Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Aug 162019

About three weeks ago, I asked for opinions on whether I should play Fire Emblem: Three Houses and mentioned that I’d tried Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.

My main takeaway after that post was that since I already had Sacred Stones (through the 3DS Ambassador Program), I might as well give it a longer try before buying a new Fire Emblem game.

So I did.

Yesterday, I finished Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones and found it to be an enjoyable, if sometimes harrowing, experience.

Two misconceptions I had about the series stood out to me right away. First, there was a lot more story than I expected. Somehow I thought Sacred Stones would be mainly battles with some brief scenes to set them up, and while that was the game’s structure, those scenes between battles were longer and more numerous than I thought they’d be.

Second, I had the impression Fire Emblem was fairly realistic, maybe with fantasy trappings like mages but focused on more grounded, political conflicts. Sacred Stones threw that out the window by giving me demons and monsters alongside human enemies.

So to put these two things together, while the story of Sacred Stones never blew me away, it felt much more like my sort of thing than I thought it would be. And although I was terrible at getting support conversations, I did enjoy the character interactions I got to see.

I haven’t played a lot of strategy RPGs, so I had some trouble with it, but I got better as I went on. Early on, I thought I might accept deaths… but instead I ended up restarting the battle if I lost any characters.

This made some battles pretty tedious. Although I enjoyed it overall, there were times when I’d be near the end of a battle only to have someone die and realize I needed to start the entire battle over from the beginning, and I’d be tired of trying the same battle after a few attempts. I know it’s my own fault since I decided I needed to save every unit, but I couldn’t help wishing for a way to save partway through the battle or even an “undo” button.

Still, the tension this introduced to combat made the relief so much sweeter whenever a character narrowly escaped death.

Partway through the game, the story splits into two different routes. I only played one of them, but maybe someday I’ll return and play the second. For now, I’m happy I played Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones and took this first step into the Fire Emblem series.

Have you played Sacred Stones? If you aren’t a 3DS Ambassador and don’t want to track down the original GBA release, it’s also available from the Wii U eShop. Let me know your thoughts on Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones in the comments!

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  4 Responses to “My Introduction to Fire Emblem Through Sacred Stones”

  1. Sounds like playing Sacred Stones, as I anticipated, is a major factor in your Three Houses decision.

    Now, I’ll comment this about your two misconceptions, which I guess are related:

    1. Some games are much better about between-battle story exposition than others. Awakening is bad at this. For example, first minute and a half of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2sA0gGcpBA
    Or this https://youtu.be/TgPsuMIATr0?t=564
    It’s still more than, say, Advance Wars.

    2. The games do tend to have political conflicts still. They tend to evolve into great fantastical stuff. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn are matters of political/theological intrigue for pretty much all of it, though it gets deeper into the theology…

    You’ll be happy to know that Three Houses does have an undo option and the option to not have permadeath, though those options undermine that it’s supposed to be a strategy RPG.

    • I played a small amount of Advance Wars, but it didn’t hold my interest.

      I don’t necessarily object to strategy, just to the crushing disappointment of losing, say, an hour’s worth of progress because of a mistake.

      (I know, I could just let people die.)

      I read that Radiant Dawn lets you save during battles, although Path of Radiance doesn’t.

      • Path of Radiance has “suspend game” (quicksaves that go away when you restart the game). Radiant Dawn has one perma-restart point slot that is overwritten if you make another one in the same chapter. You have to start from either that point or restart the whole chapter.

        I think it makes sense for a strategy game to force the player to avoid mistakes.

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