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Creating Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance — Game Cover

Development

The team’s director at this time was Masayuki Horiwawa with Toru Narihiro and Hitoshi Yamagami returned as producers. Takeo Kaneda, a director for the Blazing Blade became the designer. Senri Kita a new face to Fire Emblem became the new character artist. Ken Yokoyama returned as writer. Saki Haruyama and Yoshito Hirano returned as music composers along with three new composers, Naoko Mitome, Atsushi Yoshida and Kanako Teramae.

After the release of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade or Fire Emblem as it’s title was in the west, a new Fire Emblem game was given the green light for development. It was the development costs that were associated with the GameCube that made the team reluctant to develop a title for it, but only reversed that decision when they saw how popular The Blazing Blade was there.

In contrary to the traditional protagonist; someone of royal birth who faces off against the great evil, a person not of ‘royal birth’ would become the protagonist; Ike. As a side note, as of date, he is the only protagonist to not be of royal birth. He was chosen through the ideas presented by the team because they wanted to move in a new direction due to the game being the first Fire Emblem developed in 3D and because they wanted a character, players could empathize with; in the case of Roy from the Binding Blade.

The team again wanted a place for character interaction outside of battles so support conversations were implemented. They also desired more realism in both battles and cutscenes, this was done through the use of motion capture, making sure that the movements were exaggerated so it wasn’t too real.

Like in the Binding Blade, transitioning became a challenge. This was because instead of worrying about the X and Y dimensions, Z now needed to be taken into consideration. This led to problems in places like the camera; transitioning from overview to 3rd person character-to-character battles. Character artwork had to be better meaning the initial designs had to done at a higher quality than previously.

Concerning the overall quality of the game, Narihiro spoke about his regrets because he believed that on release it was only 70% complete.

Ike and the Black Knight from the opening cinematic of Fire Emblem Path of Radiance

Reception

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was revealed through May, 2004’s Weekly Shōnen Jump and then publicly at Nintendo World Touch DS and E3. The version they showcased was still in development with clear difference between then and release.

It finally release in Japan and North America, April 20, 2005 and October 17, 2005 respectively. In in debut in Japan, North America, Europe and Australia it sold well. It was noted by the developers that though the initial shipment sold about 64.16% units, the fact the GameCube was nearing the end of it’s lifespan led to lower sales.

IGN’s Peer Schneider praised it as a worthy successor to the series. Noting that though the game is ‘text-heavy’ with gameplay that spans 40 hours you will likely enjoy the challenging missions and rewarding storyline. He made another note that since the game was months after the Japanese release all the bugs that appeared in that version are absent making for an improved version here in the North America.

RPGFan’s Mark Tjan made reference to the soundtrack not being Nobuo Uematsu ‘aural epic’ but still was enjoyable. Something he though was a good idea was the bonus EXP you get after battles which you can be distributed throughout characters at your headquarters.

Nintendo World Report’s Karl Castaneda spoke about how Intelligent Systems lack of 3D experience showed in game while comparing it to the high quality character portraits and further comparing it to what he calls ‘gorgeous cell-shaded cinematics’. He noted that if the game had been released sometime during GameCube’s launch the graphics wouldn’t have seemed out of date and likely would have been a great success.

Eurogamer’s Tom Bramwell especially talked about the permadeath system and how Fire Emblem rewards players who play with perfection in mind; no losses. He did note that there are flaws but it was something that doesn’t necessarily keep you from enjoying the game.

GameSpot’s Greg Kasavin noted how the cinematic cutscenes with spoken dialogue were delivered well. The soundtrack was also something he praised where he compared it to the ‘glory days of 16-bit role-playing games without sounding dated or cheesy’.

Overall through aggregate sites GameRanking and Metacritic it attained scores of 85% and 85/100 through 47 and 42 critic reviews respectively where the majority of reviews praised the story and gameplay with the graphics being where the critique was focused on.

If you’re looking for more articles like this check out my publication: @Gaminglinkmedia or @ryanvelasco.

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Ryan Velasco

Ryan Velasco

I love gaming especially old-school jRPGs, I love them to this day. Now I’ve come to love automating everything and placing things into databases. Super fun.