Title: Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi
Originally written for
After the failure of the 64DD Intelligent Systems had an unfinished Fire Emblem game that they didn't know what to do with. Most of the game's story was fleshed-out, but the game hadn't gotten too far along in the development process. Instead of opting to port the game to GameCube Nintendo decided it would be best to make the first portable Fire Emblem game. After a few adjustments to the game for technical reasons Intelligent Systems set to work developing Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi for Game Boy Advance. Japanese gamers were given a little taste of Fuuin no Tsurugi, which means Sword of Seals, when the main character, Roy, was included in Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube when it was released in late 2001. Finally, on February 29th, 2002 gamers were able to play as Roy in his own game. As per usual, the game sold well, and there was even talk that it would be released outside Japan. That didn't happen, yet, but the game was extremely popular in Japan, and a prequel to the game went into development almost immediately.
Sword of Seals takes place on the continent of Elibe, which is in no way related to the worlds in any of the previous Fire Emblems. Elibe is divided into many countries including Lycia, the Bern Kingdom, the Kingdom of Etruria, Sacae, Ilia, and Nabata. The heroes of the war known as the Scouring founded all of the nations of Elibe after the dragons who lost the war were banished from the continent. Although there were occasional skirmishes between the nations a full-blown war never materialized, until recently. King Zephiel of the Bern Kingdom has begun sending out his forces in an attempt to rule all of the world and let the dragons return. He has already taken over Ilia and Sacae, and he has his sights set on Lycia. Eliwood, Marquess of Pherae in Lycia, has fallen ill, and fearing Bern's advances he calls for his son, Roy, to return from his studies in Ostia. As Roy journeys back to Pherae, Marquess Hector of Ostia has sent his daughter, Lilina, to visit Eliwood in Pherae. The game begins when bandits attack Pherae Castle, and Roy and Lilina fight to protect it.
Sword of Seals introduced the support system to Fire Emblem, which was like the love system from Genealogy without the lovemaking. When two characters spent a few battles fighting near each other you could have them talk to each other to increase the support level between them. Increasing the support level between two characters means they will have statistical bonuses when they are both fighting in the same battle. These bonuses are increased the higher the support level between the two characters is. Sword of Seals also includes a number of hidden chapters as well as a few branching paths in the story. A very cool bonus to Sword of Seals, and one that probably increased the replayability for many Fire Emblem fans, was secret characters you could unlock each time you beat the game. A new secret character was unlocked every time you completed the game up until the ninth time you conquered the forces of Bern. Sword of Seals was incredibly deep for a portable game, and even rivaled, and in many cases even surpassed, past Fire Emblem games in terms of depth and replayability. Sword of Seals also introduced multiplayer to the Fire Emblem series, but it was a fairly poor mode, which simply had you pitting your army against a friend's army that usually resulted in the player who was further in the game winning.
Sword of Seals was a fun game, and before it there was a dearth of strategy/RPGs on Game Boy Advance. Now with games like Tactics Ogre, Onimusha Tactics, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Game Boy Advance may be the best strategy/RPG platform of this generation. It wouldn't end either, as the next Fire Emblem game would be released the following year, and would become the first Fire Emblem game released in the United States.