Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
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|Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade|
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (ファイアーエムブレム封印の剣 Faiā Emuburemu Fūin no Tsurugi?), also translated as Fire Emblem: The Sword of Seals, is a tactical role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The game was released on March 29, 2002 in Japan, is the sixth game in the Fire Emblem series and the first of three games in the series that have appeared on Nintendo's Game Boy Advance handheld.
The Binding Blade stars Roy, who previously appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Roy and Marth's popularity in Super Smash Bros. would lead Nintendo to localize Fire Emblem for Western audiences, and The Binding Blade was eventually followed by a prequel, Fire Emblem, the first in the series to be released outside of Japan.
Fire Emblem is a turn-based tactical role-playing game in which players move a small group of units around a square-based grid, battling their enemies in order to complete a certain predefined objective. It is reminiscent of other tactical RPGs with features such as character classes and the ability to level up. Once characters reach a certain level, they can promote to a new class, further enhancing their stats with the possibility of being able to use more weapons.
Sword of Seals takes place in the fictional continent of Elibe, which is split into six nations of diverse ruling styles: Lycia, Bern, Etruria, Sacae, Missur, and Ilia. There is an archipelago to the northwest called the Western Isles, composed of Caldonia, Fibernia, and Dia. The Fire Emblem in this game is the Imperial Seal required to assume or recognize the Bernian throne. The Binding Blade is set 20 years after its prequel, Fire Emblem. Because Fire Emblem takes place two decades prior to The Binding Blade and was designed to introduce western audiences to the gameplay of the Fire Emblem series, its plot is structured so that no knowledge of The Binding Blade is required to enjoy the storyline.
Many characters from The Binding Blade reappear in Fire Emblem in younger forms, including Hector, Eliwood, Bartre, Karel, Merlinus, Murdock, Marcus, Zephiel, and Guinevere. The playable characters Sophia and Fae also make cameo appearances in Fire Emblem chapters, but are not playable. Among the playable characters in Fire Emblem are several relatives of the The Binding Blade cast: Wolt is the son of Rebecca, and nephew of Dart; Fir is the daughter of Bartre and Karla and the niece of Karel; Lugh and Raigh are the twin sons of Nino; Klein and Clarine are the children of Pent and Louise; Sue and Dayan are the daughter and father of Rath, respectively; Hugh and Niime are, respectively, the son and mother of Canas; Igrene is the daughter of Hawkeye; and Geese is the younger brother of Geitz. Several other characters from Fire Emblem, if their supports are maxed out with other characters, can be treated as the parent or relative of some characters. For example, Ninian can be the mother of Roy, and Lyn can be the mother of Lilina. There are other possible relations.
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade has a total of 62 playable characters, which was the highest in the series prior to the tenth installment, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
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The story begins when King Zephiel, ruler of the kingdom of Bern, finishes the brutal conquest of Ilia and Sacae and sets his sights on Lycia. In a small region called Pherae, Roy, the son of Pherae's ruling marquess Eliwood, is forced to return home when Bern begins its invasion. As Eliwood is unable to battle due to illness, Roy is assigned command of Lycia's army.
Roy leads his forces to Ostia, another region of Lycia ruled by Eliwood's friend Hector and his daughter Lilina. He is unable to save Hector from death, but rescues Lilina from Bern's occupation and sees to the protection of Guinevere, Zephiel's sister who has opposed his war and has fled Bern with its royal treasure the Fire Emblem. They also discover a small cave on the outskirts of Ostia where they obtain a Divine Weapon, one of eight used in an ancient war between humans and dragons known as "The Scouring". Over the course of the journey, Roy and the Lycian Army locate more of these Divine Weapons.
The kingdom of Etruria contacts Roy and assigns his army to travel to the Western Isles, where heavy bandit activity is being reported. Though the Lycian Army repels the bandits, they discover from a local rebel named Elphin (secretly a member of Etrurian royalty) that Etruria's nobility have allied with Bern and are enslaving the people on the Western Isles to work the mines. They also learn that Bern has recruited Manaketes, powerful fire dragons who hide their might in human forms. To learn more about them, the Lycian Army travels to Arcadia, a hidden city in the vast desert where humans and dragons live in peace, and gain stronger insight from the elders. A child Manakete name Fae also befriends Roy during his stay and tags along with him.
Roy and his forces later returns to Etruria and removes the corrupt nobility, allowing the kingdom's rightful rulers to restore order and the Lycian Army to merge with Etruria's. Depending on the player's actions, the newly-reformed Etrurian Army then continues through either the snowy tundras of Ilia and its many mercenary groups on Bern's contract, or through the Sacae plains where nomad tribes have allied with Bern. Both paths ultimately take the Etrurian Army to Bern's borders, where Roy discovers a shrine housing the Sword of Seals, a powerful binding blade that rules over the other eight Divine Weapons. Combined with the Fire Emblem, Roy is granted its incredible power and wields the Sword of Seals in the final assault on Bern's capital.
Zephiel is eventually killed by the Etrurian Army and his Divine Weapon Eckesachs is taken from him, but the war does not end with his death. Before his last battle, Zephiel had sent his remaining forces to gather somewhere in Elibe. The eight Divine Weapons suddenly emit a light that leads the Lycian Army to this location: an ancient temple that had long ago been built by the dragons. Once inside, Roy is shown the true history of The Scouring. The dragons, despite their power, were unable to maintain their numbers due to how slowly they reproduced compared to humans. As the war came to a close, the surviving Fire Dragons captured a Divine Dragon named Idenn and sealed away her soul. Enslaved to their will, Idenn reproduced dragons at an incredible rate and became known as the Demon Dragon, but she was defeated by a warrior wielding the Sword of Seals. Her power was locked away until Zephiel, disgusted at humanity's many failures, released her out of his insane desire to return Elibe to the dragons. As she has no emotion or free will, Idenn continues to follow Zephiel's orders even after his death and threatens to raise a dragon army that will destroy everything on the continent.
On the topmost floor of the temple, the Etrurian Army battles Idenn's endlessly-spawning dragons, allowing Roy to deliver the final blow on her with the Sword of Seals. This does not kill her, and Roy carries her out as the temple collapses behind him. The war finally over, Elibe begins to rebuild itself. Guinevere is named the new ruler of Bern, while Elphin returns to Etruria after his long absence. Roy and Lilina become the new marquesses of Pherae and Ostia. As to Idenn, she is taken to Arcadia and lives with Fae as her soul slowly returns to her.
In January 2001, it was revealed that a Fire Emblem game was coming and to be released on the Game Boy Advance in Japan. Its working title was Fire Emblem: Ankoku no Miko (暗黒の巫女?, Maiden of Darkness), and it was unknown if it was going to be released in the Western world, where little was known about the series. It was going to follow gameplay from the previous installments of the series as a tactical role-playing game. Its storyline was similar to the finished product, featuring the continent of Elibe and a lone hero named Roy, whose town is attacked by the neighbors of Bern for mysterious reasons. For centuries, the two lands were compatriots until suddenly they become bitter enemies for no known reason, leaving the player to uncover the mystery and defend their city from disaster. It was also possible that it was based on the work on the cancelled Nintendo 64 sequel of Fire Emblem, which would have had the same 2D graphics and control scheme.
In 2001, Nintendo Space World showed some video game footage of Fire Emblem's gameplay, but a release date was unknown. It was known that players will have the ability to raise and fight their troops in battle and will also be able to play against friends on multiplayer on other Game Boy Advance systems.
In March 2002, Nintendo started airing a commercial for Fire Emblem on television networks in Japan. The company had also created a "director's cut" version of the commercial, with no game footage, on its website. The game was developed by Intelligent Systems, and featured the same style of turn-based strategy as Advance Wars, though Fire Emblem was set in a "fantasy environment complete with knights, wizards, and mystical creatures." It was set for release in Japan on March 31, 2002. Nintendo of America had revealed that the series will come to the US, but had not announced a release date.
Roy appears as a secret player character in the Nintendo GameCube fighting game Super Smash Bros. Melee. He was originally intended to be playable in the Japanese version of the game in order to promote the upcoming release of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade along with Marth, the protagonist of the first and third Fire Emblem titles. Both Roy and Marth speak Japanese in the North American version, which relates to the fact that their games were Japan-exclusive.
The soundtrack was composed by Yuka Tsujiyoko, who has worked on the majority of the series. In addition to its original music, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade also features versions of songs from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, including the recruitment theme and the battle music. The music for the player's turns during the Trial Maps is also one of Fire Emblem Gaiden's map themes.
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- (Japanese) Official website
- (Japanese) Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi at Fire Emblem World
- (Japanese) Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi at Fire Emblem Museum
- Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade at Fire Emblem Wiki
- Fire Emblem: Binding Blade at Fire Emblem Wikia