Killing Dragons: A Significant Accomplishment

I finally did it. Fire Emblem is complete (the first GBA one). Or at least as complete as it will probably be for a long time. To more fully complete it, I should play the second mode, which has most of the same missions, a different main character, some extra missions, and a slightly higher difficulty. But I don't have the time or energy for that right now. I'd rather play something new. Fire Emblem only took about three years, why should I dive right back into it? My save file clocked in at around 42 hours, but I could add on another 10 hours or so for mission restarts, and about 15 hours when I felt like restarting the entire game after a long break. It's probably more like 70 hours of play time. I think I'm starting to reach a point in my life where that kind of time investment for one game is unfeasible, as work and other responsibilities come to greater prominence.

Was Fire Emblem worth it? Absolutely. It's one of my favorite GBA games. But there are a couple reasons it took me so long to complete, both in gameplay time and real world time. The first reason has to do with my nature as a gamer. I'm very meticulous, and want to find every secret I can in a game. So I would try to recruit all the characters, find secret items, do all the side missions, and avoid any character deaths. I also tend to be a very careful planner, so strategy games take me somewhat longer than average to complete. For some of the 30+ missions, I may have spent almost as much time planning and optimally equipping my characters as I did playing the actual level.

The second reason my time investment was so high has to do with the nature of the game itself. As a strategy game, each chapter requires careful planning to maximize your resources and take the best units into battle. A small preparatory mistake can be very costly once the fighting starts. Except for the simply, early chapters, each mission is quite long, often taking an hour or more to complete, not including restarts. What I find a little strange, though, is how at odds this type of game is with the actual GBA itself. The GBA is designed for short, quick bursts of gameplay on the go, and it's possible to do that with Fire Emblem. It saves your game automatically after every single character action. But I rarely stopped in the middle of a mission, because I wanted to keep my attention of the flow of battle. So you can play Fire Emblem a few moves at a time on a train or on the toilet, but it doesn't really provide the same kind of tactical experience. Part of the reason it took me so long is I needed to devote a significant chunk of time to attempt a single mission. After several long missions played over a couple of weeks, I would just get burned out on it for a while and want to play a different kind of game.

This being said, Fire Emblem was incredibly enjoyable. I've already started the sequel, The Sacred Stones, although I don't plan on doing more than three or four missions because I need a break from this kind of game. I've got too many other games that need attention before I dive into another Fire Emblem game.

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