Review by aoefreak9229
An impressive feat by any standard; Seisen no Keifu is one of the greatest of all time
Ah, Fire Emblem. A beloved Nintendo franchise that has reached thirteen, most likely fourteen within the next few years, installments. Beginning in 1990, the very first game was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Unfortunately, it never left Japan until the 2009 DS remake, Shadow Dragon, leaving America in the dark about this wonderful, splendid franchise in the 90s and early 2000s. Then, a little game called Super Smash Bros: Melee entered the scene in 2001 for the Gamecube. There, the Western world finally caught sight of two particular characters that they had never seen before. Of course, I am referring to the fan favorites of SSBM, Marth and Roy. This sparked interest in Fire Emblem, because nobody had ever heard of this series, and considering it was Nintendo, who dominated the 90s in sales, this made the characters mysterious, with little information being found.
Quickly, Nintendo released a Fire Emblem game to the West in 2003, being the titular Fire Emblem (Although really, the Japanese title was Blazing Sword). We were introduced to many characters that surprised us, from the womanizing Sain to the dutiful Eliwood. The character development was staggering, and its addictive 'one more turn' gameplay wouldn't let gamers hold it down. To this day, there are still people who play the game daily. With this release, almost every Fire Emblem made it to Western Shores (save for Fire Emblem 12, a remake of Fire Emblem 3).
However, there is one game that never made it to shores, salvaged from obscurity thanks to the dedication of the fandom out there. Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu. A game that came out in 1996, and I think that the Nintendo 64 came out before release, I'm not sure. Either way, this game was absolutely phenomenal, and it still holds up after all of these years. It received critical acclaim and even got a midquel in 2000, Thracia 776.
The story is probably the darkest one in the entire franchise, and it is very suiting when I played through it. But we will get to that soon. Altogether, this is probably my favorite Fire Emblem game in the entire franchise, and I love all of them quite equally.
Without further to do, let us go onto the review itself.
Alright, this is going to be an obvious high score because of Fire Emblem's tried and tested chess RPG style. Pretty much, every map is a grid and you move around characters to trump the opponent in various settings. Although this is a basic premise, the procedure that you have to use can range from very sophisticated to rushing the opponent, resulting in a myriad of options that open up to you. Although the amount of characters is somewhat miniscule compared to other games in the series, it still allows you to pick and choose your strategy, meaning limitless gameplay.
However, in this game, we are introduced to these little things called skills. There are two classes of skills: Personal and Class. Personal skills are carried by the individual themselves. Let's take a look at Aira, a Myrmidom you get in the first half of the game. Because she is a Myrmidom, her class skill is Pursuit, which allows double hitting (yeah, it's a skill in this game), and upon promotion she gets Continue, which allows her to double hit (potentially four hits in a single turn without a Brave Sword). Her personal skills include Awareness (which negates criticals) and Astral Sword, which results in five hits in a single turn for every time it activates, leaving her with potentially twenty hits. Skills are powerful assets, and it can be the difference between life and death in this game.
There is one more dimension in this game that is crucial to the second half. The game is split into two parts; First generation and the Second generation. The First generation is, respectively, what you start with. This includes Sigurd, Cuan, Ethlin, and many other characters. In this first half, you can have characters fall in love with each other, which provides many benefits. For one, couples can be next to each other and activate critical hits, boost hit and evade, and have special conversations which boosts stats or gives items.
However, the first generation affects the second half, the more important part of the game. Something happens to the main character mid way, and you play as his son, Celice. 90% of the characters in the second half are children of the parents in the first. The personal skills affect what is inherited, and there are few limitations as to what skills could be passed down, but it is crucial to know who is going with who. First playthrough you won't quite know until you read through it, but this causes the second generation to be very intriguing, with possible different roles for anyone considering who the parents are.
This is a lot to take in, I know, but it all makes sense when you start playing.
As I said before, this story is dark. Without giving too much away, it starts off with Grandbell going to war with Isaac over an attack on Darna, which seems typical Fire Emblem fare at first glance. However, as the plot continues on, there's conspiracies going on, traitorism, and even some incest (in Nintendo?! Gasp!) going on. It's convoluted, with many twists and turns that new players won't see coming, but it's so intriguing and different that I wanted to see what happened. Even after playing through this game a few times, I still read the dialogue, because it really is interesting to see how one single conversation could affect the future.
Aside from this, there is a major twist in the middle which results in the beginning of the Second Generation that I won't dare expose to new players (although if you are interested in playing, 30% know what happens already). All I can say is that it is one of the best, well thought out plots I have ever seen.
Simply put, the music fits the mood. This game has the single most expansive soundtrack of any Fire Emblem game, with each map having a different music in the background, characters having their own music, etc. It's just wonderful, and each piece fits the mood spectacularly. The soundtrack I could listen to all day and never get bored, that's how good and expansive it is.
Alright, because this is an old game, of course the graphics are a tad rough. However, compared to Fire Emblem 3, these graphics are very polished up, transitioning from the very rough look of the last one to this smooth, fluid motion that this game has. Considering it was the SNES, this is wonderful as well. The horse as it gallops into battle, the swinging of the weapons, the motion of the characters as they dodge. This is very nicely done for the SNES. There are many layers in this game that work together, be it in the foreground or background, and it just looks so much better as well. If this game had graphics of nowadays, it just wouldn't retain the same charm as this one does.
I may be missing some things here and there about this game, but there are many elements that make this game worth playing. Overall, this game is one of the best, maybe even the pinnacle of RPGs (you heard right, I think this game is better than Final Fantasy VII). If you ever get the chance, play it, be it on a ROM or the actual cartridge, it doesn't matter. You will not regret the playthrough after you finish it.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu (JP, 05/14/96)
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