Review by Thunk00

Reviewed: 02/09/06

Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War - A must-have for any true strategy gamer.

This game is amazing. Fire Emblem is accepted among most strategy gaming groups to be the best strategy series, and the fact that it includes games like this brooks no argument for other series.

Fire Emblem 4 (this game, in case you didn't already understand that) is probably the best in the series, and would be a serious candidate for the best game of all time along with Final Fantasy 7 and the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time if more people had played it. Anyway, enough of senseless praise. Let's get onto the real review:

Graphics: 9/10

To the eye of people who have seen Playstation 2 and Xbox games for the last several years, these graphics may not seem amazing. However, considering that the game is for the Super Famicom (Super NES in the United States), they are wonderful. The map sprites for characters all look different, and leave no doubt as to who is who. Battle scenes actually portray realistic-looking characters running at each other and attacking with their weapons held out (and every weapon has a different sprite in battle, a rarity for Fire Emblem).

Face sprites are also clear and unique. Except for the generic villagers who give you tips when you save their towns, all of the faces are unique. Also, the backgrounds are detailed. Castles really look like castles, and forests really look like forests. Though backgrounds are nothing in comparison to those in later Fire Emblems, they are great if you remember that this game was made for the Super Famicom. Almost all of the graphics in this game are amazing, considering that they are Super Famicom graphics.

Music: 10/10

Though the music in this game is made from beeps and is sometimes choppy, it is of an obviously better quality than music from other Super Famicom games, such as A Link to the Past. The music is great in every theater other than the quality of how the sound comes through. Music is made to accurately depict the feeling of a scene. For example, when someone dies, the music is sad. When there are no enemies left on a map and you are about to conquer a castle, the music is a victory march that is also a trademark theme of Fire Emblem. Also, there is a new main theme every chapter that plays during your turn, as you move your units.

Sound Effects: 8/10

My biggest complaint here is that they are entirely generic. They are good, but not outstanding. There are little wooshes for when a character swings a weapon, thunder that accompanies lightning spells, etcetera. None of these sounds stand out though, and are sometimes overused. For example, a sword that hits armor and dishes out the equivalent of a light bruise in damage, it sounds the same as when a sword kills an unarmored opponent in one hit. Like I said before, these sounds are decent and will leave you satisfied, but you will not be begging for more.

Plotline: 10/10

The plot for this game is one of the "darkest" of any Fire Emblem, including a lot of deaths and other tragedies as well as reference to inbreeding, incest and rape. However, a younger audience is not likely to be playing this game so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

The plot is also very complicated, I'll put a simplified version of the situation that is explained when you start a new game: Grandbell, the most powerful nation on the continent, is going to war because the barbarian nation of Isaac has sent reavers to loot and destroy small towns in the Yuri Desert, a large area separating the two kingdoms that is located east of Grandbell. Prince Kult of Grandbell is going to lead his country's armies in the war at the wish of the rapidly aging and partially senile father.

They have no qualms about moving their entire army out to the war, because of an armistice they have with their two other neighbors to the west. However, Prince Gandolf of Verdane violates that pact and sends an army of barbarians against the castle of Jungby. Sigurd, the son of the neighboring duke, feels obligated to help out Jungby because his childhood friend Edain lives there. Eventually, you will end up with the royalty of five different nations on your side, each with his or her own story.

Gameplay: 11/10

I know I probably shouldn't have put an eleven there, but nothing less would do this game's system justice. The game is separated into eleven chapters and a prologue, with each chapter being a map with several castles that you must conquer and only one on your side. This leads to great difficulty, as several castles will often send their military against you at the same time. However, the game doesn't have you tear your hair out in frustration as much as more recent ones might because you can save your game permanently every turn.

You command a lot of units at a time, too, with one or two representatives of every playable character class when you have the maximum amount of soldiers with you. Every character also has his own money now, and it is impossible to trade items between characters. This leads to further strategy, as you have to think before you send a unit to a village and collect the money and/or item that the generic villagers there will give you since the only way to transfer items is very expensive: buying and selling at the community pawn shop. However, though you can trade money between two different units when they are in love.

To get characters in love, you follow the same approach as you would to obtain support conversations in more recent Fire Emblems. Have two characters spend a lot of time together until they fall in love. Love brings two important things: A female character's children will only be born if she falls in love with a male unit, and lovers have a high chance to do a critical attack when next to each other.

Unique Features: 10/10

This is the dump where I rate all of the things that are unique to this game.

Love: 9/10
I sort of wish that this had been expanded, with more conversations that characters can have only when they are in love. Otherwise, it's great and I personally prefer this concept to the concept of supports.

Generations: 11/10
My favorite part of this game. Basically, you lose ALL of the characters you have at the end of Chapter 5. It's not as bad as it sounds, though. If you allowed characters to fall in love through the first half, they will have children whom you play as in the second generation. They will have stats that far surpass their parents, though the substitutes you get for when a woman hasn't fallen in love are only mediocre.

Saving every chapter: 9/10
I personally love this, since I hate starting chapters over when a character dies to get him back and thus losing possibly hours of play time. The saving system could have been better, but I personally like it. Though some will complain that it makes the game too easy, they probably don't know what they're talking about and abuse ROM save states.

This game is a must-have if you are a fan of the Strategy RPG genre, or even just strategy or just RPG genre. You might even find it to be somewhat enjoyable if you prefer Hack n' Slash action games.

Though it would be preferable if you could find a cartridge for the game and buy it, you should ROM it if you can't. Not to encourage that you ROM games in general, but you should play this by any means necessary if you want to know what you're talking about when you say Fire Emblem.

OVERALL: 58/60, or 9.6 repeating/10

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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