Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is a brave experiment

The Fire Emblem games released in recent years tend to remain rather consistent. Each installment has gameplay that follows a similar pattern. You take on a map with enemies. You either escape the map or fulfill certain conditions to win. Weapons can be acquired as a reward after defeating a foe, from opening a chest or by stopping at a shop. There is always a weapon triangle, to help you determine which units to send against others. But some titles stood out for being different. Fire Emblem Gaiden was one, but no game went against the grain more than Fire Emblem: Thracia 776. This is a game that takes chances, forcing you to take chances too.

There is the obvious way in which Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 dared to be different. Originally, the game was only available through a special service where people would buy Super Famicom memory cartridges and take them to specific stations. They would then be able to purchase a game, which would be written to their cartridge. This was one of the first ways to acquire a game digitally. Eventually, it was available through different messages. For example, people in Japan with a Wii or Wii U could have grabbed Virtual Console versions of the game. But early on, it was the only Fire Emblem game to be released in a nontraditional method. That meant people needed to do something different initially to play it.

Its distribution method was one of the most obvious ways in which it set itself apart, but Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is known for having a number of gameplay elements that were incredibly unique to the series. One of the biggest ones, which may prove the biggest obstacle for folks who like to use specific characters all the time, is fatigue. In this installment, the people in your army get tired if you use them. Leif never gets tired, because as the hero he is an essential character who can have a role on every map. But everyone else will gradually get exhausted as they perform actions.

Letting a person take a break for a map has them recover completely. It forces you to adapt and consider different strategies. You have to make sure your entire enemy is balanced. People have to be used and kept at similar levels. Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 forced you to extend your reach, tactically. You had to be willing to go out of your comfort zone. It is a concept other installments in the series do not force upon people.

The idea of capturing is another mechanic Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 brings to the table. Again, it is a unique element that forces people outside of their comfort zones to unlock new things. The more obvious benefit of capturing is the ability to get new items. When you manage to properly complete a capture you get everything that opponent was holding. But another bonus is possibly unlocking Gaidan chapters. These can enhance the story, give you access to more equipment and increase the size of your army. One of the earliest instances of this is chapter eight. If someone captures Rumei, the boss and managed to also keep Dagdar and Tanya alive in the third chapter, then you get to take on a gaiden chapter before the ninth chapter. Completing it adds Dagdar and Tanya as units, while also giving you new equipment.

However, capturing can be used against you. Opponents can do this to your characters. The only way to save someone when this happens is to defeat the enemy holding them hostage. So if Safy, a priestess, is captured, the enemy will be able to do it without having to whittle down her health, her equipment will be taken and you will need to fight to get her back. (Which, like, is necessary since you need her to use the Hammerne Staff that can repair a unit’s weapon.) Like fatigue, it requires you to change up your strategies. You need to make sure vulnerable units are protected. You have to keep an eye out for enemies who might lead to extra chapters if captured. It makes you consider an alternative to just wiping out every opponent.

Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is atypical. Whether that means someone will like it more or less depends on the player. However, it should be appreciated for each thing it does differently. The capturing system requires you to think about handling enemies and arranging allies in new ways. Knowing someone can get fatigued might make someone arrange armies differently and work to keep everyone at their best. Even the initial distribution method dared to be different. This is a game that experiments with concepts in intriguing ways.

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