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GameBoy Advance












E (Everyone)



Q4 2003



- Top notch graphics and sound
- Inventive gameplay that mixes RTS and RPG elements
- Uncomplicated menus and controls (which is a god thing for an RPG)
- Link capabilities
- Extremely long game in a small cartridge



- Losing a hero ends your game (more frustrating than bad)
- Conversations are sometimes very long and weary



Review: Iridion II (GBA)

Review: The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past (GBA)



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Fire Emblem

Score: 9.1 / 10


fire emblem        fire emblem


The GameBoy Advance has seen its share of RPGs and Strategy, with some titles blending both ideas. It started with Advance Wars, one of the first games released for the GBA, which introduced RTS style gaming on the pint-sized system. The success of the game inspired other great RTS/Strategy games such as Final Fantasy: Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Advance Wars 2. Although all of these games are unique in their own way, we must tip our hats to Nintendo for taking the extra step and creating a game that’s more than just Advance Wars with swords.

Fire Emblem has been regarded as a rip-off of Advance Wars. With the naked eye, this is true, for it sports an almost identical presentation, with the same camera view and controls. This is, however, a common mistake which gamers will quickly




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notice after only playing the game for five minutes. Like Advance Wars the player takes control (from a birds-eye perspective) of a group of soldiers. When engaged in battle, the camera changes to a close up of the action and shows how much damage is dealt and taken. Unlike Advance Wars, Fire Emblem introduces RPG elements that make the gameplay a lot more interesting and difficult.

The story behind Fire


Emblem is what powers you through the 40 hours of gameplay. If it wasn’t for the well-crafted and engaging dialogue, the 40 hours would feel much longer. The intro is told before entering the Start menu, and outlines the past history of Elibe (a continent in a fictitious world). A peace existed between dragons and man, until mankind committed a brutal attack, slaughtering the dragons. In a humbling defeat, the dragons vanished from Elibe, and man built and spread dominion across Elibe.

After the intro, the real journey begins. From the character screen, you can select between Eliwood (a young prince), Hector (a Lord with a mighty axe), and Lyn (a young girl with ambitions of becoming a swordmaster). Each title character possesses special abilities that come in handy depending on your style of play. Hector is more rugged and has more strength, whereas Eliwood is quick. Lyn is a preliminary character that runs through the tutorial with you, but not to worry, you’ll be able to use all three heroes simultaneously further into the game.

Since we’re on the topic of heroes, its best to understand their importance and vulnerability on the field of battle. Sure they posses great strength and powerful weapons, but make sure you keep both eyes on their health. One of the few frustrating elements in Fire Emblem’s gameplay is losing a hero. If any one of your, sometimes many, heroes falls, the game is over regardless of any other characters you may have still alive. This aspect makes planning your strategy and game plan very important, for one wrong move will have you restarting the entire battle.

There isn’t too much to expect in terms of graphics on the GBA, but it helps to remember that this tiny little contraption once came out under another platform, SNES (or Super Nintendo Entertainment System). This title brought back many great memories from the SNES due to its great level of detail and fluid animation. Characters are represented with minute details, with every portion rich in detail. Characters jump into the sky lunging down with their weapon over the enemies head, arrows dart passed the screen with the enemy dodging out of the way – all are done with precision.


fire emblem        fire emblem


When engaged in combat, one character attacks while the other defends (if able to do so in time). The level of your character and their weapon, determines how much damage is dealt and how many times you get to attack during your turn. Since many weapons can be acquired during your journey, picking the right weapon for the right enemy is vital. Some will cause more damage while others will give you more attacks.

Fire Emblem races through over a dozen of locales filled with stores and dozens of locations that will give you certain rewards. For example, visiting a nearby house on a map will engage a conversation between your character and the resident. Sometimes all you get is more light on the story, but other times you get new weapons or items that can’t be found elsewhere. Stores and armories, like houses, can be visited to find weapons and items. However in these establishments you must pay for the items you desire. Understandingly, the more expensive items are also the better items.

Another part of GBA gaming that has been overlooked is sound. The mono speaker built into the system is filled with more than “beeps” and “bops.” The music and sound effects of Fire Emblem might be the best found on this console, right next to the stellar Golden Sun. the medieval and exotic tunes are reminiscent of all past RPG games, dating back to Chrono Trigger. To truly experience the music the way it was meant to be heard is to pick up the headphone adapter, which not only keeps your friends from shouting down your back, but also enables stereo sound. For those who think there is no difference between mono and stereo should really buy a headphone adapter – the difference is quite incredible.

After beating the game once (40+ hours), new options open up including a hard mode (I can’t imagine myself getting through that!) as well as link capabilities, a sound room (where you can listen to all of your favorite tunes), and much more.

If you’ve ran through Golden Sun, Advance Wars, and the countless Super Mario games, do yourself a big favor and buy this game. It is a first of its kind on the GBA, but certainly not the last.

Simply put, Advance Wars + Golden Sun + anabolic steroids = Fire Emblem.

- Eric Lahiji
(January 24, 2004)


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