Monthly Archives: August 2018

SRPG Game 4 – Langrisser (Introduction)

Langrisser (ラングリッサ―)
Release Date: 4/26/1991 (Mega Drive), 8/6/1993 (PC Engine)
System: Mega Drive, PC Engine, later remakes on Saturn and Playstation
Developer: MASAYA
Publisher: Nippon Computer Systems

The PC Engine instruction manual

This is the first game in a series that encompasses five main games, and then some spinoff games and later titles (including one currently in development). The series is known for its branching storylines, although that didn’t enter until Der Langrisser (the Super Famicom remake of 2). Since I have not played any of them, I will just introduce the first one. It originally came out for Mega Drive, but I will be playing the PC Engine port. It added CD-quality music, short animated sequences and some voicing, and some gameplay changes. These changes seem to me fairly minor, and I’m not sure what they all are [2022 EDIT: See bottom of this post]. The magic system is apparently more like Langrisser II’s, and each character has a secret class upgrade.

The instruction manual gives the background which is also in an opening cinematic. The titular “Langrisser” is an ancient sword, said to give great powers to whoever wields it. It has caused many wars over the centuries, and is now protected by the Baldia royal family, descendants of great heroes.  But Emperor Digos of Dalsis has decided to attack Baldia in order to acquire the Langrisser, so that he can rule the world (mwahaha).

The next page of the manual introduces most of the characters.

The person at the bottom left is Kurisu, so I now have a mascot for my blogs.

The gameplay is distinct from Fire Emblem, the best precedent MASAYA would have had for development — they seem to have been influenced by other types of strategy games. These are some of the features of the game:

  • The characters are leaders, who you assign troops at the beginning of every stage. These troops are associated with the leader and get certain benefits from being in the leader’s command area. Any kills done by those troops give XP to the leader. The troops all go away at the end of each stage, so there is no particular downside to losing them. If a leader dies, they are permanently dead. [EDIT: I have confirmed that in the PCE version they do not permanently die. From what I’ve read this is a change from the Mega Drive version.]
  • When a leader reaches level 10, they can upgrade their class. There are multiple class paths you can take. The manual claims that levelling up increases a character’s combat effectiveness, but as far as I can tell this is not reflected in any stat changes or anything visible. But the combat is fairly opaque so there may be a hidden calculation involved.
  • Enemies also have leaders, and beating a leader kills all of the troops under it as well.
  • Each leader can have one item. Some of them increase the stats of the troops, others the leader.
  • Leaders can heal themselves with a command. Troops that are adjacent to the leader will be healed a bit as well.
  • Some classes can use magic spells, which can target at a range. There are defensive, healing, and attack spells.

Next up I’ll start stage 1.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the Mega Drive version of the game was released in English under the title “Warsong”. I don’t know much about how accurate the translation is; I know they changed many of the names (for instance “Chris” is “Mina” and “Jessica” is “Sabra”). This was commonly done in early localizations when the Japanese versions of games would have names that didn’t sound “high fantasy” enough for Americans. Xenic Reverie did a playthrough of Warsong on his blog.

EDIT 2: This is an addition from 2022. When I played this game initially I didn’t spend enough time researching the differences between the Mega Drive and PC Engine versions and the changes are more significant than I initially thought.

The biggest change that was made is that in the MD version, death of a commander is permanent, but they removed that in the PCE version so that the commander reappears in the next stage. A shop was added between stages (in some stages). There were some changes in the story which I mention in the posts, and the magic system was significantly revised as well. Finally, you can turn off the battle animations in the PCE version. It’s fair to call this Langrisser 1.5. At one point there was a video by Harvester of Eyes that went into detail in this game, but it has been deleted, unfortunately.

SRPG Game 3 – Super Robot Wars (Famicom)

Super Robot Wars (スーパーロボット大戦)
Release Date: 4/20/1991
System: Game Boy
Developer: Winkysoft
Publisher: Banpresto
「スーパーロボット大戦」初代はパイロットはいなかった ...
Super Robot Wars is one of the titans of the SRPG genre, with around 60 titles in the series and more still being released. However, SRW will occupy a strange place on this blog, because I have already played all of the SRW games from SRW 2 up through Original Generations 2 (that’s 44 games!) and I have no desire to play them all again.

What I am going to do instead is take this opportunity to post some commentary I made on the forum while I was playing them through. These commentaries are not necessary fleshed out and polished, but the majority of my commentary posts disappeared in a forum crash (I have them all saved locally), so this seems like a good place to put them.

The exception is SRW 1, which I never played. It’s really a black sheep of the family, and in some case almost doesn’t qualify as an SRPG by the definition I’m using here because it doesn’t have a developing story. It’s basically just a series of maps with the end goal of defeating Gilgilgan. So I’ve only played the first 2 stages of it and this is the only post I will make about it. It’s much closer to the Compachi Heroes franchise and seems to have been made in imitation of the Daisenryaku games (which are not SRPGs).

To me this is barely recognizable as a SRW game although you can see some of the seeds of what comes later. You start off by choosing between Gundams, Mazinger, or Getter Robo and you start with only units from there. You can convince other units to your side, but it’s much harder to do so if the units are not from the franchise of the convincing character. Unlike most SRWs there are no pilots; the mechs are animate by themselves. Seishin exist, but only your leader can use them, and each stage it randomly selects three for you to be able to use. The game has permadeath, unlike every other SRW. The weapons have no bullets or energy, so even the range high-damage weapons like the Vesper and Fin Funnels can be used as many times as you want. You find hidden items in each stage which include additional weapons for the mechs.

Anyway here’s my experience with the first two stages.

Stage 1

I chose the Gundams, and F-91 as my leader. So I can put points into attack, HP, speed, and Charisma (which helps with convincing units).

The units are F-91, ZZ, 100-shiki, Z, Gun Cannon, Nu Gundam, and original Gundam. The enemies are a mix of enemies from the three franchises, with a Garada K7 (from Mazinger) as the boss.

The battle scenes are simple, and just attack-counterattack (unless the unit is out of range). I don’t like the seishin system because it’s too random — you can get good ones like Friendship, or you can be stuck with ones that only affect the leader. I’m also not sure how to heal. I tried to convince a unit but it failed.

Along the way there are towers that give items, and then the boss. I had Friendship so I didn’t lose any units here.

Stage 2

The boss here is Elmeth, from first Gundam. Texas Mack is also there. In both stages, the enemies all rush you except the boss and a couple of units around it, so the hardest part is the middle when the enemies can all gang up on someone. I managed to convince a Kapool but it immediately got killed by the enemies.

So that’s all I played and it really didn’t seem like that good of a game. But you can try for yourself because there’s an English patch on

SRPG Game 2 – Little Master Wrap-up

Image result for リトルマスター ライクバーンの伝説


Little Master: Legend of Likebahn (リトルマスター ライクバーンの伝説)
Release Date: 4/19/1991 
System: Game Boy 
Developer: Zener Works 
Publisher: Intellimedia

  1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
  2. Maps: Small. Terrain gives bonuses. Gimmicks on each stage.
  3. Character customization: None.
  4. Character development: Standard XP level system. Max level is 8, but monsters can be combined at temples to change to better monsters.
  5. Party size: 7 is the most you can send out on a map; I’m not sure what the maximum size of your party is. You can get additional monsters from buildings on certain maps.
  6. Equipment: The game has no items or equipment.
  7. Game flow: Most of the stages can be repeated. No exploration. No alternate paths or secret maps.
  8. Saving: Any time. There is something odd (or perhaps glitched) with the saving though; sometimes it will restart you at the beginning of the level if you reload, but with your XP intact. If you get a game over, you have to reset before you’re actually returned to the world map or it will auto save you there and you’ll have to do the stage again. 
  9. Death: When a unit reaches 0 HP it is removed from the map and loses all XP (but retains level).


Games for the Game Boy were always “lesser” than games for the home consoles — not that the games were automatically less fun on the portable system, but they tended to be less ambitious, smaller, easier to play, and shorter. Some of this is due to the limitations of the hardware, but sometimes it’s simply developer laziness or the audience perception. This game has only 15 small stages compared to Fire Emblem’s 25 medium-to-large ones. Little Master 2, which came out a year later, has 34 stages, so it would not seem that the developers were hardware limited here.

This game does have some interesting features. They tried to differentiate the maps by putting gimmicks in (like tornadoes that randomly move characters, or graves that spawn zombies). The monster combination system has a lot of potential. The main problem with it is that unless you repeat stages, it’s hard to build your monsters up to the point where you can combine them to make a lot of different units. And it’s not really necessary because Moomoo and your hero are strong enough to beat the majority of the game (maybe the whole game) themselves. This does increase the replay value and length, something I would have appreciated as a kid when I only got a few games a year. I can see having fun playing the early stages repeatedly to level my monsters and make the most powerful ones. But it’s not necessary.

In 2018 there’s not much reason to play this unless you’re a huge Game Boy fan. Even if the gameplay seems appealing, I have a feeling that the 2nd and 3rd games in the series are better, but we’ll see shortly. There is a translation patch for this game, however.

    SRPG Game 2 – Little Master (Stages 11-15)

    The last five stages actually have some element of storyline, though not a whole lot. My goal for my units was to get some dragons — by the end I managed to get one, and two cyclops, which was enough to help out a bit in the missions.

    Stage 11 – Dracula Castle

    Dracula is hanging at the back but the boss is actually Medusa. There are hidden mines on the floor that hurt anyone stepping on them (including enemies). When I saved and reloaded my save later, all my units were back at the beginning (but with their XP intact and the enemies defeated) and all the mines had been sprung. A bug, I guess.

    Afterwards, Dracula takes the princess and flees.

    Stage 12 – The Flame Mountain

    The trick in this stage is that all the flame squares do 5 damage a turn until you beat the Hell Crab on the right.

    Once the hell crab is gone, Dracula is the boss at the top left.

    Stage 13 – The Dragon Cave

    This stage has a sword that the Hero can get, after beating the Sword Guardian, who then joins your team (his name is “Arabia”, you can see him in the picture below). The sword then makes the hero always critical hit and do a lot of damage, so he’s obviously the most effective fighter for the rest of the game.

    The boss is a Hydra. This has to be the most pathetic looking Hydra I’ve ever seen.

    Afterwards we reach Gezagain’s Castle, and he sends a Demon out to fight us.

    Stage 14 – Castle in the Earth

    Finally we’re at Gezagain’s castle. But seeing that he’s hiding behind another boss, we know he’s going to run away. This castle has warp tiles that send the units around to different places. If a unit is standing on the tile the warp would take you to, it has no effect, which makes the stage somewhat annoying.

    Afterwards, Gezagain runs up to his cloud castle.

    Stage 15 – Final Battle in the Sky

    All the monsters in this stage are dragons, but there are a lot of hexagrams so it’s not too bad. The final boss has two forms.

    The problem is that if you beat the first form on the enemy phase, it screws you over. He immediately gets a free attack in his second form, then for some reason it’s back to the end of your phase again and he gets another attack. So I had to make sure it wasn’t the Hero who beat him, so that whoever did beat him could die without game over.

    Gegazain’s second form is a big dragon. Once he’s defeated, the game ends.

    Our hero saves the princess, and returns to the castle.

    So that’s Little Master. I’ll say more in the wrapup but basically, it’s not really worth playing now but I can imagine it was a fun game to take on the road with you in a time where there weren’t a whole lot of RPGs (and no SRPGs) for the platform.

    SRPG Game 2 – Little Master (Game Boy) (Stages 1-10)

    Little Master: Legend of Likebahn (リトルマスター ライクバーンの伝説)
    Image result for リトルマスター ライクバーンの伝説Release Date: 4/19/1991
    System: Game Boy 
    Developer: Zener Works 
    Publisher: Intermedia

    After Fire Emblem, it took a year for the next game to come out that falls within my definition of an SRPG. It’s for the Game Boy, and predictably it’s considerably shorter and less ambitious than Fire Emblem. It spawned a short franchise, with Little Master 2 coming out a year later, and then a third game for Super Famicom in 1995.

    The games are clearly building on the structure that Fire Emblem started, but they do introduce new elements of gameplay. Except for a few unique characters, your party is made up of various monsters, who can be combined in temples to grow into stronger monsters. Each stage is slightly different, with gimmicks or tricks to keep things interesting. While the game is quite short at 15 small stages, that’s typical for this era of the Game Boy. Having a game that you could take with you anywhere was enough of an advantage that even a not-so-exciting game could sell.

    The gameplay is very basic. It’s standard SRPG. Your characters can move up to level 8, and there is no equipment or items. A unit attacks, the other unit counters. It follows FE’s player turn/enemy turn system. Most of the stages can be repeated as many times as you want, so there are opportunities to build up your characters and try to use the monster combination system to get different units.

    The game begins with the opening story. Dark King Gezagain suddenly appeared 6 months ago on a stormy night and took over a bunch of kingdoms. The kingdom of Lainark is also under attack and facing destruction. The main character Lim, and his close associate Moomoo (the cow in the picture above) are sent out by the king to fight against Gezagain’s forces.

    The first 10 stages have no developing story; the king just sends you out to a particular place to deal with some troops of Gezagain.

    The king and his hard to read Game Boy text

    Scenario 1 – The Hero Sets Out

    You begin with the hero, Moomoo, and three additional monsters — a Sheepman, a Chickenman, and a Treant. Treants can walk over rivers. The other two don’t have any specialties. Other monsters can attack 2 spaces away or fly. This is a very small and simple stage, with nothing tricky about it. The house gives you a Mouseman.

    Scenario 2 – The Strange Temple

    This is the stage with the first temple. By moving two monsters onto it, they can be combined into a bigger monster. The hexagram at the bottom is a heal point. Any unit (enemy or player) moving there regains all their HP. However, if a unit is attacked while on the hexagram, it breaks (units can be counterattacked there with nothing happening). This does add a bit of strategy because you need to be careful about how you use the hexagrams, or which monsters you attack.

    Scenario 3 – Tornado Panic

    The gimmick of this stage is that whirlwinds come randomly at the end of each turn and move a unit to another random space.

    Scenario 4 – The Illusion Lake

    A combination

    The boss of this stage appears after you chase a lake around for a while. At this point my hero and Moomoo were gaining a lot of levels (8 is the maximum) although I tried to level some of my other guys. If anyone is defeated, they leave the stage and their XP resets to 0 (although their level remains intact). The combination is based on the units’ “rank” and level, so combining two low level units like I did above won’t give you much good.

    Scenario 5 – Protect the Forest

    The boss cuts down a tree every turn. If you let him cut down all the trees, extra enemies appear.

    Scenario 6 – Deal with the Dam

    Here you have to reach the Dam square, which will dry up the water and reveal the house with the boss.

    Scenario 7 – Zombie Legend

    Zombies come out the graves, although they can’t move very fast. By attacking one of the tombstones you destroy it, and destroying all the tombstones stops the zombies and reveals the boss.

    Scenario 8 – Mountain of the Falling Stars

    The magician highlighted above, when defeated, accidentally releases a huge magic burst that kills or weakens most of the enemies. The Cyclops are tough so this should be done first. By this point I was mostly using just the hero and Moomoo to beat everything.

    Scenario 9 – Fly to the Magic Mountain

    Fortunately you don’t have to use flying units, since a house at the top will release a bridge. I had some success here with a Wyvern unit that I had made at a temple.

    Scenario 10 – Fortress of the Monsters

    Supposedly this is the final stage as the king sends you to deal with Gezagain’s castle. Of course this isn’t the end of the game, though, the boss of the stage isn’t even Gezagain.

    After winning this stage, it turns out it was just a feint to draw your attention away. The king is wounded and the princess captured.

    So the story actually begins here, and I’ll cover the last 5 stages in the next post.

    PCE Game 21 – Tenshi no Uta II

    Tenshi no Uta II: Choice of the Fallen Angel (天使の詩II 堕天使の選択)
    Released 3/26/1993, published by Telenet Japan

    This is the sequel to the 1991 Tenshi no Uta, which I played earlier this year. At first it doesn’t seem like a direct sequel — the first one took place basically on Earth (in Ireland and England), but this takes place in a completely different fantasy world. But we’ll get to the story connections to 1 later.

    There’s not a whole lot to say about the gameplay. It’s completely standard Dragon Quest-style AMID. You can deal with most battles just by holding down the turbo button. The bosses mostly take the same strategy; cast whatever buffs and debuffs you have, then heal and attack until they’re dead.

    The music is pretty good just like in the first game.  Here’s the OST; I don’t know if the time link is going to work with the embedding, but around 10 minutes is the dungeon theme, and about 4 minutes in is the daytime town theme if you want some examples.

    The game begins with the main character, Fate (subtle name) and his friend Shion.

    A welcome change from the first game is that the severe inventory limit is gone — it now seems to be effectively unlimited although I don’t know if there is a cap somewhere. Shion and Fate go to clear monsters out of a nearby tower. Although the door won’t open at first, an earthquake breaks it open. At the top of the tower they find a boss, and then a girl.

    The girl is Riana, who has lost her memory. They head back to town, but that night, the town is attacked by demons that seem to be led by a Dark Church member. Despite the name, Shion was actually a follower of Dark Church and is surprised to see this. The three of them escape through an underground tunnel, but Shion can’t believe that Dark Church was really involved and decides to go out on his own to find the truth. Meanwhile they meet up with a desert nomad Jia, who I don’t have a screenshot of. She wants us to escort her back to her village, but she joins the team.

    The next destination, though, is a town of Dark Church believers. There, we sneak in by making them think Jia is part of the circus. There we release a number of prisoners from cells, and learn that Dark is trying to unify the world under their own rule, and is building some kind of flying Ark. Our next party member Ranzo is also there.

    In the castle we learn that King Ragnakang is working with the Dark Church to unify all the world under one culture, in order to oppose the monsters. At his side is Ramiam, a Dark Church priest, who Jia seems to know. The result is that we need to get back to Jia’s village Rahasa as fast as possible, because the Dark Church is going to attack it. Ranzo can help unlock the door to a tower we need to pass through.

    After a quick stop in Ranzo’s town, we finally reach Rahasa. It turns out Ramiam was Jia’s fiance before he left for the Dark Church. The elder thinks Riana might be an angel (big surprise) but he has a little mission for us to do. We head up to a cave where a Dark Church priest is summoning a dragon. The dragon immediately crushes him to dust, but we manage to defeat him. But for the second time in the game, we return to a destroyed city.

    The Dark Church has destroyed the town, and Shion is with them. He has completely bought into Ramiam’s plan to build an ideal paradise, but that will require making sacrifices — apparently this village is one of them. Jia leaves the party.

    We continue our journey, coming across Shion’s hometown. There’s not much to there except get attacked by Dark Church followers — but then saved by Marius and Alma, two people from the Dark Church. Apparently not all the Dark Church people are bad. Anyway, we get a new party member, Farn. He turns out to be the leader of a resistance against the Dark Church.

    The party continues, trying to find a way to restore Riana’s memory. As is common in these games, it’s time to find a boat so we can get off the initial land. After a few intermediate dungeons, the party arrives at a harbor — unfortunately the only available boat is being used by the Dark Church. But as an honorable and upstanding hero party we decide to sneak onboard. Of course Shion is there, but also the knight Merouz, who for some reason tries to let us go when he hears Fate’s name. But Fate is determined to kill him, and Merouz has to knock him into the water. The rest of the party follows. We’re washed ashore but then immediately captured and jailed by the Dark Church. Ranzo lets us out, and Jia rejoins the team.

    Soon we learn more about Ramiam’s plan — he is trying to find the Orichalcum for some unknown reason. The next boss is Baruva, who has fused with Lucifer cells. Lucifer was the final boss of Tenshi no Uta 1.

    After this, Raphael arrives to see Riana. He confirms that she’s an angel, but seems upset with her — she’s supposed to be completing two missions. One is to eliminate the Lucifer Cells from the world below, and the other is to pass some kind of “judgment.” But he leaves before we learn the full story, and Riana is still without her memory. Also we still don’t have a ship, but that is soon rectified after a couple of fetch quests. Now we can travel all over the world! There are a few side quests I’ll skip in the interest of space. One of them is very useful, though, because it gives you the Heal Staff. Unlike a lot of games, this can be used out of battle, so it’s basically free unlimited healing when you find it. The shop also sells the strongest armor for Riana and a few others.

    I’m going to summarize the next part because it’s one of those grand multi-fetch quests you often find in RPGs. A magician Dewey joins up and we find out that Ramiam is trying to open the Demon Gate in order to summon a whole bunch of demons to the world. In order to stop this, we have to find a demon sword and three items that will let us open the way to where he is and stop him.

    After getting all this and heading to where the Demon Gate is, the first step is to fight the knight Merouz.

    After Merouz is defeated, Ramiam tells us that the Demon Gate required the blood of two relatives fighting to open it — the suggestion is that Merouz is Fate’s father. The gate opens, and sucks Dewey in.

    But Fate throws the demon sword at the gate, closing it, although Dewey is lost. Now that Ramiam has failed to open the Demon Gate, his next plan is to activate the Ark (Agnea). Fate and company try to stop him from getting the Orihalchum but they’re too late. Marius and Alma, the Dark Church people from earlier, are waiting for Fate, as they now want to join him against Ramiam. But Ramium shows up on the Agnea and kills Alma, and captures Marius.

    Before that, they had told us we should try to activate a second Ark, the Sero. This requires another sequence of fetch quests, ending on the deck of the Sero against a Beruva, who still has the Lucifer Cells.

    Afterwards, Shion and Ramiam show up. Ramiam captures Riana so that he can use her power to merge with Satan [I wonder why this was never localized?]. Shion finally sees through Ramiam’s plans — he doesn’t join, though, preferring to try to stop Ramiam on his own. Now we have an airship!

    Now we can go anywhere in the world, so there are a few side quests and optional events to do. After that, we need the “last key” to be able to open a locked door in Excazan Castle, where Ramiam is. Descending to the depths there, we find Riana trapped in some kind of sphere, with Ramiam and King Ragnakan nearby.

    Riana is able to break out, but we do have to fight the Lucifer Cell infested King Ragnakan. Fortunately Riana is back so she can cast the very powerful attack up spell that makes these bosses fairly easy. I think I’m going to stop the post here at this climactic point because this is probably 2/3 of the way through the game. What will happen when the party confronts Ramiam in the castle? Find out next week, as well as how the game connects to Tenshi no Uta 1.

    Overall this game is OK. The battles are boring but with emulator speedup they can be dispensed with quickly. The dungeons are short and rarely have anything particularly interesting in them, but the story is reasonably entertaining.

    SRPG Game 1 – Fire Emblem Wrap-up


    Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon and the Sword of Light (ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒竜と光の剣) 
    Release Date: 4/20/1990  
    System: Famicom, later remade on the Super Famicom and Nintendo DS 
    Designer: Kaga Shozo, Intelligent Systems 
    Publisher: Nintendo

    1. Turn type: Player turn/enemy turn.
    2. Maps: Fairly large. Terrain gives evade bonuses, but nothing else. No height.
    3. Character customization: None.
    4. Character development: Standard XP level system. Stat gains based on innate “growth rates” that differ by character. At level 10, some characters can promote to an upgraded class with the right item. 
    5. Party size: There are a total of 52 characters in the game (51 total can be acquired). At most 15 can be deployed in any stage.
    6. Equipment: Each character has 4 items, including weapons and usable items. There is no armor.
    7. Game flow: Each stage follows the previous one; maps cannot be repeated. There is no exploration or intermission screen between maps. No alternate paths or secret maps.
    8. Saving: Only after completing a stage. A temporary “suspend” save can be made during a stage. 
    9. Death: Permadeath.


    Reviewing retro games can be difficult because it’s hard to know what standpoint you should look at them from. The reason I called this “impressions” rather than a review is that I don’t want to give any suggestion that this is an objective review. This is simply my own experience playing these games — someone who has been playing video games since the early 1980s. I can’t put myself in the mindset of how I might have thought of this game if I had played it in 1990. So at times my comments are unfair from the standpoint of what we could reasonably expect of Kaga and the other developers at the time. Given what they had to go on at the time I think they did a really good job with the game. And of course they get a lot of credit for starting a franchise that is still going strong 28 years later, and doing a lot to start the SRPG genre.
    I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first. There are two problems that hurt my enjoyment of the game. The first is the item handling interface. Each person can only hold 4 items. There’s no intermission screen where you can transfer items, so everything has to be done on the map. You can store extra items in a storage unit. But buying, transferring, storing, and retrieving items is painful. I would often put it off because I didn’t want to deal with it. There are other issues with the interface as well — not being able to easily see movement ranges, not being sure how much damage anyone is going to do without manually calculating formulas.
    The second problem is the permadeath of units. I can’t deny that this adds a lot of tension and strategy to the game — you can’t simply throw all your units forward in a mad rush and win as long as you beat the boss, or abuse the arena to power level. But it’s too easy to lose a character because of an unlucky critical hit, or because you made a placement mistake or forgot to check an enemy inventory. When this happens 40 minutes into a stage it’s very demoralizing. In fact this is why I have never finished a Fire Emblem game before this one. I found that my compromise of one save state per stage worked pretty well. It still meant that I couldn’t just move units without thinking, but a simple mistake didn’t send me all the way back to the beginning. I always wondered if the designers intended for you to lose characters and keep playing (they give you 51!) but judging from the developer comments that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    The game balance is spotty. The classes and characters vary widely in ability — the axe users, for instance, get poor weapons and generally bad stats, and can’t promote. The Social Knights start out much better (with greater movement, weapon choice, stats) and can promote. You can probably win the game with all kinds of parties but it’s nice when the characters are closer in ability.

    There is the opportunity for a fair amount of strategy in the game. Unit placement is extremely important because of how easy it is to get ganged up on and killed in the enemy turns. Going slow helps a lot with this, but often the designers have encouraged faster play by including thieves that steal chests and destroy towns, or reinforcements that start coming out if you take too long.

    The storyline is really nothing to speak of — most of the characters barely exist beyond an initial dialogue, and the plot is all given in the instruction manual. You know at the beginning of the game you’re going to recover the Falchion and beat Medius, and that’s what you do.

    Overall I think this is an impressive effort for 1990, and it still held together pretty well for me. The rough edges are to be expected from a game of this era, particularly one that was still inventing a genre. I wouldn’t particularly recommend the game except for FE or SRPG fans who really want to see how the franchise/genre started. If you’re interested in the characters or (fairly light) story, you might as well play the remake in Mystery of the Emblem, or the total remake for the DS.