Who could have thought that a game that looks like this could be so punishingly difficult. Nintendo’s in-house developer Intelligent Systems has been producing top quality turn based RPGs for the last twenty six years. Few games can match that deceptively simple combat system, with a delicate roshambo between the weapons, and an emphasis on careful positioning. Make the wrong choice and you could be down a guy permanently. It’s that permadeath that makes these game so exciting, for turn based titles.
The first game has been released for a few consoles at this point, but the most recent entry into the series is exclusive to 3ds. If you find yourself without Nintendo’s newest handheld hardware then you’re going to be looking elsewhere for a similar experience. You’re in luck, as I have here a list of five games like Fire Emblem to give you a taste of what you’re missing. If you’ve already finished Fates, then try these for a Fire Emblem-esque experience.
Top Five Games Like Fire Emblem
5 – Shadowrun Returns
The tabletop Shadowrun game is one of my all time favorites, so when I heard about a new cRPG set in the same universe I was ecstatic. Unfortunately Shadowrun Returns lacks the freedom of the pen and paper game, but it more than makes up for it with a depth of character customization seldom seen in gaming these days. The narrower focus, and comparative lack of exploration, in the vanilla game has been fixed somewhat with mods and expansions, but what is present in the original release is a satisfying rpg combined with an engaging turn based strategy combat system. Due to the linearity of the plot, fans of Fire Emblem should be at home here, and though it has many of the tropes of a western RPG, I still maintain that this game makes an excellent alternative to FE.
If you’re looking for a western take on the tactical RPG you can’t go wrong with Shadowrun returns, though you can go one better. It’s available for Windows, OSX, iOS, Android and Linux.
4 – Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
A breath of fresh nuclear air in market that seriously needed it. Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is everything you could want from a western Tactical RPG. Functional graphics, excellent writing, player freedom and a satisfying combat system. I cannot over sell this title. You play as a rag tag group of Desert Rangers, the only real law left in post apocalyptic Arizona, trying to find out why one of your members was murdered. The plot moseys on at whatever pace you like after that, sprint to the end or take your time and enjoy everything the game has to offer, entirely up to you. If you were a fan of the older Fallout games then you’ll find a lot to love with this one.
If you’re in the mood for one of the better cRPGs made in the last decade then pick this title up, it’s combat should keep fire emblem fans happy and the moral choices it presents should keep you hooked. It’s available for Windows, OSX, PS4 and Xbox One.
3 – Advance Wars
Intelligent Systems other baby, the Advance Wars games offer some of the finer turn based combat you can play. It lacks the role playing elements featured in Fire Emblem, but makes up for it by having a more in depth combat system. Gone is the straight up RPS and in is the subtle damage differences, terrain becomes more important, as does the position of your troops. The plots are diverting at best, I find them about as interesting as most Pokemon games, bar Black and White which bothered to ask intriguing questions. The last game in the series was released for the DS back in 2008, and no new games in the franchise have been announced.
If you want to play a pure combat Fire Emblem, then pick up one of the wars games. They are available on Famicom, Gameboy, Super Famicom, GBC, GBA and Nintendo DS. My, all of those machines have functional emulators don’t they? Interesting fact that.
2 – X-COM
I prefer there to be a little more exploration and world building in my RPGs, which is why I gushed so hard over Wasteland 2, but X-Com has the best combat of any game on this list. With a punishing difficulty that truly rewards sound tactical play, this game has an awful lot to offer. In addition to the core combat, there is a base building element, where you assign staff to research projects, making your army more effective in facing the alien menace. Of course plot wise all of your work in the first game is rendered moot by the second, with the aliens having won the war. That aside, the two newest games in this decades old franchise are among the best the series has ever offered.
The X-COM games offer deep tactical combat, and that permadeath we all love so much from Fire Emblem. If you’re in the market for a game to fill the hole left after finishing the most recent FE game, then pick this one up.
1 – Disgaea Series
Disgaea is a quintessentially Japanese video game. I played an awful lot of the first game, and a sizable amount of the third game, enough to know that they are both excellent Tactical RPGs. With a fun and engaging combat system, not to mention some innovations that could stand to be more wide spread, choosing when to execute an attack should be the standard for these kinds of games. The plot is well acted, and the first game has a few VAs that I am quite fond of, even if it is a little hard to follow. The comic relief is a little hit and miss, I guess you have to be deeply steeped in that culture to really get it all, but where the game falls apart is in its length.
Japanese games tend to have this odd focus on infinite grinding. If you want to see any of the cool stuff in this game be prepared to spend tens, if not hundreds, of hours grinding. Fighting the same bosses over and over again in order to level up your mage, to unlock the Prism, to level up to unlock the yadda yadda never ends.
In spite of these flaws there is a lot to love about the Disgaea series. The recent Steam release of the first game among them. You can find one of the titles on every console on the market, besides the Xbox.
There we have them, five games like Fire Emblem that should sate you until the next game gets released, here’s hoping for a full 3d console title, like Path of Radiance. In the meantime happy gaming folks.