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Fire Emblem Thracia 776 (import) Package Art
Intelligent Systems
Fire Emblem Thracia 776 (import)

Nintendo's latest super famicom game is also the latest sequel in it's long running Fire Emblem series. Fire Emblem is one of the few classic Nintendo game series that Nintendo of America has never brought over here (another is Wars, which is also developed by Intelligent Systems). The original Fire Emblem for the Famicom system was the very first simulation/RPG, for Nintendo actually coined the term and genre in 1990 (previously there were only Koei's war simulation games and RPGs, but no simulation/RPGs yet). Basically, Fire Emblem is a unit-based strategy game with RPG elements. You start out with an army of characters of various classes (say a lord, a knight, an armor, an archer, etc.), each with their own strengths and attributes. Gameplay takes place via scenarios that are called chapters. Each chapter (and its gaidens) consists of a map with various terrain. You move your characters (units) on the tile-based map, and they all have limited movement ranges. After moving your characters and having them do things (such as attacking enemies, exchanging items, picking up allies, etc.), you can end your turn, and the computer, who has its own army of units, will do its turn. This chess-like gameplay is the heart of simulation/RPG experience.


For SNES standards, the graphics are above excellence. And the interface is extremely smooth and responsive. The intuition displayed in the control interface is better than what most 32-bit RPGs have to offer.


Unfortunately, Fire Emblem Thracia 776's tunes, for the most part, are not as great as those heard in Fire Emblem Seisen no Kiefu or Fire Emblem Monshou no Nazo. The Fire Emblem theme is more or less remixed once again, and some of the scenario tunes are not really catchy. However some of the country-specific tunes (such as Silesia) and later scenario songs are of a really high quality.


Naturally since this game is a simulation/RPG, it contains a lot of role playing elements. The main characters talk to each other. Between each chapter is a brief overview of what is happening and explanations for where the next battle will take place. During the scenarios themselves, various story-related events will happen, such as a main character being turned to stone or the main villain sending an unexpected barrage of knights after your army. These RPG elements are perfectly blended in with the simulation aspect of Fire Emblem, making it such a delightful title to play.

One main aspect of simulation/RPGs is micromanagement. Some time into Fire Emblem, you will be able to maintain your troops by equipping them, buying items for them, etc. You won't be able to use items in the micromanagement screens, but you can equip the characters with whatever they will need (such as a knight's proof, which performs a class change on a character) and then using them when the scenario starts.

Fire Emblem can be an extremely frustrating game at times. In fact, this incarnation of the series can almost be labeled as the hardest video game Nintendo has ever produced (even harder than Rare's Blast Corps). What possibly beats this game out? Well I still believe Fire Emblem Monshou no Nazo, the third game in the series, to be the hardest of the current five. How can this game be so hard? For one, each scenario is very well designed. A lot of things can happen that throw you off guard. For one thing, you can't save while playing the scenarios. You can only save in between them and during micromanagement. Meaning if you screw up, even when you're towards the end of the chapter, you have to start over. Also, if a character dies, he or she is dead for good. Since each character in the game that can join you is full of personality, many gamers will always reset when they lose a character, no matter how weak that unit is to begin with. This can lead to a lot of frustration whenever you begin a new scenario, however Intelligent Systems has designed each stage so that the more you play it, the more you will learn each intricate detail of the stage, and soon figure out how to easily beat the stage without sweating. This sort of learning curve nearly borders on perfection and places Fire Emblem among the leagues of some of the most intelligent and complex video games ever crafted. 100% Nintendo quality for sure.

Fire Emblem Thracia 776 details the storyline behind Prince Leaf of Lenster, and what happened to him while Selis and the others were still hiding out in Tilnanogue in Fire Emblem Seisen no Kiefu. In other words, this game is more of a side story to complement the full storyline presented in the previous Fire Emblem game. There are many references to the previous game, and lots of characters from it show up as well in cameos. This really adds to the experience for the fan of Fire Emblem. All new villains complement the storyline.

Fire Emblem Thracia 776 has a lot of new gameplay changes and improvements over the previous games. There are more weapon levels (E-A and *, as opposed to C-A and * in Seisen no Kiefu). You can now capture enemies and take their equipment (sometimes they can even join your party or open up new routes in the storyline). In previous games you could not gain items from enemies unless those items were flagged as 'takeable'. However in Fire Emblem Thracia 776, now you can theoretically get every item possible that enemies are holding.

There are plenty of well hidden secrets. Some are of the impossible-to-find-unless-you- had-an-official-cheatbook variety, while others merely take some logic and deduction to figure out. Intelligent Systems has placed many events in the game where you can use your thinking skills to figure out the situations. Like how do you powerlevel your theives? What technique involving your priest that you can employ to get rid of enemies quicker? Because of each scenario's different design, you basically learn how to master each stage, and with about 33 individual scenarios (each scenario takes an average of 4-5 hours to beat, some can take up to 10 hours to master, although once you've become an expert, you can breeze through the scenarios quickly), this game boasts more complexity and strategy gameplay than any other simulation/RPG released on the market.




Fire Emblem Thracia 776 doesn't boast the hardcore RPG building and equipping madness of say, Final Fantasy Tactics, but it does offer sweet strategy gameplay mixed with obvious RPG elements for an experience that can only be felt if you sit down and play the game. Needless to say, this game isn't for everyone. Anyone who can get easily frustrated quickly and loses patience or anyone who prefers an action game as opposed to a slow-paced strategy/simulation/RPG like this, should not even think about importing. On the other hand, if you are fluent in Japanese and you love RPGs or simulation games, Fire Emblem Thracia 776 is easily the game of the year in those respects, and a must-have.

final score 9.9/10

Staff Avatar Desmond Gaban
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"Thank you for rescuing me. Here's a cake!"

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