Better fork over the cash Fire Emblem fans, Fire Emblem Heroes is here to shake you down.
Remember back in 2015 when Nintendo announced that the company was working with DeNA on mobile adaptations of their valuable properties? How about when they said that the games would not necessarily be “Free-to-play” and would instead be full fledged titles for the mobile market? Sure the Miitomo game was free, but that wasn’t even a game really, and when Super Mario Run came out, it was indeed a game that did not feature in-app purchases after its initial one time buy. Hope seemed looming for the next couple of Nintendo mobile games, that is, until just recently.
Fire Emblem Heroes was announced during a short Direct all about the series. While the Nintendo 3DS and Switch are going to be getting full titles over on their respective consoles, Nintendo is placing their bets on a free-to-play phone game that honestly looks pretty darn awful. The game is designed around a standard phone’s screen and battles are like those the franchise has mastered over its decades of existence, as well as having the weapon triangle that has been around almost as long.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the big draw of the game is having the ability to summon various characters from the Fire Emblem franchise to help assist you in battle (though the trailer showed almost no-one but characters from the recent 3DS games). How do you earn these characters? Well, you can either hope that you earn a specific amount of gems after a battle, or you can pull out your credit card and charge away for a random drop. Hell, Nintendo even featured the fact that you don’t get to choose which one you want in their own trailer. The system is designed around getting fans to spend as much cash as possible in order to get lucky on a drop, or play at just the right time to see them in an event. Oh, but what if you get that Ike that you wanted and spent money towards? Better hope that his level isn’t too low so that he can actually be useful in battle – if you’re lucky, the money you spent on him wasn’t entirely wasted!
Mobile games like this are not too uncommon in this mobile market. There are a myriad of games that beg for money in this way, from multiple Square Enix franchises (Kingdom Hearts Unlimited Key, Final Fantasy Brave Exivus) to Dragonball Dokkan Battle, to other games that don’t yet have a franchise to milk. As free games, most of these garbage-tier games won’t let you play around for more than five minutes before you are blasted with notifications to buy something to get the so-called “full experience” – it’s a cheap ploy to gain money. The worst part of this is: it works. When you look around the Google Play market in the “Top Grossing” category, these games are in the top 30 of all time – just for random gambling drops. Its pretty disgusting, and it looks like Nintendo is ready to hop on the trend of free trash and make tons of money exploiting the franchise, milking the poor sow until its just skin and bones.
“Oh” I hear other fans of the series cry, “But what if the game is really, really good? Doesn’t that make up for the random aspect?” No. No it does not. While yes, the trailer didn’t show everything about Fire Emblem Heroes, it showed enough of the game that it made me a little sick inside. While the sprites look just fine, battles look increasingly boring, and I doubt that the “strategic elements” mentioned in the trailer will be anything more than the standard weapon triangle; it’s just random roll of the dice to see if your character has enough “Star levels” to do anything. Yes, Nintendo, you can market Heroes as a hard game, because doing anything in a free-to-play game without spending tens of dollars at a time is impossible. It looks like Nintendo saw that Square Enix was making money with Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius, so they hijacked the code in that game. The character buying screen looks just the same right down to the 5 stars maximum and summoning aspect.
I have been wrong in the past about Fire Emblem failing before, but this time I am not making a prediction. Instead, I fervently hope that people see this for the quick cash that it is and throw their wallets far away from this excuse of a game. Because if (or when) Fire Emblem Heroes does well enough, you can bet your asses that there will be plenty more of this to come. Remember when they said that Animal Crossing was going mobile? Better be prepared to spin the wheel to see what furniture you get every time. Just imagine if Pokemon had a mobile game where you spent real cash on Pokeballs in order to catch a randomly found creature in the wild… oh wait, that’s Pokemon Go. Well played Nintendo… well played.