Reviews: Tear Ring Saga

If this was a "real" FE, I'd call it one of the better ones.

Let's not mince words: Tear Ring Saga is a Fire Emblem game in all but name. So what does it have to offer? Actually, quite a lot.

For one, the character balance is really well-done, probably better than most FE games. Magikarp Power characters are VERY worth using, few classes feel underpowered, and even the character who leaves you permenantly surprisingly still manages to be worth using until then. The maps offer interesting challenges and variety, and it blends the Gaiden-style world map with grinding (later adopted by FE 8 and Awakening) and classic Fire Emblem chapter progression very well. One chapter, however, manages to be the worst I've ever seen in an FE game. But that's just one of several.

The real strength is the story though, which I'd describe as the closest thing to a Tales of game for Fire Emblem. That is, the plot starts of as the most cliche FE story immaginable, but things get deconstructed and played with in unique ways. It's more subtle than your typical Tales series approach, but you have things like The Empire turning out to be very sympathetic and the heroes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope in fighting them, very few villains being generically evil for no reason, and even the FE staple "Religion of Evil that worships a dark dragon" turns out to have very understandable reasons for being antagonistic. The Big Bad starts off as a Generic Doomsday Villain before suddenly being seen in an entirely different light towards the end, and many NP Cs undergo intersting story arcs. As for party members, no Supports but there are several unique events between them, and you can't see all of them in one playthrough, adding replay value.

Sadly, a lot of this is ruined by an incomplete Fan Translation. The first 8 chapters of the currently available one are fantastic and practically official localization quality. The midgame dips a bit, but is still bearable. It's at the endgame, just when the plot starts getting good, that it truly degenerates to "Blind Idiot" Translation levels, utterly ruining serious scenes with hilariously silly lines. It's amusing, but this game's plot really deserves better. Here's hoping for a more complete patch, because more people, Fire Emblem fans or otherwise, need to experience this game.
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