since i’ve exhausted all the fire emblem games that have been released in the states, it was inevitable that i would turn my attention sooner or later to the ones that haven’t been officially translated into english. in this case, sooner, w/ the first GBA fire emblem game, FE6, subtitled “the sword of seals” (no, not the sea world variety). although learning japanese has steadily risen among the items on my master list of things to do in my lifetime, luckily i didn’t have to wait before tackling this game b/c online you can find a great fan translation of it.
sword of seals is notable for several reasons. for one, it was the first GBA fire emblem, so the vast majority of its engine (inc. game mechanics, menus, calculations, and graphics) was re-used for the two subsequent GBA releases, the blazing sword and the sacred stones. second, it features roy as the protagonist, who was featured in super smash bros. melee and who along with fire emblem icon marth, also featured in melee, first sparked the interest of most english-speakers in the fire emblem series and eventually led to the first fire emblem game released outside of japan (although the first to get an international release wasn’t this one, roy’s game, but the next one, blazing sword). third, unbeknownst to most english speakers at the time, the aforementioned game blazing sword, which followed sword of seals, was actually a prequel to that game, and features several of the same characters and more than a few cameo appearances.
so, being the first of the GBA fire emblem trio it’s perhaps not surprising that there are several ways that the game pales in comparison. the main one for me is that support conversations feel slightly less developed. according to wikipedia this was actually the first game in the series that had support conversations, and although the types of conversations are similar to the other games, the characters here just seem slightly less alive. this may be in part due to the fan translation as opposed to having an official one. also, the lack of a support reader showing supports that have been unlocked makes me slightly less motivated to play the game again. similarly, the ranking system tracking overall game performance feels slightly less polished here.
in terms of specifics, one complaint i had about the game is that thieves don’t promote, which was a surprise when i realized it, and somewhat of a disappointment as it screwed up my previous strategy. also, there are three extra chapters at the end that contain the “real” ending that you can only get if you fulfill certain conditions, several of which would be fairly easy to miss on your first or even your second playthrough. the other complaint i had is that the enemies’ overuse of berserk staffs seems fairly pointless and cheap. to my recollection the other two GBA games minimized this, what i feel is just a cheap tactic.
newcomers to the series would be unlikely to miss anything, though, and refraining from comparisons to the others the game on its own is quite enjoyable. the story is engaging, and like the other two games this one has a branching storyline for several chapters. there’s a huge cast of characters which adds to the replayability, and the gameplay, while permanently etched into my brain by now, is still fun and addictive. prequels and sequels are generally entertaining and this one’s no exception for those who have already played FE7. all in all this isn’t going to be the first fire emblem game i’d pick up to replay, but it’s definitely a game that i’m looking forward to playing again despite being so similar to the others. and, yes, even after this my 5th fire emblem game my flame for the series still burns. haha. but i think now may be the time for a longer hiatus, believe it or not. we’ll just have to see how that pans out.
some sealed sword links:
– great walkthrough at fireemblemworld.com
– english fire emblem documentary has some great stuff, inc. a a good character guide, the character endings, and the official artwork.
– serenes forest: indispensible for the other games, but for this one there are some things you’ll have to find elsewhere. also includes the soundtrack and maps.
– gamefaqs has a copy of the translation of the game script.
– text of all the support conversations at neoseeker.com
– coupla wallpapers at feplanet.net
– for the really nerdy (you know who you are), a listing of all the expected averages in all the stats at every level for all the characters in all the games.