The deed is done. The dastards have been defeated. The dragon has been demolished.
The determined underdogs have emerged, and they are dazzling.
And that unavoidable destiny that would doom all to despair?
Well... That destiny has been destroyed.
And the damsel is defiling the dame in the dirtiest of doujins.
For the first time since I started it, save the occasional reset, I turned off Fire Emblem Awakening. I have to say, I had quite the time with it too. The story was enjoyable for what it was, the game drew me in and wouldn't let go, and all in all, the game has settled down as one of my favorites from this past generation quite easily.
In fact, I'd still be playing it if it offered post-game content of some kind, and while I realize it technically does through its DLC, I think I want to save that for a later file, preferably on a harder difficulty. Though I do really wish it had some I didn't have to pay for that wasn't just starting the game over on a harder difficulty.
Speaking of things that are hard, let me tell you about these "companions" here...
Anyway, like I mentioned the last time I talked me some Fire Emblems, I swore on my ever twitching sword hand that the first blog I would allow to come forth from it would be one that lets loose my fiery passion for the game's support system and the ability to have characters have children. Or something to the effect. Okay, fine, Owain does it, like his cousins, much better. You happy?
Where to begin, though? I've already joked a little about it, but really, I think a lot can be said about this whole Support mechanic of Fire Emblem's. I'm sure much of it has been said before, so forgive me if I'm treading old ground here, but given that the only game that ever had it prior to this one never left Japan from what I can see, it's not like you can blame me too much for that. This is also the first game in the series to feature marriage and children to the extent that it does, so there's that as well.
With all that said... I've yet to actually say what I think about it despite already putting out a few hundred words, so I'd better start already, huh?
Then again, if I put on a costume and change my name, maybe no one will know it's me, and I won't have to do any of this... Yes, this is a brilliant plan!
To make a long story short: I think it's great!
To go into the details of that longer story: I think it's really great! I think it's in multiple layers I think it's so great! It's great from both a writing perspective as well as a gameplay perspective, since it adds to both. I didn't realize just how much it would, but sure enough, much of my first playthrough of the game ended up becoming dictated by what I began to learn about how these things worked, particularly about how the children were brought into the world.
Before I get into too many of these details, though, I'd like to make the "obligatory" pit stop. I've seen plenty of detractors towards the feature, both towards the supports and towards the children, and all sorts of things are said about them. Fire Emblem is just riding on Persona's coattails now, Fire Emblem is becoming too "anime" now, Fire Emblem is just a waifu simulator now... You know, that sort of thing. And, well...
Am I the only one that remembers Lyn could be Roy's mom?
"Sorry handsome, but he's my boy."
Admittedly, going into Awakening, I only knew that Lucina was Chrom's daughter and that "Robin" was going to have a kid at some point. I might have known more at one point or another, but happily, I had forgotten it. I didn't know the rest of the cast could have kids until later on. I knew they could get married, sure, but I didn't realize children would be involved. After all, what do marriage and children have to do with each other? It's time travel you need to watch out for!
Going into Awakening, I also knew something else. I knew that Normal-Casual was going to be an easy ride, especially for someone like me that had put up with some of Disgaea's madness before I learned how to abuse all the ways it let me level up, and I was only picking that mode to start off with so that I could reacquaint myself with the game's flow and then move on to the real challenge of Hard-Casual or even Hard-Classic, depending on how Normal-Casual went for me.
I won't lie. I got into the Support stuff. I still don't know in exactly what way it actually adds in terms of stats beyond the fact that it adds them, which is probably the thing I should have paid attention to as I gear up for Hard-Casual, which in turn will be the preparation for either Lunatic-Classic or Hard-Classic (provided I don't jump right into that next), but man... I gotta say, I had fun with it.
I've seen my share of comments suggesting that this ripped off Persona's Social Links, but for the most part, this kicked Persona's ass.
... on the other hand, though, I can kind of see a resemblance here...
My biggest problem with Persona's Social Links are that they're exclusive to the main character. This is made worse by the fact that the main story of Persona tends to ignore everything that happens in the Social Links, and while this usually isn't too much of an issue, you do sometimes run into moments where characters are being emotional over an issue that seems out of place based on a development that happened in a Social Link months ago, or maybe moments where one of your girlfriends is talking about how cute one of your other girlfriends would be as a couple with your secret boyfriend. While you're right there, mind you.
With Fire Emblem, when you combine the fact that very few of the characters that are involved with these Support conversations actually have enough time on screen to be involved with something like that, then add it to how almost everyone has them with other characters, and you have a recipe for something much better than Persona's Social Links... at least, for what it does.
Now, you won't necessarily get in depth one on one time with any two characters, but between the different ways the characters can talk to each other, and the fact that so many can also talk to other characters, and I'd say the game makes up for the fact that it isn't as any one set isn't as lengthy as one Social Link is. A few issues still cropped up here and there, like a married flirt going through the motions on a character they only started having conversations with after their marriage, that sort of thing, but all in all it's fairly forgivable.
I do wish that there were more combinations, particularly with some of the characters you get later in the game, and especially with some of the ones who explicitly refer to ones in their own conversations they can't actually have Supports with, but hopefully they can hammer that kind of thing out in future entries of the series.
In short, Fire Emblem nicely avoids the biggest issue I have with Social Links, while also adding in a nice bonus of letting all of these characters who would otherwise just be meat shields get development and interaction with other characters throughout the story, even if they're never on screen again after their first appearance in the first few chapters. This isn't actually completely new with Awakening, or even Fire Emblem for that matter, but given how Persona seems to have really popularized the idea in RPGs to some, it's what I'm comparing it to.
... or is it...?
So what came next, you ask?
PICKING A WAIFU
...FOR OTHER PEOPLE
Funnily enough, while I started off with the whole "oh, I like them, let's marry them" and "she's cute, let's see what her Support is like" thing that every new player to this sort of game has initially, once I started seeing other characters having Supports with each other, I... kinda stopped caring as much about who "I" ended up with. Not knowing this would cut me out of a second kid, I ended up letting my character get hitched with the lovely Anna very early on, since she was only listed as having them as a possible partner, and moved on to play matchmaker.
And if I'm being completely honest, I had a lot of fun with that. Not knowing much about the whole future kid situation yet, I wanted to make sure Lucina had a good mom, but I also didn't want to cut any of Chrom's possible wives out of better options for them that they might be happier with. What kind of insensitive monster do you take me for?
When all was said and done, because it was a fair amount of stuff to keep track of, I had to bust out pen and paper and chart some of this stuff out. Luckily a few characters had gotten hitched right away, so I didn't worry about any of them, but for others, well... They were trying to build harems on me! Or revere harems in some cases, namely Cordelia and Panne if I'm remembering right, but whatever the case and whoever those cases were with, it had to be observed!
There was a regular high school drama playing out in the barracks!
So observe I did!
I am not kidding about any of this.
Shut up. I know where you live.
Don't look away yet, this trainwreck has only just gotten started.
It was like this that I continued, sort of like the god in The Sims I suppose. Eventually, I progressed far enough into the game to pick up Lucina and Owain, and they were happily "companioned." Considering Owain's parents were a pair that I (now regretably, especially in Lissa's case) had basically ignored up until that point, I didn't really have much to go off of in terms of what parents passed down to their kids.
It was at this point, after realizing all of those Paralogues that were sitting around had to be for other children, it dawned on me that I should probably figure out just what the kids got from their parents. Seeing as I still had Olivia left to give a husband to, who I only discovered earlier today could have passed down Galeforce to Inigo, oh the shame-- where was I? Oh yes, Olivia. So with Olivia's bright son obtained, I was finally able to see a better picture of what it was that was passed down from parent to child.
If only there was some kind of resource online I could have used to find all of this out myself, huh?
Comparing Lucina, Owain, and Inigo, I was able to sort of piece some things together. I did briefly look one thing up, at least, which was the fact that parents passed down the skill that was equipped last to their child. I was now out of matchmaking territory, and I had entered baby making territory.
It is at this point that I must warn those of faint hearts to turn away. I must encourage those who proceed forward to do so with the utmost caution, for even I could not have predicted what happened to me on my quest next.
You see, it was at this point that...
A switch was flicked inside of me.
It was an old, familiar switch.
It was a switch that I'd let get dusty, a switch that activated a machine that saw regular usage once upon a time.
Suddenly, before I knew it, time was flying by.
I was a man possessed.
Before I knew it, I had added twenty hours to my save file, and I hadn't progressed an inch in the story.
And it dawned on me.
Waifu simulator? Waifu simulator?
This is no waifu simulator.
This is something much more primal, and far more raw and aggressive than that. This is the sport of kings, of champions!
This is Pokémon breeding on crack.
The shameful part of me that I had hidden away after so many years (months) had resurfaced once again! The terrible monster that would grab at eggs, fresh from their mothers' nests, only to keep them locked away and go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth again on that same damned route had come back to bear its terrible claws once more! The fiend that would take those hatchlings and lock them away in a box forever, never to see the light of day again, had returned!
The beast had taken hold of me, and I was helpless before the cruel pleasures that it bestowed upon me. The perfect children would be mine, and they would dance in the palm of my hands. No longer was I invested in their parents or their relationships, oh no! Maribelle, Gaius, Panne, Frederick, favorites that I used for hours lay at the bottom of the character select screen, long forgotten and becoming weaker and weaker in the face of the machines of death that I had turned their offspring into.
I took the children through each of their classes, perfecting them as best I could. Thoughts of this save file being just a practice run had been long since forgotten. The beast would not allow me to remember such trivial details. I couldn't, not with the children needing to be leveled, needing to be reclassed, and then needing to be reclassed again! The cycle never ended, never ceased, the only thing that hitting a level cap meant was that it was time to start anew!
The start button and its ability to skip through events had become my mistress, and the option to skip through everything in the options menu my lover. All to get me closer to my goal of stronger units faster.
Eventually, the children that I wanted to be perfect were perfect... Relatively. Moderately.
As perfect as I could get them to become, anyway. As perfect as I was willing without moving much further in the story.
The demon would have none of it.
"More, more! I want more!" The beast inside cried out. "Give me more characters! Give me more children! Let me feast upon their experience points!"
As I silenced the beast and continued onward, at long last, I realized something.
There was no monster taking control out of my hands here.
I was that monster.
I had done this.
At the very least, now I would finish what I started and complete this game.
What I'm saying is I got a little carried away and had a little more fun than I intended to with the babies I made with the parents I had fun putting together and may have made the end of the game really anticlimactic with the whole killing the final boss in two hits thing. Oops?
Speaking of getting carried away... Wow, what happened to this blog? It really took on a life of its own here, huh?
I think it might be better for all of us if I just wrap this up now.
"Do you know how confusing it is looking for fanart when all of the kids have the wrong hair color?!"
"That's your fault for choosing bad parents for them!"
"What did you say about my dad?!"
"He's my dad right now, stupid!"
Now that all is said and done, I can safely say without question (though maybe with a lot of flair and unnecessary flourish) that I had a lot of fun with the children in Fire Emblem Awakening. I can say it with confidence, even!
What's more, this fun was had looking at them both as a mechanic as well as an element added to the story. Their Supports were fun to play out, and while I think the execution in some places could have been better, particularly in how the children were doled out and how a few too many parents just don't give children... Keeping in mind that this was meant to be a final sendoff to the series, all in all, I think they did a really nice job with it, and I'm all the more excited for Fates when it comes out next year.
In the meantime, I'd say I have just enough time from now until then to get through the first few chapters of the game again!