Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones Review
It offers a lengthy, rewarding, thought-provoking experience that truly makes you feel as though the decisions you make, waging one exciting battle after the next, carry serious consequences.
- Deep, satisfying blend of strategy and role-playing
- Lavishly crafted character-driven epic storyline
- Lengthy quest also invites lots of replay value
- Well suited for players of all ages and skill levels.
- Gameplay hasn't changed much since the excellent 2003 Fire Emblem game
- Lots of recycled graphics and sound.
Another epic, memorable adventure awaits in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, the follow-up to 2003's similarly excellent strategy RPG, Fire Emblem. The previous game was actually the seventh in a series that had long since established itself in Japan, and at last made it to these shores. That makes The Sacred Stones the eighth Fire Emblem title, though it features an original, completely self-contained story and is equally well suited to new players as well as returning fans. Those fortunate to have played previous Fire Emblem games will find a comfortably familiar experience in The Sacred Stones, which features its own huge cast of unique characters and some noteworthy twists to the formula. However, most of the play mechanics, animations, and sound effects are the same as before, and therefore maybe not quite as impressive as they used to be. The game itself is outstanding overall, though, for all the reasons its predecessor remains one of the best Game Boy Advance games available--it, too, offers a lengthy, rewarding, thought-provoking experience that truly makes you feel as though the decisions you make, waging one exciting battle after the next, carry serious consequences.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones consists of a series of strategic turn-based battles that are tied together by an elaborate, carefully crafted story featuring dozens of different characters...characters who live and die by your actions. The story touches on many of the same themes as the previous Fire Emblem game, but it's otherwise completely different, right down to the new setting of the land of Magvel. Central to the tale is a new pair of protagonists, the chivalrous royal siblings Ephraim and Eirika. When the kingdom of Grado suddenly and ruthlessly lays siege on its former allies in the kingdom of Renais, Ephraim and Eirika emerge as some of the sole survivors. Forced to go their separate ways, the two of them embark on a quest to muster an army and discover the source of Grado's treachery. You'll get to experience the story from both characters' perspectives, and parts of it even branch off, giving you a different angle on the storyline depending on whose journey you choose to follow.
Much like the previous Fire Emblem, this is a well-written, surprisingly sophisticated narrative featuring plenty of endearing heroes and villains, and no shortage of provocative, morally complex situations. The content isn't so severe that it isn't suitable for younger players, but the point is, Fire Emblem takes itself and audience seriously, though it's not without its occasional moments of comic relief, either. The storyline mostly just unfolds through lightly animated character portraits and accompanying onscreen text, yet this seemingly simple technique works surprisingly well to get the point across. The story is noninteractive and at times quite wordy, so you could skip right past it if and when you really want to. But, much like the previous game, the entertaining turn-based combat and the rich story of The Sacred Stones combine to form something much greater than the sum of these two parts.
The turn-based battles that form the basis of the gameplay in Fire Emblem have more in common with strategy games like Advance Wars than with other strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. In any given battle, you'll control a limited number of units--usually about a dozen--as you attempt to solve your mission's objective. That objective generally involves strategically battling against superior numbers of enemy forces. During your turn, you get to move all your units in any order, and if you wish to make them attack their foes, you're given an estimate of the results of that exchange before having to commit to the fight. When one unit attacks another, the game cuts to a little animated sequence showing the combatants exchange blows. If one unit runs out of health points, it's gone and out of the fight, and can usually be presumed dead. Don't think outsmarting your foes will be easy--the artificial intelligence in Fire Emblem is quite good, so you can look forward to your enemies exploiting any weaknesses in your defenses, such as by focusing their attack on your weakest forces. To make things really interesting, the game features tons of different character classes, each with their own distinct specialties. You've got knights, archers, cavaliers, priests, thieves, fighters, mercenaries, shamans, and many more to work with, including some exotic classes like pegasus knights and wyvern lords.
Fans of Fire Emblem should immediately recognize almost all of these, though a number of new high-level classes and enemy units have been added since the last game. As in the previous title, you must actively use your different characters in battle to make them earn experience points, and as they increase in levels, they noticeably begin to grow more powerful. Later, you'll also be able to upgrade them to a more prestigious character class that's much more effective. Actually, one of the significant changes in The Sacred Stones is that it gives you a choice when you upgrade most of your characters. In the previous Fire Emblem, your cavaliers could become paladins. Here, they can become paladins or great knights, the latter of which is one of the game's new classes.
- Player Reviews: 182
- Game Universe:
- Fire Emblem (GBA),
- Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi (NES),
- Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS),
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (WII),
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GC),
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (GBA),
- Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi (GBA),
- Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (SNES),
- Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu (SNES),
- Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo (SNES)
- Number of Players: