With the success of “Fire Emblem Warriors,” which has barely been given a chance, I have to say it: Nintendo is definitely having a good year.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing “Fire Emblem Warriors” on the Nintendo Switch in person. Everything about it is charming, from the personality it conveys to the way it displays itself. It definitely helps that it has the same setting as the more mature “Fire Emblem Heroes,” but that’s not the only reason I loved playing it. The core gameplay of the games is actually very similar, but “Fire Emblem Warriors” focuses more on pure strategy-focused gameplay with a nice dash of cinematic action. It’s refreshing.
The game stars the characters of the series. These figures are characters we know and love from “Fire Emblem” but now see reimagined with a dash of anime flair. I have a guilty pleasure.
The game makes quick use of the Switch’s unique features. One of the great things about the Switch is that it handles the games in a way that feels really good on the hand, even with all those palm-friendly buttons. Between the game and its screen, I had a lot of fun immediately catching wind of what the game was about and teaching the controller in a way that was genuinely helpful to me. There’s a great, exciting feeling when it comes to interacting with a living character on a screen instead of a book or a movie. It’s really surprising and fun to see an animated character take on different expressions in a way that only an animated character can.
“Fire Emblem Warriors” handles this tremendously well. Using the Switch’s controller, you can control a character in more traditional Fire Emblem styles, or you can control it in more flashy anime fashion. My favorite mode is an alternate-universe that allows you to control a boss character and battle it out with an entirely new villain. You simply shake the Switch and pause. The controller shakes, revealing the avatar of the baddie on the screen. The controller shakes. Now the bad guy screams, his eyes glow, and you’re fighting him.
After that heated battle, the fighting moves to a new area where you activate an item in order to set up a timer and then slide in a new companion character. Throughout the run, the enemies will show different attacks and the various equipment moves of the characters. The enemies stay on the screen so it feels like you’re a part of each battle. The computer will try to slow you down with an attack, but if you block it, you’ll be able to move forward faster.
Eventually, the allies show up. It’s usually more characters than you can handle, and they all have the same colors, but they all seem to have a style. They all enjoy bashing players, though. It’s a nice pinch of the “Fire Emblem” flavor to the game, even if you can’t predict exactly what the next enemy will do.
It’s not all cute little unicorns and anime. Much of the appeal of “Fire Emblem Warriors” is that it has a satisfying setup, but what makes it so great is that it does more than that. The game manages to raise the stakes to challenge me. It challenges me to move differently than I’m accustomed to, and challenges me to think about what moves I should use when I’m trying to beat the boss or when I’m just keeping the fight going. It also has the chance to test players with real consequences. For example, the game forces you to turn off your environment during a match. I chose to turn off the foliage, and the lush-looking mushroom monsters came out swinging harder than usual. The game constantly assesses how you play it, and it will make you harder if you play the game the way it wants you to.
In the end, the real draw of “Fire Emblem Warriors” isn’t really about the characters and the storyline. I just can’t wait to revisit it, as well as a couple of other Switch games I’ve been playing. “Eastward” isn’t the only game featuring Japanese anime on Nintendo’s console, but it’s one of the most fun.
Aspiring Unibrow Standees, prepare yourselves, as this is the cutest new game for the Switch that I’ve tried.
This article was written by Noah Gershgorn and originally published on The Washington Post.