The end of 2019 is upon us. It’s been a great year, giving me some of my favorite games. While I haven’t played as many games as I would have liked, I am pleased with the games I have discovered during the year.
Considering my lukewarm feelings about Fates and Shadows of Valentia, Three Houses renewed my love of Fire Emblem games. I was hesitant with the academy angle from the pre-time skip, but I grew to enjoy the exploration, the characters’ growth and goals, and the supports. It was nice to have the supposed downtime activities to bolster relationships and stats alike, as well as giving the option to do skirmishes every week. That, and the cast of characters in Three Houses has been one of my favorites in some time.
We’re huge Pokemon fans on this blog, if you haven’t noticed. Despite the criticism that had surrounded the eighth generation of Pokemon, I’ve really enjoyed Pokemon Sword! The new character designs are great, the world is fun, and the Wild Area has been an amazing feature to the series. I’m also certain that the Galar region has my favorite gym battle music!
A visual novel set in a video game arcade sounded right up my alley, and I was not expecting the variety of choices and outcomes Arcade Spirits offered the player. With fun characters — both in personality and design — a great plot, and conscious enough to cater to non-binary and aroace folks, Arcade Spirits was an awesome experience.
I was enraptured with the images of the art style of this game before I even knew what it was about. This bittersweet tale of grief and moving on was wrapped up beautifully in its unique graphics and accompanying music, and was the first game of the year that made me tear up.
What were your favorite games of 2019? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Amidst Zelda Month and Pokemon Sword and Shield hype, I’m still enamored with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Yet, I’ve been thinking more and more about Byleth’s position in the game.
Byleth in Fire Emblem: Three Houses should have been a student. I honestly believe there still would have been as much potential for the game had Byleth been a student rather than a professor.
When it was announced in the beginning of Three Houses’s life that your main character would be a professor, the idea was intriguing. What wasn’t intriguing was the idea of romancing those who were your students, even if the option of marriage wasn’t a thing until after a time-skip that conveniently ages said students appropriately. The idea of a teacher/student relationship was always off to me, no matter how much I enjoy the characters.
Because, let’s be real, even after the time-skip, the majority of characters still treat your character as their professor. Maybe it’d be a bit more tolerant if the characters treated Byleth as an equal after the time-skip, rather than still calling them, “Professor.”
Being a student within your favorite house would have avoided the teacher-student dynamics. The activities during the Exploration option wouldn’t change at all, and you can still be Rhea’s favorite, for story reasons. During the class and lecture parts, your skills and goals could grow with your classmates’, and you could join the partnered weekly activities for support bonuses. The options of changing the other characters’ goals can stay the same as well — or, if you’d rather go a step further, being able to “persuade” your classmates’ goals can be something you can do only after you have so many support and friendship points.
“But, Kris!” I hear you say. “Who would be the professor of your class?”
Make Jeralt be the professor of your class! I know he’s supposed to be a knight rather than a professor, but having him be the professor of your class may make his death more meaningful whenever it happens. Or, hey, make his death happen during the battle right before the time-skip. At this point in the Fire Emblem franchise, having the main character’s father, or last remaining family, die for the emotional feels is a bit of a cop-out.
Or if we want to keep Jeralt in his regular position, make Seteth be the professor. Obviously the monastery is short-staffed since they made a random, young mercenary the professor of a class — and, yes, I realize there are story reasons for it too — and Rhea can totally say, “Go forth, Seteth, and impart your wisdom to the students.” Considering Seteth is suspicious of Byleth in the first place, maybe he’d want to be in their house to help keep an eye on them, and having Flayn join later could bring some other interesting dynamics into the game.
“Okay, fine,” you may say, “but what about romancing the other teachers after the time-skip? Wouldn’t that be the same problem?”
It would be, if the other teachers were just as important as the student characters. In my first route, the only teacher-like character that was in my army was Seteth, because he was recruited automatically. I more or less forgot about the other teacher and knight characters at that point since I was so focused on the story and the student characters under my care. Considering there are only a handful of teacher and knight characters compared to the plethora of student options, paired endings with them could be out of friendship or the characters could be considered a parental-figure to Byleth.
(Isn’t that what a couple of same-sex options are for male Byleth, anyway? Forgive me, I haven’t played as male Byleth to figure it out.)
Honestly, after the time-skip, not much would have to change if Byleth was a student instead of professor. Byleth would still be a central figure for the war because of story reasons, and can still take charge in the lecture halls. Just take out the “Professor” voice clips, and you’re good.
I don’t believe Byleth needed to be a professor or a figure of authority to the student characters in Three Houses. Being an equal to them, despite — and especially because of — their birth circumstances, would have done just as well in a game that centers around wars that are about morality, revolution, and finding the truth.
What do you think? Should Byleth have been a student? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Title: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Developer: Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Tactical role-playing
Release Date: July 26, 2019
How we got the game: Bought it on Nintendo Switch
Pssst…. There may be story or gameplay spoilers in this review! You’ve been warned!
I’ve finally finished my first playthrough of Three Houses, and I’ve got almost nothing but praise for it! I’ll admit, I was only tentatively optimistic about this game, but the more I played, the more I fell in love with it.
Traditional Fire Emblem games give the player a main protagonist or two, maybe a handful of characters to start leveling up into some semblance of an army, and a reason for said protagonist(s) to start throwing themselves into turn-based battles with weapon triangles. Along the way, a deeper story will develop while introducing new characters to recruit for your army, characters that you can usually choose to include and level up both for fighting and for relationships with other characters. Fire Emblem Three Houses is not that traditional. True, the game begins with a tutorial-like battle and introduces who are arguably the most important characters to the game. Yet, after the battle, the protagonist is whisked to Garreg Mach Monastery and hired as a professor for a class of students. With this, the player is put in a position to already pick their main army to teach and grow, as well as the students in the other classes that can potentially join the player’s class — and, later, army — under the right circumstances. With this, the player already knows the majority of the key characters in the story instead of being fed them at certain intervals of the game. While it can be overwhelming to face so many characters and trying to learn everyone’s potential, I enjoyed seeing how everyone interacted with each other within the monastery. Speaking of the monastery, that is where Three Houses stands apart from traditional Fire Emblem games. Instead of the game going from story cutscene to battles, battles happen at the end of the game’s month, with the weeks leading up to said battle containing activities to advance your units’ skills and supports with one another. Exploring the monastery allows you to freely maneuver around Garreg Mach Monastery, which is mostly used to speak to all the characters, maybe fish or sing in the church’s choir, and generally increase supports between everyone. The higher the support between two characters, the more benefits the pair receive in battle when fighting close to one another. There are also, of course, paired endings after the game that depend on the support conversations. Finding out more about the characters’ history and the game’s lore from the exploration option was one of my favorite activities in the game. Aside from exploration, one can also have a character host a seminar to increase skills of the students who attend the lecture as well as have rest days to increase the characters’ motivation for learning. There is also an option for battles, small paralogues or skirmishes to help level up the characters for the bigger, story-orientated battle at the end of the month. Visiting the Marketplace for weapons, items, battalions, and the blacksmith is also available at the beginning of each week, as well as the option to have a character take a certification test to change class. If a character passes the test, they will be able to reclass at the beginning of battles to any class they have passed. The meat of the game is, of course, the grid-lined, turn-based battles. You’ll have your army of students (which sounds really weird, in all honesty, as it reminds me of the Hunger Games) make their move toward their opponents with medieval weapons and magic — swords, lances, bows and arrows, axes, energy-sucking “Reason” magic, the usual. Once all of your characters move, it’ll be the opponent’s turn to move to whatever grid square they can reach to attack yours. Each battle has a win and lose condition, and you can earn gold, special items, and story-advancing narrative for winning. In the majority of Fire Emblem games, characters can advance classes in usually linear fashion. An archer can class up to a sniper, and a cleric and class up to a holy knight, for example. In Three Houses, as long as their skills in certain weaponry are high enough, characters can take a certification test and reclass into several other options. These classes can then be switched freely at the start of battles, so if there is a map where you need more flying units than cavalry, Three Houses gives you a means to teach your students how to tame a pegasus or wyvern. It was a nifty mechanic, even if I found myself not using it as much as I probably should have. Aside from changing classes, characters can also hone their authority skill and have a battalion at their back during battles. These allow you to do gambits or bigger attacks with certified, nameless soldiers, generally to induce status ailments. Different battalions perform different actions, such as one that does healing magic on all allies for a certain number of spaces, or another that sets everything aflame. Admittedly, I half forgot about the battalions for the majority of the battles, focusing instead on my units attacking. Still, if used right, the battalions will be crucial for many unique strategies in the battles.
Weapon durability is back, which also lends a hand to the strategies you’ll need to come up with during battles, especially with some unique, story-based, one-of-a-kind weapons that are called Hero’s Relics. Only those with Crests, special sigils that are passed down throughout family lines, are able to wield the Hero’s Relics. Crests themselves are important in the setting’s history and politics, and the mystery of the main protagonist’s Crest is an important plot point in the game.
The graphics of the game were well done, but nothing spectacular. I was pleased with the videos and cut scenes, finding the animation smooth, but the few animations for the character models did feel a little stilted and limited. Still, the character designs were mostly on point and I enjoyed the majority of the battle maps. As for the music, I totally want this soundtrack. I’ve always loved the majority of the Fire Emblem games’ music, but Three Houses is probably one of my favorites!
The story begins with Byleth, who was a mercenary along with their father Jeralt, waking up and speaking to a green-haired young woman — girl-like in appearance — named Sothis. The pair appear to be in some sort of temple or ruins, with Sothis lounging on a throne and attempting to make sense of her hazy memories. Sothis’s consciousness is tied with Byleth’s, and the scene shifts to the waking world after the brief introductions. Byleth and their father are about to leave their current village when three students ask for their aid in defeating a group of bandits. The students are from Garreg Mach Monastery, each the respective heir to their countries on the continent of Fodlan. After successfully beating back the bandits, Byleth and their father escort the students — Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude — back to the monastery where they meet with Archbishop Rhea of the Church of Serios. Before Byleth knows what is happening, Jeralt rejoins the Knights of Serios and Byleth becomes the professor of a class of students. The Black Eagles led by Edelgard, the Blue Lions led by Dimitri, and the Golden Deer led by Claude are filled with unique students coming from various backgrounds. Byleth takes command of one of the classes and the story really begins. Played in two parts, part one is “pre-timeskip” wherein Byleth spends much of their time getting to know their students and aiding them in battles to better themselves for their respective countries and goals. While doing so, sinister plots are revealed as the months pass, with the archbishop and the Church of Serios being challenged by enemies — even some who were once called allies. During one such climactic battle, Byleth falls into a canyon and does not awaken until five years later. Part two is this “post-timeskip,” and Byleth finds themselves in a war-torn Fodlan. Reuniting with their former students, Byleth helps to figure out not only an end to the war but also about their past. Granted, this is a vague description of the story, mostly because I’ve only gone through the Golden Deer route. The other routes will most likely determine which side of the war Byleth is on and how they find out who they really are.
I’ve already started my next route. Considering there are two more houses, one that has at least two routes, and a New Game+ DLC coming out, there is plenty to do in this game after a first runthrough. Even if there was only one route, the multiple difficulty levels, plethora of characters to build your army however you want, and multiple support conversations to unlock, there is plenty to do to warrant another playthrough.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses gets…
5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
The Golden Deer are my children. I will admit that I have yet to try out game files with the other houses since I am so invested in the Golden Deer and their stories. However, I love exploring the monastery during free days to talk to everyone, regardless of house. Excluding the house leaders — because Claude would probably win by a landslide, and I feel I cannot properly invest in Edelgard and Dimitri without playing their routes — here is a list of some of my favorite Three Houses students so far.
This kid is adorable. Despite him not starting off in my house, I got invested in his background and story due to one of the earlier chapters before the time-skip. He was the first student I invited to join me on a mission and the first I recruited into Golden Deer after figuring out the logistics of it. His gentle and amusing supports with other students, like Marianne and Caspar, were fun to read and listen to, and I’m enjoying his perseverance despite his background.
I just laugh out loud from this kid. His zeal for justice is admirable but the fact that he’s willing to throw down with whoever is in his way or causing trouble amuses the hell out of me. I loved his second support conversation with Hilda, him trying to avoid a fight before deciding, “Nope,” and diving in. That, and he’s a pretty decent unit if you train him enough.
Admittedly, at first I was a touch annoyed at how her attitude was always on the defensive side with everyone “treating her like a child.” However, reading some of her supports with other characters opened her up in ways I was not expecting, and I admire her tenacity for bettering herself with whatever time she has left in the world. She’s also a beast with her magic in battles!
Archers have always been some of my favorite units (hence, Claude and one of the main reasons why I picked Golden Deer) and Ignatz was such a shy deer dear that he soon became one of my favorites. His hobby of art and his friendship with the others in Golden Deer make me feel warm and fuzzy, and I’m proud of how more confident he is after the time-skip. He’s also a kick-ass assassin in my army.
Who are some of your favorite students from Fire Emblem: Three Houses? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
While I feel I could have found a better word than “details,” I felt as if this encompassed everything that I enjoy so far about Three Houses that didn’t fit into one box, so to speak. This is just a random list of things that I wish to gush over. Please note that, at the timing of this post, I’m only around chapter 12 so please no spoilers in the comments!
This guy is adorable. He’s almost always enthusiastic, tells me there’s nothing to report, then promptly reports something, even if it’s just his thoughts on the current events. Considering that there is fanart and fanfiction of this guy, I’m not the only one who enjoys his presence! I don’t know if this guy has a name, but he should. I would love nothing more than for the game to start reaching the end and then we finally find out this gatekeeper’s name. This amount of characterization this NPC has astounds me. With that said, I adore how other random NPCs always have thoughts and reactions to the current events, even the ones that just show a speech bubble over their heads.
Something that Shadows of Valentia did right was the voice acting and I’m pleased that Three Houses had full voice acting as well. Even random NPCs that had something to say had their dialogue completely recorded by actors. The tones and voices helped bring all of the characters to life in a way that simple quips and partial voice-acting couldn’t.
Exploring the monastery was something that I admittedly had some reservations about. I had believed that it would be too similar to the dungeon crawling parts of Shadows of Valentia, sections that I didn’t care for due to their similarities to one another and tedious battles. To me, Fire Emblem was all about strategic battles that moved the story forward. The Exploration option in Three Houses, however, is one of my favorites. There is plenty to see, activities to do, and it helps promote support among the characters outside of battles. Giving gifts, finding lost items (seriously, these teenagers and knights lose everything), and little quests all keep me running around like a headless chicken, and I’m greatly enjoying it.
Support conversations were always something I enjoyed about Fire Emblem, mainly so I could force the characters to be friends and spouses with one another and to also find out more about their backstories. In Three Houses, your character joins after everyone else is already there, the opposite of most Fire Emblem games. It makes sense that the students know one another, some closer in friendship to others, rivalries here and there, and I love these details. Even in the dining together activity, I was delighted when I had two characters simply talking and reacting to each other due to their history, like Claude and Lorenz or Caspar and Ashe.
What are some of your (spoiler-free) favorite details about Fire Emblem: Three Houses? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
The Nintendo Direct was just a couple of days ago and it showed off a bit of the newest Fire Emblem games that’s going to come out, Three Houses. As mentioned in Rachel’s and my joint reactions post, I’m still optimistic for the game if a little confused as to how the game was portrayed. Here is my wish list for the upcoming game.
Voice Acting like Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is not my favorite Fire Emblem game. Compared to the others that I’ve played, it’s probably at the bottom of my list. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the graphics and music, and thought that the voice acting was phenomenal. If Three Houses has voice acting at all, I hope it does it half as well as Echoes did.
Some MC Customization
This is me being a little annoyed. I don’t need extensive customization for our MC. Rather, I would like to be able to play as the female MC with the male MC’s armor, or give her more professional and sensible clothes. Seriously, our character is supposed to be a professor (and, I presume, fighting in battles) — why is the female’s belly button showing? It’s like Astral Chain, where the male cop has protective pants and the female has… shorts and thigh highs. Wtf.
I didn’t mind the matchmaking in Awakening and Fates. In fact, I enjoyed seeing how different characters paired up and interacted in different playthroughs, and support conversations are one of my favorite aspects of Fire Emblem games. The kid mechanic in Awakening made sense with the storyline, but Fates definitely didn’t need the kid characters. They felt forced in a trio of games that already had an influx of characters.
No Gender Restricted Pairings
If there is a marriage mechanic, I think it’s time to lose the gender restrictions. In previous Fire Emblem games, there have only been one gay option for either gender, and more representation is deserved. On a related note, if there is some sort of marriage mechanic, I sincerely hope there are no teacher and student relationships, for obvious reasons.
Are you looking forward to Fire Emblem: Three Houses? What are you looking forward to in the game? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.