You can tell I was pretty busy since I didn’t manage to have a post about this on November 3rd. What’s so special about November 3rd you ask? Was it the day I finally came alive in this world? Did the Yankees win the World Series that year (of course not)? Didn’t Nintendo have what was considered the worst E3 of all time? Did I finally start to care about the NBA?
…Yeah, I assume the title gives it away. November 3rd, 2003 was the day Fire Emblem, a seemingly innocent from afar Japanese SRPG series, was released in the US. No it didn’t sell crazy well, but that was the day, after years of poking around for information and hoping Nintendo would bring the series over to the states, that it officially made it here. (And soon enough into my hands). That was the day I became a FE fan. And that’s kind of how’s it been since then. No, I’m not one of those super hardcore fans, and I don’t profess to be one. I just happened to be a simple dude with a desire to play all the Fire Emblem games that come out now. And I have. So, for this special occasion, I might as well talk briefly about the Fire Emblems I’ve played since it’s debut in 2003…
Fire Emblem 7
My thoughts on Fire Emblem 7: Fire Emblem was the first game I had ever put a pre-order for. So you can bet I was upset when I didn’t get a call saying the game was available, even though it was supposed to come out that day. Clearly wasn’t used to doing such a thing. But I was pretty ecstatic about Fire Emblem on the GBA. After Melee came out, after I had done as much research into the current games in the franchise back then, I was ready. There wasn’t a single doubt within me that it wouldn’t be a great game. So when I got it the next day, once I popped it in, and once the intro started, I was already hooked. Thankfully, the game let me stay that way. There was nothing convoluted with the game, nothing too dense for me to handle. Just deal with the fact that if your units HP hits zero, they’re dead. On my first playthrough, I didn’t actually care about saving the units. When I kept playing it over and over again, that was when I kept trying to keep my units alive. Combine that with an excellent cast of characters, a story that at the time I considered “really dark, with such evil personalities”, a great musical score, and being able to play two different stories (after Lyn’s story), with its strengths and story telling perspectives, overall made this a fun Fire Emblem game, and it probably still holds up well today.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
My thoughts on The Sacred Stones: This was probably, out of all the Fire Emblem games to have come out in the West, the most unfortunate game. I say this because it came out before Path of Radiance did, and came out after Fire Emblem 7. The Sacred Stones felt like a Fire Emblem game: had solid characters, two different perspectives, a World Map, and managed to get me addicted to it. And yet, it felt like a lesser version of FE7. I finished it in no time. I did not have the desire to play it that much again. And only after starting this blog that I learned why I felt this way: this was a small thing worked on for the GBA. They didn’t even have Yuka Tsujiyoko compose the music in this game! And aside from the World Map idea, there’s nothing really particular that made it an improvement over FE7. That’s probably how most FE players judge this game: it’s an ok series, and it’s definitely not terrible. It’s just a watered down version of its predecessor, and that’s a disappointment.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
My thoughts on Path of Radiance: Honestly speaking, it wasn’t until I played Radiant Dawn that I realized that I missed out on what Path of Radiance had to offer. I mean specifically skills. I actually didn’t realize I could acquire them in this game until much later. (Hence why I couldn’t beat the Black Knight until I realized I could have Ike learn Aether). Overall though, the groundwork for 3D Fire Emblem games was laid here, albeit almost not so effectively since it still didn’t look all that great, and didn’t really feel like it was mastered all that well until Awakening.
But while I didn’t get as much as I should out of PoR, it was a fun time, with a very solid (and refreshing) main character, the story being fairly solid enough, the usage of skills in battle, and the music. Of course, this will be the only Fire Emblem game for me where it had the best villain in the franchise, at least to hit the West. Only someone with a generic sounding name as The Black Knight would stand out to be such a badass, memorable, and (at the time) tough character. Ok Ashnard was dastardly, but the only thing I can say to that is he had the music. But really, defeating the Black Knight was what made me happy.
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
My thoughts on Radiant Dawn: We’ll call Radiant Dawn the second most unfortunate FE title for Fire Emblem. It came at a time where Fire Emblem was not selling all that well on either side of the world. It decided to exclude new players from attempting to pick up the game by handing them probably the worst starting group of units in the Fire Emblem franchise and being generally more difficult than past FE games. On the Wii, it looked like it didn’t really take advantage of the system one bit. You add to that a very convoluted storyline that was cool in theory but never really tied together coherently, some really unbalanced characters, and the lack of a support feature (no, really, there’s no support feature no matter how hard the game tells you there is), there is a reason why this did not do all that well in most places.
…Yet this turned out to be the second-most played Fire Emblem game for me. In the end, after whining about it, I got used to its battle system. I just accepted the faulty storyline. When I did that, I really became addicted to this game. It sucks that it didn’t explore characters more, and it definitely sucks it didn’t do more to fix the balance issues with this series. But when all is said and done, I hated that it was over. I blame this on the fact that I played Path of Radiance. This had the largest cast of Fire Emblem characters, a lot of them we knew back in PoR, so it sucked we couldn’t get more info out of them. I think it’s because of PoR that I could always come back and play this game, even though some of the events repeat themselves. I’ll probably be one of those guys that’ll tell you to avoid this one at all costs, if only because if you haven’t played PoR, you’re not going to like this game.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
My thoughts on Shadow Dragon: I have seen two schools of thought on Shadow Dragon. The first is that it’s a classic, so that’s precisely how it should be treated. The second is that it’s a game no one talks about. As in, it doesn’t exist. That’s not a good thing. But sadly, it does exist, and that can’t be erased. And it’s unfortunate. We finally, finally get to play as Marth, but we get to play him in a manner that doesn’t even come close to advancing the series, or making it accessible for newcomers to get into because of its 90’s storyline and mechanics. Overall Shadow Dragon is a game you feel like you can play once, but after that, good luck. That’s about how it turned out for me.
Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou No Nazo
My thoughts on Shin Monshou No Nazo: What also kills Shadow Dragon is how much effort was put into Shin Monshou No Nazo, which was a remake of the Super Famicom game. It sucks that this one never reached US shores because of Shadow Dragon, because this was one hell of a Fire Emblem game. You had betrayal and tons of political intrigue in its story, a slightly more refined battle system, cool music, good units, and conversations that enhanced the storyline. Speaking of enhancing the storyline, we had My Unit. The first time we could have our own character was back with FE7, and while he/she couldn’t fight, it was at least a decent attempt to get us involved with the characters themselves. By default, this version blows that out of the water, and it really sets the tone for the next FE game in the series. But in general, FE12 was a nice breath of fresh air. It really felt like Intelligent Systems wised up and decided to make a FE game. It’s such a shame it never got released in the West.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
My thoughts on Awakening: I hate it when I get pandered to, so you’d think Awakening would set off all of the alarms because it panders to everything I love about Fire Emblem. You think I’ve been following FE for the story, LOL no that’s never what defines FE for me. The only question that comes to mind is, “Is it fun to play?” And Awakening was a hell of a lot of fun to play thanks to its battle system. Just like FE12, I got addicted to this game. It was pretty sad. It then had the marriage system and support conversations. I didn’t even care how the conversations were–they were just there, and the last time we had them was in Path of Radiance. That was 7 years ago. I was starved for it. It also branched itself a bit from other FE’s by providing new classes (like the Great Knight and Dread Fighter, among others). Hell, it even gave us Donnel. Instantly reminded of Sacred Stones and those trainees who were so easy to kill, but once you get them strong enough, they would beast everyone. So maybe Awakening is not the best FE game. It was the FE game at the right place, at the right time, or more like at the needed time, since the series might have been finished with that game.
…Well guess what? It wasn’t. Instead, it turned out to be the best selling FE game in a long while. Hell, I’m certain it’s the best FE sold in the US by a good shot. Why? Because it’s pandering is effective, it’s artwork seemed mainstream enough, and once again, it came out at a great time. And all I can say is that I have to thank Awakening for allowing me to think that Intelligent Systems will eventually put together a superior FE game sometime in the future.
…And how about that future of Fire Emblem? Is there 10 more years of FE in store? Well…it’s too early to worry about that. For now, we worry about what Fire Emblem characters, stages, and music will be in the upcoming Smash Bros Series. We’ll worry about that Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem combo that still has yet to be explained aside from FE in MODERN TIMES WTF. And I guess by E3 next year, a remake of FE4 will be announced for the Wii U. And yes, not the 3DS. Just ’cause.
(Yes, I added that because I could. Go listen to it!)
But whatever. I’m here for the long haul. I hope I’ll have some company with me.