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Game Profile
Game Boy
Intelligent Systems
GENRE: Strategy
PLAYERS:   1-4
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

Fire Emblem

 Written by Ilan Mejer  on April 17, 2002

First Impressions: Prince Roy steps out of Super Smash Brothers Melee for a moment and tries to redeem a land conquered!

It's about damn time! Essentially the sixth game in Team Emblem's long standing and best selling Fire Emblem series, Sword of the Seal is finally on track for an American release. This will be the first of its series to be localized for American audiences. Fire Emblem is the mother of all console Turn Based Strategy RPG games, preempting even the Genesis classic, Shining Force. Fire Emblem saw two releases on the Famicom (Japanese NES) and three more on the Super Famicom (the last one, Thracia 776 was released in 2000!) and even one Nintendo 64 cancellation. The Sword of the Seal is the first handheld Fire Emblem game to be developed, and given the rapid and surprising success of Advance Wars, is the logical choice to introduce American gamers to the franchise.

Fire Emblem GBA details the story of Prince Roy of Etruria, of Super Smash Bros. Melee fame, as he attempts to defend his land in his sick father's name from an invading force from the kingdom of Bern. Also, it is worth mentioning that Ereb, the name of their dark continent, saw a great conflict of supremacy between humans and dragons 1000 years ago. Roy will eventually ally himself with representatives from his neighboring allies, Ilia, Sacae, and Lycia, as they enter into a conflict whose darkness and import couldn't have been anticipated during the initial skirmishes, one that presumably ties into the ancient history between dragonkind and man.

Fans of either Shining Force or Advance Wars should feel right at home with the game's set up. In fact, the game is based off of a heavily modified version of Intelligent Systems' own Advance Wars GBA engine. The game is broken up into a series of missions, like any Wars or Ogre Saga game, with story development occurring primarily between scenarios. The stock units of Advance Wars have been replaced by actual characters and each one that joins your side is unique. These characters all have their own names, attributes, strengths, and starting skills. Most of the characters have some bearing on the story, and careful attention should be spent in keeping them alive, as death in this game is permanent and irreversible. Your army force, like in Advance Wars, will be composed of units that are given one round of action each combat turn, in which they can move a set amount of spaces, consume items or trade them with other characters, cast a spell, fling a ranged weapon, or attack with a melee weapon.

As you can see, your combat actions are going to be much more robust than in Advance Wars. Furthermore, each character will be able to hold up to five weapons or items. The weapons come into play in combat since many will have magical properties and before each encounter, you will have the option of choosing which of your immediate weapons to fight your current target with. Characters will get experience for every major combat action they perform. Casting healing or offensive magic and successfully attacking foes will net you with a certain amount of experience while killing a foe will award you with even more. That experience will build into levels, which when increased will also improve your characters various statistics, in classic RPG form. Like in Advance Wars, weather and terrain have a strong bearing on the outcome of every skirmish, and the gameplay is absolutely ruled by tactics and strategy.

The graphics and music in Fire Emblem are very pleasing. Advance Wars, while a pretty game, had only sparse animation, even in combat. Fire Emblem will be a much more robust visual experience, particularly in the combat sequences. Although the realistic combat sprites of previous FE games have been replaced by a design that is somewhat more anime-like, the animation has never been better. Cloaks will flick, robes snap, weapons flash, Pegasus wings flex, horses animate, and spells will explode onto the scene like we have never before seen in this style of game. My exposure to Fire Emblem's music is still limited, but what I've heard so far is magnificent and true to the series' roots. Various classic Fire Emblem themes make a triumphant return.

Final Thoughts
Fire Emblem ? The Sword of the Seal will absolutely own you once it finally hits our shores. While some of you may mourn the fact that we will only be getting the sixth game in the series, be satisfied that only the first and third games (Prince Marth's story) were actually related. Every other game in the series was a stand-alone adventure, though they all took place in the same game world, if not on the same continent or in the same era. Advanced Wars and Shining Force are both about to be replaced by the mother of them all. Yes, the Sword of the Seal is mentioned in Prince Roy's SSBM bio?

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