I play old games that only came out in Japan (part 2)

So I actually finished Fire Emblem Thracia 776 like a week ago, but due to me being busy (at work), or busy (vomiting) or busy (not really wanting to write something) you get it now. Just in time for me to be able to theoretically talk about other stuff too? Sure. Let's go with that.

Because there are things in this world that are not Fire Emblem.

Saints Row The Third is fantastic. But you probably already knew that. Honestly, most of what I could say has already been said by the bomb crew during various podcasts and such. The entire game thrives on being as ludicrous as possible, which makes up for the merely passable shooting and driving. I've only sunk in 10 or so hours, which can be blamed on it occasionally not wanting to work at the least opportune time (though I think my computer is at least partially broked, so it might be a problem with that) and I can tell that this is certainly a game that I enjoy.

The Steam Sale has already claimed money out of me. Warlock: Master of the Arcane seems very much like a rendition of 's favorite Turn-Based Fantasy-Type Civ-Clone Master of Magic (one of the preset wizards clearly seems to be based off one of MOM's preset wizards, so I think the influence isn't coincidental), but set in the same universe as the Majesty games (what) and taking its cues from Civ V, as opposed to say... the original Civ, by having non-stacking units that level up a ton, the grid being hexagonal and your cities being able to defend themselves. It also takes the cue of "Yo dawg, fighting is all that matters", because diplomacy seems painfully limited and it seems like most of your victories are going to come in the form of conquest (though there are 3 other conditions: cast the ultimate spell, control all the holy ground, or defeat a god's avatar). While your chance of obtaining it dirt cheap like I did have already passed you by, it's still pretty cheap. I also bought Rayman Legends, but I think to get anything out of that game I'm going to need a controller. Which I should probably get anyways.

Because I refuse to shut up about Fire Emblem

Everyone has their favored franchises. Mine just happens to have been Japan-only for half of its run

Fire Emblem for the NES is old. If you've played Shadow Dragon, you know that Shadow Dragon is probably the worst of the series to have reached western shores, with its fairly simplistic plot and overabundance of junk characters that you would never use. Now imagine that. But crusty and without stuff like the weapon triangle. That's not to say that I probably won't play it to completion (and then play Book 1 of Monshou no Nazo for good measure), just that I won't like doing so. Fire Emblem Gaiden on the other hand seems genuinely neat, as the Zelda II of the franchise with all of the implications that label entails. Oh, it's still crusty and old, but it has an overworld map, you can grind, and some units even have split promotions... a bit like another game in the series. Also Tear Ring Saga, which as far as I can tell, is Fire Emblem. On drugs. And doesn't have a translation patch. So that should be fun.

It may not look it, but this prison escape level is murderously difficult. Just like a lot of the game, actually.

But what I'm really here to talk to you about is Thracia 776, the 5th game in the series and the last one for the SNES, released in 1999 (!), making it one of the last games released for the system as a whole. And, like the last one, it only came out in Japan and there are roughly 3 people on these forums who have played it not counting myself. It's probably the first "Modern" Fire Emblem in the way that it's set up, including things like the rescue mechanic, side chapters and fog of war. It also has some stuff that has yet to make it elsewhere. You can capture enemy units and take their stuff, which is how you will obtain most of the useful weapons and items. Your units also have a "Fatigue" stat, which increases as your units fight and junk and if it exceeds their HP you can't deploy them in the next map. Thracia 776 is also balls hard. Back when I still inhabited the dark, dark recess of horrible awful people known as the Fire Emblem Community, it was considered the hardest. While that throne has since been taken by the absurd, clearly not playtested, maximum difficulties of the last 3 titles (the aptly titled "Lunatic" difficulty in both Shin Monshou no Nazo and Awakening has enemies with absurdly high stats rushing you out of the gate, not even counting Lunatic Reverse and Lunatic +) that does not mean that it still isn't the hardest game of the series on default difficulty.

Sety is in this game, and is somehow even more broken than he is in Seisen no Keifu. Maybe because all non-HP stats cap at 20 and Holsety still gives +20 speed?

The aforementioned fatigue and capture systems are part of it, but a lot is just sheer evil level design. Whereas something like say... Act 1 of Radiant Dawn is hard because all of your units have the general durability of a piece of wet toilet paper, Thracia is hard because there are maps with ballistas, and ballistas are actually dangerous and capable of murdering your non-flying units. And then there's that one level where the boss has 10 leadership stars, which stack with the OTHER boss' leadership stars and gives all of your enemies like +45 to hit and avoid or something crazy like that. If I didn't just warp Asvel over to the boss and critted his face in with the Grafcalibur spell, it would've been most difficult indeed. Because that's kinda the secret about this game. You can cheese a lot of the difficulty out with proper staff management. While mounted units are the kings of Seisen no Keifu, Staff users are undoubtedly the kings of this one. That's partially because mounted units have to dismount indoors, where they can only use swords, but mostly because this game's repair staff has 7 uses, which can be expended on say... that warp staff you get in chapter 9. Or Tina's thief staff that can steal ANY ITEM from the enemy as long as her magic is higher than theirs. While I sadly used most of my repair uses on stuff like Leaf's Light Sword or Asvel's aforementioned Grafcalibur, it's easy to see how you could warpskip your way to victory if you wanted to be lame. Of course, you don't have any of those in Chapter 4, 4x and 5, and those are probably the hardest parts of the game anyways.

And then he's all like HOLSETY. And then they die. You can totally not recruit him, but why would you?

That being said, this game is also very good. You know how I said that Seisen no Keifu is good? This is similarly great. The difficulty is manageable by simple matter of a lot of your units being powerful enough to handle what is being thrown at them (Othin, with his automatic criticals on counterattack and personal killer hand-axe, is of special note). The story, being a midquel that takes place slightly before and during the second half of Seisen no Keifu, mostly deals with just fleshing out what Leaf was doing while Celice was steamrolling the countryside with his merry band of steamrollers. Leaf himself is pretty boring for a Fire Emblem lord, but there's still enough good dialogue from his tactician and the side characters to make the translation worth using. Sadly the translation in question doesn't have the menus entirely done (which sucks) and occasionally throws in some really stupid jokes that are clearly not part of the original script ("IN AMERICA" is used and is nearly as cringe worthy as one would expect). Once again, my recommendation comes down to: If you like these games and don't mind the dubious legality of emulators-n-junk, then seek it out. Just make sure to check Serenes Forest to get some of the secret stuff, which is well worth getting.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some other things to do. Which ones? Not sure.

15 Comments
16 Comments
Posted by ArbitraryWater

So I actually finished Fire Emblem Thracia 776 like a week ago, but due to me being busy (at work), or busy (vomiting) or busy (not really wanting to write something) you get it now. Just in time for me to be able to theoretically talk about other stuff too? Sure. Let's go with that.

Because there are things in this world that are not Fire Emblem.

Saints Row The Third is fantastic. But you probably already knew that. Honestly, most of what I could say has already been said by the bomb crew during various podcasts and such. The entire game thrives on being as ludicrous as possible, which makes up for the merely passable shooting and driving. I've only sunk in 10 or so hours, which can be blamed on it occasionally not wanting to work at the least opportune time (though I think my computer is at least partially broked, so it might be a problem with that) and I can tell that this is certainly a game that I enjoy.

The Steam Sale has already claimed money out of me. Warlock: Master of the Arcane seems very much like a rendition of 's favorite Turn-Based Fantasy-Type Civ-Clone Master of Magic (one of the preset wizards clearly seems to be based off one of MOM's preset wizards, so I think the influence isn't coincidental), but set in the same universe as the Majesty games (what) and taking its cues from Civ V, as opposed to say... the original Civ, by having non-stacking units that level up a ton, the grid being hexagonal and your cities being able to defend themselves. It also takes the cue of "Yo dawg, fighting is all that matters", because diplomacy seems painfully limited and it seems like most of your victories are going to come in the form of conquest (though there are 3 other conditions: cast the ultimate spell, control all the holy ground, or defeat a god's avatar). While your chance of obtaining it dirt cheap like I did have already passed you by, it's still pretty cheap. I also bought Rayman Legends, but I think to get anything out of that game I'm going to need a controller. Which I should probably get anyways.

Because I refuse to shut up about Fire Emblem

Everyone has their favored franchises. Mine just happens to have been Japan-only for half of its run

Fire Emblem for the NES is old. If you've played Shadow Dragon, you know that Shadow Dragon is probably the worst of the series to have reached western shores, with its fairly simplistic plot and overabundance of junk characters that you would never use. Now imagine that. But crusty and without stuff like the weapon triangle. That's not to say that I probably won't play it to completion (and then play Book 1 of Monshou no Nazo for good measure), just that I won't like doing so. Fire Emblem Gaiden on the other hand seems genuinely neat, as the Zelda II of the franchise with all of the implications that label entails. Oh, it's still crusty and old, but it has an overworld map, you can grind, and some units even have split promotions... a bit like another game in the series. Also Tear Ring Saga, which as far as I can tell, is Fire Emblem. On drugs. And doesn't have a translation patch. So that should be fun.

It may not look it, but this prison escape level is murderously difficult. Just like a lot of the game, actually.

But what I'm really here to talk to you about is Thracia 776, the 5th game in the series and the last one for the SNES, released in 1999 (!), making it one of the last games released for the system as a whole. And, like the last one, it only came out in Japan and there are roughly 3 people on these forums who have played it not counting myself. It's probably the first "Modern" Fire Emblem in the way that it's set up, including things like the rescue mechanic, side chapters and fog of war. It also has some stuff that has yet to make it elsewhere. You can capture enemy units and take their stuff, which is how you will obtain most of the useful weapons and items. Your units also have a "Fatigue" stat, which increases as your units fight and junk and if it exceeds their HP you can't deploy them in the next map. Thracia 776 is also balls hard. Back when I still inhabited the dark, dark recess of horrible awful people known as the Fire Emblem Community, it was considered the hardest. While that throne has since been taken by the absurd, clearly not playtested, maximum difficulties of the last 3 titles (the aptly titled "Lunatic" difficulty in both Shin Monshou no Nazo and Awakening has enemies with absurdly high stats rushing you out of the gate, not even counting Lunatic Reverse and Lunatic +) that does not mean that it still isn't the hardest game of the series on default difficulty.

Sety is in this game, and is somehow even more broken than he is in Seisen no Keifu. Maybe because all non-HP stats cap at 20 and Holsety still gives +20 speed?

The aforementioned fatigue and capture systems are part of it, but a lot is just sheer evil level design. Whereas something like say... Act 1 of Radiant Dawn is hard because all of your units have the general durability of a piece of wet toilet paper, Thracia is hard because there are maps with ballistas, and ballistas are actually dangerous and capable of murdering your non-flying units. And then there's that one level where the boss has 10 leadership stars, which stack with the OTHER boss' leadership stars and gives all of your enemies like +45 to hit and avoid or something crazy like that. If I didn't just warp Asvel over to the boss and critted his face in with the Grafcalibur spell, it would've been most difficult indeed. Because that's kinda the secret about this game. You can cheese a lot of the difficulty out with proper staff management. While mounted units are the kings of Seisen no Keifu, Staff users are undoubtedly the kings of this one. That's partially because mounted units have to dismount indoors, where they can only use swords, but mostly because this game's repair staff has 7 uses, which can be expended on say... that warp staff you get in chapter 9. Or Tina's thief staff that can steal ANY ITEM from the enemy as long as her magic is higher than theirs. While I sadly used most of my repair uses on stuff like Leaf's Light Sword or Asvel's aforementioned Grafcalibur, it's easy to see how you could warpskip your way to victory if you wanted to be lame. Of course, you don't have any of those in Chapter 4, 4x and 5, and those are probably the hardest parts of the game anyways.

And then he's all like HOLSETY. And then they die. You can totally not recruit him, but why would you?

That being said, this game is also very good. You know how I said that Seisen no Keifu is good? This is similarly great. The difficulty is manageable by simple matter of a lot of your units being powerful enough to handle what is being thrown at them (Othin, with his automatic criticals on counterattack and personal killer hand-axe, is of special note). The story, being a midquel that takes place slightly before and during the second half of Seisen no Keifu, mostly deals with just fleshing out what Leaf was doing while Celice was steamrolling the countryside with his merry band of steamrollers. Leaf himself is pretty boring for a Fire Emblem lord, but there's still enough good dialogue from his tactician and the side characters to make the translation worth using. Sadly the translation in question doesn't have the menus entirely done (which sucks) and occasionally throws in some really stupid jokes that are clearly not part of the original script ("IN AMERICA" is used and is nearly as cringe worthy as one would expect). Once again, my recommendation comes down to: If you like these games and don't mind the dubious legality of emulators-n-junk, then seek it out. Just make sure to check Serenes Forest to get some of the secret stuff, which is well worth getting.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some other things to do. Which ones? Not sure.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I am looking forward to eventually playing a Fire Emblem game. The timing's just never really worked out for me on them, though I've got no excuse for not having played Radiant Dawn. Your description of this one makes me eager to try one out, though the supremely hard difficulty doesn't sound all that appealing. I know we've talked about it before, but I'm not feeling great and I can't remember. Are they coming out with one here in the States on the 3DS?

And Steam sales... I've been surprisingly good. I bought Toy Soldiers today on a whim, but at $2.50, I'm not entirely displeased with myself about it. At that price, even if it entertains me for an hour, it's worth it. That and Warlock have been my only purchases so far.

Moderator Online
Posted by coakroach

Wow... and I thought the GBA Fire Emblem games were kinda crazy

Posted by BisonHero

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: In terms of Fire Emblem games that are available in English, Path of Radiance is probably a good place to start, unless you want to track down the even older GBA games. Path of Radiance has a decent story and characters, and is quite easy to get into for newcomers.

Radiant Dawn is kind of an asshole, in that it has tons of junk characters, you get a mostly different set of characters in each act, on top of the fact that it is constantly giving you characters, then stealing them away, then giving them back to you; conversely, Path of Radiance lets you pretty much pick your main team and expand it and use that team throughout the game.

Also, Radiant Dawn has a bazillion returning characters from Path of Radiance who aren't introduced very extensively, so Path of Radiance is probably a better place to start and not be lost. Fun game: see if you can notice the handful of plot threads and that are left WILDLY DANGLING IN THE WIND at the end of Path of Radiance that are very obviously going to come up in Radiant Dawn.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@BisonHero: Right on. Thanks for the advice!

Moderator Online
Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: I second what @BisonHero: said. While the first to come to the west (just called Fire Emblem) is a great intro to the series, Path of Radiance is probably a better one because it doesn't bludgeon you over the head with an unfortunate lengthy tutorial sequence and probably has the best developed story. Radiant Dawn, much like Thracia 776, pretty much assumes you played the previous game as far as plot is concerned, not to mention that the first act is a total bastard in terms of difficulty. Glass Cannons are good and all, but not when you have an army full of them and very little else.

Posted by Video_Game_King

As I can't remember much about Thracia 776 (I think Finn gave Leaf some shit about his friend dying, and then Alvis had a bastard son you could recruit or something), I'll just comment on the one Fire Emblem game I remember of recent memory: Tear Ring Saga. That thing about the game being difficult because mounted units get gimped indoors, but you end up warp-spamming things anyway? That pretty much describes the end-game for Tear Ring Saga, right down to Leaf Runan being kinda bland, even alongside his tactician guy Eugen.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Video_Game_King said:

As I can't remember much about Thracia 776 (I think Finn gave Leaf some shit about his friend dying, and then Alvis had a bastard son you could recruit or something), I'll just comment on the one Fire Emblem game I remember of recent memory: Tear Ring Saga. That thing about the game being difficult because mounted units get gimped indoors, but you end up warp-spamming things anyway? That pretty much describes the end-game for Tear Ring Saga, right down to Leaf Runan being kinda bland, even alongside his tactician guy Eugen.

Well then it is clearly up my alley. As if it wasn't already. I figure if I can memorize the menus then I'm all good.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@ArbitraryWater:

The menus aren't that hard to figure out. The hard part is finding the right bits of conversation in the translations files, because they do not always match up.

Posted by Hunter5024

Well this looks like an interesting one. I was going to play it for my blog eventually too, because I can't be original. In terms of the series where would this rank for you?

Posted by BoG

Why didn't I know about a warlock version of Civilization sooner? If it's combat based, I will never win, but I would have bought it dirt cheap.

I've been intersted in Thracia for a while. I got into the series with Sacred Stones years ago, and last year started playing Seisen No Keifu, which is great, though the English translation I used was incomplete. I want to try either Thracia or Fire Emblem for the GBA next, if I can find it. I would attempt to play the Ike games, but the lack of cool battle sprites makes them awful games in my opinion.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Hunter5024: It's really high up there. I hesitate to call it my #1, but only because I'm really bad at listing things in any particular order. It's not just the difficulty, it's also the part where things that aren't especially overpowered in other games be broken in this one. It's particularly fun to have a thief with high build steal weapons straight from the enemy and leave them totally defenseless. Of course, there's also a lot of really messed up stuff in there, the most infamous being Xavier's recruitment, which is both absurdly difficult and luck-based (Which of course means I got him. He's not even very good). Even worse if you're trying to get the member card in the same chapter. Just... look it up. Chapter 18.

Posted by Hunter5024

@ArbitraryWater: Man that sounds awesome. I'm looking forward to this one, though I feel I need to get through 4 before I jump into it.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@ArbitraryWater said:

the most infamous being Xavier's recruitment, which is both absurdly difficult and luck-based (Which of course means I got him. He's not even very good). Even worse if you're trying to get the member card in the same chapter.

I remember that; I remember the hell out of that. Not because I successfully did it; I only went for Xavier. I remember it because there was a thread stickied to the top of a Fire Emblem forum saying "here's how you do it". That's how hard it was to do this.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@BoG: Seisen no Keifu is fantastic, as my previous blog will tell you (you were in Europe, right?). The translation I used was complete except for the ending, which is apparently bugged or something. You should really... check it out. As for Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn, the best path is to turn off battle animations entirely. While Radiant Dawn's models and animations are at least somewhat action-y, the same cannot be said for PoR, which has some great 2D portraits but some decidedly horrible character models.

Posted by BoG

@ArbitraryWater: I think we were playing the same version of Seisen no Keifu, then. I really need to start playing through that one again. I did miss your blog on it, I'm going to go back and read it though, I'm interested.

Funny story, though: I didn't know that battle animations could be turned off until I had already sold PoR. I think I would have enjoyed the game had I known this information before.