For those bothered by it, this post may contain game spoilers
Well, my friend ZeroTolo just reminded me of this, and I feel rather ashamed to have neglected it. I mean, I can't cover the whole Fire Emblem series, because I've only played this one, but to not have covered any of them at all seems like a terrible slight to the tactical genre.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
is special to me because, well, it was a gift from my boyfriend, and because I love it and hate it at the same time. Or rather, it's a love/hate relationship because I love it, and it hates me.
Even on easy mode, which I took first because that's what I do when playing something new, this game is insanely difficult. Mainly it's because there are no create-a-characters, just plot ones, and when a character dies, they're done. Kaput. Just lost your wyvern rider to some bow-wielding little shit across the wall? Too bad. Joshua collapsed in a heap because you put him through the arena one time too many? Oh, so sad, bye-bye Joshua.
Despite how annoying this is, though, I also kind of appreciate it, because it forces the player to use some really serious tactical thinking. In most tacticals if the situation requires it I can sacrifice someone without another thought. In this game, however, every move, every healing and attack and sacrifice, must be weighed with the utmost care.
You can send Syrene over the mountain to pick up your new allies--that's actually the best way to do it. But would you do the same if a bow-wielding little shit like I mentioned before is cooling his heels there, just waiting for an airborne attacker to soar by? Or would you send Seth the tanksome cavalier, knowing that no matter no good he is someone with a lance can still land a critical? It makes me really consider the map before I lay out my characters.
I love the combat system--specifically the manner in which every defender gets a chance to fight back if he can.
They won't always land something, but they can at least try
to hit back, and the animations are really cool.
The support system also adds a lot to the game. For those unfamiliar with the series, support relationships can be built between certain characters if they fight side-by-side (literally) a lot. Neimi and Colm, for example, two of my favorite characters, are childhood friends. If they stand next to each other in battle for long enough, you'll get a "Support" option; if you pick it, they'll have a chat (like this one, although these two aren't Neimi and Colm)
and their support relationship will go up a level. If you get it to the highest level, then at the end of the game you learn that they fell in love and got married. But besides adding to the plot, support relationships actually give you a tactical advantage. If Neimi and Colm (again) have a support relationship, they'll give each other stat boosts when they stand next to each other in battle.
The story is great--there are lots of wonderful characters, and with the support system there are many ways each one can develop. The art, as you might see in the screenshots, is really wonderful, particularly for a GBA game. ZeroTolo tells me that we might be seeing a DS Fire Emblem sometime soon, which makes me happy in my heart. I think it's a platform that deserves more strategy games, and with Rondo of Swords
and Drone Tactics
and Final Fantasy Tactics A2
and now this, we're seeing a beautiful explosion of games this system should have.
For now, though, I will hunt down the other GBA games. And also I can always play as Marth in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I like to put him in the white costume. I call him Glorious Snow Princess Marth. He's so pretty. ^_^