LadiesGamers 3DS Love Story Fire Emblem

A 3DS Love Story (3DS Tribute series)

The 3DS was my fiance’s. He had but three games for it, and none of them were appealing. (I won’t name titles here, for the sake of my personal safety!)

And then he bought Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Little House in on a Prairie

This was in 2012, which already feels like a bygone era. We were in graduate school in Texas and spent our free time in his one-room garage apartment, which smelled faintly of something fried and something male.

I would occupy the well-worn couch, reading for class. He sprawled on the creaky wooden bed, playing his aqua-blue 3DS. It was shiny, new-fangled, cutting-edge.

By the way, this was the same Guy I mentioned in my first very story for LadiesGamers, the guy who converted me from PC to console gaming. Gone were his DS gaming days now, like our first, failed relationship, though both the memories and the cartridges are well-preserved.

LadiesGamers 3DS Love Story Fire Emblem

While I wasn’t into the games, I did think his 3DS had the most splendid shade of color I had ever seen on a console. Sure, it was boxy and not as sleek as its predecessor, the DS, but that luscious teal kept catching my eye. It made me look up and ask, “How’s your new game?” He pulled out the earphones and jacked up the volume.

I would now recognize that soundtrack anywhere. It’s one of the things I love most about Fire Emblem: Awakening and which makes it a great game. Tuneful, elegant, memorable, and never out-stays its welcome.

I leaned over to watch the unfolding battles. A clash on the 2D chessboard map morphed into a close-up between warrior prince Chrom and a cloaked figure—a full-on 3D fight scene, complete with voice-acting and smooth, realistic animation. For someone stuck in the DS era, this was like torpedoing from Final Fantasy VI to Final Fantasy X.

Eat, Love, Play

​​It became a game we could talk about. That is, we talked about who we match-made with whom. You don’t talk about battle tactics in Fire Emblem; you talk about love. “So who did you pair with Chrom . . . What, why not Sumia?! Don’t you know he and Sumia are destined to be together?”

LadiesGamers 3DS Love Story Fire Emblem

FE Awakening is a turn-based strategy (TBS) that appears to be about a war but is actually a dating management game. Pair up male and female characters (heterosexual matches only back then) and over shared battles they’ll grow in friendship and intimacy. C-rank relationships evolve into B-rank, then progress to A-rank and end in S-rank, which is the Japanese way of grading things because this is a pretty Japanese game. But it doesn’t end there. Your lovebirds will produce offspring, with each child unlockable via tough but optional “Paralogue” missions. Just when you thought you liked the main Awakening cast, well, their offspring are even cuter, cooler, handsomer (and one of them looks like Batman).

Last year, I played Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the latest and most ambitious FE title to date. But despite the graphical upgrade, the expanded gameplay, the Hogwarts dream-come-true, I found myself missing the old crew from Awakening. Pompous but forgetful Valke, serious and steadfast Frederick, shy Sumia, kid-sister Lissa—just to name a few.

It was Awakening that started me seriously on TBS games. I’ve since played a few stellar TBSs on the Nintendo Switch, but most of them were lonely affairs without delightful companionships like Chrom and Co.’s.

The Road Goes Ever On

The Switch hogs all my portable playtime now, but I wonder if ten years down the road I’ll feel the same nostalgia for the Switch that I do for the DS family. Maybe I will, based on my experiences with the DS and 3DS. Those have shown that no matter how old a console gets, if it has great games (or just one great game) it’ll always have a place in my heart.

Admittedly, the 3DS isn’t the star console of my portable gaming history. It’s a bit of a middle child, overshadowed by the older DS and the younger Switch. But games alone don’t make memories. I think it’s also about where you were, or who you were with.

Whenever I look at our 3DS now, it takes me back to that “aromatic” little garage house. Those were our honeymoon years—dating, engaged, and married—all lived out in that one room. They were simpler, pre-smartphone years. We were focused on just a few things in life, mainly on each other. It’s cheesy to say, but, that’s when we grew to S-rank ourselves.

Now it’s another season, another console. But the love story goes on.


  1. Such an elegantly written tribute to the little system that could. I am a huge fan of Awakening (still playing through) and can easily sink 5 hours a day into it, which is not my normal gaming habit. Wonderful game on a wonderful system.

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