Review by ImNotYourPapa
Broken weapons? Generation system? Evil villains? Incest? HELL YEAH!
Ah, Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu... The epitome of Fire Emblems, which purists have come to use as a standard to compare the Fire Emblem series to... This game is unique in many ways, and I will try to depict most of them without going too deep on the game's mechanics. It's a complicated game, and a lot of fun.
To start it off, this game has something all other games in the series lacks: HUGE maps! While it only has a third of say, Fire Emblem 7 (Known as Fire Emblem outside of Japan), the maps are 4-8 times as large! You control up to thirty-two units, and usually conquer several castles at each map, with intrigues at every event. You can recruit new characters, often by simply talking to them, but sometimes, the game is just plain evil and forces you to accomplish almost insanely difficult tasks such as say, take down an entire elite enemy force without touching the commander. In either case, I should probably explain the basic game mechanics.
You are on a map. You have one main castle, in which you can fight at the arena, sell items, promote, store stuff, buy stuff, or just check your characters out. When you feel that you are ready, you sortie. When you choose to do so, you move outside the castle, and depending on your class, terrain and possibly items, you can usually move about 5-9 squares. If you move next to an enemy, you can attack it. You will then enter a simple battle, in which you attack each other. Depending on skills, stats, position, etcetera, you can actually attack up to twenty or so times, though this is limited to a select few characters, and you'll usually attack one or two times. Your characters can occasionally talk to each other, which can lead to gaining items, increasing stats, triggering events, gaining love boosts, or nothing. Your main character, Sigurd, and later on his son Celice, can also seize enemy castles. This is done by slaying the boss and moving onto the castle and selecint Seize. This usually triggers some sort of event, such as enemy troops appearing, bridges getting laid out, invisible barriers dissapearing, you getting new units, yeah. The goal of each map is basically to seize the main enemy castle. Might sound simple, but it can take several hours, and a lot of painful encounters and re-tries.
If you've played any other Fire Emblem, you'll probably notice the combination of "Several hours" and "Re-tries" sounds sort of... Evil, considering in most others you save only at the end of a chapter, and if someone dies and you want to have them back, you have to re-start. Well, Seisen no Keifu has a very different save system. At the beginning of every turn, given that no one has moved, you can choose to save in one of five or six different slots. Whenever you want to, you can re-load. This sounds like a completely broken save system, but trust me, because of unexpected events or enemy encounters, you'll likely end up screwing yourself all over more than once. It's hard to picture a save system that would work better in this game, honestly.
This game has a very... Interesting weapon system, or rather, interesting weapons when compared to other Fire Emblem games. The weapon circle is completely broken. For physical weapons, you have swords, lances and axes. The general idea is that Swords are quicks, Axes are strong, and Lances are in the middle. Well... The thing is, unlike later Fire Emblems, this game has no constitution (Body build, makes weapon weight affect you less), but rather, weapon weight is directly subtracted from your Speed (Which allows you to dodge, and under the right circumstances double attack). This would not be a problem, if the system wasn't so broken. Basically, Swords weigh 3, Lances weigh about 12, Axes weigh about 14. Their might difference, on the other around, is in the two-three range. Yeah, totally broken. On the other hand, this also affects enemies, so it's not as much of a problem as you would think it is, as enemies tend to use Axes and Lances a lot more than you. Your only character limited to Axes in the first generation, Lex, can get a Hero Axe (Which allows you to strike twice in a row) in the second chapter, though, so he does perfectly fine, especially since he has a skill doubling experience. In the second generation, there are two axe-only users, but you can only have one and they have access to the Brave Axe with some fiddeling anyway. Lances are slightly more of a problem, but not as much, since most of the lance-onlys are either pre-promoted or, in the case of Finn, gets a Hero Lance early in the game. Oh, and when weapons break after fifty uses, they automatically start weighing 30... Whatever, kilograms? Way to go with logic, IS! When we come to magic, however... Well, let's take that in the next paragraph.
Magic, yes... Probably the most insanely imbalanced aspect of Fire Emblem 4. The three basic elements are Fire, Wind and Thunder. Wind weighs 2, Fire weighs 8, and Thunder weighs 12, if I remember correctly. Wind beats Fire, Fire beats Thunder, and Thunder beats wind. The catch? They all have the same damage. Yes, you read that right, they damage the same, and have the same stats otherwise, but they cut your speed by six and ten more, respectively, which translates into twelve and twenty points of dodge percentage! Madness, huh? Luckily, most of your magic users can access Wind magic. There's also Light magic, which weighs a ton but has it's uses. It's limited to very few users, though. Dark Magic sucks completely since it weighs more than a truck full of lead, but it's only used by the enemy, luckily. You think this is crazy already? Well, now there are these legendary weapons... Nah, I'll let you discover those yourself, but let's just say more than one of them effectively makes you completely impossible to kill.
The game has a complex, deep story, with a few completely crazy plot twists, and a lot to be left to discovered by the player. The game has valiant heroes, doubting warriors, honorable knights, and really, really, really evil villains. You might have seen me mention the generation system before, and it is indeed my favourite aspect of Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. It's a complex system, but I will try to explain it without going too deep, though some game mechanism will be neccesary to understand it.
Basically, the game is divided into two parts, "Generaion one", and "Generation two". Each generation is roughly the same size. Each female in the first generation can potentially get two kids - A male and a female. To actually get these kids, they have to have a husband - A male in your army. And to get married, they have to fullfill two conditions. First, they have to be in love, which is accomplished by standing a varying number of turns next to each other, or through certain conversations. Once a characer has fallen in love with another, it cannot fall out unless that character dies. You can also boost love by some conversations. If both characters survive, and have a love level of three, they will have kids in the second generation. Basically, the male kid will inherit the dad's weaponry. Other than that, it will inherit both of the character's skills, and "statistical growths". Basically, each character has a chance to gain a boost in a stat at each level up, ranging from 5-10% to 120%. The kid will inherit half of the mom's and all of the dads. So if the mom has 20% strength and the dad 50% Strength, the kid will have 60% Strength growht. They also inherit their current stats, but I don't know the exact formula. This system allows for nigh infinite replay, adds another dimension of strategy, and is lots of fun!
I have two major subjects left to cover - Holy blood and Skills. Skills are a sort of attributes that your characters have. A common skill is "Pursuit". If your speed is greater than that of the enemy's you will attack again. A less common one, and an incredibly broken one at that, is "Ryuuseiken", roughly translating into Meteor Sword or Star hit or something like that. It allows you to sometimes (Your skill as a percentage, actually, so if your skill is 25 it will activate once every four attacks) attack FIVE times in a row! Each attack can individually critical (Double base damage, effectively two attacks with enemy defense only being accounted for once), and if you have a Brave Sword, the effect will be doubled. There are many different skills, and it's very interesting to experiment with inheritance of skills in the second generation.
Other than that, there's Holy Blood. Some characters are related to legendary heroes who battled the evil Lopt Clan. These characters gain a boost in stat growths. You can either have minor or major. Major gives double boost compared to minor. The boosts are usually around 30-40% for one stat and 10-20% for another, which can make a seemingly weak character awesome. Holy Blood is also inherited in a somewhat complex way, but I'll explain it in the following paragraph.
If one character has major blood, the firstborn child will also have it. The second one will have minor. If one character has minor, both children will. If both have at least minor, both children will have major. It's important to note that this has it's exceptions, especially with NPC:s and enemies, but when you try to pair up for generations, it's important to know.
This game has totally awesome graphics for a SNES game, very fluent combat animation, and great face sprites. The music is among my favourite tracks, the story is great, the characters are quite deep for a SNES game, and it has map battle animations!
Overall, it's not a very hard game if you know what to do, but it can be incredibly annoying if you don't know roughly what will happen. I recommend using some sort of guide, at least for pairing up parents.
Oh, and I know someone out there clicked this just because of "Incest". Let's just say that there are some very heavy hints and some questionable pairings ;)
This game is great. Go play it.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu (JP, 05/14/96)
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