WhamBamSam video game review: Fire Emblem 5 - Thracia 776

Because my last review from just over a day ago went over oh so well, and because I'm a tad bored, I've decided to try my hand with a video game review. Today's topic is Fire Emblem 5 - Thracia 776.

Fire Emblem is a series of turn-based strategy games currently in the process of producing its 12th installment. There is a user group of the series' fans here on the Escapist, of which I am a member, but not an active one. The first 6 games of the series were only released in Japan, but Fire Emblem 7 (FE7) onward have been released in North America and Europe. Generally speaking, it's rare for more than two Fire Emblem games to take place in the same universe. Much like the Final Fantasy series the connection between the games is mostly to due with gameplay. There are also certain recurring motifs, listed here. FE5's story takes place in the same time frame as chapters 6-8 of FE4 - Genealogy of the Holy War, but playing FE4 beforehand isn't really necessary to understanding the plot. Both games were released on the Super Famicom. I played FE5 on the SNES9x emulator, and used a translation patch that wasn't very good. None of the patches go much further than the 2/3 point before descending into gibberish, so I'd reccomend simply finding a patch that translates character names/weapon names/commands/statistics to an understandable point and use a translation guide like this one.

image

FE5 was released in 1999, so graphically speaking it's a bit dated, and the story, which follows Leaf, the exiled prince of Lenster on a campaign to liberate his homeland from the oppressive, genocidal Lopt Empire is rather formulaic, but it makes up for it with presentation. Games like Gears of War always strike me as disingenuous in their high-tech, high-budget attempts at grit - much like a Shaquira video that I saw a clip of recently wherein she was covered in something that looked very much like oil, in a overtly cynical corporate attempt at marketing her as a 'dirty girl' for more efficient prostitution to the masses. FE5 works with its older-gen graphics, even turning their slight ugliness to its advantage, to produce a much more believable war-torn hellscape for you to battle your way across. You can almost smell the smoke and carrion.
imageimage
Ahh refreshing

Additionally, the gameplay gives off the genuine feeling of being a small liberation army up against insurmountable odds. It does this by absolutely kicking the piss out of you. As is standard fare for Fire Emblem games, a character defeated in battle is lost forever, which means resetting to the beginning of the level to get them back. This is going to happen a lot. There is to be no pretense otherwise; FE5 is hard. There exists a special method by which one can unlock 'Elite mode' and so acquire double exp from everything, but the degree of difficulty remains high, and likely insurmountable for any but the most hardcore fans of the genre. Your problems are exacerbated by the fatigue system. Every time a unit performs an action they get a fatigue point. If a unit's fatigue points exceed their HP at the beginning of a chapter, they must either sit that chapter out or use a rare stamina drink, either of which will reset their fatigue to zero.

image
In case you were wondering, the red guys are the enemies.

There are a wide variety of unit classes, each with their own capabilities. Individual units have their own bases and growth rates for their various statistics as well, and the growth rates can be augmented through by having units hold various scrolls in their inventory. While most FE games have different stat caps for the various classes, all units in FE5 cap every stat at 20 apart from HP, which caps at 80.

Battle is, as stated, turn based strategy. Units attack twice in a given round of combat if their attack speed exceeds their adversary's by four or more. Attack speed is equal to a unit's speed stat minus a weight penalty incurred if the weight of the weapon being used is greater than the unit's build stat. Magic tomes always confer a full weight penalty. Certain weapons are stronger against other types of weapons. Physical weapons use what is known as the weapon triangle where Swords>Axes>Lances>Swords. Nature magic operates similarly, with Wind>Thunder>Fire>Wind, but Dark and Light magic have an advantage over all three. Either way it doesn't matter all that much, as these advantages generally benefit the player, and as such FE5 subdues them as best it can. An advantage or disadvantage only causes a 5% increase or decrease in hit rate respectively. Hit rates to not rise above 99% or fall below 1%. Varying weapons have different stats (hit, power, weight, range, etc.) and properties - for instance 'Brave' weapons (or 'Hero' weapons depending on the translation) launch two attacks consecutively where other weapons would only deliver one. A large number of weapons (moreso than in any other FE title) are unique to specific characters. Various combat skills are available as well, sometimes teachable through special items, other times coming pre-set to a certain character. One awesome feature unique to FE5 within the series is capturing. When attempting to capture an armed enemy (unarmed targets are captured automatically) a character is less effective than when attacking normally, and will remain so as long as they carry the enemy about. However capturing enemies occasionally affords the opportunity to recruit them, and more often the opportunity to take their shit. Similar to capturing is rescuing, which fans of the North American/European releases should be familiar with. Rescuing allows units to pick up allies thus removing them from the fray, but as with captured enemies, carrying a body around makes a soldier somewhat less useful. Unmounted units must have a higher bld stat than the unit they capture or rescue, but mounted units have no such limitation. Mounted units can also use the remainder of their movement points after performing an action, but they cannot go indoors in FE5 without dismounting. Dismounting generally forces units to use weapons with which they are less proficient and reduces their stats, so mounted units utility is rendered somewhat situational. Finally, some units (both among allies and enemies) have 'Movement Stars' and/or 'Leadership Stars.' There is a chance equal to 5*(number of movement stars)% that a unit will get to move again after finishing its turn. Each leadership star increases the hit and avoid rates of all units in the same faction by 3%.

One unique facet of FE5 gameplay is the extremely powerful magical staves. Staff users always have some use in FE games for healing purposes, but FE5 takes it to a new level entirely. Many staves have unlimited range. The later chapters especially will have you combating spammed status effects from the next county over, countered either by your own preemptive uses of Sleep/Silence or by diligently curing the ailments. Also, you'll be warping all over the later maps to handle all of the myriad demands that they present you with, giving the battles a wonderful sense of complexity. The necessity of having staff users available at all times will result in almost every staff user being used at least to some degree as they have low health and hence are highly susceptible to fatigue.

FE games - and FE5 in particular - have a nasty habit of not telling you shit. By playing on the comfort of an emulator, I'm able to keep 3-4 Firefox tabs to keep track of growth rates, scroll bonuses, skill activation rates, and other little things in the same vein that it's just useful to know. Astute readers will note that I've already linked to http://serenesforest.net/ twice now. It is an absolute godsend for dealing with the FE series.

On the whole, FE5 isn't really a 'good' game by any objective standard. It's completely inaccessible to new players, frustrating, and mind-numbingly difficult. But my standards are anything but objective and so I have to say that FE5 is my absolute favorite video game of all time. It abuses and infuriates me but I can't help but love it for it. I enjoy the challenge, the need to construct elegant turn-by-turn plans to accomplish my objectives for a given chapter. The warp-centric levels near the end are absolutely brilliant, with the final chapter being especially engaging - the most entertaining and satisfying finale I've ever played in a video game.

If you're a hardcore fan of turn based strategy, or of FE specifically, looking for a firm challenge then FE5 is for you and may very well blow your mind. If not, don't bother with it, but know that if you attempt to talk shit about the game, I will defend it to my your last breath.


I like 5 quite a lot, and don't really care if it's open to new players. 7 should serve as a sufficient intro to the series for anyone that cares to get into it.

Having said that, holy shit does the game ever hate you. Beating it without losing anyone was an absolutely torturous task. Though of course, once I did manage to do that, I was so unbelievably satisfied that I vowed never to touch the game again.

Course my favorite is still 7, because the story and characters were at their height. The gameplay was probably at it's best on 9 (aside of the fact that 9 is so easy a gentle breeze can defeat it).

Oh god I hope 12 doesn't turn out to be as shitty as 11 was. Because at the moment it look like that's how it's going to be.

Rodyle2:
I like 5 quite a lot, and don't really care if it's open to new players. 7 should serve as a sufficient intro to the series for anyone that cares to get into it.

Having said that, holy shit does the game ever hate you. Beating it without losing anyone was an absolutely torturous task. Though of course, once I did manage to do that, I was so unbelievably satisfied that I vowed never to touch the game again.

Course my favorite is still 7, because the story and characters were at their height. The gameplay was probably at it's best on 9 (aside of the fact that 9 is so easy a gentle breeze can defeat it).

Oh god I hope 12 doesn't turn out to be as shitty as 11 was. Because at the moment it look like that's how it's going to be.

Yeah, FE7 certainly gets the job done in that regard. It was clearly designed with accessibility in mind. It did a good job of introducing the series outside Japan.

I've beaten 5 once on elite mode and once on regular mode. I didn't manage to recruit Xavier on my elite mode run, but I got him on my second playthrough and only lost Olwen, who doesn't really count as I was killing her off in order to get Eryios.

I agree that FE7 was stronger from a story perspective, but I thought that they didn't tell the story as well as they could've done. To me, the story works best as a tragedy centered around Nergal, and there's a bit too much ambiguity in that particular facet of the plot. Also, playing FE7 in accordance with canon isn't exactly efficient from a gameplay perspective, which hurts the storytelling somewhat. Eliwood/Ninian is just a waste, and Lyn really shouldn't be used at all on ranked runs. As I said in the review, FE5s story is a bit perfunctory, but it has some excellent presentation.

Due to not having a DS I haven't played FE11, but it didn't look very appealing. I'll likely be getting a DS soon though, so perhaps I'll give FE12 a go. Maybe I'll review it as well.

WhamBamSam:

Rodyle2:
I like 5 quite a lot, and don't really care if it's open to new players. 7 should serve as a sufficient intro to the series for anyone that cares to get into it.

Having said that, holy shit does the game ever hate you. Beating it without losing anyone was an absolutely torturous task. Though of course, once I did manage to do that, I was so unbelievably satisfied that I vowed never to touch the game again.

Course my favorite is still 7, because the story and characters were at their height. The gameplay was probably at it's best on 9 (aside of the fact that 9 is so easy a gentle breeze can defeat it).

Oh god I hope 12 doesn't turn out to be as shitty as 11 was. Because at the moment it look like that's how it's going to be.

Yeah, FE7 certainly gets the job done in that regard. It was clearly designed with accessibility in mind. It did a good job of introducing the series outside Japan.

I've beaten 5 once on elite mode and once on regular mode. I didn't manage to recruit Xavier on my elite mode run, but I got him on my second playthrough and only lost Olwen, who doesn't really count as I was killing her off in order to get Eryios.

I agree that FE7 was stronger from a story perspective, but I thought that they didn't tell the story as well as they could've done. To me, the story works best as a tragedy centered around Nergal, and there's a bit too much ambiguity in that particular facet of the plot. Also, playing FE7 in accordance with canon isn't exactly efficient from a gameplay perspective, which hurts the storytelling somewhat. Eliwood/Ninian is just a waste, and Lyn really shouldn't be used at all on ranked runs. As I said in the review, FE5s story is a bit perfunctory, but it has some excellent presentation.

Due to not having a DS I haven't played FE11, but it didn't look very appealing. I'll likely be getting a DS soon though, so perhaps I'll give FE12 a go. Maybe I'll review it as well.

Personally I don't care about stats, or anything of the sort. I just play with the characters I like and get whatever supports I fancy (actually I've never heard of anyone that cared about supports from a gameplay perspective). Hell, personally I find a lot of the best supports involve Renault, one of the worst units in the game.

As far as the whole tragedy aspect of Nergal goes, I'm honestly not sure how I feel about that. I find the Black Fang (the true members like Legault, Uhai, Brendan, and so forth) far more tragic than Nergal to be honest.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked