A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about strategy in this challenging game of military wits and tactics. Taking command of a broad spectrum of characters, kids need to use their strengths and be mindful of their weaknesses as they work out ploys and gambits in an attempt to defeat the enemy, losing as few allies as possible along the way. Strong storytelling creates a link between the characters and the player, and their potential loss during turned-based battles may help kids better understand the concept and importance of sacrifice.
There aren't any grand messages here, but light themes concerning self-sacrifice, the tragedies of war, and romance are evident throughout.
Positive Role Models
Players get to control and interact with dozens of protagonists, all of whom are good, noble characters who express love, compassion, and loyalty to their friends. That said, some are given to certain vices, such as drinking. Plus, they're all warriors who do not hesitate to kill their enemies.
Ease of Play
Multiple skill settings significantly alter the level of challenge players may experience. The easiest not only decreases the difficulty of battle, but also allows additional save points. The hardest, meanwhile, results in no mid-mission saves as well as permanent death for any protagonists who perish in combat, making later battles much harder.
Violence & Scariness
Player characters use swords, axes, lances, and magic in automated cartoon battles that play out as stylish little movies. Weapon strikes appear as flashes of light without any blood or gore. However, if characters -- including the player's cast of heroes -- fall in combat, they may die permanently.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several of the characters flirt with each other, occasionally using words like "loins." Some female characters wear outfits that show cleavage.
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Text dialogue contains infrequent occurrences of the words "hell" and "piss."
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Products & Purchases
This game is part of the long-running Fire Emblem series, which has a loyal, ardent, and growing consumer base.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Glasses of what appears to be wine and ale appear in the game, and one scene depicts a character as mildly intoxicated.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Fire Emblem: Awakening is a tactical role-playing game with frequent combat. Battles are fairly mild, with melee, magic, and ranged weapon strikes simply resulting in flashes of light. However, playing on the hardest difficulty setting means fallen heroes will die permanently, their stories and personal relationships with other characters cut short. This may prove emotional for some younger players. Parents need to remember that Nintendo is warning parents not to allow kids age six and under to view the graphics in 3D because that viewing "may cause vision damage." The Nintendo 3DS offers parents the ability to lock out the use of 3D graphics in the system's Parental Controls.
Is It Any Good?
Like its predecessors, Fire Emblem: Awakening offers a deep and challenging play that will likely appeal to serious gamers on a couple of levels. The finely balanced combat system demands a shrewd understanding of your heroes' skills, enemies' weaknesses, and which units best complement each other. At times, it also requires a willingness to make difficult decisions, sacrificing one unit for the greater good. These sacrifices are all the harder because of the other thing the game does so well, which is make players actually care about its characters. Each of the game's dozen heroes has his or her own story, as well as evolving dramas, friendships, and even light romances that play out in cut scenes between battles. Should they perish, their story will end prematurely, with players never knowing what might have been in store for them. Few tactical RPGs combine action and narrative so successfully, making Awakening a real treat for fans of the genre.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.