Video Game / Tear Ring Saga

Tear Ring Saga: Utna Heroes Saga is a 2001 video game created by Shouzou Kaga, the creator of the Fire Emblem series, fresh from leaving Intelligent Systems to form his own company, Tirnanog. Unsurprisingly, Tear Ring Saga is considered to be a Spiritual Successor to Fire Emblem and incorporates the vast majority of Fire Emblem's gameplay, mechanisms and general flavouring.

The game is about the continent of Lieberia being terrorized by an evil cult, hell-bent on reviving their dark god. Runan and Holmes, the two heroes of the game, travel the continent to stop the cult before their ambitions are realized.

Notoriously, it proved a bit too similar to Fire Emblem for Nintendo's liking, and they took Tirnanog and publisher Enterbrain to court over it. The latter was found guilty of violating unfair competition laws but not copyright infringement - fortunate, given Kaga's original plan for the game (named "Emblem Saga" and revised mid-development) was full of Fire Emblem references and even recurring characters. The rest of the lawsuit was settled out of court, and since then those involved seem to prefer not to discuss the matter.

It got a 2005 sequel for the PlayStation 2, Berwick Saga, which did an excellent job of further differentiating it from its Fire Emblem ancestor and making itself its own beast (no doubt due to the above).

Tear Ring Saga contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Julia, Tia, Mahter, Krisheenu, Verna, Sasha, Meriah, Sun, Liena, Alicia, Raquel, Rennie, Frau, Estelle, Kate, Sherra, Sharon, Yuni, and Mel are all combat-oriented female characters.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: An awful lot of examples, actually, as antagonists tend to be an Anti-Villain or Punch-Clock Villain. Marco of the Condor Squad really stands out though, especially if you go for the Leteena event. After reading the requirements in a guide (namely, that Kreiss has to kill him in Leteena's chapter), most players would assume him to be a Jerkass Romantic False Lead who Kreiss has to rescue Leteena from, so they'd be genuinely surprised to find out he's an all around Nice Guy who saved Leteena's life and just wants her to be happy, who only gets offed by Kreiss due to a tragic case of Poor Communication Kills. Interestingly enough, Kriess actually thinks this trope of him In-Universe, and it causes a minor Heroic B.S.O.D. in him that leads him to contemplate leaving the army. (Depending on your choices, he'll either go through with it or Ezekiel will convince him otherwise.)
  • Anachronism Stew: The game has tanks! Granted they are arrow shooting tanks, but tanks nonetheless.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The story ends with Runan and Holmes setting off on a voyage in search of another adventure along with Enteh, Katri, Shigen and a few more characters who can vary depending on events in the game. The last scene of the game is of their ship, the Sea Lion sailing off to unspecified destination.
  • Animorphism: The sisters are able to turn into dragons.
  • Award-Bait Song: Neverending Dream. See Long Song, Short Scene below.
  • Battle Couple: There are a few, but Roger and Mel are one of the earliest and most obvious examples; if one dies the other leaves the army and they can't be separated into different parties.
  • Black Knight: Mintz is one, and Sun can promote to one. Zeek is of the "Dark" variety.
  • Combat Medic: Mel has a chance to become this since she can use swords, can heal, and has the re-move skill.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Not as bad as FE, but there's some. Some of the priests since they can only use support magic and don't even have a class change. Also, some of the archers can't counterattack in close combat.
  • Crutch Character: Zeek, you get him early on the game and he's easily one of the most powerful in the party from the beginning but he leaves your party later on.
  • Ditto Fighter: Narcus.
  • Expy: Just look at the box art above; if you aren't careful, you could mistake that alone for Thracia 776. This also extends to game mechanics. Most of the skills are expies of ones from the Jugdral games. With some, like Continue, they didn't even bother to change the name. Others did, but are still pretty much FE skills with a different name, such as Dragon Saint == Astra, (up to being associated with legendary Swordmasters) Geomancy == Luna and Life or Death == Wrath. (despite working slightly differently)
  • Face–Heel Turn: Zeek
  • Final Death: You can revive a character later in game, but most of the time a death remains permanent.
  • Heel–Face Turn: As per the Fire Emblem tradition, you can recruit some enemy characters.
  • Hero Antagonist: The entire Caanan Empire, believe it or not.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Runan, but averted with Holmes until promotion.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Due to re-move, mounted units can use this tactic.
  • Instant Costume Change: Plume when she's using the Dance skill.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: You have control of two different armies and have to split your units between them.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The soundtrack contains many great songs that are sadly underused, such as:
    • The promotion theme, Proof of Bravery. You can't hear the full track in-game until Runan and Holmes' promotion cutscenes, as when anyone else promotes, the song cuts about 30 seconds in when the animation finishes.
    • Village of Swordsmen plays during Map 30, and only Map 30. The good news? It's a repeatable map, so you can hear it as many times as you want. The bad news? It's the very last map before the Point of No Return, so you probably won't know it even can be replayed, and even if you do, you won't have long to do so.
    • The soundtrack contains several songs that weren't even used at all. Like Hero of Canaan, seemingly a Boss Remix of Holmes' regular battle theme, and judging by its name it was probably meant to be used for Ernst or Julius. There's also lyrical versions of the game's Award-Bait Song, in both Japanese AND English, but you only hear the instrumental and the English versions in-game.
  • Magikarp Power: Sasha, she starts very weak and is a pain to train but if you grind her up to level 10 she then learns Elite and can promote to a Pegasus Knight (and later on, to Dragon Knight if you want). She can quickly become of one the more useful units.
  • Master of Unlocking: The thieves, Holmes, and Maerhen.
  • Me's a Crowd: There's a way to clone Krisheenu.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Surprisingly averted, unlike the FE series. Only crossbows shoot straight.
  • Non Lethal Ko: Shigen, his personal sword revives him and if he doesn't have his sword then the witch Sierra will whisk him away. Zeek is also rescued by his sister if his hp reaches 0. Lionheart while he's a NPC also counts.
    • If a character has elixir, it revives said character if they are killed.
  • Random Number God: As in Fire Emblem, the RNG can make or break characters; it's entirely possible gain a level without getting any stat increases at all.
  • Squishy Wizard: Maruju, Meriah, Alicia, Rishel, Sierra.
  • Sticky Fingers: Some of the thieves have a chance of stealing a weapon when they perform a successful attack. Also, the first time you recruit Narcus he runs away with half your money.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Sing can heal and has a chance to let a character move again and it can affect 1-4 spaces and it's free, but it has a low chance of actually working.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Apart from the two main lords, Runan and Holmes, if a character with a star beside their name dies it's game over.