Seven games to play if you can't wait for more Fire Emblem
It can be years between entries in the Fire Emblem franchise. If you’ve already blown through Conquest or Birthright--the two versions of Fire Emblem Fates--there’s still the final ending of Revelation to look forward to if no special edition of the game was snagged, but then… what? There’s no telling when another might hit the stands.
Which is why it’s maybe a good idea to start taking stock of what else is out there for you when you inevitably run out of Fire Emblem to play. (Arguably, one could spend hundreds of hours with the various previous incarnations, but this is assuming those options have already been exhausted.) A lot of video games include at least some portion of what makes Fire Emblem appealing, and some even have several bits at once!
Without further ado, here’s seven video games to play if you can’t wait for more Fire Emblem.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
There are those that would draw and quarter me for including Final Fantasy Tactics Advance here for the Game Boy Advance rather than its immediate predecessor, Final Fantasy Tactics. But while the first entry in the series lays the groundwork, Tactics Advance is where the it really finds its footing.
There’s no kids, and no real romance, but the plot is genuine and earnest in a way that a game about being pulled into a magical book doesn’t sound like it would be. The isometric combat is generally solid, and should feel familiar for any Fire Emblem veteran. Plus there’s even special units to be found! (And perhaps the best antagonist name ever in Llednar Twem.)
In short, the first question that follows anything resembling, “I love Fire Emblem, but am not sure what else to play,” should always be, “Have you played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance?”
La Pucelle: Tactics
A lot of tactical games trace back in some way to Final Fantasy Tactics, but La Pucelle: Tactics honestly takes more inspiration from the various Disgaea titles. It just doesn’t take itself as seriously as the other games it emulates. Which is fine! There’s room for all kinds here.
Combat takes place in mostly drab tactical grids, but the interludes often have gorgeous PlayStation 2-era art for cottages and people and so on. The game revolves around purifying portals and redeeming monsters, but it’s ultimately fairly lightweight when considering some of the other entries here. Not that it’s particularly easy, just slightly less involved. Something you could probably play with music on in the background while just trying to take a breather.
It’s worth noting that the Japanese version of the game is a little more about demons and hell and includes a whole bunch of crosses. When it came to North America, this was all rejiggered during localization--but the plot remains mostly the same with a few words changed and images removed here and there.
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars
A lot of the games mentioned here are all about the tactical gameplay. Whatever else they might have going on, they have that at least. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is kind of the opposite of that: there’s really no tactical gameplay to speak of--it’s a turn-based role-playing game--but there’s a whole lot of teens getting it on.
Well, I say “getting it on,” but really it’s more complicated than that. Not because it’s actually any more complicated, but because the game goes out of its way to try and avoid implying that the protagonist and the various women in the game are doing anything untoward. Instead, they are performing a perfectly natural magic ritual that results in a completely normal homunculus-person created from the traits of both parents.
So, yeah, if the whole “I have kids!” part of Fire Emblem is what really does it for you, Conception II is just full of that. It’s maybe a little creepy, and there’s nothing particularly tactical about it, but if having a whole bunch of magic children is your bag, well, here you go. This thing was made for you.
Time is actively working against you in Devil Survivor, and that means you can’t spend your time in demon-infested Japan talking to absolutely everyone. Sometimes you have to pick and choose, and that can mean characters end up dead in the future.
But each little interaction that the player does take on ranges from goofy character moments to insightful to downright tragic. It’s kind of like Support conversations in Fire Emblem, but picking one can mean eliminating other options. There’s no way to do all the little moments, and even then a specific combination of those can mean the end of the game plays out one way rather than another.
Plus, the title’s full name is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, which is just SMT:DS. And it’s for the Nintendo DS. Yes, I am recommending this partially based on the fact that its name is a goofy reference to the system it was original on, but also because it’s great and has character designs by Suzuhito Yasuda that make it stand out from the pack.
Ah, Infinite Space. There is… a lot going on in this game, and it helps to understand that this is the only Nintendo DS game produced by PlatinumGames under the company’s initial deal with SEGA. It’s also the most far-afield of all those titles suggested here, but hear me out: Infinite Space absolutely belongs.
Sure, it’s not a fantastical medieval romp where you make anime chess pieces kiss, but it is a fantastical space opera romp where you recruit anime chess pieces to staff your spaceships. Those spaceships can be ordered in different ways so that combat--against other spaceships, of course--is more varied.
The one knock against Infinite Space, beyond the sheer inability to find the thing at a reasonable price these days, is that it is sometimes completely impenetrable. Not knowing where to go next is a regular problem, and even knowing doesn’t mean you’ll grab the characters you want or even need.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Compared to the rest of the suggestions, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together feels particularly old. And it should, really, given that it originally came out in the middle of the ‘90s for consoles like the Sega Saturn and original PlayStation. A port did eventually hit the PlayStation Portable much later, but it retains a lot of the same charm.
Let Us Cling Together is arguably more of a direct ancestor of Final Fantasy Tactics and its ilk than Fire Emblem, but that also means it shares a lot of Tactics’ similarities with the franchise. There’s a rich narrative, tactical squad-based combat, and even a lovely soundtrack. If anything, Let Us Cling Together has an arguably far more substantial-- and non-linear!-- plot to it than most of what passes for a tactical role-playing game these days.
Excellent art? Check. Good music? Check. Tactical combat? Check. Toe to tip, that’s a Fire Emblem-like game.
Record of Agarest War
Let me be clear: Record of Agarest War is only an okay video game bordering dangerously close to not very good. But--and this is a big one--the franchise is otherwise awfully similar to all the things that make Fire Emblem, well, Fire Emblem. With sort of a big twist.
Characters still fight on a grid and use abilities and the like, but there’s generations of characters at play in the Record of Agarest War games. (Yes, they made more than one--and really, this recommendation is based on whatever title seems less disagreeable than the others rather than for a specific one.) Each generation, the main character “breeds” with a female character, producing a kid which then goes on to be the protagonist. This happens several times.
So, if absolutely nothing else here appeals, there’s always Record of Agarest somewhere near the bottom of the Fire Emblem-like barrel. It wouldn’t be my first suggestion, and it’s real children rather than Conception II’s magic children, but hey, it’s there.
There are more out there, of course, but these seven alone are hundreds of hours worth of kissing, anime avatars, and virtual chess. They also happen to run the gamut from the very close to Fire Emblem to the very not close to Fire Emblem with some Fire Emblem-style attributes. But if you’re still looking for more, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and Nintendo DS have many more gems to uncover. Go forth, friends, and procreate.