Fire Emblem (video game)
Cover art featuring the characters Eliwood, Lyn, Hector, Nils, and Ninian
|Genre(s)||Tactical role-playing game|
Fire Emblem[a] is a tactical role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance, developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The game was released on April 25, 2003 in Japan, November 3, 2003 in North America, February 20, 2004 in Australia, and July 16, 2004 in Europe. It is the seventh main game of the Fire Emblem series, the second in the series to be released for the Game Boy Advance. Due to the popularity of Fire Emblem characters in the crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo decided to localize this next title in the series for North American and European release for the first time.
Fire Emblem takes place twenty years before Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, the previous game in the series and serves a prequel. The game follows the adventures of Lyn, Eliwood, and Hector, three young lordlings who hold landed titles in the Lycian League. When Eliwood's father goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eliwood sets off on a journey to find him, engaging his friends for help. This expedition uncovers a greater conspiracy orchestrated by the Black Fang, a mercenary group which has been abducting people across the continent.
As the first Fire Emblem game released outside Japan, the game was likened favorably to Advance Wars, another tactical game by the same developer. Critics praised the deep story and characters which accompanied the strategic gameplay. It earned a number of year-end accolades among various game press outlets and was named 16th best Game Boy Advance game of all time by IGN in 2007.
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.
The single-player campaign is divided into chapters which generally begin with story elements presented through the use of scenes animated with still images of the main characters, then followed by a battle with an enemy; after each battle, the player is given the opportunity to save their progress. Fire Emblem introduces some notable changes to the series, including a tutorial mode. The single-player campaign is divided into Lyn's tale and Eliwood's tale, the former of which serves as a mandatory tutorial designed to ease new players into the game. The tutorial disappears in Lyn's Hard mode. Fire Emblem also introduces new mission objectives, like surviving a certain amount of turns, destroying all enemies, or traveling to a predefined space on the map. Terrain and weather effects have also been added.
All the 44 units in Fire Emblem are divided into classes such as Shaman, Berserker, or Thief. Depending on class, a unit can use either magic or weapons; the "weapons" category comprises swords, axes, lances and bows, while the "magic" category comprises anima (or elemental) magic, dark magic, light magic and staves (used for functions such as healing and curing status ailments). The game follows a rock-paper-scissors mechanism in which axes beat lances, lances beat swords, and swords beat axes; the bow in the game is not a part of any weapon triangle, but is especially effective against flying units. Similarly, the magic system is also structured through a triangle, the Trinity of Magic, in that dark has the advantage over anima, anima over light and light over dark. There are different levels of weapon, which run from E to A in alphabetical order and then to the ultimate level which is S; a unit can raise their weapon level by persistently using that weapon.
After attaining 100 experience points, a unit will level up and may increase its statistics, such as Speed and Defense. Which stats grow is determined by a Random Number Generator and Growth Rates, which gives the highest number the RNG can get and still raise a stat. An unpromoted unit can change class ("promote") at any level from 10 to the maximum of 20; this requires a special item depending on the class that it is intended for, such as the "Knight's Crest" for knights and cavaliers. Once promoted, the maximum level the unit can reach is level 20 of the promoted class.
Certain pairs of units can increase their support level by spending many turns adjacent to one another. Supporting units receive a statistical gain when they are within three spaces of each other. Each unit has an elemental affinity; the form of statistical bonus from supports depends on the combination of the elemental affinities of both units. This bonus is strengthened by increasing the support level, which is measured from C to A—C for a single conversation, B for two conversations, and A for three conversations. Some A supports between characters will give them a paired ending at the end of the game where every character is given a paragraph showing their life after the war. Commonly, it's between a male and female character and they are united in marriage. With each support activated, a conversation will occur between the two characters. Once the story mode is completed, a "support viewer" will become available in which the reader can read previously viewed conversations at will.
If a unit falls in battle, he or she can never be used again. However, an exception is made for characters in Lyn's tale, who will return in Eliwood's tale even if they are defeated during Lyn's tale. The death of one of the Lords (Eliwood, Hector, or Lyn) results in a "Game Over", and the player must restart the chapter to continue the story.
A new mode, Hector's tale, is almost the same as Eliwood's tale, but with a few changes. In this version, Hector (instead of Eliwood) is the main character. Several story elements, cut scenes, and chapters are changed to reflect the different point of view. In addition to this, two normal chapters and two Gaiden chapters are added. In all chapters, there are different troops and troop placement, and the level of difficulty is higher. Finally, two characters not found in Eliwood's mode can be recruited: Farina, the third of the Pegasus Knight sisters, and Karla, the Princess of Swords, sister to the Swordmaster Karel.
There is a hard mode for each of the Lords' tales. Hard mode changes include more difficult landscape conditions (such as fog of war, which limits visibility), higher-leveled enemies, and fewer units available in each battle. The most dramatic change between normal mode and hard mode is in Hector Hard Mode. Hector Hard Mode involves higher leveled enemies, enemies with better AI, and fewer units available during chapters. It is also more difficult to generate money and sustain the group with weapons and resources, as less gold is available and earning it is more difficult.
As well as the single-player campaign, Fire Emblem features a link arena in which up to four players can link up and do battle with teams of characters from the single-player save file. Players choose up to five characters and equip them like in the main story. During battle, each player takes turns to attack with one character. Players can also choose to fight against their own teams, which are controlled by the computer if no other players are present.
The game is set in the fictional continent of Elibe, and is a prequel to Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi. Consequently, the history and some of the character relationships are connected between the two games. The game opens with text describing ancient historical events in Elibe. Over a thousand years before the events of the game take place, man and dragon coexisted in the world. However, this peace was broken when man fought against dragon in a bitter war known as The Scouring. Upon their defeat, the dragons vanished from the world and man began to flourish as the sole dominant species.
The player adopts the perspective of a tactician who is found by a girl named Lyn in Sacae. During Lyn's tale, the first part of the game, Lyn discovers that she is the granddaughter of the marquess of Caelin, Hausen. She recruits companions in a quest to prevent Lundgren, her grandfather's brother, from ascending the Caelin throne. Lundgren had wanted to gain power by poisoning the current marquess; he also sent soldiers out to destroy Lyn and any knowledge of her as she is higher in the line of succession. Lyn eventually defeats Lundgren and reunites with her grandfather.
The following chapters revolve around Eliwood, Hector and their party (which eventually includes Lyn) hunting down an antagonistic faction known as the Black Fang. The Black Fang have prospered due to the creation of morphs—highly efficient humanoid creatures serving their leader Nergal. They kill people to gain their quintessence (life energy) and thus gain more power. The Black Fang engage Eliwood's interest by capturing his father Lord Elbert. The protagonists' ultimate goal is to prevent Nergal from using their companions Ninian's and Nils' quintessence to open the Dragons' Gate, a portal where dragons reside, and thus ignite Elibe in conflict. As Eliwood and the party hunt the Black Fang down, they eliminate crucial figures of the Black Fang, as well as gaining allies. The title of the game comes into play with the battle for the gem that controls the ascension to the throne of Bern, the Fire Emblem. The Fire Emblem changes in meaning from game to game, so this is a specific usage, rather than a general theme for the series. The game ends when Eliwood and the party slay Nergal and the dragon that had been summoned via Nergal's quintessence. Eliwood becomes marquess of Pherae, and Hector inherits his brother's title as marquess of Ostia.
The popularity of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee partly influenced Nintendo to localize Fire Emblem games for North America and Europe. This is the first Fire Emblem game released outside Japan, and it was designed with North American localization in mind. Since its release in North America and Europe, each new installment of the Fire Emblem series has seen a release in Western markets except for Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū.
Critics likened the game to Advance Wars, while also acknowledging the differences between the two games. Craig Harris, of the video gaming site IGN, deeply appreciated the game's substantial single player, but was disappointed with the multiplayer mode, which he rated as substandard compared to Advance Wars. Bethany Massimilla from GameSpot, another video game site, lauded the visuals of the game, commenting that "the game sports attractive artwork in the form of character portraits." Most critics also welcomed the music in the game, with Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell commenting that "the battle themes, map themes, and various other tunes used in cut-scenes are never annoying."
Fire Emblem has received critical acclaim for its epic story and unusually deep character development and gameplay. The game has received many high ratings including an 8.9/10 from GameSpot and it has received an Editor's Choice Award from both IGN and GameSpy. In 2007, it was named 16th best Game Boy Advance game of all time in IGN's feature reflecting on the Game Boy Advance's long lifespan.
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