Within the FE community, there’s a running joke about the franchise’s second title, Fire Emblem Gaiden: namely, the fact that nobody knows anything about Fire Emblem Gaiden because nobody’s actually played it. Often considered the black sheep of the franchise, Gaiden featured several odd mechanics for the time: level grinding, RPG-style towns and dungeon exploration, to name a few. It was a strange mixture of classic JRPG and FE SRPG play. While the game did receive spiritual successors (first with GBA’s The Sacred Stones, then with 3DS’ smash hit Awakening), the title has been mostly lost to the ages, as both FE1 (Shadow Dragon) and FE3 ([New] Mystery of the Emblem) received remakes, but Gaiden was left in the dust…
Until now. With the announcement of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia comes a new start for the oft-forgotten title – and a host of other exciting possibilities. Let’s break down the reveal trailer, shall we?
It begins with small children – presumably protagonists Alm and Celica – reading a storybook, and then exposition over several scenes, all explaining the basic plot of Gaiden. In olden times, the god Duma and the goddess Mila – siblings – fought on the continent of Valentia. Duma believed mankind should be controlled by strength, while Mila advocated for a freer world. Eventually, after a long conflict, they split the continent between them, with Duma in the north and Mila in the south.
In time, kingdoms sprouted. In Mila’s lands, the Kingdom of Zofia grew prosperous and peaceful, but eventually sank into depravity. Meanwhile up north, Duma’s Rigel grew strong and imperialist, yet unfeeling and bitter. And both sides, weakened in their own way, eventually end up on the cusp of war. The plot is very similar to Gaiden’s, but with a few added elements already, which gives me hope that there are more substantial plot changes than there were in the remakes of FE1 and FE3.
Then our narrator, Yuri Lowenthal, walks us through some specifics. He confirms that SoV is a remake of Gaiden, whilst detailing some of the more unique aspects of the original. Alm and Celica are once more dual protagonists (and I must say – their new designs are just grand), and Valentia has been recreated “from the ground up”, so we might be looking at more of a reimagining than a remake. A couple more characters are shown off – ones that have a bit more design flair to them than the Famicom original. There will also be animated cutscenes just like in Awakening and Fates, though from a different studio (Studio Khara, best known for its work on the Rebuild of Evangelion films), and the game’s presentation has received a total makeover.
More features are rattled off. Free roaming on the world map, dungeon crawling (with on-field enemy encounters that transition to a map battle), and “flexible character progression” – which is likely in reference to Gaiden’s interesting class change system. Several battles are shown off, which use a variety of gorgeous set pieces and environments with on-map detail, presumably similar to Fates. They also show the fighting of monsters, a classic Gaiden element.
Overall, the trailer for FEE: SoV is fairly straight-laced, with few hidden tricks, but what was shown looks clean and promising. It’s nice to see Nintendo and Intelligent Systems shed some light on the obscure experimental title in the franchise – and all the new bells and whistles look enticing indeed. We’ll still need to hear about amiibo compatibility among other things, but from the first look alone the game looks like a remake that’s worth it.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for the 3DS releases May 19th.