Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is a Japanese tactical role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It was released on October 7, 2004 in Japan, and was later localized and released on May 23, 2005 in North America. It is the eighth game in the Fire Emblem series, the third and final game in the series to be released for the Game Boy Advance and the second game in the series to be released outside Japan.
The game builds on the game mechanics used in the previous two Game Boy Advance Fire Emblem titles; Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade and Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade; but takes place on a different continent. Set on the continent of Magvel, the plot focuses on royal twins Princess Eirika and Prince Ephraim as they investigate why a longtime ally has chosen to invade their nation's borders and the sudden appearance of monsters all over Magvel.
3DS Ambassador Program Release
On December 14, 2011, Nintendo announced the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program . This program was instituted as a reward for early adopters of the handheld that purchased it at the original launch price due to the handheld undergoing a large price drop in hopes of boosting sales. Members of the Ambassador Program were rewarded with a selection of ten free-to-download Game Boy Advance titles, including Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
Two days after the announcement, on December 16, Nintendo released all ten titles worldwide to 3DS owners that qualified for the Ambassador program. As part of the reward, all ten games, including The Sacred Stones, remained exclusive to the Ambassador Program for the lifetime of the 3DS and were never made available for general sale on the platform.
Development of The Sacred Stones began at some point after Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Most of the game's development was handled by external staff (mostly from Flagship; notably, Senri Kita became involved with Fire Emblem during this time). According to the Making of Fire Emblem book, it was because of Flagship's founder, Yoshiki Okamoto, that The Sacred Stones was released before Path of Radiance.
The game was designed as a tribute to Fire Emblem Gaiden and thus shares many features from its predecessors, such as a traversable world map, dual Lords, split route, multiple promotion options, and optional battles outside of the main story.
The Sacred Stones takes place on the continent of Magvel. It is home to six nation-states, with each nation having its own unique culture and variant governments ranging from monarchies to a democratic-republic type nation:
- Renais: The kingdom of Renais is ruled by Fado, the peerless Warrior King. It is the home of the twin lords Ephraim and Eirika.
- Frelia: The kingdom of Frelia is ruled by Hayden, the venerable Sage King and the father of the pegasus knight Tana and the sniper Innes. Frelia is also home to pegasi which are trained for military purposes.
- Jehanna: The kingdom of Jehanna is ruled by Ismaire, the Queen of the White Dunes. Her son is Joshua, the myrmidon. Since the nation exists mostly in the desert, there seems to be a heavy focus on being a mercenary in order to earn your daily bread.
- Rausten: The theocracy of Rausten is ruled by Mansel, the Divine Emperor, wherein he claims to be a descendant of the saintly Latona. His heir is his niece L'Arachel, the troubadour. It was founded by the saintly Latona, one of the Five Heroes.
- Grado: The Grado Empire is ruled by Vigarde, the Silent Emperor. His son, the necromancer Lyon, is a good friend of Ephraim and Eirika, who are appalled and confused by Grado's sudden betrayal. Grado is the largest country of Magvel and its eponymous founder, Grado, was the leader of the Five Heroes who stood against the Demon King. It is the main antagonistic country in the game.
- Carcino: The emerging mercantile republic of Carcino is governed by a council of elders, and, unlike the other nations of Magvel, is more of a democratic-republic nation than a monarchy or theocracy. It was established more recently than the other nations and is the only nation not founded by one of the Five Heroes.
In the Year of the Stone 803, the Grado Empire, a long-standing ally of Renais, launched a surprise attack on Renais, ordered by Emperor Vigarde. Renais is unable to mount resistance against such a swift and forceful attack. Prince Ephraim of Renais is nowhere to be found as Grado sweeps through territory after territory. King Fado of Renais orders his trusted general, Seth, to take his daughter Princess Eirika to safety in neighboring Frelia while he stays behind in order to discover the motives behind Grado's sudden attack.
King Hayden of Frelia helps Eirika and suggests that she remain until Prince Ephraim returns, however she is determined to find him and goes to Grado. Aided by several of Hayden's retainers, Eirika travels towards Grado where her brother was last seen. Passing through Renais once again, they see first-hand the devastation caused by the war. Even more troubling is the appearance of foul undead creatures throughout the world. In the village of Serafew, Eirika encounters a former Grado cleric called Natasha. She tells Eirika of Emperor Vigarde's plan to destroy the Sacred Stones that safeguard the land from evil.
Meanwhile, Prince Ephraim has been causing havoc in Grado territory. As part of his guerrilla campaign to disrupt Grado's military efficiency, he decides to capture the strategic Fort Renvall. However, after a brilliant tactical victory, he is forced to flee by Grado's army.
After recovering Eirika's bracelet from a mysterious man, Seth reveals its true importance; along with Ephraim's bracelet, they open the secret door to Renais's Sacred Stone. Eirika presses on to Fort Renvall, hot on Ephraim's trail. Inside, she finds Orson, one of Ephraim's guards. He offers to lead her to Ephraim's prison cell. However, Orson has betrayed Renais for a chance to resurrect his wife and traps Eirika inside the fort, forcing her to fight her way through. During the battle, Ephraim arrives and with their combined strength, they seize the fort.
After their reunion, they return to Frelia to plan their next move. They wonder what happened to the peace-loving Prince Lyon of Grado who would surely disapprove of his father's war.
Eirika and Ephraim decide to enlist the help of the other nations in combating the global threat posed by Grado's aggressive campaign to destroy the Sacred Stones. To save time, they decide that Eirika will sail to warn Rausten of the war, Prince Innes of Frelia will go to warn Jehanna and Ephraim will attack Castle Grado directly.
At the port, no ship will sail because of a ghost ship that terrorizes the seas (dealt with on Ephraim's route). She has no choice but to take the overland route to Rausten, which goes through the Republic of Carcino, the only country in Magvel with no ties to a Sacred Stone. There, Eirika finds Prince Innes and his group under attack by Carcino soldiers under orders from Councilman Pablo, who has allied with Grado. After triumphing against the mercenary army, they discover Councilman Klimt, the man who Pablo was hunting and trying to assassinate with his mercenaries. Klimt tells her that Pablo was the one who decided to side with Grado and that not all of Carcino was against Renais.
United with Innes, they continue their march towards Jehanna. During a run-in with some monsters along the way, they are joined by a zealous monster-hunter called L'Arachel and her cheerful bodyguard Dozla. To avoid more conflict, they take a mountainous route through the secluded village of Caer Pelyn, led by a young mage called Ewan. In a mountain valley on their journey to Jehanna, they are confronted by Glen, the Sunstone general of the Grado Empire. Eirika convinces him to let her proceed. Not long after she leaves, Valter confronts Glen and assassinates him.
When the army reaches Caer Pelyn, they are again attacked by monsters. Ewan's mentor Saleh offers to guide them to Jehanna. At the midpoint from Caer Pelyn to Jehanna, the group passes through Hamill Canyon. Meanwhile, Valter has returned to the Grado capital and shown Glen's brother, Cormag, the corpse of the former general. Valter tells Cormag that Glen was killed by Eirika. Outraged, Cormag flies to Hamill canyon to get revenge. The two forces meet, but Eirika convinces Cormag of the truth and he joins her to gain revenge on Valter.
When they finally arrive in Jehanna, they find the Palace under siege by Grado. After a long and tiring battle, Eirika discovers the Queen Ismaire of Jehanna, mortally wounded by the axe of Grado's Tiger Eye General Caellach. Even worse, Jehanna's Sacred Stone has been destroyed. With her dying breath, Queen Ismaire calls to her son Joshua, a young myrmidon whom Eirika met in Serafew and the disguised prince. While these events took place, enemy soldiers had set fire to the palace.
Barely escaping with their lives, Eirika finds herself trapped between the forces of two of Grado's generals: Caellach and Valter. In the middle of a desperate escape, Ephraim rushes to her aid with reinforcements. The joined quest begins.
After splitting up with his sister, Ephraim ventures to Grado. During this journey, he encounters many forces from Grado alongside mercenary groups attempting to capture him. First, in Fort Rigwald, Ephraim finds Tana, the princess of Frelia, and frees her from her kidnappers. Next, he recruits Duessel, the Obsidian General in Grado's army and Ephraim's former training master, who is dubious of the intentions of Emperor Vigarde. Duessel mentions a "Dark Stone" to Ephraim, a substance that Lyon extracted from Grado's Sacred Stone. The group suspects that the occult powers of the Dark Stone are the cause of Emperor Vigarde's change in personality.
During the same battle in which Duessel switches allegiances, Duessel encounters Cormag, a Wyvern Rider whose brother, Glen, has been murdered (see Eirika's story). Duessel convinced him to join Ephraim.
Ephraim takes a sea route to Grado but is hindered by a ghost ship said to be sinking any ships it encounters. After he deals with the problem and arrives in Grado, he is attacked by Grado forces combined with monsters sent by the Blood Beryl, Riev. Shortly after, in the Za'albul Marsh, Ephraim defeats General Selena the Fluorspar, receiving a dragonstone stolen from his friend Myrrh. Ephraim arrives in Grado Keep and defeats Emperor Vigarde, who, bizarrely, cannot speak. Following the battle with Ephraim, Vigarde's body crumbles to dust.
Lyon appears to Ephraim and tells Ephraim that they are now enemies and that it was he that started the war. Ephraim learns the secret of the Dark Stone (also known as the Fire Emblem) from Knoll, a researcher of ancient magic and assistant to Lyon before he discovered the Dark Stone. Ephraim then learns of his sister being ambushed by Caellach and Valter at Jehanna Hall. He rushes to meet her, still burdened by the knowledge that his former best friend was the cause of the war. He eventually reaches his destination and the two siblings are reunited.
Joint Quest (15- Epilogue)
Ephraim meets up with Eirika in the desert, and they defeat Caellach and Valter. When Ephraim and Eirika reunite their forces, they find Renais in a state of chaos, under the tyrannical rule of the traitor Orson. After they defeat him, they find a hideous creature in Orson's chamber that resembles his wife Monica. Monica's mannerisms resemble those of Emperor Vigarde, and they destroy her and discover that it was created by the same dark sorcery as the Emperor. After securing their homeland, Ephraim and Eirika receive Renais' legendary weapons Sieglinde and Siegmund, and their Sacred Stone. They decide to head to Rausten to secure the last remaining stone. As they continue, they are supposed to meet up with Frelian reinforcements, but all are killed by Grado remnants apart from their commander Syrene, who then joins Ephraim and Eirika's army. The twins meet Lyon, who has radically changed from the friend they once knew. He retreats into the mountains, and the twins give chase. This leads them into a trap filled with Gorgons and their hatching eggs that dot the mountains. However, the army is victorious over the sulfur fumes, demons, intense heat, and molten magma, and one of the twins goes to confront Lyon.
When following Ephraim's quest, Ephraim approaches Lyon, who freezes Ephraim, takes the Sacred Stone, and crushes it. Ephraim argues with him and asks what happened to him. Lyon reveals that the possessed form is a drama and that everything he had done had been under his own free will.
Along Eirika's journey, Lyon's soul has been almost entirely consumed by the Demon King, with his body under the King's complete control. He convinces Eirika to give him the Stone by mimicking Lyon and saying that he needs the stone to drive out the Demon King, then crushes it. Lyon says that he will be in Darkling Woods, and teleports away.
Eirika and Ephraim take time to rest at Rausten Court and to obtain Rausten's Sacred Stone, the only surviving one. Rausten Court is invaded by the last Grado General, Riev, who seeks revenge for his exile years before. After repelling the attack, the army give chase to the Darkling Woods to stop Lyon from performing a ceremony which he has tricked the last remaining piece of the real Lyon into believing will stop a natural disaster from occurring in Grado in the future. However, the ceremony only leads to the full resurrection of the mastermind behind all of these events: Fomortiis, the Demon King.
The army arrives in Darkling Woods and confronts the resurrected Fomortiis. Although they seal his soul in the Sacred Stone, his body still attacks them. Eirika, Ephraim, and their army defeat him with the help of five countries' Sacred Twin weapons. Thus the war ends, and with his body destroyed, Fomortiis is unable to be resurrected again.
In the aftermath, the remaining Sacred Stone is sealed away and peace returns to Magvel, though the continent is left in disarray after the war, as many places were destroyed, and the landslide prophesied to destroy Grado does occur. However, the future looks bright, as Eirika and Ephraim set about restoring their nation while deciding to aid Grado, vowing to achieve Lyon's wishes that all may live in peace and joy.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones introduces several new concepts and revives some old ones used in previous Fire Emblem games. The most notable change is the map system, which allows the player to have more control of how much experience the team gets and thus how they level-up. Despite this, it is similar to Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade and Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade in terms of actual gameplay.
The Sacred Stones retains the basic gameplay fundamentals seen in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade; such mechanics like the weapon and magic triangles are identical to the previous game. The main battles in the story and the storyline associated with each battle are divided as chapters; the game has twenty-one chapters in the main story and only one side chapter—an optional battle during the main course of the game. There are also six chapters in each of Eirika's and Ephraim's routes, all of which are different in each route. There are twenty-eight chapters in total during the main course of the game.
A notable difference that separates The Sacred Stones from the previous Game Boy Advance Fire Emblem titles is the use of a navigable world map, a mechanic first used in Fire Emblem Gaiden. Rather than limit the ability to train units and buy items to story battles, the ability to traverse the world map allows players more freedom in choosing how to play the game. It is possible to purchase weapons and items by visiting shops at points scattered across Magvel. Basic iron weapons and low-level tomes can also be purchased at an inflated cost from the armory in the Supply Convoy before battle and units can pull items from the supply caravan during battle when standing adjacent to the main character (i.e. Eirika or Ephraim). It is also possible to enter "Skirmish" battles against monsters unrelated to the story.
The Sacred Stones, like Fire Emblem Gaiden, features monsters, all of which appear only as enemies. They are divided into traditional monster types, like zombies and gargoyles. The monsters can be battled in some chapters in the main game, as well as in side-battles on the map.
The Sacred Stones also introduces a branching class-change system. Like the previous Game Boy Advance titles, units must use specific items to change class. Unlike previous titles the player is now given a choice in what type of advanced class a character can become, for example, Wyvern Riders may become either Wyvern Lords or Wyvern Knights. The only units that do not get to choose between classes are the two Lords, Eirika and Ephraim, who each change into their own unique class.
Trainee classes were introduced in The Sacred Stones, which precede some of the previously basic classes. These include Journeyman, Recruit and Pupil. Characters that are in a trainee class gain more experience than usual, and when they reach Level 10, they stop gaining experience and can class-change at the beginning of the next battle without the aid of an item. As with other classes, players can choose one of two basic classes to class-change into. After certain criteria are met, the trainee classes have a third class-change option, which is a slightly stronger version of the original trainee class.
The skill system was first introduced in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, and made a return in The Sacred Stones. In The Sacred Stones, some unit classes have a unique skill that gives it an advantage in battle. For example, the Bishop's "Slayer" skill triples a weapon's might when fighting monsters. Unlike in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, there is no capacity gauge, and the skills are not assigned by the player. The skills cannot be removed from the unit.
The Sacred Stones features a multiplayer Link Arena structured identically to that found in the previous game.
There are three difficulties to choose from:
- Easy - For beginners, this mode gives players tips on how to play the game. Enemies are slightly weaker compared to normal mode, with the lone exception of bosses on the main storyline, which follow normal mode values.
- Normal - For players who are somewhat familiar to the series, this mode gives a moderate challenge and does not offer tips.
- Hard - For players experienced to the series, it does not offer tips like normal mode. All enemies are slightly stronger in this mode.
In addition, "Creature Campaign" is unlocked for a file when the main storyline is completed (this overwrites that file). Creature Campaign offers several prominent characters in the main storyline when the player completes certain achievements in the Tower of Valni or Lagdou Ruins.
There are thirty-three units in The Sacred Stones that can engage in support conversations. The support system works as exactly the same as in Fire Emblem's support system, in both the advantages that they offer and the way they can be obtained; as in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, a "support viewer" is available in which all attained support conversations can be re-read. Support conversations can be attained in the optional skirmish battles and extra battles in the Creature Campaign.
- See main article: Chapters (Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones).
- See main article: List of characters in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
Though it received positive reviews, The Sacred Stones was criticized for making only superficial improvements over the previous game. Reviews also stated that the new "World Map" feature made the game too easy. Despite these comments, the game received an average rating of 85 percent on Game Rankings and has sold over 300,000 copies in Japan.
Representation in Other Games
Super Smash Bros.
The Sacred Stones was represented throughout the Super Smash Bros. series. Super Smash Bros. Brawl added an orchestrated remix of Preparing to Advance, and included the following characters as stickers:
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, the remix from Brawl returns, as well as one more remix from the Fire Emblem series as a whole, Meeting Theme Series Medely, which includes the recruitment theme from The Sacred Stones. A remix of Fight 1 (Fire Emblem Gaiden) from the title with the same name also was introduced, and the original theme was used for arenas in The Sacred Stones.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arranged a new remix of Preparing to Advance (replacing the remix from Brawl) and the two tracks from Smash 4 return. In addition, four spirits from The Sacred Stones are represented:
- As of this date, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is one of six Fire Emblem games that allows "free battles", the others being Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, Fire Emblem Awakening, Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
- In the class intro movie, the Necromancer class (Lyon) is seen with the Thunder tome animation. Thunder is of anima magic, while necromancers can't use anima magic at all.
- In the game Fire Emblem Awakening, Owain mentions "Sacred Stones" in a Support Conversation and as an event tile phrase.
- All units can gain completely maxed stats through the secret shops (which sell infinite stat boosters) in the Creature Campaign.
- Oddly, in The Sacred Stones, if a Pegasus Knight promotes to Wyvern Knight and supports a certain character, they will still talk about their "pegasus", even if they are clearly riding wyverns.
- In this game, one must take caution when using Wyvern Knights as the English version of the game has a glitch wherein if the Wyvern Knight throws a javelin and activates its skill, the game will lock. This is because the HP bar has not finished its animation when reducing it due to damage and the Wyvern Knight is quick to move after piercing its target, causing the glitch.
- Graphical glitches may present itself during certain times of gameplay, such as if the playtime has exceeded 200 hours, which will result in the 0 in the middle not present if the player is saving their game. During Floor 7 in Lagdou ruins, a graphical glitch may occur if the player attempted to solo the floor, in which the glitch happens after finishing the floor and upon proceeding to the next floor. The battle records shown underneath the stats have numbers that will overwrite the letter next to it should it get to 1000 plus. The avoid stat during the selection of weapons glitches out parts of its letters should the avoid stat be over 100. These are just minor glitches and one should not worry about crashing.