Greetings. Escaped from Japan for the very first time, we have quite a presentation for you. Yes, we're playing Fire Emblem (The Blazing Sword for my lucky Japanese bros)! The seventh game in the series, and for my money, the best one too. (For the record, I've played, aside from this one, Sacred Stones, Radiant Dawn, Sword of Seals, and am currently beating my head against Genealogy of the Holy War.) The perfect blend of intellect-tickling strategy, heartstring-tugging RPG plot work, and a wall-bangingly sadistic Random Number God, I'd hold this game up as one of the best Turn-Based Strategy games ever released.
This will be a run-through of Lyn and Eliwood's stories - I'm not doing Hector mode, because I feel like retaining my sanity. My plan is to do Lloyd's version of "Four-Fanged Offense" and Kenneth's version of "Pale Flower of Darkness", but if I ever get around to liveblogging Hector mode, I'll do the other versions. You guys can have a say in party composition and supports when the time comes, but keep chat about the plot in spoiler tags. Enough with the boring introduction, let's let the game do that for us.
Prologue: A Girl from the Plains
The first thing the game tells you to do is choose a name, gender and birth month. Yeah, this game introduced the Tactician. It's basically a way to address the player through the fourth wall, because the Tactician doesn't have much impact on the plot and don't appear in battles. The default name is Mark, but you can call them whatever you want. You can also pick their gender, which changes how characters talk to him in cutscenes slightly, and his birth month, which changes his elemental affinity and gives a small stat boost to units with the same affinity. I'm not sure precisely what it does, but I've done a few runs with different affinities and haven't noticed much different. In honor of what the Tactician usually is in fanfiction, I name him "Garystu" - no space, because there's a seven-character limit. I also go with my gender and birth month (male and October), which I suspect is what every player does, resulting in an anima affinity. And so we go.
We start with a girl with a green ponytail waking Garystu up, having found him unconscious on the plains. Her name is Lyn, and she's from the Lorca tribe. Oh, and it seems that that unconsciousness left Garystu with a strange disease that causes everyone around him to parrot what he says back at him, because he never speaks in cutscenes. Like I say, he's basically the player. Lyn asks him his name, and he introduces himself as Garystu. Thanks to the seven-character limit, Lyn says that it's an odd name (I'll say), but "pay me no mind, it is a good name". Uh, make up your mind? Before Garystu can not-say anything, Lyn pops outside after hearing a noise. She is facing the wrath of...
Oh my God, TWO BRIGANDS! Man, this is quite a threat. Brigands, in case you don't know, are the basic axe-using Mooks of the Fire Emblem series. Given that your Lord units almost always use swords, giving them the weapon triangle advantage, they're easy kills for the first few chapters. Anyway, these bandits have come down from the Bern Mountains, and Lyn decides to stop them. She asks Garystu to stay inside, but no, he's coming out to help Lyn. For you see,
the player Garystu can't use a weapon, but they are a strategist by trade, and therefore get to tell Lyn what to do! And so begins the first battle of the game. We only have one unit. It's Lyn. You'll learn more about her at the end of this installment.
Basically, this is a forced tutorial which is completely scripted as to what moves you're supposed to make. For Japanese players who already knew the mechanics from playing previous games in the series, I have to imagine this would have been agonizing. Suffice it to say, Lyn blows straight through these brigands. The game teaches us about how to move, attack, use items, and seize gates/thrones/gers (well, seizing a ger's a new one... what's the point of that, considering that they're supposed to be dismantled and carried easily?). I won't be telling you about this, because it's dull. If you do want me to tell you more about how it works, ask me in the comments. The best part of this level is the amusingly hammy boss, Batta THE BEAST. And yes, I will be capitalizing it like that. Before Lyn fights him, he declares, "Who do you think you are? You think you can stand up to Batta THE BEAST?" Sorry, Batta THE BEAST, but the game designer gods have it in for you. And he acts surprised when Lyn turns him into a brigand kebab!
Even the level-up that Lyn gets from killing Batta THE BEAST is scripted, I think. Thankfully, they scripted a good one: +1 HP, +1 Strength, +1 Skill, +1 Speed, +1 Luck. You'll soon learn that not all the levels you get in the game are that good. (Side note: There's a patch you can download for GBA emulators so that characters get consistent growths. I didn't bother. I wanted to get the full hair-pulling ARGH GUY GET A POINT IN STRENGTH ALREADY JESUS experience. Yeah, I'm bitter.) That said, he was scripted to get a hit in on Lyn, so it's probably justified when she calls it a "close one". And now Lyn is cursing the game designers for almost getting her killed.
Then, cutscene! It takes place the next day, and Lyn tells me that that fight yesterday must have taken a lot out of Garystu. Yeah, following a script. Hard work. Lyn asks to travel with Garystu, but when he tells her to get permission from her parents, infodump time! Lyn's parents died six months ago, in a bandit attack. Lyn was the last survivor. With four ellipses in a row, she declares that "I will shed no more tears". Garystu, without speaking, of course, gives Lyn permission to travel with him and get stronger, so that she can avenge her father's death like she wants. Well, isn't that nice. Lyn declares that she'll be his "peerless warrior". Sorry, hun, but with guys like Hector and Raven around, not quite. To the (mostly) not-scripted parts of the game!
Let's Meet The New Meat! (The place where I introduce any new characters we get in the level, giving their base stats and growths and giving a brief summary of how useful they are)
Lyn (Level 1 Lord, wind affinity)
- HP: 16, 70% growth rate
- Strength: 4, 40% growth rate
- Skill: 7, 60% growth rate
- Speed: 9, 60% growth rate
- Luck: 5, 55% growth rate
- Defence: 2, 20% growth rate
- Resistance: 0, 30% growth rate
- Weapons: Sword (D)