Echoes is scheduled for release in Japan on 20th April 2017, which coincides with the series’s 27th anniversary, and 19th May 2017 in Europe, North America and presumably other territories.
In addition to the game itself, an Amiibo double pack featuring the dual protagonists Alm and Celica will be available from launch.
That’s all the important details from the trailer, but of course we can do better than that! Below is our detailed analysis of the trailer and supporting materials.
The trailer opens with two children in front of a fireplace, reciting an old legend about a pair of sibling gods, Mila and Duma. By this point, it should be clear to most hardcore fans that the game is related to Gaiden, somehow.
From the childrens’ appearances and dialogue, one can easily guess that they’re the younger versions of Alm and Celica, the two protagonists of Gaiden. This would be confirmed by the narrator after the trailer.
The next scene shows a sword impaled into a demon of some sort. Most likely, this sword is Valentia’s Falchion, as its design strongly resembles the Falchion that appears on Gaiden’s box art and title screen.
The demon could perhaps be Duma or, more likely, a generic demon that ended up being the Falchion’s last victim. Since in Gaiden, you had to retrieve the Falchion from a cave far away from where Duma awakens.
Afterwards, we see artwork of the two children from before, but as adults. Yup, that is most definitely Alm and Celica. Or we’ll burn our forest.
Before we formally learn their names, however, the scene moves towards an ancient mural depicting the battle between Duma and Mila.
While Gaiden was immensely vague about their origins, we can deduce that Duma and Mila are dragons from their serpent-like shape.
In fact, the Making of Fire Emblem book released 2 years ago heavily implied that Mila at least was a dragon. It’s said that the remains of dragons can provide energy for other life and that’s why Mila’s Tree in Awakening has grown so big.
Also in the mural are pegasi, a griffon and beast rider on Mila’s side and a trojan horse-like war contraption on Duma’s side. Whether these are indicative of the respective armies’ units is something we’ll have to find out.
More story details follow, although nothing new for fans of Gaiden.
Funnily enough, listening to the history of Zofia and Rigel, they are pretty much the predecessors of Hoshido and Nohr. Zofia and Hoshido both live in luxury, while Rigel and Nohr are stuck in desolate lands.
On the Zofian side, it’s interesting how the queen has pointy ears. In the past, only the Laguz, Manakete or similar shape-shifters had pointy ears. Given that Mila is likely a dragon, could it be that the Zofian royalty are directly descended from her?
In any case, the male ruler shown afterwards doesn’t seem to have these ears–that or he’s hiding them well. This could point to the draconic blood diluting over the years.
Speaking of predecessors though, the Rigelian flag bears a resemblance to the flag of the Valmese Empire, which succeeded it. Both flags feature a lion standing upright, although Rigel’s is holding a sword.
It would be really cool if Echoes included some foreshadowing about Alm’s descendant renaming the continent of Valentia to Valm, something only mentioned in the background website for Awakening.
The other thing you can see is that some of Rigel’s horseback knights have horse armour that’s very reminiscent of the Great Knight in Awakening and Fates.
After showing us Zofia and Rigel, the trailer flies around the world map of Valentia, which looks very similar to its Gaiden incarnation. A piece of trivia: each of the locations is written in the same ancient text that appears in Awakening.
What do you mean you’ve never seen this text? It appears around the orbs on the Fire Emblem, plus around the glowing circle of the Exalted Falchion. Oh right, you can’t actually see these in game…
The important thing is that a translation for the text already exists, within The Art of Awakening artbook. We’d probably need another analysis topic just to translate the world map, but chances are it’s just the same place names as in Gaiden.
An easy place to look is near the south edge of Valentia, between the valley created by the mountains. It clearly says “Ram Valley”. This was one of the early maps in Gaiden, which you may recognise from the Witches’ Trial DLC map in Fates.
…And that’s about it for the trailer itself. At the end, we learn the game’s full title.
In Japan, it’s known as Fire Emblem Echoes: Another Hero-King. This is direct reference to Marth being the Hero-King of Archanea and “another” being a sly nod to Gaiden being a side-story.
But that’s not the end of the Echoes coverage in the Direct. Continuing on, we see a comparison between Gaiden on the NES and Echoes on the Nintendo 3DS.
The battle map shown is one of the early ones from Gaiden. What’s peculiar is that compared to the original, there’s one more playable character–the feminine character with bangs towards the east.
Since Gaiden had a pretty tiny cast, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see now characters added into the mix. Even the previous remakes (Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem) had some brand new characters.
When Alm goes to attack, we see the following actions available: Attack, Inventory (literally “Item Bag”), Food and Wait. “Food” is the odd-one out and could be related to the canteen feature in Fates, where you cooked food to temporary boost stats.
Before Alm attacks, the battle forecast appears, which chucks a lot of new information our way. Firstly, it’s unclear if you can toggle the forecast, but the current view shows each units’ Attack and Defence stats.
Now you have to physically calculate the difference in Attack and Defence to calculate the damage, just like in Gaiden. That said, the HP bars show how much damage is inflicted anyway.
Secondly, near the top-left corner appears to be a displayed support partner. Possibly of the horseback unit nearby to the east. Perhaps support boosts (eg. hit rate and critical rate) can be triggered from a distance like in previous games?
Is Pair Up and Tag Team from Awakening/Fates going to take a back seat? Time will tell.
Our next piece of info is that, yes, the two characters shoved in our faces are indeed Alm and Celica. In addition, we find out that the artwork is by an artist known as Hidari.
As well as our two protagonists, we’re shown portraits of Robin and Sabre, two returning characters from Gaiden.
It’s not just the artwork that’s been spruced up; Echoes will be receiving animated movies too, this time from Studio Khara. In the movie shown, Alm is going to toe to toe against a fearsome enemy, although it’s hard to see.
On the game’s official site, the same movie can be found playing for a bit longer. Here, it seems to show Alm facing off against the ruler of Rigel: Rudolf in the original Gaiden. This is the same character with his back turned during the introduction to Rigel earlier on.
Besides animated movies, there will be cutscenes rendered using the in-game graphics too. Next, we see Alm seemingly practicing against his mentor, Mycen. Confusingly, Mycen looks a lot like Rudolf, so you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re one and the same.
This is because both are old men, Rigelians and Gold Knights to boot. Hmm, it’d be really funny if they retconned the plot to make them the same character…
Moving on, we have the explorable world map that’s since become a staple of the series, but was first introduced in Gaiden.
What’s strange is that the displayed year is 401, but Gaiden takes place in Archanea 606. It could just be that the Valentian calendar is different though.
After the year is the current season “Pegasus”, which suggests there could be multiple seasons. Also, when the player moves to the next location, one day passes. Could this mean you have a time limit to complete the game?
As soon as the player reaches a location adjacent to an enemy’s location, the option to battle the enemy appears. In Gaiden, enemies on the map could move like the player, so this could be related. Or maybe it’s just for convenience.
Another thing that Gaiden introduced–and which never came back–was the ability to explore dungeons, as well as towns and castles. Echoes takes this a step further by having a 3rd person view with enemies present on the field.
If you get close to an enemy, they are alerted. You can then choose to touch them to trigger a battle. Presumably, like other RPGs, you can try to avoid battles; likewise, we’re guessing enemies will chase you if they see you.
Once the battle begins, the enemies have already taken some damage, likely since the player struck the enemy beforehand. The characters on the field look a lot like Celica’s party from Chapter 2 of Gaiden.
The third unique feature is the Mila Shrine, where characters can class-change upon meeting certain requirements.
In the example shown, the four Villagers (hang on, four and not three?!) can promote into one of five base classes: Cavalier, Soldier, Mercenary, Archer and Mage. So same as Gaiden.
Back to the Villagers for a moment–in the original, Alm started with three, but in Echoes there’s a new female(?) village called Effie. Nope, not the monstrously strong female Knight from Fates who was Elfie in the Japanese version.
Promoting from a Villager to a Cavalier boosts Defence and Movement and that’s about it. Later, we see the same character in a higher class, most likely a Paladin. Also, it’s interesting to see the Skill stat as “Tech”.
Meanwhile the other characters in the list are simply early recruits from Alm’s party: Ruka, Gray, Robin, Cliff, Silk and Clair (plus one or two more at the bottom).
From here, we see multiple battle scenes, which should look familiar to Awakening and Fates fans.
One interesting thing can be observed between the battle with the bow user. After the bow user attacks and misses, the player character immediately retaliates.
Normally this doesn’t happen since bow users can only attack from 1 square away, but in Gaiden, bow users can attack at melee range too.
Less importantly, after this, we see Celica taking down what looks like a Dracozombie. Oh no, not those things!
Finally, we’re told the release date for Echoes. Plus the Amiibo news.
Aside from the Direct, the Japanese official site contains a few nuggets of information. The biggest thing is that the Japanese release will have two special editions.
Limited Edition: Includes an Alm Cipher card, DLC code (for early-game DLC; also available for purchase), Sound Selection CD
Valentia Complete (My Nintendo Store exclusive): Same as above, but includes a Celica holographic Cipher card, Valentia artbook and Fire Emblem HD Movie Collection (Blu-ray that features movies from Radiant Dawn, Awakening, Fates and Echoes)
Both come with a copy of the game, although My Nintendo members can get the Valentia Complete edition without the game for a lower price. You know, in case they manage to get the game for cheaper elsewhere etc.
For those on a budget, the Alm Cipher card will be packed with early copies of the game too.
The DLC included in the special editions is incredibly vague, but seems to be some kind of assist during the early-game. Perhaps a bunch of strong weapons.
Not as important, but really cool. The world map on the front page shows what looks like the continent of Archanea to the far east. Veteran fans will know that Archanea exists to the east of Valentia. Much like how Ylisse is to the east of Valm.
Last, but not least, the English press release has plenty of nuggets of its own, including the English boxart, character artwork and images of the Amiibo.
The boxart lets us know that the game is Amiibo compatible, which isn’t a huge surprise since the Alm and Celica Amiibo exist. As for what the Amiibo could do, it’s anyone’s guess. Perhaps you can save character data to Amiibo and use them on a friend’s game?
The character artwork, particularly the ones after Alm and Celica are intriguing. The first one, the blonde-haired male with blue armour could be anyone from Gaiden, but possibly Clive, Clair’s brother, a Cavalier of the Resistance?
Next one is a bit easier. It looks like the mage in Celica’s party, so it must be Boey. The one after is even easier: it’s Sabre, who appeared in an dialogue scene in the trailer.
The final character is a bit harder to identify. No playable character in Gaiden has such dark hair, so it’s either a new character or a completely revamped one.
That’s all for Echoes. If you think we missed anything (or got something wrong; it is 2:30 AM over here for us), do let us know in the comments! Very soon, Elieson should have something for those looking forward to Heroes!