The last title in Nintendo's fantasy strategy series was Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on the Wii. Awakening shows how handheld's are great for strategy games like these. Battles can last for huge expanses of time. You'll come to love your characters like you do in X-Com: Enemy Unknown.
That's not to say they are faceless robots you dress up like dolls. Fire Emblem's characters have their own personalities, wants, and motivations. As they battle adjacent to each other, your warriors will get social boosts. The better relationships they have together (established in out of battle cutscenes), the better they fight together.
We'll have more on Fire Emblem: Awakening over the next few days, including our review. You can try the game for yourself right now with a demo available on the 3DS eShop, or pick it up on store shelves or digitally on February 4th.