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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Genre: Strategy/ Role-Playing
Release Date: May 23, 2005
Written by: Alex Sohani






Intro:
In 2003, Nintendo finally decided to take the risk, and introduce Fire Emblem to the United States. The series, which has been widely popular in Japan for many years, uses a unique mix of RPG and turn based strategy elements to form a very interesting game style. The plunge of the game to Western gamers started off with a GBA game titled “Fire Emblem 7” in Japan, but in the US it is known as “Fire Emblem”. Fans instantly fell in love with the games new style, along with a deep storyline and awesome character design. Now fans have awaited a sequel to the game, and although it isn’t a sequel, it is still a revisit to the awesome game style with a whole new set of characters, storyline, and much more. This “new” experience has definitely improved off of the older games, and it is sure not to disappoint.

Story
Many years ago, the continent of Magvel was infested and plagued by many monsters. A group of heroes used five Sacred Stones to bring peace to the land, and to exterminate the source of all of the Evil, The Demon King. 800 years have passed since this ancient time, and these have been 800 years of peace. Six nations grew from the ruins, with five housing a Sacred Stone.

In 803, the biggest of the nations, The Grado Empire, unexpectedly attacked thee neighboring kingdom, the kingdom of Renais. With such short notice, the kingdom of Renais was unable to defend itself, and city after city fell to the powerful Grado Empires assault.

Ephraim, prince of Renais was away from the capital of his homeland when the assault began. All contact with him has been lost. The Grado Empire rode into Castle Renais, and Renais fell to the Empire. During the take over, King Fado sent his daughter Princess Eirika to the safety of Frelia, a neighboring kingdom. Eirika, escorted by General Seth, leader of the Knights of Renais, managed to escape the battle, and set out for Frelia.

Will Princess Eirika ever see her brother or father again? Why would a peaceful nation like the Grado Empire attack? For Eirika, this is the beginning of many questions, and a long journey for peace.

The plot in this game is one of the most developed plots on the GBA. As the game progresses, more and more is revealed while more and more problems are created, and the storyline is extremely well done. The tale relates to the previous title in the fact that there is an ancient war that created peace, and a new evil has come to destroy the harmony.

As well as that, the extensive plot gives us a suspenseful element making us want to know more about our characters fates. As more and more characters come into the picture, this all becomes more complicated, with many plot twists. Players will come to love all of the characters involved in the game with their different personalities, and well-designed scenes between gameplay definitely add more to the plot.

Each character has its own unique personality in the game which can be shown through the dialogue with other characters. Players will come to love all of the characters when they reveal more about their pasts and their feelings about what is going on throughout the story. You will even find out some things that don’t really seem like something a character would do!

Although all of this is great, the plot can become pretty obvious at times, it is very simple at times, and it is easy to guess what will happen next during the tale in certain scenarios. This is the major problem with the story; although there are major plot twists that can trick gamers into thinking they know what will happen next.

Overall the plot is really well done with great characters to go along with it. It is definitely one of the best story designs on the Game Boy Advance, and adds much more to the game. Although it can be somewhat predictable and seems very simple, many unexpected events happen throughout our heroine’s epic story.



Eirika, accompanied by Seth, is on an adventure that will lead her all over the continent!


Gameplay:
The gameplay from the original Fire Emblem released in the U.S. is untouched. The game basically involves a players group of mercenaries battling off against a large amount of enemies. This is done on a map, which is set up like a grid. Each character takes up one square of the grid, while different terrain also take up parts of the grid. Players need to move their warriors through the terrain carefully so they stand a chance against the enemy. Things like moving into a forest can help your characters dodge easier, while giving you an advantage to hit. It’s not all about beating everyone as fast as possible, but about carefully planning how to defeat each enemy.

Once 2 characters are close enough to enter battle, a player can select to attack the enemy unit. One this happens, the screen changes into a battle scene, where it shows the 2 battlers taking damage on eachother. Each battle has different statistics shown that can determine the outcome of the battle. One of these is the percentage of hitting the opponent. The next set is the amount of damage to be taken out by each blow. Sometimes a character can attack two or even four times in a row. The final piece of information is the percent that a person will use a critical attack. A critical attack takes out three times the amount of damage that a normal attack would, which usually results in the enemy losing most or all of its HP.

After a battle occurs, and a unit defeats an enemy, he or she will gain experience. Once a player gains 100 experience, a level up will occur where the unit’s stats will go up a little bit. The highest level that can be reached by a unit is level 20. Although the highest level is level 20, with the help of special items, units can change class and become better warriors. When a unit becomes level 10, they have the ability to change into a different class. When this occurs, the character returns to level one as a different class, and their stats are improved quite a bit. After this occurs though, there is no way for them to change class. The only exception to that are the newest classes added to the mix. These are basically a trainee type of class. Once the trainee unit reaches level 10, they automatically become a normal ranked unit.

In Fire Emblem, when a unit would change class, they would automatically change, and become their new class. In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, all of that has changed. Now players have the option of 2 classes to pick between. For instance, a myrmidon can become the skillful Swordmaster, or the deadly Assassin. As well as that, different classes have different skills that happen. In the myrmidon situation, the Swordmaster always has an added 20% to their critical meter, while the Assassin has a 50% chance of defeating an opponent in one shot when they get a critical. It all depends on the player’s preference, but also a lot of strategy is involved in picking the class change.

One of the unique elements of Fire Emblem, which separates it from other strategy games like Advance Wars, is the fact that once a unit is defeated, it can never be used again. This makes the game tough on the players because if a player loses one of his party members, it is a tough choice to go back and spend a lot of time redoing the entire level, or going on without a character permanently.

This adds much more to the difficulty level of the game, because players have to manage their mercenaries’ stats well and move their units correctly in order for them to have a standing chance against the many enemies in the game. As well as that, if players want to add even more of a difficulty to the game, there are more advanced levels of difficulty for them to choose from.

Stats are assigned by a random point system in the Fire Emblem games. There are many different stats that determine your characters speed, skills, size, defense and much more. It is very important that each characters stats are known so that players don’t put their characters into their weaknesses.

Another element in the game that makes it different is the long storytelling between chapters. A large portion of action occurs, and then a long read is put in between every chapter. These can obviously be skipped, but the game is never the same unless the storyline is known. So beware gamers, this game isn’t all out action like Advance Wars. It has a lot of storyline involved in it.

Weapon choice is a very important aspect in the Fire Emblem series. The game functions like a Rock, Paper, Scissors game for physical weapons, and for magic. In the physical area, swords best axes, axes best lances, and lances best swords. For the magic area, anima magic (nature type magic) bests light magic. Light magic bests dark magic, and dark magic bests anima magic. As always, there are exceptions to the weapon triangle. Some weapons go backwards in the triangle to fool opponents. It is very important which type you choose because the right weapon choice increases hit percentage, critical percentage, and damage.

As well as picking which type of weapon to use against your opponent, there are specific types of each weapon that have special abilities. For example, there are many different kinds of swords, like the Killing Edge and the steel sword. Both of these swords have the exact same amount of power, but the Killing Edge has a much higher critical ratio, so it is the better choice. Also different weapons are good against certain types of units, so look out for those.

Players need to gather money in order to purchase weapons. This can be done by going to armories and shops and selling unwanted items. Armories can be reached on the world map showing all of the areas you have been to. As well as that, random battles can occur with monsters on the world map, which can help players gain experience. The world map is an interesting new feature, which adds much more to the games style.

The characters in the game obviously have to interact with one another. In order for them to do this, they must be next to each other. Different things can happen if the relationship between certain units is strong. Friendship can also be made with enemy units if the correct units speak with certain enemy units. Many different things can be done between characters like trading items, rescuing eachother, and of course having a small chat while on the battlefield!

The gameplay in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones makes it an extremely fun game. While it may seem a bit complicated, the learning curve is about 30 minutes, and gamers will feel like pros. With so much content, and plenty to do in the game, players will be playing Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for endless hours.



Picking is a very tough choice. Be sure to pick whichever class your party needs the most though!


Graphics:
The graphics in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones are very simple, at times, but can also look amazing! While on a map, the player’s band of mercenaries is represented by a simple set of sprites that show their class. The simple characters and enemies and background all blend together to make an awesome effect that makes the map look more complex than it actually is. When units enter a battle sequence, the characters are zoomed on a bit adding more features to the battlers. Even though the characters look very nice in the battle sequences, they look even better when they are involved in dialogue, where the game goes into a still screen sequence, and you see the faces of the teammates who are conversing.

During a battle, the attacking characters show fluid animations when they are hitting their opponents. The characters have complex attack patterns that are very well done for a Game Boy Advance game. Even more stunning than the normal attacks are the critical attacks that show the battlers doing crazy attacks with their weapons. Also, the slightest animations can make all of the difference from a horse trotting towards an enemy, or a unit getting into his or her battle stance, there is always something that will catch the gamers eye and show that a lot of time was spent on the animations. No matter what animations are occurring, they flow without any lag, and are top quality.

The only bad aspects of the graphics are really repetitiveness in characters and backgrounds. For instance, every time a unit of the same class attacks, it looks exactly the same, but it may have different colored clothing and hair. Also, the environments characters battle on are always the same as well. If they are on a mountain the same mountain style background appears, etc. This is the only major problem with the graphics, which isn’t a huge deal at all.

Overall, the graphics in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones are definitely something to be noticed on the Game Boy Advance. With some of the best animations around, and the nice look of the characters and the environments, this game is almost flawless graphic wise.



As seen here, these two are about to start a ferocious battle.


Sound:
The sound and music in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is absolutely brilliant! Both match the game very well, and show the potential of the Game Boy Advances sound quality. The game features an awesome soundtrack of music that fits the game very well for each situation. All of the music is orchestral, and it really sets the mood of the game. For instance, when Eirika and her friends are attacking, a fast paced triumphant song comes on; when enemies attack, it is the other way around. A dull type of music comes on, and it makes the players feel like they are on the defense. With over 60 different songs played in the game, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones sets the standards for music in a handheld game.

With awesome music, great sound effects are also needed. In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, there are many sound effects put into the game, whether it be the patter of a horse galloping, the sound of a knight walking slowly, or even the sound of a sword piercing through a soldiers armor, all of it is done well. There are many simple sound effects put into the game that probably won’t even be noticed by gamers unless they listen carefully. For instance, while characters are talking outdoors, the sound of birds chirping can be heard. Small details like this make all the difference in setting a peaceful mood.

The only bad thing about the sound in the game is the sound that comes on when characters are having dialogue with eachother. It is a little clicking noise that is in a few RPGs. Many gamers who are used to playing old RPGs will recognize the sound and most likely not be bothered. It can be turned off if gamers want to have it off, but for some gamers, it can become annoying, especially with the long areas of dialogue which make such a deep storyline.

Overall, the sound quality in the game is great. It definitely sets a standard for other handheld games out there with a score of beautiful music. The classical music choice sets the overall mood of the game, and has a wide variety of music. Along with a great soundtrack, the sound effects are well done, and it is obvious a lot of time was spent on all of this.



A nice piece of classical music is played while players decide how to move their characters.


Replay Value:
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is an extremely addicting game that is hard to put down even after it is beaten! It features many sidequests throughout the game such as unlocking all of the Support conversations between units, collecting all of the items, and of course maxing out your units stats.

The game features two different storylines when the group of mercenaries splits into 2. Gamers will have to go back through the game again if they want to play through both storylines. As well as that, a whole new campaign begins when players beat the game. Through this, even more characters can be unlocked, and there is plenty of replay value.

All in all, the replay value for Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has 50+ hours to spend playing on it at the least just to unlock everything. Gamers can go through it 5 or 6 times without it getting old, because each game is never the same. Although it doesn’t feature as much as other games, it is still very well done, especially for a handheld game. This game is guaranteed to keep you hooked until you beat everything!



Once the game is over, gamers can go back and fry creatures like Myrrh is doing here!


Closing Comments:
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is without a doubt one of the best games on the Game Boy Advance, and one of the best handheld games to be released in a long while. Nintendo definitely made a smart choice to bring this tough Strategy/ RPG to the US. The Fire Emblem series has now set a new standard for strategy games, and it is sure not to disappoint gamers.

This game is definitely recommended, and it is a must have on the Game Boy Advance. Go get is ASAP if you want a title that will give you many hours of fun filled gameplay!

9.25/10

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