Friday, December 23, 2016

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for Game Boy Advance (2005)

Original ad published in the August 2005 edition of EGM (no. 194)
Press to view or download image in higher resolution.

A beautifully hand-drawn advertisement that deepened the love for the series in America

Although it was a very old franchise by the time it was first released outside Japan, the Fire Emblem series has blossomed in one of the few Nintendo offerings that is not scared to cater to hard-core strategy-RPG fans and general gamer-masochists alike.

The game featured in this post was actually the second one released in America. The first one was called simply Fire Emblem (2003), but is better known as Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken by insiders since the series gained considerable traction after its original GBA released.

Today both of these games, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (2005) and the previous American entry, have been ported to various Nintendo consoles, including the Wii U’s virtual console. Actually, two of the characters of the strategy-RPG were introduced via Super Smash Bros (2001) and then, noticing the fan approval, Nintendo took a chance and released the GBA titles.


The games became famous for their “permadeath” feature, where a character is no longer available after he has been killed. The first games of the series, only released in Japan during the 90s, were deemed to hard for Western gamers due to this feature. In fact, newer games in the series have actually changed this characteristic to much controversy.

Other than that, this is a solid turn-based strategy-RPG, set in a rich Medieval fantasy world. Production values are high and character design is memorable. It's a huge series for niche crowd.

As you can see by the artwork featured in the advertisement, the art style is highly centered around Japanese conventions established by the anime and manga industries. Both male and female figures keep very thin, detailed aesthetic, underpinned by a handsome face. The ad is particularly nice, seeing a combination of hand-drawn art and secondary lines that look somewhat watercolored. The combination is striking, so it’s no coincidence that the same art was featured on the game’s box cover.

Notice that the copy is placed on the lower third of the page and displays a GBA quite prominently. This was a critical aspect of the ad, considering that the series, by that time, had only been released on that system outside Japan.


Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones print ad copy

Evil lurks in the shadows

Centuries of peace is eclipsed by war as an age-old trust is betrayed. Uncover the dark secrets that turned allies into enemies as you fight to free your kingdom. Evolve your armies as you plot a master strategy in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Only for Game Boy Advance.

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