Nintendo Showdown: Which 3DS Fire Emblem game reigns supreme?

Welcome back to another edition of Nintendo Showdown! This is a recurring series at Nintendo Enthusiast, and it requires some audience participation. Every week or so, we’ll compare two (or more) Nintendo games and pit them against each other in a poll. Your votes decide the winner, so choose wisely! Today marks a milestone anniversary for Fire Emblem, as Nintendo’s hallmark tactical roleplaying series celebrates 30 years since the release of Intelligent Systems’ Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for the Famicom. While it took several entries before the series finally came West after Super Smash Bros. Melee, the franchise really took off in popularity with the 2012 Hail Mary, Fire Emblem Awakening for the Nintendo 3DS.

With that, the Fire Emblem series really hit its stride on Nintendo’s last dedicated portable system, with three games launching on the handheld before its return to home consoles with last year’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses for the Switch. However, each of the three 3DS titles vary quite heavily from one another, so we want to hear from you! Between Awakening, Fates, and Echoes, which 3DS Fire Emblem game is king?

Nintendo Showdown: Fire Emblem Awakening vs. Fire Emblem Fates vs. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Together, we ride!

Fire Emblem Awakening Nintendo's games of the decade

Renowned as the game that saved a then-dwindling franchise from certain doom, Fire Emblem Awakening returns to the world of Archanea, 2000 years after the events of Shadow Dragon. With the introduction of Casual Mode (where playable units don’t permanently die, a series first internationally), Awakening made for a welcoming introduction for many new fans at the time. Growing tensions between the Halidom of Ylisse and the kingdom of Plegia spiral into a full-blown war and a time-bending race against the clock to prevent the return of the Fell Dragon, and it all starts Chrom’s encounter with an amnesiac tactician lying prone in a field. There are better places to take a nap than on the ground, you know…

Which path will you choose?

The next entry, Fire Emblem Fates, took an approach more akin to the Pokémon series by splitting itself across three games sharing the same cast and branching story. As an unwilling Corrin, you must choose a side in a war with your royal families at its heart: either side with your birth family from Hoshido in Birthright; return to Nohr with the only family you’ve known your whole life in Conquest; or forge your own path to end this long-running war in Revelations.  The concept of a branching story depending on the player’s choice was later revisited for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, thankfully as a singular release!

The Deliverance rises again

The last 3DS entry returned the series to its past with a remake of the second game, Fire Emblem Gaiden. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia formally introduces western fans to Alm and Celica; these two protagonists lead their own armies to restore peace between the Kingdom of Zofia and the Empire of Rigel. Like Gaiden, Echoes differed from other games in the series with features like dungeon crawling and a fatigue mechanic. The remake also introduces Mila’s Turnwheel, which rewinds the battle so players can try new tactics (returning as “Divine Pulse” in Three Houses), and a new epilogue chapter tying back to Awakening with grim implications.

Jeffrey McDonell
I'm just a hobbyist freelancer who writes for fun, previously under Gamnesia and The Sonic Stadium. I grew up on Nintendo consoles since the Game Boy Advance and GameCube—with standouts like Sonic, Mario, and Zelda defining my childhood—and am especially fond of video game music and remixes.