Title: Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken
Originally written for
Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken was developed from the beginning with a U.S. release in mind. Although the game translates to Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword it was released simply as Fire Emblem outside Japan. A few Fire Emblem fans complained that the game was too easy, but for Fire Emblem newbies the game was pure nirvana. Vincent Goodwin of N-Philes gushed about the game in his review, which isn't available online, unfortunately, and even complained a little that it was too difficult. You would be hard-pressed to find too many reviews that complained about the game. Vincent certainly hadn't played Thracia 776 or Genealogy, but most American gamers hadn't so Blazing Sword was a great place for them to start when it was released in November of 2003.
Blazing Sword was a prequel to Sword of the Seals, and featured Eliwood, the father of Seals' hero Roy. The game actually starts out as two knights, Sain and Kent, travel to the open plains of Sacae to find the granddaughter of the Marquess of Caelin. They find the young girl Lyn, and when they tell her about her grandfather she agrees to journey with them back to Caelin in the country of Lycia. Lyn's journey with Sain and Kent makes up the prologue of the game, and the rest of the game takes places one year later and revolves around Eliwood, Lyn, and Hector, the brother of the Marquess of Ostia and best friend of Eliwood. The main part of the game begins when Eliwood leaves home to find out what has happened to his father, Elber. Eliwood will discover many horrible secrets on his journey, and it also reveals much of the back-story for the tale told in Seals, which takes place twenty years after Blazing Sword.
Blazing Sword's gameplay was nearly identical to the gameplay in Seals. Seeing as it was released just over a year after Sword of the Seals it is understandable that Intelligent Systems didn't have much time to develop a lot of new gameplay ideas. There are a number of hidden modes and features in the game, however. Most are unlocked when you first beat the game such as the ability to choose your main character when you start the game. If you choose Eliwood as your main character the game remains the same minus the prologue chapters; choosing Lyn includes the prologue chapters; and choosing Hector shows the game from Hector's perspective including a few additional chapters. There is also a Battle Arena where you can do some fighting, a movie gallery which shows all of the game's cut-scenes, and a sound test. The game again included multiplayer, but, as with the multiplayer in Seals, it wasn't the most exciting mode around. Blazing Sword was the first Fire Emblem game to include the player, however. At the beginning of the game you input your name and your character is included as the tactician for all of the battles. Characters will even talk to you directly which makes you feel more a part of the game. The characters themselves, and the support system, are what make many longtime Fire Emblem fans believe the game's character development is the best in the series, and maybe even the pinnacle of RPGs in general. Although a game like Final Fantasy has great character development it doesn't have to include support conversations for 44 unique characters.
Blazing Sword was a great game to introduce non-Japanese gamers to the incredible Fire Emblem series, and it sold well enough in the U.S. that it is almost a certainty that future Fire Emblem games will be released in all the major markets. (Nintendo has announced new Fire Emblem games for both GameCube and GBA since this was written, and they will both be released outside of Japan. -Ed.) It also was true to many of the traditions that were started by previous Fire Emblem games; traditions that many fans of the series look for with each new game.