge from the original Pokemon games in hiding.

Libra

Priest who has a serious devotion to the dragon Naga and to Emmeryn. War monk class wielding axes and healing by default.

Pros: One of the few characters who you can recruit midchapter who can stay alive without your help.
Cons:
Looks a lot like a girl. Not quiet to the extent of Forrest in Fates…but Virion hits on him.
My Take: 
Libra is the worst dad in the game stat growth wise, but he can pass down some of the best skills in the game, particularly Renewal, Tomefaire, and Lifetaker. He’s a preference character as to if you want to use him.

Tharja

Dark mage in the Plegian army who defects to the Shepherds because she is infatuated with Robin. Dark mage class wielding tomes. Mother to Noire.

Pros: Literally the only useful first generation mage unit.
Cons:
One of the worst human beings in the game. Stalker, unethical spell tester, and child abuser are just her three most common problems.
My Take: 
I could write a small novel on Tharja. First off, she’s the one unit who made looking for pictures for this post hard because of the fact that about one-third of the stuff about her on the internet is porn[19]. Second, she’s all kinds of creepy stalkery, even after she marries most of her S supports. She routinely tests curses on her loved ones and her daughter, giving her daughter a complex that is essentially a very violent form of bipolar disorder. And yet…in one of the xenologues of the game, she sacrifices herself to save her daughter’s life. She’s also one of the most helpful units in the game, ridding Lon’Qu of nightmares, helps Stahl realize his modesty is his greatest strength, creates a charm to help Kellam protect his family, and helps Gregor find closure for his brother’s death. Tharja is both really hard to like and really hard to hate all at the same time.

Olivia

A dancer. Seriously. Dancer class who wields swords and dances to give units another action that turn. Mother to Inigo.

Pros: The dance function is useful. You know, if you could keep Olivia alive longer than two turns after you recruit her.
Cons:
Depending on when you acquire Donnel, Olivia might be your lone weak late-joining character. Probably the weakest written female character in the game.
My Take: 
I honestly don’t understand how you’re expected to keep Olivia alive and marry her to Chrom on any difficulty higher than casual. At least her kid is useful?

Cherche

A soldier[20] from Rosanne loyal to Virion’s family. Wyvern[21] rider class who wields axes by default. Mother to Batman…er…Gerome.

Pros: Cherche’s has one of the more entertaining backstories in the game, as she tamed her wyvern as a child. Her support track with Lon’Qu is the closest thing to a redemption path that you get in developing Lon’Qu’s character.
Cons: 
She’s essentially Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon, only female, redheaded, and wearing slightly more revealing clothing.
My Take: 
Cherche gets overshadowed by the fact that peagsus knights/dark fliers are so stupid overpowered, but she’s a really good blitz attack unit, especially as a griffon rider. Should have died to stay consistent with her son’s backstory, however considering we’re not introduced to Alfred, this may be before she dies.

Henry

Plegian dark mage who likes crows. Uses tomes by default.

Pros: Hey! A second not sucky mage! Plus he’s arguably one of the nicer people in the game from Plegia.
Cons:
Pretty much everything else. He joins too late for you to use him as a fighter, he’s rather average as a character by that point, his entire gimmick is essentially Optimistic Emo Kid, and even though he’s a better dad than some of the other men, he joins so late that you’ve likely married off all of the women with the possible exception of Cherche.
My Take: 
Had Henry joined around the same time as Libra/Tharja, he’d be awesome. But he joins in the same chapter your first child unit (Lucina) joins…so no…

Donnel

A scrawny villager that joins the Shepherds after his village is attacked. Villager class that wields lances by default.

Pros: Starts out as the weakest character in the game, but his unique skill, Aptitude, gives him the best growth rates in the game. Oh, and he’s the only other guy besides Gaius who can pass down access to Galeforce.
Cons:
He can be killed by a semi-powerful sneeze. The pot on his head sadly isn’t a Pastafarian religious headdress.
My Take: 
Other than the fact that Donnel sounds like he’s from the backwoods of Appalachia, he’s pretty awesome to have around. Just keep his talking to a minimum and you’re fine.

Second Generation Characters

Lucina

Princess of Ylisse and eldest child of Chrom. Lord class that wields swords by default.

Pros: Pretty much shows up in every other chapter’s video cut scenes before she joins in chapter 13, making her the only child you don’t need to complete a side quest to recruit. Like her father, seems to have one of the few strongly hinted at desired relationship partners in the game[22].
Cons:
Her support conversations make her seem childish to a fault despite the fact that every other video/interaction with her in the game makes her appear wise beyond her years.
My Take: 
I main Lucina in Smash Bros. I like her. A lot. To the point where there’s only one character from Awakening that I’d even consider using over her if they were in Smash[23].

Owain

Swordsman son of Lissa. Wields swords. He’s…unique.

Pros: If the cast of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann were put in the Fire Emblem world, they’d all be best friends with Owain. After all, you have to name your weapons and your moves.
Cons:
Since almost all weapons in Awakening break after a certain number of uses, you need to constantly buy new weapons. Unfortunately, Owain’s unique weapon also breaks. 
My Take: 
The BBC recently referred to Fire Emblem as a “tactical role-playing game that users control of a small anime army“. Realistically, only Owain would fit into most animes.

Inigo

Womanizing swordsman who is the son of Olivia. Wields swords.

Pros: He’s a useful version of Virion.
Cons:
He’s essentially Virion, only useful.
My Take: 
If you make Virion his dad, it’s a like father, like son situation. Otherwise, I’m very confused how Inigo turns out the way he does.

Brady

Tough looking priest who fights by healing. Mirabelle’s son.

Pros: Amuses me greatly with the juxtaposition of his rough exterior and his love for playing the violin and making tea.
Cons:
Probably the closest thing to a crappy unit in the second generation[24]. Is the one character I’d hope would have called Severa out on her self-centered attitude, but instead encourages it.
My Take: 
Just reclass Brady to a Sage and you’ll be fine. That said, Brady is a wasted opportunity in Awakening, as they should have brought back the Bard class from Thracia 776 just for him.

Kjelle

Fair-fighting knight who doesn’t understand that she’s weak to magic when she chooses to accept a dual. Daughter of Sully. Wields lances by default.

Pros: She’s Sully if Sully was written correctly or consistently.
Cons: 
Seriously though…does she not understand the fact that knights are weak to mages? I understand wanting to avenge someone, but think this through.
My Take: 
Her personality fits better into the first generation characters than the second generation, but her stats say I’m a child character. A surprisingly useful person to pair with Owain.

Cynthia

Sumia’s pigtailed daughter. Wields lances as a pegasus knight by default.

Pros: Statistically one of the best child units in the game, all while getting to be a falcon knight while still getting Galeforce.
Cons:
The single most annoying plot hole in the story occurs with Cynthia if you marry Chrome to Sumia. In Cynthia’s recruitment chapter, Cynthia is fighting for a group of bandits whose leader has convinced them that he is Chrom. For most of the bandits, the fact that their leader looks nothing like Chrom is a non-issue. But to Cynthia, who has very strong and vivid memories of her father, you’d think she wouldn’t fall for this ruse. Yet, she believes some guy who looks nothing like her dad is her dad, then struggles to believe that Chrom is actually her dad. I get that Cynthia’s gimmick is to charge headlong into things without thinking, but this is just stupid.
My Take: 
Giant plot hole aside, Cynthia’s one of the more adorable characters in the story, particularly if she’s Lucina’s sister. Their support actions as sisters are absurdly believable.

Severa

Cordelia’s very angsty mercenary daughter. Fights initially as a mercenary class wielding swords.

Pros: Normally support convos don’t give you hints about how to build characters, but Severa’s insistance on not being like her mother saves you from reclassing her as the ridiculous dark flier class. She’s better served as a mercenary/hero or a dark mage.
Cons:
Fits every stereotype of teenage girl that would make me dread having a daughter one day.
My Take: 
Severa is one of three characters from Awakening to show up in Fates[25], yet is the the only one to reverse how I like her. In Awakening, she’s an annoying personality with great skills and class. In Fates, she’s a decent, though fiery personality with a rather annoying class set. The hell, Nintendo?

Gerome

Cherche’s mask wearing, anti-social son. Wyvern rider class who wields axes by default.

Pros: He’s fucking Batman on a dragon.
Cons:
Plays the dark, mysterious soul to the point where he’s annoying.
My Take: 
Pair him up with Lucina and let her become the Selena Kyle to his Bruce Wayne. You know, if Catwoman wielded an all powerful sword and Batman rode dragons.

Morgan

Robin’s son or daughter[26] who may or may not be from the same timeline as the other second generation kids. His starting class and weapons capabilities vary depending on who Robin’s spouse is.

Pros: Can be literally any class in the game. Considering Robin can marry any of the second generation characters, this makes Morgan a gamebreaker. As in he or she could solo most maps.
Cons:
You can only let him/her have five skills at once.
My Take: 
Remember how I said Nowi was a tank? Morgan is a giant death robot.

Yarne

Panne’s taguel son. Runs from everything, but wields a beaststone to shapeshift into taguel form if he must fight.

Pros: At least he’s not as squishy as Panne? His supports with Cynthia are mildly amusing.
Cons:
He’s still a taguel.
My Take: 
If it weren’t for the Shepherds, the taguel race would be extinct.

Laurent

Miriel’s magic using son who is somehow even more nerdy and socially awkward than she is. Starts off as a mage class wielding tomes.

Pros: Is the one person who actually makes Severa a relatively decent person, not to mention a productive one.
Cons:
His recruitment level is complete and total bullshit if you go into it blind. The entirety of the conversations in and surrounding the level talk about a mirage village that you need to find, and you’d assume it’s to recruit Laurent. Nope. It’s to get a single use item (which is useful, but still). Laurent is the only second generation character that cannot be recruited by Chrom, meaning not only that you have to know (or guess luckily) which village to send Miriel to, but you have to keep Laurent alive after the fact. At least he’s not as weak to start off as his mom is.
My Take: 
A surprisingly useful character, especially if his dad passes down Armsthrift. Still weird when he talks though.

Noire

Timid, anemic daughter of Tharja. Archer class by default who wields a bow.

Pros: Has the most unique personality in the game…
Cons:
…but it’s because her mother abused her and used her as a lab rat as a child.
My Take: 
I love Noire as a character. She’s very likable, particularly in her bashful yet aggressive interactions with Inigo. Her supports with a female Robin are downright heartbreaking as Noire just wanted a mom who actually cared about her. Even Tharja in the story’s timeline[27] becomes likable with Noire eventually. Noire brings out the best in people, hence why she’s my favorite character in any of the Fire Emblem games.

Nah

Nowi’s oddly named daughter. Manakete that uses dragonstones to shapeshift.

Pros: Tank…plus one.
Cons: 
Pretty much every one of Nah’s support conversations leads to her calling her eventual husband her “big brother”. It’s just as creepy as it sounds.
My Take: 
Probably the second most powerful unit in the game behind Morgan[28].

Birthright Character Analyses

First off, apparently I’m at 5,000 words and I’m only halfway through this post. Time to shorten my analyses. In Fates, your avatar is a man or woman named Corrin who was born into royalty[29] in the Kingdom of Hoshido, but was kidnapped at a young age and raised in the Kingdom of Nohr. If you play the Birthright path, you side with your birth nation of Hoshido and fight against Nohr.

First Generation Characters

Corrin

Your avatar unit. Manakete that wields swords and a dragonstone to start (though also staves for healing later). Can be the father or mother to Kana and possibly to other children.

Pros: Significantly stronger than Robin was, plus is actually the main character in this story[30]. All nobles including Corrin have access to a special power known as Dragon Fang that lets you change the maps you’re on or do other ridiculous actions mid-battle.
Cons: 
If you want to get all of the kids in Birthright, you’re either required to be a female or marry a non-storyline character such as Scarlet. Dragonstone is significantly weaker in Fates, so you’re better off using your swords most of the game.
My Take: 
One of the few characters that destroys his/her Awakening counterpart straight up. The kidnapping angle is far more interesting than Robin’s “hey…I woke up in a field and don’t know who I am” story.

Jakob

Your butler and one of your two[31] retainers from when you were a Nohrian noble. Wields daggers and heals with staffs by default. Father to Dwyer — all children except Kana and Shigure are tied to their fathers in this game rather than mothers. Joins at different times depending on if Corrin is male or female.

Pros: If he joins early, Jakob is incredibly useful. Arguably the best non-ninja base class dagger user in the game.
Cons:
If he joins late in the game, his only usefulness is to be Dwyer’s dad.
My Take: 
Jakob is essentially the stereotypical butler I’d imagine lives in a house that is on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, only 25 years younger.

Felicia

Your maid and one of your two retainers from when you were a Nohrian noble. Wields daggers and staffs like Jakob. Also like Jakob, joins at different times if Corrin is male or female.

Pros: Similar to Jakob in that if Felicia joins early, she’s useful to have around. While Jakob is bulkier, Felicia hits a lot harder. The fact that she can change to a hero class gives her kids access to the underrated Sol technique.
Cons:
In Birthright she’s a plot device that fights. At least that’s more than her sister, Fiora (NPC).
My Take: 
I really wish Felicia’s involvement was better written, especially when you have a female Corrin. She just shows up, fights her sister, and has a kid (in some order).

Kaze

Hoshidian ninja who you originally meet as a prisoner of Nohr. Wields shurikens by default. Father to Midori.

Pros: As the only ranged unit you have until chapter 7, Kaze is incredibly useful in the early game. His access to the mechanist class line gives him a ton of advantages over other characters.
Cons:
If you don’t have his support at least at an A level with Corrin by chapter 15, he dies[32]. Even if you’re on Casual or Phoenix mode. It’s bullshit and I’m so happy I read spoilers in advance to avoid this.
My Take: 
His chapter 15 death mechanic is the biggest piece of bullshit in a video game since one hit and you die platforming games.

Rinkah

Member of the Oni fire tribe native to Hoshido that doesn’t really like either set of royalty. Uses clubs by default.

Pros: Not many until you promote her to either an oni chieftain or blacksmith.
Cons:
Until she’s promoted, she’s the most fragile unit you’ll have outside of healers and Mozu. Her personality is essentially Severa from Awakening, only with no good points.
My Take: 
Generally a disappointment as a character, but at least she can pass down Counter.

Azura

Songstress from Nohr who essentially went through the same kidnapping ordeal as Corrin, only in reverse. Mother to Shigure. Songstress class by default who wields lances/naginata[33] and can sing to give characters an additional action.

Pros: The other character who is a straight upgrade to the Awakening character she mimics (Olivia). Her higher end skills make her worth training, even if she is a little squishy earlier in the game.
Cons:
You have to play Revelations for her story to make any fucking sense.
My Take: 
I like her as a character and she adds a lot to the cut scenes. But her story could be written a lot better without spoiling everything that you learn in Revelations.

Sakura

Shrine maiden and Hoshidan princess. Corrin’s youngest sister[34]. Heals with staves by default.

Pros: Lissa with better stats.
Cons:
Lissa with a worse storyline and crappier class access.
My Take: 
Her Nohrian equivalent — Elise — is so much better than Sakura that it’s almost worth getting Conquest just for her.

Hana

Swordswoman and retainer to Sakura. Wields swords.

Pros: Hey! This is what Sully was actually supposed to be like!
Cons:
Not all that great of an end game character.
My Take: 
Awesome character for the first ten chapters or so, not all that useful otherwise.

Subaki

Sky knight and retainer to Sakura. Wields lances by default. Father to Caeldori.

Pros: At least he’s not Reina?
Cons:
His perfectionist gimmick fits his daughter better than it does him.
My Take: 
Essentially a male version of Cordelia, though not nearly to the level that Caeldori mirrors her. Since fliers are greatly nerfed from Awakening, he becomes a second-tier character.

Silas

Nohrian knight who was Corrin’s best friend since childhood. Cavalier class who wields swords and lances by default. Father to Sophie.

Pros: The best written non-noble unit in the game with the possible exception of Setsuna. One of the strongest too.
Cons:
Unless you marry him to Azura or female Corrin, he can’t father two kids. Sophie’s that good.
My Take: 
When considering first generation units, he’s right up there with the nobles in terms of utility.

Saizo

Ninja who is the retainer of Ryoma and twin brother to Kaze. Ninja who wields shuriken by default. Father to Asugi.

Pros: His Pyrotechnics skill is super useful as a last ditch attack skill.
Cons:
Sadly, you won’t use Pyrotechnics much because he’s the bulkiest and most durable of the three first generation ninja units.
My Take: 
His personality is essentially Lon’Qu, but they serve totally different roles.

Orochi

Fortune teller who was in the service of Mikoto (Ryoma/Hinoka/Sakura/Takumi’s mom) prior to her death. Diviner class wielding scrolls[35] by default. Best friend to Kagero.

Pros: Decent ranged unit with a competent skill set.
Cons:
Her capture skill is worthless unless you’re playing on higher difficulties.
My Take: 
Her supports with Kaden talk about her fear of rats, yet her primary scroll is a rat spirit. Hooray continuity errors!

Hinoka

Sky knight and Hoshidan princess. Sister to Ryoma/Sakura/Takumi. Wields lances by default.

Pros: The only useful first generation flying unit in the game, unless you plan on marrying Scarlet to a male corrin.
Cons:
Has a very odd defensive build that makes it difficult to slot her well to be a mom to a kid who needs defense while not overlapping dragon fang skill.
My Take: 
Would make a far better ruler than Ryoma or Takumi. Yet another thing Conquest got right.

Setsuna

Archer unit and retainer for Hinoka. Likes to fall in pits and holes. Wields bows (yumis) by default.

Pros: Setsuna’s support conversations about her endlessly falling into holes were of great entertainment to me. And archers finally don’t suck anymore!
Cons:
The Awakening archer attire was better. That’s really it.
My Take: 
The most underrated unit in Birthright by a huge margin.

Azama

Priest and retainer to Hinoka. Father to Mitama.

Pros: His daughter has the single best gimmick in the game.
Cons: 
He’s an asshole.
My Take: 
Literally the only reason to level up Azama is the make sure Mitama gets access to Renewal.

Hayato

A member of the wind tribe who joins your party after a battle with the wind tribe’s chief. Diviner who wields scrolls by default. Father to Rhajat.

Pros: Has access to the ridiculously overpowered Quixotic skill.
Cons:
Don’t wear a pot on his head.
My Take: 
He reminds me a lot of Donnel, despite the fact that they have nothing in common. Maybe it’s the babyface.

Hitana

Swordsman and retainer to Takumi. Wields swords. Father to Hisame.

Pros: He’s got the whole idolizing the man he’s protecting thing down.
Cons:
Father to one of the most boring units in the game. At least it runs in the family.
My Take:
He’s so bland that I forgot about him while writing this. Twice.

Oboro

Spear fighter and retainer to Takumi. Wields spears.

Pros: Her bonuses against Nohrian units make her damn near unstoppable once you promote her to an advanced class. The only non-noble/non-child unit you’ll consider keeping around in the end game.
Cons:
Doesn’t have particularly good growth rates.
My Take: 
Probably one of the best written characters in the game, especially when you consider how much the game focuses on her two hobbies — fashion and killing the enemy.

Takumi

Archer and Hoshidan prince. Wields bows by default. Father to Kiragi.

Pros: Takes everything good about Setsuna and does it with better base stats.
Cons:
You can see the twist ending involving him in Birthright coming a mile away.
My Take: 
So. Fucking. Predictable.

Kagero

Ninja and retainer to Ryoma. Wields shuriken by default.

Pros: The only ninja unit who actually acts like a ninja in their supports.
Cons: 
If you say you like her as a unit, people will automatically assume it’s because she has giant boobs.
My Take: She joins at an odd time in the game when you really don’t need a third ninja unit, but it’s not bad to have one around either. Just marry her off to Ryoma and make Shiro hit for death.

Kaden

Shapeshifting kitsune[36] class unit that wields a beaststone to fight. Father to Selkie.

Pros: The gap between dragonstone and beaststone users is still there from Fates, but it’s not nearly as large.
Cons:
His evolved form may be called a nine-tails, but it doesn’t fight with fire attacks like the Ninetales from Pokemon.
My Take: 
The kitsune are everything the taguel should have been in Awakening. Just reclass him to something other than kitsune so that Selkie can stay in that class for herself.

Ryoma

Swordsman, Hoshidan prince, and heir apparent to the throne of Hoshido. Father to Shiro.

Pros: Wrecks everything. Is the best meme to come out of Fates.
Cons:
He’s basically Frederick, only he joins at the right time but doesn’t yell ‘pick a god and pray’.
My Take: 
Once you get Ryoma, you can basically solo the next 5-6 maps with him.

Mozu

A villager who joins your party after you save her from an attack. Wields lances by default, but makes a surprisingly good apothecary unit.

Pros: Female Donnel.
Cons: 
Female Donnel.
My Take: 
Female Donnel.

Second Generation Characters

Kana

Son/daughter[37] of Corrin and whoever you married them off to. Nohrian Noble class that wields dragonstone, swords, and staves by default.

Pros: The youngest unit in either of the two games. I’m just happy they don’t let you marry Kana off to anyone[38].
Cons:
Isn’t as stupid broken as Morgan.
My Take: 
The second generation units as a whole aren’t as powerful as their Awakening counterparts are, but there’s a few of them that are still map wreckers. Kana leads the way in that regard.

Shigure

Son to Azura. Sky night class by default that wields lances.

Pros: Has a unique skill that allows his rally command to heal surrounding units if they have less HP than him. Considering how I never use any rally command, this finally caused me to start using them.
Cons:
Still a flier, which makes him a fast healer, but underwhelming otherwise.
My Take: 
Meh. His mom is a better unit than he is.

Dwyer

Jakob’s also a serviceman son. Starts off as a troubadour class that can only heal.

Pros: Can make a surprisngly adept Strategist if he has the right mom[39].
Cons: 
The troubadour class isn’t anywhere near as awesome as it was in Awakening, but at least men have access to it now. Easily one of the weirdest looking characters in the game.
My Take: 
Similar to his dad, it’s all about when you get Dwyer in the game. If he’s ready to advance to a higher class, he’s great. Otherwise, he’ll be a bit of a struggle to level up.

Sophie

Silas’s high-energy daughter who rides around on a stubborn horse named Avel. Cavalier class wielding swords and lances by default.

Pros: One of the few units who appears to be an expy on an Awakening unit[40] but doesn’t beat it into the ground and make themselves seem stupid.
Cons:
Doesn’t have access to dark magic like the similarly named Sophia from Fire Emblem: Binding Blade.
My Take: 
While she’s not my favorite unit in the game, I find that Sophie is one of the ones I like using the most. Her supports are so optimistic that it’s ridiculous.

Midori

Kaze’s entrepreneur daughter. Apothecary class unit that wields bows by default.

Pros: One of the two units (along with Mozu) who can competently fill the apothecary role. Midori’s luck bonuses make her REALLY hard to kill if you’ve passed Miracle down to her.
Cons:
It’s very difficult to tell how old she is. I’d argue she looks younger than Kana, yet you can marry Midori off, but not Kana.
My Take: 
Hey! A dedicated healer than can defend themselves competently. What a novel idea.

Shiro

Ryoma’s son. A spear fighter class wielding lances by default.

Pros: If you reclass him to a Lodestar class, Shiro looks like Ike.
Cons:
His recruitment chapter is a pain in the ass because Shiro feels the need to charge headlong into enemy troops. Who does he think he is, Blackstar?
My Take: 
If you can get to him before he dies, Shiro is awesome to have around.

Kiragi

Takumi’s young son. An archer who wields bows by default.

Pros: Probably the only unit that fills the kinishi knight class correctly. His supports with Kana are adorable because they just want to go play in a treehouse all day.
Cons:
The only treehouse in My Castle is Corrin’s house, which is unfortunate, as Kiragi just wants a treehouse.
My Take: 
Will someone please get Kiragi a treehouse?

Asugi

Okay…here’s where I start to get ragey. First the facts. Asugi is Saizo’s son who wants to be nothing like his father. He’s a ninja class by default and wields shurikens.

Asugi, Caeldori, and Rhajat are all meant to be expy units on first generation units from Awakening, as they are supposed to remind the player of Gaius, Cordelia, and Tharja, respectively. All of the Fates characters’ names mentioned are anagrams of their respective Awakening characters. In one of the DLC chapter, Chrom makes an appearance and actually calls Caeldori out on this if she’s in the map. Since they’re supposed to be character expies, I’ll reference that in my notes for each character.

Pros: Probably the most powerful ninja you’ll have by end game
Cons: 
Would have made a better first generation character.
My Take: 
Repeating Gaius’s candy loving gimmick was really unnecessary. Gaius is a fine character, but he’s largely forgettable outside of the fact that he’s one of the two dads to pass down Galeforce. Asugi doesn’t even have that going for him.

Selkie

Kaden’s playful daughter who doesn’t understand what the concept of hunting is. Since she’s a fox, that’s bad. Kistune class that uses beaststones by default.

Pros: The most well-balanced unit in the game.
Cons:
Unless you reclass her, she doesn’t have access to ranged attacks.
My Take: 
Selkie kills everything. That’s all there is to it.

Hisame

Hinata’s equally boring son. Swordsman who uses swords.

Pros: One of only two units (Kiragi being the other) who gets a bonus out of using the Wait command. It’s a pretty useful gimmick for a samurai.
Cons:
I had to replay the game a good bit just to remember why I liked him. He’s really not all that important.
My Take: 
He somehow manages to be even more forgettable than his dad, Hinata. The only reason I remembered Hisame was because I was writing Hinata’s entry.

Mitama

Azama’s daughter who speaks primarily in haikus and loves to take naps. Shrine madien class by default who heals people.

Pros: Her inherent skill, Haiku, heals in a 5-7-5 pattern if she’s in the middle of a vertical line with two other characters. That’s a nice touch that fits her gimmick amazingly.
Cons: 
Her recruitment chapter is deceptively difficult if you’re not prepared for it. That’s it though.
My Take: 
I love Mitama nearly as much as I love Noire. She’s pretty fantastic.

Caldori

Subaki’s daughter and giant Cordelia expy. Sky knight that wields lances by default.

Pros: If you’re playing the Revelations route and make Selena[41] her mother, the support conversations are filled with shoutouts to Awakening.
Cons:
She’s just as good as Cordelia, which would be fine if she was a first generation unit, but is less so since she second generation.
My Take: 
A better written version of Cordelia. The only one of the three expies that I don’t totally cringe at.

Rhajat

Hayato’s dark and twisted daughter. Essentially an expy on Tharja, though less violence, abusive, and stalkery. Diviner that wields scrolls by default.

Pros: HOLY FUCK THERE’S ACTUALLY A LESBIAN CHARACTER IN FIRE EMBLEM. I mean, Soleli in Conquest is, but they didn’t write her to be. Actually, can we just switch Soleli and Rhajat now?
Cons:
For being as creepy as she is, you’d think she’d use dark magic. Nope.
My Take: 
A tamer, less interesting, yet more diverse Tharja.


That’s all for this post. I’ll get into the game mechanics and storyline in a later post. If you made it through this entire post without shutting down your computer or wanting to murder me, congratulations.

Fire Emblem: Awakening vs. Birthright (Intro)

Already read the introduction? Click on the links in this sentence to view the character comparison, storyline comparison, or game mechanics comparison once the posts are up.

In one of the superscript notes from my last post, I made mention of the fact that I wanted to talk through my thoughts on Fire Emblem: Birthright after getting the game in February. While I’m a bit concerned that a lot of my readers who used to read will likely get bored by this, I feel like the few that stuck around will at least humor me in reading this post (and the coming ones, as you’ll see below). On top of that, hopefully there will be some new readers who discover this blog because of this discussion.

My first experience with the Fire Emblem video game series came via the Game Boy Advance release of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones while I was in college. I’ve long been a fan of RPGs, visual novels, and choose your own adventure games, so the Fire Emblem series seemed right up my alley. While I didn’t play The Sacred Stones many times[1], I got back into Fire Emblem in a big way when I was between jobs in 2011, when I played Fire Emblem: The Genealogy of the Holy War and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 via an emulator to kill time around applying for jobs and writing for NaNoWriMo.

My favorite game to date in the Fire Emblem series was the 2012 release, Fire Emblem: Awakening[2], for the Nintendo DS. To date, I’ve put far too much time into Awakening[3], but it’s because I really love the characters in the story.

In February of this year, Fire Emblem’s 14th edition in the series, Fire Emblem: Fates[4] was released. Fates was the first edition of the series that was split into three different games based on the story path you wished to follow. I chose the Birthright path/game because of its similar play style to Awakening, though most people I know who also got Fates purchased either the Conquest or Revelation routes. I’ve put in a decent amount of playthrough into Birthright since purchase[5] and as a result, I have some pretty strong opinions on Birthright — and by extension some of the larger Fates storylines and the characters therein — in comparison to Awakening.

Since I know this post is going to get long — as I was plotting out the character post, it was over 1,000 words before I finished talking about Awakening — I’ve chosen to break this analysis down into a few different posts. You’ll find links to each post both near the top of this post and below as I write them. I’ll be comparing the Awakening edition of the Fire Emblem series against the Birthright edition of Fates. Depending on how this goes, I may end up taking a deeper look into Conquest or Revelation, but we’ll see.

As for the content I’ll be covering, there will be three main areas that I’ll be examining: characters, storyline, and game mechanics. I was tempted to talk about game and character art in its own post, however it’s pretty clear that the Fates trilogy blows Awakening out of the water in most areas when it comes to art, so I feel safe skipping that. The next post I’ll do (hopefully I’ll have this out by the end of this week) will be the character comparison, followed by the storyline comparison post, then the game mechanics comparison post.

Are you a fellow Fire Emblem fan? Check out the post links below and provide your commentary. Fellow gamer that hasn’t played Fire Emblem? Perhaps you’ll enjoy the nerdy in the coming posts. Don’t care at all but love me and want to drive up my page visit and comment counts? That’s awesome too. I like you all.

Awakening vs. Birthright posts
Character Comparison
Storyline Comparison (TBA)
Game Mechanics Comparison (TBA)