I’ve mentioned it before; I don’t really read the instructions of games. Luckily, just about every game offers a tutorial of some sort, so reading the instruction manual is somewhat unnecessary if you’re just looking to get the basics. Some tutorials are more in depth than others, some are longer, some are shorter, some are optional, some are mandatory, and these differences are usually a good thing. Most shooter games probably don’t need to thoroughly explain how to aim and shoot, whereas strategy games probably need to have a slightly more in depth tutorial than the FPS. Furthermore, this tutorial should be in the foreground of a game rather than the background, or better yet, the game could ask you upon first play whether or not you’ve played a similar title before. Despite all the rave reviews, this is a problem I’m encountering in the 3DS title Fire Emblem Awakening: the tutorials are there, but they are kind of hidden, and I spent more time confused than I probably should have.
Let me also say that there is not a legitimate instruction manual; it’s a little 4 page insert that doesn’t really tell you much of anything, so you can’t fault me for not reading the manual this time. When I booted up Fire Emblem, (FE) it asked a couple questions that I thought I knew the answers too. Casual mode or Classic mode. In Casual, the units will respawn, but in Classic they are gone forever. That’s all the explanation that’s given. I assumed that in Classic mode, if your units die in a fight, they’re gone… until the match is over, then you can “revive” them and use them again, like Pokemon. I assumed that in Casual mode, you could revive them within the same battle. I was wrong; they literally mean that your units are gone forever in Classic mode. Without knowing this, I ended up sacrificing some of my units in battle as I tend to do in strategy games so that I could move in a stronger soldier, only to find out that my weakling wouldn’t be returning to fight in the next mission because he was literalyl dead forever. Next thing I know, I’m stuck at a mission with only 3 fighters when I have to fend off almost 2 dozen enemies, which, on my difficulty level, was impossible. If FE had offered a better explanation, I wouldn’t have sunk nearly 4 hours into the game before realizing I basically broke it and made it unbeatable.
Furthermore, the game allowed me to basically kill my main character before the adventure began. At the character select screen, I had the ability to choose a strength and a weakness. I chose an HP strength and a weakness for magic; I never use magic in games that include it, so I assumed that a weakness in casting spells would be alright with me… then I start the game to find that my main form of attack is casting spells. Why on earth would FE allow me to choose a weakness in the thing that my character is supposed to be good at? Honestly, to this point, I still don’t know whether my magic weakness causes me to cast weaker spells, take more damage from enemy spells, or both; this wasn’t explained before I was tossed into battle.
Worse, I learned the hard way that weapons have durabilities, and once you wear them out, they’re gone. Again, this wasn’t explained in FE, and I used all my powerful weapons immediately just to find that I was then stuck using lowly bronze weapons rather than my powerful silver and iron ones.
Yes, there are tutorials on all these points I mentioned, but they are very inconspicuous. You can access tutorials through a tab in your pause menu, but when a new tutorial is unlocked, the notification is very small. Sometimes, the tutorial pops up on your screen, but it does so on the bottom screen. The problem is that all the action takes place on the top screen and you almost never need to look at the bottom screen. Since the tutorial is on the bottom screen, I personally don’t realize it’s there, and I start to move my units, involuntarily exiting the tutorial in the process. Then, it’s sent to my tutorial section of my pause menu before I even realize I had a new one to read and watch. Just like that, I missed important information that should have been made extremely obvious to me upon discovery.
As I mentioned before, strategy games require good tutorials; there is a lot to learn about the way a strategy game works, from strengths and weaknesses, weapon durability, unit speed, critical hit ratios, hit rates, support tactics, and other points. Many of these differ from game to game, and it requires a certain amount of relearning every time you play a new one. Knowing this, wouldn’t it have been smart to have FE play tutorials in the foreground, or at least give the player the option to allow it? I know that experienced players would be irritated highly if useless tutorials popped up constantly, but I wish that, for the sake of newbies like me, there were an option to allow them. A simple: “would you like to be shown new tutorials automatically when they are unlocked?” or “are you new to Fire Emblem? You might want to watch these tutorials,” would have been nice. Instead, I’m thrown into the madness and I’m expected to know how their tutorial system works, which I obviously don’t because I’m used to automatically being shown a new tutorial without it accidentally being sent away to the background.
With all that being said, I’ve restarted the game. I’m playing on the easiest difficulty, and I’m on Casual mode rather than Classic. So far, the animation is great, the storyline is easy to follow and is enjoyable, the comic dialogue is decent, the cutscenes are like watching mini animes, the strategy aspect is great, and the 3D effects are gorgeous. Now that I know what I’m doing, I’m really enjoying this adventure, and I can see why it was reviewed so well, from nearly every aspect. I’m just disappointed that it took me a lot of learning the hard way and a game restart to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do in order to properly enjoy this title.
How about you? Have you ever been thrown into a game without a proper tutorial? Comment below with your story, and hit the like button or follow if you can relate to this one. If you’d like, hit the “Links” tab for Let’s Play channels. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!