by Micah Kolding

Nintendo Editor

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Three years have passed since the events of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, but the tensions of the war between Daein and Crimea are far from the forgotten and the elusive and ill-defined majesty of the word "radiance" has yet to be fully milked. It is thus that the revolutionary forces of the shamed and oppressed Daein people begin to lurch towards the hope of rebellion, and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn begins spinning in our Wiis.

Reintroduce yourself to Sothe (Remember him? From Path of Radiance?  Probably not) and meet his friend Micaiah, a girl with an unusual healing gift that makes her the font of inspiration for the revolutionary Dawn Brigade. It is this small army's goal to save their countrymen from the oppression of the occupying forces of the big ol' Begnion nation, a nation that has in recent years been acting mysteriously against the nature of that cute little Apostle we came to know in the last game. And before you can say "Crimea River isn't just a river in Crimea," old prejudices rear their ugly heads as the laguz tribes reappear on the scene, and the historically xenophobic people of Daein are faced with allying themselves with the beast people. Will the characters be able to learn a trite, simplistic lesson about diversity and cultural acceptance in time to pull their shattered nation out of the ashes? Probably, but fortunately the plot isn't the best part of this game.

Indeed, between the interminable and almost charmingly asinine puppet shows that this series tries to engage us in, there is a lot of challenge and fun to be had in the actual battles. The same mechanic from the Gamecube game is more-or-less entirely recycled here, with the familiar battle grid, turn-based combat, and really long attack animations that you will immediately deactivate if you have any sense. There are also many new features, including new tactical options, new units, and new ways to develop your characters into absurdly powerful juggernauts of super-doom. But by no means be prepared for a cakewalk, as this game delivers a refreshing level of difficulty that will make you work to spare yourself the depressing death dialogue of all of your baby-faced warriors. If you enjoy a good tactical battle, if you like to strategically develop and equip your army, and if you like your games to be doing more than babysitting you, this is definitely a recommendable game.

All things considered, Radiant Dawn earns a positive review.  Those unfamiliar with the series would do well to get past the dubious logic and slot machine character development that only such an anime-style story could bring, and those familiar with the series would do well to save their "clear data" from Path of Radiance, which apparently earns you numerous enhancements in its sequel. Play, enjoy, and keep those games spinning

About the author:

Micah Kolding is a teacher, writer, and cartoonist from Davis, California. His sharp and satiric edge has appeared in the likes of The California Aggie and The Sacramento Book Review, as well as on stage.

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copyright 2006