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Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube) Review

When it comes to 2D to 3D transitions there aren't many better than Nintendo. With the likes of SEGA still having problems getting Sonic into 3D while keeping the game true to the soul of the 2D version we all fell in love with, Nintendo has successfully brought Mario, Zelda, and Samus into the 3rd dimension. Is the Fire Emblem series about to join them in the hallowed Hall of Fame or sit in the naughty corner with Pikachu? Read on to find out...

If you have read or played the previous two handheld Fire Emblem games then you have a good idea of what to expect. Very little has changed between Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and the two Game Boy outings that have hit the West, the most visible change being the graphics, which are not that much to write home about. Even the FMV, as good as it is, is quite short and this quality has been done and been bettered on both rival consoles. And the cel-shaded aspect of the graphics allows the character designs, which range from poor to great, to keep their anime style but unfortunately at the expense of detail. Units such as Generals and Paladins, with their bolder schemes, look good but units such as the Wyvern Lord look washed out and featureless. With regards to the audio it has ticked all the right boxes but because so many other Japanese games have done the same the music fails to stand out. It is good but it does not make much impact on the game whether you have the volume turned up or simply set to mute.

The game plays pretty much identically to the rules set down by the previous titles, the pre-existing weapon and magic triangle remaining untouched, but with a game mechanic that strikes such a good balance between ease of use tactical mastering that it is a good thing they haven't changed it. There are three important alterations though; the main change to the fighting is the inclusion of a new race called the Laguz, who bring an extra tactical depth with them. Laguz are extremely powerful, yet can only attack while in animal form; with the change between human and animal form is governed by a change meter. When it fills up you become an unstoppable animal and when it empties you revert back to a more vulnerable human form. However, whilst in human form they do not suffer from the species-specific vulnerabilities; dragons take extra damage from lightning, hawks from arrows or wind magic, for example. The addition of the Shove command is also a welcome one, as it allows you to barge weaker infantry, friend or foe, a space away from another unit. As well as removing them from the attack range of an enemy it can also be used to achieve other goals. If I told you what these uses were then that would spoil half the fun. The third is the inclusion of Skills, these are extra powers with which you can upgrade and customise your units. Fed up of having your weak magicians being killed by Snipers before they have a chance to retaliate? Then give them the Vantage skill and watch as they fight first in every combat. There is a limit to how many skills each unit can have so they do not become overpowered, but the right choice of skills can make that useless unit you always left at home becoming an essential part to your army.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The time between missions hasn't changed much either, as after every battle you are greeted with some story progression. The plot is, on the surface, your standard fare of an evil king attacks the kingdom you are in, you encounter a mysterious girl the invaders are hunting for and get thrust into a huge war where your band of nobodies have to defeat the evil king before something cataclysmic happens. Now, before you start yawning, the plot and story is one of the game's saving graces. As you go from mission to mission you realise that there is more depth than first imagined because like any good story-based game it is the sub-stories that run in conjunction with it that create that great final entrancing effect. Admittedly the racism and politics-led sub-plots are rather glossy and shallow, but the degree to which the world is fleshed out, and how substance is given to the main NPCs and the plot twists they are part of is what prevents this game becoming too stale and cliche.

After this you are taken to your base, which in this game means "glorified menu". Your base consists of six options chosen from a menu; Outfit, which allows you to prepare your men for the coming battle by transferring and purchasing items.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Good solid gameplay, which is carried with a great story. However, it is too similar to the original games so offers nothing new to fans and no reason for people who did not like the GBA versions to play this.

Graphics

Good quality FMV and some great character designs, but in general it is below the standards we expect for a console game, especially this far into its lifespan.

Sound

This is your standard Nintendo music, well written and wonderfully performed, but sounds too much like they were ticking boxes than putting soul into it.

Value

There are about forty hours of gameplay here, about double that if you are a perfectionist, but with only one storyline and some minor bonus features there is no real incentive to continue playing this a second time round.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

If you enjoyed the previous two incarnations then there is no reason for you not to have this in your collection. If you did not, then there is no reason for this to be in your collection. It is a glorified GBA port and should have been a lot better for its GameCube début.

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14.02.2006

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Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (15 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

I was really looking forward to this game and I did enjoy it but purely on the basis that I enjoyed the previous two games. Considering what was achieved by Final fantasy Tactics on the GBA which had enough extra content to provide over 100 hours of gameplay the fact that all the changes made to this game are cosmetic are extremley disapoitning.

Matthew Evans < Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread > As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Really wish Square Enix would have done an FFT for the GC as well...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Features I would've liked to have seen:

Rotatable camera with a zoom in and out.
Alternative missions where you have the option of chossing from multiple paths which give different maps, difficulties and rewards.
Conditionable missions which affect others, complete it in under twenty turns and you get a bonus mission.
Greater variation in troops, do I really need six paladins and only two halberdiers?
At the half-way mark you supposedly control an army yet only play with your small band. Why can't I use the rest of the army in bonus maps.
Where are the sidequests and seperate dungeons?

Apart from the camera all of these features have appeared in previous Fire Emblem games or FF:T

Matthew Evans < Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread > As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.

Good review Matt.

I must say this is the first FE game I've played and I'm very much in love with it, fantastic title and despite being weak in the graphics department I'd say it's a classic example of not needing graphics to be a great game!

Barry Lewis < nin10do :: General Writer :: Feature Writer :: Fountain of Industry Statistics >
"We're mentalist psychic Scots, which means we can read your mind. If you're lying, your head explodes and we laugh."

If you've never played a FE game before this is a good as start as any but thats the problem, when I put a disc into my GC I'm expecting an experience I can't achieve on a SNES emulator.

Matthew Evans < Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread > As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.

A bit harsh maybe, I'd put this beyond what a PS1/N64 could do, it just isn't up to GC levels - though I can see what you're saying.

Catch 22, great game that could have been better, but in my honest opinion it's worth every single one of its thirty pounds despite being below technological standards :Smilie

Barry Lewis < nin10do :: General Writer :: Feature Writer :: Fountain of Industry Statistics >
"We're mentalist psychic Scots, which means we can read your mind. If you're lying, your head explodes and we laugh."
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

To be honest, the small part I've played so far (about ten minutes in total since I got it last November...Smilie was just as enjoyable as ever and that FMV stunned me!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I thought the sound score was a bit harsh, I found it to be very good even by Nintendo standards. It had a superb midi engine, the first mido Nintendo music that I've heard sounding so realistic. There was also some very subtle use of dissinance in places that provided plenty of "soul".
As for the graphics, to me they range from N64 to Dreamcast/PS2.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

Great review Matt.

I've tried to be interested in Fire Emblem, but I've yet to get into any of them. I think it'll be like Advance Wars, I'll just gradually fall into liking them at some point...

It's the story that made me love this game so much, I didn't bother with the rest. Good review.


You found the word nipple! And you love touching them!

I imported this game and have played it all the way through.

I don't agree with the score - maybe you shouldn't have reviewed fire emblem when you already hate fire emblem games in the first place? But considering that handicap the review is written pretty fairly.

I felt disapointment with the in game graphics too, but they're not entirely without charm, they just could of, and should of, been so much better.

My emotions are really mixed, but in the end, I'd say it's a great experience if you are fond of the type of gameplay present in the gba games, just as you more or less conceded. Ultimately this is because the story, characters and dialogue are a honestly a cut above most rpgs, and that's a very important factor when you are going to play a game in long a established genre that, while nice and refined, is never going to blow you away with something you've just never seen before...and there are a few (four or five) GREAT fmv scenes, but they are very short.

I guess the real problem is that this is a great little game when it could have had a few years development time where the characters that fight in game were made to look amazing (like soul calibur 2 or something maybe) and each character had like 20 or so different combat animations that were all carefully conceived and animated, more of that great CG, much more, etc.

But the most crucial parts of a great game, the gameplay mechanics and story, are not weak, so if anyone wants an rpgesque experience to tide them over till Twilight Princess is unleashed, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this.

It really does have a spark about it in the end.

JoSheeMitzu, I do like the Fire Emblem series but throughout playing the three games I've picked up on flaws which detract from the overall game. This game was in development for quite a few years but the end result is a GBA game with better graphics but not all the good features of the previous games. Where's the bonus missions from the first Western game? Where is the alternative storyline and side dungeons from Sacred Stones. When paying full price for a GC game I'm expecting something that's better than a GBA game and not on par with it.

Matthew Evans < Writer :: Moderator :: King of Impartiality :: Lord of the 15min Thread > As the wind blows the sand to cover the camel's tracks so does time move to cover the Lord's.
Rejoice for the Lord will taketh his quarter and give much back to his followers.

You sound like you are saying you expect any home console game to be better than a gba game, intrinsically, just by virtue of not being on a handheld, which I can't get my head around. Many of the best games on all systems last year were on the DS.

Well I enjoyed the first gba fire emblem and Sacred stones too. To be on par with them is be higher than 6 out of 10!

But then there is your new rating system Where the same numbers have new meanings now. Part of the problem is that I would never tell anyone to play a game that I personally would consider to be worth 6/10, what a waste of time when there are so many other games out there...whereas I know that for some people, this game will be something they really treasure. I wouldn't want them to miss that, and I feel people won't see that score. Obviously the games not so great for other people, of course, like yourself...

But you need to understand, there are things - like the side dungeon which you considered a strong point of SS, apparently, but others thought it was a negative thing because it allowed people to keep replaying it, grinding over and over and twink out their characters, instead of beating the game fair and square. They'd be delighted by it's omission.

I guess this just proves the foolishness of the current numeric rating system that is seemingly inseperable from gaming reviews.

I admit that I wanted more from the game too. I want more from every game. And I can definately imagine how, with you know, four years development time and lot of money it could have been something astounding, and yes, I say that should have happened. But I still feel intelligent did a lot with a little, it had beautiful 2D art and music that suited its fantasy backdrop perfectly, and it
got right some of the most important things that many bigger budget, heavily marketed, successful games get horribly wrong.

I'm sorry Gastrian, I'm arguing with you so much for someone who agrees with you for the most part. I can't tell you how underwhelming I found the game sometimes, I really know how you feel, but there were other moments of delight that I more than made up for it in my case.

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