Fire Emblem Awakening‘s DLC maps were a lot like most games. There were the easy-grind levels, the super-hard challenges and the fan-pandering silly stages. “Summer Scramble” was the worst of them all in this respect, a battle seemingly existing just as a delivery mechanism for art of a few selected characters in swimsuits.
Fire Emblem Fates‘ corresponding “Paradise Scramble” map is much more intriguing.
In many ways, the map is a standalone experience. You don’t get anything to add to your existing characters like experience, weapons or special items. You don’t even bring your characters in! “Paradise Scramble” features pre-determined characters with set levels and equipment. The incentive once again seems to be those enticing beach JPGs, but really there’s more to it than that.
Before starting, you choose one of the royal siblings to back. Each has their two canonical lieutenants, and you take your selected group into a three-versus-all challenge. This is doubly cool. First, it essentially creates eight different challenges in one map. Each group has its own flavor. For example, Sakura brings powerful healing to her group, and Hana and Subaki are glass cannons that need a stick-and-move approach. Camilla brings along Luna and Berka, for a lot of power and mobility but no recovery abilities or items at all. Archer Takumi is stationed by a long-range catapult with his compatriots Hinata and Oboro. Each of the eight squads has a quirk you’ll need to overcome.
Second, a map that can’t be beaten by grinding or preparation is a rarity in Fire Emblem. What it is, though, is something with which Intelligent Systems has a lot of experience, because it’s essentially a pre-deployed Advance Wars map. It’s a battle puzzle that’s satisfying enough to just solve, and a welcome respite from Fates‘ deep well of grinding for levels, proficiencies and supports.
And then there’s that thing where the winner gets to go to a beach. It… is what it is.
Later Fire Emblem Fates DLC seems to also follow this sort of mold, though with the added layer of special items to win. It’s a smart way to go for a game with a campaign structure that keeps players from having one “main” save file, and… you know, we’re probably not getting a new Advance Wars game anytime soon, so at least this scratches that itch a bit.
If you, like us, can’t wait for Fire Emblem Fates‘ Western release, you could always import a copy. (Heads-up, though: there’s a lot of hard-to-understand text.)