GBA REVIEW: FIRE EMBLEM: THE SACRED STONES

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stone may tell a different story but for better or worse it's the same Fire Emblem that we played nearly a year-and-a-half ago.

The Sacred Stone isn't so much a sequel as a variation of the original Fire Emblem. With different characters, enemies, locations and a different storyline, there are very few new gameplay elements to distinguish it from the original. Thankfully the original was so good that most gamers won't mind revisiting it in a slightly different form.

The Sacred Stones is a turn-based RPG that focuses on character development within the framework of a very deep storyline. If you're looking for a button masher you might as well leave this review right now. There's a lot of text to digest that you just can't skip over because it gives you valuable information on upcoming situations. Some of these missions can be hours long and you don't want to miss out on hints such as the location of various items or some mention of an enemy's weakness.

A long time ago, peace was established among several kingdoms by the use of the five Sacred Stones which eradicated the threat of the evil monsters. Now after a century of peace the Grado Empire has attacked the Kingdom of Renais, causing the prince and princess to locate the five stones to once again establish peace on the continent. A map will outline your missions and allow you to revisit areas to earn more points and goodies to build up your characters.

Battles are turn-bases and can be fought with weapons, magic and summoned monsters. There are many classes in the game each with special abilities and skills. With experience points earned you can upgrade your characters into new classes such as cavaliers, paladins and great knights. The battles look spectacular with great animation and particle effects. Expanding on the fantasy theme this version includes monstrous enemies such as zombies, skeletons and gargoyles.

Within the storyline you will forge deep relationships with the characters in your party. Not only will you help to upgrade them but you'll learn a lot about them through the storyline and as you interaction with them during the game. This is the perfect set up because if you lose one of them in battle they're gone for good. The only way to get them back is to start the entire mission over again which can take a few hours. This really gives you something to worry about since you will obviously have a lot invested in your characters.

The production is top notch, with great graphics and animation. It looks, sounds and plays just like the original which is a really good thing since many consider it an instant classic.

The blend of RPG and turn based strategy is an excellent combination, at least for this game. You can replay the single-player campaign countless times and never have the exact same experience. For a change, the single-player mode is actually better than the multi-player mode. Expect weeks upon weeks of pure gaming fun.

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System: GBA
Dev: Nintendo
Release: TBA
Review By Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
5.0