Nintendo is bringing out the big guns when it comes to the Switch. Already, the advertising is clearer than the Wii U’s ever was and it is launching with what potentially could be one of the finest games ever made in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Within the Switch’s first year on the market, it is seeing the release of a brand new Zelda title, Xenoblade 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and new IP Arms (which looks like a glorious cross between Punch Out!, Wii Sports Boxing and Pokkén Tournament). Nintendo have also announced that not one, but two, Fire Emblem titles will be hitting the Switch (hopefully) in its first year on market. Fire Emblem is a perfect fit for the Switch’s hybrid design, with its gameplay excellent on both the big screen and on the go, for long sessions and shorter ones. Releasing two titles in the series within the Switch’s first year or so will make people sit up and take notice. Nintendo mean business with the Switch.
Fire Emblem Warriors is the latest in Nintendo’s work with Koei-Tecmo and Omega Force, following on from the excellent and hugely popular Hyrule Warriors. It’s unclear how Nintendo plan on getting the most out of the hard-as-nails Fire Emblem series in a Warriors title, but it seems that the title will prove popular on both the Switch and the 3DS family of systems. Fire Emblem is Nintendo’s bread-and-butter these days, with the series proving hugely popular since the release of the spectacular Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS and last year’s hit, Fire Emblem Fates. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, Fire Emblem Heroes launched on smartphones, the newest mobile game sensation from Nintendo after the smash hits of Pokémon Go and Super Mario Run.
Alongside the likes of The Legend of Zelda and Mario, Fire Emblem is one of Nintendo’s flagship series. It’s doing very, very well for them at the moment. Within the next twelve months, there should be three Fire Emblem titles hitting both the Switch and the 3DS. While there’s no questioning the quality these games will have, due to the series’ core tenets of deep strategic gameplay, brilliant characters and often film-worthy plots, there is a chance of series overkill. Nintendo are walking a tightrope of quality over quantity when it comes to Fire Emblem. The series is killing it right now, so it makes sense that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are keen on releasing new titles of Fire Emblem as quickly as possible.
The Fire Emblem series isn’t going anywhere, and with the launch of Heroes across smartphones, Nintendo will be hoping that the franchise continues to grow. There is palpable excitement surrounding the series, and the spin-off Fire Emblem Warriors could be just as, if not more, popular than the hugely popular Hyrule Warriors. The Pokémon Go phenomenon saw older Pokémon games re-enter the charts and sales of Sun & Moon go through the roof; Nintendo will be hoping history repeats itself with Fire Emblem Heroes paving the way for the success of the upcoming Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Warriors.
While Fire Emblem has been such a good success for Nintendo in recent years, I think it’s time the series saw a little break. There’s a worry that with so many games, no matter their quality, being released in such a short time, that people will start to grow tired of the series. Not everyone can afford each new Fire Emblem game, nor does anyone really have the time to play through a new entry twice a year, considering the average length of each game. While each entry is of the highest quality, each new Fire Emblem only offers so much over the last. Critical reception may take a hit, and so too may sales, just as happened to Assassin’s Creed and Guitar Hero before it.
Guitar Hero and Assassin’s Creed are extreme examples, and I can’t see Nintendo releasing several Fire Emblem titles within months of each other, but they are getting close. The Fire Emblem franchise is in danger of eating itself. The series is brilliant, too good to go the way of Guitar Hero and Assassin’s Creed. All that Fire Emblem is known for could become stale and unoriginal if Nintendo and Intelligent Systems aren’t careful. They shouldn’t rush out and cancel the upcoming (untitled) Switch Fire Emblem game loosely slated for next year – that would be mental. Nintendo need to take their time and let the series cool off. Get the Switch title out by the end of next year and let Fire Emblem rest for a little. Not only does absence make the heart grow fonder, but it would allow Intelligent Systems to make something other than Fire Emblem for once.