Some franchises took a long time to come to North America. Fire Emblem is one of those games. It wasn’t until the Game Boy Advance (GBA) that we got an official release. There were ROMs online with various stages of translation.
I remember finding several ROMs that didn’t work or were poorly translated. It was always a little disappointing, but that is what you had to put up with back in the 90s. That was part of the reason that I was excited about the GBA release.
I played this game a lot when I was in the Navy. This didn’t always work out too well, but I had time to finish each level for the most part. I was playing the game in the lunch line before I went on watch, and this took me about 20 to 30 minutes to complete a level, and I could do it most of the time.
TLDR: Fire Emblem on the GBA is one of the best RPGs on the system.
There are two parts to this story. The prologue lasts quite a long time, and I like this story more than the main tale. Both stories are good; I find the first story more engaging.
You start by meeting a nomad. Her tribe had been killed, and she decides to travel with you. You meet two knights, and it turns out that she is nobility. Because, of course, that is the way that it would work out!
Over the course of this prologue, you learn how to play the game. This also sets up the main story by introducing the people you’ll meet throughout the rest of the game. After you help Lyn regain her title, the game flashes forward one year, and the rest of the game begins.
You try to stop an evil group from opening the Dragon Gate in the main game. Some political maneuverings are going on, and the game sets up the next game in the series. It wasn’t until later that I learned this was a prequel for another installment.
This is a tactical RPG. This means some things are cut out of a CRPG or a JRPG. It feels really strange writing all of this.
You aren’t going to explore cities, you’re moved through the game from mission to mission, and death is permanent in the case of Fire Emblem. The last one does carry some weight as you might have your favorite characters, or you might want to challenge yourself by not losing anyone.
However, if you lose one of the main characters, then you will lose the game. Most of the time, this will put you back at the beginning of the mission you were playing unless you weren’t saving.
While I didn’t notice much difference in attacking enemies from different sides, attacking from different terrain can impact the damage you take or deliver. Forests, mountains, plains, and roads influence how your characters fare in battle.
During the game, you will meet many people who lend you their talents on the battlefield. Most people will help you unless they are part of the bad guy’s faction. Everyone has their role in the game, and learning the strengths and weaknesses is part of it.
Two weapons triangles control how you should attack. The three weapons are Axe, Lance, and Sword. Magic is set up similarly. This helps you specialize your units and is an easy way to balance the game. Some weapons reverse this triangle; they all have different names and are rare.
Fire Emblem is a straightforward game. It doesn’t ask you to think about things too much, and the objectives are easy to achieve. It does ramp in difficulty, but this isn’t anything crazy.
This is a great-looking game! The pixel art, the battle scenes, and the cut scenes are all great. Fire Emblem is one of the best-looking games on the Game Boy Advance.
The cut scenes are simple but work for the game. You get the text with pictures of the characters that are talking. This worked well for the type of game that this is.
Sometimes, there are some more elaborate cut scenes. It’s nothing special. Mostly still images of the events with some text overlayed.
The battle scenes look great! The background and foreground change depending on the terrain you’re fighting on. They look outstanding on the GBA’s screen or the TV.
9.5/10. This is a wonderful entry point for the series and is still a great game to play today.
- Easy to learn
- Well-balanced combat
- Engaging story
- Permanent death of characters
- Too many characters for its own good. Some of the subplots can get lost in the shuffle
- Can be too easy for experienced tactical RPG players
This was my gateway into Fire Emblem. While I didn’t follow the series as much as others, I am fond of the games. Each has its own story that can be very engaging.
The first game on the GBA will always be one of my favorites. I didn’t remember it being as long as it was. However, after playing it again, I found it to be an excellent experience for a handheld.