In just a few weeks Fire Emblem will finally see the light of day in the States, so it’s time to take a closer look.
The creator of Fire Emblem, Intelligent Systems, obviously has a lot of experience in developing turn-based strategy games. Their recent Advance Wars games - with their surpremely addictive gameplay and balanced battle system – beautifully indicate this expertise. Like the Wars series, Fire Emblem is turn-based strategy that harks back all the way to the NES era. Still, Nintendo has never been keen on introducing it to gamers outside Japan – until now, that is.
Conveniently, the game takes place before the other Fire Emblem games, so understanding the plot should be easy enough even for newcomers. The story starts out on Saka Plain where a traveller is lying on the ground - injured and helpless. Fortunately, a girl named Lin comes to the rescue and heals him. This marks the beginning of not only a close relationship but also an epic journey. Lin quickly learns that she is heir to the throne of the neighboring Rikea and becomes entangled in the struggle for succession. As a result, knights come to serve her while assassins come to take her life. Fortunately, the traveller she rescued is a talented military strategist, so he reciprocates by helping her out with his battle expertise.
Like Advance Wars, the gameplay revolves around a number of map-based missions that are introduced by small cut-scenes. In order to proceed to the next mission you must clear a specific objective. These will likely include defeating all enemies, defending an important building, or protecting a certain character. Special events occur during the levels, which will open up new paths in the storyline and offer more difficult side quests.
There is also a multiplayer option implemented, which should provide a nice break from all the single-player action. It basically allows you to challenge your friends to see who has the stronger band of troops.
The RPG elements are what set Fire Emblem apart from Advance Wars. The units are not anonymous and generic. Everyone involved in battle has a certain name, class, personality, and background, and they all possess distinct abilities as well. The different types of troops include – but are not limited to - archers, warriors, knights, and wizards. They can all level up, becoming stronger, wiser and more agile in the process. Furthermore, when one character dies, he is gone forever. By putting a lot of emphasis on character interaction and development, Intelligent Systems clearly intends to make you care for your troops. Hopefully, this will make for a highly engaging gameplay experience – one that could turn out to be as addictive as Advance Wars.