Review: Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

- Keith Michael

Dragons, knights and monsters have been a good mix since the days of Dungeons & Dragons and I have a hunch that Nintendo knew this when they made Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Fire Emblem is a game similar to Final Fantasy Tactics at first glance with the way units are put on the field and the way they move, but after that it is a completely different game. Story telling is more like reading a book, the combat is much harder and Fire Emblem has never heard of a phoenix down so a death of a unit leads to never using that unit again. The game play reminds me of chess more than anything, with an added weakness and resistance circle thrown in. Fire Emblem is a great game, but the sound is Game Boy Advance quality and the story elements do some times get in the way. 

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is a sequel and it keeps a lot of the same elements as the first version for the GBA. Most of Fire Emblem is good. Unfortunately, one of the things it keeps isn’t and that is the poor sound design. The text roles by with little blip sounds and the combat consists of little clink and clank sounds, pretty much what one would expect from a combat game just nothing great. The only real complaint I have about an otherwise great game is the amount of reading that goes into this game. You will find yourself reading for about ten minutes before the first battle and usually about five minutes worth in between battles. Don’t get me wrong though the story is a good one about kingdoms betraying each other and it even throws in a couple of dragons. Just don’t plan on having a game riddled with dragon fights.

The combat in Fire Emblem is some of my favorite in the strategy genre. You start off by equipping your units with their items, this includes things like weapons and healing items. After selecting your units you start the battle and start playing in turn based fights resembling Final Fantasy Tactics. In Fire Emblem you move all of your units at the same time instead of being based on speed, which makes it more difficult because your opponent gets to move all of their units in one turn as well. The units of the game vary from weak clerics, mages and soldiers to more advanced wyvern knights, paladins and royal classes. The units move around the field kind of like chess pieces with abilities. The rouges can sneak and see farther while the pegasus knight and wyvern knight can fly over mountain ranges etc. Some times if you get lucky and have the correct unit on the field they can talk to other units and get them to join your team, which adds one more reason to play this game again. The fun part about the game is the need to strategize and have patience without rushing in and getting all your units killed. Like I said before, if a unit dies in battle there is no way to bring that unit back, so you have to decide whether to continue or shut the game off and retry. This aspect seems like it may be a bad idea at first, but a lot of the main characters can die and them being dead may change the way the story unfolds. That and the fact that the story makes you decide whether to go with main character Ephraim or Eirika makes the replay value go to at least two times playing through. 

With the great game play, replay value and great selection of available units and classes to choose from, Fire Emblem truly is one of the better strategy games out there. Not to mention the fact that if you are an ambassador of the 3DS, Fire Emblem The Sacred Stones is now absolutely free. I loved this game, other than the often long text based cut scenes and the fact that it is a dated game that already came out on the GBA back in 2005. This game was fun back when it first came out and it was fun going through it again.

Verdict:  85%