Fire Emblem: Thracia 776
Unfortunately it’s true what they say, you know – one day you become a little bit tired and you never recover from it. It seems to happen in and around the time when you know you won’t be able to do the long nights out anymore. Your bones finally creak in protest, your brain refuses to go at full power, and every muscle in your body is saying no, that’s your lot, we’ve had enough. Your body has gone on fatigue strike.
I can’t have been too surprised about it. I see sleep as some sort of effrontery against me, a challenge that I need to overcome. Unprofitable, uncreative hours spend doing nothing, in bed? I’ll save them for the hangover, but each and every day, no thank you. So I might only have 5 hours of sleep, 4 on a schoolnight. Perhaps predictably, this has given me suitcases under my eyes, a ski slope forehead, bundles of grey hair and the realisation that I’m never going to get back to 100% condition again. Christ, I’m 30 and I’m knackered.
But when would I get a chance to recover? Can you believe the working week is 40 hours for example, and that ain’t including your travel time, and sitting next to plankton definitely takes it out of you. You’ve got to exercise as well, maintain social relationships, including a partner if you can find time, not to mention money. To stop yourself from becoming a complete drone in the throes of depression you need to devote time to your hobbies as well, and a bit of self-improvement and home learning wouldn’t be out the way either. Where You gonna find the time for all that?
It’s no wonder we’re a nation of zombies. I’ve spoken about the benefits of universal basic income before (link to MMX), which could bring with it the caveat that we’re no longer top of the food chain anymore, kicked off our perch by robots. I seem to remember that went really wrong in giants of the genre Chrono Trigger, Terminator and (ridiculous) one), but at this point I might just take it if I can get some time and energy back.
I wonder where on this heralded food chain the Super Famicom stood in the year 2000? Certainly the SNES in USA and Europe was dead as a doornail, in fact the Nintendo 64 was nearly done as well, but it seems in Japan they don’t always have to have the latest and greatest thing, and so there was a thirteenth-hour Fire Emblem game for Nintendo Power; no, not the US magazine, it was a Japanese service where you could download ROMs to a SNES cartridge.
Well look at that, Nintendo pioneered the game piracy they’d one day vilify me for. If they had a ROM burning / flashing stall like that in Ireland it’d be burned down or kicked into mush. Anyway, for whatever reason, probably because the 3D graphics would have looked like liquid arse, the Fire Emblem series skipped the N64 and stayed firmly entrenched in the 2D SNES, and I’m happy to see it because the game is all the better for it.
So we have Thracia 776, a bizarrely titled sequel to the fourth FE game Genealogy of the Holy War, taking place halfway through the sprawling maps of that game. And it’s got plenty of bizarre mechanics and tricks designed to trip you, the supposed Fire Emblem master, right up. Later versions of the game that came pre-packaged on physical media came with a strategy guide that helped innocent naïve players around these pitfalls, but of course this is Japan only, so you’ll just have to make do with the online walkthrough that you were gonna use anyway. Otherwise you’d be falling victim to the thing that plagues me and everyone I know these days, the hidden fatigue metre that precludes your units from joining certain battles. Or if you’re playing an Escape map and you tell spice boy lord Leif to get out first, everyone else gets killed. Or captured, but in Fire Emblem it barely matters once they’re not available for your selection.
Yes, so much for life experience here – you can reckon yourself world wise, or even world weary as I am, but if you play Thracia 776 blind then the very best of luck to you. Get a guide alongside you though and you’ll find a pretty fun Fire Emblem game, a great bridging point between the SNES days and the GBA titles, and with a top-notch fan-translation too.
I’d probably recommend Thracia 776 and its predecessor as being some of the last Fire Emblems that you play, just because they’re quite esoteric, and not at all easy. It’s a great history piece for SNES buffs, because there can’t have been too many games which came out after this one for the system. The original creator of the series Kaga jumped ship after this game, to PS1 of all things the cheeky snake, and even that was on the way out by then. Do give Thracia 776 a look at the end of your Fire Emblem discovery journey. I won’t tell you to be afraid, be very afraid, but I will warn you that things will suddenly slow down, or you’ll be caught in a difficult position that maybe a younger man with better mental fitness could recover from. Why did we want to become adults again…?