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 role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns