Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Path of Radiance

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a turn-based strategy RPG game released on the Nintendo GameCube video game console. It is the ninth game in the Fire Emblem franchise, which consists of 14 games to date – the latest title is Fire Emblem: Awakening, which was only released internationally several months ago.

After completing Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken and Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi just recently, the entire gaming experience with Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is totally awesome! I can totally feel the “upgrade” and advancement of the games in the Fire Emblem franchise. Not only the graphics were better (of course, it’s on GameCube, man), several features were also added and/or altered for the better, which along the way (while writing this post), I will try to cover them based on my own gaming experience (yes I just completed it — less than one hour ago).

Gameplay of Path of Radiance
Gameplay of Path of Radiance

If you played Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken and Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, you will know that the game took place in the same continent of Elibe. In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, the game took place in the continent of Tellius. It is an entirely new continent, different from any previous game in the Fire Emblem franchise. And yup, there isn’t any characters or maps which reappeared in this game from any other previous games as well.

One of the new feature in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is the introduction of a new set of race, known as Laguz. So basically, the game consists of two main races — Beorc and Laguz. Beorc are basically human – nothing special about it. Laguz is a race formed by many different type of races – they are basically a certain type of creature that can transform into human appearance, or vice versa. I will cover them along with the map in the following section.

Continent of Tellius
Continent of Tellius

In the continent of Tellius, there are many nations introduced in the game. Let me group them into two – the beorc nations and laguz nations.

First of all, there are three beorc nations:

Crimea is the first nation being introduced in the game — the kingdom where the protagonist resides in. It is a beorc kingdom ruled by King Ramon. King Ramon has a daughter, princess Elincia, whom you will interact with in most part of the game. 🙂

Next, to its right is Daein, a beorc kingdom ruled by King Ashnard, the main antagonist of the game. Something to note – he is very strong, especially if you play the game in hard mode… okay let’s move on. :p 

Begnion is a beorc theocracy worshiping the goddess Ashera. It is the biggest nation in the continent of Tellius. Crimea and Daein used to be part of Begnion before they were ruled by their respective king and became a kingdom. The empress of Begnion is Apostle Sanaki.

Gameplay of Path of Radiance
Gameplay of Path of Radiance

Next, there are four laguz nations; as mentioned previously, I will include their ‘type’ as well:

Gallia is the Home of the beast laguz ruled by King Caineghis. Among the beast laguz, there were the lion, cat and tiger types. Gallia is the first laguz nation introduced in the game, as well as the only laguz nation which is in the attempt in improving its relations with the beorc, specifically, Crimea. Officially, they are an ally of Crimea.

Next, the home of the hawk laguz is Phoenicis. Their ruler is King Tibarn. They are righteous, however, they attack Begnion trading ships as a form of ‘revenge’. To know exactly why, play the game and find out about it yourself. :p

Another nation of winged laguz is Kilvas, the home of the raven laguz. They are considered more cunning and dishonorable than the hawks laguz — as long as you pay them well, they will serve you. However, they may easily betray you as well. Kilvas is ruled by King Naesala. ‘

Note that the hawks, ravens, and herons (their nation was destroyed) are of the bird laguz. 

Goldoa is the home of the dragon laguz. Just like the other laguz, there are three species of dragon laguz as well, the red, white, and black dragons. Dragon laguz are well known for their longvetity. They isolated themselves from the rest of Tellius. Their ruler is Dheginsea, one of the legendary heroes who fought alongside the goddess herself.

The main protagonist: Ike
The main protagonist: Ike

The main protagonist of the game, Ike, is the son of Greil. He begins the game as the newest member of his father’s mercenary company, the Greil Mercenaries. As mentioned previously, they resides in the kingdom of Crimea — its countryside to be exact.

I hate to be a spoiler, so I will just briefly mentioned the outline of the game. The continent of Tellius was very peaceful until Daein starts a war by invading Crimea. Soon after, the Greil mecenaries came across an unconscious girl in a forest that turns out to be the Crimean princess, Elincia Ridell Crimea.

Gameplay of Path of Radiance
Gameplay of Path of Radiance

As the game’s storyline flows along, they decided to escort Elincia to Gallia to seek assistance. Along the way, Greil was killed by a Daein general known as the Black Knight. Ike took over commandership of the mercenary company and begin the long journey that will take Ike, Elincia, and the mercenaries across the continent and back in an effort to defeat Daein and restore Crimea’s royalty to the throne. Once again, I must say that the storyline was totally awesome.

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Along the game, Ike and his mercenaries get to meet a lot of people and slowly discover pieces of puzzle pieces; which in-turn when approaching the end of the game, were put together to solved the mystery of many events which took place in the game but were in actual fact, inter-related. They have to overcome the over a century long racial tensions between the beorc and laguz and form an alliance with them to fight against their true enemy, Ashnard, King of Daein. Will they succeed? Of course, they have to. But how, exactly? Play the game! 😀

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Eventually, Ike was given command of an army that he leads into Daein and finally back to Crimea, where he confronts the Black Knight to avenge his father, and Mad King Ashnard. Along the game, you really how he grow from a rash and immature young man to a composure and calm person capable of leading an army, a war hero. 

The stats and level-ing up works similarly as previous games in the franchise.
The stats and level-ing up works similarly as previous games in the franchise.

I’m going to cover more about the unit classes in this part. Just like Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken and Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, characters can change (promote) class once they reached a certain level. However, something different from the previous two games is that the characters automatically promote their classes upon reaching level twenty one. YES! You need not possess and use any specific items to promote their class like those in the previous games.

Class Change (Promotion)
Class Change (Promotion)

Alternatively, YOU (player) can also use the Master Seal item to immediately promote any unit at any point between level ten to twenty.

Another new feature that was introduced into this game is the battle preparation screen. So basically, one of your character (Soren) will provide you with the information on the previous battle, which includes the allies gained, or dead/injured characters in the previous game. Something interesting (yet useless) is the MVP. I think it basically tracks the number of units killed (last hit) by which character, and the one who killed the most will be the MVP? I guess. haha.

Gameplay of Path of Radiance
Gameplay of Path of Radiance

Other than that, we have the weapons (similar to previous games) and the distribution of bonus experience (something new in this game) and skills (I will cover more later). So basically, if you complete a chapter well (complete the chapter ASAP without spending too many turns, or meet battle criteria e.g. save some people without being detected by the enemy officers), you can get more bonus experience.

In addition, players can engage in support conversations and the new “Info” conversations. For the support conversation, it works slightly similar to previous games — place the units side by side for enough turns ans they will be able to support one another. However, instead of choosing the option in the battle field like the previous games, you do it in the battle preparation screens.

As for the “Info” conversations, they are denoted by one to three stars. One star conversations basically provide story background, to let you understand more about the storyline of that chapter. Good to know! Two stars conversations provide hints on how to proceed in the coming battle, for example, someone will ask you what to do in combat if you don’t want to kill certain units that are blocking your way? Ike will tell that person to simply “Shove” the unit out of the way. Smart eh? Lastly, three stars conversation indicate that the conversation may yield a special ability (such as unlocking the triangle attack), item (such as hammerne), or new playable character (of course, you can choose whether to hire him/her).

Now let me talk more about the skill feature which I mentioned above. This skill feature was first introduced in the Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. However, it works slightly different in this game — each character now has a capacity gauge that allows for mastery of skills. By using a skill scroll, the character learns the corresponding skill and a certain amount of capacity are taken up in the gauge. I believe that capacity required in the gauge is usually determined by the usefulness of the skill. The occult scroll allow characters to learn the unique skill of their class, which cost 20 capacity (while usually a unit has 20 or 25 capacity on average).

Gameplay of Path of Radiance
Astrid using her skills, Adept and Sol, in a combat with a Feral One (cat)

Most skills give the unit an advantage in battle; for example, Ike’s ultimate skill, Aether (unlock using Occult scroll), allows Ike to deal damage as if his opponent has half their real defense (individually, this is the skill effect of Luna), while healing him for half the damage he would deal (this is the skill effect of Sol). However, if you unassign a skill from someone, that skill disappears forever.

The last feature I will be covering is the “Fixed Mode”, an alternative method for unit growth that can be unlocked after completing the game once (in any difficulty if I’m not wrong).

In your first playthrough, you will be using the Random mode by default, which is the same as all the other games in the Fire Emblem franchise. Every character possesses a set of hidden “growth rates”, one for each stat. Each growth rate is the percentage chance of the character increasing that particular stat during a level up. For instance, if a character has 30% growth in speed, statistically speaking, 30 times out of 100 times when it level up, it will gain a +1 in speed. However, due to the nature of this system, a unit that levels up may gain many stat increases or none at all.

In Fixed mode, units earn experience towards a particular stat increase as they earn standard experience. Additionally, the character’s equipped weapons/items and enemy’s class slightly alters the type and amount of Growth points that are gained. Simply, units just have to accumulate the standard set of experience to upgrade the stat — it will only reset to zero after it gains a new level, if not, it will be carried over to the next level.

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To end off, I would say that Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is an awesome game, its growth from its previous titles, Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken and Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi, is obvious — not in term of graphics of course, but in terms of storyline. It’s deeper and better, with several surprises. Being a fan of the franchise, I am not disappointed at all. I will be looking forward to more better and greater games developed by Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd 🙂

Like this game? Try the other Fire Emblem titles too:

  1. Fire Emblem: Rekka No Ken
  2. Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi
  3. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
  4. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

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