With the recent releases of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD & Twilight Princess HD as well as Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask 3D, many Nintendo fans have been asking for remasters of other Nintendo titles such as Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and F-Zero GX. All of these are great choices given their visuals and cult status alone, and with the upcoming release of the Nintendo NX and the increased popularity and marketing focus of the Fire Emblem franchise, the titles Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance & Radiant Dawn stand out as perfect choices to also receive the HD treatment.
These two titles are collectively known within the Fire Emblem community as the Tellius Saga and stared Ike, a character who has since become a well-known fighter within the Super Smash Bros. series. Like the third title in the franchise Mystery of the Emblem, it would make a lot of sense to bundle these two titles together onto a single disk given the amount of connections they share. In particular, both games held the ability to interconnect with each other, a feature that is rarely seen on console titles especially from different hardware generations.
Key Points for a Remaster:
Being the worst selling games in the series on a global scale it goes without saying that these two titles fetch a fairly high price on the retro gaming market. Loose disk-only copies of these titles each go for $90 and $63. Not only does this make them one of the Top 5 most expensive GameCube & Wii titles but also the most expensive games in the Fire Emblem series.* Neither game has been given a re-release on the Wii U’s Virtual Console at the time of this writing, meaning only the most dedicated of Fire Emblem fans may have the chance to experience either of these two titles, let alone together. Given how both titles hold surprising popularity among the Fire Emblem community and the current state of the retro gaming market, it would not be surprising to see these titles continue to rise in price either.
Note: Radiant Dawn did receive a small reprint in early 2015, but it did little to drive prices down. However, the HD Remasters of both GameCube Zelda titles have helped drive their prices down around $15 since their re-release.
*Special Edition versions of Thracia 776/Fates excluded.
Fire Emblem has never been strictly about graphics, but the most common complaint regarding both entries was the failure to utilize the GameCube & Wii hardwares given their respective release dates. Additionally, fans used to the amazing sprite work and over-the-top battle animations of the GBA titles found battles and character models to look stiff. In-game cinematic cell-shaded cutscenes were used sparingly in-game despite being a key feature of Nintendo’s marketing. This was likely not Intelligent System’s intention as interviews reveal they had a lack of funds during Path of Radiance’s development, and did not even have a Wii development kit when Radiant Dawn’s development began.
Early criticism aside, both titles feature more realistic 3D models than the 3DS titles. Stage environments such as castle walls could be viewed at multiple angles using the C-Stick, thus allowing both games to feel less restricted and chess-like. Overall despite the lack of hardware advancement, these games have their own distinctive feel that even later titles in the franchise have not been able to reproduce. Adding further polish, while not the easiest feat, could produce the best looking title in the franchise.
Possibly the Tellius Saga’s biggest claim to fame among the series, the Tale of the Hero of Blue Flame stand together as the best written titles in the franchise and are arguably only matched by the original Xenoblade Chronicles among Nintendo published titles as a whole (according to word of mouth from inexperience with the latter title). Neither game is mind-blowing by any means as both feature standard war stories that can be over-the-top at times in a standard anime fashion, but the extra attention given to character development, motives, and world-building will more than likely leave players satisfied if not surprised given the mixed reception of more recent titles and lack of common Fire Emblem tropes.
Base Conversations, an exclusive to these titles, are extra sets of unlockable dialogue between chapters that allow various characters to give their own perspectives on the game’s events. Often these would provide hints regarding next battle and exclusive items. Radiant Dawn takes this even further by dividing the game up into multiple chapters (a series record of 43 in total) and giving attention to lesser characters, allowing for the game’s events to been seen through different perspectives. Notably this resulted in players having to fight against characters they had previously leveled up. Mature themes such as revenge, racism, politics, corruption, genocide and growing up help keep one invested throughout and help distinguish Ike from other Fire Emblem protagonists in terms of personality and depth.
A major complaint of Radiant Dawn, support conversations were simplified down to generic battlefield chatter. Most likely due to the focus on different characters throughout the game’s storyline, an HD remaster could give the game the chance to have supports more in line with the rest of the series. Given Path of Radiance’s supports can be transferred over, changing the conversations older characters have depending on the given game while lessening the requirements for obtaining newer character supports could help expand the game’s story.
To this day Ike stands as the arguably the most popular protagonist of the franchise even years later despite lack of sales. Awakening notably reflects this as Chrom himself was originally planned to be based off of Ike, while a descendant of Ike can be recruited in a spotpass mission despite lacking a role in the main storyline. The recurring enigmatic villain, the Black Knight, has been heavily praised for his backstory, design, and sheer difficulty of the original fight against him. The mystery behind his identity would plague fans for several years until Radiant Dawn would give further exposition. Ironically he also served as a popular choice for an Fire Emblem newcomer for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U until Fire Emblem Awakening was released.
Gameplay Features & Changes:
Assuming they would be on the same disc like Mystery of the Emblem, Path of Radiance would need to see some altered gameplay mechanics to fit more in line with Radiant Dawn. Notable changes would need to include laguz unit transformations, expanding the Knife weapon class, and adding Dark Magic as a skill. 3rd Tier Class Promotions were made available for the first time since Fire Emblem Gaiden, while not mandatory, they could be added as options.
Options featured in later titles such as re-classing, “Pair Ups,” and casual mode could also be added to expand gameplay depth and re-playability. “My Castle” mode, first appearing in Fire Emblem Fates, was originally planned as a concept for Path of Radiance and was later scrapped. This mode could be included as a way to offer online functionality. Falling more into the category of a remake, DLC could also exist as a way to expand the original storyline. Radiant Dawn exclusive characters, the Black Knight, the Three Heroes, and Ike’s descendant Priam come to mind should this be made available.
Bonus experience is extra experience that one can obtain to use as one sees fit throughout the campaign and is a feature currently exclusive to these two titles. Players may obtain some for each chapter that is completed, but more can be procured by completing each chapter within a certain turn limit or by completing extra objectives. While certainly not needed to beat the game, bonus experience adds a huge incentive for players to master the game’s mechanics, plan actions in advance, and giving a break to newcomers. Additionally, when combined with forging your own weapons, an option that originated in Path of Radiance, in theory any player can easily create a useful group of their favorite characters without having to excessively grind or treat them with extra care.
Exclusive to Path of Radiance, Fixed Growth mode adds another way to play the game once unlocked. Unlike other Fire Emblem titles in which stat growths are decided upon at random based on hidden numbers, in this mode, the stats players increase upon level up may be influenced upon by defeating certain enemy types. Similar to the Effort Value system in the Pokémon franchise, this can notably alter how one can attempt to play the game.
Data Transfers & Localization Changes:
Radiant Dawn was one of the few Wii titles that could communicate with older titles. By inserting a Gamecube memory card with Path of Radiance data into your Wii, players could transfer support bonuses, items, and increase the stats of recruitable older characters throughout Radiant Dawn’s campaign. Having both games on one disk is particularly important in this regard, as the original data transfer feature could accidentally corrupt a player’s memory card.
It is worth mentioning that when localizing each game, each game’s difficulty modes were altered. Japanese copies of Path of Radiance featured an extra maniac mode. Serving as the series’ predecessor to Lunatic Mode, this mode notably featured a two-round Final Boss fight instead of just one. International copies, however, were instead given a new Easy Mode option. Radiant Dawn on the other hand, had the names of Normal/Hard/Maniac modes changed to Easy/Normal/Hard in localized copies. This mistake may have accidently resulted in the reputation of Radiant Dawn being known as one of the hardest in the series and having been panned in review publications as a game for series veterans only.
Path of Radiance also featured the ability to unlock extra art galleries featuring the casts of the GBA Fire Emblem titles through the use of a link cable. Expanding the gallery to feature artwork from previous and more recent games in the series could be a great way to continue celebrating the series in its 26th year as well as increase interest in the series as a whole.
Since the jump to 3D, there are plenty of classic titles within Nintendo’s gaming library that warrant revisits or updates based on fun factor alone. However, there are very few games that could benefit from better hardware than just a graphical update, allow gamers a second chance to have an experience they more than likely missed out on, and give developers the chance to fully realize their original ambitions. Both games in the Tellius Saga more than exemplify this and serve as prime examples as games that helped people fall in love with the Strategy RPG genre and the Fire Emblem series as a whole.