2016 is soon coming to an end. As we prepare to welcome the new year and hope that it brings with it new joy, let’s take a moment to reflect on the events of this year.
For those of in the West, this year was probably the closest we’ll get to a “Year of Fire Emblem”; for Japan, that was 2015, which coincided with the series’s 25th anniversary.
While 2016 wasn’t without a few bumps and tumbles, it was undoubtedly a fantastic year to be a Fire Emblem fan.
Disclaimer: This is meant to be a lighthearted look back, not an objective report of the entire year : P
The start of the year was all about the fans.
First off, our very own Gwimpage took part in the “Awesome Games Done Quick” charity speedrun event, dashing through Path of Radiance and even finding some time to answer some questions about the sport.
Next, Kirokan and I worked together to translate interesting development material from the Making of Fire Emblem book, which was released December of the previous year. Our first article covered the original Shadow Dragon.
Afterwards, Nintendo of America starting picking up the slack, announcing a snazzy Fire Emblem Fates themed new Nintendo 3DS XL, as well as revealing details about the first wave of downloadable content for Fates.
It wasn’t all roses and sunshine though. During this month, many passionate fans voiced their ire about the “censorship” in the Western version of Fates, which mainly stemmed around the removal of the face-petting mini-game in the game’s Private Quarters.
This theme would persist through the year, as more information about the Western version came to light, providing more ingredients for certain gaming sites and fans to continue stirring the pot.
At the risk of further annoying fans, our take on the controversy? One, changes in localisation are nothing new. Two, localisation changes can often be a necessity; what’s widely accepted in Japan might make others uncomfortable (and vice versa).
The Cipher card game took central stage during the start of February, with its first major event of the year: Fire Emblem Cipher Festival 2016. Like the 25th anniversary events from last year, there was a lot of exclusive Fire Emblem merchandise to drool over.
As promised, Corrin landed on the Smash battlefield ahead of his/her debut in the Western edition of Fates. That said, to this day, we’re still waiting for the Corrin Amiibo to be released (or even given a release date). Nintendo hasn’t, er, forgotten… have they?
On 18th February, the winners of our first creative event “Serenes Forest Scribbles” were announced. Earlier, we showcased all of the entries–and there certainly wasn’t a shortage of amazing ones! If you haven’t seen it already, do check out our Hall of Fame.
Finally, the moment most North American fans were waiting for: Fire Emblem Fates officially launched on 19th February 2016. With enough content for three full games, fans were kept busy for months to come–and us too, managing all of the game pages!
We were honoured to receive a special message from Miss Rena Strober, the English voice actress for Azura. Previously, Miss Strober ran into some fan backlash when her role was first discovered–to which many other fans responded with heart-felt support.
Not to make European and Australian fans feel too left out, details for the European/Australian release of Fates, plus the coveted Special Edition were finally announced in early March. They sure took their sweet time…
In addition, the Atlus-produced spin-off RPG was given a North American and European release date, plus a new moniker: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Just in case you didn’t notice, the game’s initials “TMS” is an anagram of “SMT”, aka Shin Megami Tensei.
Although Western fans only had Fates for a few weeks, Nintendo of Japan announced another spectacular piece of merchandise: a 7 disk official soundtrack. Here we thought the Awakening OST was a beast at 5 disks!
On 17th March, Series 4 of Cipher–Shimmering Illusongs–released in Japan. This expansion featured characters from Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, alongside the heroes from Shadow Dragon and Awakening that inspired the game.
Later in March, Kirie joined the Serenes Forest team as our official Cipher news reporter. Since joining us, Kirie has done a wonderful job reporting about Cipher and reaching out to the rest of the community.
Halfway into March, Nintendo of Japan announced a third wave of DLC for Fates, including what we know as the “Heirs of Fate” arc, plus two festival maps. While we quickly received the former, we’ve sadly yet to hear news of the festival maps.
While the Internet was taken over by April’s Fools, Nintendo UK decided to play a cruel joke of their own by suddenly opening pre-orders for the Special Edition of Fire Emblem Fates. Despite the unfortunate timing, it still sold out within mere hours.
Weeks later, Nintendo of Europe and America formally announced the Fortissimo Edition of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Soon afterwards, it was made available to pre-order, quickly selling out in many places (although not nearly as quickly as Fates).
Towards the end of April, a brand new Fire Emblem was announced for mobile devices. Originally planned to launch before the end of 2016, it was later delayed to early 2017 to give (much needed) breathing space for Super Mario Run.
May was a fairly quiet month until Miss Rena Strober gave an impromptu performance of “Lost in Thoughts, All Alone” to all the fans who supported her. If you pay attention, you can see the sack puppet of Azura made by Himagurumi.
The calm before the storm ended on 20th May, when Fire Emblem Fates finally launched in Europe and Australia. Only 2 months after North America and 11 months after Japan. Oh well, as they say, good things come to those who wait.
June marked the 1st anniversary of Fire Emblem Cipher (and Fates, since they launched at the same time). To celebrate this milestone, from June to August, the Cipher team toured various locations in Japan in a special Cipher Caravan event.
Although we’re primarily a Fire Emblem website, you might’ve noticed that we also cover the non-Fire Emblem games developed by Shouzou Kaga, the original creator of the Fire Emblem series. (Well, because they are pretty much Fire Emblem.)
Back in 2015, Mr Kaga (who had since retired) revealed Vestaria Saga–a free strategy RPG developed in his free time. With only a few more months until its release, a second trailer for the game was uploaded, showcasing a lot of new progress.
During mid June, most gamers’ attentions turned to the annual E3 media coverage. Of course, it was far too early for a new Fire Emblem announcement, but there was new footage of the English version of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE to get excited about.
23rd June saw the release of the 5th expansion of Cipher, Overcoming Rivalry. This set featured the debut of Elibe, with cards based on characters from Binding Blade, plus the return of Tellius in the form of characters from Radiant Dawn.
A day afterwards, on 24th June, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE arrived in the West. Despite also being a massive source of controversy, the game itself was generally well-received. Around this time, Nintendo UK even gave us a few download codes to give away.
From here on, 2016 started to wind down in terms of news, especially now that both Fire Emblem Fates and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE had been released in the West.
Over in the UK, Nintendo were keen to promote both of these new releases at the busy Hyper Japan event in London. In addition to providing game demos, there was a fun little Fire Emblem cosplay contest.
Towards the end of the month, new figures for female Corrin and Elise were revealed at the Summer Wonder Festival 2016. At the time of writing, pre-orders for female Corrin had only just opened a few days ago.
If collectors weren’t already panicking about their wallets, a set of four Fire Emblem Fates drama CDs were listed on Otomart a few days afterwards. Funnily enough, it seems somebody jumped the gun and they were properly added to the website a few days later.
A very, very quiet month, if it wasn’t for the fans.
Just before the end of July, the Path of Radiance design book “Tellius Recollection Volume 1” was released in Japan. It didn’t take long for our hard-working translator Kirokan to receive a copy and start working on a translation project.
Next, a bunch of kind forum members–starting with Bernie_man123–donated some of their unwanted Cipher download codes for us to raffle off. We also used this belated opportunity to review these digital goodies for those without a Japanese 3DS.
This month saw the release of Vestaria Saga I, Shouzou Kaga’s free strategy RPG, which he and his team of volunteers had been working on for a good year or so. Despite the language barrier, many players enjoyed this refreshing take on the genre.
Later on, we were graced with an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Marcella Lentz-Pope, the voice actress for female Corrin. A special thanks to Elieson, our trusty North American news editor for hooking us up with Lady Corrin!
To wrap up the month, we had the release of Series 6 of Cipher, Storm of the Knights’ Shadows. In this set, the Nohrians are back to invade and they’re joined by characters from the fan-favourite Genealogy of the Holy War. An epic clash of new and old!
It’s not often that Fire Emblem merchandise makes it outside Japan. So it was a pleasant surprise when Dark Horse announced they would be publishing the English version of “The Art of Fire Emblem Awakening”. After a minor delay, the book made its triumphant debut on 19th October.
Otherwise, October was the month of Fire Emblem E3, an annual showcase of the latest Fire Emblem fan games created by the astoundingly talented community. A big thanks to Ghast, Melissa and everyone who contributed to the event–or indeed anyone who came to watch!
The penultimate month would have been a wasteland if it wasn’t for the Cipher team regularly keeping us entertained with updates for Series 7.
Besides this, Version 1.01 of TearRing Saga English Translation was released in early November. Now, some of you may remember that the English translation for the game was originally released in 2015, but it was rather… rough around the edges, so to speak.
After spending an entire year, Aethlin painstakingly combed through all of the dialogue (of which there was a lot of) and edited it to make it sound more like something a person would actually say. So far, impressions have been extremely promising.
After last year’s smashing success, our very own creative event “Serenes Forest Scribbles” returned for its second year! At the time of writing, there are still two months before it closes, so please spread the word if you haven’t done so already!
On 8th December, the 7th series of Cipher, Rise to Honour was released in Japan. The final set of 2016 featured the return of the Hoshidans from Fates and the long-awaited debut of characters from Blazing Sword.
In addition, Cipher made another appearance at Comiket towards the end of the month. As well as the usual merchandise you’d expect, the biggest offering was a Comiket-exclusive soundtrack CD by the recently established “Cavalier Duo”.
The Christmas month also saw a few surprises, namely an official (European) Facebook page for Fire Emblem and possible leaked images from Fire Emblem Mobile. Given that the game is launching in early 2017, the timing of both events seems far too convenient…
Just when it seemed like we could relax and party until the end of 2016, Japan gave us a few more surprises, starting with the not-so-surprising cancellation of Kozaki’s Fire Emblem manga, which missed its late 2015 release window by a long shot.
A day afterwards, it was revealed that a different manga would be taking its place: a Leo-focused one by Tama Yugyoji. Finally, for all the music lovers, there was the announcement of a piano music CD, with live concerts to accompany it.
Anyway, that’s 2016 in a nutshell. Thanks a lot for sticking with us and we hope you have a Happy New Year!