At long last it seems Nintendo is going to embrace the market trends of 2006 and introduce DLC into their games. Fire Emblem: Awakening is leading the charge with The Champions of Yore pack. While I could review each map individually, it would honestly be a waste of time, as if you’re going to buy maps, just buy the pack or not at all because it’s cheaper. As of writing this, the first map in the pack is free and the pack is discounted to reflect that, but ordinarily maps are $2.50 yeah and 3 map packs are $6. Japan has gotten over 20 maps and it seems that we will be too, but are these actually worth the money or is Nintendo once again failing to adapt to a changing market?
The Champions of Yore pack includes three maps, though when I say three maps, as the marketing suggests, I mean three different enemy scenarios on the exact same map for all three encounters. It’s not quite a big deal for the maps to be the same, but at a certain point it’s just lazy design. These are marketed as three different experiences, each with a unique, unlockable character and you wind up with essentially the same encounter, but slightly more difficult each time. Yes, I can sit there and use rancid boxes to play an encounter on the same map as many times as I want, but that’s my choice and I’m not paying $2.50 for a ‘new encounter.’
There is a very basic plot thrown into these maps, with this first trio revolving around stolen magical cards that contain phantoms of legendary heroes from all of the other Fire Emblem games. You have to use the few remaining to defeat the phantoms and rescue the cards. It’s nice that they put a story into these maps, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with what was there. The plot isn’t bad, I just didn’t find myself interested and I just wanted to get to the battle.
The encounters themselves do offer a good challenge, especially the third which pits you against only hero characters. All three have their fare share of heroes, each offering a different fight and strategy to defeat them. At the very least, hero units give a nice experience boost and these encounters can be completed as many times as you see fit, offering a nice place to farm some high experience targets when building up your units or relationships.
While it is cool to run into a proper Awakening battle with Roy or Marth, after a single use I never found myself going near these units. The DLC units offer no social abilities, greatly limiting their use to more of a novelty than an actual strategic piece. Yes, they do each come with beautiful, personalized portraits in styles more consistent with their games but updated for the higher resolution, but a pretty unit and portrait do not make them a valuable asset.
I was so excited that Nintendo was getting into the DLC market and Fire Emblem: Awakening seemed like such a perfect title to do it with. While I could give many of the problems a pass at a lower price point, $2.50 per map or $2 per if you buy the whole pack is too high of an asking price for what you get. A hero that lacks the basic functions of the ingame characters and a single map with different scenarios sounds like an unlockable bonus, not something I pay for. As much as I am enjoying the core game, this DLC is a huge disappointment. Hopefully the next pack picks up the quality.