How to beat The Black Knight in Radiant Dawn: Give Ike a damn Hammer. Wait two turns. Even without a hammer, he's still a fairly easy boss, especially when compared to Deghinsea, Sephiran, and Ashera. The hardest part of that fight is keeping him alive long enough for your other characters to get the Wishblade from Levail. No doubt as payback to the insanity of the first duel in Path of Radiance. It's entirely luck-based.
Fridge Brilliance; he always wanted to fight 'Greil at full strength'. He raises Ike, lets him live, for this reason. He got exactly what he wanted. Exactly as one-sided.
Oliver in Path of Radiance. He's actually far better as a player unit in Radiant Dawn.
If she can avoid being shot down by bows on the way across the map, Elincia can charge straight up to Ludveck and use her just-obtained Infinity+1 Sword to carve him up in one round. (On easy and normal mode, at least.) Haar can also slaughter him with a Hammer.
Shiharam, mainly because almost no one survives once Ike uses Aether.
Dragons can't do ranged attacks in PoR, which sucks for Ena as she can be easily pounded into the ground with Thunder magic.
Petrine's not actually that weak overall, but her Magic stat is low and she comes equipped with a Magic Lance that isn't all that good to begin with. It makes for a somewhat dissapointing boss fight. It's really too bad, since as shown here Petrine can actually be a fairly serious threat if properly equipped.
Awesome Music: Some of the best music in the Fire Emblem franchise comes from this game.
Both games start with great Opening Themes. Path of Radiance starts with a rather short one, but it sets the mood for game perfectly. Randiant Dawn on the other hand, is longer and more bombastic, which also fits the game's narrative to a T.
"The Devoted", the Greil Mercenaries' battle theme in Radiant Dawn. Few times such a short song is this intense. The loop only lasts 40 seconds, but every single one of them is awesome! It returns in Fire Emblem Fates, unedited, as Ike's battle theme.
The rest of the Battle Themes are also awesome, we have:
Makalov. The fans either love him for his jerkassery, his pink hair, and orange armor. Or hate him for his jerkassery, his pink hair, and orange armor. In the same vein, Radiant Dawn Astrid. In PoR her base was very solid as she's a very lovable character. Come RD however, there's been some bases that thinks that this is a completely different Astrid based on not only her going down in tier list, but also how she seems to crank up her Horrible Judge of Character trait by fawning over the aforementioned Makalov, thereby an inversion of Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. While some are still pretty okay with her, glaring flaws and all.
Stat-wise: Edward. He's either one of the best characters in the game for having some of the best growths in one of the best classes, or one of the worst for coming in with very weak base stats (especially lack of defense) and requiring significant investment to really shine on the harder difficulties. His usefulness generally depends on what difficulty you're playing; Part 1 on Hard Mode really isn't kind to Magikarp Power characters, while Edward will get off the ground really fast on Easy. He also tends to generally appeal to more casual players who'll play on the lower difficulties and spend more time/resources raising such characters, rather than to the more hardcore players playing for efficiency and lower turn counts, that will brush them aside without them offering significantly greater reward at the end than the competition.
Micaiah. This girl has some of the most dedicated haters in fandom (it wasn't until more than eight years later that Nohr!Corrin came around to challenge her status as the most hated lord in the franchise), but the people who love her will rabidly defend her to the death. Then there's the less vocal third "we like her, but we can see why people have issues with her" group which is sadly drowned out by both the rabid haters and rabid defenders alike.
Ike himself could be seen as one in Radiant Dawn since those who loved him would hate Micaiah and vice-versa. And often for the same reasons. The Ike supporters would hate on Micaiah for being bland while those who support Micaiah hate Ike for being a one man Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Additionally, Ike in general has become somewhat divisive for being emblematic of fans who vocally worship pre-AwakeningFire Emblem games and hate the better-selling installments from Awakening onward, turning him into the rough Fire Emblem equivalent of Charizard.
Strictly from a gameplay standpoint (she's fairly well-liked as a character), Ilyana in Radiant Dawn. Due to showing up fairly early in the Dawn Brigade's scenario and then joining Ike's group early in Part 3, she has the most availability of any unit in the game, and is also the only one who can reach SS-rank in Thunder Magic, allowing her to use Rexbolt. Given that one of the toughest bosses in the endgame is a dragon and is therefore weak to thunder magic, that makes her pretty awesome. That said, she'll probably still be slightly weaker than Soren when she first joins Ike's group even if you use her liberally in Part 1...and given that the Dawn Brigade's chapters in Part 3 allow you to field every unit available to them, giving experience to a unit that won't be available to them in Part 3 will leave them at a severe disadvantage. Which means it might be wiser to just bench her whenever possible during part 1. Which...means she'll still be a first-tier unit at a point where your strongest units are nearing third tier, and is therefore horrible.
Deghinsea is a full-strength dragon Laguz, absolutely huge and intimidating and with stats to match. He also has a map-based AOE attack, something rare in the series. As mentioned below, his status as this is the main reason why he's not considered The Scrappy.
Sephiran is not nearly as tough, but still has a few tricks, such as summoning Spirits to absorb attacks directed at him, as well as having an awesomely tragic boss theme, several great boss conversations and another AOE attack (magical this time).
And finally, the Final BossAshera, who is often considered one of the best final bosses in the series from a gameplay standpoint, if not the best. Unlike many earlier final bosses it's more than just having the main Lord wail away with their legendary weapon. Ike has to deal the final blow, but first you have to destroy the barriers surrounding the boss with the rest of your army, which requires making use of teamwork and skill combinations. The boss also has many different attacks, ranging from single-character snipes to AEO, both physical and magical. Ashera is one of the few final bosses in the series whose fight feels like a natural extension of Fire Emblem gameplay.
Breakout Character: Even though these games didn't sell all that well, Ike qualifies handily for this trope on multiple levels. In the West, he is greatly loved for being Rated M for Manly alongside other extremely popular Lords like Sigurd and Hector, and he is a very strong contender for "most popular Lord in the franchise" since Marth's games aren't held in nearly as high a regard outside Japan. And even in the east where the older games are better received than the newer ones, Ike still managed to claim first place in a series-wide Famitsu popularity poll◊, beating out even Marth, the series' original hero and previous fan favorite. He also has the Super Smash Bros. franchise to thank for this, as Ike frequently ranks very high in popularity polls and is a much loved fighter, with only Captain Falcon beating him in sheer craziness.
Breather Boss: Hetzel, who only uses staves in the first part of 4F.
Breather Level: Path of Radiance chapter 14, for being very straightforward compared to chapters 13 (defense mission that requires you to fight raven Laguz and think more strategically than usual, especially if you want all the treasure and you want to recruit an extremely frail NPC) and 15 (desert map in which you fight Laguz). Chapter 14 is as simple as sending your army along two paths and taking enemies as they come, with the only threats being the Feral Ones at the end and the boss. Hard Mode adds Fog of War, but all that really does is increase your chances of accidentally killing Makalov.
Ike's sexuality is hotly debated among the fandom, given his lack of female support endings and revulsion towards Aimee in particular, the presence of male "companions for life" endings, and the existence and nature of his descendant Priam in Fire Emblem Awakening. Fans not only argue about what sexuality he seems to be, but what sexuality they personally view him as and why it's justified by canon — including, not surprisingly, the option that Ike's sexuality is undefined and that one shouldn't look too much into what seem to be "hints" either way. As the canonbisexuality of Corrin, Niles, Rhajat, and especially Soleil in Fire Emblem Fates has raised more of a ruckus, some fans believe that leaving the subject alone is for the better. On many video game forums, mentioning Ike's sexuality will often be met with replies of "best not to go there", and a furry-themed Fire Emblem subreddit requires non-canon labels for Ike x Ranulf and outright bans Ike x Soren submissions.
Several of the big reveals in Radiant Dawn are controversial, particularly Sephiran and Ashera being Evil All Along, the Dark Goddess being Good All Along, and the Begnion Senate being responsible for everything bad in both games. Depending on who you ask, these are clever deconstructive twists on Path of Radiance and new shake-ups to the oft-stock Fire Emblem plots or Shocking Swerves that retroactively diminish it and have long since become derivative cliches of their own.
Cargo Ship: Gatria x Tree in a Skirt, from a base conversation with Shinon in Radiant Dawn, immediately took off as a near-universally accepted joke OTP, see Memetic Mutation below.
"Mad King" Ashnard, the pinnacle of a Social Darwinist, became the King of Daein by getting his father to sign a blood pact, and then invoking it, killing everyone who was in his way to the throne, as well as countless other innocent people. He then proceeded to kill his own father, therefore becoming king. After finding out about the dark god (really the goddess of chaos, Yune) sealed in Lehran's Medallion, he decides to release it. This requires a war that spans the whole continent, so he decides to begin by invading the next country over. He also, after finding out that his own son Soren was unable to transform into a dragon like the child's mother Almedha used to be able to, decides to hold him captive to get ahold of the kid's uncle, the oldest son of the king of Goldoa. He then proceeds to warp Rajaion's body and turn him into something resembling a wyvern, and then uses him as a mount. He laughs at everything. His ideal world, the one that he wishes to create, is one where the only thing that matters is power.
Izuka, Ashnard's demented chief scholar and a a BeorcMad Scientist, is no less evil than his master. In his brief cameo in Path of Radiance, he appears onscreen just long enough for it to be revealed that he is the developer of the Feral Ones, Laguz who are forcibly mode-locked into their beast forms and driven insane to be used as Cannon Fodder. In his base at Gritnea Tower it is revealed he has a basement devoted to storing the corpses of his experiments' victims. Izuka takes on a much greater role in the second game, where he has been hired by Lekain to bend Daein to Begnion's whims. He takes on the role of strategist to Daein's weak-willed Prince Pelleas, where it is demonstrated that he would gladly sacrifice good strategy for pointless destruction. He injects the innocent Muarim with the Feral One drug, which would have annihilated his mind if not for Rafiel's intervention. When Begnion offers to make peace with Daein, Izuka springs his trap, telling Pelleas to sign a "peace treaty" that is actually a Blood Pact, mystically binding Pelleas and thus all of Daein into virtual slavery to Begnion. Finally, it is revealed that he's tested his drug on the Beorc, his own race, too, including turning Elincia's noble Uncle Renning into the Tragic Monster known as General Bertram.
Vice-Minister Lekain, Duke of Gaddos, is a high-ranking politician of the Theocracy of Begnion and senior-most member of the country's corrupt senate who is driven by his insatiable desire for more power and hatred for the Laguz. When Begnion's Empress Misaha emancipated the country's Laguz slaves and planned to reveal that the royal lineage of Begnion was Branded, Lekain had her poisoned, then, pinning the crime on the peaceful Heron Laguz, whipped his countrymen into a genocidal frenzy, reducing the Herons' population from thousands to four in a single night. He then conspired for Misaha's young granddaughter Sanaki and a young senator by the name of Sephiran to be elevated to the positions of Empress and Prime Minister respectively, the only positions higher than his own, while he held the real power from the shadows. After Daein lost the war to Crimea, Lekain had the defeated nation annexed by Begnion, and gave Duke Numida and General Jarod free rein to do what they pleased with it. When Daein declared independence, Lekain tricked its new king, Pelleas, into making a Blood Pact with him, a mystical document that conscripts one nation in service to another under penalty of its citizens dropping dead one by one. Using this magic Lekain enslaves Pelleas and the Daein army to act as his accomplices in a war which Lekain plans to use to wipe the Laguz species off the face of the Earth.
Counterpart Comparison: Ike is occasionally compared to Charizard, not so much for his character, but for his role within the franchise — both characters are Rated M for ManlyBreakout Characters that became fan favorites and win popularity polls despite not being the Series Mascot, and also became playable in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as fire-based heavyweight fighters. Less positively, both characters are also seen as symbols of "genwunner"-type fans who vocally worship older entries in their series and hate newer ones.note Although the Tellius games aren't the first installments in their series, in the West or in Japan, the analogy is still there.
Crack Is Cheaper: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn on Amazon are... pricey, to say the least. Even a used copy of either will set you back a hundred dollars.
Shipping Ike with Marth is pretty popular due to both characters appearing in Super Smash Bros. and, in some cases, due to the whole debate on Ike's sexuality and due to Marth himself being viewed as a "twink" despite having a canon wife. Ike/Lucina also exists as a heterosexual equivalent.
Going outside of the Fire Emblem universe, Ike is also shipped with his Smash-mate Solid Snake quite a bit. Just like Ike, Snake is a Rated M for Manly character with a very similar ambiguous sexuality and Ho Yay situation.
Critical Dissonance: While both games were well received (Radiance a bit more so) and Ike is one of the most popular Lords in the series (if not the most popular), they sold very poorly in their native Japan.
Crosses the Line Twice: The boss of the Radiance chapter "Solo" is holding the unarmed population of a monastery hostage to gain leverage and some human shields. He is the most hilariously, unapologetically vile man your army has personally met thus far, and he seals it with his death quote:
Schaeffer: "...Gwaar... Haaaarr... Haaaaaa... Shoulda brought... more priests... Or some... babies... Dang..."
Demonic Spider: Tiger Laguz in Radiant Dawn. They have very high HP with high defense, they hit very hard, and are very accurate with their blows, on top of having tremendous movement. You additionally tend to fight them with the Dawn Brigade, whose units are especially frail on defense, and while you don't have the crutch characters around in the chapters you fight them. It'll take some very cautious and strategic planning to ensure you don't lose any units to these beasts.
Snipers and Warriors who wield a Crossbow-type weapon. Crossbows are an unusual type of weapon, that have an extremely high might value, but completely ignore the unit's strength in damage calculation. The result is that they tend to be much weaker weapons in practise, especially as these units have very high strength values to begin with and will thus be hitting a lot harder with standard weapons. However, these weapons become extremely dangerous against non-dragon flying units, even more so than standard Bows. To explain, some classes have a weakness to a specific type of weapon, which will have their might tripled in damage calculation when they come into play. Since these weapons have extremely high might values at base, they end up becoming insanely powerful against fliers (the weakest version, the Bowgun, has a might of 24, so against fliers its might becomes 72, which will deal massive damage regardless of strength values), and will deal massive damage if not outright killing. These additionally strike from a range of 1 and 2 (so you can't attack such units without a counterattack), they're extremely accurate (so even the fastest units have a high chance of getting plonked by one), and they're common throughout the game. They're a priority target that one must be aware of at all times when they have a flying unit in play, and they're a major reason on why Haar is so useful (as since he's a dragonrider, he's a flying unit who won't have to limit his movement in fear of them).
Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Some newer, casual players find that the gameplay and aesthetics of the Tellius games can be rather dull compared to Awakening and Fates, but that they have great stories and characters, often outclassing the newer Fire Emblem games. For this reason (along with the rarity of the games), some players choose to follow Let's Plays for the Tellius games rather than outright playing them.
Ike is literally one of the most popular lords in the series, if not the most popular. Besides his fame from Super Smash Bros., there aren't many lords who get such universal love. He's so popular, that in a poll for characters players wanted in Fire Emblem Heroes, Ike got in the top five, TWICE. His Path of Radiance version is number one while his Radiant Dawn version is number five.
The 3-13 Archer. He's just a random Archer who (instead of just waiting to die like everyone else) jumps off his ballista to fight Laguz before he dies in a Heroic Sacrifice. He has quite the fandom because of this.
Nedata, the Pirate Mini-Boss in chapter 9 in Path Of Radiance is very well loved due to being a hilariously stereotypical pirate who even has his own Villain Song. Many wish he was recruitable, and making him playable with the AR Code to recruit enemies is very popular.
Mia, due to her personality and being a Myrmidon/Swordmaster (the fandom's favorite characters all seem to come from this class). In Radiant Dawn she also gets additional points for being one of the game's best units, with ridiculously fast speed that allows her to double opponents and dodge with impunity even on the hard difficulty (especially when paired with Ike, she becomes nigh-untouchable).
Boyd from both games. On top of having a likable, interesting personality, he's also one of the most busted axe infantry this side of Hector, boasting insane stat parameters across the board.
Heather in Radiant Dawn, due to being one of the few new characters with personality and Girl-on-Girl Is Hot.
Nephenee also has a significant following, due to her being a Shrinking Violet farm girl. She's also popular for being the first playable Soldier in a localized game (the series previously had Lukas from Gaiden), as well as having extremely good growth rates that she'll mostly always ending up as a battle juggernaut that mows everything in her path and either dodges like crazy or No Sell any incoming attacks.
In a non-character example, the Tellius incarnation of the Soldier class as a competent playable class and its promoted forms, Halberdier and Sentinel, seem largely beloved. Improving Soldiers and creating and inserting Halberdiers (of varying levels ofgraphical quality) has become a very common practice in the Game Mod community for the GBA trilogy, and the lack of this form of Soldier in Fire Emblem Awakening was much bemoaned.
Haar in Radiant Dawn, for being a badass riding a giant badass dragon, while being an even bigger Game Breaker than Ike, and while being available in more chapters than almost every other unit in the game.
Among the Dawn Brigade there's Nolan; while still a bit of a Flat Character like the rest of the new DB characters, he does get a bit more characterization than the rest of the DB that isn't named Micaiah, and has the most intriguing back story of the lot. Most significantly though, he's the one character among the DB who isn't a Crutch Character that's actually unquestionably useful; coming in unpromoted but with high enough base stats to make him instantly useful, while having really strong growths (especially in speed) to keep him very useful throughout the game, and getting Tarvos, an exclusive axe that's one of the best weapons in the game. He's also the one DB unit considered superior to his Greil Mercenary counterpart, and is the only DB unit besides Jill that's fully viable for the end game on an optimal playthrough. The result is Nolan being quite well liked, while his compatriots are either Base Breakers, forgotten, or outright scrappies.
Laguz Royals in Radiant Dawn, Ike in both games, and most tier 3 characters in the sequel. To specify, there are now 60 levels to grow up, and each 20 levels you go up a "tier" (which the game calls a "class change"), and get preset stat bonuses (contrasting normal level ups, where it's random). In the other games, there were only two tiers. Now there are three, and even though most of your units come in tier 2 anyway, their stats become so ridiculous that many people consider the Endgame the easiest part of the game.
By extension, the mastery skills that fully promoted Radiant Dawn characters receive definitely qualify. The vast majority of them are basically critical hits with additional effects ranging from status ailments to HP absorption. Considering how powerful your units should be by the point at which most of them are fully promoted, the activation of a mastery skill is more or less an instant kill. What's more is that the activation rates of these skills are based on stats, and if you have a third tier unit, the stat that the skill runs on should be well into the 30s. In other words, your units will be performing instant kills almost every other turn by the time Part IV rolls around (many times even before then).
Notably inverted with the Whisper's mastery skill, Bane. This skill always leaves the target with 1 HP. That sounds pretty good, but in practice, it often activates when the target would normally be killed.
Haar in Radiant Dawn. Lightning Bruiser, excellent mobility, plenty of availability, weak to only an uncommon type of Magic that's very weak and inaccurate to boot, masters the best weapon type in the game, is essentially a flying tank that takes Scratch Damage at most from nearly everything... it's safe to say that Haar is one of, if not THE, best units in the game. Such is his influence as a Game Breaker that among FE fansites, when drafting tier lists for any game in the franchise (and even other games), it's not uncommon to refer to the absolute top tier as the "Haar Tier".
Titania acts as a Game Breaker in both games. In Path of Radiance, she's the game's Oifey but has the growths to keep up with the rest of your army when they began to gain levels. In Radiant Dawn, she is the highest level of the Greil Mercenaries, and is only five levels from promoting into third tier. Add in her excellent stats, access to axes, and can support with fellow Lightning Bruiser Ike, and you'll see why she's called Critania.
The Marksman class can also shoot at three spaces away from an enemy without losing accuracy like a normal Longbow would. Add a Double Bow, which allows them to 1-2 range (something that has always been the bane of Archers in this series), makes them quite formidable.
The premiere Marksman of the Tellius series, Shinon, counts as this in Radiant Dawn, with his high Strength, Speed, Skill and Avoid ensuring that he'll be doubling everything, never getting hit by anything, and critically-hitting a lot of the time, as well as activating his Mastery Skill Deadeye often, which if it doesn't kill the target immediately puts them to sleep, which tends to be overkill as it triples the damage dealt by the attack. A far cry from his status as a Crutch Character in Path of Radiance, as well as his being affected by Can't Catch Up.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Path of Radiance is one of the core Western fandom's most beloved Fire Emblem titles of all time. It is also the lowest-selling Fire Emblem title in the series' history in its native country.
Goddamned Boss: Sephiran's oddly low HP (50) for a late-game boss is to lull you into a false sense of security. Thanks to Mantle, he's healing 40 of that every turn, so essentially the only way to subdue him is to gang up everyone and take him out in one turn. You also need Nihil on those who will attack him if you don't want him to Corona-bomb someone to death. However, he's got another dirty trick that is almost literally cheating: Those magic spirit mooks always standing adjacent to him? They have an unadvertised Guard skill that will start directing attacks away from Sephiran when his HP is low. You have to remove all four of them before you can finish the job. Do this too slowly, and he'll use Rewarp to move somewhere else. Rude and rather lame, but it makes sense in context; he's a Death Seeker. Another thing is up to this point, almost every enemy has very low amounts of luck; they might feel overpowered, but their hit and dodge aren't as good as advertised, and they won't get the critical hits with regular weapons that your units will. Sephiran has plenty of luck.
Many lines in the first game are painfully ironic after playing the second. But since the game's data makes it obvious the developers already had the plot of the sequel in mind when they wrote the first game, this was probably intentional. Examples include:
Rhys: [In the epilogue] "Finally...it's finally over. At long last, we can return to a life without war. Praise the goddess." (Not only is an even worse war coming, but it's all caused by said Goddess! Or, at least, by a guy who'll stop at nothing to wake her up...)
The last words of Sephiran's Sequel Hook in the first game: "It appears your trials are just beginning, my gallant, young hero... May the goddess ride with you." end up sounding really dark when you realize said goddess is the final boss, and Sephiran knows this better than anyone. So in other words, it's not so much a 'good luck' as it is a death threat.)
Many of the party's interactions with Oliver and especially Naesala. Playing the first game alone gives you the impression Naesala is an utterly horrid man who eventually serves as an ally of convenience because you helped one of the few people he genuinely likes and justifies his serial puppy-punting with vague statements about how much his nation is relying on him. Once Blood Pacts are introduced, though, you realize this is far more literal than it sounds. Oliver is a bit more subtle, but note how he always talks about "protecting" Reyson after buying him as a slave. Just what he tells himself so he can sleep at night, right? Nope, he's totally sincere, and what's more it's implied he of all the Senators was left out of the loop on who really signed the Heron Clan's death warrant.
Crimea is a real place, but it's small, mostly obscure, and nobody's really going to notice that the Name's the Same. Until 2014, that is, when it became a flashpoint of Ukrainian-Russian tensions in the aftermath of Euromaidan and by extension ended up all over the news. And then they got annexed by Russia.
Mordecai declares he'd want nothing to do with a goddess that supposedly decreed Branded should not exist to Stefan in PoR.
Micaiah: Right. Lord Ike, "hero" of the Crimean Liberation, leader of the Greil Mercenaries, and father of Sothe's children...
Hype Backlash: A side effect of the heavy praise that the games started getting years after their debut; some fans find the Tellius games to be underwhelming compared to their reputation and/or don't see what the big fuss is all about. It doesn't help that the games are slightly outdated in some respects compared to the better-selling 3DS entries, although there are very few complaints about Path of Radiance's story unlike with those games.
I Knew It: The Black Knight's true identity of Zelgius, as well as Bertram being a Brainwashed and Crazy Renning. Thanks to the magic of hacking Path of Radiance and examining unused files and dummy data, many saw these coming a mile away, although Ranulf spoils the former in Radiant Dawn for those who didn't.
The Greil Mercenaries saving Lucia at the end of part II. Yes, it was originally a spoiler, since it was never hinted at the beginning. Also, Zelgius is the Black Knight.
Greil's death from the first game.
It's Easy, so It Sucks: "Stop Having Fun" Guys complained that you could save mid mission in Radiant Dawn, providing an opportunity for Save Scumming (a first for a Fire Emblem game, at least in the West; some previous Fire Emblem, like Genealogy of the Holy War, allowed that option). Others countered that you can't do it in Hard Mode (the mid-battle saves are deleted when you load them).
It's Hard, so it Sucks: The GameSpot reviewer said that the game was insanely hard, even on Easy Mode, which contributed to the badly received low score. Up until then, every Fire Emblem was made easier for international release. This one wasn't, except for including some new weapons, and making promotion and forging weapons less of a hassle. It really didn't help that the Japanese Normal, Hard, and Maniac modes were renamed Easy, Normal, and Hard in the localization. It's quite likely that many reviewers avoided playing Easy out of pride, not realising they were jumping straight into the Japanese Hard. (The English Hard was actually a Harder Than Hard mode in the Japanese version, which explains why it's so brutal compared to the HM of earlier games.)
"The 3-13 Archer," a particular friendly archer in Chapter 3-13 of Radiant Dawn, is especially distinguished for Memetic Badass status in spite of want for a name. By an incredible quirk of Artificial Brilliance, the 3-13 Archer has cemented himself in the hearts and minds of Fire Emblem players everywhere.
Ike himself. He's generally held as one of the manliest and most powerful Nintendo characters of all, rivaling Captain Falcon in this respect but with slightly more canon justification. A series of polls on GameFAQs' Super Smash Bros. board was dedicated to determining whether Ike truly could solo other Smash and Nintendo characters in canon — surprisingly, he was voted to lose against Falcon himself, without the Chuck Norris-like memes usually associated with the Captain.
Moe: Mist, Ilyana, Astrid, Amy, Micaiah, and Sanaki. A lot of people think this of Rhys as well.
An interesting quirk of this is that Sanaki's "moe appeal" is in-universe, and gets invoked by Lekain as he explains just how Sanaki was used as a tool by the Senate. It ultimately ends up bordering on deconstruction, since her moe appeal has, without her even realizing it, made her life and the lives of many others hell:
Lekain: In an unprecedented move by the senators, we elevated Sephiran to prime minister, keeping him serving as close to you as possible. This plan, radical as it was, proved far more effective than we dared dream. A young, handsome prime minister and an adorable moppet of an apostle brought the people's support to incredible new heights. Apparently, the common citizenry is gullible enough to blindly follow any leaderwho is sufficiently attractive. Enamored as they were, no one ever seemed to care whether or not you could hear the voice of the goddess. With the new apostle and prime minister, the political landscape became unrecognizable. Even in the face of overtly unreasonable legislation, the two of you would stand on the balcony... a smile and a wave later, the people would cheer and go on with their happy lives.
In fact, because the Serenes Massacre is what caused Sephiran to cross the Despair Event Horizon, Lekain is pretty much indirectly responsible for everything.
Ashnard crossed it when he abandoned his lover, took his son hostage in order to lure in the boy's uncle, whom he turned into a mount, and then abandoned his son after that.
Valtome does it twice, starting by ordering his men into the Kauku Caves (almost certain death) purely to "retrieve corpses" in 3-8. In 3-10, in case there was any doubt, ordering his soldiers (a hell of a lot of men) to attack the unarmed Queen Elincia, who has just managed to avert a major battle between Begnion and the Laguz Alliance.
Naesala seems to cross, and is indeed considered to have crossed in-universe, when he has all fighting-age males in Phoenicis executed. But it's a subversion; Naesala was under a Blood Pact, and we all know what that entails.
Some of the voiceovers in the scenes in Radiant Dawn's English version. Especially Deghinsea's. There was what was intended to be a very serious scene showcasing Lehran's plight, but Deghinsea's voice actor decided to play Large Ham and whatever was intended to be serious in the scene vanished in thin air.
Deghinsea: "Hold, hold I say!"
The voice acting on the whole is rather bad: With the emotion levels going up and down at random points (pretty much every cutscene Tibarn is in sounds forehead-slappingly stupid due to the unnecessarily large levels of ham andDull Surprise the actor injects into the performance). Only a few scenes, like the ending of Path of Radiance, manage to nail it and carry any sort of emotional weight.
Ilyana's death. "I'm dying...on an empty stomach."
Ike's memory scene has the child Ike shout in his deep adult voice. It doesn't help that his expression is completely blank.
Narm Charm: Sigrun is retelling the day of Sanaki's coronation when she was just a small child. Tanith adds that she tripped 5 times over her cape, and Sigrun says that isn't appropriate right now as Sanaki is asking them if her not being the true apostle changes their opinion of her. While this may get a laugh, it's still touching because it's Tanith and Sanaki.
Nightmare Fuel: The basement of Gritnea Tower. Or rather, a dungeon filled with Laguz corpses. The description alone is bad enough, but the CG image shown to accompany it....
Older Than They Think: Nephenee is often mistaken for the first playable character in the Soldier class, which was exclusive to enemies and other non-playable units in the GBA games. The series previously had playable soldiers in Fire Emblem Gaiden, such as Lukas, who joins in the beginning of that game.
Periphery Demographic: Due to Ike's extremely close friendships with males and lack of defined female marriage partners like other Fire Emblem protagonists, these games are among the most popular in the series with Yaoi Fangirls, which is a cause of Broken Base among the non-yaoi/shipping sector of the Fire Emblem fandom. Like with Fox and Falco, some fans of Ike in Super Smash Bros. don't come in expecting their favorite character to have such a sizable slash fanbase.
Sacred Cow: Much like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, fans of the Tellius games will valiantly defend them from any sort of criticism, right down to accusations of being outdated and Radiant Dawn's controversial plot points, and will often attempt to justify the games selling poorly, citing arbitrary reasons for why the allegedly "inferior" Fire Emblem Awakening sold much better and saved the series. Likewise, some fans act like it's a cardinal sin to dislike Ike himself, although his Radiant Dawn depiction has some detractors.
The Scrappy: Sothe in Radiant Dawn is disliked by many players, for being the closest thing the game has to a classic Jagen despite his decent growths, having by far the worst third tier class (terrible stat caps including a measly 28 strength cap, being restricted to knives (which are the weakest weapons in the game), and having a mastery skill that just leaves opponents at 1 HP with no additional effects while all other mastery skills outright kill), his overbearing devotion to Micaiah, and his outfit in both his classes cropping halfwayup his torso. The biggest sticking point with such players though is the fact Sothe is a forced unit throughout much of the game, and is mandatory to bring along into the endgame where his class limitations make him nigh-useless; the last one is especially bothersome to fans of Volke, who is an objectively superior knife-wielder to Sothe (his base strength is greater than Sothe's maximum strength with comparable speed, while his mastery skill is a guaranteed death blow with the same activation rate), which means to bring Volke along into the endgame would mean having two knife-wielders among your limited units (while there's also only one SS knife in the game). Sothe isn't without his defenders however, who will point out how indispensable Sothe is in Part 1 and the DB's Part 3 missions (i.e. the hardest parts of the game), and that by the time he loses his usefulness it doesn't really matter when you have so many other overpowered units to pick up the slack.
Leonardo, Meg, and Fiona; Leonardo is an early-game archer with awful base states and poor growths in strength and speed, Meg is an armor unit who comes in very underlevelled with poor growths in strength and defense, and despite attempting to fill the niche of a "speedy armor" her speed cap is lower than Gatrie's (a character with far better Strength and Defence) and Fiona comes in late in Part 1 with hilariously bad base stats that would be fitting for a level 1 unit. Fiona is especially bad, as by the point you get her the enemies can double and kill her in one round, while the remaining maps of Chapter 1 either restrict her movement (eliminating her main advantage of being a mounted unit) or don't allow you to use her at all (and when you go back to the Dawn Brigade in Part 3, the first mission there also heavily restricts her movement), so it's impossible without an extreme amount of coddling and resources to make Fiona remotely usable (and it's not like she has amazing growths and stat caps to make it remotely worthwhile). All three are also flat characters who get barely if any characterisation, so they have no chance to win people over in spite of their terrible performance. The few people who do like them tends to be for how hilariously bad they are.
Lyre and Kyza, two Laguz units who join the Greil Mercenaries in Part 3. Like the above three DB characters, they come in with horrendously terrible base stats (Lyre especially, who can't even deal any damage to many enemies in her starting map) without having the growths to make up for it, and are completely flat characters who serve no relevance to the plot. Lyre is additionally a Cat Laguz, which are the Laguz with the worst stats and have the worst transformation meters (as they deplete the fastest during transformation). Lyre in particular is often considered an even worse and more useless unit than Fiona. And again like the aforementioned three, their fans tend to be people who like them because of how hilariously useless and flat they are.
It also doesn't help that you get them at the same time that you get Lethe and Mordecai back, units with identical classes and either outright better stats (Lethe vs. Lyre) or roughly even stats at lower levels (Mordecai vs. Kyza; Mordecai has the advantage in HP, Strength, Luck, and Defense while Kyza has the advantage in Magic, Speed, Skill, and Resistance, but Mordecai is only level 16 if he didn't gain any levels in part 2 while Kyza is level 18 and Magic is more or less useless to any laguz that isn't a heron or a white dragon.)
Kurthnaga, who suffers a really bad case of Overrated and Underleveled; after you see him blow up a castle and a huge deal is made about him transforming, he comes in right before the endgame way underlevelled with terrible base stats (including a 20 speed stat when transformed, while everything at that point is around 30). He's additionally a mandatory unit to bring along into the endgame where he'll be useless unless you pour an extreme amount of bonus experience into him (while not having the potential to make it remotely worth it), and his Black Tide skill (which raises the defenses of adjacent units by 5) isn't very useful, unlike the similarly mandatory, yet combat-ineffective, Ena (whose Blood Tide skill gives adjacent units an extremely useful strength boost of 5 and a skill boost of 5 that helps a lot against the final boss). The only niche use of Kurthnaga is exploiting Dheginsea's inability to attack him, which even then you'll need to get his strength up by at least 5 levels before he can even scratch Dheg for pitiful damage.
Scrappy Mechanic: The Skill Capacity system in Radiant Dawn is very poorly implemented, mostly because Shove and Canto were changed from innate abilities to unremovable Skills that took up capacity, and because the Mastery Skills earned by third-tier units on promotion, which understandably have a high capacity, are also unremovable - and in most cases, have a capacity equal to the amount that the unit was supposed to gain in the first place! As a result, almost every unit has far less potential for Skill customization than their ostensible Capacity suggests; the only real exceptions are Laguz and units who join with a really good Skill already equipped (e.g. Nolan and Nihil, Nephenee and Wrath), because automatically held Skills don't take up capacity.
This was worse in the previous game where Skills were lost for no good reason if it was taken off a character.
Biorhythm could be a pain in Path of Radiance, but Radiant Dawn took it one step further and had it change every turn! This meant if your Leonardo or Mia were performing wonderfully at the beginning of a chapter they could suddenly start failing badly near the end. This made a lot of players mad.
The Laguz's transformation meters. It makes non-royal Laguz units so much less flexible, and requires players to be so much more cautious with their placement at the end of turns to ensure they don't untransform while being assaulted on the enemy phase. The result is that even with items to mitigate the transformation meter, Laguz perform a lot worse than equivalent Beorc units, and require really overpowering stats or abilities to be useful. Even with OP stats, Laguz will often get overlooked by players for inferior Beorc units so they don't have to deal with the meters.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Players introduced to the series via Fire Emblem Awakening may find that the Tellius games (particularly Path of Radiance) can feel rather primitive in terms of music quality, animation, lack of voice acting for individual characters, and lack of side missions.
Slow-Paced Beginning: For some (especially those who dislike Micaiah), Radiant Dawn doesn't really pick up until the Black Knight himself joins your party at the end of Part I, and the game doesn't let up from there.
Soren is the most obvious example, although admittedly he loses some of his stoicism in the scenes that make him the most Woobie-like. Except for his Path of Radiance B Support with Ike.
After making his promise that there shall be no great war, Dheginsea is not only forced to hide Lehran from the world and persecute the branded, but also sit idle as the Laguz are forced into slavery, since the Dragons interfering would cause said war. Then Ashnard has an affair with his daughter, uses their child to draw out and kill his eldest, and then warps a brigade of red dragons into Feral Ones. Dheg still remains neutral. Then a great war happens anyway, and his only remaining child Kurthnaga joins the war. He still remains neutral. By the end of Radiant Dawn, Dheg has lost a child, had the other two turn against him, the majority of his people killed, discoved that everything he did to prevent war was completely unnecessary in the first place, and his hundreds of years of neutrality torn down before his eyes, and all he could do to validate his actions was to continue to uphold his promise, even in the face of Armageddon and the objections of everyone around him.
If nothing else, Dheginsea is statistically fearsome: 100 HP, outrageous stats (six of them maxed out), a skill (Mantle) that stops your skills, renders him immune to non-blessed weapons, and heals him for 30 HP every turn; and to top it off, a mastery skill (Ire) that just plain kills you, period. The good news is, by this point you've had a chance to get three copies of Nihil, which you can simply slap on your three strongest units to even the odds. The bad news is, you're still having to fend off his countrymen in the meantime, and they are no slouches. Another strike against Dheginsea is that (like all the rest of the enemies) he will never retaliate against Kurthnaga or Ena. Not that this helps you anyway, since those two are lucky to damage him at all.
Ike in Radiant Dawn Chapter 3-13. He'll be as strong as you levelled him up to at that point, which is going to be at max level with many high capped stats unless you went out of your way to not use Ike in the prior chapters, while he wields the Ragnell. You additionally have to play the very underpowered Dawn Brigade in this chapter, none of which will likely be able to survive a single round against Ike, let alone deal substantial damage to him, as they'll probably be a bit past level 10 in tier 2 at best without careful investment. Fortunately for the player, Ike doesn't move until the final two rounds, and the player doesn't ever have to combat him to win the map (the objective is to survive for 12 turns). However, defeating Ike is an Instant-Win Condition, so those speedrunning or otherwise concerned about their final turn count will have to beat him. Beating Ike will usually come down to using your Master Crown to promote one of your DB units to tier three beforehand and getting lucky with a mastery skill, and/or exploiting Ike's low resistance to put him to sleep with a Sleep Staff from Laura so you can take safe accurate shots at him (which you'll only get if you recruited Aran back in 1-3 and kept both him and Laura alive up to this chapter).
In Path of Radiance, defeating the Black Knight is more or less a matter of luck, unless you've gotten Mist leveled up reaaaaaal well. And even then you have to do it in just four turns, which is harder than it sounds.
Radiant Dawn's Chapter 3-6; you play the Dawn Brigade for the first time after Part 1, in a mission where you'll have to kill a ton of Laguz (up to 50 on hard mode), in Fog of War. You also won't have Crutch Characters anymore to carry you through like the end of Part 1 (the Black Knight does come, but not until late into the chapter and the swamp you fight in makes him nigh-immobile), while your DB units are underlevelled and can be easily killed in two hits from the accurate Tiger Laguz. Your saving graces are being able to finally take the Wildheart skill off of Volug at this point (who'll be the only unit who will reliably be able to take more than two hits from the Tigers), Sothe with a Beastkiller (which will allow him to one-round kill the Laguz, though he won't be able to take a hit), and Nolan, Edward, Leonardo, and Jill getting some very powerful weapons (especially Nolan with Tarvos, which grants a defense boost that can make him the only other unit besides Volug who can take more than two Tiger hits).
Radiant Dawn's Chapter 4-3 if you don't specifically prepare for it; it's a standard rout mission, but you fight in a large map that's entirely desert, which severely limits the mobility of all units besides mages, thieves, fliers, and transformed Laguz, while also making armor and horse units nigh-immobile. In part 4 you additionally have all your units split between three armies, which outside of a handful of mandatory units on each army, you choose which unit goes to which army (and you can't modify your decisions once you make them). So if you don't have prior knowledge of this chapter, you could very well choose to not have fliers and Laguz on the Silver Army while putting your best armor and horse units in it, leaving you crippled for this map. You do get Naesala, a Laguz royal, here regardless, alongside another very powerful Laguz in Skrimir, who can both potentially solo the map. But with just those two, while very doable, it'll take a very long time to clear this chapter.
Stefan and Shinon in Path of Radiance are infamous for being two of the hardest characters to recruit in the series. The first is pure Guide Dang It: you need to move one of two specific characters to one specific, out-of-the-way tile in a desert chapter, with only one extremely vague hint to the whole ordeal. (The mention of "strange figures wandering the desert" in a base conversation. Yeah, that's helpful.) Even more annoyingly, if you miss him you miss both the S rank sword and one of the Occult Scrolls. For Shinon, you need to talk to him with Rolf, an Archer who'll be very weak if untrained, a fact only hinted at if you check the "conversations" section of the Unit menu. After this, you have to have Ike defeat him, which is normally the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you want to do to a recruitable enemy. And he doesn't join until the very end of the chapter, meaning a player could restart after Ike beats him, thinking he's gone for good.
You get a massive amount of Bonus Exp for completing Path of Radiance Chapter 10 without being seen by the guards, i.e. playing it as a pure stealth mission. This is nearly impossible without a turn-by-turn walkthrough, as the guards' movements are erratic and unpredictable, and you need to unlock all the cells before leaving or you'll miss several recruits. (On the Japan-only Maniac mode, it's even worse, as the prisoners all need to escape the map in order to be recruited.)
One of the conditions to recruiting the final secret character in Radiant Dawn, Lehran. Ike has to fight the Black Knight in 3-7, and both must survive the encounter. Essentially Ike needs to be very strong to even stand any chance of surviving, but not too strong. You also need to give Ike a ranged sword, because the Black Knight's Eclipse skill can activate in melee, and if it does Ike is 100% doomed.
Getting the secret epilogue conversation involving Soren in Radiant Dawn requires a lot of set-up even if you know the Guide Dang It steps. You need to have him fight Micaiah in 3-7 and Pelleas in 3-E, both of whom are right at the end of a large map and surrounded by tons of very strong units, including multiple boss-tier characters. The best way to do it requires having the foresight to give Callil's Meteor tome in Part 2 to Haar, who joins Ike's group in Part 3, so that Soren can use it to hit both from a distance. Even then, Soren needs to get pretty deep into enemy lines in 3-E, which, seeing as he's a Squishy Wizard, is a daunting prospect in itself. (Also, Nolan and Edward are on the best path for him to take, and both are That One Boss if you trained them.)
The generic support conversations in Radiant Dawn were not very well liked after four straight games of interesting, detailed ones. A fan project was started to create support conversations in the vein of those seen in previous games. Link here.
The losses of the mercenary and hero classes were also met with complaining, although Ike basically counts as one in all but name, especially in the sequel.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Every single new character in Radiant Dawn lacks any kind of character development due to the removal of support conversations, and a lot of them had the potential to be interesting.
Special mention goes to Stefan. He offers Ike some sword lessons (that actually grant one of the only 4 Occult skills in PoR), is descended from one of Ashera's 3 heroes, and is clearly less jovial than he lets on. However, he adds nothing except for some special conversations and a Vague Katti. While this fits his obscurity and secrecy, he yields nothing despite becoming the king of a Branded nation.
A not insignificant number of fans wish Micaiah had been the protagonist for the entirety of Radiant Dawn, and that Ike's overshadowing her in both screen time and usefulness was a mistake.
In the first game, there's an offhand mention that the reason that the Beorc oppress the Laguz, is that, once upon a time, the Laguz oppressed the Beorc. Both when this happened and the nature of this oppression are never revealed.
Uncanny Valley: The eyes in some of the female characters' portraits are drawn in a very dull complexion with almost no pupils, to the point that they look like marbles or amber. If the eye color happens to be something bright on top of that like red or yellow, this can make said characters seem eerily similar to Killer Robots with Mind-Control Eyes. Elincia, Marcia, Jill, Astrid, Micaiah, and Cahill's daughter Amy are particularly noticeable examples.
Jarod suffers lots of them, mostly to stop the audience from developing too much sympathy or respect for him, to the point that this occasionally leads to rather bipolar behaviour (he expresses his pride in his subordinates and in the next moment he stabs them). The most obvious example is him demolishing the capital of Daein (and killing lots of (unnamed and story-wise irrelevant) innocent civilians in the process) for no explained reason, after Micaiah and the Black Knight let him escape, probably because said mission made him rather sympathetic, and he was required to be killed as the Disc One Final Boss in the next one.
Although Ludveck is more cunning than most Fire Emblem antagonists, he too lapses into Stupid Evil by the end of his arc. His last trump card, have his men threaten Lucia, should Elincia not consent to his demands, is very cleverly played. Not so smart is his order to have her really killed, after Elincia after some thought decides that as a Queen she cannot meet said demands for personal reasons; Not only does he lose his only bargaining chip in the process, he gives Elincia and her followers additional reasons to hate him and have him killed.
The most blatant and hotly debated case however is the one of King Dheginsea, whose reasons for opposing the protagonists make little to no sense in the eyes of most players. Suffice to say, he'd be The Scrappy if he weren't a pretty impressive Boss fight.
Vindicated by History: Although both games were for the most part always well regarded among most hardcore fans of the franchise, their low sales made it feel like their memory wasn't going to last very long. Fast-forward a decade, two stellar appearances in Super Smash Bros. and a spectacular franchise comeback thanks to Fire Emblem Awakening later, and now it's more broadly praised than it ever was. There is no shortage of people who think these two games are the highlight of the entire franchise, especially among the games released in Western territories. The narrative is particularly well regarded thanks to the elaborated Jig Saw Puzzle Plot spanning two games.
Radiant Dawn is derisively known as a "fujioshi game" in some Japanese circles and is accused of pandering to Yaoi Fangirls at the expense of other fans' enjoyment, due to its Ship Sinking with female characters such as Elincia and Ho Yay subtext with male characters such as Ranulf or Soren. However, most fans don't hold such an extreme view of the game.
What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Radiant Dawn was rated E10+ by the ESRB despite its dark themes and slightly stronger language than the T-rated Path of Radiance (the word "damn" is used several times, while its predecessor only used "damned" once).
The Woobie: Among others, Tormod, Muarim, and Ena definitely count. Pelleas and Naesala too. In fact, anyone who's had to deal with the horrific threat of a Blood Pact counts.