Tag Archives: Fire Emblem

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Vandal Hearts

At first, I couldn’t remember the name of this game. Was it Valiant Hearts? No, that was the dramatic Great War take starring a cool dog from a few years back. Was it Vigilante Hearts? No, though something under that title does appear to exist. At last, after some light Googling, I figured it out and everything came rushing back…Vandal Hearts, one of my first stabs at a strategy RPG, as well as the title that helped pave the way for future classics like Final Fantasy Tactics and the Ogre Battle series. Too bad this one didn’t really go anywhere. Also, don’t expect it to show up on the forthcoming PlayStation Classic…though I’m surprised that both a sequel and a prequel were later made.

Anyways, this Vandal Hearts is a turn-based tactical role-playing video game developed by my once favorite companies Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo for the original PlayStation back in 1997. It’s got a lot of what many modern, staple SRPGs have these days, such as Fire Emblem and its ilk: a grid-based map, a variety of abilities to employ, and rock/paper/scissors combat. Y’know, warriors with swords kill archers, archers kill hawknights, and hawknights kill swordsmen. There’s also healers, mages, heavy armor warriors, and monks to contend with–who later can turn into ninja, y’know like all monks eventually do. Your enemies for each mission is comprised of similar classes, and it’s your responsibility to exploit their weaknesses, and not every mission is about destroying all the enemies as other objectives are in play.

Vandal Hearts‘ story, as far as I can remember and dig up info on, revolves around one Ash Lambert, a young warrior tormented by the traitorous legacy of his father. Ash and his wonderfully named cast of allies have dedicated themselves to stopping a power-mad dictator named Hel Spites–what a name–from rising to power. It’s a bit traditional, but I liked a lot of the characters and dialogues, and there are some early twists to deal with that make their progress slow and, at times, a little dull.

I definitely did not ever beat Vandal Hearts. I probably didn’t even get too far into the whole affair as I knew early on that SRPGs just weren’t my cup of tea. Though many years later some titles would change my mind momentarily. I do remember being confused why archers were not able to shoot diagonally. Also, moving a cursor around with a PlayStation console was a chore and never felt fluid. Still, it’s a game I think about from time to time, maybe because I dig its aesthetic so much, or because I spent so much of my lonely teenager years hanging out with my best friend the gray videogame console adorned with PSM lid stickers, and the music is super solid.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

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2013 Game Review Haiku, #19 – Fire Emblem: Awakening

2013 games completed fe awakening

The trials of Chrom
Cost many their lives, too bad
Permadeath is tough

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Nowi and Norne are no more as Fire Emblem: Awakening marches on

rip nowi and norne in fe awakening

In actuality, Fire Emblem: Awakening‘s Chapter 23 “Invisible Ties” could have ended with several other deaths, but only Nowi and Norne fell down, never to get back up. That now brings the total to…21 dead characters in this permadeath playthrough. I am unstoppable.

One of those two that kicked the bucket is a main story character, who I recently married to Kellam and saw have a half-mime, half-dragon child with, and the other came from the Bonus Box, which means she is, alas, nonessential. But she was pretty special to me, seeing that I had leveled Norne up to 20, then reclassed her to a Sniper, and had her hit the level cap for a second time. She was wicked killer with all kinds of bows and had excellent range, so seeing her struck swiftly down was not easy to endure. Nowi, as a Manakete, which is the Fire Emblem way of saying dragon, was not very active in battle, having only the ability to breath a fireball now and then via Dragonstones. I used her enough to form a relationship with Kellam and bring forth her future kid, but that was about it. She “retired” at the ripe age of over 1,000 years old.

::pours one out for the bow and the beast::

However, as I’ve come to experience in Fire Emblem: Awakening, everything balances out. So while I lost two members of the Shepherds, I also gained two new ones. Alas, for extremely story-related reasons, I can’t say who I got, and hopefully I can keep them alive long enough to not have to spoil y’all over their reveal. I like them flavor-wise, but neither seem to be anything great in terms of weapons and skills, and seeing how late they are joining my team, I won’t have many more chances to grind them up in levels and relationships. I wonder if I can get a future child from them though…

Anyways, based on what happens in Chapter 23 and how it relates to the opening level of the game, I kind of thought it was the final battle, but it looks like there are a few more to go. Despite all my losses, I think I can do it. The Shepherds will  be victorious. I know, famous last words.

Had to kill off Cordelia in Fire Emblem: Awakening to make room for future kids

rip cordelia fire emblem awakening

All right, another one down and out–by that I mean “retired” this time, not dead dead–in Fire Emblem: Awakening. No surprise, really: it’s Cordelia, a member of Ylisse’s Pegasus Knight Squad. And that means a single thrown stone can take her out, and since the enemy AI loves to attack the most vulnerable character at any given chance, even if it makes no sense strategy-wise, she fell fast after I accidentally moved her too close to a horseback archer’s range. A shame, really, as things were turning around for the Shepherds. Well, in my eyes, at least; everyone totally understands that, at this point, I’ve now killed 20 of my loyal friends, which irrefutably means I’m a terrible tactician. But we were growing closer, like a family.

Speaking of that, I got myself married. Woo! Well, for a second time. Don’t tell Tara. Her name is Say’ri, an old-fashioned princess if there ever was one, and we’re pretty pleased as punch to become one. From that, we were able to create our future kid Morgan. Kellam and Nowi also hooked up, producing a future dragon baby with the best name ever: Nah. Unfortunately, I flubbed up; long before these two marriages came and happened, with me learning how the future kid paralogues worked, I had Stahl and Panne unite in true love. However, during their kid’s paralogue battle, I accidentally picked the wrong side, and the only other rabbit beast thing left the realm for good, slain by what could have been her new companions and parents. My bad. I didn’t know…though I totally should have known.

So, lost one, but gained two. I also managed to complete both Chapter 19 and Chapter 20 with everyone safe and sound. Alas, at this point, I can’t really make many more kids because most of the story-related characters needed for pairing up with those that still remain and are kidless…are dead. See, I knew there would be drastic consequences to this whole permadeath thing. Poor Frederick must now cut off his genitals and become a eunuch.

Two more deaths and a confession for Fire Emblem: Awakening

fea deaths olivia and mycen

I have a confession to make: I reloaded a previous save in Fire Emblem: Awakening last night after losing too many–in my opinion–key characters during Chapter 19 “The Conquerer,” which felt like a slaughtering in all definitions of the word. And by key, here is who died during that one battle: Kellam, Nowi, and Norne. Two main storyline characters and one downloadable archer from the Bonus Box section, but I was mostly annoyed with losing Kellam, as at this point in the game I’ve reclassed him to be a Great Knight, making him an efficient killing machine. So yeah, I felt a conflicting twist in my chest the entire time, watched the cutscene after the battle, and decided restart my 3DS before I got too far in and accidentally saved away my digital friends.

The irony is that after reloading my previous save, I lost two other characters afterwards while grinding in better preparation for a second stab at Chapter 19. I figured that this was the game’s way of punishing me for going against my promise of permadeath all the way through. I’m not the only one feeling that hurt; see ya, Olivia and Mycen–it’s been real.

Right. I was using Reeking Boxes in some of the later parts of the map–depending where you use the item, the stronger the enemies will be, which of course means more XP to be gained–and this map was inside a castle, which meant tight halls and limited movement. Unfortunately, I moved Olivia too close to Serra, my healer, who was too close to an enemy unit. Once it was the enemy’s turn, they immediately made a bee-line for Olivia, striking her down in two axe swings. A shame she couldn’t sexy dance herself out of that fight. As for Mycen, a magic user toasted his Fire Emblem Gaiden butt, and I had only recently downloaded, fought, and recruited him to the Shepherds a chapter ago.

So now I’m down two more characters, which means I’m not fighting with a full company of characters in Chapter 19. And I need as many peeps as possible to survive that ordeal, considering how many enemy units there are and how often the reinforcements get called in. I was able to get Stahl to propose to Panne, and they got married. I’m not sure how to go about getting them to breed and make kids yet, and I’d love to have their child in the fight. I’m also trying to pair up myself (the Avatar) with Say’ri in hopes of stronger stats and a child. But it looks like if I’m to get past Chapter 19 any time soon, with all my friends save and sound, I will need to dip back into the Bonus Box for some extra characters. Any suggestions on who to recruit would be appreciated, and for all intents and purposes, I won’t be bringing back dead downloaded characters again, even though you totally can.

Onwards, I struggle. I mean…march.

Easy come, easy go with two more deaths in Fire Emblem: Awakening

fea rip gregor and cherche

Well, another chapter has been completed in Fire Emblem: Awakening, which resulted in two more deaths. One had no effect on me, and the other nearly had me breaking my permadeath-forwards plan and resetting the game to try again and fix my foolish mistakes…but I didn’t. Instead, I saved my progress, checked the roster list to confirm the death, sadly, and shut the game off for the night. Grr. Like I said in my previous post, I’m now at the point in the game where I’ll be losing key members of the party, people that I’ve spent some considerable time with, leveling them up and picking out their specific weapons and working on relationship boosts.

Let’s get this out of the way. Yeah, yeah, Cherche died, and she died because she is a Wyvern Rider, also known as Dragon Knight, which means “kind of useless.” That might sound a little harsh, but I’ve not found many uses for air-borne warriors yet. Seriously, all it takes is one thrown pebble, and down these winged warriors go. I’m not upset over it, as I barely used her to begin with, and mostly had to spend time moving her away from enemies more than anything else. Well, in Chapter 18 “Sibling Blades”, there’s a lot happening, mostly related to the map deteriorating due to rising lava levels, and I guess I forgot where she was, and the enemy quickly moved in for the kill. My bad, not sad.

Now, just before starting “Sibling Blades”, I did two or three small side battles, for grinding’s sake. On the last one, I got Gregor’s level maxxed out at 20, and then used a Master Seal to reclass him to a Bow Knight. This allows him to use bows while still being killer with the right sword. Also, after these side battles, his relationship status with Panne reached level B, and I was pretty curious to see where those two would go from there. Unfortunately, it will never be, as I moved Gregor too far ahead–and by himself–for his own good. Believe it was one of those wizards with Elfire or something that killed him quickly. I’ll certainly miss his friendly and refreshing personality, as well as that accent and unique speech pattern that made him both hard to understand and completely unacceptable at times.

With that said and no going back, all I can do is push forward, keep my living and breathing people healthy and healed, re-arrange my units properly before a fight begins, and kick some serious Grima butt. Also now need to either level up some non-used folks, like Nowi, or find similar replacements for Gregor and Cherche via the Bonus Box. Stay tuned…

Another five dead and gone in Fire Emblem: Awakening

another five dead in fire emblem awakening

It’s been a weekend, and not a good one for those living in my Fire Emblem: Awakening cartridge. Let’s just get to the heart of the matter and list the latest lost loved ones–I can’t confidently say I loved all of these characters, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration–and then I’ll tell you a bit about the how and why they died:

  • Lissa (retired)
  • Lucina (retired)
  • Nyna (dead)
  • Kjelle (dead)
  • Libra (dead)

Man oh man. Hold on a sec, I need to do some counting. Okay, okay. Since starting Fire Emblem: Awakening  last month and sticking with the whole permadeath aspect and not reloading once, I’ve now lost fifteen characters during Chrom’s plight to save the kingdom and bring about peace. Fifteen, yo. That’s crazy. I suspect I’ll lose a few more in the upcoming chapters as I near the end, but I really hope that’s not the case, as I’m now coming down to a handful of men and women, many of which I like and have strengthened purposely and with tactics in mind. Don’t you dare take away my Frederick, you hear?

Anyways, Lissa died–well, retired, really–during Chapter 14 “Flames on the Blue”, which is set on a bunch of boats in the middle of the ocean. Movement space is severely limited, and there were a ton of Pegasus Knights flying around the enemy boats. If you know anything about them, they have fantastic range, able to attack just about anything on the map within a move or two, and there just wasn’t enough room to keep Lissa safe, no matter where I moved her. As the main healer of the Shepherds, she only carried potions and friendly staffs, going down in just two hits. I ended up replacing her with a downloadable character called Serra, who is a sage and just at good at healing friends. But still, I preferred story-essential Lissa…

As for Nyna, another character that I downloaded from the Bonus Box, but grew to appreciate for her Elwind spells…well, she died during Chapter 16 “Naga’s Voice” because a big ol’ baddie with a Silver Axe rushed her and got lucky with a 2x attack. Not much else to say except that’s a shame, as she was pretty potent, and I had recently reclassed her with a Master Seal in hopes of turning her into even more of a badass.

Which brings me to the slaughter from last night, in Chapter 17 “Inexorable Death.” Now, if there is one large complaint I have about Fire Emblem: Awakening, it is so: you cannot arrange where your units start on the battlefield. They start where the game deems appropriate, and so for this battle, all of the weakest units in the Shepherds were grouped together in one tiny, constricting corner of the map. Kjelle, Lucina, and Libra all did their best, but it was not enough. Scared of losing anyone else, I made straight for the commander and killed him with fire spells and sword slashes and sick little smiles, for those that had fallen that day. And the days before.

Fifteen…