In part one I explored Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, which told the complete tale of Marth’s journey. Then in part two I delved deeper into Fire Emblem’s lost stories, by looking at Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. And to finish this off, it’s time to explore the most hidden of Fire Emblem’s 16-bit treasures, the obscure and unique Fire Emblem: Thracia 776.
Intelligent Systems’ well loved franchise completely bypassed the Nintendo 64, with the title that was in development for the ill-fated N64DD add-on, being cancelled. It should be noted though that elements from this title did seemingly transfer across to the Game Boy Advance title Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade that was also never seen outside Japan, and the GameCube title Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Nevertheless, despite this cancellation, Fire Emblem wasn’t completely ignored.
In fact, Fire Emblem’s final 16-bit game Thracia 776, was actually released in 1999, long after the N64’s launch, and just as the Super Nintendo was being discontinued in the west after a highly successful life. Now you may think that the nature of this later release, combined with the fact that it was of course only released in Japan, would be enough to conceal it in obscurity. Yet Thracia 776 has further factors that compound to its hidden nature.
This mysterious nature is also just as clearly seen through the game’s story. You see, Thracia 776’s story is actually a side story, and one that takes place between chapters 5 & 6 of Genealogy of the Holy War, which you will remember also never left Japan. The game follows the character of Leif, the son of Prince Quan, as he attempts to restore the Kingdom of Leonster. This all plays out within the country of Thracia, (thus the title of the game) within the continent of Jugdral, the setting of Genealogy of the Holy War.
Furthermore, it’s not just the setting that is taken from its predecessor, with even characters Finn and Nana making appearances throughout the story. As such, this story within a story, is slightly inaccessible and highly niche even to Japanese audiences, let alone everybody else, where it can’t be defined as anything other than impenetrable. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Fire Emblem, this is one you’ll want to try and experience, as there’s a lot of unique features on offer here.
One of these unique features within the Thracia 776’s gameplay, comes in the form of the battle fatigue system. This fatigue system had never been featured before, and interestingly, has never been featured since. Within this system, when a character over experts themselves by competing in too many battles, they’ll remove themselves from the next battle in order to recoup their energy.
You may think this means that Leif’s colleagues are way more susceptible to the game’s trademark dreaded perma-death, due to the removal of fighters who could possibly be much stronger than those waiting in reserve. Yet Thracia’s other new feature gave gamers a way of saving troubled comrades. This battle system entitled ‘rescue’, allows Leif and his comrades, if required, to rescue important characters from dangerous situations by carrying them to safety.
As such, as you would expect, Thracia 776 shares a lot of traits with its 16-bit relatives, such as the sound, style, graphics, and in the case of its predecessor, even its story and setting. Yet Thracia 776 also offered some very unique gameplay features to those in Japan that stood by the series, despite the move to N64 years before its release. It may be one of the most hidden and obscure titles not only within the Fire Emblem series, but also within both the 16-bit catalogue and possibly Nintendo’s entire back catalogue. Yet this actually makes the game even more of a desirable play, not only for Fire Emblem fans, but 16-bit and Nintendo fans in general. Combine this with our recommendation for Genealogy of the Holy War within part 2, and this really is a game that Fire Emblem fans should try to experience despite the numerous blocks to accessing it.
So, there you have it, this completes Fire Emblem’s experience-rich secret 16-bit history. One that many may not have even heard of despite the high awareness of Fire Emblem in recent years. To anyone who goes to find these games, they will find an Aladdin’s Cave of experiences, and in the future expect to see even more details of these games, through reviews and further features. What’s more, despite detailing all of Fire Emblem’s long hidden 16-bit titles, there are still many more from different generations other than the 16-bit days that remain hidden from those of us outside Japan. In fact, there are a wealth of Japanese exclusive games for the 8 & 16-bit days that have also lay hidden for many years. Look out for more on those in the future too.