As we swiftly approach the Japanese 20th April release of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Nintendo has added a new 7 minute “introduction” video explaining the game’s key features.
Without further ado, here’s our summary of the video for the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with Japanese. Plus let’s see what hidden details we can find!
Since the video is aimed at all audiences–which includes newcomers–it begins with the very basics, such as the warring nations Rigel and Zofia, as well as the two protagonists stuck in the middle: Alm and Celica.
Moving on, we reach the battlefield, where we’re told of the various unit classes that appear in Echoes. This is where the magnifying glass first gets some proper action. In the Cavalier demonstration, there are two curious enemies on the field.
Well, if isn’t Berkut, one of the new villains added to the game. At this point in time, judging from his map sprite, he appears to be a Paladin–and a boss no less.
Accompanying him is Fernand, a character we’ve seen before, but we only know his name from the recent Dutch Comic Con. He’s currently a lowly Cavalier.
No magnifying glass is required in the Pegasus Knight demonstration; you just need to not blink or you’ll miss it. Showing off the capabilities of a Pegasus Knight appears to be Clair, Clive’s sister (who now has blonde hair instead of blue).
Likewise, in the Archer demonstration, you need quick reactions to spot the “Battle Skill” option in the unit menu. The purpose of this option is pretty obvious and will become crystal clear later on.
The Cleric demonstration also hides an interesting nugget. The Recover spell now has 8 Might versus 0 in the original Gaiden.
That said, in Gaiden, Recover healed the same HP as the user’s Attack, so it’s possible it runs off a percentage of Attack instead (for example 50%), like in recent games.
Next, we’re given a lecture in basic battlefield tactics, such as making smart use of terrain. In the heal tile explanation, if you look towards the top, Berkut and Fernand have returned, now as a Gold Knight and Paladin respectively.
So those worried about kicking their butts early on and never seeing them again can relax, because they’re a bit more stubborn villains (or rivals) than that! Also, for your information, the heal tile has the same stats (40 Avoid and 5 HP recovery).
Unit growth is the next topic. Near the beginning, we get our first non-blurry look at the “participation experience” window, which first appeared in last week’s Nintendo Dream. This system grants some experience to all units after each battle.
Over in Valentia, units don’t always promote at the same level, so Echoes has a useful text prompt which appears when a character reaches promotion level. In this case, Lukas is ready to progress from Soldier to Knight.
Afterwards we’re shown a couple of status screens, where the characters’ equipped items (above their portrait) are highlighted. The first character to appear is Catria, the middle Whitewing from Shadow Dragon and its sequel.
For those not familiar with Gaiden, it takes place chronologically between Marth’s two games and features the three Whitewing sisters–Palla, Catria and Est–as recurring characters. Other than this, there are very few connections.
Anyway, Catria has Triangle Attack as a skill and Flying as a class weakness. Likewise, the Triangle Attack is a formation attack originally unique to the Whitewings, performed by surrounding an enemy with the three sisters.
Valbar’s status screen gives us a tasty look at some Dried Meat. This provision item restores 20 HP if used and/or can be use to replenish a “small” amount of Fatigue. Previously, we learned that characters who are fatigued receive stat penalties.
Each character can equip one item–this can be a weapon, shield, accessory or provision. So you need to choose wisely. (If no weapon is equipped for a physical unit, they will fight with a 0 Might “Sword”, “Lance” or “Bow”)
Amusingly, Mae is equipped with a “Mana Herb”, which is the first time Fire Emblem has referenced this fictional energy source.
Things get exciting as we finally see equipment skills in action. After a weapon has gained enough experience, it will unlock so-called “battle skills” (possibly just “skills” in the English version).
The above examples are Alm learning Thunderclap from his Lightning Sword and Clive(?) learning Gale Lance from his Steel Lance. Also, it’s really hard to tell, but the “circles” under the weapon names appear to be tiny stars.
Battle skills offer a lot of advantages in battle, on top of looking extremely flashy! Skills demonstrated include Crosswise, Horse-burying Strike (likely deals more damage to horse units) and Ark Ballista (possibly lets you throw a lance).
Obtained skills can be reviewed in a character’s status screen, within the right-side panel (along with generic weapons, spells and weakness types). Before a skill has been obtained, it will appear as a bunch of question marks.
In the above screenshots, Saber has the Power of Abundance (Hit rate +10 and absorbs HP) and Earth’s Blessing skills from his Golden Dagger. Meanwhile Mae has Shove (pushes an ally one space forward) from her Iron Shield.
By the way, the Iron Shield is new and sits between the original Leather Shield and Steel Shield. It provides 4 Defence as expected, but seems to reduce Speed by 1. Will higher level shields also reduce Speed?
Finally, some more skills because why not? We get to see Alm’s Thunderclap, Leon’s Trapping Arrows and Catria’s Hit and Run. It’s unclear what they do, but you can get a fair idea from their names and flashy effects.
Of course, these skill names are translated from Japanese and can be interpreted in different ways. Also, it’s extremely likely that they’ll be changed in the English version due to stylistic differences, space limitations etc.
Before the unit growth section closes, we’re treated to a showing of Kamui battering a rare Entombed enemy. Like in all other games it’s appeared in, Entombed award a lot of experience and thus, despite their gruesome looks, are always a welcome sight.
Moving on, it’s time for exploration. In the village sequence, right at the beginning, you can briefly make out two unique-looking characters on both sides of the woman villager. Perhaps Forsyth and Python, who we’ve yet to properly see?
Speaking of characters we’ve yet to see, Atlas–the only Villager who joins Celica in Gaiden–makes an appearance with an impressive redesign. Like in the original, he can be recruited when visiting a village.
Right before leaving the village, the player picks up a Rusted Sword while searching a building. This is another new weapon added to Echoes and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s used. Will it grant useful skills or maybe it can be forged into a better weapon?
On the subject of forging, while exploring a dangerous dungeon, Alm comes across a Golden Mark from a treasure chest. We know from PAX East that Silver Marks can be used for forging, but we don’t know what the golden ones do.
The final section touches on difficulty and Mila’s Turnwheel. Poor Jesse, a Mercenary recruited in Celica’s journey, is the sacrificial lamb here. If playing on Classic, he’s kicked the bucket; otherwise he can live to fight another day on Casual.
Another way to avoid unnecessary casualties is via Mila’s Turnwheel, first introduced in Famitsu. If something terrible happens, such as a character being defeated, players can trigger this mysterious apparatus from the map menu.
Doing so will enable players to rewind whole turns, although there’s a limit, indicated by the gear icon in the bottom-right corner. Previously, Famitsu commented about rewinding the actions of units one at a time, but that seems to be flavour text.
So you don’t actually rewind on a per unit basis. What it actually referred to is when using Mila’s Turnwheel, you will physically see actions being rewinded one by one until the previous turn is reached. It’s actually a pretty cool effect.
In the same sequence, we can get a really good look at Alm’s party, after a lot of progress has been made. Going from left to right, we have…
- Top row: Gray the Myrmidon (promoted Mercenary), Alm the Hero (promoted) and Tobin the Bow Knight (promoted Sniper)
- Second row: Clair the Falcoknight (promoted Pegasus Knight), Faye the Paladin (promoted Cavalier), Lukas the Knight, Mathilda the Paladin and Python the Bow Knight
- Third row: Luthier the Mage, Kliff the Sage (promoted Mage), SIlque the Saint (promoted Cleric), Clive the Paladin and Tatiana the Saint
- Bottom row: Delthea the Mage and Forsyth the Knight
Which is consistent with Alm’s mid Chapter 4 party plus Faye. Now we just need to see the enigmatic Zeke…
That’s all for explanations, but like all good trailers, it finishes with a swathe of assorted footage to get us all excited. First we have what appears to be a confrontation between Alm and Berkut. Afterwards, Alm is clutching his left (dominant) hand.
From rival to mentor next, as we have our first look at Mycen’s in-game portrait. This is the stern face of the so-called Zofian hero who took in Alm and Celica and trained Alm in the arts of combat.
This map appears to be from near the very end. It features a Witch boss and a Summoner (name to be determined) calling forth what look like stone Gargoyles. Towards the far left and far right are a pair of enemy Dread Fighters.
Skipping ahead a moment, we also see Saber as a Dread Fighter battling an evil-looking enemy. Possibly a Majin–a demonic version of the Baron (a promoted Knight).
Here we’re introduced to Judah, one of the main villains and oft encountered on Celica’s path. He’s definitely in the running for the “Most Evil Valentian” award.
This red-haired masked rider who appears before Celica has got fans talking. A new character in Echoes, he’s telling Celica to run if she values her life–usually something you say after rescuing someone (but are shy to admit it).
At the moment, it’s unclear if he’s friend or foe, but more leaning towards the latter. Some have speculated–from his red hair and mask–that he could be a surviving member of the Zofian royal family like Celica.
That could be the reason he rescued Celica and also why he’s wearing a mask–to conceal his identity from Celica and those after his life. If true, it could have strong repercussions on the story, but we imagine he’ll probably choke before the end.
This final character has gotten people talking, but for other reasons. Originally a nondescript but generally male-looking villain, Nuibaba is now apparently a woman. Which isn’t a massive stretch considering Nuibaba was a fond user of the Medusa spell.
Besides, Gaiden was severely lacking when it came to female enemies, except right at the end when a whole bunch of witches entered the stage. Or notable enemies in general. So having an interesting female enemy is a welcome change.
That’s all for the game, sort of. While the chance to snag a luxurious Valentia Complete from Nintendo has gone and passed, Japanese players can still look forward to the Limited Edition, now with pretty box art.
Actually, we lied: there is one more section, right at the very end discussing the amiibo functionality. Since then, we’ve learned that the Alm and Celica amiibo unlock their own individual dungeons. Now we know their names and appearances.
Owners of an Alm amiibo can look forward to exploring the War God’s Trial, while those with the Celica amiibo can prance around the Goddess’s Trial. As if they needed more ways to highlight Alm’s love for battle!
In addition, all amiibo can be used to summon phantom warriors who assist you for 1 turn. After scanning an amiibo with Mila’s Turnwheel on the world map, a new skill “Summon amiibo” will unlocked for Alm and Celica.
Upon using this skill, players can scan an amiibo to summon a warrior at the cost of 10 HP. Using a Fire Emblem amiibo will summon their likeness into the game, while non Fire Emblem ones appear to summon generic warriors.