Not many changes from the past, but the ones made aren't good.
If you're new to the series of Fire Emblem, let me educate you before you read any further. This series started off in Japan as a strategy RPG, with the first installment following Marth on his quest to destroy the Dark Dragon Medeus. Since this game was succesful, Nintendo made a sequel. Sort of. Fire Emblem Gaiden was more RPG-y. After an SNES remake, the series got it's LTTP in Seisen no Keifu. Due to this one's success, a harder sequel was made. Then Roy, most famous for his Super Smash Bros debut, debuted in Fuuin no Tsurugi. Finally, the series was brought to America and warranted a sequel. That's where this review begins.
The graphics are amazingly similar to the original. In fact, they recycled the same sprites. The graphics are still good, but they're just too recycled. It was just a recolor, really. The music isn't better or worse than the first, just different. Each tune will help establish the mood accordingly, with each peace being more symphonic than the other. Of course, some of the songs just plain suck, but they're rarely played.
The story is also slightly worse than the other. It's much more bare bones and has a crappier feel than the other. Without giving too much away, the final level's a swamp and it's music has an "eerie, face the truth" music. That may not seem like much, but in Fire Emblem, the final level is one of the most pivotal plot points in the game, the music being both "pissed off, final level, get him" music and "regretfull tromp" like.
However, the gameplay is it's greatest fall. Some of the features I liked, like the branching promotions and the overworld map. But then again, near to none of the classes offer anything new (some classes taken away) and the in between chapter battles on the map basically allow you to beef up your characters long before you should. But the one thing I hated the most was the lack of innovation. Same units, same gameplay, same map archetypes and so on. Plus to top it all off, it's not that long either. You can easily beat this in 35 hours. After Chapter 15, the whole thing becomes easy.
If you're thinking about trying out the Fire Emblem series, shrug this one off unless you want an easy transition game.
*originally posted March 17th, 2006