Fire Emblem: Awakening

Common Sense Media says

Excellent strategy RPG skews older because characters die.

Age(i)

2
3
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
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16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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. 

Sex

Several of the characters flirt with each other, occasionally using words like "loins." Some female characters wear outfits that show cleavage.  

Language

Text dialogue contains infrequent occurrences of the words "hell" and "piss."

Consumerism

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.

Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns. The game uses the Nintendo 3DS StreetPass feature, which automatically transfers player information to others, including their Mii character. This feature can be turned off, but young children should be cautioned to never use their real name as their Mii. 

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.

What kids can learn

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy
  • logic
  • prediction

Emotional Development

  • empathy
  • persevering

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

This fiendishly habit-forming strategy game sucks players in with demanding, highly compelling turn-based battles. Parents' challenge won't be getting kids to play, but getting them to stop.

Learning Approach

Players must consider their moves with an aim to think ahead, much as they would in a game of chess. Regarding diversity, the roster of heroes includes both men and women, but they're predominantly of light complexion.

Support

Excellent tutorials lead players through the game's mechanics, and evolving character statistics are well tracked, but results for specific battles aren't catalogued for later review. 

What kids can learn

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • strategy
  • logic
  • prediction

Emotional Development

  • empathy
  • persevering

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.  

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Set in a fantastical world filled with political intrigue and nations at odds, FIRE EMBLEM: AWAKENING puts players in control of a big, ragtag band of warriors and mages led by Chrom, a prince questing on behalf of his homeland. However, old feuds and border disputes eventually take a back seat to concerns of a supernatural nature. Players engage in turn-based battles on tiled maps, moving units with varying abilities across the landscape to wage war against enemies with equally diverse skills. Combat is automated and plays out according to attributes and percentages. It's a game of strategic offense and defense, with success depending on the player's ability to exploit his or her units' strengths in working together and using obstacles in the environment to help. On harder settings, characters under the player's control will die permanently when killed in battle, cutting their stories short and making the rest of the game that much more difficult.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the notion of self-sacrifice. Have you ever done anything at great personal cost out of love for a friend of family member? 

  • Families can also discuss violence in media. How do you feel if a game character you care about is killed? Does the possibility of a character's permanent death affect how you play the game and how you feel about its cast?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo 3DS
Price:$39.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Nintendo
Release date:February 3, 2013
Genre:Strategy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies
ESRB rating:T for Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes (Nintendo 3DS)

This review of Fire Emblem: Awakening was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old June 7, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

AMAZING!

This game is nothing but the best, with slight concerns. Violence: The Violence is not too bad, nothing you wouldn't see in a Star Wars movie. Plus, it's blood and gore free! Sex: You can marry off your characters, and if you marry yourself to someone, a clip opens up with your husband/wife saying something like, ''I'll love you untill I die!'' One character says, ''Let's repopulate my species! Sorry, was that akward?'' In one clip, it may seem two characters are engageing in a sexual act, but nothing is too obvious or explict. One character, wears a coustume that exposes a lot of her breasts. Language: D*mn, H*ll B*stard, can all be heard and or read. Drinking Drugs or Smoking: One character says that she was a slave and men would call out tricks for her and drink. All in all, this is a MAGNIFICENT game and should not be missed.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bybird3713 July 26, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Addicting handheld strategy game

As noted above, there is a little bit of language in the game, so keep young children away if you are sensitive to that. The violence in the game is very cartoony and there is no gore. The game itself is very good and provides many heroes and different characters for kids to admire and relate to. The review mentions the death of characters- it should be noted that there are two game modes: one where characters are merely knocked out and return in future battles, and one where characters permanently die. If you're worried about your child becoming upset over the death of a character, have them play on the first setting (SPOILERS: one main character DOES die, regardless of your actions). Also, if you do play the game with permanent death, you can restart a level in order to try it again without having characters die.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written bySynchronicity February 9, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

The game worth buying a 3DS for, especially if you like strategy games; rated Teen for a reason, but older tweens are fine.

Ah, Fire Emblem. A fairly popular strategy series in the West, this gem of a series became quite popular after characters Marth and Roy made their debuts in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Ten years after Blazing Sword became the first game to hit US shores, all but one of the subsequent installments in the series have made it over here, and Fire Emblem: Awakening was announced at the very last minute. But here it is. And it's, for all intents and purposes, the best 3DS game out there at the moment, worth every darned penny of your $40. The gameplay is fairly simple but extremely challenging, but there are plenty of new features that will leave fans glued to their 3DSes. For the uninitiated, you move your units on a tiled battlefield and kill the units on the opposing side with attacks. However, there's plenty more to it than that. Some weapons are more useful against other weapons, and there are plenty of different character classes you encounter. There is also a lot of RPG level progression, such as gaining experience points, units befriending each other, and - most controversially - the "permadeath" mechanism. A hallmark of the series, it can be turned off for the first time in Awakening if you play "Normal," but in harder difficulties, if your units die, they're gone. And what makes this even more grueling is that you get extremely attached to these characters over time, and to see them die is definitely nerve-wracking. I've had to reset my game dozens of times because I saw a unit die, and it actually helps with the strategy aspect. It makes you think things through much more the second, third or even fourth time around. Still, I wouldn't recommend that anyone below the older tween age play this game, but for other reasons as well. The language can get a little rough, with fallen enemies sometimes yelling "D*mn!" loudly, and "p*ss off," "*ss" and "hell" occur every so often. There are a few mildly sexual comments, the most explicit being a character's mention of "a fire in (his) loins," and in a new mechanic, you can marry your characters together. There's also a bit of alcohol use, though that's pretty normal for RPGs like this one. But the violence is a biggie, and the series is normally rated E to E10+ over here, except for the GameCube's Path of Radiance. That was an overrating, in my book, because the violence was not very graphic. Not so in Awakening, which was also rated as such by the usually more lenient Japanese ratings board. The cutscenes are fairly graphic at times, despite the lack of blood, with a few impalements and (slight spoiler) a character jumping off a cliff. Other than those major instances, this could have gotten away with an E10+, as most of the violence is played out in cartoon FMVs that just show units duking it out with weapons or magic. It's not too bad, but could still scare younger children and tweens. The 3DS' innovative Streetpass and Spotpass modes also feature, and now that you can create your own avatar for Fire Emblem, it can lead to some pretty cool battles against your friends - and a few privacy concerns as well. You can also download map packs to the system, 25 in all (2 have come out at the time of this writing, and are coming out weekly), so there will be plenty of clamoring after the game is over. You also get new Streetpass units sometimes. Be prepared to buy a bigger SD card! But even so, this is one of Nintendo's best games in years, and will quickly become a 3DS system seller. Lots of polish all around, an amazing soundtrack and localization, and very addictive gameplay make Fire Emblem: Awakening THE game to buy for your 3DS if you're over...about 10 years old, I think.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns

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