IMAG1313Photo credit: Miguel Concepcion

Yusuke Kozaki might not have been the guest of honor at the recent U.S. debut of the French-run Japan Expo (it was 'Evangelion' character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto), but the video game artist certainly got his fair share of attention. With last spring's "Fire Emblem: Awakening" still fresh in the gamers' 3DS', Kozaki's character designing style has become all the more recognizable. We caught up with him at Japan Expo to talk about his background, his experiences as a character designer for games, and his music tastes.
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Fire Emblem: Awakening

You have to hand it to Nintendo, sometimes they can really laugh at themselves, and one simple line of text from the upcoming "Fire Emblem: Awakening" proves it.

Reggie Fils-Amie's now infamous meme from E3 2007 has officially made its way into a Nintendo game. Check out the above screenshot from "Awakening,"in it Frederick, the noble servant and personal bodyguard of Chrom, clearly states that "my body is ready" while conversing with the player's character. Unlike Reggie's declaration, Frederick is ready to taste some bear meat instead of step on the Wii Balance Board. The line comes as part of the game's support conversation system, an option where members of your party can converse with each other to strengthen their personal bonds, which translate to better teamwork on the battlefield.
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By Joseph Leray

Nintendo kindly released a handy -- and awkwardly narrated -- introduction to some of “Fire Emblem: Awakening”’s more nuanced mechanics: support and “pair up.”

Both mechanics depend on smart troop placement to increase individual units effectiveness in battle, adding a unique spin on “Fire Emblem”’s tactical RPG formula. The video does a really good job of explaining complex tactics in simple language, and -- if I’m understanding correctly -- players could conceivably set up four-on-one encounters.
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Move over "BioShock." The 2007 video game that has moral quandaries that are twisting my gut is "Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn."

[Warning: SPOILERS ABOUT "Radiant Dawn" THROUGHOUT THIS POST]

Fire Emblem: Radiant DawnIf you've got a Wii and at least 20 hours of life to spare, I recommend playing "Radiant Dawn" yourself. You too may experience a series of ethical dilemmas that make killing Little Sisters -- or frying companion cubes -- seem no more tortured than a coin flip.

"Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn," like previous games in the series, is basically glorified chess -- if only chess pieces had little lives as fantasy characters and got stronger every time you played a new game with the same pieces. Oh, and if the pieces transformed into cooler pieces if you used them a lot. In the old "Fire Emblem" games, the pieces/units/characters would die and stay dead for the rest of the game if you put them in a bad spot. In October I both praised that death feature and expressed my concern that the removal of it from the Wii sequel's default play mode would undermine the emotional impact of the new game.

So I was coasting through the new "Fire Emblem" on Wii using the game's new save system, keeping all of my characters alive, lamenting the loss of the old death feature. This new game was a no-consequence breeze.

Then something happened that shocked me. And I realized that the "Fire Emblem" designers are still pros at emotionally manipulating their customers.

Let's put it this way:

Has any game ever required you to fight to the death against the very characters you just spent several hours leveling up?

Spoilers ensue, but, really, I highly recommend you read on, experience the game yourself, or both.

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