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Alastor15243

Alastor plays and ranks the whole damned series! Now playing: Mystery of the Emblem!

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So, during the utter madness that was my first Three Houses playthrough, I started thinking about the fact that I hadn't actually played every game in my favorite video game series of all time. And then I thought about the project I recently wrapped up, where I marathoned and ranked every igavania in the leadup to Bloodstained, and it got me to thinking that it might be fun to do that for Fire Emblem, in chronological order.

Of course, I realize that this would be a much longer-term project than replaying the igavanias, so I'm going to take it a bit more slowly. I'm thinking that I'll commit to doing at least one chapter a day (and work something else out for genealogy and maybe 3 houses if I decide I'm up to replaying it to finish up the retrospective, which I probably should despite how long it is), and write a daily update on my progress here. So, if anyone's still interested after reading that, lemme just give a bit of an explanation of what kind of Fire Emblem player I am and the way I'm going to be looking at these games.

Who I am

I'm pretty steadfastly in the "veteran" camp. Though I wasn't one of those few who knew about the series before Melee, I have bought, played, and beaten every single game that ever made it to the states ever since getting Fire Emblem 7 for the GBA in middle school, and I've gone back and beaten a few of the Japanse-only ones too. When I was younger, while I always had enough patience to go through the games that had classic modes, I will confess that I abused the hell out of save states when I played through the Japanese-only ones on emulators. Back then, I'm not sure if I even really paid attention to stats that much. I know I didn't when I played 7 and 8. I just used whatever units I liked the animations of, assumed that the units you get earlier and/or at lower levels had better growth rates than the prepromotes, and just generally played like a child, like children do.

I kind of had a falling out with the series in college when my attempt to play through a few games again gave me a ridiculously long streak of terrible growth rates for characters I liked, which caused me to be paranoid of and hate randomized growths for years. I didn't get back into the series until Awakening, which I got a few years late when I finally picked up the 3DS, and had a lot of fun with that game, though it did eventually kill my enthusiasm for video game grinding... basically forever, after my third apotheosis file.

It wasn't until Fates, when I did an ambitious (unfortunately too ambitious for me to complete at time of writing since I wrote myself into a nasty corner) project to ironman all three routes while writing a let's play in the form of an eccentric avatar's diary, that I really, really started thinking strategically about these games. That experience was an exciting, eye-opening, and tremendously fun adventure that, though I still haven't finished the writeup and don't know if I'll ever be able to, forever changed my perspective about Fire Emblem games and their design, and I've looked at every single game in the series at least a little differently since then.

What I'm Ranking With

I'm going to be playing these games on the closest equivalents the games have to the modern hard classic, and I will be resetting if I lose units since these games have drastically varying levels of friendliness to ironmanning and I won't want to play myself into a corner and have to start over. I will be ranking these games based on eight categories, and then keep an overall ranking as well of which games are my favorite based on these eight rankings:

Difficulty: How satisfyingly hard the game is. I'm looking for hard games, but I'm looking for the good kind of hard, where it's hard in engaging and interesting ways that require more interesting solutions than "send your strongest guy at him".

Ironmannability: How feasible it is to ironman the game, without ever restarting or using the turnwheel except in the occasional case of house rules for dealing with main character death or objective failure. This comes down to two things largely: how many tools the game gives you to recover from losing units, and the game's honor. Honor is the term I use for how, well... "honorable" the game is. Basically, an honorable Fire Emblem game is one that gives you as much information as it can about its various gimmicks, doesn't change the rules on you before you get a chance to respond, and generally ensures that when you die, it's your fault. Ambush spawns are a big no-no for scoring well on this, as are bad or vague skill/item descriptions, spontaneous mid-battle rule changes that require a restart's preparation or luck to deal with, or any situation that the average player's toolkit has no answer to besides jumping in and praying the RNG blesses them.

Usability: How good the interface is. How convenient it is to quickly gather information on things, how well-designed the menus are, and general quality-of-life features.

Depth: How many other factors to gameplay and strategy the game has beyond the raw stats of units. Games where you can do lots of interesting and varied things with combat, games that have lots of character customization, and games that do interesting things with map design will find themselves at the top of this list.

Balance: How well-balanced the game is. Do most of the skills, items, characters and other features have some kind of point to them? Are there few instances of one thing being transparently, objectively better than another for no reason? If so, they'll get to the top of this list.

Pacing: How little the game wastes your time, and how much it keeps the action moving. Games with poorly-designed maps that force/encourage you to do a lot of backtracking or otherwise move around it without actually doing anything, and games with lots of padding, will be low on this list.

Writing: How good the writing is. Things like humor, characterization, plot, and everything else that forms the context the gameplay revolves around.

Music: How good the music is. While I will give some leeway to the more retro games if their music is well-composed, I am still looking for the most enjoyable listening experiences when all is said and done, with the most tracks I eagerly listen to in my free time.

 

One more thing: Due to the wildly varying platforms these games are on and in the interests of not making this consume my life and give me burnout, I will not be doing in-depth screenshots or play-by-play accounts of what I do. I'll mostly just be giving text descriptions of the most interesting things that happen during each chapter I play. As a result, I don't think this really qualifies as a "let's play" thread, and I won't be posting it there. Sorry if I'm mistaken about that judgment, mods, and sorry if you wind up moving it.

So, I think that's everything I need to get out of the way. Any questions? Comments? Suggestions for changes or additions to my ranking system? Lemme know, and I'll get started with the original game for the NES (which I've never played past the first level) sometime tomorrow!

Current rankings:

Spoiler

Difficulty:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

Ironmannability:

1: Dark Dragon

2: Gaiden

 

Usability:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

Depth:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

Balance:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

Pacing:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

Writing:

1: Dark Dragon

2: Gaiden

 

Music:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

OVERALL:

1: Gaiden

2: Dark Dragon

 

Edited by Alastor15243

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I wish you the best! And for your sanity's sake, I recommend praying to the green god.

FE1 looks like it should be absolutely archaic, but such is the foundation of the franchise. I hope it and OG Gaiden doesn't kill the entire project.

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2 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

I wish you the best! And for your sanity's sake, I recommend praying to the green god.

FE1 looks like it should be absolutely archaic, but such is the foundation of the franchise. I hope it and OG Gaiden doesn't kill the entire project.

I'm hoping they don't, but best to test my commitment with them first than leave them for last and find out too late. Honestly though, this is a perfect time to do it, in that due to personal reasons I'm in a situation where the NES games sound refreshing.

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Ah, well as Serenes' resident expert on FE1, I'll be available for explaining mechanics and that OP is loaded with interesting tips and details. If you've played Shadow Dragon you can knock out FE1 just fine. The only things keeping your playthrough from being smooth are the infinite spawning reinforcements in some chapters and the absolute mad house of the final chapter with its locking doors and near impenetrable final boss.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be looking forward to Gaiden. Nothing sounds less enticing to me than playing Archanea twice almost back to back. I'd take any game to detox. 

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This sounds like an interesting idea!

Can we have an F in the chat for your sanity, though?

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...Alright, I just booted up FE1 to make sure I had a working version, and...

...Okay consider this Day 0 of Dark Dragon and Sword of Light.

Dark Dragon Day 0: Jesus. Christ.

It's amazing what you take for granted once you see that the first game somehow started out with barely any of it.

No highlighted movement ranges when you select units. I knew about that.

...What I didn't realize was that the game doesn't even have a combat window. I'm going to have to do all the calculations for all the attacks by hand if I actually want to be careful and precise with this run.

I've also been messing around and haven't been able to find any way to actually see the stats of weapons. I'm going to have to have an online guide ready at all times to figure out what attacks are going to do.

And upon looking up the battle calculations... holy shit. This is gonna be a weird one.

But I'm gonna do it.

Edited by Alastor15243

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So, you're going to do the whole series of enchiladas?

Considering you started with DD, you're clearly already in danger.

Any games in particular you think will rank highly or lowly at present?

6 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

It wasn't until Fates, when I did an ambitious (unfortunately too ambitious for me to complete at time of writing since I wrote myself into a nasty corner) project to ironman all three routes while writing a let's play in the form of an eccentric avatar's diary, that I really, really started thinking strategically about these games. That experience was an exciting, eye-opening, and tremendously fun adventure that, though I still haven't finished the writeup and don't know if I'll ever be able to, forever changed my perspective about Fire Emblem games and their design, and I've looked at every single game in the series at least a little differently since then.

Oh yeah, that was sadly abandoned.

F

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49 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

I've also been messing around and haven't been able to find any way to actually see the stats of weapons. I'm going to have to have an online guide ready at all times to figure out what attacks are going to do.

Bold of you to assume a strategy game would give you the math necessary to start making battle calculations. You'll have to just have the weapon pages handy as you play. By the end of the game I had the weapon weights committed to memory.

I'd like to think weapon stats were provided in the game's original manual. A possibility I have no way of proving or disproving since this is the only NES/Famicom game I know of where I can't find scans of the manual online.

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58 minutes ago, Dayni said:

Any games in particular you think will rank highly or lowly at present

Well, I'm pretty sure I can tier the "usability" section now, and I find it highly unlikely this is going to change.

The games on the DS and 3DS are hands down the best, with the 3DS ones standing as the champions, because you don't even need to press a button to bring up the menu. This saves so much time when making calculations about how much damage an enemy can survive that it's nuts, and I mourned the loss of it when going from 3DS to switch. That plus the enemy ranges function is a godsend.

Followed soon after by the Tellius games, which at least grouped information well despite splitting it between multiple pages, and have the enemy ranges function.

Three Houses has all the modern bells and whistles but depending on how much I remember about the other games below it this is the highest it can hope for. The interface is going to lose several points by putting skills and abilities in so many goddamned places and pages, which would be an absolute nightmare if non-named enemies ever had anything more complicated than class skills and occasionally a battalion. Which, at least for the moment, they do not, though the fact that that's a point in its favor is kind of sad. It also has crests, and I feel like Edelgard is my spirit animal because crests are absolute trash. They're hidden away from other skills, even blending in with the info page's background, and have the worst descriptions I've seen for Fire Emblem skills in a long, long time. They’re all proc skills, and compare the description of Luna to some of these crests. Luna tells you that it halves enemy defense for the attack and it triggers skill% of the time. The crest of Gloucester, in contrast? “Occasionally raises Mt during magic attacks." …Okay. What the hell am I supposed to do with that information, game? Why did you even bother making a description if I’m still going to have to look up a guide to have any idea what it does? Also, this game doesn't let you highlight individual enemy ranges during the combat preparation screen, unlike the 3DS games and I think the DS games, but then it was extremely rare that that was even relevant because the game never really challenges you much with your initial unit placement. Enemies rarely start in range of it. Again though, lacking a feature that would have demanded a better interface is hardly a point in the interface's defense.

It'll be a toss-up between whether that or the Jugdral games win out, since the Jugdral games are the only console games that manage to put most of the relevant and important information onto a single page, even if they don't have enemy ranges.

Then there's the GBA games, which commit the egregious sin of putting base stats and then calculations like hit, might and crit on two separate pages, forcing you to flip back between them to check how much damage an enemy does to each of your units, which gets annoying.

And then... the first three games in the series are probably going to be at the bottom in some order because Jesus Christ look at them.

 

Edited by Alastor15243

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Sorry to bombard you with questions so early, but I am curious how you will handle a few things.

First do you plan on playing through the Setellaview maps, sometime refereed to as BS (Broadcast Satellite) Fire Emblem, or Archanea Saga?

Second if you are, will you judge it based on the technical difficulties in archival that leave it soundless and without story sequences, or judge it with archival footage that has the music, Japanes voice acting, story sequences, and art in mind?

Third are going to do FE3 Book 1?

Fourth how are you going to handle Route splits both Major (FE7 Eliwood v. Hector Mode; FE8 Erika v. Ephraim route; FE14 Birthright v. Conquest v. Revelations; The routes of FE16.), and minor (FE5 Route A v. Route B; FE6 Ilia v. Sacae, etc.)?

Fifth are going to consider alternate saving systems like FE10 Battle Saves; FE11, and FE12 map saves; FE15 and FE16 turnwheel/divine pulse; etc. as a mitigating factor to the honor rating?

Sixth are you counting FE4's "Clever mode" AI as its hard difficulty ?

Seventh which Radiant Dawn Hard mode are you going to play, the Japanese Hard mode (English Normal Mode), or English Hard Mode (Japanese Maniac Mode)?

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10 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

I started thinking about the fact that I hadn't actually played every game in my favorite video game series of all time. And then I thought about the project I recently wrapped up, where I marathoned and ranked every igavania in the leadup to Bloodstained, and it got me to thinking that it might be fun to do that for Fire Emblem, in chronological order.

Of course, I realize that this would be a much longer-term project than replaying the igavanias, so I'm going to take it a bit more slowly. I'm thinking that I'll commit to doing at least one chapter a day and write a daily update on my progress here. 

I'm going to be playing these games on the closest equivalents the games have to the modern hard classic, and I will be resetting if I lose units since these games have drastically varying levels of friendliness to ironmanning and I won't want to play myself into a corner and have to start over. 

One more thing: Due to the wildly varying platforms these games are on and in the interests of not making this consume my life and give me burnout, I will not be doing in-depth screenshots or play-by-play accounts of what I do. I'll mostly just be giving text descriptions of the most interesting things that happen during each chapter I play. As a result, I don't think this really qualifies as a "let's play" thread, and I won't be posting it there. Sorry if I'm mistaken about that judgment, mods, and sorry if you wind up moving it.

So, I think that's everything I need to get out of the way. Any questions? Comments? Suggestions for changes or additions to my ranking system? Lemme know, and I'll get started with the original game for the NES (which I've never played past the first level) sometime tomorrow!

welcome to the club.

i've been doing a marathon as well for a while(it's still in progress), and i can guarantee you it will take time indeed, especially if you never played the older titles.

i hope you're mentally prepared for resets, because i can guarantee you those will happen soon or later, especially in the first two NES games. Gaiden can potentially break your mind once you reach the desert map on Celica's route, so good luck with that.

you'll find an interesting difference once you move to the SNES games, but that's a story for another time.

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4 hours ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

First do you plan on playing through the Setellaview maps, sometime refereed to as BS (Broadcast Satellite) Fire Emblem, or Archanea Saga?

Second if you are, will you judge it based on the technical difficulties in archival that leave it soundless and without story sequences, or judge it with archival footage that has the music, Japanes voice acting, story sequences, and art in mind?

I don't plan on playing those games, unfortunately. I didn't even realize they are still playable though. How?

4 hours ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

Third are going to do FE3 Book 1?

That's the plan, since I'm going to be doing the other remakes too.

4 hours ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

Fourth how are you going to handle Route splits both Major (FE7 Eliwood v. Hector Mode; FE8 Erika v. Ephraim route; FE14 Birthright v. Conquest v. Revelations; The routes of FE16.), and minor (FE5 Route A v. Route B; FE6 Ilia v. Sacae, etc.)?

I'm going to do Hector mode since there's only story differences and Hector mode has the complete experience. FE8 and FE16 I'll only do one route, probably the one with the best story to be charitable (I understand from what I've been told that I had basically the shittiest luck imaginable with my choice of story mode and picked the absolute worst one to play first when it came to three houses, so I'll take people's advice on which has the best story to play first or I guess second now. Then again, maybe I'll have played more routes myself by the time this is done in my free time, though I'm not sure). However, with Fates, all three games are fundamentally different games with fundamentally different design philosophies that would get different ratings on things other than writing, so I'll be doing all of them separately.

4 hours ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

Fifth are going to consider alternate saving systems like FE10 Battle Saves; FE11, and FE12 map saves; FE15 and FE16 turnwheel/divine pulse; etc. as a mitigating factor to the honor rating?

Not remotely. Honor could very easily have been called an "ironmannability" rating, a score of how often deaths in an ironman run are the player's fault. A game that trips you up with nigh-certain deaths you couldn't possibly see coming is obnoxious no matter how many extra lives or save points it gives you. They don't test your skill, they don't even test your ability to change your plans on the fly. They just test your ability to remember basic, blindingly obvious information now that you've learned it after they all but force a death on you. It's obnoxious game design that makes the game more hostile to people who don't want to use these accessibility features. Especially since these games are rarely difficult enough compared to the games that don't have them in order to justify the added safety nets. In fact I'm going to refuse to use these features to make sure I give the most accurate honor rating I can by making sure I pay more attention whenever these problems happen.

One thing I'm not sure of, however, is how much I'm going to let these features bring down the difficulty rating. On one hand, you don't have to use them, but on the other hand, they're completely intentional gameplay features that, with the exception of battle saves in FE10, are not locked out of the higher difficulties and thus (especially with the rewinds) are clearly intended to be used by everyone, even the ones looking for a challenge, no matter how misguided that intention may be, and thus by that logic should be interpreted as overpowered tools at the player's disposal.

4 hours ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

Sixth are you counting FE4's "Clever mode" AI as its hard difficulty ?

I suppose I should at that.

4 hours ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

Seventh which Radiant Dawn Hard mode are you going to play, the Japanese Hard mode (English Normal Mode), or English Hard Mode (Japanese Maniac Mode)?

That's a difficult question. The English hard mode gets rid of battle saves, but it also gets rid of a lot of convenience features and intentionally cripples the interface to make the game harder, and I'm not sure if it's fair to mark down the game as a whole in the "usability" section for what that mode does to it.

 

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Edit: Apologies to mods if this counts as a double post, I'm assuming project rules apply here.

 

Alright, let's get started. These are going to be written in the form of notes I write as I go through the chapter.

 

Dark Dragon Day 1: Chapter 1

So, I started off day 1 by looking up the stats of the various weapons, and then to keep myself from going insane, compiling them all into one handy text file (the same one I’m writing these up in advance on) that I can keep constantly to the right side of my screen for easy access while playing.

The fact that I even have to do this means that this game gets an F in usability right off the bat, but hopefully this will make it much, much less painful to play.

Anyway, one of the things I noticed while compiling said list is how insanely good javelins are. They’re pretty much 1-2 range iron lances, which granted might be an issue later in the game, but right now there’s almost no reason to use iron lances over them except cost effectiveness. I’m going to be buying a lot of these things.

Okay, so upon actually starting gameplay proper with my new handy dandy guide, I’m actually finding the game kinda fun! With all the weapon stats essentially on a makeshift second screen, it’s not actually that tough to work out damage calculations. The only issue is that I need to be more watchful of any potential red flags that the combat window might otherwise warn me about.

The “wpn lvl” stat is gonna take some getting used to. The fact that all weapon types you have access to use a single stat is bizarre and meant it took me a while to realize that I don’t need to worry about Cain not being able to use javelins at base and work up his lance rank, and the fact that it’s a number that I don’t have a real outside reference for meant it didn’t occur to me that Caeda can use the silver lance at base until I happened to see someone say that online. I’m gonna have to look through the list and see what else my army can do that I wouldn’t immediately expect.

The other thing I saw online was that apparently Marth is like an Advance Wars APC, in that enemies are absolutely obsessed with attacking him and will apparently ignore even technically more viable targets. I’m going to test that out, and if true, holy shit will that be useful for my healers.

Speaking of AI, I discovered that apparently there are conditions where enemies will just retreat and not fight. Iiiiinteresting. Maybe it’s like in Echoes and they do it when wounded and a fort is available.

Also, I absolutely adore the map theme. It’s so upbeat, catchy and adorable, and it really suits the low-quality, cutesy map sprites.

Alright, just beat chapter one, and honestly after the initial culture shock, this isn’t half bad! It’s definitely going to get more complicated, but given that this game was intended to be beaten by human beings, I’m keeping my hopes up that they keep it simple to compensate for the interface they’re working with.

Edited by Alastor15243

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18 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

I didn't even realize they are still playable though. How?

The gameplay portion basically ran off the FE3 engine (without combat animation) and was loaded onto the temporary memory of the Settelaview, as long as it was the last game played and not overridden people have found ways to rip this section into a rom, but none of the streamed material (which was audio that was too high quality for the SNES to handle, and Art used in the pre and post battle story segments that were also too high quality for the SNES to handle) were locally stored and thus unavailable, and this also throws off the timing of the time based events unless you wait for the amount of time the story segment would take.

42 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

"ironmannability" rating

That description clears things up a bit.

48 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

One thing I'm not sure of, however, is how much I'm going to let these features bring down the difficulty rating. On one hand, you don't have to use them, but on the other hand, they're completely intentional gameplay features that, with the exception of battle saves in FE10, are not locked out of the higher difficulties and thus (especially with the rewinds) are clearly intended to be used by everyone, even the ones looking for a challenge, no matter how misguided that intention may be, and thus by that logic should be interpreted as overpowered tools at the player's disposal. 

Saving mechanics tend to get treated differently from other mechanics, when they really shouldn't. I think people perceive them as being a bit outside the normal confines of the game instead of as simply another mechanic.These games have a lot of mechanics that you need to ignore or use sparingly to get a satisfying difficulty. Take Conquest as an example, a game many would readily claim is a satisfyingly difficult game, but there are numerous mechanics you have to outright ignore, or use sparingly to get that difficulty. If you empty the reward boxes, get all possible supports you want immediately with Castle Battles (and thus get free access to the abundance of xp and loot in Paralogues on top of the other gameplay benefits), use the broken DLC seals you get for free or from multiple path, buy up the best skills (possibly paid for by selling reward box items), you can utterly trivialize that game even on Lunatic. Its clear the game was designed with these mechanics in mind to be used, as an example the almost mandatory nature of some skills in the late game of Lunatic was clearly designed that way with skill buy in mind for those who did not know what would be needed before hand. In moderation none of these break the game, and people can still get a satisfying challenge while using them, and I don't think saving mechanics should be treated any differently.

4 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

compiling them all into one handy text file (the same one I’m writing these up in advance on) that I can keep constantly to the right side of my screen for easy access while playing.

This is surprisingly authentic to the original Japanese experience, as  the weapon stats were all in the manual that came with the game.

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35 minutes ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

The gameplay portion basically ran off the FE3 engine (without combat animation) and was loaded onto the temporary memory of the Settelaview, as long as it was the last game played and not overridden people have found ways to rip this section into a rom, but none of the streamed material (which was audio that was too high quality for the SNES to handle, and Art used in the pre and post battle story segments that were also too high quality for the SNES to handle) were locally stored and thus unavailable, and this also throws off the timing of the time based events unless you wait for the amount of time the story segment would take.

Fascinating. However, given that explanation I don't think it's fair to touch it then, as I can't really judge it as a complete experience as it was meant to be played. I'd be judging a shell against wholes.

35 minutes ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

Saving mechanics tend to get treated differently from other mechanics, when they really shouldn't. I think people perceive them as being a bit outside the normal confines of the game instead of as simply another mechanic.These games have a lot of mechanics that you need to ignore or use sparingly to get a satisfying difficulty. Take Conquest as an example, a game many would readily claim is a satisfyingly difficult game, but there are numerous mechanics you have to outright ignore, or use sparingly to get that difficulty. If you empty the reward boxes, get all possible supports you want immediately with Castle Battles (and thus get free access to the abundance of xp and loot in Paralogues on top of the other gameplay benefits), use the broken DLC seals you get for free or from multiple path, buy up the best skills (possibly paid for by selling reward box items), you can utterly trivialize that game even on Lunatic. Its clear the game was designed with these mechanics in mind to be used, as an example the almost mandatory nature of some skills in the late game of Lunatic was clearly designed that way with skill buy in mind for those who did not know what would be needed before hand. In moderation none of these break the game, and people can still get a satisfying challenge while using them, and I don't think saving mechanics should be treated any differently.

While I heavily contest the idea that Conquest Lunatic was designed with skill buy in mind, this is otherwise an interesting perspective. The rewind mechanics of Echoes and Three Houses, though, have a bit of an added complication, which is that the developers clearly think they're balanced and a natural part of the player's moveset. In Echoes I had that suspicion when the turnwheel:

*Didn't disable achievements

*Had a token effort to limit its use

*Could be upgraded through collectibles

*Was integrated into the story and thus made available in every game mode rather than implemented as an optional setting like difficulty or casual/classic.

While my main concern was that the developers seemed to be using the turnwheel as a crutch to avoid having to update Gaiden's several instances of outdated and broken map and encounter design, what all of the above things screamed to me was that the developers saw the rewind system as a legitimate part of the player's moveset they expected everyone would use to the fullest. And Three Houses unfortunately confirmed these suspicions when the game brought back (and invented) various malicious design elements intended to make sure that the player would die to them at least once no matter how good they were at the game, unless they were really paranoid or really lucky, or both. I actually, half-joking, said before release that if the game brought back ambush spawns to encourage you to use rewinds I would throw my controller at the wall. The fact that the game actually did so shocks me, but that's not even the end of it. The game repeatedly lies to the player about basic information and changes the rules during enemy phase, and it's transparently obvious to me that this was in a misguided effort to make the divine pulses an integral part of gameplay, and not just a way for more casual players to make the game easier. In this way I'm not sure I can place the turnwheel to the side like I can the other games' save systems, at least not for Three Houses.

...But then, one could also form the counter-argument that marking the game down for difficulty because I'm assuming rewind use and then simultaneously marking it down for honor because its ambush spawns and rule-changing make the game an infuriating march of madness if you assume no rewind use... is unfair. If I had to choose between marking Three Houses down for one of them though, it would definitely be honor.

 

35 minutes ago, Eltosian Kadath said:

This is surprisingly authentic to the original Japanese experience, as  the weapon stats were all in the manual that came with the game.

I suspected something like that was the case. Explains why it felt so surprisingly natural. Still, I think it's safe to say this game still gets a big fat F in usability regardless.

Edited by Alastor15243

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5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

Fascinating. However, given that explanation I don't think it's fair to touch it then, as I can't really judge it as a complete experience as it was meant to be played. I'd be judging a shell against wholes.

You can just find the audio on, say, Youtube and run it alongside the game 🙂

For example this video, though you will also have to contend with clicking in the background 🙂

Also, they require some set up in order to be playable. Not much though.

Edited by Kruggov

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3 hours ago, Kruggov said:

You can just find the audio on, say, Youtube and run it alongside the game 🙂

For example this video, though you will also have to contend with clicking in the background 🙂

Also, they require some set up in order to be playable. Not much though.

Hmmm... Okay, I'll consider it at least.

 

Also, a few things:

First, I updated the OP to add an eighth criteria: pacing. I completely forgot about it, and I think enough games struggle on that front that it's an important topic of discussion.

Second, I'm torn between doing the closest equivalent to modern hard classic to keep me moving through the game at a reasonable pace, and playing the hardest difficulty each game has to offer to get the full measure of their difficulty. This is especially the case with Awakening, since I've beaten that on Lunatic+ and thus have way too much knowledge about how to tear that game in half on any difficulty less than that. Another thing is that some hardest difficulties aren't as well designed as the only mildly hard difficulties that might have restrained themselves on certain excesses. I'd appreciate any input on this that anyone has.

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22 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

The other thing I saw online was that apparently Marth is like an Advance Wars APC, in that enemies are absolutely obsessed with attacking him and will apparently ignore even technically more viable targets. I’m going to test that out, and if true, holy shit will that be useful for my healers.

Yes and no un terms of usefulness.

Yes because Marth's pretty powerful in this game and will likely be fine tanking before long. No because healers are the dumbest and only get experience from being in rounds of combat. It counts each round as if they killed the enemy so have a thief wail on them.

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Dark Dragon Day 2: Chapter 2

Alright guys, not sure if I’ll be doing this every weekend, but at least for now so that there isn’t a sudden hiatus right after the first part, I’ll be posting entries for Saturday and Sunday.

So, chapter 2 starts and right away we get Ogma, And then Bord, Cord and Barst. Or… I guess Oguma, and then Saji, Maji and Barts. I don’t know which is supposed to be which here between Saji and Maji, and I don’t much care. From what I understand only Barst is worth using of the three, and I’ll be using modern names to refer to these characters.

What I find initially curious about this map is the fact that there’s a bunch of enemies on an island near the start of the map, a bunch of enemies at the castle, and a whooooooole lot of nothing in-between. I suspect the game will be relying on the enemies moving to advance towards me to keep the middle of the map interesting.

Also, looks like Darros was in the original game after all. I heard conflicting info about that. I remember last time I played Shadow Dragon, he recruited himself and then promptly got his spine ripped out through his butthole by the other enemies who hadn’t moved yet the moment he turned blue. It was frustrating, but not nearly as much as it was hilarious, and since this was an ironman run I was doing and he wasn’t that good even if it wasn’t, I didn’t try again to get him. Here though, I will. I’m going to leave Marth on the fort in range of the pirates to A: lure them out to swarm them on the next player phase and avoid rushing them on their turf, and B: see if Darros recruited himself in the original game.

Also, interesting double-take at my notes. I thought this was a miscopy, but no, apparently iron lances do more damage than iron axes. In fact there’s a lot of weirdness in that respect, since Swords and Bows are the only ones that have the full set of iron, steel and silver. Lances are missing steel, and axes are missing silver. Curious. Verrrry curious.

Results of the Darros experiment: Yes, he still recruits himself, but even when enemies couldn’t fight Marth, they still ignored him for that turn. Shocking how I just found an area where this game has better game design than the remake. You know, aside from the genocidal gaiden chapters. Speaking of Marth, he killed the first pirate with a surprisingly badass critical animation. I like it a lot, reminds me of a lot of the GBA ones.

Barst is a beast right now. I understand he can’t promote, but I’m still going to use him to see if that’s as much of a drawback as it sounds, and I should probably have an axe user anyway. At base he can one-round pirates and  cavaliers with his insane strength and good speed.

Also, incidentally, Caeda is now my sturdiest fighter. For some reason, defense growths are really low in this game, and the best anyone who can promote can hope for is 20%. Which is what both the cavaliers and Caeda have. And since they had the same base defense of 7, and since Caeda had the good fortune to get two for two in defense procs, she now ties with Jagen for defense and only loses to Draug.

The game’s pretty good so far. The interface has caused a few difficulties, but at least right now it’s kind of a fun challenge. I’m just hoping it doesn’t get old and that  movement penalties don't make it annoying.

It’s a shame that nearly half the instruments in the “almost won” song cut out whenever you make sound effects. Makes it less fun to listen to, that’s for sure.

Turns out I mis-copied the hand axe damage. Thankfully it was only one more than I thought, and I wasn't cutting it anywhere near that close. That could have been disastrous.

The castles only take up one space in this game. I’ve somehow managed to attack the pirate in melee from all four sides of an entire goddamned building.

So this game does have a storage system! I was wondering how and if that would work in an NES game. Turns out it's an entirely separate building next to the shop that you can pay a small fee to store up to 40 items in, and that storage somehow follows you around on your adventure to each subsequent storage building.

And with that, chapter 2 is done! Honestly, one thing I find here is… well I don’t know if it’s just the fan translation or if the original text was this bland, but holy cow did the DS remake’s localization team do a good job spicing up this text. I can see it’s almost exactly the same in substance, but the DS version’s is waaaaaaaaay more interesting to read.

Day 2 Bonus: Chapter 3

…Actually, no, fuck it, let’s do chapter 3! I know I said I’d only do one a day to avoid this project being too demanding of my time, but I have a lot of free time this weekend, and I’m having a shocking amount of fun with this game. It’s not nearly as hostile and dated as it initially looked. Oh, it’s still pretty hostile and dated, but 1: not enough to make it unplayable once you get the hang of it or question why the series ever sold, and 2: I’m actually finding the simplicity and lack of fluff extremely refreshing at the moment. So, without further ado…

We have a loooooot of units right now. Counting the newcomers I need to regroup with, Lena and Julian, I count 16. That’s more than a lot of FE games even let you bring to fight the final boss. I wonder if that’s gonna be normal. I’m assuming, given the number of units in this game, that eventually there’s going to be some kind of battle preparations screen where I pick and choose units, because otherwise it would get ridiculous.

…Of course, we have a lot of dead weight too. I’m going to be ditching Bord, Cord and Darros, Jagen’s pretty obsolete right off the bat because he’s not even the best user of the silver lance in this version, and my main fighters have more than enough defense for Draug to be useful as things stand. Gordin and Castor may have some use, as accurate ranged attacks definitely have a niche on player phase, but I’ll have to see how they turn out. And Castor looks like he’ll be way better in the long run if I wind up using either. …Except no, because he doesn’t promote. Gordin has twice the levels to advance. I think. Well I’ll find out eventually with how Barts turns out. This game is weird, man. But for the moment I’m not complaining.

I could have sworn I heard you need 4 more speed to double in this game, but no, apparently you just need one unless I’m missing some speed penalty on this enemy.

One thing that’s surprising and difficult to get used to is that trading is only one way, and that you can’t take, only give. This makes inventories surprisingly tricky to sort out. Also, you can only carry four items at a time and the game doesn’t seem to tell you when an enemy’s holding an item or what it is, so I’m trying to keep everyone at no more than 3 items at a time because I don’t want to know what happens if you get an item but have too many.

Now, healers seem pretty annoying to train normally but trivially easy to farm XP for if you’re grinding. The problem is 1: I’m not, and 2: their growths suck ass regardless. Lena only has non-zero growths in three stats, weapon level, speed and luck. I fail to see the point of training her. I’ll be much better off training up a bishop in the long run and short term. Besides, Lena’s one important stat, weapon level, is already high enough to use nearly every staff in the game, including her personal one, Hammerne. So I think I’ll be fine not training her and just focusing on Merric and maybe Wendel.

Oh my god. I don’t know whether I love the original or the remake more when it comes to the devil axe. In the remake the villager talks you up like he’s gonna give you a big treat, only to ham it up when he reveals what he's actually dumping on you. “Here, take this axe - this EVIL ABOMINATION OF AN AXE!”. But in the original, he says something quite similar but finishes it off, with this ridiculous happy smile on his face, by saying, and I shit you not:

“Never use it!”

It was almost certainly unintentional, but the sheer cheery bluntness of it is black comedy gold.

The abundance of dead weight units on the map caused me to accidentally forget to move Navarre, who I had sent off to kill the remaining bandits. Happily it had no real consequences, but still, gotta watch out for that. Especially since the game doesn’t auto-end your turn when you move everyone so you have to make sure you actually have moved everyone. There won't be shoulder buttons to cycle through units until FE3.

Turns out the answer to what happens if you get an item while your inventory is full is that it can be sent straight to storage, despite storage being limited to a specific location per map and costing money. Interesting.

Alright, chapter’s over! What I’m curious to find out about is how the game is going to handle reinforcements. I haven’t seen any yet, and I’m reeeaallly hoping they aren’t ambush spawns. This game is a little slow-paced given the sluggish interface and large, sparse maps, but it hasn’t really bothered me because I haven’t lost yet. I think I could handle a loss due to a miscalculation, even if it were due to the terrible interface, but if this game throws ambush spawns at me and I have to restart a chapter for no reason… oh dear lord is my opinion on this game going to turn sour.

Edited by Alastor15243

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6 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

Now, healers seem pretty annoying to train normally but trivially easy to farm XP for if you’re grinding. The problem is 1: I’m not, and 2: their growths suck ass regardless. Lena only has non-zero growths in three stats, weapon level, speed and luck. I fail to see the point of training her. I’ll be much better off training up a bishop in the long run and short term. Besides, Lena’s one important stat, weapon level, is already high enough to use nearly every staff in the game, including her personal one Hammerne. So I think I’ll be fine not training her and just focusing on Merric and maybe Wendel.

That's about right.

She can like weapon level procs, but I get why you're going about it like this.

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1 minute ago, Dayni said:

That's about right.

She can like weapon level procs, but I get why you're going about it like this.

Yeah. She might appreciate the one or two extra staves a higher weapon level gives her, but ultimately this feature is too weird and outdated for me to even bother with. Bishops ahoy.

Anyway, any thoughts on the revised ranking categories? Is there anything there you (or anyone else) think is missing?

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15 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

well I don’t know if it’s just the fan translation or if the original text was this bland, but holy cow did the DS remake’s localization team do a good job spicing up this text. I can see it’s almost exactly the same in substance, but the DS version’s is waaaaaaaaay more interesting to read.

What translation are you using? Judging by some of your names you mention, it might be an older translation patch. But yeah, the original game is kinda bland and short text wise, due to limitations of the NES. The same is gonna apply to Gaiden, and FE3, albeit less so for the latter.

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9 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

Anyway, any thoughts on the revised ranking categories? Is there anything there you (or anyone else) think is missing?

I would probably split characters and story in writing terms, but that's just my way.

I'd also be able to rank music right now, seeing how you already ranked a category in the moment and I felt I had to do one in return (In tier form😞

S has SoV (Gaiden would be B tier. Yeah the remake did wonders) and Fates, A has Awakening, Genealogy and RD (This is a debatable one, think I need to listen to it over), B has T776, SS and BS, C has NMotE and SD (DD and MotE would be around the same) and D has BB and PoR.

Do sound effects fall under here or is that another category? You also haven't counted visuals but I can see how that could be massively unfair.

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1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

We have a loooooot of units right now. Counting the newcomers I need to regroup with, Lena and Julian, I count 16. That’s more than a lot of FE games even let you bring to fight the final boss. I wonder if that’s gonna be normal. I’m assuming, given the number of units in this game, that eventually there’s going to be some kind of battle preparations screen where I pick and choose units, because otherwise it would get ridiculous.

The amount of units you will have in each chapter is 16 minus how many recruitable units exist in that particular chapter. The game designers lock you to no more than 16 at a time, and give you a confused look if you tell them you'd prefer to play as less than 16 units. 

Quote

Alright, chapter’s over! What I’m curious to find out about is how the game is going to handle reinforcements. I haven’t seen any yet, and I’m reeeaallly hoping they aren’t ambush spawns.

*Laughs in Archanean

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11 minutes ago, Dayni said:

Do sound effects fall under here or is that another category? You also haven't counted visuals but I can see how that could be massively unfair.

No, and yes, I feel counting visuals would be pretty unfair, though I will mention my opinion of them.

11 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

*Laughs in Archanean

Le sigh.

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