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Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem Gaiden

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Monshō no Nazo
Seisen no Keifu
Thracia 776

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Fūin no Tsurugi
Rekka no Ken
The Sacred Stones

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Path of Radiance
Radiant Dawn

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Shadow Dragon
Shin Monshō no Nazo

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Anime
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Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki (ファイアーエムブレム 蒼炎の軌跡) / Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - GameCube (2005)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

Fire Emblem returns to home consoles! The Game Boy Advance Fire Emblems did a good job of keeping things clean and readable given the small screens, but it's good to be back on the "big" screen. Path of Radiance brings further refinements to established gameplay elements, new systems and map gimmicks. All of these aspects make it an evolutionary step in the franchise beyond the mere implementation of 3D graphics. When replaying any of the earlier Fire Emblem game after this, the improvements implemented here become sorely missed.

The setting for this installment is on the continent of Tellius, which is divided into several nations: the frigid, militaristic of Daein in the north, the small, peaceful kingdom of Crimia in the west, the massive, theocratic empire of Beginon to the east and a handful of Laguz kingdoms to the south. Ashnard, the "Mad King" of Daein sends an army in and takes Crimia by force. The Greil Mercenaries accept a mission escorting someone to the big cat Laguz kingdom of Gallia. That "someone" turns out to be Elincia, the sole surviving successor to the Crimian throne. As Ike, the Mercenaries and Elincia roam around Tellius in search of sanctuary, war follows. Previously isolationist nations are pulled into the conflict. As Ashnard was hoping for, soon the entire continent is at war. From the summary alone, Path of Radiance's plot comes across as very typical and by-the-book. The story and character interactions keep some of the plot's more mature themes such as racism remain prominent throughout the game.

Characters

Ike

Your standard blue haired Fire Emblem hero, Ike is the son of Greil, leader and founder of the Greil Mercenaries in the small kingdom of Crimia.

Mist

Ike's little sister. As can be expected, she's kidnapped early on, but once you save her, she joins the battle group.

Titania

This red-headed knight is a tank and a total master of destruction in the early stages of the game.

Elincia

The Princess of Crimia and sole survivor of the royal bloodline. She must be defended at all costs.

Soren

A sorcerer with a sour attitude. He becomes your status advisor, providing updates after each battle.

Lethe

The Laguz are race of humanoids capable of transforming into powerful beasts ranging from cats to dragons to birds. Shunned by humans or "Beorc" as they call them, tribes of these beings live in isolation, and much of the plot revolves around their conflicts. Lethe is a warrior of one of these tribes, who can transform into a cat-like creature.

Promotions are automatic now. Once a player reaches level 21, they automatically promote to the next class. No more worrying if a character has the right promotional item in their inventory before they hit level 20. Items can still be used to promote a character earlier, between the levels of 10 and 20, but these items are very rare. All support conversations happen on base rather than on the battlefield. The Game Boy Advance games offered limited windows of opportunity for players to have these conversations on the battlefield and the game didn't always make it clear to a player who could converse with whom. It's crystal clear now and a lot less frustrating. Support levels are now based on the battles that the fighters have participated in, so they don't need to fight directly next to each other.

The Bonus Experience system lets players freely allocate experience points from a specially collected pool to any character they choose. This makes it easy for new recruits with low levels to catch up with the rest of the force. The game also baits players to try pursuing additional objectives to earn even more Bonus Experience. Pushing and Smiting lets a unit move another unit one space (or two spaces in the case of Smiting) forward, although this only applies to allied units. Also new are the Laguz units, demihumans that can temporarily change into beasts and wreck havoc when transformed. The transformed beasts include birds, beasts, and dragons. Special skills can also be learned by nearly any character through the use of scrolls. You can even forge and upgrade weapons, allowing you to recolor and rename them. The magic system triangle is now closer to Fire Emblem 4, and dark magic is gone. Certain spells are also effective against the three different types of Laguz.

One of the remarkable feats of Path of Radiance that goes relatively unnoticed is the balance. You can create a pretty kick-tail army using any of the units you get. With the right combination of leveling, support conversations and skill allocation, everyone has the potential to inflict massive damage. Some units are harder to nurture than others. Most of the Path of Radiance crew will reward players for their investments, rather than the previous games which had quite a share of bench warmers.

Plugging in the two GBA Fire Emblem carts with a Connector Cable unlocks art galleries and extra "trial maps", which offer extra challenge to the seasoned player. Two of the five total trial maps can be unlocked by beating the game, players without the Game Boy Advance titles or the cable may feel spurned, especially since the better maps are GBA connect exclusive.

Path of Radiance is an excellent game. The music is rather standard fare, although it's nice to hear it with the much improved synth offered by the disc format, and the 3D characters animate the exact same way as they did in the sprite battles. And much like the sprites, the character models feel minimally tweaked between character classes. The visuals are pretty sparse, with barely detailed scenery and fairly low polygon models. Most of the maps look ugly with the default grid markings. But Fire Emblem has established itself as being about gameplay and not graphics. The North American version has been made a bit easier from its original Japanese incarnation, but it's missing the voiceover narrations between chapters.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Director:

  • Masayuki Horikawa

Designer:

  • Taeko Kaneda

Genre:

Themes:


Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)


Additional Screenshots


Fire Emblem: Akatsuki no Megami (ファイアーエムブレム 暁の女神) / Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn - Wii (2007)

Japanese Cover

American Cover

Much like other games that were dualogies (FE1 and 3, FE4 and 5, FE6 and 7), Radiant Dawn, is a direct sequel to Path of Radiance. Taking place three years after its predecessor, the story covers a wider scope of groups and events ranging from the liberation of the nation of Daein from the currently occupying Begnion empire, the Crimean rebellion against Queen Elincia, and the exploits of the Griel Mercenaries and the Laguz alliance to stop Begnion's rapid push for control. The game is separated into four chapters focusing on each of these three groups, eventually bringing them all together to form a grand finale, somewhat like Odin Sphere.

Characters

Micaiah

The main character of the first chapter, who is commonly referred to as "The Silver Haired Maiden". She's a member of the Dawn Brigade, who are fighting against the Begnion empire. Despite her extremely young look, she is wise and mature far beyond her years.

Sothe

A relatively minor character from Path of Radiance, Sothe is also part of the Dawn Brigade. Here he is a powerful Rogue, much stronger than before. He is one of the first units that can handle just about everything and often will be instrumental in pulling the party through the first chapter.

Pelleas

The orphan of Daien's former king. Accompanied by a shady self-appointed strategist, Izuka, and Micaiah's forces, he seeks to liberate his country.

Elincia

Now the Queen of Crimea, she struggles desperately to regain order in the land and prove her worth as a leader. She takes center stage of the extremely short second chapter.

Geoffery

Leader of Crimea's Royal Knights and devout supporter of the queen. He wields a very mean lance and is a force to be reckoned with. The rest of the order, however, pales in comparison. (Save for Kieran.) One of the main combatants of the second chapter.

Ike

Path of Radiance's poster boy seems a little weak at first, though towards the end, he becomes an amazing fighter. He continues to run the Griel Mercenaries and is hired by the Laguz Alliance to assist them in an assault on Begnion. Returns with most of the cast from the last game to star in the third chapter.

Skrimir

Nephew of the Lion King Caineghis, he's in charge of the Laguz Alliance and leads the charge to attack Begnion. However, his strong headed recklessness does get in the way frequently.

Zelgius

Grand Commander of the Begnion Army, he is tasked with driving the Laguz from Begnion's territory. Though seemingly loyal to the Senators, he often has a far more effective and personal way of handling things. There's probably more to him than meets the eye.

As one can guess, with an expansive number of events to cover, the development of a majority of the cast gets skipped over. Though Fire Emblem never has been a series known well for its plotlines, things seem especially thin here, which is sad, seeing as how much of the cast of the previous entry was very charming and fleshened out. Here, characters are introduced, given a few lines about their lives or inner conflicts, then forgotten completely. It makes sense - there are over seventy playable characters, which is obviously a huge number - but it still feels too brief. The utter destruction of support conversations that helped develop characters in the last game just pours more salt on the wound.

The fact that it's a sequel to the GameCube game may make it difficult for newcomers to jump in (even though the connections don't really begin until the second chapter), and there are more reasons why Fire Emblem rookies should steer clear. Radiant Dawn caters to the hardcore Fire Emblem crowd by cranking up the difficulty right at the beginning. The Easy mode isn't too overwhelming, but the Normal mode is absolutely punishing. Most will storm into the intro map expecting nothing, only to find that their units can't take any punishment and can deal very little damage. Worse yet, it's difficult for all the wrong reasons, because the units you control themselves have extremely poor stats in comparison to the forces they must fight. On top of this, the Laguz units have been nerfed to the extreme. As a result of this difficulty spike, this is the first game since Seisen no Keifu that allows you to permanently save your game in the middle of battle, without being overwritten when you reload it. This allows you to take some chances and give you another shot if something doesn't go your way. The problem is, it ends up coming to the point where the standard procedure to winning a battle is constantly quick saving and hoping you did everything to a tee. That's not strategy, that's just frustrating. The quicksave is also only available in the English release, and is not available in the higher difficulty settings.

However, towards the midway point, the difficulty evens out a bit when you get better characters, making it quite a bit more bearable and more in line with Path of Radiance. Sadly, the game still tends to feed you characters that are worthless beyond redemption, like the incredibly weak heavy knight Meg). Bench warmer characters have been a common occurrence among strategy RPGs in general, but Path of Radiance was so well-balanced that it's impossible to not miss its achievement.

There are a handful additions to the mechanics. The terrain can how have different elevations, requiring that you climb up and down, and units on higher terrain can do more damage. You can import data from the GameCube game, allowing for returning characters to have beefed up stats. The Laguz can now gain more levels, and human characters can be promoted twice. Dark magic spells, missing from Path of Radiance, are back. There are also a few new classes, and a crossbow weapon for archers, which allows them to attack directly adjacent squares. The support system has changed so you can allow any character to support any other character. However, each character can only have one support, and it's missing all of the cool conversations that were found in previous games.

The graphics are adequate, although they're not much better than the GameCube game. The game does not use any Wiimote pointer functionality either, requiring that you turn the remote on its side to play, although there's now an option for widescreen display. The battle animations are still somewhat poor, but they're a bit less stiff and more dynamic. The FMV cut scenes look pretty nice, and fortunately there are more of them, with tolerable voice acting to boot. The soundtrack once again is rather standard fare, and memorable tracks are few and far between.

In the end, Radiant Dawn is still a quality title, but it comes off rather too vicious for casual players. For newcomers, it is recommended to try out the GameCube installment first.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Director:

  • Taeko Kaneda

Genre:

Themes:


Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Wii)


Additional Screenshots


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem Gaiden

Page 2:
Monshō no Nazo
Seisen no Keifu
Thracia 776

Page 3:
Fūin no Tsurugi
Rekka no Ken
The Sacred Stones

Page 4:
Path of Radiance
Radiant Dawn

Page 5:
Shadow Dragon
Shin Monshō no Nazo

Page 6:
Awakening
Anime
Other

Back to the Index