Fire Emblem Heroes is likely not the most well-known game from Nintendo to hit mobile devices. After proclaiming their entry into the mobile gaming market, the company launched Super Mario Run — featuring everyone’s favorite adventuring ex-plumber — launched last December to much fanfare. But the hype soon died down and people stopped talking about it. It was, after all, just another endless runner clone with a Mario skin.
However, in February of this year, Nintendo launched its second mobile game. And this one, it would seem, would have the kind of longevity that the company aspired to have. Fire Emblem Heroes — available now as free-to-play with purchases on iOS and Android — uses the Fire Emblem franchise. The IP that had faded into obscurity but was revived in 2013 with Nintendo 3DS title Fire Emblem: Awakening. The release of Fire Emblem Fates in 2016 catapulted the series back into the spotlight, and its explosion in popularity likely encouraged Nintendo to use it for their next mobile project.
A Concept That Just Works
Fire Emblem’s core gameplay tenants are a perfect fit for mobile. Moving your units around the battle requires just a swipe or tap, and Fire Emblem Heroes can be played in short bursts or long sprints. Nintendo has released free updates monthly for the entirety of its 11-month lifetime. The only things you can buy with real-world money are Orbs to summon new heroes and upgrade your castle, and items that allow you to keep playing without a cooldown time — all items that can also be earned at a decent rate through gameplay.
Earlier this week, Nintendo pushed a significant update to Fire Emblem Heroes, including the ability to add new boosts to weapons. But the meat of the update is Book II, a narrative expansion that promises to be just as huge as the 13-chapter story already available in Fire Emblem Heroes. Book II so far only has two chapters to fight through, but with an entirely new set of characters to learn about and new Fire Emblem characters to collect, it’s clear this expansion will be significant.
The story of Book II picks up from the cliffhanger at the end of Book I. The player character, Alfonse, Sharena, and Anna find themselves on a new battlefield. They rescue Fjorm, a princess from a kingdom under siege by the team’s common enemy, Princess Veronica of the Emblian empire. Fjorm reveals that a new foe has arisen to help Veronica destroy the kingdom of Askr and capture its heroes. But obviously, you and your team are having none of it.
A Long Road Ahead
Learning more about Fjorm’s kingdom and past, as well as why other villains are teaming up with Veronica, seem to be the core of this unraveling story. Fjorm is an interesting character; unlike the boisterous Anna, tough Shareena and courageous Alfonse, Fjorm is strong and yet very quiet. It will be interesting to see how these personalities clash or get along.
Fire Emblem Heroes has added new bonus maps every week since its launch, but these maps were always one-off affairs with a chance to score a rare in-game good or character. However, the introduction of Book II is proof that Nintendo is committed to delivering one of the high-quality console experiences the company is known for on a mobile device. Super Mario Run was a light appetizer. Fire Emblem Heroes is the main course. With a side of the recently-released Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, of course.