Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones (2004/2005)

[ファイアーエムブレム 聖魔の光石]

Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones (2004/2005)

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Director: Sachiko Wada, Taiki Ubukata, Kentaro Nishimura
Platform: Game Boy Advance

Two royal siblings are set against their childhood friend when their two nations go to war. While the prince takes the fight to the enemy, his sister seeks aid from other countries to bring the war to an end.

The core gameplay is unchanged, but a key change is the inclusion of a world map, random encounters and challenge towers you can freely visit. The opportunity for grinding contributes to this being the easiest entry in the franchise. For players who've come to expect punishing difficulty, this will be a bit of a disappointment, but if you're more interested in the characters and the story and just want a modest challenge to keep you going, then this may be a bit of a breath of fresh air. More so that the Eliwood and Hector campaigns of FE7, here you have a branching path for six chapters following one sibling or the other that are unique to them and encourage replay.

The core of the story of FE8 is the tragic friendship between Ephraim, Eirik and Lyon, which I thought was fairly well done. The larger plot is fairly standard stuff, but it's the character interactions that really held me. While I can't say this bunch is my favorite crew in the franchise, I liked them all the same and there are some interesting sub-plots and relations going on.

There haven't been any significant improvements over the previous two entries as far as graphics is concerned, but I'm rather pleased with the way things look, so it's no knock against it. Especially given how quickly each game succeeded the other, it's little surprise that we're not seeing any major leaps.

The music maintains the standard you'd come to expect from the series and the sound effects do what they're supposed to do.

While this is the easiest Fire Emblem game, it's still a fun ride and well worth it. The two scenarios add to replay value and there is certainly plenty of additional challenge for those who want to take it.

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