I don’t know much about the Fire Emblem series, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying a Twitter thread that has recently gone viral. Created by Twitter user eiouna, the thread is all about their mom and what she thinks of all the men featured in the most recent Fire Emblem game, Three Houses. The thread is a wonderful journey.
As with many of the best Twitter threads, it starts out with a simple but interesting setup. Eiouna is going to ask their mother to rate the men in the game based solely on their looks.
The mother’s opinions on the various characters are hilarious and possibly accurate? I have no idea, I don’t know these characters. But they just feel right, you know?
The whole thread is great and worth reading, especially if you know who all these characters are and what they are really like. Let me and other non-FE players know in the comments below if this mother’s ratings are accurate. I’m very curious to know!
It’s hard to decide which optional Paralogue battles to play and which to ignore in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I could look up which battles would give me the best weapons, but what I really want to know is which have the best storylines. The game doesn’t have a way to tell me that; I have to just try the battles and find out. I just so happened to select one battle, Rumored Nuptials, that had a surprisingly touching story. It’s all about Dorothea and Ingrid, two characters I had little previous emotional attachment towards but am now rooting for with all my heart.
Three Houses is divided into a calendar system that allows the protagonist to use one “free day” per week fighting an optional battle, taking a specialized seminar to level up certain skills, or wandering around and having conversations with all of the characters in the game. My favorite thing to do is that last option, but I still have to pick some battles sometimes, or else my students won’t get stronger. Also, some of these optional battles, which are called Paralogues, provide cool story beats that I otherwise would’ve missed.
I chose the Golden Deer house at the start of the game, which means my Paralogue battles feature characters who belong to that house. I also managed to recruit some characters from the other two houses, Black Eagles and Blue Lions, in the limited number of in-game weeks before Three Houses reaches its second big chapter, after which point everything in the game’s world changes.
The spoilers that happen in the run-up to this second chapter aren’t necessary to get into. All players need to know is that, after that point, they can no longer recruit characters to their army, and they can no longer play any of the optional Paralogue battles. Each Paralogue battle has a date in its description field that specifies when it will expire. Other than providing these mysterious expiration dates, Three Houses doesn’t warn you that you might miss out on certain things if you don’t do them in time.
As soon as the game introduced me to the concept of Paralogue battles, I got worried. How would I know which battles to choose? Would I have time to do them all? I was also dealing with my need to take specific seminars so that I could accrue points to recruit more characters to Golden Deer. But the more characters I recruited, the longer my list of Paralogue battles became, because almost all of the characters have their own themed Paralogue battle. And the weeks kept ticking down.
I managed to recruit both Dorothea and Ingrid, from Black Eagles and Blue Lions respectively, with just a few weeks remaining. I saw a Paralogue battle involving both of them pop up, and on a whim, I chose it. I’m so glad I did, because it ended up being my favorite Paralogue battle.
Before the battle starts, the characters involved always give Professor Byleth an explanation for why they need help to embark on whatever fight needs fighting. Ingrid starts this Paralogue by revealing that she is “worried” about a marriage proposal she has just received from a former merchant who has earned favor with nobles through some social machinations. Dorothea then reveals that this same man also tried to court her when she was working as a singer; she warns Ingrid: “Stay far, far away from this guy.” Ingrid admits that her family needs the money from the dowry the man is offering, and Dorothea gets increasingly insistent that the man’s money “is soaked in blood” and should be refused. When Ingrid still hesitates, Dorothea admits that most of what she’s heard is “rumors,” and that they should check the guy out. Then, the Paralogue battle starts, with a smash cut to all of our heroes suddenly in a volcano, which is where this guy apparently lives, because he’s a total super-villain.
I won’t spoil the end of this battle, because it’s adorable and I’m glad I got to experience it without knowing what would happen. But it also has me wondering which Paralogue battles have the best stories. I’m probably going to play Fire Emblem a second time just so I can recruit different students, anyway. So, tell me in the comments about your favorite Paralogues. I don’t want to miss out.
Sometimes, between fighting monsters or zombies with swords or guns or whatever, you want to kick back and enjoy a different type of challenge in a video game. Fishing mini-games bring bite-sized blasts of outdoorsmanship to our adventures, and while some players hate them, I’ve found there’s fun to be had when fishing’s done right. Here’s a list of some of the best.
The true joy of a fishing mini-game comes from mixing challenge with relaxation. You can relax and watch the rippling waters, but when the time comes and you get a bite, you’ve got to put in some work and battle with a scaley foe. These fights range from being complex simulations of actual fishing to bubbly arcade romps. Using completely arbitrary but totally scientific methods, I have collected the top five recent fishing mini-games and present them to you, dear reader, in no particular order.
Stardew Valley has plenty going on, from farm management to dungeon-crawling and romances. It also has a simple but enjoyable fishing game. If you’re dedicated enough, you can ditch the farm life for a salty sea-faring lifestyle. Whenever you cast your rod and get a bite, a small meter moves up and down. The goal is to keep your icon within a small section of that meter. It’s not too complicated, but the tougher fish are incredibly erratic and require quick thinking and even some anticipation to keep on the hook. This mini-game is a good split between light-hearted fun and a more serious enterprise. Just try not to be mad when you occasionally reel in seaweed or a stick.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
The Yakuza series is known for its vibrant characters and melodramatic storylines. It’s gaming’s best soap opera. Beyond all the crime and drama, there are tons of side quests and activities to while away your time. Yakuza’s had fishing games before, but Yakuza 6 offers a twist: speargun fishing. Scowling ex-Yakuza and all-around good dude Kazuma Kiryu can don a wetsuit and blast through an arcade shoot-fest befitting the Sega pedigree. There’s even boss battles against sharks and octopi. It’s silly, but it’s a great balance to all the plotting and bloody martial arts battles.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
If there’s one thing that Professor Byleth loves more than her students, it’s fishin’ and more fishin’. Raising teenagers to become dangerous mercenaries and world leaders is exhausting, and it gets even harder when plots conspire to make them battle each other. Fishing is a great way to earn experience in your professor rank, which gives you more activity points, allowing you to do more with your limited free time. (It also helps that fishing doesn’t use up an of those points.) The mini-game itself is pretty standard: press the buttons at the right time to snag a fish. But, much like its distant inspiration, Suikoden 2, the context is hilarious. Teacher, warrior, general, bass fisher. Byleth is all these things and more.
Final Fantasy XV
While Final Fantasy XIV offers an entire fishing profession as a viable way to play, it’s Final Fantasy XV that really nails it. Pick your bait and cast a line, then wait a while, until Prince Noctis ends up in an intense fishing battle with his quarry. It’s a mixture of managing your fishing line’s strain, reeling in the fish, and tiny quick-time events to press the right button. It’s a fun mini-game made even better by a collection of side quests that allow you to catch truly gargantuan fish. I’m talking 100-pound swamp bloobers and alligator-length legendary trout. Final Fantasy XV is often a serious game, but these little side adventures add a lot of charm.
The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
I’m cheating my “recent” rule here but how could I not include this? For a lot of older gamers, Ocarina of Time’s fishing pond was their first experience with digital fishing. In our young, foolish youths, many of us battled to catch the Hylian Loach. Sure, you could cheat using the sinking lure, or you could stand on the log in the middle of the pond, but True Gamers™ did it the hard way. This isn’t just a fun fishing mini-game. It’s the fishing mini-game.
Even in the fantasy world of Fire Emblem, there is no way the students of Garreg Mach Monastery are so forgetful that I, as their teacher, need to ferry 100 of their lost items around a school campus at all times in hopes of finding their owners. Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a mechanic for that, and to be completely honest, I am having no fun with it at all.
Fire Emblem’s “lost items” mechanic, in theory, is a cute way of getting to know all the quirks and qualities of the wonderful students in your school. Matching, say, a feather pillow with Linhardt von Hevring tells you that he is a big napper. Matching bone dice with Shamir Nevrand tells you she’s someone who likes to gamble. This makes your interactions with the characters feel a little deeper. From a mechanics standpoint, it helps motivate your students and boosts your bond with them.
In practice, going down a list of dozens of items with each and every student—some of whom respond rudely to your generous inquiries—is tedium incarnate. And if you really think about it, it’s utterly ridiculous. Imagine carrying 30 to 40 items in your satchel at all times, including a bag of tea leaves, a noseless puppet, a songstress poster, a cooking pot, and an encyclopedia of sweets, and asking each student, unprompted, “Excuse me. Sorry to bother you. By any chance, does _____ belong to you?” 30 to 40 times. No! I was brought onto this staff to teach and fight and maybe, like, do holy stuff. I was not brought on to be a roving human lost and found.
There are strategies for accomplishing Fire Emblem’s “lost and found” mechanic aside from slamming random puzzle pieces into random holes. You can listen very closely to what the students say and make an educated guess on what belongs to whom. This is easy for the kids in your house, but if it’s someone you rarely interact with, you’re basically back to making uneducated guesses. You can also ask a student to help you with a battle and look at their profiles. It’s pretty inefficient, though.
The locations of the lost items actually correspond with where students were standing the month prior. But there’s no way you’re going to remember that.
Or you could be like me, somebody who’s both too stubborn to Google a guide and too lazy to keep playing lost items matchmaker, and hope that, maybe later, I can just pawn all this random crap for cash.
One thing Fire Emblem: Three Houses does well is endear you to its memorable characters. After spending almost a hundred hours with the teens at Garreg Mach, I’m somehow still eager to see more of these characters’ hilarious interactions. It wasn’t a huge surprise when one fan took their huge personalities through the next logical step of teen socializing and imagined what it would be like if the students at Garreg Mach had Twitter accounts. I’ve been laughing about it for days, so I talked to the person behind the thread, Annie.
Annie is an 18-year-old college student who has been a huge Nintendo fan since middle school. As someone who writes fanfiction, getting character voices right really matters to them. Shitposting on Twitter is a good way to practice, and creating images of the tweets complete with profile avatars made it that much funnier.
“Fanfiction is as legitimate as fanart, it takes real hard work and skill to properly replicate a work,” Annie said over Twitter direct messages. “My dream job is localizing video games to make sure that words have the same weight & characters have the same voice after the game’s been translated, so fic writing for me is actually really useful preparation.”
“It’s fun seeing where character tropes intersect with categories that real-life Twitter users fall into!” they said. “I’ve practiced capturing the ‘essence’ of the characters I write for years & it’s a tricky thing to explain. It’s important to look at all of the characters’ actions and layers and ask yourself, ‘Would they REALLY say/do xyz?’ I find mimicking speech patterns SUPER fun so I really love characters like Claude with unique and well-done voices.”
Annie said that the idea they’re most proud of is Raphael drawing pictures of his friends. “It gave me an opportunity to use my subpar drawing skills as a way to illustrate sweet friendships and make people happy!” they said.
I for one hope that Annie keeps adding more examples of the dumb ways the characters of Fire Emblem: Three Houses would talk to each other online. Maybe I’ll see Annie’s strong sense of character writing in a future Fire Emblem game someday.
I’ve been super impressed with the love that Tetris 99 has been getting with each update. This weekend’s Maximus Cup event continues its excellent selection of timed content with this new theme based on Fire Emblem: Three Houses. While it isn’t the most visually engaging thing to stare at, I love the music and sound effects.
This weekend’s Maximus Cup event is live until Tuesday, August 27, 2:59 a.m. Eastern, and much like last time, you’ll have to play enough matches to secure enough points to unlock the theme. Don’t worry, you won’t have to win each time, although placing higher will certainly help you unlock the theme faster. Here’s how it all shakes out:
As the match ramps up and you filter through into the top 10, the music changes, and the sound effects are pulled straight from the Fire Emblem battles as well. These make each KO feel even better by accompanying them to the dramatic sound effect of swords clashing. So best of luck—and remember, each battle is a chance to grow. Don’t give up!
Greetings, professor! Nothing to report! Well, there is one thing. A Fire Emblem: Three Houses hacker has figured out how to recruit the man, the myth, the character whose voice you’re reading this in right now, the Gatekeeper, into his class. This has led to some fascinating discoveries.
In the weeks since Three Houses’ release, the Gatekeeper has become a phenomenon, with his bottomless well of pure-hearted kindness inspiring volumes of fan art and, of course, elaborate fantasies about what it would be like to romance him. However, he’s remained a nameless, un-recruitable NPC. Until now.
On Twitter, a Fire Emblem hacker named Christo “Cirosan” Brittain posted videos of both the Gatekeeper and the Death Knight chumming it up (read: slicing and dicing rando bandits) with his band of lovable anime scamps. Given how frequently Death Knight shows up in various missions, it’s no surprise that he has a full suite of combat animations and abilities. Gatekeeper, on the other hand, cannot wade into the thick of battle unless combat animations are disabled. “In combat, he wields the mighty power of the jump cut,” Brittain said on Twitter.
Brittain did this, he told Kotaku in a Twitter DM, by using a save-game editor to replace preexisting characters in his class with Death Knight and Gatekeeper. The old characters’ stats and abilities, he said, were overwritten with Three Houses’ internal data for Death Knight and Gatekeeper. Brittain also claims that Gatekeeper has his own ability set and default stats—including a charm stat of 99, the highest in the game. If true, it’s almost like Three Houses’ designers knew what kind of impact the Gatekeeper’s weaponized charm offensive would have on the internet’s cold and calloused, but nonetheless still beating, heart.
However, hacking is the whole reason any of this is possible, so there’s a chance that Gatekeeper’s stats have been altered as well. Brittain acknowledged that it would be possible for him to alter stats, but said he hasn’t done so. As for the charm stat in particular, he’s not sure what to make of it. “It’s odd because I looked into it, and, to make a long story short, there’s a discrepancy in the internal files about what his stats should be,” he said. Nonetheless, it manifests as 99 in game.
Many of Gatekeeper’s other stats, Brittain further noted, seem to be default stats for other non-recruitable characters. He finds it “fascinating” that these characters not only have stats, but also don’t need any alterations to be functional in battle.
“As I’ve since discovered, his age (20) and height (1 cm) are also the age and height for most of the other units that go unused, of which there are hundreds in the game’s data, so they’re probably just placeholders,” Brittain said. “His suite of combat arts and abilities are oddly unique, though.”
Yes, you read that correctly: Gatekeeper is apparently 1 centimeter tall, which raises a lot of questions about the nature of Fire Emblem’s universe. Unfortunately, he has no support stats, which only raises further questions—for example: Why can’t I romance the Gatekeeper, Fire Emblem developers? If you knew we’d love him so much, why did you insist on keeping us at arm’s length?
Editor’s note: This piece contains minor spoilers for Fire Emblem: Three Houses characters Marianne, Bernadetta, and Claude, as well as descriptions of emotional abuse.
In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, there’s a character in Golden Deer house named Marianne. She’s so shy that she barely speaks. At first, I thought this was a confidence problem. I eagerly gave her gifts, not just to get to her next support rank and trigger a new conversation, but because being nice to someone who was clearly struggling felt like the least I could do.
As she got closer to other characters, though, something darker shone through. When Lysithea scolded her for not jumping to action when other students were involved in an accident, she ran away and retreated to her room. Lysithea went after her to apologize for being too harsh, but Marianne insisted that it was, in fact, all her own fault. She went even further than Lysithea, saying increasingly disparaging things about herself as Lysithea tried to calm her down. As I watched this scene unfold, the feelings felt uncomfortably familiar. As these characters acted through and reckoned with their trauma, it ultimately helped in my own journey to healing.The last time I left an abusive relationship, I had been struggling to breathe for what seemed like months.
He was a nice enough guy. We met on the internet when I was in a pretty vulnerable place—fresh out of a breakup, drinking too much, looking for warmth in the bodies of others. After a few conversations, he declared that we were dating. I was too tired to disagree.
My fatigue was a trend in our relationship. Visiting him once, he wanted to go to a pizza place that was a fair walk from our train stop. We had been out all day, and my feet were aching. I asked for a rest, I asked how long it would be, I asked if there was a bus nearby. There was no alternative plan—my pain seemed to bother him more than anything else. I walked until my feet felt like two inert stumps at the end of my legs. Afterward, he got a bucket of water for me to soak my feet in. It was ice cold, and somehow my shock it its frigidity felt like my fault too.
I told him that it made me so anxious to get messages that said, “we need to talk.” He would read to me on the phone every night. If he saw me tweet after saying goodnight and hanging up with him, he’d send me a message. I’d stay up all night wondering why he was upset, only to have a talk the next day that amounted to, “Well, if you say you’re going to bed, I assume you’re going to bed.” It was his delivery, I said, that made his comments difficult for me. He heard that criticism, he said, and wouldn’t do it again.
He did do it again. He did it a lot. More and more often, the messages he left me were angry. I was exhausted every day, barely sleeping, wondering what I could do to make this man less upset. It was like running uphill all day, trying to reach a goal of “making him happy” that seemed to keep moving further into the distance. My legs burned and my breath was hot and ragged, but I kept running.
Now, in the last year of my 20s, I would have broken up with this guy before we had even gotten started. Almost half a decade ago, this was just how I assumed men were supposed to treat you.
Marianne’s persistent self-loathing resonated with me as I continued through Fire Emblem, but as the game went on, I discovered that she’s far from the only character whose home life was less than pleasant. The Black Eagles’ Bernadetta is so anxious she barely leaves her room. In an early support conversation, I learned that her father sometimes resorted to tying to her a chair to train her to be a perfect, silent wife. She didn’t come to Garreg Mach by choice—she had been kidnapped by her parents in the middle of the night. The actual circumstances of these abuses fit well enough in Fire Emblem’s fantasy world that they don’t feel totally analogous to my own life, but seeing characters with the impact of these traumas written into their every action rang true.
The pain that Marianne and Bernadetta’s families have inflicted on them is too deeply ingrained for them to come out of their shells easily. They believe that they are worthless because their parents told them they were. When someone you hold as closely as a parent or a partner spends so much time telling you or showing you that you are worthless, you believe it.
Though Bernadetta’s social anxiety is sometimes played for laughs, the subtext of those same jokes is that she is deeply afraid of other people. Usually the jokes subside when the other character realizes why she’s so nervous, which softens the edges on the game’s humor. I never felt like a joke was being told on Bernadetta. Her peers just didn’t understand her. These conversations are the journey to that understanding.
Bernadetta is afraid that they are angry at her, because her father was so often angry at her and punished her severely for not living up to his expectations. We don’t see the abuse happening, but we see the product of it. Bernadetta doesn’t just lack confidence; she expects to be abused.
When you interface with characters who have been abused in this way, it humanizes the characters more strongly than showing the disturbing acts themselves. I don’t want to see Bernadetta being berated by her father—I can already see what the pressure he put on her has done to her.
I’m in the best relationship of my life, so it seemed like a good time to read Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft, a seminal text about abuse.
I read this passage and recognized myself:
“Sometimes [control] is exercised through wearing the woman down with constant low-level complaints, rather than through yelling or barking orders,” the book read. “The abuser may repeatedly make negative comments about one of his partner’s friends, for examples, so she gradually stop seeing her acquaintance to save herself the hassle. In fact, she may believe it was her own decision, not noticing how her abuser pressured her into it.”
Eventually, with the man who never let me sleep, I stopped tweeting after saying goodnight to him on the phone. I stopped going out—how could I, when my partner expected to have a weekly stream with me, a date night for just the two of us, a very long session of a tabletop roleplaying game with our friends, and also to read me to bed every night? If I invited my own friends to any of these activities, even the stream which was hosted on my channel, my boyfriend would get quiet. He wasn’t mad, you see—he just wished he’d had more warning. I stopped asking them.
I shouldn’t have dated this man for a minute, nor the man I dated in college who ignored my sexual boundaries, nor the man I dated before I’d recovered from that. They all primed me for each other, for shutting up and changing myself, for making compromises but never receiving them. I shouldn’t have dated three men in a row who had absolutely no interest in my friends. I am still proud for breaking up with all of them.
Getting to know Bernadetta and Marianne has helped me see myself more clearly. I see myself in Marianne’s shame, and in Bernadetta’s fear. I also see myself in their recovery.
In Claude and Marianne’s A-rank support conversation, he tells her a story. He’s been pestering her about her Crest, but Marianne is uncomfortable talking about it. In this last conversation, he tries a different way to get through to her without scaring her. When he begins, “Once upon a time,” she’s surprised, even though she was just talking out loud to a horse.
Claude presses on, telling the story of a “young boy who was hated just for existing.” Claude Von Reigan is mixed race, and the countries his families belong to hate each other. As a child, Claude had abuse hurled at him from all sides—from his father’s family for being the child of a coward, and from his mother’s side for being a member of a bestial race. Even running away from home didn’t help. He encountered the same prejudice everywhere.
“The point is, people are born with burdens to carry. That much is undeniable,” Claude says. “But whether they bind us or we cast them aside…that’s up to us. I think you should cast yours aside, Marianne. Put that heavy burden down. It’s time.”
Marianne says she wouldn’t know how, but Claude insists.
“It’s OK,” he says. “I’m here for you. We’re the same and…I can help you.”
Eventually, Marianne said in a cutscene that she was through with being afraid. Maybe she was anxious; maybe she didn’t like herself all the way, but she wasn’t afraid anymore.
I used to keep a mental timeline of “bad things that have happened to me.” From my perspective, it seemed to explain a lot more about who I was than anything else. The line stretched long from my date of birth through every year where I had some kind of traumatic event. Bullied in school, broke my front tooth in half, got both braces and glasses, dated a lot of abusive men, was sexually assaulted, got really depressed and ate a lot of pizza. The details of it are fuzzy now. I just haven’t been keeping track of it like I used to.
More and more, it seems like the past is all a smaller blip on the timeline of my life. In the scheme of things, I’m a baby. Most of my life hasn’t happened to me yet. In the stickiness of New York City in August, I feel less tethered to the past than I have ever felt.
When I fail to carry on a coherent conversation during a regular after-school hangout, I only have to worry about disappointing one of my precious anime children, all of who mean the whole entire world to me. On the other hand, if I bombed a tea party with the Death Knight, I’m worried that he might decide to live up to his name.
One enterprising hacker decided to explore this grim fantasy by opening up the option to sip tea on an idyllic gazebo with not just the Death Knight, but also Jeralt, Sothis, and… yourself? The hacker, DeathChaos, who is probably a death knight themselves (or at least some kind of necromancer), refuses to reveal how they pulled it off. “I will not be answering questions on how to do this,” they said in their video’s YouTube description.
Still, it’s a fun watch, with the Death Knight making for an especially disarming (and comically large) tea party guest. He begins by daintily scalding his tongue, but even when the player wins him over by discussing subjects like equipment upkeep and evaluating allies, he remains eerily silent. Also, he hates it when you nod. The other characters DeathChaos modded into teatime also have little-to-no dialogue, but nobody quietly menaces like Death Knight.
However, there is evidence that some of these characters were intended to be able to have tea with the player at some point in development. Jeralt, for instance, has a fully voiced line in reference to the tea party. “Didn’t peg me as a tea drinker, did you?” he says after taking a sip.
That in mind, I’m extremely curious as to why you, Byleth, can have tea with Byleth, who is, again, you. True to form, she’s not interested in talking about herself. She’s also not interested in cats, which I guess explains why she refuses to ever pet them.
The students in Fire Emblem: Three Houses are my children. They’re yours too, and so I’m sure you’ll agree that everything is better with our gaggle of rainbow-haired anime children in it. Even memes we’ll almost certainly be sick of in two weeks.
This line of thought has given rise to the #RedrawRiegan hashtag on Twitter, in which artists are redrawing popular memes, scenes from TV shows, and other bits of personality-driven imagery with corresponding characters from Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Golden Deer house. The result, like pretty much everything else involving the new Fire Emblem, has been deeply charming.
(Warning: Some of these memes might indirectly constitute Fire Emblem spoilers. Sorta? If you really think through the implications of, like, two of them? So beware and all that.)