Now that Path of Radiance is finished, it’s time to jump into my favorite game of all time—Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. First, though, there are some minor changes to the format: all images for this game can be clicked for a larger version (or right clicked and opened in a new window if you don’t want it to open in the page), which should make it easier to read some of the text. I’m also going to be alternating between a number of different header images rather than using the same one throughout, because I’ve noticed that using the same header image for the Path of Radiance posts made it difficult to tell when a new one had gone up.
I love this game’s opening. It’s one of only a few starting sequences that I know by heart. Part of the reason for that is because my first playthrough was fraught with character deaths that would cause me to immediately reset the game and sit through the opening with my head in my hands, will almost broken by the steep difficulty, but that somehow makes it even better. This is also a much more elaborate opening than Path of Radiance’s (which I recorded, but never posted for some reason).
I’m also a fan of the little bit of music that plays when you go to start the game. That’s right—you’re getting the full experience right now, complete with the Wii Fit channel yelling about how long it’s been since it was last used. Despite displaying “1 week ago,” it’s actually been something like 8 or 9 years. This isn’t important to anything, of course, but it’s funny how non-confrontational Nintendo can be.
This is what my save menu looks like, with the blue being a normal difficulty playthrough and the red being a hard difficulty playthrough. I’ve gone through the game six times using the same Path of Radiance save import data, so it pains me to have to delete three of these slots (I use one slot for chapter clear data, one for the base menu before anything has been done, and one after base menu changes), but you can back up save data to an SD card pretty easily in the Wii menu. They don’t even seem to be locked to the console, which is great. Way back when I wrote my review for Radiant Dawn (which is terrible—never write about your favorite games before you’ve figured out what you’re doing), I wasn’t able to record from the system itself, but managed to import my real console save data into an emulator to make screenshots that way. Which is why there are screenshots from only a few chapters.
The first thing that pops up upon starting a new game is the option to import Path of Radiance save data. Time for all of those capped stats in PoR to pay off!
This is actually kind of surprising to me; I thought that the hard difficulty was only available when selecting a completed game to start over again (imagine it like a type of new game +), but it was available for a fresh game because I left two slots intact that have my old save data on them. That raises all kinds of questions, like whether certain options and bits of dialogue that only become available on the second playthrough on will similarly be available. I’m going to assume not. As for the differences between the difficulties, the biggest changes are the deactivation of the weapon triangle and danger zone (so you can’t see enemy ranges) on hard mode. You can apparently figure out possible enemy movement by counting tiles, but I made it through hard mode before I realized that. Enemies are also harder, and you can’t save during battle. Since it’s been years since I’ve played, though, I’m playing on normal, which means having access to all of that fun stuff.
The first cutscene features main character Micaiah (and her bird Yune) hiding from Begnion soldiers searching for the “Dawn Brigade,” only to be discovered. The soldiers note that she has silver hair, which is the defining characteristic of one of the most important members of the Dawn Brigade who they refer to as the “fortune-teller.” That’s when Sothe shows up—that’s right, little Sothe has grown up quite a bit in the years since Path of Radiance—and starts killing. Eventually Micaiah uses light magic to blind the soldiers, and the two of them (three if you count Yune) get away.
We find out that this happened in Daein’s capital of Nevassa, but aren’t given more details than that. For now, Micaiah and someone named Edward are waiting for another Dawn Brigade member named Leonardo who’s late, and Edward jokes that she could look into the future to see when he’ll arrive. Micaiah has a strange ability called farsight that allows her to occasionally see the future, though she can’t pick and choose what she sees. This is just one of many unique abilities that she has.
Some citizens of Nevassa begin yelling for help, and it turns out that bandits are attacking the town (early bandits are a Fire Emblem tradition). It’s revealed that Begnion’s occupational army doesn’t care about the fate of Daein’s people, being far more interested in hunting down the Dawn Brigade. Basically, Begnion won the war and don’t feel like treating Daein’s citizens nicely, which actually ties into Soren’s account of a nation’s treatment after losing a war from back in Path of Radiance.
Edward is a fast sword user kind of like Mia or Zihark from Path of Radiance, but Zihark will eventually replace him. Leonardo is an okay bow-user, but he’ll similarly be shelved later in the game. Still, the early parts of Radiant Dawn can be frustrating, so the goal here is to survive by any means. Having characters who won’t see much use level up isn’t experience stealing, either, because we’ll be stuck with them for awhile and they’ll be crucial to getting through some tricky stages.
I like to use Edward to take the bandits’ HP down a bit and then finish them off with Micaiah, though he’ll sometimes get a critical hit (especially if his HP is low) and kill them first. That’s no big deal, though. Some things to notice: Micaiah speaks the ancient language that Leanne did in Path of Radiance. She also has a unique ability called Sacrifice that transfers her HP to an ally, and she uses it on Edward before he moves into range of the boss. Sacrifice isn’t a game-changer or anything, but having more options for healing means having more flexibility. Especially early on.
As soon as the bandits have all been taken care of, Begnion soldiers show up.
The Dawn Brigade flees from the soldiers, and a general named Jarod shows up to ask what’s happening. One of the soldiers explains that they spotted members of the Dawn Brigade, which is a group of thieves who steal things Begnion takes to give them back to Daein’s people. He goes on to tell him about a “witch among them” called the Silver-Haired Maiden who can heal wounds without using a healing staff and who the citizens regard as a savior. The earlier cutscene with Micaiah and Sothe turns out to have been Begnion soldiers running the Dawn Brigade out of their base, but when the soldier explains that they got away, Jarod kills him on the spot.
Jarod isn’t a good dude and his disdain for Daein (disdaein?) is virtually palpable. He won’t be a hugely important character in the grand scheme of things, but he’ll show up a bunch throughout the early game. I’d say his importance is about on par with Petrine from Path of Radiance. Possibly slightly less than that.