Fire Emblem, Fates: Eternal Decisions
Do you remember Blockbuster? It was the company that preceded the almighty Redbox where you rented movies and games. It was a pretty swanky way to watch movies, and it just so happened that my next door neighbor (aka, Hector Miray) had a subscription with them. If I remember correctly, you could request whatever game or movie you wanted, and then they would mail it to your house, and you could do this X times in the month. Apparently Hector, at this point in his life, had watched everything that he wanted at the time and offered the annoying kid next door a free rental. I just asked for a video game, and he rented Fire Emblem, Radiant Dawn for me.
The game didn’t even work. After the first attack scene, the game crashed. However, I was so excited to play my first Fire Emblem game, I went out and bought my own copy from Gamestop with some birthday cash. Little did I know what kind of journey that one game would start me on.
Radiant Dawn was the tenth game in the series and the direct sequel to Fire Emblem 9: Path of Radiance. These two games cover the story of our beloved hero, Ike (the same guy off of Super Smash Brothers, for reference). After I beat 10, I borrowed 9 from a neighbor. Then I got 6, 7, and 8 for the Gameboy. Currently, I am on my third playthrough of the 14th game in the series, making for a grand total of 8 Fire Emblem games that I’ve beaten.
The magic of these games is the unique gameplay that it provides. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Fire Emblem games are played on a gigantic grid. You place your units in designated places and then begin the mission. Your objective varies per chapter. Sometimes all you have to do is simply “rout the enemy” or “defeat the boss”; other missions have more complicated objectives, like “survive 20 turns” or “seize the throne.” Every unit, set up like pawns on a chess board, have different stats and weapons. You have to be careful, because a general with a spear might be slower than your swordsman, but spear beats sword in the Fire Emblem world, and your swordsman won’t deal much damage to a unit with such a high defense. You also have to account for terrain, and don’t forget about supporting your units together! Your team fights better side by side, and the more they do so, the more they “support” each other. This unlocks conversations at your base that give you insight into your own personal army.
What really sets Fire Emblem apart and what makes it so memorable is the fact that when one of your units dies, that unit is dead. There’s no reviving them.
They don’t come back in the next mission. The fallen stay fallen, and the only way to get them back is to restart the mission. It makes for a much different game, especially when you’re playing on “lunatic.” Sometimes you have to sacrifice a unit in order to finish the mission, but how do you make that choice?
Fire Emblem, Fates explores this idea of tough decisions even more. The game hinges on a choice you make during Chapter 6: The Path is Yours. During the chapters prior to this, you discover that you are a Prince (or princess... but since I’m currently playing through as a guy, let’s just say prince for now) of the Kingdom of Nohr. You train with your elder brother, and all of your siblings love you dearly. The people who serve you are willing to sacrifice their life for you, and life couldn’t be better... if you ignore that your father, King Garon, is in fact a crazed lunatic with a hatred for the neighboring peace-loving country of Hoshido. After a mission gone wrong, you end up being captured by Hoshidon soldiers. You are immediately taken to meet Mikoto, the Queen of Hoshido who announces that you are actually not a Nohrian prince, but a Hoshidon prince who was kidnapped by Garon when you were just a small child. You’re still trying to process this information when the sword that your lovely papi gave you explodes, killing the queen and a large portion of the capital city. Now with the queen dead along with her spell of protection over the whole
country (couldn’t cast one over herself, eh?), you rush to the border with your biological siblings to meet the siblings that raised you. Two armies oppose each other, and as the brother you know and love and trained with extends out his hand, you look back to see your real brother also holding out his. Do you side with the family that loves you, even if they serve a mad king? Or do you betray them and side with your biological family to oppose your foster father?
It’s a tough call. Side with Nohr, and your oldest brother commits suicide in order to protect you. Not to mention, one of your father’s crazed subordinates slaughters droves of Hoshidons, and the public hates you, even though you have a plan to ultimately defeat Garon. If you side with Hoshido, your kid “sister” sacrifices herself to save you, and you are forced to kill your oldest “brother” in order to get to your father. I may or may not have cried at the climax of both campaigns. All I could think of were the intense ramifications I had for making what I thought was the best choice.
Then I think about my life. I have made the conscious decision to devote more than 100 hours in 40 days (about 2 and a half hours a day) to the playing of Fates when I sometimes barely spend 20 minutes in God’s Word. How am I supposed to make godly decisions when I spend so much time making ungodly ones?
The Bible has a bit to say about the decisions that we make.
Check out 1 Corinthians 3 — (10b) Let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— (13) each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Basically, Paul (the writer of Corinthians) is warning Christians to build a life that is honorable to God. It means making eternal decisions. So often, I don’t even think when I do things. Maybe it’s saying a discouraging joke to a friend or screening a call from a family member. My thoughts in that moment might be, “Hey, this’ll give everyone around me a good laugh,” or “I really don’t have time for this person, so I’ll call them later.” You know what I’ve come to find out? I lose relationships with people when I make that special-kind-of stupid decisions. My life would be significantly better if I actually lived life with eternity in mind.
The truth is, regardless if you’re a Christian or not, there is an afterlife. Unlike your poor Fire Emblem characters, you have an eternity to prepare for and don’t simply disappear of the mini-map when you die. I don’t want to heap treasures of crap at the feet of Jesus, yet I live my life in that very way.
Galatians 6 speaks some heavy truth about the decisions that we make. (7) Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. I shouldn’t expect much if I didn’t deliver much. That’s a rule with anything. I won’t win a Fire Emblem mission if I don’t take the right steps to train up my team. I also won’t accomplish anything that will last into the next life if I don’t change my mindset on a daily basis. The only thing I can bring with me after death is more people. If the decisions I’m making now aren’t bringing more characters to the cross, than what use am I? I’m the kind of unit that isn’t even chosen to be put in the battlefield.
I also need to realize that sometimes, even the smallest decisions make the biggest difference. This can go both ways: sometimes a little good thing can turn into a very awesome thing, and sometimes a little bad thing can turn into a gigantic problem. Take, for instance, the fact that I didn’t build up an A- support (the highest support you can get before marriage) with Kaze during my first playthrough. Little did I know that my negligence would cause me to lose that unit for good. I also failed to realize that giving Mozu’s Aptitude skill can create some of the best characters for the endgame. Little decisions have big ramifications.
And then there’s the little decision to make that one purchase that ends up breaking the bank. We’ve all been there, right? Or maybe it’s the decision to have that conversation with your son or daughter that ends up changing their life forever? Experts (and by experts, I mean a google search) say that we make about 35,000 choices in a day. Make sure, whether they are big or small, that you do so thinking about the eternal value. Trust me on this one. Life is too short for you to be worrying about things that won’t last. Build relationships and a legacy that will have you remembered as a generous and loving person who spent their time trying to get A-supports with as many people as possible.
- Timmy Martens was a kid that lived next door to Hector. He admired him and thought, “Hey, I’d love to be like him one day.” Now Timmy is literally working on taking Hector’s former job at Camp Grace as Teen Ministries Director. He’s also working at becoming the resident geek — a journey that began when he went to Hector’s house in search for comics. Now, many Walking Dead episodes and Injustice losses and Robin comics later, Timmy has the joy and
privilege of using his love of writing to give back to his sensei and one and only El Mariachi.