My quest to find a suitable Fire Emblem fix led me to this game. I’ve always been curious about the Mercenaries and decided to add it to my collection of games on the Switch. It turns out that this game is more like Final Fantasy Tactics than Fire Emblem and that’s not a bad thing at all.
It’s Like A Simpler Version of Final Fantasy Tactics:
If you have fond memories of Final Fantasy Tactics (I do) then you’ll probably find something to like here. It plays exactly like those games and that’s a good and bad thing. You won’t have your Final Fantasy classes like Black Mage here, but this game does have a decent variety of them to choose from. You can see the obvious inspiration it got from Tactics and this is probably as close as we’ll ever get to getting another one of those.
Maybe this is just me getting old, but I don’t like how slow paced this game plays. The gameplay is good and at times fantastic, but it takes so long for it to get there that I wish there was a way for me to speed up combat. Like Final Fantasy Tactics, Mercenaries Wings: The False Pheonix is a really slow-paced game and that’s not a good thing when you consider how much grinding you have to do just to be at, or near, the same level as the enemies that you’re fighting in story mode. Repeatably doing free missions is super repetitive and everyone levels up so damn slow that the process took forever for me to get my entire party ready for the next stage. Some stages only allows you to take 3 members of your team with you while the story mission would let you take everyone. That means one of your party members would be greatly underleveled and utterly useless unless you took a few extra hours to grind that last member up to everyone else’s level.
After reaching a certain level (10) you’ll be able to advance a class to the next level and you can do that a few times before they reach max rank. There is a lot of depth here. Before you begin your next mission you can shop around for useful items and equipment for your party. You can even find new weapons, armor, and healing items on the battlefield if you explore enough. Enemies have a chance of dropping loot too so repeating some stages for weapons and armor is a good way to get good gear in the early game if you don’t want to spend all of your cash. You’ll be hurting for cash for a good while anyway and that’s how I recommend getting gear until the cash starts flowing in.
If you’ve ever played an SRPG you’ll know how this game plays. Every character on your team gets a chance to move and attack. After everyone performs their actions it’s the other side’s turn to act. It’s basically a chess match between you and the AI. A very, very long chess match that can take up to 30 minutes to complete a single stage. Especially if you want to find all of the hidden loot on them.
This is a good game, but it’s not going to push the genre forward the way Fire Emblem: Awakening did. This game has pixelated graphics and honestly, it looks really good. This is the first game that was made for consoles so it does look considerably better than its 3DS counterparts. Every unit looks unique and the stages are nicely designed for the most part, but the animations are still as poor as they’ve ever been. This was probably done to keep this game looking as close to Final Fantasy Tactics as possible or it was done to save money because this isn’t a very big developer we’re talking about here and these games are very niche.
Don’t go into this game expecting Fire Emblem, or even FF Tactics, sort of story. This game has a very predictable story. People that look villains are villains if you think something is going to happen odds are it will. None of the characters are very memorable and it’s honestly not written very well. I did enjoy it for what it was if that makes any sense. I don’t need every game I play to tell masterclass stories and I wasn’t expecting this game to so as far as I’m concerned I got what I paid for.
It’s Really Slow Paced:
This game is long and it’s not because it has an overwhelming amount of content. It just takes a really long time to get through battles and I just don’t have the patience for that anymore. I like this game more than Wargroove and less than Disgaea 5 which is still my favorite SRPG on the Switch. But, I only paid $13 for this game and I more than got my money’s worth out of it.
Mercenaries Wings: The False Phoenix is a good game, but it doesn't do anything to separate itself from all of the other SRPGs out there. It has an average story, forgettable characters, good gameplay (even though it takes 10 years to win a battle), and some really great customization and it's cheap. I can recommend buying this game because it's only a little over $10. You can get the previous 3 on the 3DS for $15. But if you're looking for the next great SRPG this isn't it, but it probably will give you that fix you need until the next Fire Emblem game releases.