Well into its twilight years, it’s become easy to forget about the 3DS, overshadowed as it has been by the runaway success of the Nintendo Switch. However, besides playing host to one of the best gaming libraries of the past few years there are still a few notable releases making their way to the dual screen handheld. Interestingly Fire Emblem Warriors is our first experience of a dual Switch/3DS release, though it’s nothing that the few Wii U owners out there won’t have experienced before. As with Hyrule Warriors, this is a visually pared back version of a great game, but despite the 3DS’ obvious technical shortcomings the overall experience has been translated across very well.
It’s remarkable just how close the two versions of the game are, and while resolution has clearly taken a big hit the handsome cutscenes from the Switch version arrive completely intact. This being my second time out with the game, the English language voices are now starting to grate on me, but a patch has enabled the use of the original Japanese voices if you download the additional data from the eShop. The only slight problem with this improvement for your ears is that you have to try and read the subtitles while bashing your way through the crowds of enemies, and the smaller screen doesn’t help much in this regard. Having said that, it’s a common problem with Warriors games as a whole.
There is a long list of what has been cut back in order to cram the game onto the smaller portable, and probably the most noticeable is the reduction in size of the crowds of enemies. You’ll still be hacking your way through thousands of meandering soldiers and creatures, but they don’t swarm in quite the same numbers on the 3DS. Of course, it’ll all done to hold the game’s performance and barring the odd hiccup here and there it is largely pretty solid (on the New 3DS at least). Even with the reduced numbers, there are still a hell of a lot of enemies to mow down.
The other visual sacrifice has has been the reduction of a great amount of detail from both the player characters and your opponents, as well as all the locations, though the smaller screen means that it’s not as glaringly obvious as it could have been. The draw distance is somewhat shorter too, but overall it’s a remarkably close approximation of the full fat experience on Switch. As far as 3DS games go it is handsome, though as with the Switch version, it doesn’t have a massive sense of scale despite some large arenas.
The story itself remains as silly as any other crossover game, but it does the trick for pulling the fantastic array of Fire Emblem characters together. I’m sure that there’ll be someone missing for longtime fans, but for those who’ve followed the games on 3DS you’ll be pleased to spend time with Chrom, Frederick, Ryoma et al, while Marth and a few of his compatriots are on hand for the old-timers. Fantastically, you won’t be losing any of the presentation and story by playing on the 3DS.
On a second run though, there’s a few things I’d recommend for players looking to maximise their enjoyment of Fire Emblem Warriors, one of which would be to move over to the Quick and Efficient mode that reduces mid-battle level-up screens and other pop-ups while you’re in the thick of it. Once you’ve expanded your team to include eight characters out on the field you’ll find that the levelling up jingle will be firing pretty regularly, and having a readout appear for every one really slows the game’s pace, and always happens at the most inopportune moments.
There’s something that just feels right about playing Fire Emblem Warriors on 3DS, and as the spiritual home of the Fire Emblem in recent years, it’s nice to be able to indulge in some serious hack and slash action in this universe before the franchise moves on to pastures new.