Fire Emblem was a 2003 strategy role-playing game by Intelligent Systems and Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. The year 2003 was a great year for the strategy role-playing game. Players had just gotten Final Fantasy Tactics Advance a few months before. With Fire Emblem, we had another one. Even though both of these games fell in the same game genre, they played very different. Fire Emblem was a more linear game, with the player not having much control over character customization or travelling on the world map. The content that was there, however, was absolutely superb.
Each level a few characters in the story talked back and forth. Eventually, some antagonist would stir the pot, forcing combat to take place. In the beginning, the player just had one character to use in the turn-based combat, but each level a few more joined the team. By the end, the player had many interesting characters in their party. There were no generic characters on the player’s team. Every single fighter was a character with a unique personality, dialogue, and animation. Because of this when a character was killed in combat, they were gone for good. Fire Emblem was a serious game.
Characters gained experience for damaging or defeating enemy units. After getting enough experience, they got to level-up, getting some nice bonuses to their stats. I really loved the idea of a strategy game with units that could get stronger as I got further in the game. It was a really cool idea. Unfortunately, it could be hard for some characters to get experience without being outright killed. Many times I tried to attack with one character only for them to be fully concentrated on by the computer player and wiped out in one turn. What ended up happening was that a few characters got to really high levels while the rest were pretty low level.
I never liked the permanent death system in Fire Emblem. I just didn’t want to lose anyone. A lost character meant lost dialogue. Bits and pieces of the story were gone. My policy quickly became to finish every level with every character still alive. Maybe that’s not what the developers intended. After all, only a select few characters could get to high levels anyways. I think maybe they wanted players to specialize in just a few characters, but I liked all of them. I couldn’t just choose a few of them.
Aside from these few minor problems, Fire Emblem was an amazing game to me. I loved the story, characters, and music. It was nearly a perfect game. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was much longer and had a lot more character customization, but it also could get boring. That never happened in Fire Emblem. It grabbed me from beginning to end. Even after beating it, I went right back to a new game to see if I could do better with my newfound knowledge. I was really impressed with the Game Boy Advance. Every year there were really impressive games being released. I was really happy to be able to play them.