Fire Emblem is the 7th game in the Fire Emblem series and is also the first Fire Emblem game to be released outside of Japan. In the United States, the game was simply known as "Fire Emblem"; the literal translation of the Japanese name is Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword. It is the 2nd Fire Emblem game to come out on the Game Boy Advance, the first being Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals. Fire Emblem: SoS takes place after this game, starring Eliwood's son.
- Guy - A Myrmidon, from Sacae. Seeks to be the best swordsman ever.
- Marcus - Eliwood's loyal bodyguard and protector, who becomes Roy's bodyguard and Protector.
- Serra - A ditzy pink haired priestess.
- Sain - One of the beginning Social Knight, and the resident guy who's all about the ladies.
- Kent - The other Social Knight, a more serious soldier than his partner Sain.
- Nino - A young sage, who once worked for the Black Fang.
- Jaffar - A ruthless assassin, a protector of Nino.
- Nils - A mysterious boy that can play the flute. Shrouded origin & history.
- Ninian - Sister of Nils, and a mysterious girl that can dance. Shrouded origin & history.
- Athos - A very old man. One of the original heroes of the continent and a very powerful magic user.
The game (whole series, in fact) bears many similarities to the other GBA turn-based strategy game known as Advance Wars. This is because both games come from the same developer, Intelligent Systems. However, instead of faceless units, sent off as sacrifices for the cause, the game has characters, each with their own personality and (unlockable) backstory. These backstories are unlocked by initiating "Support Conversations", exchanges between characters in-battle that occur when characters have spent a certain number of turns near each other. Support Conversations also give significant stat bonuses to these characters. They render once dimensionless characters like Wil the Archer with more reason to care if he gets killed.
Speaking of which, death is permanent in the game, outside of the 10-chapter tutorial. While this is a problem for many potential players, it gives the game an added layer of difficulty and attachment. Everything else about the gameplay follows standard Strategy RPG procedure. Your team & the enemies teams take turns moving everyone at once, your characters move on a grid, different terrain offers defense bonuses, etc.
One aspect where it once again departs from tradition is with its weapon & equipment system. Each character has 5 item slots for equipment & items. Instead of equipping different weapons on a character like in a standard RPG, you are to decide which item you use to attack whenever you choose an "attack" command in battle. This character can only choose from the weapons you have given him before the battle. Choosing the right weapon is integral to winning a map. This is mostly due to the Rock-Paper-Scissors style of weapons & spells. Swords beat Axes, Axes beat Lances, and Lances beat Swords. The same goes for Magic spells. Dark Magic beats Anima (Elemental) Magic, Anima beats Light Magic and Light Magic beats Dark Magic. These aren't the only things to consider when attacking an enemy. There are "Reaver" weapons that reverse the triangle (Lancereavers, Swordreavers), and weapons that have other benefits (Longer range, increased chance of critical hit, status effects)
This specific Fire Emblem is very linear, with over 30 chapters to play through, several of which you are likely to replay because the map will beat you senseless. Maps have different objectives. Sometimes you have to capture the enemy throne/castle, destroy every enemy, or just survive for a certain number of turns. Some maps have snow that will slow your units down, or Fog of War that will limit your view.
However, when you do beat the game, you'll still have more to do, as this unlocks Hector's Tale. Hector's Tale starts the game a little bit past the tutorial, and is played from the perspective of 3rd protagonist Hector. While you'll refight some of the same maps (with generally more enemies, many of them lance-wielding pegasus knights), you'll also run into many new maps, as well as new characters to recruit. After completing Hector's Tale, you unlock two new hard modes, one for each Lord, plus a hard tutorial.
Fire Emblem sported extremely simplified graphics on the basic map, much like Advance Wars. They are two colors at best, with around three frames of looping animation. Once a battle is initiated, the panels the attacker & defender are on swoop up to the camera to a side view. Here, players are given a full character view.
The Game Boy Advance games are known for their flashy, well-done, and high impact attack animations. For example, Assassins will hop into the air, disappear, then reappear in front of the enemy to deliver a backwards stab. Critical hit animations are even flashier. The Hero class critical animation shows him throwing his shield into the air (nearly off screen), letting it hover in place, then somersaulting up to grab it, then bringing down sword + shield on the way down with a flashy light burst.
During the cut scenes, the primitive map icons are used to convey movement. Character portraits (from the shoulder up) that move their lips & blink are used in the foreground to convey position and some movement.