I was thinking about Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, a 3DS release, lately for several reasons. For one thing, some characters from the game were added to Fire Emblem Heroes recently, the first time in a long time that the game has gotten any recognition in that game. Also, as Nintendo's E3 presentation rapidly approaches, I'm still holding out hope for another Fire Emblem Echoes, i.e. another remake of a previously Japan-only Fire Emblem game. I've also been dipping into Fire Emblem DLC in general lately, and I was planning on checking out Shadows of Valentia's DLC next.

It looks like it's been about four years since the release and my playthrough of Shadows of Valentia. Getting back into it did take some adjustment. The sprites seem quite small, although the art style and presentation are still distinctive compared to the other 3DS Fire Emblem games (Awakening, and Fates). There's a focus on gaining weapon experience in order to unlock skills, although it's annoying that they're tied to the weapons and you can't easily determine which weapon you have to re-equip to re-enable any particular skill. I had to refresh my memory on what the various skills and weapons are and who the characters were, but pretty soon I was back into it.

There were several parts of the game that I had ignored the first time around. By this time I've bought the two Amiibo for the game, and they unlock pretty easy "dungeons" with five battles each which net you some unique but non-essential items. There's also an "Act 6", which is post-game content with a handful of more battles and a huge 10-level dungeon. I still have PTSD from the similarly lengthy marathon labyrinth from Sacred Stones, so I've left that aside for now (although in this game we have the benefit of the ability to rewind bad moves and also to exit the dungeon at any time). There were also a couple of useless awards (i.e. achievements) that I had missed on my previous playthrough that were easy to fill in.

As I mentioned, though, my main focus was checking out the DLC (completist that I am, of course I bought all of them). As with the DLC sets for the other games, there are some maps that get you experience, coins (used for upgrading weapons), or rare items and equipment. There's also a four-part prologue involving the Deliverance characters, and amongst other entertaining story elements we also get more insight into the character of Fernand and his relationship with the others. Apparently this also adds some support conversations amongst those characters, which I haven't unlocked yet. There are also two maps that unlock four brand new characters (from Fire Emblem Cipher, the sadly now-cancelled trading card game), each of whom has a unique weapon and some support conversations. A big chunk of the DLC is devoted to "overclasses", which are classes your characters can promote to if they've reached the maximum level of the previously highest classes in the game. My characters were generally not even close to being at high enough levels since I hadn't grinded at all during my original playthrough, and although the game has an auto-battle feature that wouldn't make it too hard to grind for experience on the DLC maps, it just didn't seem worth the time and effort. I suppose I'll do that at some point for at least a few characters and then tackle the marathon labyrinth.

Overall the DLC is a fun little perk, although not as extensive as the previous 3DS games, and it's too bad I wasn't able to play around with the overclasses (they really do seem pretty useless unless you plan on doing a lot of grinding). Now that I've gone through all of it, I'll be able to integrate some of it (like the Cipher characters) into my next playthrough of the whole game. I have a lot of gaps I need to fill in other entries in the series, though, so I'll be leaving this game and DLC in general aside for the near future.

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