End Boss Month #4: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

King Ashnard of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is not known for his subtlety. He leads his army from Daein into the bordering nation of Crimea while riding a snarling black dragon, decked out in black armor with his soldiers and minions all dressed in similar fashion. The education system of his nation’s schools asks the children to embrace racism first and foremost. His goal is to spread war across the continent and unleash a dark god because hell, why not? Even when he smiles, his face is a portrait of leering villainy.

"Yeah, replace the h in my name with an s. I fucking dare you."

Seriously, the only thing he lacks is a Snidely Whiplash mustache that he can twirl while setting an orphanage on fire. It’s good, then, that he remains in the background for most of the game while a more nuanced (or at least more personality-diverse) cast takes center stage and he only shows up on occasion to radiate malevolence before returning to the background.

But to be fair to the guy, there is a method to his madness. He comes from the school that demands power over all else. Class and social standing don’t mean a thing to him. For Ashnard, survival of the fittest is the philosophy to live by. And he takes that mantra seriously, as he killed a rather lengthy list of relatives ahead of him in line for the throne so that he could take power himself. So yeah, Ashnard is a mass-murdering, war-mongering psychotic jerk, but at least he’s consistent.

As the game’s final boss, he doesn’t fight alone. Before you can even touch him, you have to fight through a pretty serious wave of soldiers, and there aren’t too many characters in your crew that can do significant damage to him. Though, he can do significant damage to everyone else. Pick up on those healing staves, quaff a vulnerary, and get ready to take a punch.

When it comes right down to it, Ashnard isn’t too difficult on his own, so long as you’re ready for him and you’re not playing on Hard Mode. In Easy and Normal, he’ll just chill out on his dragon mount, waiting for some dumb schmuck with more hit points than sense to come waltzing into his attack range. Hard Mode? Oh, he’ll sit around for awhile, but given enough turns, he’ll start flying around and become an aerial death machine. And when you do drop him, he’ll use the power of the Fire Emblem to restore his hit points and become even more powerful.

Man, villains and their ancient artifacts of pure evil. When will they ever learn?

It takes a special kind of bad guy to dedicate seemingly his entire life to being a colossal dick. Ashnard is that special kind and then some. When it comes to villainy, he goes all in. And he always bets on black.

13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by Hailinel

King Ashnard of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is not known for his subtlety. He leads his army from Daein into the bordering nation of Crimea while riding a snarling black dragon, decked out in black armor with his soldiers and minions all dressed in similar fashion. The education system of his nation’s schools asks the children to embrace racism first and foremost. His goal is to spread war across the continent and unleash a dark god because hell, why not? Even when he smiles, his face is a portrait of leering villainy.

"Yeah, replace the h in my name with an s. I fucking dare you."

Seriously, the only thing he lacks is a Snidely Whiplash mustache that he can twirl while setting an orphanage on fire. It’s good, then, that he remains in the background for most of the game while a more nuanced (or at least more personality-diverse) cast takes center stage and he only shows up on occasion to radiate malevolence before returning to the background.

But to be fair to the guy, there is a method to his madness. He comes from the school that demands power over all else. Class and social standing don’t mean a thing to him. For Ashnard, survival of the fittest is the philosophy to live by. And he takes that mantra seriously, as he killed a rather lengthy list of relatives ahead of him in line for the throne so that he could take power himself. So yeah, Ashnard is a mass-murdering, war-mongering psychotic jerk, but at least he’s consistent.

As the game’s final boss, he doesn’t fight alone. Before you can even touch him, you have to fight through a pretty serious wave of soldiers, and there aren’t too many characters in your crew that can do significant damage to him. Though, he can do significant damage to everyone else. Pick up on those healing staves, quaff a vulnerary, and get ready to take a punch.

When it comes right down to it, Ashnard isn’t too difficult on his own, so long as you’re ready for him and you’re not playing on Hard Mode. In Easy and Normal, he’ll just chill out on his dragon mount, waiting for some dumb schmuck with more hit points than sense to come waltzing into his attack range. Hard Mode? Oh, he’ll sit around for awhile, but given enough turns, he’ll start flying around and become an aerial death machine. And when you do drop him, he’ll use the power of the Fire Emblem to restore his hit points and become even more powerful.

Man, villains and their ancient artifacts of pure evil. When will they ever learn?

It takes a special kind of bad guy to dedicate seemingly his entire life to being a colossal dick. Ashnard is that special kind and then some. When it comes to villainy, he goes all in. And he always bets on black.

Posted by NegativeCero

Really enjoy these so far. Mostly because they have been games I've never played or never beat. Did you actually finish each of these games before writing each of these? That seems like a lot of work. Anyway, keep it up. .

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Honestly, when it comes to Final Bosses in Fire Emblem games, most of them aren't much trouble simply because they're immobile and you can abuse them thusly. Medeus in Shadow Dragon is kind of a dick, but that's only because the only characters capable of hurting him any real amount are Marth (who isn't really all that great in SD) and Tiki. Otherwise, we have... let's see. Julius is obviously a pain if you didn't level Julia at all, but I've seen videos of people defeating him without using her. Formortiis and Idoun are hilarious jokes in games where all the legendary weapons do double damage to them. Ashera is annoying, but I wouldn't necessarily call her hard when you have all those Laguz royals beating on her. The Fire Dragon was hard when I was 11. Beld is widely considered to be one of the easiest things about Thracia 776.

And then we get to this guy. Needless to say, when he started moving on my hard mode playthrough I pretty much crapped my pants. I then proceeded to (metaphorically) crap my pants again when he revived himself.

Edited by Video_Game_King

@ArbitraryWater said:

Julius is obviously a pain if you didn't level Julia at all, but I've seen videos of people defeating him without using her.

People can do crazy things with Fire Emblem 4. I think I've seen videos of people beating him with Ishtar. Yes, she is an enemy unit, and no, that didn't stop them one damn bit. In fact, here it is, in all its insane glory.

Posted by Hailinel

@NegativeCero said:

Really enjoy these so far. Mostly because they have been games I've never played or never beat. Did you actually finish each of these games before writing each of these? That seems like a lot of work. Anyway, keep it up. .

No, I haven't finished all of the games that I intend to cover, though I have at least played most of them and tried my damnedest to get to the end. There are one or two I intend to cover that come from games I've never played, but I find special for their own reasons and chose to highlight because of that.

@ArbitraryWater said:

Honestly, when it comes to Final Bosses in Fire Emblem games, most of them aren't much trouble simply because they're immobile and you can abuse them thusly. Medeus in Shadow Dragon is kind of a dick, but that's only because the only characters capable of hurting him any real amount are Marth (who isn't really all that great in SD) and Tiki. Otherwise, we have... let's see. Julius is obviously a pain if you didn't level Julia at all, but I've seen videos of people defeating him without using her. Formortiis and Idoun are hilarious jokes in games where all the legendary weapons do double damage to them. Ashera is annoying, but I wouldn't necessarily call her hard when you have all those Laguz royals beating on her. The Fire Dragon was hard when I was 11. Beld is widely considered to be one of the easiest things about Thracia 776.

And then we get to this guy. Needless to say, when he started moving on my hard mode playthrough I pretty much crapped my pants. I then proceeded to (metaphorically) crap my pants again when he revived himself.

Yeah. Fire Emblem bosses are, in general, not too much trouble because they like to stay in one place. Ashera gave me trouble, though I beat her in my first go despite her smiting a good number of my force from a distance. But Ashnard on Hard Mode? Oh GOD.

Posted by pyromagnestir

@ArbitraryWater said:

Honestly, when it comes to Final Bosses in Fire Emblem games, most of them aren't much trouble simply because they're immobile and you can abuse them thusly. Medeus in Shadow Dragon is kind of a dick, but that's only because the only characters capable of hurting him any real amount are Marth (who isn't really all that great in SD) and Tiki. Otherwise, we have... let's see. Julius is obviously a pain if you didn't level Julia at all, but I've seen videos of people defeating him without using her. Formortiis and Idoun are hilarious jokes in games where all the legendary weapons do double damage to them. Ashera is annoying, but I wouldn't necessarily call her hard when you have all those Laguz royals beating on her. The Fire Dragon was hard when I was 11. Beld is widely considered to be one of the easiest things about Thracia 776.

And then we get to this guy. Needless to say, when he started moving on my hard mode playthrough I pretty much crapped my pants. I then proceeded to (metaphorically) crap my pants again when he revived himself.

Yeah. I did not expect it at all when he started moving. I couldn't kill the motherfucker at first because he kept flying all over the damn map trying to kill my weaker guys.

Ashera was tough for me too, though, because I didn't bring any laguz royals. Even on normal, with all my characters maxed and the best weapons, I only had like 3 characters in my party that could do her any real damage.

Posted by Hailinel

@pyromagnestir said:

@ArbitraryWater said:

Honestly, when it comes to Final Bosses in Fire Emblem games, most of them aren't much trouble simply because they're immobile and you can abuse them thusly. Medeus in Shadow Dragon is kind of a dick, but that's only because the only characters capable of hurting him any real amount are Marth (who isn't really all that great in SD) and Tiki. Otherwise, we have... let's see. Julius is obviously a pain if you didn't level Julia at all, but I've seen videos of people defeating him without using her. Formortiis and Idoun are hilarious jokes in games where all the legendary weapons do double damage to them. Ashera is annoying, but I wouldn't necessarily call her hard when you have all those Laguz royals beating on her. The Fire Dragon was hard when I was 11. Beld is widely considered to be one of the easiest things about Thracia 776.

And then we get to this guy. Needless to say, when he started moving on my hard mode playthrough I pretty much crapped my pants. I then proceeded to (metaphorically) crap my pants again when he revived himself.

Yeah. I did not expect it at all when he started moving. I couldn't kill the motherfucker at first because he kept flying all over the damn map trying to kill my weaker guys.

Ashera was tough for me too, though, because I didn't bring any laguz royals. Even on normal, with all my characters maxed and the best weapons, I only had like 3 characters in my party that could do her any real damage.

I think that really, the biggest handicap going in is not knowing what to expect once you set foot inside the tower. Before you go in, you have to make some tough choices about who to bring with you and what weapons and items to bring. Make poor choices, and all that might await is a world of hurt. My first time through, I tried to get through the entire game without losing anyone, but I got myself into a situation where there was absolutely no way I could beat Lehran without at least one character dying in the process. And then Ashera started cherry-picking my dudes while I was trying to get rid of that barrier that surrounded her. By that point, I was just intent on beating her, come hell or high water.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

@Video_Game_King:Oh geez. I should really finish me some Seisen no Keifu. I'm on chapter 8, so it's not like I'm that far away from completion. Same goes for Thracia, which continues to be balls hard in the way that that game is balls hard, i.e. throwing hella dudes at you and having ballistas actually be a threat. (in that case, I think I'm on chapter...14? That sounds right.) Oh well. Suikoden first. Then other things. (And yeah, at this point I'll probably play the NES games and Tear Ring Saga too for all the insanity that allows for)

@pyromagnestir: That's pretty tough. Considering that the final chapter pretty much invalidates a good 80% of your army by forcing you to use crap units like Ena and Sothe and Kurth and then throwing a bunch of godlike units in your army for the lulz (also Renning, who is only slightly less useless than Tormod when he rejoins), I imagine that those last 5 chapters would actually be something of a challenge in that case.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@ArbitraryWater:

Chapter 14? Dear Christ, man. That's where I gave up playing it without the translation patch. I came back later with a translation, but it was only marginally easier. And on that other stuff: play Fire Emblem Gaiden and Tear Ring Saga. Fire Emblem Gaiden has a translation (and a bug fix for that very translation, I think) and Tear Ring Saga has a good enough series of .txts that serve as a translation. Yea, Fire Emblem 1 has a translation, too, but it lacks a save system, so good luck with that shit.

Posted by BisonHero

@ArbitraryWater: I'd like to take this moment to bring up:

Seriously, why does Radiant Dawn insist on giving you such a stupid amount of laguz royals/max level/absurdly overleveled characters? It's like they're trying to punish first-time players who don't realize how finite XP is in the game. It just seems like an asshole move.

Edited by pyromagnestir

@Hailinel: My first time, I didn't want to use the nobles because I felt like all the dudes I'd built up were so powerful, and all had there supports up and all that, that I felt using the laguz was unnecessary and kind of cheating. Little did I know that all of a sudden, characters who had been powerhouses throughout the rest of the game would become useless in the blink of an eye. It was those last three maps where it all went to shit.

If not for Shinon being the most badass beorc in the game once he got that double bow I would've had to give up. I only would've had to go back to pick my characters again, swapping out a couple for the royals, but still. I really didn't want to do that.

Don't think I lost anybody in them though. I just couldn't kill anything. I think I actually struggled the most on the dragon map. Until I gave Shinon a very specific set of skills I just couldn't hurt that damn boss. At least not hurt him and live to tell the tale. After that I realized, OK Shinon, Ike, and maybe Nolan are going to have to do the brunt of the work, everybody else just needs to not die, and keep my heron alive.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

@BisonHero said:

@ArbitraryWater: I'd like to take this moment to bring up:

Seriously, why does Radiant Dawn insist on giving you such a stupid amount of laguz royals/max level/absurdly overleveled characters? It's like they're trying to punish first-time players who don't realize how finite XP is in the game. It just seems like an asshole move.

The same reason why the first act of the game involves you commanding the Wet Tissue Brigade, where anyone who can take more than two hits is pretty much essential, i.e. The game is clearly a Fire Emblem game made for people who have already played a Fire Emblem game (Specifically, Path of Radiance. Because seriously. The plot would make like zero sense without any of the context granted by the previous game, not that I think super highly of Radiant Dawn's plot regardless), much like aforementioned Thracia 776.

In general, the massive difficulty swing between Act 1 and Act 3 is probably what irks me about Radiant Dawn so much and is one of the reasons why it's probably one of my less favored games in the series. Sacred Stones is still the Fire Emblem game for people who aren't good at Fire Emblem, but at least it has some unique features stolen borrowed from Fire Emblem Gaiden, many of which have also made their way into the newest title, Awakening. Oh, and while I'm here, if Nintendo doesn't announce that game for US release (when it is already confirmed for EU release) I will... write an angry rant on the internet. About how Nintendo is actively trying to make me hate them.

Posted by BisonHero

@pyromagnestir said:

@Hailinel: My first time, I didn't want to use the nobles because I felt like all the dudes I'd built up were so powerful, and all had there supports up and all that, that I felt using the laguz was unnecessary and kind of cheating. Little did I know that all of a sudden, characters who had been powerhouses throughout the rest of the game would become useless in the blink of an eye. It was those last three maps where it all went to shit.

That's sort of my overall problem with Radiant Dawn, compared to Path of Radiance. In PoR, pretty much any character is viable at the end of the game, as long as you commit to them and get some decent supports.

In Radiant Dawn, well over half of the roster is basically terrible because they heavily restrict what characters you have access to by having people join and leave you constantly, and by forcing you to deploy certain story-related characters all the time. And even with the better characters, like you said, a lot of them just don't cut it in the final levels, even if you use them pretty much all game, because their stats just aren't godlike enough. It just feels like it pigeonholes you, and there are certain obviously crazy powerful characters that you're almost forced to use.

Posted by takashichea

I haven't got a chance to try out Ashnard in hard mode yet. I only completed normal mode, so I can do the data transfer to Radiant Dawn. I have been replaying normal mode to form different relationships out of curiosity and for the wiki pages. One of things I don't like about Path of Radiance is the skills. Some of them are not worth it. Plus, you cannot recycle skills and swap them to your favorite characters.

Great blog, Hailinel!