Reviews: Fire Emblem Akaneia

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Heroes of Light and Shadow: The Forgotten Gem
FE 12: Heroes of Light and Shadow, the remake of Mystery of the Emblem. If I could sum it up:

Before Awakening's release: Surprisingly Improved Sequel to Shadow Dragon, one of the better games in the series. After Awakening: Seinfeld Is Unfunny - The game.

Due to this, it's unlikely many people will play this game now. Which is a shame, since it's, well, I said it above. At the time, it was a huge shame it fell into No Export for You. But now, we have Awakening and this game is bound to be igonred.

What Awakening fans should know, is that pretty much everything that made that game so great (Avatar creation, the return of supports, difficulty levels that cater to both casual and hardcore players) debuted here. Sure some of them were much better refined in Awakening (support conversations actually have zero gameplay benefits in this one, they're there purely for flavor, to name one example) but they wouldn't have had a chance to be without this game as a testing ground.

But even on its own merits, this game stands strong. Just about everything terrible about Shadow Dragon has been removed or fixed. You no longer have to kill off your own characters to get sidequests (in fact, the game actually chastises you for it this time), characters have actual dialogue, some of the classes that were majorly nerfed were fixed. Yes, the Reclass system is still there, but the game is perfectly beatable without ever using it. The game also contains an embedded remake of Akaneia Saga, a Fire Emblem game that's pretty hard to get hold of these days.

As far as complaints go, the new villains aren't really fleshed-out much (expecially Legion/Roro), and the game is a little easy on Normal Mode due to enemies keeping their stats from the original FE 3 while yours can now go much higher. Possibly related to this, the vast majority of characters who join after the game's halfway point are virtually useless due to being given base stats as if the stat cap was still 20, which is a shame since some of them are pretty interesting, personality-wise.

On a final note: the only way to play the game in English is through fan translation, but it's top-notch, almost on par wih official localizations in quality. In short, I highly recommend this game, despite Awakening being out.
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