#647 Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Posted: 4th November 2016 by Jeroen in Games
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554th played so far


Genre: Strategy
Platform: Gamecube
Year of Release: 2005
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo

It really has taken me a while to start on a Fire Emblem game. There aren’t that many on the list, but it’s a major and influential franchise. I played a 3DS iteration before, but that’s at the point where, I believe, things are already less harsh than they were at the time of this game. Good luck on this one.

Our Thoughts

Before starting this, I was trying to remember what games like this we’ve played. Advance Wars is vaguely there, but Jeanne d’Arc – a long time ago – is probably closer, with Disgaea being near as well. There’s more focus on the individual units than the latter, which keeps it contained and possibly more interesting.

That makes me even more ambivalent about one of the special features this game has – permadeath. If a character dies in a level, they die permanently. While there are games where it works – Nethack for example – it makes Fire Emblem feel harsher than it needs to be. Or, to use a better term – it makes save scumming a thing that you want to try. Someone dies? Restart and try again. Maybe a different route is available. Other, later games in the series allow you to turn it off, and I can see why. The game wasn’t easy (at least for me) and while experienced players may not be bothered as much, it turns me off.

On the other hand, it must have taken a lot of work to make everything match up here, dialogue and all, while it might also explain why some characters don’t actually join your group until later. It’s an interesting way to limit the game and punish you for failure, it’s just the sort of punishment that leads to a vicious circle downwards if things start to go bad.

More to the point, the battle system is quite engaging. The basics are simple – a rock-paper-scissors system for weapon types, with some other additions for bows and, of course, magic. It’s not too difficult to remember, but provides enough complexity when the map layouts are taken into account, as well as some map-specific elements. Of course, units are slowly introduced, giving you time to get used to each layer (as long as you survive for long enough).

Final Thoughts

I would have loved to turn off permadeath for this game, or limit its impact (out of action for a few battles?). I realise it wouldn’t have been as impactful, but for a beginning player like me it feels like the characters don’t have as much of an impact. I don’t see the changes anyway.

Even so, it’s a good, fun strategy game in here that works well within the limitations consoles bring – a good tactical RPG.