Mila’s Turnwheel is the Best New Feature in Fire Emblem Echoeson June 23, 2017 by Max Williams
Fire Emblem Echoes has many excellent new elements to offer that would be great to see carry over to upcoming main titles. The standout example being Mila’s Turnwheel, a feature not present in the original Gaiden, which allows you to undo actions in a battle, but can only be used a certain number of times per stage.
The number of uses builds up independently for both Alm and Celica as you find cogs while exploring dungeons and villages, with each cog granting you an extra turn of the wheel, which could be the difference between life or death for your units. People may argue over whether or not the Turnwheel should be used, but it is, quite suitably, a godsend.
Initially, the idea sounds like a cop-out, and could be viewed as diminishing the risk felt throughout battles by giving each of your actions less weight. But you’ll quickly find this isn’t the case in practice. Having that safety net actually encourages you to take more risks in battle, letting the player experiment with strategies and moves they may not otherwise ever attempt for fear of losing units and being tempted to start the battle over.
The Turnwheel also amplifies the risk you feel when using Alm and Celica. When I first started Fire Emblem, with Path of Radiance, I was reluctant to use Ike because his death meant game over. I’m the type of player that resets any time they lose a unit to try and come up with a new strategy where everyone survives. As such, I realised that it was game over when any character died, not just Ike, so there was no point in holding him back anyway.
Of course, he’s a supremely useful unit, and I’m not sure how I ever got as far as I did without sending him straight to the front lines to wreak the sweet destruction he’s capable of. In Echoes, the inclusion of Mila’s Turnwheel somehow managed to bring that risk back.
While worrying about getting them killed is never going to stop me using a Fire Emblem protagonist again (particularly when Alm and Celica, like Ike, are pretty formidable in battle), the Turnwheel shifted my perspective of my army. I can recklessly send Mathilda in alone to fight a boss, and if she gets mobbed by other enemies or criticaled into oblivion, it doesn’t really matter. I’ll just use the Turnwheel, not be so stupid, and try something else.
If I do the same with Alm, I immediately run the risk of losing my entire progress in a battle, and some of those battles in Echoes are pretty lengthy, as the instant game over resulting from his death renders the Turnwheel no more than a useless bauble.
The awareness of Alm and Celica as the key figures in their respective armies is even more obvious if the battle is in a dungeon, where chances to save can be scarce, and losing a battle means doing the entire dungeon over again. Dungeons tend not to be particularly long (though some definitely are) and tend not have hugely difficult battles (though some certainly do), but the point remains the same.
On top of Mila’s Turnwheel, another feature introduced in Echoes I’d like to see come back in some form is the Memory Prisms. Memory Prisms are items you just find around in villages and buildings, and they have no impact on battles. Due to this, they’re sort of tied to the exploration in Echoes, so they’re not really something that could carry over, but they’re a really cool touch.
They’re sort of reminiscent of the optional Base Conversations you get in Path of Radiance, in that they build on characters outside of Supports, but Memory Prisms aren’t limited by the plot in their content. It may influence where they show up, but the Memory Prisms are flashbacks, providing a nice look into the pasts of the characters. You also discover Memory Prisms concerning both characters in your army and the main villains. Seeing some of the antagonists outside of their role of being horrible bosses in battles and nefarious schemers in present story sections is a wonderful addition.
The added tension of traversing dungeons with your turns on the Turnwheel slowly whittling down may be specific to Echoes, but Mila’s Turnwheel is still an extremely useful asset outside of that. Obviously, should the feature carry over to another game, it wouldn’t be Mila’s Turnwheel any more (or would it???), but there’d be ways to make it work, I’m sure.
For one thing, there’s a recurring super important item in the series right there in the title. Although having such a function as the Turnwheel would rely on the characters consistently having the Fire Emblem, which perhaps doesn’t work out so well a lot of the time…
Whether the Turnwheel resurfaces again or not, it’s served me well, and I’m definitely going to feel its absence the next time I play a previous entry in the series.