Fire Emblem Engage NYC Launch
Image: James Mielke / Nintendo Life

It was Fire Emblem Engage launch day and Nintendo Life had boots on the ground in New York City to document the launch of Intelligent Systems’ latest entry in the series, at Nintendo NYC in Rockefeller Center.

Nintendo fans in New York City are spoiled. We have Nintendo’s flagship retail shop, replete with Marios riding flagpoles between the first and second floors, Bowser glowing menacingly at selfie-takers on the ground floor, and vintage hardware displays of Nintendo consoles through the ages. Additionally, it’s a hotbed of guest appearances ranging from the likes of Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario) to Monster Hunter’s Ryozo Tsujimoto.

Fire Emblem Engage NYC Launch
Image: James Mielke / Nintendo Life

More recent launch events for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, Metroid Dread, Splatoon 3, and Mario Strikers: Battle League saw Nintendo NYC —formerly Nintendo World— pull out all the stops, not only making the game(s) available for sale early (at midnight launches), but typically making the special editions available where most online retailers are sold out.

Nintendo NYC often augments the retail experience with large, themed backdrops for fans to pose for photos on, while offering customers some cool, exclusive swag, like magnets, stickers, or posters that can only be obtained at these launch events. So, color us surprised that Friday morning’s launch ‘event’ featured virtually none of the usual trappings for a Nintendo first-party retail launch.

I arrived on the scene at around 8:15am. Not too ‘late’ but certainly not as early as I’ve arrived for past events, like a Zelda launch. Nintendo NYC doesn’t allow people to camp out in freezing temperatures anymore (thank goodness) so the need to get in line at the crack of dawn or, worse, the night before, isn’t as urgent as it used to be. That said, even with my casual arrival, I was only about 25 back from the front of the line. After a half hour, the line extended a fair distance down the block behind me, but it wasn’t the usual swarm of people I’m accustomed to seeing at a console launch.

Human element aside, the line started moving, with the staff letting people in in batches of about ten at a time. I started to get excited, I couldn’t wait to see what the store had prepared for Fire Emblem Engage’s somewhat divisive red and blue character design. So, scrolling casually towards the entrance to make my way into the store I was somewhat dismayed at the utter lack of Fire Emblem branding on display.

Fire Emblem Engage NYC Launch
Image: James Mielke / Nintendo Life

After being flogged to death by Fire Emblem character DLC in Smash Bros. for years, you’d think the launch of Engage would warrant a banner or standee, but Friday’s launch was disappointingly barebones. Surely all the Pokémon Scarlet/Violet branding cost a pretty penny, so there’s no need to discard it, but there were no Engage displays to be found anywhere, save for a lone kiosk displaying the game which, when the game is idling on a battlefield map, isn’t a particularly gripping watch. Moreover, unlike the past half-dozen events, there were no posters, stickers, or magnets on offer for early adopters.

Fire Emblem Engage NYC Launch
Image: James Mielke / Nintendo Life

So, with zero Engage-related merch or promotional materials to entertain us, we spoke with some Fire Emblem fans in line about what made them get out of bed on a Friday morning in NYC’s winter to queue up for Fire Emblem.

NL: Hi, what’s your name?


What made you come out and stand in line this morning for Fire Emblem Engage?

“I’ve been a fan of Fire Emblem since Awakening. I’m visiting New York —I used to live here— it’s my first time back since [Nintendo NYC] was Nintendo World, so I figured the Fire Emblem Engage launch is a good time to come and I heard exciting things about this game.”

Are you getting the regular edition or the Divine Edition?

“I’m getting the Divine Edition.”

As a Fire Emblem fan are you glad about the amount of support the franchise is getting lately?

“I am. Especially since I heard that [at the time] Awakening might be its last hurrah. I think Intelligent [Systems] didn’t expect it to blow up after Awakening —that’s what got me into it— so I’m glad it’s gotten the exposure that it has, even if [Smash Bros. fans] might think it’s too much. I’m here for it.”

NL: Good morning. Can you tell us your name?


Fire Emblem Engage NYC Launch
Divine, indeed — Image: James Mielke / Nintendo Life

What made you get out of bed at 8:00am to stand in line at Nintendo NYC?

“Since preorders are sold out at retail, this is the only option —first come first served— for me to get the Divine Edition specifically. Of course the new amiibos, too [holds up a Marth amiibo].”

[points at Eli’s Amiibo] Isn’t that a reissue?

“Actually it’s the very first Fire Emblem amiibo.”

How do you feel about how Fire Emblem’s emergence as a mainline Nintendo franchise?

“I think [the franchise] kind of went down when it came to Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn and with Ike, but I think more gamers and new players to the franchise have come on because of Awakening, and then Fates, Echoes, and Three Houses. Now Fire Emblem has become more popularized, like Mario and Pokémon. Obviously, Pokémon is more popular, but Fire Emblem on the other hand is gaining that level of popularity because of the DLC for Smash Bros.”

So, regardless of whether Nintendo NYC rolls out the red carpet equally for every launch, the fans still have a lot of love for Nintendo’s strategy game. Now if only Intelligent Systems and Nintendo could invest the same amount of energy into their other strategy franchise, Advance Wars, strategy game fans would be spoiled for choice.

Fire Emblem Engage NYC Launch
Bagged these, too — Image: James Mielke / Nintendo Life