They’re probably going to kill me for this.
Welcome, friends and all, to a first kind of post that I will be making for this blog. This time, I tackle some unpopular opinions amongst games and characters so far to see them in a less biased manner, and usually going against the public opinion. Sometimes, when the public says something rather notorious, people are inclined to say that it’s the truth, and go along with it. I, however, become inspired to take a small research and see how truthful it is. And if my opinion ends up against the public opinion of the internet… well, thus this section is born.
So let’s dig in into our first foray, featuring the last game of Fire Emblem not released to the English: Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou no Nazo. The 12th game and the remake of the third game.
To start this section, let us start with a word from someone really good amongst the net, RavenKingSage (I’ll never be as witty as you.)
“New Mystery of the Emblem is one of the series’ most underrated games, if only by the virtue of never being getting localized. It builds on everything that made the original Mystery of the Emblem work and added with so much more. Complete with a richer plot, additional character development, features that later helped save the franchise with Awakening, and even some completely new faces, one of which is your own customizable avatar. Sounds great, doesn’t it? There’s just one little detail, though…”
“That avatar is one of the worst characters in Fire Emblem history.”
Thank you, Raven. Ladies and gentlemen, our focus of the day, the Avatar of FE12, Kris… or Chris, if you prefer. (I do recommend you to watch Raven’s video where this quote originated from. Has a good, if opinionated, insight.)
Kris is the first case of ‘My Unit’ in Fire Emblem franchise, which started with a slightly non-entity Tactician in the Blazing Sword game, named Mark. Except Kris is a unit on its own, you can customize their growth, class, gender, appearance, etc… In execution, though, I have to admit that they’re… a bit bland. Then again, so was Mark, who was pretty non-descript. Kris is defined more or less as being someone who trains really hard, has utter dedication towards Marth… and that’s it. It takes Robin in Awakening and Corrin in Fates to make them stand out with distinct, more complex personality… which is another mixed bag on its own that we’re not going to discuss in this post.
However, I do hear that Kris… has been accused of a complete spotlight hog that makes every other characters feel insignificant and not mattering at all, Kris makes Marth look weak and dependent, Kris steals the thunder of other characters like Marth and Jagen, the game worships the hell out of him… You know what, let me introduce you to this one Reddit post about Kris that… somehow influenced the whole subreddit that Kris is an abomination.
But from the look of that and after a little more research, it feels that this whole rant and bashing seems to stem from the fact that this guy is very outspoken in disliking Avatar concepts AND the 3DS games, especially on the story. Thus, these rants reek of bias and if you ask me, a biased statement like that shouldn’t be taken with face value like that and accepted as a truth. So! What to do then?
Play the game, of course.
While I played the game, I took notes on the usual bashing of Kris and reasons why they suck and see if they hold merits if we look at it in a non-biased manner. And as a matter of fact, I came up with some statements about this. Let’s take the usual complains, especially from that Reddit post, and see how they stand.
(Also screenshots are taken from a Let’s Play Archive (Thank you. I had fun reading that too))
The game starts by kissing the player’s ass
Oh, I’m sorry, what was that? Okay, it is stated that Kris helps out Marth. So, what does being a confidant and friend have to do with ‘kissing the player’s ass’? Is this implying Kris is the best there is? Nowhere did it say that. Marth just has a friend that helped him. Is this something absolutely wrong? Hell, he’s surrounded with many friends. This one doesn’t imply his specialness. Of course, you probably would think that strongly if you hate Kris, or hate the concept of Avatar, but yeah…
Kris will decide the fate of the world
Well Anna herself said ‘help decide’. Help. There’s your keyword. In terms of Fire Emblem, everyone in Marth’s army HELPS Marth. You are about to make a unit that will become part of Marth’s army. The decisions of everyone in Marth’s army, made by the player, will help decide the fate of the world, not just DECIDE. So Kris is not allowed to even exist and help? What is this, an elite group where they don’t accept anyone that they deem below the standard, even if they have honest goals to help others? Marth isn’t that petty!
Kris’ ultimate role is playing the supporting role to Marth. It’s a supporting role that stands out more than other characters, but that’s what happens if Intelligent System made it like it’s a stand-in for the player.
And for the most part, I do not think that even if they stand out more, they do not really outshone the others. People say Jagen was made to make bad strategies, but I’ve played the game and from how I see it, Jagen’s role was not to give bad strategies while Kris gave good ones, Jagen’s role from the original has always been the exposition guy, taking over from Malledus from Shadow Dragon, to explain current situations, and in the original, it was Marth that made all the decisions. Kris just went along, listening to Jagen’s explanations, and except for one time later below, they never steal any strategies, they just support Marth by being a rather good unit, try to cheer him up when he’s down, and volunteer on one or two dangerous jobs. That’s it, nothing too big and pretty in-line with ‘player stand-in’.
(Trust me, I’ve seen worse cases of ‘player stand-in taking over’)
Roderick is a better squad leader
On hindsight, perhaps this statement has grounds. Roderick is a cool-headed character and maybe it may hold merits: It’s almost a requirement for squad leaders to be at least cool-headed, mature and taking a calm approach to things. If we take these into account, Roderick possesses all these and maybe some people would think he’d make the perfect leader.
However, despite having this, it’s also within Roderick’s personality to not have the drive to lead, preferring to serve. It was Luke who had a drive to lead even if he lacks in leadership qualities, Roderick just went along on his team, and was able to gauge Kris’ leadership skills after being beaten, so he decided that being led with Kris is the more optimal decision.
On the other hand, Ryan is a little too shy and passive to lead, while Luke is too boisterous and gung-ho to be efficient leader (I’m going to skip Cecille because she’s introduced after Kris was made leader). Compared to this, Katarina watched Kris and they encouraged and inspired her, in this case, I suppose that Katarina had her decent reasons in promoting Kris as the leader, which Roderick happily accepted.
In fact, Roderick has that in common with Kris. Both of them are not interested in leading. Kris only became leader because Katarina was pushing him to become a leader. So Kris ended up getting pushed to a position he didn’t want in the first place and… yeah. I did say Kris is rather bland. That I won’t deny, but we really don’t know if things would be better if Roderick leads.
… It’ll only look better if you kind of hate Avatars in general. Next.
Elice’s comment about Marth towards Kris
Ooh boy, this is a big one.
So from the reddit post and what people seemed to agree, Elice really downplays Marth’s front image of a leader, calling him weak in a way that he’s idealistic at heart, that the world doesn’t run as smooth as great ideals go. So… what is wrong with a big sister being worried about her little brother? That reddit poster is a huge fan of Shadow Dragon, where Marth is seen standing strong in the face of deaths of his allies. Well, all good. Still I thought people don’t like that one point about Shadow Dragon about killing your allies to recruit new hidden ones, if that point stayed, maybe the game wouldn’t be as enjoyable as is! But I digress on that.
And yeah, regardless of how idealistic Marth could be, there is no way he can prevent the deaths of Lorenz, Boah and later Hardin in the future. All of them were allies in his past. And yet he continues to stay strong. So? Despite Elice’s worry, Marth turns out fine anyway, same old same old. But I won’t blame Elice or think her character has been derailed, it’s all right for a big sister to worry about her brother putting up such a big image while balancing his ideals.
Even Kris said it best: “Even the most excellent of kings is not an omnipotent god. A king is no more than human, and there are limits to the things he can do.” So what is wrong with Marth being more human and Elice asking him to protect him? She will definitely say that to anyone who would be on Marth’s services, Kris is nothing special in this. This is no ass-kissing to them. If it was Luke or Roderick was the one she encountered, she would say the same (… of course, if Luke didn’t flirt her first and get into trouble)
Kris is immediately made a Royal Guard
Some might it’s a bit much for Kris to be made a member of the Royal Guard so quickly, and graduating into a knight while being praised by his squadmates. However, let’s make this clear. Kris once again DENIES that it was his efforts alone, but the efforts of the team that they all graduate as a Knight.
This here is a clear message of the spirit of Fire Emblem games: You cannot do everything alone. Marth said that in one of the prologues and it continues to inspire Kris. Therefore, it’s not that Marth can’t do anything without Kris… it’s the other way around: Kris wouldn’t be able to achieve much without Marth and the others helping out!
Of course, maybe the player can make it like Kris does everything on his own because Kris can have excellent growth to become a nearly one-man army. But mark this well: Without healers, Kris can’t even last a rampage of dragons (trust me, I tried). And his words only has an effect to Katarina whom they has grown close with, there is no way that Kris can snap some sense on the brainwashed Lena, Maria, Nyna and Elice. So much for ‘doing everything on their own’.
Anyway, so Kris becomes a Royal Guard. What is missed out by many is that Marth analyzed the situation first before making the decision: They just got attacked by assassins, and one of the assassins was Katarina, who formed great friendship with Kris. Marth was already looking ahead to redeem Katarina, and since the assassins will strike again, Kris was best suited as a Royal Guard, since it will open up chances for Katarina to meet with Kris and have Kris talk her out.
So Marth chose Kris as a Royal Guard for a good reason, and is responsible for much of Kris’ achievements in the game. This is definitely not exactly to kiss the player’s ass through Kris, Marth has his legit reasons that are in-line with his important characterization on him: If someone looks redeemable, then he’ll do his best to make sure they get a redemption.
- Kris butts in every chapters and gets praised a lot for his skills.
Kris did get included in many chapters, but… honestly, a lot of times his quotes were REALLY generic it’s really not something to worry about. Marth still has the main meats of the game. However, worth noting that the game has some sort of ‘tracker’ system. At certain points in certain chapters, Marth or Jagen would comment on Kris’ performance and stats, like how many units lost, or Kris’ stats. And if you perform badly or have low stats in some places, they won’t hesitate to state that Kris is kind of unsuited in that field, or being sad because of Kris’ negligence in keeping everyone alive. They don’t blame themselves. So honestly, these trackers may be a source of why people felt really iffy at Kris, and I can understand that, and it’s a good thing they don’t use this feature anymore for Robin and Corrin. However, this is usually just kind of insignificant, and you can make Kris look horrible by benching him all day. So there’s a trade off.
Kris stole Marth and Jagen’s thunder by mouthing off Lang!
Oh, this is another big one. A lot thinks that Kris, by mouthing off Lang quicker than Marth even could unlike the original SNES game, means they stole Marth and Jagen’s thunder. The way I see it, Lang has been so reprehensible that any sane man would’ve had the idea to mouth him off. Kris just happens to have quicker tongue. Was Marth inspired by Kris for this? From the look of the dialogue, not really. He probably planned to say that before Kris beat him to punch, it’s not Marth’s fault that he lost the race in tongue. And just like the original Mystery, Jagen was inspired by Marth’s defiance that he issued the challenge to Marth. Kris was just a bonus. Honestly, if that’s what it is, I don’t think Jagen lost any thunder. He’s still looking badass just like before. I mean, it kind of felt like someone like Luke, Roderick or even Linde or Catria, saying that and the result would be the same: Jagen can’t let the young’uns, from Marth to anyone in his army, show him off.
Nothing of value was lost.
Speaking of Lang, let’s take a look at how the villains react. Now if you think they’re being praised a lot, surely even the enemies would pay extra attention to them, right? Well… excepting Katarina, nobody pays particular attention on Kris, they prefer to focus on Marth. Seriously; Clarisse, Legion and Eremiah; all three of them only focuses on ‘assassinate Marth and his men’, not ‘take extra caution of that one new bodyguard of Marth’. Even Lang doesn’t take personal account on Kris, he’s only treating them in a general tone of a douchebag to everyone. But perhaps the biggest one would be Hardin overall.
Kris has a special dialogue if they’re made to fight Hardin. However, the dialogue went like Hardin really didn’t pay Kris any attention and demand they bring Marth in. In other words, Kris doesn’t even get Hardin’s attention, they are insignificant to him. So let’s have Kris defeat Hardin. Does finally Hardin pay attention to them? Nope, his dying words are the same like in the original, apologizing to Marth. So there we go, the villains do not praise or giving extra hate to Kris, they still focus on Marth who’s on the spotlight rightfully from start to finish.
Kris guards Marth’s army when they retreated from Altea to Khadein
This is apparently… a crime for Kris to exist. I mean, if Marth already had a Royal Guard, what is wrong in utilizing him the proper way? Guarding him and his people? Isn’t that what Royal Guards do? If Kris was a nobody from even Altea, not even a knight that protected Marth at times, then maybe the reddit poster’s arguments can hold value. But Kris at that point has proven themselves during the assassination attempt (and if you use them throughout the game), so when you have a Royal Guard, let them do their job!
And also, Kris really did not do that alone. The next chapter reveal that Kris has some people with him. It’s all off screen and we don’t know how it goes, but with how Kris is said to be with the other survivors, it’s also safe to say that Kris didn’t fight alone. He doesn’t just protect solo, others are there with him. And you know that Marth’s army isn’t consisting of wusses. Kris is just one amongst many, not the ‘only one’.
Anri’s Way prelude
Before Marth undertook Anri’s Way, in the original, Jagen gave an explanation about Anri’s Way. In the remake, it’s yet another conversation with Kris that might look like it’s praising. However, what many missed out is this: Marth is the Prince of Altea, if he has to be told about the legend of his own ancestor… that would make him look SERIOUSLY DUMB for a Prince of Altea. So yeah, Marth certainly looks more dignified and educated in the remake, and it’s Kris who are clueless about this.
From what we can understand on Kris’ background story (yes, they have one, even if it’s a bit bland), they grew up in rural places, with just a grandpa that constantly put them to harsh training. These places are not a place of great soldiers like Altea or esteemed magic scholars like Khadein. From there, it makes sense that Kris had no idea about the legend of Anri’s Way that Jagen just told them (They know who Anri is, just not what he went through). The explanations by Jagen can still be found in the Camp Talks as you trek through Anri’s Way, so it was not completely replaced.
For a long time after this, Kris was being an extra to Marth’s army, which sure does a number on the ‘Kris butts in every important scenes’ argument. But then comes the Adria’s Pass scene…
In the original, after taking Gra (and recruiting Sheena and Samson), Jagen noted that advancing to Archanea head on will get them to meet many resistances. Marth decided to take a shortcut in Adria’s Pass, which avoided a greater battle, but ended up getting the army pitted against the Wolfguard.
In the remake, it is Kris who suggests going through the Adria’s Pass through sheer guessing, and Marth gave an OK to the idea and once it turned out fruitful, he praised Kris for suggesting the strategy.
This is one scene that I will agree that Kris stole Marth’s lines and it led to praise. In context, this makes sense because it was Kris who suggested it, and honestly it doesn’t quite take a genius to come up with that strategy, so while Marth was overpraising, Kris is being honest that they’re just making a guess.
But it’s just ONE time. Not everytime.
And like I said, Jagen’s role here was to give an explanation, not strategy. He still did it, nothing from him was stolen.
The Ending praise
During the ending, Marth said that Kris is a true friend, his other half. Now this might sound it’s making others look irrelevant… but hey, he already said before on how much Caeda meant the world for him, and we also get to see others who survived, outside Caeda, Marisha and Tiki, go get their cheers for the end of the war, which doesn’t happen in the original game! While the big sucking MAY be there (and it may make sense that Marth is grateful, he’s had a Royal Guard that inspired him the same way he inspired them, Marth is not weak, they both complete each other), it is also countered with the extra scenes of the characters cheering for their victory and interacting with each other. And none of them are about Kris.
But wait, there is an ending narration! Well, here it is.
Thus, the long, tragic battle that would later be called the ‘War of Heroes’ finally came to an end.
The seven kingdoms were unified under Prince Marth of Altea, and as the United Kingdom of Archanea was established, an era of peace began.
The tales of the heroes who took part in this war brought excitement and tears to the later generations.
Chronicles of the Archanean War of Heroes…
This is a story of love and courage, about the young warriors who fought with the continent’s fate at stake…
Well, unlike the opening, that absolutely makes NO comment about Kris, none of those ‘But there is a shadow of Marth that makes everything come true…’ Nope, nope nope.
So everything balances out.
So… the Supports is said to be full of Kris getting praised. But… really, are all the Supports like that? And do Kris get ANY paired ending at all if they support a character to the max? The answer is NO! There is no pairing ending in this game, just like the original game, so the supports are just used to explore more on the characters which were unexplored within the original game.
And the endings will never change either no matter who you max the support on. No matter how much Catria felt like she could get over Marth, she’s… back to square one afterwards since her ending is always solo (plus, her getting on with Kris means revealing Kris’ existence, which isn’t something they or Marth want), not to mention that Catria’s dialogue sounds more like having a friend to talk with so she can alleviate the forbidden feeling she secretly harbored and disliked, it doesn’t always take a second lover to get over it, sometimes, just a friend to talk with will do, this is important because Catria’s personality being a stoic girl prevents her to openly state her personal feelings to others.
On the other hand, Kris seeing Sirius’ identity (which happens because of a quick accident, not because Sirius chose to reveal it) means absolutely nothing on what Sirius would do after the war. Also, Kris doesn’t steal Sheena from Samson, steal Est from Abel, steal Linde from Merric, steal Caeda from Marth. Or the other way around if Kris is of the other gender.
However, I will say that some of them are rather teasing in nature, like giving hints that they like Kris or think of them special (Jeorge, Caesar and Radd are big offenders on this). But I think that most of them aren’t ruining pre-established relationships or used as a joke (Marisha and Roger come to mind), explores a character that was just introduced in Shadow Dragon (Norne being inspired with a childhood friend that saved her, Athena’s foreign culture makes her mistake ‘having a friendship bond’ as ‘must be a bride/little sister’) or some of them actually pretty funny.
Also, the Support will still be the same regardless of Kris’ class. Kris can be a Mage and they’ll still spar like a physically strong person. I suppose that is a foresight and flaw, but again, they were just experimenting with the Avatar system, so I can get over it. Like I said, it may be because of general Avatar system hatred, which I don’t have.
So perhaps some supports that make it look like praising Kris or some falling for them do exist, but compared to the other supports (some of them even pretty good, like when Kris trolls Phina), it’s just a minority where Kris gets a super great praise like everyone claimed them to be.
In conclusion, I suppose that I can understand if one dislikes Kris, mostly because they don’t like the Avatar system, and that probably throwing a new guy in an established story might not be an overall good idea. Still, I believe that there are other good things that we can learn from this, and safe to say, I declare that the whole hatred towards Kris is mostly overexaggerated. Make no mistake, even after all these, Kris is still NOT one of the best characters in the franchise. Kris is mediocre and kind of bland. They had some good moments and some typical flaws (like no sense of direction, horrid cook),
However, I can say that Kris is NOT a big-ass abomination that is overpraised, oversatured and one of the worst characters there is. There are a lot of factors that balance out the little parts where they were praised (and they don’t make up 50% of the game… I’ll give it 25% at most) and overall, it was enough to consider them an okay or ‘meh’ character. They’re not the most interesting character, but they’re not the worst ever. I’ve seen my own cases of customizable main characters in other games and Kris is far from being one of the worst examples of this.
I do acknowledge that not everyone likes the Avatar system, and Kris was Intelligent System’s first attempt to make an avatar that’s not just a silent mime like Mark, and I recognize that Kris shows the flaws of the system, in their case, it’s their minimum personality to fit in with self-insert, and for them, how it clashes with a preset story. If someone dislikes Kris because of hating the Avatar system, I have no rights to tell them otherwise. However, I can definitely say that if that’s how it is, then such opinions will eventually become biased, clouded with hate and exaggeration and I don’t think it’s a wise way to judge characters from an outside and neutral POV.
In the end, I declare that it is to my unpopular opinion that Kris isn’t as exaggeratedly bad as many people made them out to be.
This is ChrisX signing out.