Rekka No Ken, or simply "Fire Emblem" as released in the states, is a tactical RPG where three young heroes lead an army to battle against treacherous nobles, a league of assassins, and a mad wizard bent on ruling the world. The game is easy to learn, the gameplay is polished, the auto-save makes it ideal for gaming on the go, and the sprite art and animations have a lot of character beneath their simple designs. With three difficulty levels and two versions of the 30+ chapter campaign, the game is a challenge for any skill level, though it would benefit from the restrictive tutorial being skippable outside of Hard Mode.
Beyond that, the Support System is one of the best features of the game, turning player units from pawns into unique, identifiable characters with their own hopes, dreams, and struggles beyond the main plot. Supporting allows player unit pairs to advance relationships, subplots, and stat bonuses when near each other in battle, and adds a lot of replay value to the game. This is good, because restarting is basically the only thing to do after beating the final boss, forcing the player to abandon a literal army of characters they've nurtured to power. Rekka No Ken would have greatly benefited from a post-game like Fire Emblem The Sacred Stones
' Creature Campaign, with level gauntlets and random battles.
The game's other main weakness is Eliwood, who is out-shined by Lyn and Hector as both a unit and character despite being billed as the main protagonist. Eliwood is The Mario
to Lyn's Fragile Speedster
and Hector's Mighty Glacier
, but often ends up merely mediocre by comparison due to stat growth. Worse, his Wide Eyed Idealism
is much less interesting than Lyn's Action Girl
compassion, Noble Savage
pride, and tragic backstory, or Hector's Blood Knight
tendencies clashing with responsibility in the face of his older brother's impending mortality. Lyn's case is especially frustrating, as she becomes largely irrelevant after the tutorial and never gets to make good on her oath against the bandits to who killed her tribe.
These are relatively minor complaints, though. Rekka No Ken is a great game with challenging but accessible gameplay, memorable characters, and plenty of depth beneath its simple surface. It may not be perfect, but fans of tactical games and more traditional RPGs should both find plenty to love here.