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Sacred Stones: The Best Worst Fire Emblem

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Even Sacred Stones is my fav game in the series, when you put all bias aside and look at it as a game in general, it's pretty meh to be honest. The story has one of the best villains in the series, Lyon, and other than the dual lord story, thats really all the game has going for it. The overall plot is kinda messy, but in a way where it still works but very oddly so. And may I mention that the game is EASY. Compared to FE 6 and 7, this game is a cakewalk and doesn't show any real signs of difficulty until really late chapters, where your team will be super buff anyways so it all cancels out pretty much. I beat this game four times and I can say, with certainty, that this is the best, worst Fire Emblem game.

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Edited by DB4D

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I don't think that term really works considering it's map design is far superior to 6, 7 and even 9 and 10. It might be easier than most FE's but it's actually fairly rough to be super efficent at times.

"best worst" is kind of a stupid term to boot.

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27 minutes ago, Jedi said:

I don't think that term really works considering it's map design is far superior to 6, 7 and even 9 and 10. It might be easier than most FE's but it's actually fairly rough to be super efficent at times.

6 I'll give you. 6 has some of the worst map design in the series.

But 7, 9 and 10? There are a ton of maps in 8 where it's just a ton of nothing, and it even falls into some of the trappings that makes 6's design so awful(Windy, tedious maps where you and the objective are at the exact opposite ends of the map. A lot of FEs do this, but 6 is where it's at its worst, and that's the closest parallel I can see with a fair few SS maps). It makes better use of space in those cases than 6 does, however.

7, 9 and 10, though, I'd put all of them above 8 quite handily.

Though I'd also say Sacred Stones is just the "worst worst Fire Emblem", so I'm biased.

Edited by Slumber

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At least in Ephraim's route the map design and difficulty is decent overall. Defend chapters are actual defend chapters whilst in Eirika's route Aias can be taken down by Lute or any other powerful sage in the second turn. You will never deal with the real threat in this chapter, the purge bishop.
In general it makes a huge difference to me which route to play.

Edited by Hecatia Lapislazuli

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1 hour ago, Slumber said:

6 I'll give you. 6 has some of the worst map design in the series.

But 7, 9 and 10? There are a ton of maps in 8 where it's just a ton of nothing, and it even falls into some of the trappings that makes 6's design so awful(Windy, tedious maps where you and the objective are at the exact opposite ends of the map. A lot of FEs do this, but 6 is where it's at its worst, and that's the closest parallel I can see with a fair few SS maps). It makes better use of space in those cases than 6 does, however.

7, 9 and 10, though, I'd put all of them above 8 quite handily.

Though I'd also say Sacred Stones is just the "worst worst Fire Emblem", so I'm biased.

7 has tons of boring slogs via either its absolutely horrendous defense maps or it's slogs of enemy fields that just throw millions of enemies at you and call it a day. 

6 has better design than 7 and 9 as well, 9 is one of my favorite games but it's honestly one of the weakest FE's in most things besides its story.

8 only really has nothing if you're doing the tower or ruins, which is kind of unfair to put grinding maps against it.

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The thing that bugs me most about Sacred Stones is how unmemorable - sometimes straight up unlikable - it's characters are to me. They all feel so lifeless, in a way. The only exceptions to this are Eirika, Lute, Tana, Myrrh and maybe Ross and that's it.

I'm actually fine with the map design in Sacred Stones. It gives you an incentive to try different things (though not really, considering something I'll get to in a bit) and different units and it can get genuinely tough if you don't grind and make a few minor mistakes. Though for me, personally, I think Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn had some of the best (read: most enjoyable to play) maps in the series. Sacred Stones is a bit too in love with Fog of War, which I really, really do not like.

And then, there's the garbage tier unit balance. Granted, this seems to be a theme in every Fire Emblem game, but it's at its worst here. Why? Because of Seth. Seth, just by existing, makes almost every other unit superfluous and is the reason this game is considered pathetically easy. IntSys really, really screwed up on this one and it's one of two reasons I can't stand Seth, the other being that he's as generic as they come, character-wise.

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I don't really think Sacred Stones is the best of anything. Its okay, consistently okay across the board so while the game rarely disappointed me it just as rarely impressed me as well.

I think the game's main problem is that a lot of what happens just isn't very impressive. Later chapters increasingly rely on zombies but they just aren't strong enough to be as threatening as the story wants us to believe. Fortemis isn't as weak as his minions but he's so incredibly generic that I don't view him as this world ending danger the story tells us he is. The lack of world building also plays into this. Ephraim taking down Grado on his own isn't impressive because Grado itself isn't impressive. Its not the same as Bern or Daein because it falls significantly sooner than those other conquering nations, gets defeated off screen by Frelia and the world building doesn't explain why Grado would be so powerful except mentioning a few times that its the strongest nation. The good guy nations don't fare much better. We don't know anything of Renais except that its the kingdom of the twins and that it got conquered, we don't know anything about Frelia aside from it being the typical allied pegasi nation and Jehena never grows into anything more then a plot point for Joshua. 

Sacred Stones plays things very safe but aside from having a very good villain line up I think it fails to be as engaging as the other safe games like Blazing Sword or Path of Radiance, at the same time SS playing it safe ensures its not as flawed as Conquest or Radiant Dawn but it also lacks the interesting experiments of those games. SS is a perfectly good middle of the road game but I feel other games are either more competent or more interesting.

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In terms of Characters,  and Supports It's the best, and It's Story and Map design are second only to Fe4, and that's probably what makes it my favourite, but from a gameplay standpoint, I feel its weaker than it's predascessors and succesors. I find Fe7 to be more fun and i like it's units from a gameplay standpoint more, and games like Fe6 and Fe10 avoid giving you a Seth that breaks the game.

but despite It's flaws it holds a place as the best in my heart. 

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Let me take some time to look over the map design.

Pre-split:

Spoiler

Prologue, Chapter 1- Tutorials, easy, understandable.

Chapter 2- Not bad for a real early map.

Chapter 3- Primitive indoors map, but again, early maps due to being tutorial are understandably not always the best designed.

Chapter 4- Monsters and magic introduction, provided the rearguard reinforcements don't get you, shouldn't be hard. Not a total joke, since your characters aren't strong enough to shrug off the monsters yet.

Chapter 5- A bit challenging with trying to recruit Joshua whilst keep all villages from being destroyed in time.

Chapter 5x- Long in the turns because: Only four playable units, two not-doubling Cavs, Ephraim, and the clutch of Orson to speed things up at the cost of "giving up" EXP. No healers on your sides. Mages on the enemy's. And a lot of enemies on a big map. Eh, I''d call it bad, too much for just three-four units.

Chapter 6- FoW intro, a big open map with the Bael threat. Eh... I think it's poorly designed, Lyn Mode C9 was better. It is just too open and vulnerable.

Chapter 7- No need to rush, a lone enemy Ballista, fairly easy.

Chapter 8- Beating the thief shouldn't be hard, and thus this map is fairly easy.

Eirika Mode:

Spoiler

Chapter 9- Long and winding, unless you airdrop Seth across the starting position. If you do that though, you can't get Amelia, and you can't save that one really bad village allll the way to the west. Those are challenges of sprinting, even if the rewards aren't great.

Chapter 10- Clear the way to Pablo while rescuing Innes group. The only real challenge is Marisa's recruitment, particularly if the Sleep Priest with her group hits Gerik. No pressure to rush. Overall though, I'd consider it a good map.

Chapter 11- Fog of War in a building, with monsters that can open doors, a few chests, and L'Arachel and Dozla, neither of whom should be at risk of dying that much. Monsters aren't total trash yet, but they largely aren't that strong. Boring and dull.

Chapter 12- Looks like a seize, but is a rout, with lots of monster reinforcements that fly or crawl on mountains and which you can't without strong fliers do anything but wait to come at you. Boring and dull, the concept has been done better elsewhere.

Chapter 13- Enemies everywhere! Finally a real challenge! Even if the west looks safe, Pablo eventually will show up to ruin that. Yes it's challenge through hordes of more threatening humans, which is criticizable but this perhaps the best Eirika Mode has.

Chapter 14- Poorly designed, easy indoor map. The boss is a pain, and Rennac you have to worry about, but those things are it.

Chapter 15- The much easier version of this fight, since Eirika isn't in danger.

Chapter 16- Doesn't the Eirika version have less long range tomes and status staffs? I think it does. Easier then. Not a bad map, whether it is good or not, not sure.

Ephraim Mode:

Spoiler

Chapter 9- Long and winding like Eirika's, with a Sleep staff thrown in at the beginning. Not hard, nor easy, but certainly the better designed battle of the two 9s. 

Chapter 10- Want the Knight's Crest and Cormag, well Duessel won't die, but you do have to rush to secure those two things. Intense and not easy, unfair? Not sure. But I do think this map is well-designed.

Chapter 11- Too many enemies! Well it isn't too nasty, Pure Water/Barrier even for Cormag makes the Mogalls distractable with fliers. The middle ship is quantity over quality and death by a thousand cuts. L'Arachel and Dozla have a chance of dying, but not a large one. The BIG issue here is those backstabbing Gargoyles and the Deathgoyle boss coming too early for you to be able to move your frail units off the first ship, delay their arrival by two turns, and this map would much better. FoW also means you can't see all those Mogalls and 'goyles, which can lead to resets. A little unfair, hard, but good? It's too raw for me to say it so.

Chapter 12- Easy. Monsters and humans a rarity, but there is no reason to rush. Boring. Average at best.

Chapter 13- "Fluorspar, His Majesty gave me this name, therefore I..." *Boltings you dead*. Selena is the big evil here, for the five uses she has of it, Bolting will really hinder you with her central location on the map. Getting to the villages in time isn't guaranteed either. Challenging for the first five-six turns, significantly easier once Selena's Bolting uses are gone. The layout of the map is decent. I think this is a good map.

Chapter 14- Father and Soncensored. A grand and good indoor battle, a challenge, but a fair one. The one real issue is two status staff users on both the right and left, one side having a Silence staff even. Bring at least two Restores users, ignore the central treasure room until later, and be cautious when tacking on Vigarde and his high Atk and Crit, and the map is manageable. Rennac is actually easier to recruit here than with Eirika. I'd call it a good map.

Chapter 15- Eirika is fragile and weak, a pain to protect. Still, this isn't a bad map, I rather like it since there isn't too much sand. I'd call it average-good, the best desert map in all of FE.

Chapter 16- Don't remember things too well, but this map looked harder on Ephraim Mode I think, enough long range tomes and status staffs to halt what would be an easy and none-too-long throne rush. I think this battle has at times even forced me to pull back a bit due to the long ranged menace.

Reunited:

Spoiler

Chapter 17- Not bad, all humans, a variety of them over a number of fronts. Fairly easy to just end things and kill Lyon. A little bonus objective of defending some civilians. Average I'd say.

Chapter 18- FE8 has largely avoided a massive bias towards high Move units, they're useful of course, but nothing overwhelmingly in their favor. This map is the one major exception. Don't high Move rush this map, and you'll have hordes of Gorgons with Stone, Demon Surge, and Shadowshot to stave off, unlike just the bearable handful you presently have to. Gorgon Eggs offer boatloads of juicy EXP to those Fliers and Cavs too, even at high promoted levels. The non-Gorgon foes here are weak, and the flame tiles are easy to work around and will hurt the enemy more than you.

Chapter 19- The one final challenge of SS. Blitzing Riev is possible if you're really skilled, but you'll miss out on the chests if you do this. Protecting those pathetic Knights gives you a Light Brand too. Playing this as a defend chapter, the southeast is almost nonexistent, the north is bearable, just don't push ahead too much, it isn't necessary anyhow. The nightmare is the southwest, magic and every physical weapon is used down there on strong promoted units, unless you can dodgetank everything, nobody is safe there. Hard yes, but good? Depends on how much you hate that southwest section if you choose to defend.

Chapter 20- Big and winding penultimate chapter. All monsters, which makes most of the legions of foes and reinforcements weaker than what you had to deal with in the prior battle. Gorgons, Shadowshot Arch Mogalls, HP sink Cyclops, and Riev and Morva are the only real threats here. Epic, but severely bloated and easy even so.

Final Chapter- Those two Draco Zombies? Once they're gone, this moderately-sized fight is a cinch. You don't need to head down the upper left and right paths, doing so just avoids infinite LolWight reinforcements behind Lyon. Lyon is tanky, and he has one strong hit, but like 5 AS at most means you can double him with anyone and he can easily die in one turn so those reinforcements don't matter.

Demon King Showdown- IS didn't learn from how bad Idunn and the Fire Dragon were. Formortiis hits hard with Demon Light and Ravager and can slowly move, but he is weak against 9 different weapons, so everyone can slaughter him.  His 1st turn reinforcement summoning isn't a threat, because he should be dead by turn 2 before they ever get to act. 

Compared to FE7? FE7 has better overall map design, but weaker enemies, or so I think. I should do a blow-by-blow dissection of that game's maps later, and for PoR too. I've more or less in my head defined RD as Good-Ugh! & Ahh-Good-Baaad & Finally Decent going Part by Part.

Not to call SS horribly bad, I think at the least it is average. It has highlights and lowlights alike.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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The main difference in chapter 16 is a moving purge and sleep bishop in Ephraim's route which lowers down the advance a lot.

There's also one more range magic user in Ephraim's route, but we're talking about three eclipses. In Eirika's route there's a purge bishop and a bolting sage in the throne room.

 

This also gives me the question why the layout of this map is changed based on route?

Edited by Hecatia Lapislazuli

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Erm, "best worst"??? That doesn't make much sense... Anyway... To be frank, I find Sacred Stones to have been a disappointment in more ways than one. Story wise, I've seen better written Excuse Plots. It doesn't help that Eirika's side of the story feels like some filler arc, nor does it that Ephraim's side is pretty generic. Character wise, there's too many forgettable characters, and the villains suck with only two exceptions. Lyon is also the most poorly written tragic villain ever.

11 hours ago, DragonFlames said:

And then, there's the garbage tier unit balance. Granted, this seems to be a theme in every Fire Emblem game, but it's at its worst here. Why? Because of Seth. Seth, just by existing, makes almost every other unit superfluous and is the reason this game is considered pathetically easy. IntSys really, really screwed up on this one and it's one of two reasons I can't stand Seth, the other being that he's as generic as they come, character-wise.

I would say it's still better than that of Genealogy, where non-mounted units are practically invalidated, and you have Holy Blood and Pursuit to drive further wedges into the cast balance.

12 hours ago, Jedi said:

7 has tons of boring slogs via either its absolutely horrendous defense maps or it's slogs of enemy fields that just throw millions of enemies at you and call it a day. 

6 has better design than 7 and 9 as well, 9 is one of my favorite games but it's honestly one of the weakest FE's in most things besides its story.

8 only really has nothing if you're doing the tower or ruins, which is kind of unfair to put grinding maps against it.

I dunno - I'd say FE6 is too in love with long, winding maps, which aren't very engaging.

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SS is the only FE game that has Neimi in it; case closed.

Seriously though, I think the split routes thing was a bad idea. Also, fighting optional battles in the Tower makes things way too easy (especially when we take character growths into consideration).

My solution is to keep the length of the game intact, but after beating it, then open the Tower and Ruins as super hard optional dungeons.

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Of the GBA FE games SS is the only one that I like. The story is definitely weak, but I can appreciate it's simplicity. The world building is pretty nada as is the difficulty for the most part, except there are few parts in the game that are hardish... Scratch that, dickish is the word I'm looking for. I really liked how characters looked more detailed with their portraits and the character art is gorgeous. Characters themselves left a favorable impression on me. Not that they were special or anything, but I felt like I knew these people just from small interactions and that made me care about them. Split promotion was a good decision to implement as you could avoid the more unfavorable promotions or possibly get good ones. But you know what's funny, I haven't finished it yet. I've played 4 to 15  and Echoes is the only FE game I've actually finished

I'd say this game is a lot like Echoes. Both were the last FE games to be released of their consoles and because of that there's a lot of polish in the engine. But most importantly, for me at least, these games are the FE games I've had the most fun with

49 minutes ago, Shadow Mir said:

FE6 is too in love with long, winding maps, which aren't very engaging.

This is why I keep putting my randomized BB run on hold. As well as internal screaming

Edited by silveraura25

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12 hours ago, DragonFlames said:

The thing that bugs me most about Sacred Stones is how unmemorable - sometimes straight up unlikable - it's characters are to me.

Unmemorable - I'll give you that, but straight up unlikeable has to be an exaggeration, right? It seems that you clearly missed out on a lot of support conversations because this game has many well written one's. Here's a link if you're interested enough to give this "straigt up unlikable cast" a chance https://serenesforest.net/the-sacred-stones/scripts/supports/

Maybe you'll be able to convince me how lifeless characters like Dozla, Ewan, Tethys and L'Arachel are?

I love how Sacred Stones is it's own thing (besides the inspiration it has from Gaiden). It has this dark atmosphere - especially noticeable in the music - and the monster classes do help to keep that up. There are plenty of possibilites to make the game a decent challange ( a push in the overall difficulty would have been nice, tho). The usage of the class branching mechanic provides replayability and I do enjoy unlocking NPC's / villains in the post game. While the game itself feels a bit rushed,  it's for the most part amazing cast is enough for me to come along for another playthrough of Sacred Stones.

Edited by fOrEiGn sOUl

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1 hour ago, Shadow Mir said:

Erm, "best worst"??? That doesn't make much sense... 

He's saying that if you were to compile a list of all the worst FE games, FE8 would be the best on said list.

Edited by NinjaMonkey

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35 minutes ago, NinjaMonkey said:

He's saying that if you were to compile a list of all the worst FE games, FE8 would be the best on said list.

The problem is that the phrase is a massive oxymoron. "Best of the worst" would have made more sense.

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Nah. Sacred Stones is still far better than Gaiden/Echoes, if only because it has actual map design and not just open fields with enemies haphazardly and anticlimactically strewn about at random. 

It's also better than Shadow Dragon because it possesses a noteworthy story and characters with actual personality. 

Edited by Etheus

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40 minutes ago, Etheus said:

Nah. Sacred Stones is still far better than Gaiden/Echoes, if only because it has actual map design and not just open fields with enemies haphazardly and anticlimactically strewn about at random. 

It's also better than Shadow Dragon because it possesses a noteworthy story and characters with actual personality. 

This is where I'm gonna disagree.

I basically have 4 categories of FE games.

  1. Games that aren't very good but are mechanically interesting
  2. Games that are good that aren't mechanically interesting
  3. Games that are good and mechanically interesting
  4. Games that aren't good and aren't mechanically interesting

Gaiden/Echoes(I'll just say Echoes as that's effectively replaced Gaiden in my mind) falls into category 1. If I shift my perspective, there are a number of things I can enjoy about Echoes. It's mechanically unique and thus has value in my mind. It's a... pretty bad strategy game, but if I look at it as a JRPG on a grid as opposed to an actual strategy game, I can enjoy it quite a lot.

Three games fall into category 4 in my mind, and thus ultimately have the least value. Dark/Shadow Dragon, Sacred Stones, and Awakening. These are the three games in the franchise I have really no reason or incentive to ever go back to. On face value, I'm tempted to say either SD or Awakening is the weakest(They're all very close). However, both Awakening and DD/SD have something I can admire and respect. DD/SD was the game that started it all. Awakening saved the franchise. Sacred Stones was a filler game.

In my opinion, it does nothing better than any other game in the franchise. The map design is very mixed, the story is bad, the characters are... fine, but there's a writing trick they constantly pull off in SS that I absolutely hate that makes me like the characters waaaay less, the difficulty is nonexistant, monsters absolutely ruin the pace of the game and just make the puddle-shallow of a game even shallower, Magvel is the most half-assed continent in the franchise, and the unit balance is potentially just as bad as some of the worst examples in the series(It gets a slight pass for grinding being a thing, making essentially everyone good). Also Selena is the worst Camus in the series. Arguably as dumb as Eldigan to boot.

The one thing I keep seeing people say is outstanding in the game is the relationship between Lyon and EE... and, to that, I say "It accounts for about a total of 4 chapters of content".

It's just an incredibly unremarkable game to me in basically every regard, and I can't give it the meta-kudos that I'd give games I put at roughly the same quality. There's 0 value in Sacred Stones, and it's the only game in the franchise that I feel could have never been made, and it'd have absolutely no impact on the rest of the series.

... And for clarification, I probably came off as really mean to the game in this post, and I know that there are people like @DB4Dwho really like it. But I really have nothing against the game, and think it's totally fine to like. I'm sure there are people who can tilt their perspectives like I could for Echoes and get plenty of enjoyment out of the game. Hell, Gaiden used to be my least favorite game in the franchise until they remade it, so maybe there's hope for SS for me if they ever remake it. I don't mean for this rant to come off as "SS sucks and you're wrong for liking it", just think of this post as the ramblings of a mad man if it helps.

Edited by Slumber

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I like Sacred Stones quite a bit- I think it's plot and characters are actually pretty neat. Their are some great villains- people talk about Lyon and, to a lesser extent Valter, but Caellach is my favorite Sacred Stones villain, speaking honestly. The writing isn't super original and sometimes takes the cheap feels route but I do think it has effective moments, more so than I've experienced in other Fire Emblem games.

Admittedly, I don't trust myself as a "strategy game" critic, so I can't speak too much on that front, but I do enjoy playing the game, which...counts for something. In terms of gameplay it is broken by Seth (but I'm a preprophobe so whatever), but that's what challenge runs are for. I think a more problematic issue is how few units you have and how many of them are cavaliers or promoted forms of cavaliers. The unit balance doesn't bother me as much as the rather narrow selection. Two archers? One knight? There are tons of unit types you only get one or two of, but you have like five potential paladins. Most terrible of all is that you only get two unpromoted axe users, and while axe infantry has never been super common (unfortunately), the issue is magnified by having one of them be a trainnee.

I actually like trainees, but having played Echoes I can say that the villagers are the same mechanic but way better. Their implementation in Sacred Stones is a bit lacking- Ross is the only one who can reasonably be trained in normal gameplay, and their isn't enough variety in their promotion options to really make the mechanic work. Even Shadows of Valentia doesn't use the idea to its full potential- but that's a different rant.

Sacred Stones also has Truth, Hope and Despair in it, which makes it at least a 9/10 right there.

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1 hour ago, Slumber said:

This is where I'm gonna disagree.

I basically have 4 categories of FE games.

  1. Games that aren't very good but are mechanically interesting
  2. Games that are good that aren't mechanically interesting
  3. Games that are good and mechanically interesting
  4. Games that aren't good and aren't mechanically interesting

Gaiden/Echoes(I'll just say Echoes as that's effectively replaced Gaiden in my mind) falls into category 1. If I shift my perspective, there are a number of things I can enjoy about Echoes. It's mechanically unique and thus has value in my mind. It's a... pretty bad strategy game, but if I look at it as a JRPG on a grid as opposed to an actual strategy game, I can enjoy it quite a lot.

Three games fall into category 4 in my mind, and thus ultimately have the least value. Dark/Shadow Dragon, Sacred Stones, and Awakening. These are the three games in the franchise I have really no reason or incentive to ever go back to. On face value, I'm tempted to say either SD or Awakening is the weakest(They're all very close). However, both Awakening and DD/SD have something I can admire and respect. DD/SD was the game that started it all. Awakening saved the franchise. Sacred Stones was a filler game.

In my opinion, it does nothing better than any other game in the franchise. The map design is very mixed, the story is bad, the characters are... fine, but there's a writing trick they constantly pull off in SS that I absolutely hate that makes me like the characters waaaay less, the difficulty is nonexistant, monsters absolutely ruin the pace of the game and just make the puddle-shallow of a game even shallower, Magvel is the most half-assed continent in the franchise, and the unit balance is potentially just as bad as some of the worst examples in the series(It gets a slight pass for grinding being a thing, making essentially everyone good). Also Selena is the worst Camus in the series. Arguably as dumb as Eldigan to boot.

The one thing I keep seeing people say is outstanding in the game is the relationship between Lyon and EE... and, to that, I say "It accounts for about a total of 4 chapters of content".

It's just an incredibly unremarkable game to me in basically every regard, and I can't give it the meta-kudos that I'd give games I put at roughly the same quality. There's 0 value in Sacred Stones, and it's the only game in the franchise that I feel could have never been made, and it'd have absolutely no impact on the rest of the series.

... And for clarification, I probably came off as really mean to the game in this post, and I know that there are people like @DB4Dwho really like it. But I really have nothing against the game, and think it's totally fine to like. I'm sure there are people who can tilt their perspectives like I could for Echoes and get plenty of enjoyment out of the game. Hell, Gaiden used to be my least favorite game in the franchise until they remade it, so maybe there's hope for SS for me if they ever remake it. I don't mean for this rant to come off as "SS sucks and you're wrong for liking it", just think of this post as the ramblings of a mad man if it helps.

We will have to agree to disagree. Strongly. While Echoes has mechanics that I like/find interesting (it has the best magic system and the best weapon system), all of the mechanics in the world are meaningless if the game that plays host to these is bad and does not allow these mechanics to shine. It is, in my opinion, the least fun, least replayable game in the franchise (aside from the obviously inferior Gaiden that it is built upon) for the simple reason that map design is THE most important thing to get right in a strategy game, period.

 

Awakening has its flaws, but it's a better game than it is given credit for, and certainly better than Echoes, Gaiden, Shadow Dragon, much of Fates, and, yes, Sacred Stones. Replaying these games has put that into context for me. Also, it is mechanically interesting; that much isn't really up for debate. It wouldn't be controversial if it didn't radically reinvent the wheel like it did.

Edited by Etheus

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1 hour ago, Slumber said:

there's a writing trick they constantly pull off in SS that I absolutely hate that makes me like the characters waaaay less

Might I ask what trick you mean? I should be smart enough to tell but I cannot tell and so must ask.

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12 minutes ago, Etheus said:

map design is THE most important thing to get right in a strategy game, period.

I would ask your opinion on Genealogy and Binding Blade then - because IMHO, I'd MUCH prefer SoV's map design over bloated maps that make the game a huge slog to play (Genealogy) or long, winding maps that quickly get old (BB).

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7 minutes ago, Shadow Mir said:

I would ask your opinion on Genealogy and Binding Blade then - because IMHO, I'd MUCH prefer SoV's map design over bloated maps that make the game a huge slog to play (Genealogy) or long, winding maps that quickly get old (BB).

Geneology maps need to be split up and redesigned. I didn't despise it, but multi-hour maps are not at all compatible with permadeath mechanics or the oft-times frustrating RNG deaths the franchise is known for. I'd still take it over no map design at all, ala Gaiden, but only barely.

Binding Blade is one I didn't have the opportunity to play through completely at the time, so, no comment. The levels I did play (the early game) were fine, but nothing special. 

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48 minutes ago, Etheus said:

Also, it is mechanically interesting; that much isn't really up for debate. It wouldn't be controversial if it didn't radically reinvent the wheel like it did.

I have a lot to say about this, but that'd be getting off topic, as this is a SS thread, not an Awakening thread.

43 minutes ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

Might I ask what trick you mean? I should be smart enough to tell but I cannot tell and so must ask.

Trick might be the wrong word, but it's tough to explain. Sacred Stones borderline fetishizes its characters. A large portion of the cast have essentially gone through their arcs, and basically exist to be perfect role models/weird advisers for the rest of the cast, or just plain better than them.

Read through Tethys' support chains, Gerik's support chains, Ephraim's support chains, Seth's support chains, Joshua's support chains, Garcia's support chains, Saleh's support chains, etc... but it comes off like half of the cast has life near perfectly figured out. There aren't many support chains, especially when any of the people I've mentioned are involved, where people are talking to each other on the same level. I can't say any of those that I've mentioned are bad characters(Except Ephraim), but they also don't feel like real characters. I can hear all of these weird tales about Gerik and the things he likes to do, but I don't buy any of it because there's not a single support conversation he has where I'm like "Yes, I totally buy this". It also makes it really difficult to connect to the more flawed members of the cast they talk to due to how one sided a lot of the conversations felt.

I can't say it's objectively bad or anything, but once I started getting a similar feeling to a bunch of their supports, the more it started to eat at me.

Ironically, Lute, a character who thinks she's above everyone, I find more compelling because her acting like she's above everyone else is shown to be total bullshit, and her acting like a know-it-all annoys people.

Edited by Slumber

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34 minutes ago, Etheus said:

Geneology maps need to be split up and redesigned. I didn't despise it, but multi-hour maps are not at all compatible with permadeath mechanics or the oft-times frustrating RNG deaths the franchise is known for. I'd still take it over no map design at all, ala Gaiden, but only barely.

Binding Blade is one I didn't have the opportunity to play through completely at the time, so, no comment. The levels I did play (the early game) were fine, but nothing special. 

I see. And I agree that Genealogy maps need something done about them - it's glaringly obvious something's wrong when literally every map falls victim to the same fundamental problems. To put things into perspective, the only maps in SoV I would say are really bad are the swamp maps and the fort of archers... And Genealogy still outdoes those in terms of being just plain bad. Just look at chapter 2, chapter 4, and the last part of chapter 1. It doesn't help that bandits frequently start on or near villages...

I would say that Binding Blade's map design starts really getting bad around chapter 8.

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