Though it's the follow-up to the original Fire Emblem, Gaiden's battle engine actually seems slightly more primitive. Archers counter to immediately adjacent squares, each character only gets one equippable item and there's no terrain bonuses. Maps are also a little more generic and barren in their design. It's almost like they had a "B" squad develop a game concurrently with a late beta version of the engine or something, 'cause it was 1988 and the idea of diluting a brand hadn't really occured to anyone yet.

Despite all that, it really isn't a bad game. It's even more sparse in story and character development than the original game was, but if you don't care about all that, the tactical action is basically solid with the series' perma-death convention retained to really make you think about your troop placement at all times.

The big change here is opening the world map up so you can move about semi-freely, rather than just shuttling you from battle to battle. You still kinda wind up shuttled from battle to battle, though, as the only point to backtracking is to level-grind in old areas and take a sidetrack to the occasional side quest/recruitable character. This new development is a double-edged sword, though; now that you can grind, the game FORCES you to grind to get through a number of battles along the main road that contain enemies that are way higher in level than you.

You can see some more of what would go on to become series conventions taking shape here, like characters being able to promote to a new class after hitting a certain level. So big-time Fire Emblem fans might enjoy it. For everyone else it's probably going to be too much of a slog through Primitive SRPGLand, however.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video