Name: Fire Emblem: Thracia 776
Release Date (JP): September 1st, 1999 (Nintendo Power), January 20th, 2000 (Physical Cartridge)
Platform: SNES
Score: 95
Beat: March 13th, 2017
Written: April 29th, 2021

Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (ファイアーエムブレム トラキア776, Fire Emblem: Torakia Nana Nana Roku) released in 1999 through Nintendo Power's download service for the SNES. It serves as a midquel and the later parts of the game run concurrently to the previous entry, Genealogy of the Holy War, specifically its 2nd Generation. The game itself is extremely interesting for a number of reasons. One, it was one of the last (if not the last, I can't recall at the moment) SNES games released and as a result sold extremely poorly as in 2000, the GameCube was nearing release. Two, it is by far the most expenisve Fire Emblem game to acquire nowadays (DLC in Awakening and Fates not counted), and Three, it is the last Fire Emblem game series creator Shouzou Kaga (unfortunately Producer Gunpei Yokoi had passed in the time between Genealogy and Thracia 776) worked on before leaving Intelligent Systems and founding Tirnanog. Thracia 776 (henceforth referred to as FE5) introduces several mechanics to the series, some of which either never return or do in a severely nerfed fasion. First appearing is the weapon proficiency mechanics going forward, E rank is the lowest, S is the highest (usually), and to raise it you have to use your weapon a lot. That does not mean it is without hiccups though. For some strange reason, there is no E rank wind magic. However, I don't think any mages start with E in Wind so I don't think it matters. The only entry to have it until Echoes added an extremely simplified version of it, fatigue is a stat that increases when performing actions such as healing or attacking. If the fatigue stat exceeds the unit's total HP, then the unit is fatigued and cannot participate in the next battle. However, there are S(tamina) Drinks that allow a fatigued unit to fight anyway. FE5 is also the last game to feature dismounting until Three Houses brings it back and removes the extrememly annoying "dismount indoors" requirement that FE5 and Mystery of the Emblem have. A mechanic unique to FE5 (as I don't count Fates's version of it due to it being restricted to two useless characters) is capturing. How it works is a character has to have a higher build than the enemy that is being captured. If that requirement is met, then a character can attempt to capture an enemy. The caveat is that the capturer's stats are halved. If the capture is successful, then the captured is taken by the character and their inventory can then be transferred to yours. Notably, the enemy can capture your units as well, though they will only capture unarmed characters as they are immediately captured without any fighting, so watch out! A series staple to first feature in this game is rescuing. It works the same as in later games, character gets rescued, the rescuer's stats are reduced. Another series staple to be introduced in this game is Gaiden Chapters, side stories that are unlocked by fulfilling various conditions. Status ailments are brought back from FE4, though featuring a startling change: they are permanent for the duration of the map unless a Restore staff is used. Thankfully, this never returns. Lastly, Fog of War appears for the first time. Unrevealed tiles are totally black instead of the fogginess of later games. I will now turn to specific parts of the game.

I said that FE4's music was Tsujiyoko's best, but FE5's music is also excellent. Due to the return of the more traditional map size for Thracia 776, each chapter no longer has a unique theme, but the slew of songs that are there are great. My favories are the Leaf's Army in Search of Victory songs Leaf, Base, Advance A, and Advance B. Which is most of them haha. The enemy phase themes are also pretty nice, though the "final map" theme is kind of weak. Also, this is the first FE to not have a unique final chapter theme. Since dancers return, once again they have their own song. The dancer song in this game is easily the best in the series, especially since they stopped doing those after The Sacred Stones. There are more great character themes, but at the cost of there only being a few in this game. Once again the music is overall very fitting and greatly enhances the feel of the chapters and moments throughout. I'd say overall however, FE4 has a stronger OST.

The map design is simultaneously the best and worst for much of the series. There are excellent chapters such as Chapter 14, the defence of Tahra, but there are also not-so-great chapters like Chapter 18, which isn't bad in of itself, but attempting to recruit Xavier is horrible. I applaud anyone that did that on a console. Another chapter that is annoying is the one where you get Tina. She has the Thief Staff and will use it until it breaks, which is a huge issue as you cannot repair staves in FE5 and there's no other way to get it. This is also the same chapter where Lara can become a dancer, but this is also extremely easy to miss and not at all indicated. Speaking of dancers, the enemy can have dancers as well, but there are very few times where the enemy has a dancer or three. In short, the maps can either be extremely fun or extremely frustrating. I managed to play all the way up to Chapter 6 on my SNES, but after feeling legit anxiety about the possibility of something going horribly wrong right at the end, I stopped. FE5 is a game where savestates are your friend. Which brings me to the RNG. The RNG is this game is merciless. It can be mean in FE4, but FE5 takes the cake. Very often your high hit rates will miss and the very low enemy hit rates wil hit. One thing that was given a hit rate is staves. Yes, your healing can miss. But so can the enemy's healing. At least FE5 has the decency to not lie about 100% hit and 0% hit - in FE4 despite these rates appearing they can still miss and hit, respectively. FE5 "fixes" that by never displaying 0 or 100 hit. The game does nail down the feeling of playing as an underdog ragtag group. Weapons are far too expenisve to buy, so you have to capture and steal weapons from the enemies. Plus, many of the enemies are pretty tough, so it's like you're facing down a trained army. However, from a gameplay standpoint this can make things frustrating. Gates are extremely powerful in FE5, giving a rather generous amount of defence (10 I think, for reference all stats except HP cap at 20) plus the usual small amount of HP regeneration. The very first boss of the game is an armor knight standing on a gate. He is very difficult to damage and makes for a rough start. Unless you just have Fin poke him with his brave lance. FE5 does not pull any punches.

Fire Emblem Thracia 776 is one of the best of the series, and also unique in a lot of ways. It introduces many new mechanics, one-time and returning, and finally introduces new map types beyond Seize or Kill Them All(TM). The story isn't bad at all, it's pretty good, and fits in with FE4 quite well. There's some things that get a little weird in the late game as it jams up against FE4's 2nd generation and the fact that it was not written to take into account FE5 as it wasn't conceived of yet. Divisive as it is, it is absolutely an important entry in the development of the series. It's worth your time if you've played FE4 and are looking for more Jugdral. It may be a bit confusing and harder to follow if you do not have the context that FE4 provides, so I cannot recommend playing FE5 without FE4. It's a part of a four-way tie for favorite between this game, FE4, Fire Emblem, and Path of Radiance. Look forward to reviews of those games in the future!

-Hat Kid

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