I think he’s talking about shellfish right now, but I’m not sure. Oh crap! Ninjas! …Kanji is an evil beyond the ken of mortal man.
It hasn’t been a good day for Eirik, the young Lordling of Lunes. The country of Grad has invaded her country and easily wiped out the standing Lunes army. Eirik and her faithful guardian Seth barely escape, heading on a mission to find Eirik’s older brother Ephraim. The journey will be difficult, and the minions of Grad won’t be giving up…
Beware importers, this game is not only in Japanese, but is almost entirely written in the complicated Kanji alphabet, which has been proven to make grown men cry on numerous occasions. Fans of the English premiere of Fire Emblem take heart: the game has been announced for a North American release, and will have the subtitle renamed to “The Sacred Stones”. It would be prudent to wait for the English translation. If you’re a linguistic masochist or certifiably fluent in Japanese, you can import the game from Lik-Sang.
Graphics and sound have not been altered all that much from Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsuguri and Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. Yes, Seima no Kouseki is still using the same engine as the other GBA games. The battle sprites for the new classes definitely have the edge over the reused animations. Fans of the English release of Rekka no Ken will be disappointed to note that the beautiful hand drawn dramatic stills have not made a return.
In terms of the basic gameplay common to each Fire Emblem game, fans of the first English release will be right at home. Maps, icons, and menus are essentially the same as in the previous GBA titles. Characters traverse an overhead view map and engage enemy units in battle. Depending on a number of factors, one unit will prevail over the other. The weapon triangle of Spear defeating Sword defeating Axe defeating Spear is still in effect, as is its Magical counterpart (Dark defeats Anima defeats Light defeats Dark). As before, each character (barring three exceptions detailed below), though pre-defined in profession, levels up uniquely according to his or her innate strengths and weaknesses.
Character classes, however, have gone through quite a bit of tweaking. In terms of weapon balancing, Paladins no longer wield axes, while the slow moving Generals now can use all three of the primary physical weapons. Many of the higher class magic Classes now have additional types of magic available to them, such as the Druid using both Anima and Dark talents in addition to gaining the ability to use Staves.
One of the largest changes to the last few Fire Emblem games is that now you can control what class your character promotes into. To accentuate this, developer Intelligent Systems have added three Novice Classes. During the course of the quest, Eirik and Ephraim will come across three young novice warriors, each seeking to find their way through their world. Ross is a young man with the slightly embarrassing class name of “Trainee Fighter” who is trying to follow his father’s path of being an axe-toting Fighter. Amelia is a former student guardswoman of Grad, and her class is the “Trainee Soldier” and is learning to wield a spear. Youngest of all is Yuan, who is the game’s “Trainee Mage”, an apprentice to the Sage Seraph.
As these young warriors come of age (which happens upon reaching level ten), Eirik and Ephraim are able to choose which class they can be promoted to. For example, Ross can be promoted into either a Marine Thief (Pirate in the English translations) or a Fighter. This idea of choosing your character’s profession is carried on through all characters in your army upon the ability to promote them to their second (and final) class. To continue from the explanation above: Ross can become any one of these three classes, depending on what choices you made upon his promotion past “Trainee Fighter”: Berserker, Warrior, or Hero. Which class you choose dictates what weapons he will be able to wield in battle.
The biggest, brightest and best addition to Seima no Kouseki is the return of Skills from Fire Emblem IV and V. Essentially, some classes are imbued with a special power that can either turn the tide of battle or do something useful on the map screen. Rogues, a secondary Thief form, are able to open chests or doors without the need for a key or an item using the “Lock Pick” skill. Generals have “Great Shield” and during battle may glow and completely negate any damage for one turn. Snipers have “Sure Shot”, which ensures that the strike will hit, regardless of percentages. Assassins have “Death Blow”, which is an instant KO upon a critical hit, regardless of the numerical damage.
One of the other new additions for Fire Emblem is the fact that Seima no Kouseki sports an overworld map, much like Tactics Ogre. Eirik and Ephraim can now revisit areas to buy weapons or items. The important thing is that now there are random enemy maps and bonus dungeon maps. Occasionally after completing a scenario and returning to the overworld map, a monster will scream and then appear among the previously beaten checkpoints. At the player’s discretion, Eirik’s army may engage the monsters and wipe them out, gaining experience along the way. Repeating the random maps can quickly over-level the army and turn the rest of the game into a pitifully simple affair. This will be good news to those who thought that Fire Emblem was overly difficult, but may be somewhat of a disappointment to long time fans of the series, who have been decrying the lack of challenge in the GBA titles since Fuuin no Tsuguri. To address this easily abused leveling opportunity, players can choose their difficulty level at the beginning of the game.
In the end, by bringing back some of the complexity from the Super Famicom titles that the GBA games have lacked, and by catering to new players by compensating the difficulty level, Intelligent Systems have crafted a fine addition to the Fire Emblem name.