NOTE: This article essay will contain spoilers for the video game Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. If you are planning to play this game in the future then I HIGHLY recommend going in blind.
Also, for you weirdo cornball hardcore Genealogy of the Holy War fans: For the most part, I’ll be using the modern fan translation names for characters, items, and locations. For in-game quotes, however, I will be using the Reparation 0.78d translation patch script from Serenes Forest. Why? Well because I’m old enough to remember when that patch first came into the community. I’m also old enough to have some fun with both your young aunt and mom while they’re dressed up as Deidre and Tailtiu while I’m recording everything and I got some Marvin Gaye music playing in the background so don’t try me. Plus, I don’t feel like replaying the Project Naga patch for quotes.
Anyway, let’s get to it!
A few months ago, I was watching Projared’s retrospective on Final Fantasy VI. In the introduction, he mentioned that most gamers have that one special game that had made the biggest impact on their life. It is that one single game that shaped us into becoming the person we are today.
A game that we will never forget.
For me, that game is Intelligent System’s Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War, released on May 14th, 1996 for the Super Famicom (the Super Nintendo in the West). Genealogy of the Holy War or FE4 for short is a strategy role-playing game, serving as the fourth installment of the famed Fire Emblem series that is often hated on by pedophilesSuper Smash Bros. fans. Directed, designed, and written by series creator Shouzou Kaga and produced by the late Gunpei Yokoi, the game take place on the continent of Jugdral (which is based on some Norse myths of something, idunno I’m not that much of a nerd).
Jugdral is divided into eight countries. They are The Kingdom of Grannvale, The Kingdom of Verdane, The Kingdom of Agustra, the Munster District, The Kingdom of Thracia, The Republic of Miletos, the Kingdom of Silesse, and the Kingdom of Issach.
Mentioned in Kaga’s designer notes, Judgral exists in the same world as Archanea; the continent in which the events of Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon and Sword of Light (FE1, i.e. the irrelevant Marth’s game)take place. Historically, FE4’s events predate FE1’s by thousands of years.
In the Grann Year 757, barbaric warriors from Issach raise an army to attack the city of Darna: southwest of the Aed Desert. Upon hearing the news, Prince Kurth of Grannvale and his confidant Lord Byran of Chaply set out to investigate.
Taking advantage of the brewing conflict, Verdane builds an army to invade Grannvale. Leading the invasion (on orders of his otherwise pacifist father, King Batu) is Prince Gandolf (and no, not the Gandolf portrayed by legendary fruit booty actor Sir Ian Mckellen, mind you). Gandolf successfully captures Junby Castle; slaughtering most of its knights and civilians. Following that, he proceeds to kidnap Junby’s princess, Aideen to take her as his bride.
Hearing news of his childhood friend’s kidnapping, the main character Sigurd; scion of Chaply and son of Lord Byron, vows to deliver justice to Verdane. Joining up with Sigurd are his loyal knights: Noish; a proper and diligent man, Alec; a playful flirty guy, and Arden; the slow one.
FE4 starts simple. Aideen’s kidnapping can be akin to her fellow yet mainstream Nintendo princess contemporaries Zelda or Peach’s kidnapping in their games and it’s up to the hero to save her.
But that’s where the comparison ends in terms of princesses getting kidnapped and such.
Aideen’s kidnapping and the invasions were two smaller steps of a much larger and insidious plan for one cult – the Lopty Cult – to not only rule the world, but plunge it back into the darkness it once suffered under centuries prior.
It doesn’t just end there.
While the invasions were orchestrated by the Lopty Cult, it must be mentioned that the cult had “help” from an ambitious leader who desired to end bigotry and discrimination by any means. Even if those means include pretending to be an ally for multiple leaders only to set them up for death – and personally murdering Sigurd himself so he can rule Granvelle alone as emperor.
Not so simple, huh?
If you’re like me, you didn’t expect things in FE4 to play out the way they did. Neither you nor I could have predicted that something as innocent as Sigurd marrying Deidre would lead the world to near ruin. Furthermore, Sigurd would face his own personal tragedies in his short life.
Tragedies such as:
Branded as a traitor by his beloved motherland after being framed for the assassination of Prince Kurth.
Forced into fighting his best friend Elidgan to the death.
Hearing news that his little sister Ethlyn and brother-in-law Quan were murdered in an ambush by King Travant of Thracia.
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg of FE4’s story and how dark it can get.
Genealogy of the Holy War is the darkest entry of the series (don’t listen to those Scared Stones fanboys who claim that game is the darkest; they don’t know what they’re talking about all they know is how to indulge in their necrophilia kink through Orson). The story features controversial themes and topics such as incest, rape, abuse, and children sacrifice.
It’s not a tale of happiness, glory, and triumph.
Even when our heroes are ultimately victorious, the continent of Grannvale has been torn apart by war. Royal families have been split apart due to petty differences or lust for power. The children of these once-grand and proud families are forced to repair their bloodline’s reputation. Smaller nations are either engaged in civil wars or have been completely abandoned by the empire; left at the mercy of savage bandits and thieves.
To quote a gentleman from The Godfather of Harlem: “I’ve learned one thing about war, Bump. Nobody really wins.”
Shouzou Kaga paints war not in black and white, but with spots of gray. While of course there are enemies that the player must defeat leading up to the ultimate big evil, Kaga likes to portray these enemies as heroes in their own right. This shines clearly with certain villains.
Ruthless King Travant of Thracia is viewed by Grannvale as a despicable man who, through the eyes of others, thoroughly disrespects the code of knighthood. He, along with his famed Dragon Knights, is often compared to hyenas: willing to slaughter anyone for cash.
In Chapter 5 of FE4, Travant uses Quan’s 3-year-old daughter, Altena, as a human shield during an ambush attack by Thracia against Quan’s troops. Travant threaten to murder Altena if Quan didn’t surrender his holy lance, the Gae Bulg to him. After killing Quan and his wife Ethlyn, Travant raises Altena as his own daughter: not out of love or guilt, but to use her as a weapon against her own people and surviving family members in the future.
However, if one were to dig deep into Thracia’s situation, one will come to understand Travant’s actions.
Travant’s kingdom, South Thracia, is surrounded by steep mountain ranges that can barely provide resources for its people. For years, Travant requested aid from North Thracia (as North Thracia’s soil and land are heavily enriched with minerals) only to be shot down by Quan and his family. Therefore, South Thracia suffers from systematic poverty.
To combat poverty, men take up mercenary and farming jobs. Women take whatever job they can to provide for their family (they’re selling that poverty monkey on the “Me love you long time” side of the game).
South Thracia’s situation is beyond dire.
While outsiders of South Thracia see Travant as a cutthroat man, his people view him as the liberator who’ll deliver them from poverty. Travant is a patriot who is fed up with his people’s suffering.
Next, Arvis – the ambitious leader who spearheaded most of the game’s events. Arvis’s a tragic man who, as Seliph (son of Sigurd) puts it, “a victim swept by fate”.
At the age of seven, Arvis witnessed his father, Victor, committing suicide. His mother, Cigyun, ran off with another man (Prince Kurth) due to Victor’s womanizing actions (he even raped Cigyun’s favorite maid; impregnating her with Arvis’s half-brother, Azel). From these events, Arvis was forced to ascend the throne at an early age.
Through Cigyun, Arvis is the descendant of Maera: a holy man who had the moral courage to fight against his oppressive kin: The Loptrian Empire. Maera was a good man; however, he had the blood of the demonic god Loptous coursing through his veins.
Now, for those unaware of FE4’s lore (why are you even here?), you may be wondering who’s Loptous and the Loptrian are. Well, let’s go back to how Judgrall is connected to Archena.
Avris (and Maera)’s ancestor, Galle I, was a simple bishop who traveled the world in search of the legendary Earth Dragon tribe. Landing in Archena, Galle would encounter the Earth Dragon, Loptous. In exchange for raw power, Galle would offer his body and soul as a vessel for Loptous.
Later, Galle returned to Judgral; using his new powers to organize a mass army to effortlessly conquer the continent. Galle and his decedents would ruthlessly rule Judgral for two centuries. The Loptrain Empire fell when Galle’s decedent, Galle the Seventeenth was killed by the Twelve Crusaders (ancestors of some of the major heroes and villains of FE4), with the help of Maera: Galle’s younger brother.
Before his death, Maera moved to the Spirit Forest: a secluded forest hidden from the outside world to protect his descendants from harm. He’d issue both a warning and an order to his descendants. The order and warning: they are only allowed to produce one child per generation.
If a generation produced multiple children, it’s possible for the off-springs to engage in incestuous relationships to produce a child with major Lotpous Blood – therefore reviving the dark god himself and returning the world back into the darkness it was once saved from.
Guess who has Lotpous blood in his veins? Yep. Arvis.
If that information were to be leaked, Arvis would be executed regardless if he worshiped Loptous or not. Manfroy, the current leader of the Lotpous Cult, knows this. Therefore, he seeks to take advantage of Arvis’ cursed bloodline and vision of anti-bigotry by blackmailing Arvis; forcing the duke to comply with Manfroy’s wishes (allowing the Lopty Church to operate in the open once Arvis ascends the Grannvale throne among other things).
Everything mentioned up to this point is the reason why Arvis wants to be the champion of all those who’re facing oppression just for who they are. He doesn’t want other people to live in fear because of their ethnic background like him. He wants to end bigotry by any means necessary – something that would eventually become corrupted thanks to Manfroy.
And since we’re on him, let’s talk about the man himself: Manfroy.
Note that Manfroy and the Lopty Sect’s actions are heinous and inexcusable. No amount of unjust suffering and oppression have been done unto them because of their ancestor’s actions gives them pardon for continuing the pattern of death and destruction.
That said, we must understand the reasoning behind the Lopty Sect’s actions. Let’s refer to a scene in Chapter 7 of the game: Crossing The Desert.
Upon capturing the Lopty operated Aed Shrine, Seliph, and his advisor Lewyn, examine a temple underneath the shrine. As they walk around the ruins, Lewyn tells Seliph of how descendants of the Lopty Empire were forced to live within the depths of the Aed Desert after the defeat of Galle the 17th and the fall of the empire; as they feared execution due to their bloodline. He expresses doubts that they differed much from himself and Seliph in terms of life, but over time, the descendants succumbed to the darkness and evil within their hearts.
Seliph replies that it’s like the decedents are being punished for their forefather’s sins. Following, he discovers a prayer for the revival of Lopotusu written on the walls. He’s stunned that the prayer was written by a child.
Levin finishes the conversation by stating, quote,: “You have to be careful when placing labels on good and evil, Seliph. Never waste your anger on individuals. Always focus it on the evil within all of us.”
Personally, Levin’s statement and Seliph’s shock hits hard here. Imagine being oppressed for generations just because of your background. Often told that you deserve to be punished simply because of those who fear what you are capable of due to your genetics. Your oppressors strip you of resources to ensure your people won’t survive. Hopeless, you turn into the darkness within your heart. Maybe if you had a little bit of power, you could get back at your oppressors by any means – even if those means include doing unthinkable things to them and their children.
(You know, maybe Manfory and the Lotpy Church had the right idea with their methods).
Prior to me playing FE4, the villains in the games I played (excluding Final Fantasy VI) were your simply plain and honestly, cartoonish bad guys. Evil guys doing evil things simply because they were evil. Nothing else. Nothing more. The games never drove into why they chose the route of evil and darkness; they just told you that they were the baddies and that you had to defeat them. However, the thing that I love about Genealogy of the Holy War is that Kaga designed and wrote the villains in a way that makes you understand why they were “evil”.
Villains like Manfroy, Travant, and Arvis presented their reasons behind their cruel actions with depth. Reasons that some players could relate to. You might have lived in an area that was stricken by poverty. You saw how people struggled to put something on the table for their families. You know first hand the despair that comes with poverty. You could click with Arvis and Manfroy because you’ve faced systematic oppression just because of your race. If given the power and opportunity, you would do what Manfroy and his crew did to liberate your people and do unimaginable harm to your oppressors just so you can make them suffer like they made you suffer (again, maybe Manfroy and his people were in the right).
Today in gaming, it’s common to have well-written villains with depth beyond them being evil for the sake of evil. It’s almost a requirement in gaming nowadays. However, (to my knowledge), back when FE4 first came out, villains with the depth of the FE4 bad guys weren’t common in gaming. I’m not saying that it was a huge groundbreaking game-changer for the video game industry, but still, it was something different.
Overall, that’s one thing that I love about FE4. However, what other things about the game that I love about it to the point that I’m always talking about it? Find out in part two!
FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
The Swarthy Nerd Podcast A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in the nerd and Eastern otaku fandoms. Every Tuesday join @superlostfan108 and @weebtrashyuki the founders of http://www.swarthynerd.com for their very informative podcast talking about all things nerdy. No desperate bootlicking self-hating negus who was never accepted by Black normies for being too weird for their love of anime and comic books by the Black community allowed. Go drink bleach.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Fire Emblem series (with the release of the first game of the series, “Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon and Sword of Light released on April 20th, 1990), I will be doing a bit of a low-brow, personal “retrospective” of the games I played from the series. Join me as I talk about my first experience with the series through my first and second favorite Fire Emblem game: “Genealogy of the Holy War”.
[Warning: Foul language, low-brow commentary, and crude remarks on the characters of Fire Emblem. Go watch some boring elitist cornballs with no real talent who think talking about video games on YouTube is a real, viable job on YouTube if you want a serious retrospective on the series]
As with many of my peers who grew up playing video games throughout the 90s, I played such classics from that era such as Super Mario World., Street Fighter II, Sonic, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, and Pokemon to name a few. It was thanks to the 1996 capsule monster catching RPG that I would find love within the RPG genre. As my first RPG, I loved the idea of capturing and raising monsters to dominate the world of PokemonBlue. Later, around the early 2000s, I was introduced to two of my top favorite RPGs of all time: Paper Mario and the original Final Fantasy 3 on the Famicom; which happened to be my first Final Fantasy game.
(For those wondering how and why Final Fantasy3 was my first FF game: grew up in Nintendo dominate household and my Pentecostal mother thought RPGs were the devil because Christians, especially Black old-school Baby Boomer Christians, live in fear of thinking for themselves and questing religion; so emulation was the way for me.)
I loved the idea of taking a traditional 2D-platformer Mario game and reimagine it as a turned- based RPG spanning across the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario, once again, must save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. As for FF3, the 8-bit charm of four young orphaned youths being the chosen ones of legend to save the world from darkness. While both games’ story could be consider “basic” to some (which, to a degree, they’re sort of right especially on FF3’s front), I enjoyed and loved them.
I would continue my RPG journey as the early 2000s progressed with classics such as Chrono Trigger, Shin Megami Tensei II, Final Fantasy IV, V, VI, and finally VII (mostly 16-bit emulation because, again, scared Pentecostal Christian mother). They told such amazing stories of their worlds. Time travel. Nuclear holocaust. Tales of hope, life, and death. Yet, despite all of that, there was something missing from those games. Something that I could say in confidence would impact me for life.
Don’t get me wrong: it was a shock to see teen pregnancy used as a narrative theme in Final Fantasy VI with realism as Katarin struggles with the fact of becoming a teen mother in an world of ruin. Katarin, along with her lover and baby’s fathers Duane, the oldest member of the destroyed village of Mobliz in the World of Ruin. Chrono Trigger made me thought about my own existence in the universe as I watched Crono and crew ponder about how the universe and its inhibitors became to be during the campfire scene.
Yet – those things didn’t fulfill a certain need of true, down-to-earth realism. I needed something more grounded. Something that would make such sense to me as a young man. Something that I could relate to with absolute:
Super Smash Bros. Melee. for the Nintendo GameCube!
Through a summer school event, I managed to get my hands on a copy of a Nintendo GameCube demo disc for the PC. Featured on the disc were video demos of upcoming launch titles for the GameCube: including Luigi Mansion, Star Fox Adventures, NBA Courtside 2002, and of course, Super Smash Bros. Melee. Super Smash Bros. 64, the game prior to Melee, felt dwarfed compared to the raw graphical power and scale of Melee. I was aware of and hyped for Melee being created by Nintendo through elementary schoolyard conversations and magazines. Seeing a demo of the preceded flawless game’s action and mass scale drove my desire to get a GameCube and Super Smash Bros. Melee for the 2001 holidays season.
So, did I eventually get Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube and the GameCube for Christmas of 2001 like every other good little boy and good little girl?
Of course fucking not! My parents went bankrupt after buying a new house, having to bury my mother’s parents who both died a month apart from each other, and finally — said new house’s kitchen catching on fire; thus, causing us to living in a downtown hotel then a temporary luxury apartment because we all have shit lungs (asthma). I was lucky to get a DVD/VCR combo for Christmas with a few DVDs.
For three years, I had to live the Melee (and by proxy, the early 2000s gaming) life vicariously. One day, while working on a paper on the history of video games in 8th grade (2004), I discovered the MIDI (Musical Insturmental Digital Interface) video game vgmusic.com. Musically inclined fans could upload their recreation, remixes, and close-to-the-original MIDI files for the nerdy gaming massive to indulge in. Being curious about how the music of Melee sounded, I led myself to the Super Smash Bros. Melee section which had an impressed library of fan made songs from the game.
Scrolling through, there was one track that caught my eye: Hyrule Temple: Fire Emblem. “I don’t remember a Fire Emblem in Majora’s Mask, OOT, nor Zelda II. Maybe I missed something like a secret item named ‘Fire Emblem’ when I had played those games.” I ponder to myself.
Curious, I clicked the link to the song.
Four taps on the artificial hi-hats rang out followed by Latin-like horns, a heavy bassline, and drawn out bass strings and horns building up to the meat of the song.
“Okay, did Link went to Mexico and fight Zorro in a Zelda game because this song sounds super Mexican as hell.”. Rather than do the incredibly smart and not racist thing and Google search Fire Emblem (because I was too busy googling Princess Daisy, Terra Branford , Ayeka Jurai, and Sailor Pluto hentai images and doujins) I just assumed that it was some a weird Zelda thing.
Months later, after my parents recovered from their bankruptcy, they gifted me a Nintendo GameCube for Christmas (they couldn’t find Melee in any store sadly). No worries. I was given a Blockbuster gift card by a family member for Christmas, so I decided to rent Melee the day after Christmas. Wanting to know how to unlock everything, I went online for answers when I came across two Nintendo characters whom which I’ve never heard of: Roy and Marth.
Again, rather than doing the smart thing and Google search “Roy and Marth” (I was googling how to torrent anime illegally this time instead), I decided to play Melee for my answers. After defeating the original 13 fighters, I was alerted with the “Challenger Approach” alarm. A shadowy figured appeared with a male wielding a sword. We’re transported to Kirby’s stage with me wondering who I was going to face off against.
Then, that familiar Mexican sounding melody starts to play.
“Okay, this song sounds ever more Mexican than before now I’m hearing it how it meant to be heard. Why is this white boy speaking Japanese to some Mexican sword fighting music? Is this Zorro’s cousin? Kirby’s friend?”
After defeating Zorro’s half Japanese/Half Mexican cousin from Kirby (I assumed) I’m greeted with the following message:
“Direct from Fire Emblem, it’s Marth, the swordsman supreme!”
“Okay, what’s Fire Emblem, who’s this Marth dude, and why he’s a white boy speaking Japanese to Mexican music?”
Upon unlocking Marth, I ran him through his Classic Mode route to unlock Roy. Fought Roy. Figured out why I thought Fire Emblem was Zelda related after a year (you fight Roy in Hyrule’s Ruins because I guess Roy was sleeping with Zelda behind Link’s back after she slept with Gannondorf). Whoop Roy’s ass and got Marth’s trophy. Wanting to learn more about Marth, I deiced to check out his trophy.
The betrayed prince of the Kingdom of Altea, the blood of the hero Anri flows in Marth’s veins. He was forced into exile when the kingdom of Dolua invaded Altea. Then, wielding his divine Falchion, he led a revolt and defeated the dark dragon Medeus. Afterwards, Altea was annihilated by King Hardin of Akanea.
“Wait, he saved his kingdom only to have it annihilated by another king? So, a Nintendo hero failed at saving the day for once? That’s interesting.” Reading Marth’s bio deepened my curiosity towards Fire Emblem. “Why was Marth forced into exile? Who betrayed him? How did he escape it? Who’s Medeus and Hardin and how did they manage to destroy his kingdom?”
There was only one way to find out: download Fire Emblem through emulation. But, which one? Visiting my preferred emulation site at the time, Emuparadise, I sought answers through the form of three Fire Emblem games: Mystery of the Crest (FE3), Genealogy of the Holy War (FE4), and Thrica 776 (FE5).
First Try: Mystery of the Emblem
The game boots up with a shield with five circular groves and a flame crested embedded in the middle while a trumpet and French horn fanfare plays for a few seconds. Next, I’m treated to a tapestry with scrambled text. However, the imagery of men burned alive by dragons, sages praying to the heavens, a god armed with a mighty sword and shield descending to earth from the heavens to slay a dragon, and humans giving praise to their savior to a medieval musical motif told the tale for me.
Following, the intro ends with three strikes of lighting; causing the screen to flash. A known fanfare plays as the words “FIRE EMBLEM: MYSTERY OF THE EMBLEM” fades into the foreground as the Falchion pieces through the text. Finally, I’m introduced to the playable classes and their stats through the game’s attract mode.
Due to the state of the game’s translation, the pre-chapter’s screens were an unreadable mess (a most common issue of Fire Emblem early fan translations days). For all I could had known, this could had been Roy’s game, which I would had been cool with, but I wanted to know Marth’s story.
Skipping past the mess of the “translation”, the game starts.
Axe-men swarming a lone island: pilaving and killing. A young woman on a Pegasus flies away from the carnage to a castle. It is here I’m introduced to Fire Emblem’s first ever characters: Jeigan/Jagan, Ceada/Shiida, and the poster boy of the series: The legendary Prince Mars!
“Yo, who the FUCK is Mars? Where’s Marth?” I asked myself in confusion. I mean, he had blue hair like Marth. Wears a tiara like Marth. Look like a chick like Marth. But, he was clearly Mars. Not Marth. Disappointed (and utterly unaware that Mars is Marth and the translator took the Marusu name too literal), I stopped playing I FE3 and booted up FE4.
Second Try: FE4 (or, my true first Fire Emblem experience)
Immediately, I’m blown away by audio/visual presentation. While the opening text aren’t a jumbled mess unlike the “translation patch” of Mystery of the Emblem, they were in Japanese; a language which (at the time), I lacked understanding of. Regardless, I could understand the story though the art and sound.
Dreadful music plays as the red and black hellfire serves as the background while mighty warriors and fearsome dragons engage each other in brutal combat. Twelve flames, representing the twelve holy gods of Jugdral surrounding a lone tower. As the music reaches a peak and fades out, A dragon of darkness and a dragon of light entangled in a fierce battle and the screen goes black. Silence. Then, a golden wheel fades in with slow strings building up. The wheel is surrounded by glistering weapons in a celestial blue shade before flying off.
Finally, this specular ends with the Japanese Fire Emblem logo proudly appearing as the theme of the series plays in vigorous pride: as if it was an anthem for a militaristic nation.
Even if this wasn’t Marth’s game and even if I lacked the knowledge to understand the Japanese language, the ominous scene displayed for me alongside with the introduction of the actors and players of the world of FE4, I wanted to dive deep into the blood soaked tale of Jugdral.
After the marvelous introduction, I created a new file, got hip to the story of Jugdral thus far, and proceeded to play.
“Finally! That’s Mart- no, who’s the hell is Sigurd and why does he looks like he could be Marth’s older cousin? If that’s Marth’s cousin maybe Marth will show up in this game.” I proceed to play FE4; impressed by the scale of the map compared to FE3’s Book 1 first’s map. FE4’s first map felt like a long-standing war was about to take place while FE3’s first book seemed like a meek, short skirmish. In a way, this set the tone of the overarching theme of FE4’s maps: large armies clashing with one another non-stop.
Needless to say, this was going to be a long, uphill battle –and I was going to love it. By that detail alone at was then that I knew that not only Genealogy of the Holy War was going to be something special for me, but the Fire Emblem series in general.
Three turns passed. The blue hair axe dude, Lex, wasn’t Marth. The other blue hair guy, Finn, wasn’t Marth neither. At this point, I realized two things:
1. I’m racist against blue hair mid-90s anime-inspired fantasy characters.
2. This wasn’t Marth’s game.
In any case, the first few minutes of gameplay impressed me. How should I move my units? Which weapon is best against the enemy’s? Should I keep Arden guarding the castle or should I be bold and reckless by leaving the castle defenseless? Midir wasn’t a girl? Azel have a thing for cute young nuns and so do I.
Hooked, I spent an entire weekend getting through the first three chapters of the game (Birth of the Holy Knight, Maiden of the Spirit Forest¸ and Disturbance in Augstira). By the time I reached Chapter 2, I realized something: I suck. Ethlyn (Sigurd’s sister) got wounded, so these left the game alongside her husband, Quan: causing me to lose two units at once.
I accidently killed Ayra with Alec and my dumbass saved my game after the fact. I also got Jamke killed because Adean, the priestess whom was supposed to talk to him so he could join your cause, was at the other side of the map. I made Azel kill him. But, it didn’t matter. All it matter was that I was having fun with the game and I kept at it.
Well first, I simply fell in love with the game’s story. Who would had known that Sigurd recusing his friend Aidean from the savages of Verdane was actually a part of a much more diabolical plot orchestrated by the underground cult, The Loptr Church and their leader, Manfory to control the world.
Manfory was the man running the show behind the scenes in an attempt to find the last two surviving decedents of a twisted, dark, demonic dragon god (Lopotsu) in order to revive said dark dragon to plunge the world into disarray, death, destruction, and darkness. Using his pull and promise of power to politicians throughout the land, Manfory was able to install his plan of bringing the world into darkness.
Second, as a teenager, I wasn’t one for politics. It was a topic that bored me to no end. Yet, Genealogy of the Holy War opened my eyes to how brutal and ruthless politics can be. No. Inferior words such as brutal and ruthless are understatements. Cutthroat fits better. I was filled with disgust with Chagall killing his own father, King Imuka, to gain power in Agustria. I took note at how one set of dukes and lords of Agustira bid their time as Sigurd cross blade against the other dukes and lords of their land. Levin’s uncle was willing to kill him and his mother if it meant controlling their nation.
(As Leptor told Sigurd: “Politics is all about power!)
Now, let it be known that politics alone wasn’t the sole reason why I fell in love with Genealogy of the Holy War despite it being the driving force behind why I loved the game. The countless tragedies after tragedies that transpired throughout Sigurd’s tale got me as well. To understand where I’m coming from, let’s go deeper into what I mean by this.
Towards the end of Chapter 1 (Maiden of the Spirit Forest) we’re treated with a touch of “love at first sight” story narrative. Upon conquering Marpha Castle, Sigurd encounters the beautiful and alluring maiden, Deidre, being harassed by a brigand. After running the thug off, Sigurd and Deidre exchange a few words; with Sigurd being shocked that Deidre knows his name (through Aiden) and admitting that he’s everything she imagine him to be. Sigurd ask for her name, which Deidre asks for his pardon for not revealing it before running off loves struck.
Curious about her (and not being able to shake off the feelings of love) , Sigurd asks a local elder about her. The elder informs Sigurd of Deidre’s name, background, and warns Sigurd not to engage in any sort of relationship with Deidre; least disaster shall befall upon the world if she left the forest and found love. Not wanting to believe in such superstitions, Sigurd sets out to find Deidre. They encounter one another and admit that they had fallen for each other…
…And like any good woman and man who fall for each other upon a chance, first meeting, they both fucked later that night. This isn’t me being lowbrow (for once): that scene is in the official Fire Emblem 4 manga written and drawn by Mitsuki Oosawa. Deidre totally fucks on the first date (must be due to of all those years of living a sheltered life).
Anyway, after conquering the Kingdom and Verdane, Sigurd and Deidre got married. From their marriage, Sigurd started to change. His sister, Ethlyn, notes how much Sigurd changed thanks to Deidre. He’s no longer a slob. His hot-headed attitude has all but disappeared. He became more upbeat. From their love and marriage came their first and only son, Celice, whom they both loved dearly.
Sigurd was happy.
Deirdre was happy.
And then, Chapter 3 hits – hard.
After receiving news of Sigurd subduing Madino Castle, Deidre decides to leave their army’s home castle to check on her husband. Despite pleas from Shanan (Prince of Issac, his backstory on why he’s in Sigurd’s army is a tad long for this post for me to explain) to ensure that Deidre do not leave the castle as per Sigurd’s request, Deidre leaves; assuring Shanan that she’ll only be but just a second. As Deidre walks outside, she is attacked by Manfory, brainwashed, and taken away by the dastardly villain.
(Keep in mind: Sigurd is prepping to engage in combat against his own best friend, Eldigan)
After subduing Evans Castle, Sigurd is alerted by Shanan that Deidre went missing (in the manga version, Shanan engage in combat against Manfory and fails to rescue Deidre). Sigurd, still stressed out due to discovering the beheaded body of Eldigan in Silvali Castle, sets out to find Deidre.
To worsen matters, Sigurd hears that he and his father Vylon are accused of murdering Prince Kurth of Grannvale (in truth, Vylon’s rivals, Lombard and Leptor, murdered the prince as an attempt to frame Vylon and take Castle Chaply from him).
Sigurd and company are forced to flee to the faraway frigid mountain lands of Silesse. Despite his justified anger/desires to storm Grannvale and expose Lombard and Leptor for their crimes, Sigurd is forced to resolve the civil conflict of Sileese while living as a refugee.
Once the civil conflict in Sileese subsides, Sigurd sets off to Granvale to combat against Leptor and Lombard. He revives his family heirloom, the Holy Tyfring from his father, who has been morality wounded by Lombard’s squad. Sigurd is helpless as his dad dies in his arms and promises to rain wrath and revenge upon Lombard and Reptor for their crimes against the Chaply family and the land of Grannvall. Keeping to his promise, Sigurd successfully slew Lombard and set his sights against Reptor and his unit.
During this time, Quan and his Ethlyn, along with Leonster Lance units, are to aid Sigurd and his army. However, King Tribant (introduced in Chapter 3) ambushes their squad: killing them and leaving behind no survivors sans Cuan and his Ethlyn’s 3 year old child, Altena. Sigurd hears of this news and is devastated by yet another tragic event in his life.
Following, Sigurd eventually take the battle to Leptor, effortlessly defeating him with the help of his army. Sigurd is greeted by Arvis’ aide, Aida, who tells him that Arvis and Kurth’s father knew Sigurd and his father weren’t involved in Prince Kurth’s death. This relives Sigurd, a man who for the past two years dealt with soul-crushing pain. For once, Sigurd is able to take a break and repay his allies for their work.
Yet, all isn’t what they may seem.
While Sigurd and company are welcomed to Belhalla by Arvis in a faux celebration party, Arvis reveals to Sigurd that everything that has transpired within the past three years of Arvis’s doing. He doesn’t pardon neither nor his father for crimes to conspiracy to usurp the Grannvall throne by murdering Prince Kurth. Sigurd is sentence to death. Sigurd, now in absolute disbelief and believing that Arvis is joking, asks if this is a cruel joke, to which Arvis replies that he is not. Before killing Sigurd, Arvis reveals something that Sigurd has been looking for the past year:
Deidre – now recognized as the wife of Arvis.
Arvis insists that Sigurd must be confronted by the daughter of his victim. Deidre, lacking any sort of recollections of her (true) marriage with Sigurd, questions if Sigurd murdered her father. The man snaps, yelling at his wife that he’s married to him, not Arvis, and that he did not do such a horrible thing to his wife who, he loves dearly by killing her father. Deidre is confused. She ponders why Sigurd, the man who supposedly murdered her father, is speaking to her as if he was her familiar. She requests to Arvis that she is given more time to speak with Sigurd to clear things, only to have that requet deny by her new husband.
As Deidre is courted away by Arvis’s royal guards, Arvis believes that Sigurd has said more than enough and orders the execution of Sigurd and his army.
My jaw dropped as I helplessly watched the army whom I raised and the characters I grew to love lives come to a brutal end.
“Nintendo a company for kids and family…Did they just really let one of their main characters die so violently like that?” My teenage mind couldn’t compheren that Nintendo allowed the death of a main character (among many other controversial things) in one of their games.
Continued in Part II.
FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
The Swarthy Nerd Podcast
A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in the nerd and Eastern otaku fandoms. Every Tuesday join @superlostfan108 and @weebtrashyuki the founders of http://www.swarthynerd.com for there very informative podcast talking about all things nerdy. No desperate boot licking self hating negus who were never accepted by Black norimes for being too weird for their love of anime and comic books by the Black community allowed. Go drink bleach.
I’m not one to fanboy. Okay, let me take that back. I can be bit of a fanboy, but I don’t see myself being a fanatic for anything – except for Fire Emblem. I love Fire Emblem. I truly do. It’s my favorite video game series of all time. Thracia 776is not only my first Fire Emblem game but it’s my favorite game of the series; as well as my second favorite Super Famicom game (my first being Final Fantasy 6). Genealogy of the Holy War is my favorite video game. Nothing can beat it. I could go on and on about how it made me appreciate politics, wanting to create my own linage with my last name, how I love the tone change Chapter 2: Disturbance in Agustria brings to the game, and how I almost got banned from Serenes Forest for “slut shaming” Lachesis: the Incestuous Slutty Half-Sister Wonder back in the late 2000s.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with Nintendo’s other franchises; I love Smash Bros, I think Zelda is a great adventure series. Pokemon, a childhood favorite, is still going 24 years later. F-Zero is dead. And Star Fox is a dead series for sexually confused furries in denial. But, there’s something magical about Fire Emblem that draws me into more than any other Nintendo series.
I’m glad to have witness the rapid growth, reinvention, and renaissance of the Fire Emblem series this past decade. Awakening saved the series (and yes, to you spaz ass emotional ass FE super fanboys who gatekeep the series because you’ll never create anything original worth gatekeeping in your lifetime; I know their marketing campaign saved the series). Echoes proved that the younger fans can appreciate unforgiving brutality of the classic Fire Emblem game’s mechanics. FE: Heroes is gacha garbage. If Cowmila was a real girl, I’d pay her to give me a lapdance along with Tharja while Azura sings over an Dirty South trap remix of Lost im Thoughts on my birthday because Azura and Camilla are the only good things about Fates besides Lost in Thoughts All Alone being a remix of this song. Finally, Three Houses has not only dominated the strategy genre, but proven itself to be a mainstream Triple A juggernaut of a game.
It is an understatement to say this is the best time to be a Fire Emblem fan. Words cannot describe the fact of how happy I am to be a Fire Emblem fan today. There is none. With that said, you will be surprise to learn that this wasn’t always the case. In fact, during the start of the Fire Emblem renaissance, I was a bitter, angry, gatekeeping old school fan that hated the reinvention of the series and the fans. And by old-school, I was one of those annoying, assholish Shouzou Kaga dick riding FE fanboys who thought he was superior for playing the older games (who am I kidding I’m still am an assholish Kaga fanboy).
Let’s go back to April of 2013.
Fire Emblem: Awakening made it to the states after a year after the Japanese release. The American Fire Emblem community was at abuzz. We were all excited to get our hands on the new game. Well, not me actually. My money management at the time was foolhardy at best; so I didn’t save up for both a 3DS and the game. Nevertheless, my excitedment couldn’t be contained for long, so I decided to check online for news surrounding the game over here in America.
I was met with the following:
“This is a fucking waifu simulator!” “This pissed on Kaga’s legacy!” “Fire Emblem should have stayed dead!” “Not only is Lucina’s a Mary Sue, she made me realized that at least I’m not AS flat chested and flat ass like her!” “The fanbase is stupid and refuse to play the older games!”
I was shocked. The beloved series that I loved since high school became a weeaboo waifu simulator pandering to new gen anime fans. The new fans are talking reckless about the older games. Worse: classic FE fans stated that Awakening was a cheesy anime game than a tactical game about warfare, life, death, and the horrors of war. Overtime, I became angry at the fandom – bitter even. How could a weeaboo trash entry of Fire Emblem outshine the rest of the games in the series ?
How dare this so called Fire Emblem game became the one to save the series from death!?
I wanted to talk about the other games prior to Fire Emblem (sans the Wii and Nintendo DS garbage FE games), but the newer fans only wanted to play Awakening. Some had the nerve to call Thracia 776 and Genealogy of the Holy War archaic…which is kinda true but man, that hurt. Nevertheless, I wanted nothing to do with Awakening besides bully the Thraja fanboys for being fans of an abusive woman and bully Lucina fans for thinking a Mary Sue character is a good one.
But, like the Grinch, something in my heart changed.
As time passed, it dawned on me: If it was not for the popularity of Awakening, nobody would be talking about the Fire Emblem series – because the series would had died. Because of Awakening, interest towards Fire Emblem began anew – especially the older games – and especially Genealogy of the Holy War. Awakening used the paring and generation mechanics of FE4 (where in the first half of the game, you must pair a male and female unit together in order for them to have a child unit to fight in the second half.) The newer fans started to get curious about the origin of Awakening parent/children system. Naturally, a few of them started playing Genealogy of the Holy War along with the older games.
Rather than gate-keep and bully them (as I saw a few older fans did), I welcomed the newcomers to the series and gave tips for Genealogy and Thracia. Some complained about the massive maps of FE4 and difficulty of FE5, but I appreciated the fact that they at least tried the older games. Some stayed with those two games while others went on to play the GBA era FE games.
Fire Emblem’s popularity was starting to rise again.
And my bitterness towards it began to wane.
While I was walking back to my hotel after hanging out with one of my Umineko no Naku Koro ni cosplay buddies at the convention center, I spotted a girl who couldn’t be no older than 16 cosplaying as Celice/Seliph: the second generation Lord of Fire Emblem 4. I was shocked. Normally, anyone who was cosplaying from the series were only cosplaying as the newer characters — not the older characters. I wanted to take her picture of the Celice cosplayer and tell her how I appreciated that she was cosplaying a character from my favorite video game, but by the time I had turned back around to get off the escalator, she was gone. Oh well. I was just happy to see the next generation of Fire Emblem fans taking appreciation of both the new and older games.
To see that somebody as young as her cosplaying as the classic Fire Emblem characters made me realize that the newer generation of fire emblem fans do have an appreciation for the older games. Plus, it made me fully aware how foolish I was to be angry at something as superficial as the popularity of Awakening. The anger temporary blinded me from seeing the bigger picture:
Fire Emblem – my favorite video game series – was receiving love and appreciation again.
(Warning: Major spoilers for Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War and Doki Doki Literature Club. I’m not dealin’ with ya weebaboos and ya hurt feelings.)
I can fondly remember when my homeboy (at the time) “spoiled” the fact that Hotaru was Sailor Saturn (Sailor Moon S) in grade school. I had just finished watching my first episode of Sailor Moon (episode 117: Higher, Stronger! Cheers by Usagi) the previous day and was hooked. I expressed my love for the Hotaru character and her awesomeness. Unlike Usagi and Chibi-Usa (who had to transform in order to gain their powers), Hotaru didn’t need to transform for her powers. My dude smiled and said “You know Hotaru is actually a Sailor Scout, right? She’s Sailor Saturn. That’s why she has powers. In fact, not only is she a Sailor Saturn, she’s being controlled by somebody else.”
“Ahh!” I replied. “No wonder she could do those things like blasting a monster across a track field.” The spoilers about Hotaru’s truth identify didn’t ruin her character for me. In fact, it made me more excited to watch more Sailor Moon S. I wanted to see Hotaru’s journey as a sickly, lonely girl to the Soldier of Destruction (who ironically, would save the world from destruction).
Spoilers don’t mean shit. Being spoiled about an event in the media we consume never ruin the emotional experience. In fact, it makes it better. Some may say “But spoiling something will make you disappointed or change your mind about a character.” Okay, so what? Your views of a character are going to change regardless of you got spoiled on their actions or not. Why try to avoid the inevitable when it’s going to hit you sooner or later?
Let me change your mind about spoilers. I know I can.
Spoilers neither ruins nor replace the emotional experience that you’d otherwise witness. Spoilers are just words. They don’t provide the gut hitting visuals of seeing your favorite character die. Spoilers don’t give you the sense of anger of seeing a “trustworthy” ally betraying his best friend on screen. “But Ben! What about twists and surprises!?” Oh well. Once you consumed media for nearly 25 years you tend to get bored with surprises and twists.
Recently, I’ve been playing the popular Western visual novel, Doki Doki Literature Club/DDLC (not to be confused with the obscure PC98 visual novel Doki Doki Vacation). Through my adventures (of playing the game), people were trying (failing) to convince me not to read spoilers. They told me that it’s better to experience the game blind so I could “truly appreciate” the game for what it is.
First off, I had to laugh at those who believed I should play DDLC by their standards. Second, telling me to avoid spoilers won’t work – it’ll just make me read them. Through reading spoilers, I discovered that Monika was the true villain of DDLC. Monika was a manipulative, angry, jealous, and lonely girl who wanted someone to love her and grant her freedom (from her digital prison and self-awareness powers). Did those spoilers impacted and change my views on Monika? Of course, but in turn, it made more interested in her character (given that I enjoy manipulative/Machiavellian-type characters).
Here’s where I still felt the emotional impact of Monika’s cruel deeds despite being “spoiled”.
As Monika brags about killing Natsuki, Yuri, and Sayori, your character is forced to sit across from her in the Literature Club (now the Room of Eternity). The distorted music, dark orange tint filling the room, and Monika staring at your eye gave me a sense of unease. I felt anger as Monika casually – yet coldly – discussed how she murdered her friends. Now, do you see how spoilers don’t replace those emotions? Again, they don’t give you that visual treat.
Reading those spoilers didn’t provide me with those emotions – but playing the game did. The spoilers just enhanced my journey, which brings me to my next point.
Around 2005, I started playing Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War. I “foolishly” spoiled the game’s ultimate plow twist – Arvis murdering the main character, Sigurd. Furthermore, Arvis manipulated the nobles of Grandbell to wage war against a few nations: just so he could have the nobles kill each other. Arvis’s schemes prove successful.
Rather than being mad at myself (for “ruining” the plot), I became curious about Arvis’s “terrible” deeds and did research. I discovered the game development notes of Shouzou Kaga (creator of Fire Emblem); gaining information on Arvis (that changed my mind about him). Arvis was angry at the nobles of Grandbell who abused their power – subjecting their citizens to levels of extreme poverty (while the nobles spent their riches on themselves).
Arvis – in his head – thought himself as a liberating hero for the common man.
The spoilers didn’t ruin the plot for me. In reality, not only did it made me want to play the game, it made me respect Kaga’s complex writing of Arvis’s character. Kaga’s notes help me understood the tragic (anti) villain archetype of media. It was the kick that I needed to see the game all the way to the end – to see how the events unfold through Kaga’s craftsmanship.
See how spoilers can work in your favor?
Spoilers do not mean shit. This was a fact that I discovered back in my childhood with Hotaru/Sailor Saturn, one of my favorite characters of all time. Being spoilers on certain characters might change my views on them. That’s okay: it was going to change either way. Reading spoilers helped me understand why villains such as Arvis and Monika had to do the things they did – and I still got emotional when I reached their villain reveals in their respected games. The spoilers got me in the head of the creator and made me felt what they felt. To me, that’s the ultimate sign of respect for a creator: understanding their works.
Touhou Emblem 4: Emblem of the East is my rebalance patch of the hacking group FE4 Binary’s original Fire Emblem 4 Remodel hack “Touhou Emblem: Genealogy of the East”. Touhou Emblem Emblem of the East features classic characters of the PC doujin game Team Shanghai Alice such as Reimu Hakurei, Fujiwara no Mokou Remilia Scarlet, and Yukari Takeba in the world Fire Emblem 4!
This patch aims to fix the balancing issues found in Touhou Emblem 4 (such as overpowered unit and classes, limiting holy blood, nerfing and buffing certain weapons, etc.)
Plan Release Date: April 20th, 2018 (27th anniversary of the Fire Emblem series)