Creating Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword
Following the release of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, the development for it’s prequel Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade began. The development team was led by both Taeko Kaneda and Kentarou Nishimura as directors. Toru Narihiro and Takehiro Izushi returns as producers. Kouhei Maeda returned as script writer alongside Ken Yokoyama. The artistry was done by Sachiko Wada, Ryo Hirata, Daisuke Izuka and Eiji Kaneda with the latter being uncredited. Yuka Tsujiyoko returned as music composer assisted by Saki Haruyama, with this being the last Fire Emblem game she would compose music for. Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade also had Nintendo supervision; Hitoshi Yamagami.
The initial estimates were for the game to be done approximately seven months; development began in 2002.
The intended storyline was to be developed around three characters. Eliwood, Lyn and Hector with Eliwood’s storyline to be a sort of easy mode. This was done by having their battle strengths differ leading to Lyn and Hector’s routes providing a more traditional challenging experience along with altered story segments.
As this was a prequel the Fire Emblem again appeared as a family crest. Comparisons to the previous title showed that the player, who was the unseen strategist had his role expanded in the storyline. Tutorial levels making it easier for new players to adjust to the game’s mechanics which was included because Nintendo intended for Fire Emblem to become a major series thus they needed Fire Emblem to conform to it’s “for everyone” approach. Along with the refinements they added a multiplayer mode which was a first for the series.
Due to the number additions implemented the development deadline went past the initial seven months estimate releasing in April 25, 2003.
Following it’s April 25, 2004 release for the Game Boy Advance it was shown to be also compatible to the Game Boy Advance SP. In Japan the title would be known as Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame becoming The Blazing Blade in 2017 and the western release had it just being called Fire Emblem as it was the first Fire Emblem title thanks to the popular addition of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
It’s release was greeted with praise from major publications.
Famitsu, as was it does, praised Fire Emblem highly, while one critic praised the tutorial allowing new players to enter the series a contrary reviewer compared it to a nagging mother.
Eurogamer’s Tom Bramwell pointed out that because Fire Emblem shares characteristics of the best RPG storylines and blending it with turn-based strategy, it will doubtless give jRPG fans something to gush over.
GamePro’s Star Dingo praised the game as not trying to stand out among the other strategy RPGs but instead keeping to the tried and true essentials; sword and axes, etc. He also notes that the story was ‘excellent’, not being convoluted, instead sticking to an easy to understand format. His only negative, though it wasn’t really a big one is that the game is linear, save a few optional ones.
GameSpot’s Bethany Massimilla noted that though the game isn’t for people who prefer a more open game world, people would still enjoy the ‘compelling, character-driven epic tale with strategic gameplay that is accessible and still manages to be challenging and satisfying’.
IGN’s Craig Harris noted that the campaign was ‘excellently written’ thanks to the localization team. Audio was outstanding and the battle animations were great to look at. The weak point he found was that characters who are integral to the storyline don’t truly die but rather ‘sit on the sidelines’ waiting for their turn to appear in cutscenes, something he found confusing and annoying.
Japanese gaming charts saw it pegged at number 2 in it’s first week, dropping to 4 the next week and rising again to 3 the following week. It’s sales stayed steady getting number 21 in the top 100 best-selling games for Q1-Q2.
By 2004, it was successful in being named “Editor’s Choice” by IGN and GameSpy with the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences naming it the “Handheld Game of the Year”. In that same year, the International Game Developers Association awarded it the “Excellence in Writing” award.
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