The initial part of this map was difficult. You immediately get rushed by two different sets of units. The first one wasn’t so bad but Hannibal’s armor group was tricky — I had a hard time surviving the enemy phases. Eventually I had everyone arranged right. What makes it difficult is that if you want to recruit Hannibal, you can’t defeat him, and you have to get Seris down to the second castle. Hannibal will begin to retreat back to the castle when most of his troops are beaten, and you can just block the castle entrance and he’ll sit there waiting.
I also sent Fee out to the left to deal with the bandits; it wasn’t working at first but she eventually got a critical hit that helped out a lot. Sety continues to be a monster.
In the next part I got trolled by this lady thief that steals your gold — I lost 65,000 gold and couldn’t even save the town in the end. Other than that this stage isn’t too bad. There’s a triple group of dragon riders that come out at the end. I put Lester on the home castle to guard it but didn’t bother with the others; I wasn’t really concerned about my rank so I let castles get destroyed if it was too annoying to save them.
The last two stages have a lot of units with sleep staffs. This is annoying because I put the Rest staff on Julia, not knowing that she would leave until the end of the game — there’s only one Rest staff in the entire game. I really do not like the item management system in this game. So what this meant is that often I had to rely on Selis, Fee, and Aress who were reasonably good at dodging the sleep attacks or resisting them. If I did take in my whole force I just had to accept that 5-7 of them would get put to sleep and hope I could finish the enemies before that.
First there’s a huge group of mages. I tried a couple of strategies to deal with them but the right one ended up being just charging them and taking out as many as I could in one round.
Next up a group of horsemen arrive. Fee is taking her usual role of speeding ahead to stop the bandits from destroying towns.
The next difficult part in the stage is when Ishtar and Julius are both near the castle.
Julius is very difficult to defeat and both Julius and Ishtar can kill almost anyone. They will both leave when they either kill one of your units, or you kill either of them. So one easy way to pass this section would just be to sacrifice a minor unit that’s not very useful (I don’t have the Valkyrie staff since I didn’t pair Claude with anyone in gen 1).
I was not successful at all in luring them in; what I eventually did was have Altena kill Ishtar; she started out of the range but then I used Leen dancer ability to give her another move. One they were gone the castle fell easily.
The final part of the stage is not hard. This section has an easy choke point.
Move Selis out here to get the Tyrfing.
Then beat Emperor Alvis, and the stage is done. I beat him with Altena — I was mainly using her because the discord people were badmouthing her so much that I wanted to prove her usefulness.
The beginning section has annoying mages with sleep staffs so you have to send out some units to beat them. Then there’s a wall of annoyance:
Lots of sleep staff mages, and too many enemies to just charge in with Selis. Basically what I did was take as many units as I could at the bottom of the enemy formation, accept that I would get a lot of sleeping units, and move Selis up to take the castle as quickly as possible.
The next part of the game is not difficult; they create a “pincer attack” to supposedly trap you but the units move so slowly that it doesn’t matter — you can just take the top castle and ignore the “pincer”.
The next part is one of the hardest in the game and probably the true “final boss”.
Those five mages have sleep staffs. The pegasus knights are very hard to hit, and hit very hard in return with Earth Swords that steal your HP. Ishtar is there, as are a bunch of strong units. I lost many times — one time I managed to do it but the castle got destroyed. Eventually I went back to a save before I conquered the castle. First I took out all the sleep staff mages with Fee. I then moved everyone up and was still having problems. But eventually I got the right formation. For some reason the pegasus sisters decided to all attack Shanan, who was easily able to dodge their attacks and take them out with Balmung. From there the rest of the enemies were manageable, just being careful of Ishtar’s range.
At this point the game is more or less over. The last two castles are an interesting setup but I guess they match the way the other games’ final bosses have worked. Julius sits in the castle surrounded by 12 powerful units representing every type of weapon. It is apparently possible to take them all on with your main force but it’s very difficult and the dialogue clearly indicates that’s not what you’re supposed to do.
Instead, you need to free Julia from her mind control by going up to the NE castle. I took only Selis, Aless, and Fee. Julia will helpfully follow them, and if you take the roundabout path to the north you can avoid the 12 units from moving. The mages can be taken out pretty easily, then Selis talks to Julia and Julia visits the castle to receive the Naga magic.
With Naga, Julia can take out the 12 powerful units plus Julius on her own. I sent Selis with her for the leadership bonus and to help pick off some of the units. As I said, this “special weapon to kill the final boss” has been in all four games to now.
After the credits you get a ranking — mine was pretty low because I let a lot of castles get destroyed, and lost a fair number of units (it saves the stats even if you reset).
Overall I had fun with FE4 — I’m not sure that the larger maps had the same quality of design as the previous games, and the numerous palette-swapped characters felt more generic than some of the previous titles. But the story was entertaining, and the gameplay in general was fun. As I said before, I really did not like the way gold and items were handled in the game despite fans of the series praising it.
This is the last we’ll see of Fire Emblem for a while. The next game was released in September 1999, one of the last games for the Super Famicom. I always find this amazing because at this point the PS2 was six months away and the Nintendo 64 had passed its peak release schedule. But the last game for the SFC came out after the PS2’s release!
Next up is Energy Breaker, the last of the SFC SRPGs (aside from Fire Emblem 5).
The problem with Altena is that she's a physical tank when most of the remaining enemies are magic, a lot of those physical units are bow users who destroy her, and lances are so heavy that she's a bit slow too. She's just easily the worst of the holy weapon users.
I wish you would've spent more time talking about the story because it's almost universally considered the best thing about FE4.
Sorry, I guess I should have. I wasn't overly impressed by it, and I always get more interested in the gameplay. Since there's a translation patch I feel like people can experience the story for themselves, but you're right that I should cover it at least a little bit.