Douglas's game of...God knows when: Fire Emblem, Sacred Stones

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Douglas's game of...God knows when: Fire Emblem, Sacred Stones


Post by Sim Kid » Fri Aug 19, 2005 1:09 am

While some may find turn-based strategy like Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics, and this game a bore, others have found strategies of the turn-based kind very fun, and Fire Emblem is one of the preferred series. Fire Emblem has been going on long in Japan as you already know, and it wasn't until the 7th game that the series made its way stateside. Many positive reactions greeted Eliwood, Lady Lyndis, Hector, and Denning on their voyage to the US, but there were many criticisms of Fire Emblem 7, mainly those involving Eliwood being weaker than a Pillow while Hector rips through everything in his path and Lyn falls in between, though what some people found too difficult to digest was that you had no chance to level up or buy in between chapters. This both required you to plan your turns carefully so all your units get XP but this also created a headache when you realized you forgot to buy a Steel Sword from a shop the previous chapter and then Raven gets used less or has to borrow a weapon from someone because he's out of weapons.

The Overworld map is a new addition to the Fire Emblem series. The World Map functions much like the world map in games like Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, you can move around on the map, run into monsters (After Chapter 8 of course), and, most importantly, stop into previously visited towns and purchase, which removes one of Fire Emblem's biggest headaches. Also added are the Tower of Valni and the Lagdou Ruins, where you are always guaranteed a fight with monsters where some monsters just stay on the world map and can block your way. Luckily, you can retreat from these battles if you are in danger of losing your units since, unlike in many previous strategy games, a lost ally is gone forever. Fire Emblem fans may remember Arena abuse, where you would level your characters up and they'd massacre the enemies. The Tower of Valni and the Lagdou Ruins are definitley arena abuse times a dozen, since you can not only farm XP, treasure, but Supports as well.

Supports are back, and they will develop the characters who join your party, and if you get supports up to an "A" rank with two characters, they will sometimes appear in the ending as having something to do with eachother, falling in love and marrying for example. Fire Emblem 7 fans may remember some humorous supports, like that one support between Rebecca and Lowen, Sain hitting on every girl he sees, or the (in)famous Lowen-Eliwood-Breakfast support where Lowen faints because Eliwood did not eat breakfast. There are some interesting supports, however though some contain story spoilers and it is rather funnier for you to find out for yourself. (L'Arachel is rather funny, she reminds me of Serra from Fire Emblem 7)

Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones has improved the promotion system. You can now choose what class your characters can be promoted to, which can lead to some customization. They have also added class-specific skills, such as the Assassian's Silencer, which is a one-hit KO, the Bishop's Slayer kill which deals Lethal damage to monsters, and my favourite, the Wyvern Knight's Pierce skill which negates enemy defense. (WARNING: If a Wyvern Knight Pierces while using a ranged-lance, it will crash the game!!) My favourites of the new classes are the Wyvern Knights and the Mage Knights (Which are basically the Valkaries from Fire emblem 7). The Nomads (Mounted Archers) do not exist anymore, however their promoted form still exists and is just as good as ever. (P.S, Do not promote any Pegasus Knight to a Falcoknight, tey will be much better as a Wyvern Knight, and Tana is the best flying unit in the game.)

You can find a chart showing the classes here
courtesy of Gamefaqs.

The chart also shows a class BEFORE the regular units, these are the three Trainees, and, like Nino of Fire Emblem 7, they will become some of your most powerful units if you give them the time and patience of leveling them up. The problem with the Trainees, like Nino, is that they start off very weak and somewhat difficult to level up until they get promoted. However, thanks to the Tower of Valni, only Ross should give you any worries of slowing down your units during the early chapters (As there are no encounters or Tower of Valni during those first 8 or so chapters). Fortunatley you do not have to use an item to promote them, the next battle you have the choice of promoting them before you begin.

Returning from previous Fire Emblem games is the Manakete, as shown on the chart. The Manaketes are basically the single-most-powerful class ever. Myrrh alone can absoultley devastate bosses and monsters, however there is a limit to her dragonstone, it's limited to 50 uses and is irrepairable. Her one-hit KO's make her very easy to level.

What is a strategy game without some good AI and a deep story. While I'm sure the story can't be considered as "deep" given the presence of some obvious cliches, the AI is defenitey well-programmed. Like in Fire Emblem 7, the enemies love to go for the weakest unit or one of the Lords, which, thanks to Nintendo and Intelligent Systems listening to Fire Emblem 7's criticisms, are no longer weak and unable to level up. Many of the Monster AI though is rather sensible for their kind, because they will go for whoever is closest and generally walk right to their deaths. However though they still can cause some harm to your units, Magic can easily kill them, especially a Bishop's magic. Fire Emblem 7 fans may also remember the boss being one of the hardest in the series. While I can't confirm since the only other final bosses I've fought are the one in the original Fire Emblem (Which took a few tries), the one in a RoM of Fire Emblem 6 on a friend's computer (Who took out a few units before I restarted enough to beat him) and of course Fire Emblem 8's (Sacred stones). I managed to beat the Final Boss on my first try, I had little to no difficulty on the last chapter, and pretty much owe it all to Tower of Valni/Lagdou Ruins abuse.

What can be improved most about the game is the storyline, which is rather decent but there are some obvious cliches present. There are 6 countries, 5 of which have a sacred stone used to seal away the Demon king. (One of which, Carcino, is an emerging repuclic) Here you see the obvious cliche, and another cliche emerges as the country that starts a war by invading an ally-country is the EMPIRE. The Emperor then adds three new generals to his rank. (You can tell they're evil since they LOOK evil! :eek: ) However though, a cliche of an evil Darksol/Agahim/Jafar-like person manipulating the emperor is somewhat different. I can move on to a plot involving dark magic (Not like Nergal, mind you!), monsters, and the demon king but I am going to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

What I believe is the biggest improvement to Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones over '03's Fire Emblem is that the two lords, Eirika and Eiphram, are no longer weak. Eiphram is a lot like Hector with Lances and Eirika's much more like the offspring of Blade-lord Lyndis and Roy (Much like a swordmaster). However, don't let them get hit too much since they will not be the best units, but certainly good additions to the troops.

What is still present, however, is that the game automatically saves after each move and many cahpters goals are "Sieze Throne", "Kill Boss", "Kill all enemies!". A few minor flaws, though the automatic saving is both good and annoying since you have to restart if you mess up and don't ahve to hit suspend.

The Game Boy Advance may be technically inferior when compared to the DS and PSP, but this game does show us that even in its dying years a worthy game can be released. I highly reccomend this game for all Fire Emblem Fans or RPGamers who are looking for something on the Game Boy Advance that ISN'T a port or remake.

Douglas's Score: 9/10

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Post by Mr.Hammermap » Sun Aug 21, 2005 3:32 pm

Great game, but Lyon was the absoulute worst character ever. "I was just pretending to be the Demon King, (even though he obviously has the Demon soul in his body)! It was all theatrics!" "In ten days, I will sacrifice myself to the Demon King. The only way to stop me is to kill me, but he'll be released anyhow." If the guy knows the Demon King plans to do that, than he should take control and head somewhere else. And the twins were pretty stupid in those scenes too. Their best friend betrayed them, killed their father, destroyed their country, released an ultimate evil, lied to them, and fought against them on top of trying to kill them, yet they still say: He is my best friend, now and forever. I will always like him, and remember him as the best friend I've ever had.
Seriously, how many people on Earth would still like a lousy moron like Lyon? Heck, even in those memory scenes he wasn't the kind of person I'd see as a friend of Ephraim and Eirika. I'd give this game a 8 out of 10 overall, due to how short the plot was and Lyon.
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