Deviant Login Shop  Join deviantART for FREE Take the Tour
About Literature / Student Member IcePowersMale/United States Group :iconthewriterscollection: TheWritersCollection
Writing Takes Passion.
Recent Activity
Deviant for 2 Years
Needs Premium Membership
Statistics 211 Deviations 452 Comments 5,423 Pageviews

Newest Deviations

Random Favourites


Quick preface: I think I'm gonna start writing a lot more of these "thoughts" things that I've done every six months or so. I've find writing hard in the middle of the school year, but I can always jabber on about something relating to games, books, movies or anime, so it's good to get the brain working in any way I can.

Besides, it lets me get my opinions out there, some of which might not sight right with everyone. But ya know, I really do just enjoy displeasing people sometimes. Anyways... 

    Oh, this game. This fuckin' game. I like this game. But before I start talking about this game, let me regale you with the story of another game.

    Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is the most expensive game you can get for the Wii at Gamestop. I figured, it being a Wii game, this meant that it was way rare, and hadn't considered that it might be good. I bought it in a buy-two-get-one-free deal, getting Metroid Prime Trilogy and Xenoblade Chronicles along with it. Even if it was the most expensive, I was really there for those two anyways. I bought it because I planned to sell it. I did not plan on liking it. But I spent 60$ on it, so I figured I might as well give it a chance. Let it try and impress me. Best case scenario, I have fun, worst case scenario, I have something to make fun of.

    Well fuck me sideways if it didn't totally defy my expected reactions.

    According to my sources (Kotaku and TV Tropes), Radiant Dawn is the hardest game in the Fire Emblem series. I was oh so thankful to hear that, let me tell you, because my God it does not forgive you for anything. Early on, any unit dying is a game over. All these units have paltry stats (in fact, I found out later that the characters the game was forcing me to rely upon in its early stages were actually pretty worthless in the long run), so dying is an easy thing to do if you're not careful. And even if you are careful, a 70% chance to land a hit is a nerve-racking set of numbers to see when you know that it means you have a 30% chance of failing for no other reason than your army's inadequacy.

    I won't fault it for this (too much) though, because Radiant Dawn makes some narrative decisions that make it feel justified. You're fighting a revolution, and you don't have a real army at that point in the game. By the time you get a real army, you've come so far with those tin soldiers that you're still afraid of losing them. They go from being valuable because they're all you have to being valuable because you've always had them. That kind of attachment is hard to develop in a game, so it's majorly impressive that they pulled it off; the player will likely value something less valuable because they've been forced to live with it for so long.
    So what the hell does all this have to do with Awakening, besides them being in the same series? Well I'll address that in two ways: Firstly, if I assigned someone to make for me a follow-up/sequel of Radiant Dawn, I would say they failed the assignment but still made something outstanding. Secondly, to the end it directs itself towards, Fire Emblem: Awakening does as good a job as Radiant Dawn does, with its only fault being that very end to which it works.
    Awakening is very much about relationships, so points right out the gate for being about something. Narrative-wise, this is examined through interpersonal relationships, student-teacher relationships, and then the really interesting ones, leader-follower relationships, ruler-people and past-future. Mechanically, its representation is (deservedly and effectively) more complex. Your units' personalities interact with each other through a system called "Support" (capital S, even has its own menu), where if they are nearby each other or outright paired up (sacrificing one of the two paired units' turns for a boost in stats, possible Disgaea-esque follow-up attacks and Support progress), they become more effective relative to how much they support each other. This makes your army feel less like a toybox of anime archetypes and more like a cohesive whole, a group where their interactions and personalities really matter.

    Sadly, there are no personalities that will come into conflict or just not click, and this Support system isn't as deep as later Persona games' Social Link system, so in the completely unlikely event that you get EVERYONE'S Support maxed out (I'm pretty sure this was designed to be impossible without fucking years of grinding), everyone will get amazing stat boosts all the time. Not that it'll take all strategy out of the game (the years of grinding you do to get there will take care of that), but it is worth mentioning that they only accounted for opportunity, not for actual social dynamic. Though it could be argued that the decision was preferable to the alternative; is it better that the social dynamics be unrealistically agreeable for the sake of consistent gameplay, or that social dynamics be realistic but risk infringing on other parts of the game, denying the player bonuses for units they worked to build relationships with purely out of some adherence to tone? I find that serving tone isn't as important as serving gameplay in a game, but some might disagree.

    The writing isn't always there, I'll admit. Especially annoying is a moment in the second mission, where a character remarks on how good you, the player-generated character, are at fucking everything. I hate that in games. I should feel rewarded for/by accomplishing something, preferably something difficult. It devalues the sense of accomplishment for another character to tell me I've accomplished something because A. I should be the one telling myself that with having met the challenge as my proof and B. She gives you praise for one of the earliest missions, as in a mission that's practically a tutorial. Anyways, the writing goes everywhere from good drama to melodrama, good comedy to cringe-inducing nightmares, and weird, cheesy romance to...well, I'll be honest, I didn't really like any of the romance. But I also just don't like romance, and I hear other people like it, so maybe it's a taste thing. Considering that most of the important stuff is good, and that even if it's not done FFIX-calibur it still has a theme that it approaches pretty maturely, I'll let the crappier stuff slide as being part of a big joke. The writers know how to write, or are at least trying, and considering it only ever enhances the game aspect of the game, that's all I'll really ask.

    It does mess itself seriously on one point: Time travel. Oh, spoiler alert, but it doesn't really matter. The fact that there's time travel is pretty inconsequential, though not nearly enough as it should be. It delivers characters into the narrative, but in at least one case it fails by trying to make a heartwarming moment out of that character reuniting with a past version of their parents, who are dead in the future. Because we don't follow this future-person, we really have no emotional pay-off, and the fact that they react so well to seeing a grown-ass version of their child makes the whole scene come off as forced at best and utterly surreal at worst. I should clarify that I mean it's inconsequential as far the narrative as a whole is concerned; someone coming from the future could easily be replaced by someone having a vision of the future, or simply making a really convincing guess. I'll illustrate this point by using Berserk, because it exemplifies everything I consider "good writing" and I love it: The Eclipse's affect on Casca couldn't have been actualized in any action other than the ones taken. Anyone who has seen/read Berserk knows what I'm talking about. Anyone who hasn't, should. 

    This brings up my biggest complaint about the game, as it's related to the writing: There simply aren't enough internal conflicts between characters. There are disagreements and moments where they bicker, but nothing that isn't solved within the same cutscene or Support conversation. I'm willing to give it a pass, as the developers were working with a system that had little precedent within the genre of game they were making, and likely didn't want anything written that might interfere with their set image of how the heroes behaved towards each other. This is unfortunate, as a few more dramatic confrontations would've filled out the characters a bit more, and made the entire thing seem less escapist. The Fire Emblem series has enough black-and-white morality as it is, but they're meant to be epics, rolling numerous characters of varying degrees of characterization into a multi-arc narrative concerning one central conflict. They could've done better, but it's easy to see what made them play it safe is what I'm saying.

    There's a bit of an elephant in the room when you talk about Fire Emblem games, though I would be quick to remind everyone that they're not the only ones who do it, and the games do it far from perfectly: The spicy-hot permanent death mechanic. Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Jeanne D'arc and Valkyria Chronicles all do this as well, and all being turn-based strategy games, I assume they got at least a little inspiration from the Fire Emblem series. Mechanically, it ensures that you actually play tactically; if you command like a ponce who expects to have infinite reserves, the game lets in a little ray of reality to blind your arrogant ass, killing anyone you don't treat like fine China. So, of your limited pool of characters, dying means dying, and yes the game can become borderline unwinnable this way, because that's kinda the point. I'll be honest and state that Awakening might still be winnable if you let everyone but the main characters die- since if you lose a main character, it's instant game-over anyways- due to them being so powerful. But still, the game is designed around them having allies, and the missions would take so long and likely require so many retries that it's not really a factor, since at that point it's more time-efficient to restart the game. So even on normal you have to be careful (not Radiant Dawn careful, but come on, that game was ridiculous). So what can we take from this mechanic?

    Well, two things: Firstly, we get an entire legion of elitist middle-to-high-schoolers who believe anyone who plays with permanent death turned off (that's an option in Awakening) is a pussy and needs to be reminded of their place in the universe (I don't have a very high opinion of "Hardcore" elitists who call everyone who isn't them a "casul", as you might have figured out). Secondly, we get some really interesting design decisions. See, on normal difficulty at least, missions aren't designed to kill you. That is, they're not designed to kill every single one of your characters (not until later at least, and they totally do get there). They're designed assuming that you're doing no more than the main missions and possibly the paralogues (battles with little side-stories). So as long as you're not steam-rolling battles with completely over-leveled units, there's a good chance anyone can die if you make a mistake, but there's no mistake you can make to make everyone die. This is because the game doesn't want to force a game over in the beginning- it's designed so that you let one or two units slip through the cracks in your tactics purely out of convenience. It's an element of that relationship theme, in that you are a commander, and even if your troops love each other, sometimes you have to own up to your decisions and let the dead bury the dead. What's respectable about this is that it's almost the opposite of Radiant Dawn's approach. Radiant Dawn almost encouraged instant restarts on losing one unit in order to condition an attachment to that unit, while Awakening inwardly conditions you to favor convenience while outwardly demanding you own up to your failures.

    A game that lets its player fail and own up to it is a good thing, and Awakening is much better at illustrating the player's role in their own failure than Radiant Dawn was. Better than most games in fact, which is what I think makes the Fire Emblem series (and the tactical RPGs that take inspiration from it) so appealing. It turns the gameplay into a drama, where people live and die by each other. And while the central narrative and its influence on the game is lacking in comparison to Radiant Dawn, Awakening certainly makes up for it in its implementation of an entirely new system, a thousand smaller narratives that have just as much influence as they work together. It's a different beast from any Fire Emblem game that came before it, and that evolution makes it one of the best games I've played in a long time.

    You can totally expect to see some journals about my second playthrough, whenever that happens. I plan on doing a hard difficulty classic mode no-restart run. Yeah, that's bound to end in tragedy. So stay tuned.…

It's called "Loneliness", and ironically, it's best played with other people. Not even friends, hell, get some people you don't like in on this shit. Maybe you'll have deeper understandings of each other after.

The game is about not being able to get close to others. Literally, they move away every time. But you can make contact if you really try, and the interesting part is seeing what people do in approaching that factor of the game. Being the rebel and forcing yourself into groups whether they like you or not, trying to be gentle, trying to fade into the background, all tactics used by different personalities in response to social landscapes, and all can be represented in the game. Everything delivers you to the same end, so how you play in the game-space in the most important part.

Have "fun".


IcePowers's Profile Picture

Artist | Student | Literature
United States
I'll be posting short stories on here, usually stuff I don't plan on having published (or rather, don't think I can GET published). I may also post little rants and tirades that I have, and I would appreciate feed back on these ideas, as well as the stories I post.

Something you should know about me now is that I am going to be saying things that might come off as sometimes trying to sound super-intellectual. My intention is not to sound or pretend to be really smart, but just to sound like how I am and kind of hope that I AM really smart, or get really smart eventually, or something like that.

Hope you enjoy reading :D


.:: Summer Memories V ::. by WishmasterAlchemist

My star ratings don't communicate how much I really like this. So in a few words, I love it, it's the kinda picture I would frame for m...

AdCast - Ads from the Community




Add a Comment:
Lily-Lucid Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  New member  Writer
What would you say your opinion is on Frozen?
IcePowers Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Student Writer
Why? And what's your opinion?
Lily-Lucid Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  New member  Writer
I'm seeing it everywhere! xD
IcePowers Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Student Writer
Good, but very vanilla. Replacing romantic love with family love isn't much of a change in my opinion. The main character is still loved, still gets the ending they and the audience hoped for, so it's still formula-one Disney.
Lily-Lucid Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  New member  Writer
Yeah I thought the movie was pretty good :)

But I think it's getting too over-hyped!The Lion King didn't get this much hype when it came out, my goodness! >.<
AuthorKatieOlson Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you for the fave on Inventor and Creator Part One. :) Also I love your game of thrones gif. 
Aerode Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the Favorite! :la: How's your day?
MT-Artwork Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for the +fav :) (Smile)
IcePowers Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2014  Student Writer
You're welcome :)
hentai-kitty Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you for the :+fav:!
Add a Comment: