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Fire Emblem came out in 2003 for the Gameboy Advance and it has been hailed as one of the best games in the Strategy and Role-playing genre, if not for the console. Although this game was the debut for the series in Europe and America, the Fire Emblem series has actually been around since the days of the NES back in Japan to massive success. In fact it was the popularity of Super Smash Bros Melee characters Marth and Roy, who were from a couple of the previous games, which caused this game's worldwide release. Although those characters aren't here, anybody lucky enough to still own this game will agree with me that it is brilliant in all departments and, for the most part, hasn't aged at all.
The story of Fire Emblem is split into two parts, set in the world of Elibe. Upon selecting New Game and a save slot the player has to name your character, a tactician who will direct the characters' actions, as well as select the month (each corresponding to a different affinity) they were born in The first ten chapters focus on your character being found by one of the main characters named Lyn, a lone surviving tribeswoman of her clan. Lyn and your tactician set off to avenge her parents' slaughter by brigands, but ultimately she finds out that she is an heir to a Marquis through her mother, so she must make her way to a council. Lyn's story is pretty linear and as you can guess she succeeds in defeating her evil uncle. However, despite being a longwinded tutorial to the main portion of the game, these ten chapters do tie to the plot in that you meet many characters who return later on.
The actual story of twenty or so chapters follows Eliwood, the son of another Marquis. At the time the game starts his father is missing and Eliwood decides to find him with his own team including you, his best friend Hector, Lyn again and many more minor characters to form your fighting party. Along the way Eliwood encounters an ill-intentioned assassin group called the Black Fang who are involved with his father's disappearance and plan to bring destruction to the world. My description may sound lacking to some, but in fact Fire Emblem's story is amazingly well-told, with minor but clever plot twists and complex characters that you will learn to love and hate, in a game that can make you laugh or cry.
So let me explain the main gameplay system in Fire Emblem. Each battle takes place on a grid-like map; you deploy and equip your characters, all of whom have different strength and weaknesses, from a menu before starting the battle. Once ready you and the enemy take turns moving your units across the map to attack. Attacking an enemy has a zoom in where you see how much damage is inflicted between each unit as well as how many experience points (used for levelling up) are gained. The overall objective is either defeating all the enemies or "Seize the throne/gate" which means putting a main character on that tile once you've defeated the boss unit sitting there. There are many factors affecting combat, including the terrain which your units are on (mountains and forests will provide better defence both damage and accuracy-wise compared to open plains), the type of weapon being wielded and the basic stats of the unit attacking. There is a "weapons triangle" and a "magic triangle" with each weapon/spell book being strong and weak against another element, whereas bows are strong against flying units but cannot attack adjacent to a unit.
It is important to remember all this information since the game is quite difficult compared to others in its genre on this console, mainly because in the Fire Emblem series, if your characters die in battle they are gone for good, so if you want to keep all your characters alive then you'll have to restart the chapter. You can't revive them and they aren't automatically available at the start of the next battle- it is permanent! This "permadeath" as it has been nicknamed carries into other aspects of the game as well; if you miss rare treasure items on a map you can't ever find them again, and if a weapon runs out of uses it will break, meaning that when unique weapons are finished, they're finished! Winning battles requires persistence and a tiny bit of luck so that the enemy boss doesn't kill your character in the off-chance he scores a critical hit and make you have to restart the whole level. That scenario can happen a lot in this game if you're careless with how you move your characters, so expect to restart on the harder levels many times.
Yet the difficulty is one of the many reasons why Fire Emblem is so compelling. After all as turn-by-turn you will have to risk your characters to make sure they can survive swarms of reinforcements, long-distance spells and sneak attacks in Fog of War, you will soon find yourself dedicating hours of spare time to this game. With opportunities to promote each character's class to make them more powerful and increase stats temporarily with the game's Support system (where putting two characters next to each other over many turns gives an insight to their relationship) you become even more invested in the story as well as your characters' abilities, meaning that gameplay and story elements aren't segregated at all.
Fire Emblem's graphics are 16-bit and 2D design and therefore not spectacular by recent standards. Yet given this is a Gameboy Advance game this is forgivable. Furthermore what did impress me were the attacking sequences; on the map your units would be represented by basic sprites, but when you or the enemy attack each other it zooms into a close combat sequence where the actual characters will hit the other with their weapon/spell. Although contact with weapons in the sequence aren't great (surely an enemy brigand cleaving into my cleric's head should kill them in one hit, not just take off half their HP?) critical hits look amazing, with characters making more powerful or just plain awesome gestures/fancy moves before taking off huge chunks of the opponent's hit points. Equally remarkable is the game's soundtrack, with the main characters having their own theme songs and different scenes having an orchestrated tune that perfectly reflects each scene whether it's something horrifying or sad.
In general, Fire Emblem is simply brilliant thanks to its story and hard to master battle system. Even if you complete the story first time you can come back and play harder versions of the game that will challenge even the most hardened strategy players. I have long since moved on from Fire Emblem but it's easily one of the best games I've played. If you should ever come across this game at a car boot sale or something then by all means pick it up and pop it in your Gameboy Advance or DS, as Fire Emblem blows many current games out of the water!
Fire emblem is an 8 year old turn based RPG game for the game boy advance. I bought this game on holiday a few years ago, and having found it in the back of the cupboard a week ago, I've hardly been able to stop playing it.
In fire emblem, the player commands a group of heroes through a quest to prevent a villain from destroying the world, as in many other games. In fire emblem however, the player sculpts the nature of the game. As you go through missions, new characters can be recruited to your team, but unlike most other RPG's, if any one of these characters dies in game, they are lost forever. No revivals, no coming back in the next level, just gone. For me this adds another level of depth to the game, because as well as trying to complete the objectives, the player also has to try and keep any character they like out of harms way.
The permanence of character loss also means that every time you play the game, it will be different. If you lose, say, all your cavalry units early on, then your game-play style will have to adapt to that in later missions. If you only let your archers fight and they become your strongest units, you'll have to adapt to that too. For this reason, the possibilities for replay are immense.
Though the top down view is a little dated 8 years after its release, the battle animations are still surprisingly slick, with sword swinging and axe throwing never looking disappointing. The music is well written, and the sound effects are spot on, especially for a GBA game.
The storyline is easily one of the best I have ever played. Normally with handheld games this is a feature that is lacking, but in fire emblem, it makes the game great. There are tales of betrayal, treason, love and revenge all kept on that tiny cartridge, and it's well written enough that I've never wanted to skip a word.
In summary, Fire emblem is a turn based RPG unlike any other I have ever played. The characters are individual, the dialogue well written,, the gameplay addictive, and the lifespan is immense. The main quest alone will take well over 20 hours, and that's before even coming to the optional side quests, hard campaign and re playing for a better rank. Similar to advance wars, this a true gem in the crown of the GBA, and I strongly recommend you buy this game.
This game is really good- like a game of chess really- you choose where you want your charactes to move and then your opponent (the demons) have their go and attack you. It is well set out and the story lines are good. There are many chapters in this game which makes it great as your selection of characters available to you changes and alters throughout the game. You also have to protect certain characters and stop them from being killed which also adds a certain element of strategy into this game. I would say that this game is for anyone as it is an easy game to understand and play. The graphics in this are so cute! When they go into fight scenes all characters go into a chibi like state and the gimics are cool too. The music is great and doesn't distract you and fits in with the map type you are playing. It also changes between feild and battle scene.
I'll say it loud and clear right now - I adore this game. It is easily in my top 5 games and possibly in my top 3 games of all time and I've spent well over 60 hours on it. It is the only gba game I couldn't bare to sell and now lives safely in the gba slot in my ds.
The game itself is split up into seperate chapters with each chapter containing dialogue, a fight and then more dialogue in that order. The story itself is beautifully told with likeable characters and a deep, twisting plot. The battle animations are very smooth and the music is lovely for a gba game.
During the fights, the player has a selection of units (generally up to around 10) and during their turn they have the chance to move each of their units and either attack or do an action like use an item or open a chest. Once every unit has been moved then the enermy has the chance to do the same and the process is then repeated.
Some units are stronger than others in different situations, for example there is a rock-paper-scissors formula for swords, axes and lances e.g. swords are effective against axes but weak against lances. Some units can only attack the enermy next to them, others can only attack enemies one unit away, a few can attack both and a couple can't attack at all. Most enemies can also counter-attack so this all leads to some rather in depth tactics as no one unit can be used in every situation.
Unlike similar games such as advance wars, every unit in fire emblem has their own name and personality and once character dies, they die for good - no revive spells or phoenix downs, in this game once they're gone they're gone. Because of all this it is easy to become very attached to your favourite units and thats the charm of fire emblem.
Fire Emblem offers an absolutely amazing, unforgettable game play experience. Everything about the game is compelling and fun, and keeps you begging for more; one very well-done aspect of the game is the plot. Many RPGs are known for their excellent plots, and Fire Emblem certainly doesn't disappoint. The player takes on the role of an apprentice tactician, and helps a young girl take vengeance on the people who ruined her life. The storyline is predictable at first, but soon grows far deeper as you progress through the game. One of the most memorable and enjoyable aspects of Fire Emblem is the fantastic characters. Each character is given a distinct personality, and is developed throughout. This is quite a feat when you take into consideration that there are a good 30-40 characters that will join your party throughout the game. In addition, the script is superbly written. The text and conversation really drives the story, and it does so wonderfully.
However, Fire Emblem would be naught but a short story were it not for its fantastic game play. The deep, enjoyable battle mechanic holds the game together and offers a great time that will last until the very end of the game. Fire Emblem plays through like many other turn based games, but also offers some interesting twists on the genre. When it's your turn, you move your units on the map. Units can perform several different key actions; mainly, that of attacking. When you're next to a unit, you may choose to attack, and a battle is initiated. Aside from this core feature, Fire Emblem is significantly different from other turn based games you'll play. RPG elements are thrown in, and provide to make the game far more enjoyable. For example, the concept of experience points is present in Fire Emblem, and allows huge amounts of customization of your characters. The variety and strategy of weapons is also a feature that is exclusive to Fire Emblem games. There are three main types of weapons in Fire Emblem: lances, axes, and swords. Likewise, there are three main types of magic: anima, dark, and light. There is a triangle between swords and magic, and it acts like a big game of rock-paper-scissors. For example, in the weapon triangle, lances best swords, swords best axes, and axes best lances. This concept is great in theory, and Intelligent Systems did a fabulous job of incorporating it into the game. The triangles add a huge amount of strategy to battles: if you attack with a weapon that goes against the grain in the weapon triangle, you're at a huge disadvantage. Having the right weapon is often the difference between losing and winning battles in Fire Emblem, and trust me: you won't want to lose.
In typical RPG fashion, all characters in Fire Emblem have a certain amount of hit points. If one of the three main characters' hit points are reduced to zero, you receive a game over and must restart the chapter. However, the difficulty arises when a normal character is felled in battle. When this situation occurs, you are not given a game over. Instead, if a character dies in battle, you can never use them again. Ever. Thus, you are forced with an incredibly tough decision to make if a character dies: proceed without them, or restart the chapter and lose hours of game time? In the end, you'll likely decide to restart the chapter. This is due mainly to the excellent storyline and character development. Fire Emblem manages to do something that few games can do: it truly attaches the player with the characters. Thus, you'll restart the chapter, because you really don't want to see that character go.
The largest amount of character development occurs not in the main story scenes, but in something called support conversations. Each character has a certain pool of other characters that he or she is somehow related to. If you have two similar characters stand next to each other for a certain period of time, you will trigger a support conversation; the characters will have a short discussion. While it doesn't seem like anything special, the support conversations are actually one of the most rewarding aspects of the entire game. The support conversations provide backstory on all your characters, and are what cause you to become so emotionally attached to everyone in your party. In addition to providing emotional value to the game, support conversations also greatly increase the replay value in Fire Emblem. A log is kept of all the supports that you've earned, and you'll likely be motivated enough to earn all of them.
What with all of its complexitiy, Fire Emblem initially seems like a very difficult game to master. However, Intelligent Systems does an excellent job of easing you into the game. Fire Emblem offers a tutorial of sorts at the start of the game. The first 10 chapters introduce you to the mechanics of the battle system, and allow you to learn the ropes. You are introduced to key aspects of the game one by one, and are allowed to get a good feel for them. What's most notable about the "tutorial", though, is the fact that it doesn't seem like a tutorial. It actually supports a good story and likeable characters, which show up again later on in the game. It may teach you how to play the game, but it's also really fun. If you're afraid that you'll be able to blow through Fire Emblem in a day or two, don't worry. The reason Fire Emblem offers such a lengthy tutorial is because the game is very challenging and very long. It offers a good 20-30 hours on just one file. However, thanks to aforementioned support conversations, it's entirely likely that you'll play 10+ files by the time you're done with Fire Emblem.
In addition to length, Fire Emblem sports a fabulous difficulty level. In a world of such easy games, Fire Emblem stands out from the crowd as a game that will have you grinding your teeth in frustration. The AI is greatly done and completely unforgiving. Though the game is tough, none but the most casual gamers will be turned off. You may continually lose the same chapter over and over again, but the game is still ridiculously fun.
Fire Emblem delivers hugely in the core game necessities, but also offers qualities that round out the overall game play experience. Possibly the most notable of these features is the fantastic music that's present in Fire Emblem. There are 100 different short tunes in the game, and they're all very well done. They're used based on different situations; for example, a certain type of music will roll while you're fighting a boss, and another when you're in a village. The music perfectly complements the rest of the game, and actually increases Fire Emblem's value. The graphics, while less-than-perfect, are also quite good. There are three different types of graphics in Fire Emblem: the story-scene graphics, map graphics, and battle graphics. The map is sub-par and pretty bland. However, the battle graphics are quite an improvement. While they're very repetitive, they're also quite nice. Everything runs smoothly, and is fun to watch. The story-scene graphics feature 2D pictures of characters. While they're nothing spectacular, they are also well-done. There's a strong graphical sense throughout and overall it really contributes to the quality of Fire Emblem.
Fire Emblem is arguably the best RPG on the GameBoy Advance to date. What makes this unique strategy/RPG hybrid so astounding is that there's nothing wrong with the game. There's an excellent story, fantastic game play, catchy music and nice graphics. In addition, it offers tremendous game play value, and ensures that you're getting your money's worth. Fire Emblem is an absolutely phenomenal game, and should be present in every GBA owner's library.
Typical price: £8.99 from Amazon Marketplace
Others in series:
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (DS)
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN)
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (GBA)
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