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Video Game / TearRing Saga

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TearRing Saga: Utna Heroes Saga is a 2001 video game created by Shouzou Kaga, the creator of the Fire Emblem series, fresh from leaving Intelligent Systems to form his own company, Tirnanog. Unsurprisingly, TearRing Saga is considered to be a Spiritual Successor to Fire Emblem and incorporates the vast majority of that series' gameplay, mechanisms and general flavouring.

The game is about the continent of Lieberia being terrorized by an evil cult, hell-bent on reviving their dark god. Runan and Holmes, the two heroes of the game, travel the continent to stop the cult before their ambitions are realized.

Notoriously, it proved a bit too similar to Fire Emblem for Nintendo's liking, and they took Tirnanog and publisher Enterbrain to court over it. The latter was found guilty of violating unfair competition laws but not copyright infringement — fortunate, given Kaga's original plan for the game (named "Emblem Saga" and revised mid-development) was full of Fire Emblem references and even recurring characters. The rest of the lawsuit was settled out of court, and since then those involved seem to prefer not to discuss the matter.

It got a 2005 sequel for the PlayStation 2, Berwick Saga, which did an excellent job of further differentiating it from its Fire Emblem ancestor and making itself its own beast (no doubt due to the above).

In 2019, Shouzou Kaga released another Spiritual Successor to Fire Emblem (and consequently these games as well) called Vestaria Saga I: War of the Scions.

You can grab the translation here!

TearRing Saga contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Julia, Tia, Martel, Krishna, Verna, Sasha, Meriah, Sun, Liena, Alicia, Raquel, Rennie, Frau, Estelle, Kate, Sierra, Rina, and Sharon are all female warriors.
  • Anti-Villain: The Kingdom of Canaan is an entire nation of them. Aside from the few corrupt nobles who are regarded as a disgrace to their own nation, many of them are good and decent people who are only obeying their King's orders, even if they don't agree with it.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game has tanks! Granted, they are arrow-shooting tanks, but tanks nonetheless. It's implied that the tanks are actually pushed by hand, with how both playable characters of that class complain about it. Certainly explains why their movement is so bad.
  • Animorphism: The shamans are able to turn into dragons.
  • Award-Bait Song: Neverending Dream, especially with the English version of the song.
  • Battle Couple: Anyone with a support relationship, but Roger and Mel are one of the earliest and most obvious examples; if one dies, the other leaves the army, and they can't be separated into different parties.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: The witch Sierra can wield the dark magic that only the wicked followers of the Cult of Gerxel can use, but she is firmly on the good side.
  • Black Knight:
    • Mintz is one, and Sun can promote to one. Zeek is of the "Dark" variety.
    • They are also the common soldiers fighting for the Theocracy of Gerxel.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Elemental Shamans are exploited for their ability to transform into Dragons, which has resulted in them having crappy lives as a result. The tragic story of Princess Teeta of Leda being used as a weapon of war and degenerating into a mindless beast is a great example to that end.
  • Combat Medic: Mel has a chance to become this since she can use swords, can heal, and has the re-move skill.
  • Cycle of Revenge: What fuels the causes of the current conflict and what is essentially the history of Lieberia in a nutshell. It can be described as one ethnic group oppressing the other and in turn the oppressed becomes the oppressor and vice-versa:
    • 1000 years before the events of the game. A small group of immigrants from the distant continent of Jugd came to Lieberia and established four dukedoms (Rivellia, Zemseria, Razelia, and Nolzeria) that eventually united into the Reeve Republic. The native Zoan tribes feared the power of the settlers and launched a war against them. They were eventually defeated after five years by a ruthless Reevan consul named Denoas, who intended to exterminate all of the Zoans and refused any talks of surrender from the Zoans.
    • A Zoan chieftain named Kalbazaan entered the forbidden temple at Mt. Cielo and attempted to beg their god Gerxel for help. He instead found the sleeping Miradona, in the form of a white dragon. Believing her to be their god, he drank her blood and gained the ability to transform into a powerful dragon, but lost his sanity in the process. He then called himself Gerxel and, using his newfound power, he established the Zoa Empire, destroyed the Republic of Reeve, and conquered all of Lieberia.
    • Gerxel then enslaved many of the non-Zoan peoples and had many female slaves sacrificed at Mt. Cielo. When the majority of the Zoans stopped worshipping him and instead fought to oppose him and his empire, he also had them enslaved the same way as the non-Zoans endured. Eventually, he and his empire were defeated by the rebel leader Carluon and Yutona, both aided by the Earth Goddess Miradona. The citizens of Canaan were descended from the Zoans who abandoned Gerxel culture.
    • Carluon and Yutona married and established the Reevan Empire as King and Queen. With the death of Carluon, the empire was split by the nobles and the senators into four kingdoms: Reeve, Salia, Canaan, and Leda. Meanwhile, the Zoans who continued to worship Gerxel were severely persecuted, with the Kingdom of Reeve publicly burning them alive, enslaving their children, or transporting them to the prison island of Yr to be forced to make ships while the Kingdom of Canaan confined the remaining Zoans to Zoa Valley. The penal colony at Yr was eventually liberated by a slave rebellion led by Yoda, and thanks to Duke Gramud and Admiral Vals settling the issue peacefully, Yr Island had established its independence.
    • After the destruction of the Kingdom of Leda due to its king breaking the sacred law by using its sacred shaman as a weapon of war, the Zoans residing in Zoa Valley began a large-scale restoration of the cult, establishing the Theocracy of Gerxel led by Gwenchaos and began conquering the scattered lands of Leda and the Zoan lands surrounding Canaan. This prompted the Ledans to fight back against the Cult while the Kingdom of Canaan eventually conquered the Zoan lands of Barge, Sophia, Ava, and Tirard. However, King Bahannuk of Canaan then signed a peace treaty with the Theocracy of Gerxel and proclaimed the establishment of the Zoan Empire. This gave the Theocracy of Gerxel the means and the authority to kill or enslave anyone in the empire who rejected or opposed the religion of Gerxel.
    • Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Reeve descended into corruption and tyranny due to its nobility while its king ignored its problems while continuously betraying the trust of the other kingdoms. This eventually led to war with the newly formed Zoan Empire when King Bahannuk decided to conquer Reeve and Salia and Reeve collapsed after the Tragedy of Nolzeria, in which Duke Gramud of Razelia and Prince Arless of Canaan were killed in an attack by the Water Dragon Mousa during peace negotiations. This leads to the current events of the game.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Not as bad as in Fire Emblem, but there's some. Some of the priests, since they can only use support magic and don't even have a class change. Also, some of the archers can't counterattack in close combat.
  • Critical Hit: Aside from being only available to those with a critical rate above 0%, skills like Terra, Draco, and Wrath activate a critical hit.
  • Critical Hit Class: The Swordfighter and its promoted class, the Swordmaster class.
  • Crutch Character: Zeek. You get him early on the game and he's easily one of the most powerful units in the party from the beginning, but he leaves your party later on.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Narron may look like a scrawny youth, but he becomes a powerful Gold Paladin once he's promoted. His Paragon skill ensures it happens.
  • Cute Bruiser: San and Frau. Both of them are younger than the other troops but both also have the potential to become powerful, especially with San having the Paragon skill.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Theocracy of Gerxel uses Dark Magic, most of their ranks are Obviously Evil, every one of them wears dark and black outfits, and they worship a God of Evil who practices Human Sacrifices.
  • Dragons Are Divine: The Emiyuu race, with Miradona being considered the Earth Goddess by the people of the Continent of Lieberia and the one who provided Carluon and Yutona the means to defeat Gerxel. After the heroes defeat Gerxel, she appears to the heroes and resurrects the fallen heroes, sealed Gerxel, and freed the souls of Gwenchaos and Teeta.
  • Elemental Powers: The recruitable mages and the Four Dragon Maidens each embody a particular element, although some of them can also use other elements and their promotion to Sage grants them the ability to use all of the elemental spells, including Light Magic. Maruj uses Wind Magic. Rischel uses Fire Magic. Meriah uses Light Magic. Alicia uses Thunder Magic. Sierra can use all of the other elements except Light Magic, but only she can use Dark Magic.
  • The Empire: The Zoan Empire. After King Bahanuk conquered the Zoan nations of Zoa Valley, he signed a peace treaty with the Theocracy of Gerxel and united the Kingdom of Canaan with them. He had then declared war and conquered the Kingdoms of Salia and Reeve. Their expansionism bites them in the ass as their forces have sustained too many losses during their conquest of the two kingdoms and the Kingdoms of Salia and Leda are still going strong against them. It doesn't help that the King appointed corrupt and incompetent nobles in charge of the occupied territories.
  • Evil All Along: Zeek.
  • Evil Old Folks: Most of the high clergy of the Cult of Gerxel, including the Big Bad Gwenchaos.
  • Evil Prince: Lenzenheimer of Zemsellia is a member of the royal family of Reeve through his mother's bloodline. He's also a nasty piece of work who killed his mother for calling him out on his tyrannic rule on Razelia, and that's just one of many of his evil actions.
  • Expy: Just look at the box art above; if you aren't careful, you could mistake that alone for Thracia 776. This also extends to game mechanics. Most of the skills are expies of ones from the Jugdral games. With some, like Continue, they didn't even bother to change the name. Others did, but are still pretty much Fire Emblem skills with a different name, such as Dragon Saint == Astra (up to being associated with legendary Swordmasters), Geomancy == Luna, and Life or Death == Wrath (despite working slightly differently).
  • Extra Turn: If Plum gains the Dancer skill, she'll be able to grant an extra turn to a single unit. Lyra's Sing skill can grant extra turns to multiple units, but has a lower success rate.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Zoans were persecuted and enslaved by the Reevans and the Canaanites due to the atrocities of their dragon god Gerxel and its empire devastating the continent many hundreds years past. Even those with a hint of Zoan ancestry weren't spared being burned alive. This is why Gwenchaos was able to form the Theocracy of Gerxel from the ranks of fanatical cultists and discriminated Zoans.
  • Faux Action Girl: Krishna. While she's a Sword Fighter like Julia, she has even lower growth rates than her and will require luck with her level-ups or the stat increasing items, although she naturally learns the Draco skill. In-game, it's also why she will not engage in a battle against Vega despite her wanting revenge for killing her beloved.
  • Geo Effects: A group of skills are terrain skills, which grant the unit bonus accuracy and avoid and extra movement depending on the battlefield which are categorized. For example, the Seafarer skill is only affected by the sea map, which are usually boat maps, and Urbanite, which is only affected by castles and fortification maps.
  • Guide Dang It!: Many optional events for characters and items, but the requirements of recruiting Leteena take the cake for being utterly obtuse and impossible without a guide.
  • Heel–Face Turn: As per Fire Emblem tradition, you can recruit some enemy characters.
  • Hero Antagonist: The Kingdom of Canaan in the later parts of Runan's path. Prince Barker and Prince Julius eventually find out that their father King Bahanuk is turned and used as a puppet king by the Theocracy of Gerxel. Fearing that Runan's army will conquer Canaan and exact harsh vengeance towards their people after reclaiming the Reeve Palace, both Prince Julius and General Ernst lead their armies to perform a You Shall Not Pass! against him in order to buy time for Prince Sennet and his resistance to conquer Canaan and put an end to the war with Reeve.
  • Hero of Another Story: Prince Sennet of Canaan is shown in the background to have gone through trials and adventures just like Runan and Holmes. He even has his own Badass Crew, best shown in Chapter 21 where they save Holmes' party from the Cult of Gerxel's massive army and completely destroy them despite being outnumbered.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Runan, but averted with Holmes until promotion.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Due to the Canto skill, mounted units can use this tactic.
  • Horse Archer: The Kingdom of Salia employs these as their soldiers alongside their Pegasus Knights, represented by Lionheart and Shirou. Both Kate and Sharon are able to be promoted into one.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Gwenchaos' reason for turning evil in the first place, seeing the cruelty his innocent wife endured at the hands of human beings, from the King of Leda forcibly using her as a weapon of war to the many warriors trying and failing to kill her. The past and present history of Lieberia is sadly filled with these.
  • Human Weapon: The unfortunate treatment of the Elemental Shamans, misusing their ability to transform into a dragon as a weapon. The biggest example in the game is when the King of Leda forcibly used his daughter Teeta as a weapon of war, hoping to end the long war against the Kingdom of Salia. It only ended with the destruction of the Kingdoms of Salia and Leda when Teeta was unable to transform into a human and degenerated into a beast.
  • Instant Costume Change: Plume when she's using the Dance skill.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you take too long to kill Gerxel in the final mission, he demonstrates the apocalyptic effects of Black Rain by killing every single unit on the map. Only Tia is spared, and only so Gerxel can gloat at her despair before killing her and achieving his full power.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Whereas the first game plays very much like the Fire Emblem games, Berwick Saga shows a departure from the latter's conventions as it evolves into its own unique Game System. Most notably, the square grid is replaced by a hexagonal grid. See here for additional changes that were made.
  • Latin Is Magic: Fan translations represent the Magical Incantation spoken to cast spells with latinized and shortened phrases from the Bible. The Japanese script uses more generic incantation, with basic spells merely calling out their name.
    Incantation of Starlight: Numera stellas si pote...note 
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: In Chapter 25, opportunistic gladiators and bandits aid Runan's army against the Kingdom of Canaan out of a desire to be rewarded and to have an excuse to rob from the enemy. Both Runan and Eugen are very aware of their rotten motives for aiding them.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: You have control of two different armies and have to split your units between them.
  • Level Grinding: Holmes's chapter encourages this, as he is given free reign to move from location after location as opposed to Runan's linear path and there are places with repeatable battles for easy experience. It's even invoked at the first route split, as Holmes offers to take some of Runan's weaker soldiers off his hands and train them up to par.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The soundtrack contains many great songs that are sadly underused, such as:
    • The promotion theme, Proof of Bravery. You can't hear the full track in-game until Runan and Holmes' promotion cutscenes, as when anyone else promotes, the song cuts about 30 seconds in when the animation finishes.
    • Village of Swordsmen plays during Map 30, and only Map 30. The good news? It's a repeatable map, so you can hear it as many times as you want. The bad news? It's the very last map before the Point of No Return, so you probably won't know it even can be replayed, and even if you do, you won't have long to do so.
    • The soundtrack contains several songs that weren't even used at all. Like Hero of Canaan, seemingly a Boss Remix of Holmes' regular battle theme, and judging by its name, it was probably meant to be used for Ernst or Julius. There's also lyrical versions of the game's Award-Bait Song, in both Japanese AND English, but you only hear the instrumental and the English versions in-game.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Sasha. She starts very weak and is a pain to train, but if you grind her up to level 10, she then learns Elite and can promote to a Pegasus Knight (and later on, to Dragon Knight if you want). She can quickly become one of the more useful units.
    • Both Narron, Sun, and Leonie, low level characters can potentially become even more powerful through being able to naturally learn the Paragon skill.
  • Mage Killer: Pegasus Knights have a naturally high magic stat and growth rate, enabling them to attack mages while receiving little damage in return.
  • Magic Knight: Pegasus Knights' high magic stat and growth allows them to use Levin Swords to great effect.
  • Master of Unlocking: The thieves, Holmes, and Maerhen.
  • Me's a Crowd: There's a way to clone Krisheenu.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Armor Knights and Generals have high offensive and defensive power but have low accuracy and speed while being limited to 3 movement spaces. Both Armor Knights Norton and Billford have ways to avert the "glacier" part of their class.
  • Modular Epilogue: Just like in the Fire Emblem series, the endings of each character changes depending on the actions of the player and whether or not they have activated the character-related events. For example: If the player chooses to either accept or reject the choice to turn Raffin into a Wyvern Knight, his paired ending will be with Sharon or Esther respectively.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: While there are characters who are unambigiously good or evil, the kingdoms and many characters all have their good and bad points and complex motives that drive their actions.
  • Mook Maker:
    • The summoners of Gerxel can summon a variety of monsters to bolster their forces depending on what staffs they use. Your clerics can also summon their own monsters if they acquire the same monster staffs.
    • The Arch Mogals are able to summon four mogals, which in turn may split themselves into two at the cost of their HP.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Many characters in the Kingdom of Canaan aren't excited with how their king has them united with a hated cult, appointing corrupt nobles and conquering former allies but they are loyal to their country regardless. Until it is found out how the Cult has their witch Carla brainwashing their king to be their pawn.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Surprisingly averted, unlike the Fire Emblem series. Only crossbows and the woodshooter class can shoot straight.
  • Not Blood Siblings: If a certain choice is made, Shigen and Julia become a couple in the epilogue. Holmes, while supportive of them, is rather disturbed by that outcome.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.:
    • Shigen. His personal sword revives him, and if he doesn't have his sword, then the witch Sierra will whisk him away. Zeek is also rescued by his sister if his HP reaches 0. Lionheart also counts while he's a NPC.
    • If a character has an azoth, it revives said character if they are killed.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If you don't kill Gerxel within 20 turns, he summons Black Rain to inflict a Total Party Kill on you.
  • Permadeath: You can revive a character later in game, but most of the time a death remains permanent unless you have the Dakuron, but even then it only has three uses and it can only be used at a certain part of the game.
  • The Quisling:
  • Red Baron: Every playable character and some enemy bosses have a nickname attached to them. Their nickname changes when they promote.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Holmes' party when compared to Runan's party, even with the player option to switch characters from both parties. Most of the characters Runan recruits in his chapters are soldiers, knights, mercenaries and even royalty. Holmes' party can recruit a bandit chief, a female sword fighter who can steal items, two Cute Bruiser trainee soldiers, a Cloud Cuckoolander Cleric, and a witch from the Cult of Gerxel.
  • Random Number God: As in Fire Emblem, the RNG can make or break characters; it's entirely possible to gain a level without getting any stat increases at all.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Played straight with most bosses and royalty, but averted with the enemy bosses with the Duke class. Aside from their valuable weaponry, they are barely more powerful than even their own soldiers.
  • Religion of Evil: The Religion of Gerxel is fanatical of their hatred towards non-believers and non-Zoans and it practices Human Sacrifices.
  • Spell Levels: Instead of the Weapon Levels used by modern Fire Emblem games, TearRing Saga treats the Weapon Levels as a growth stat that has a chance to increase per level up (like the older Fire Emblem games).
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Fire Emblem series but particularly to Fire Emblem Gaiden due to both games having two protagonists on two separate paths, a world map that the main characters can freely move on, and the presence of monsters.
  • Status Buff: Some of the clerics have their own personal staves that increases a particular stat of a single unit that lasts until the end of the chapter.
  • Sticky Fingers: Some of the thieves have a chance of stealing a weapon when they perform a successful attack. Also, the first time you recruit Narcus he runs away with half your money, although he returns half of the money he stole from you after he finally joins.
  • Timed Mission: If you don't kill Gerxel within 20 turns, he summons Black Rain to annihilate you and your party.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Sing can heal, has a chance to let a character move again, can affect 1-4 spaces, and is free, but it has a low chance of actually working.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Apart from the two main lords, Runan and Holmes, if a character with a star beside their name dies it's game over.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Kalbazan and Teeta's transformations into dragons. The first became a mad god dedicated to destruction and human sacrifices while the other is unable to transform back into a human, degenerating into a mindless beast that laid waste to the Kingdom of Leda and became known as a demon dragon.