For the last 22 years, Nintendo has had a gaming franchise that’s capable of standing up to those epic RPG’s and JRPG’s that have been on other consoles. Fire Emblem:PoR, otherwise known as Fire Emblem 9, came to the Nintendo Gamecube during it’s hour of need, and gave gamers that one game they needed to save the dying console.
Overall, when you look at the gameplay, it follows the same simple turn-based route, complete with unit-specific strengths and weaknesses, that’s pretty much a staple of these turn-based grid games. If you want to compare it with a popular PS3 series, think Disgaea. Just consider a few edits and changes, and change the setting to a overly medieval setting with swords, magic and dragons…along with everything else that comes with that theme.
So, grid based battling. You move your units around the grid one at a time, and eliminate the enemy units. It can involve defeating an overly powerful boss, all enemy units or getting to the target space on a map. All the units may move differently, but that’s what the core gameplay comes down to. Whilst that may sound slightly boring at first, the enemies and the missions manage to vary from each other so much that you never get bored.
There are also some amazingly epic maps, where you can almost fit your entire brigade (around 18 units) into the frey, and go up against another army. Then there’s a scenario split into four parts, where you get re-enforcements to your troupe every part. And when you’ve got around 30+ unique units with their own qualities, you can customize your troupe to your liking.
The setting of the game is also overly wonderful, taking place on a continent that’s just gone to war, it spares no effort on the politics or showing everyone how the tiny little gears begin to turn and how they result in a large scale war. Yet, it only shows a little part of it. The tiny glimpse you get into the world of Tellius, with the different races and their different cultures are miniscule, with the majority of the focus going into build-up.
Now, build-up works really well provided that it has a pay-off point. However, Fire Emblem 9 doesn’t have a pay-off point, resulting in a game that feels like it’s half of a story…and that’s because it is. Playing Fire Emblem 9 feels like a large chapter to play before Radiant Dawn (Fire Emblem 10 on the Wii), considering that Radiant Dawn covers the culture and everything so much better than it does here.
Granted, Radiant Dawn isn’t as good as it could be if you havn’t played this one, even though it’s entirely self-sufficiant. Playing this helps you to get a firmer grip on the world of Tellius, and oddly enough, have more animations and CG scenes than the Wii version. That surprised me, in all honesty. The gamecube version has some stunningly acted scenes, complete with voice acting and fluid motion, and they often come at the pivitol plot points.
Ultimatly, even though Fire Emblem 9 is really addictive and relaly fun, it’s half a story. And with it being half a story, you reach the final and you feel ever so slightly disapointted. I mean, you can transfer your characters and the like across to the next game, but that just furthers the point that this feels like an add-on prolouge when compared to the real story.