Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
|Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones|
|Release date(s)||Game Boy Advance|
|Mode(s)||Campaign (Single player), Link Arena (Multiplayer)|
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Seima no Kōseki (ファイアーエムブレム 聖魔の光石 Faiā Emuburemu: Seima no Kōseki?, Fire Emblem: Shining Stones of Holiness and Evil), is a tactical role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance published by Nintendo. It is the eighth game in the Fire Emblem series, the third and final game in the series to be released for the Game Boy Advance and the second game in the series to be released outside Japan.
The game builds on the game mechanics used in the previous two Game Boy Advance Fire Emblem titles—Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi and Fire Emblem—but takes place on a different world. Set on the continent of Magvel, the plot focuses on royal twins Princess Eirika and Prince Ephraim as they investigate why a longtime ally has chosen to invade their nation's borders and the sudden appearance of monsters all over Magvel.
Though it received positive reviews, The Sacred Stones was criticized for making only superficial improvements over the previous game. Despite these comments, the game received an average rating of 85% on Game Rankings.
The Sacred Stones introduces several new concepts and revives some old ones used in previous Fire Emblem games. The most notable change is the map system, which allows the player to have more control of how much experience the team gets and thus how they level-up.
The Sacred Stones retains the basic gameplay fundamentals seen in Fire Emblem; such mechanics like the weapon and magic triangles are identical to the previous games. The storyline and associated battles are divided into 22 chapters, of which six chapters are different between Eirika's and Ephraim's route. There are 28 chapters in total during the main course of the game.
A notable difference that separates The Sacred Stones from previous Game Boy Advance Fire Emblem titles is the use of a navigable world map, a mechanic first used in Fire Emblem Gaiden. Rather than limit the ability to train units and buy items to story battles, the ability to traverse the world map allows players more freedom in choosing how to play the game. It is possible to purchase weapons and items by visiting shops at points scattered across Magvel. Basic iron weapons and low-level tomes can also be purchased at an inflated cost from the armory in the supply caravan before battle, and units can pull items from the supply caravan during battle when standing adjacent to the main character. The Sacred Stones features monsters, all of which appear only as enemies, which are battled in some chapters in the main game. It is also possible to enter "Skirmish" battles against monsters unrelated to the story, and also a set of skirmishes inside particular structures that provide treasure but the player is unable to save between battles.
The Sacred Stones also introduces a branching class-change system. Units must use specific items to change class. The player is now given a choice in what type of advanced class a character can become, for example, Wyvern Riders may become either Wyvern Lords or Wyvern Knights. The only units that do not get to choose between classes are the two Lords, Eirika and Ephraim, who each change into their own unique class.
Trainee classes were introduced in The Sacred Stones, which precede some of the previously basic classes. These include Journeymen, Recruits and Pupils. Characters that are in a trainee class gain more experience than usual, and when they reach Level 10, they stop gaining experience and can class-change at the beginning of the next battle without the aid of an item. As with other classes, players can choose one of two basic classes to change into. After certain criteria are met, the trainee classes have a third class-change option, which is a slightly stronger version of the original trainee class.
The skill system was first introduced in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, and made a return in The Sacred Stones. In The Sacred Stones, some unit classes have a unique skill that gives it an advantage in battle. For example, the Bishop's "Slayer" skill triples a weapon's might when fighting monsters. The skills are connected to the unit classes and cannot be removed.
The Sacred Stones features a multiplayer Link Arena structured identically to that found in the previous game. In addition, there is an unlockable "Creature Campaign." Players can enter the Tower of Valni or Lagdou Ruins and progress through them by fighting battles against monsters. Reaching certain floors will unlock secret characters, most of which appeared as opponents in the main story. There are three available difficulty settings—easy, normal and hard. The easy version acts as a tutorial, and is aimed at newcomers to the series.
There are thirty-three units in The Sacred Stones that can engage in support conversations. The support system works as exactly the same as in Fire Emblem's support system, in both the advantages that they offer and the way they can be obtained; as in Fire Emblem, a "support viewer" is available in which all attained support conversations can be re-read. Support conversations can be attained in the optional skirmish battles and extra battles in the Creature Campaign. There are support levels that if raised enough it could turn into a marriage at the end of the game(like in Fire Emblem.)
The Sacred Stones takes place on the continent of Magvel (マギ・ヴァル?, Magi Val in the Japanese game). It is home to six nation-states of diverse leadership:
- Renais (ルネス?): The kingdom of Renais is ruled by Fado. It is the home of the twin lords Ephraim and Eirika.
- Frelia (フレリア?): The kingdom of Frelia is ruled by Hayden, the venerable Sage King and the father of the pegasus knight Tana and the sniper Innes. Frelia is also home to pegasi which are trained for military purposes.
- Jehanna (ジャハナ?, Jyahana in the Japanese game): The kingdom of Jehanna is ruled by Ismaire, the Queen of the White Dunes. Her son is Joshua, the myrmidon.
- Rausten (ロストン?, Roston in the Japanese game): The theocracy of Rausten is ruled by Mansel, the Divine Emperor. His heir is his niece L'Arachel, the troubadour.
- Grado (グラド?): The Grado Empire is ruled by Vigarde, the Silent Emperor. His son, Lyon, is a good friend of Ephraim and Eirika, who are appalled and confused by Grado's sudden betrayal. Grado is the largest country of Magvel and its eponymous founder, Grado, was the supposed leader of the heroes who stood against the Demon King.
- Carcino (カルチノ?): The mercantile republic of Carcino is governed by a council of elders (headed by Klimt), and, unlike the other nations of Magvel, is more of a democratic-republic than a monarchy or theocracy. It is the only nation without a Sacred Stone.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones takes place on the fictional continent of Magvel. The storyline is unrelated to any of the previous Fire Emblem titles in the series.
Magvel is home to six nations of diverse leadership. With the exception of Carcino, a newly established republic, each nation shares a history of 800 years since the War of the Stones and are responsible for their own Sacred Stone. The nations have enjoyed a long-lasting peace until the Grado Empire suddenly invades its neighbor, Renais. Prince Ephraim of Renais, one of two main characters of the game, leaves Renais to fight back Grado's invasion. However, he goes missing and Grado's forces fast approach the vicinity of Renais castle. Princess Eirika, Ephraim's twin sister and the initial main character, flees Renais, along with her loyal knights, to seek help from their allies, Frelia.
Eventually Eirika reunites with her brother. The two discover that Grado intends to destroy the five Sacred Stones of Magvel, with both Frelia and Grado's Sacred Stones already destroyed, and Renais' stone presumed destroyed as well. Eirika and Innes, the prince of Frelia, leave to warn the remaining two Sacred Stone nations, Rausten and Jehanna. Meanwhile, Prince Ephraim must conquer the forces of Grado's vast army. Eventually Grado falls to Ephraim, but the true villain behind the war remains to be fought—Grado's imperial prince Lyon, Eirika and Ephraim's longtime friend, who has been possessed by the Demon King of legends.
IGN published another article on June 14, 2004, saying that Nintendo had officially unveiled the next entry in its Fire Emblem series. The game was going to be for Game Boy Advance, and was known as Fire Emblem: Seima no Kouseki in Japan. The game "takes place in the continent of Magi Varl. Demons once populated the continent, but mankind found peace by sealing the evil forces with five magic stones. Time passed, and the stones became the heirlooms of royal families whose kingdoms divide the present-day continent." Details of the story was also revealed and was known that "battles will feature submaps which you'll be able to enter and leave at will. Also revealed by Nintendo is a new class change system that allows players to select from two upper level classes when the time comes to upgrade." It was developed by Intelligent Systems and was also known that it was going to be released in Japan in Winter 2004.
Most of the scores for The Sacred Stones have been positive. It received 8.8/10 from GameSpot and a 4.5/5 and an Editor's Choice award from GameSpy. The Sacred Stones currently holds an 84.9% on Game Rankings. The game was nominated for "Best Role-Playing Game" and "Best GBA Game" at GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2005.
Reviewers have praised the level of attention that the game gives to the storyline and each individual unit, but have commented on the frustration that can be caused by some gameplay features inherent to the series, such as the fact that character death is permanent. The game has also been criticized for not improving upon gameplay mechanics as much as expected from a sequel. As well as lack of innovation in gameplay, reviewers have also noted that the presentation has not changed much from Fire Emblem. Overall, reviewers acknowledge that the game has the same solid gameplay and replay value that was present in Fire Emblem, despite the lack of originality.
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