By ArbitraryWater 16 Comments
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
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.
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.
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.
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.