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Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (Japanese: ファイアーエムブレム 聖戦の系譜 Fire Emblem: Genealogy of Holy-War) is a turn-based strategy role-playing game released in 1996 for the Super Famicom, exclusively in Japan. It is the fourth game installment in the Fire Emblem series, and the second for Super Famicom; it is also the final game produced for Nintendo by Gunpei Yokoi before his departure from the company. It is a distant prequel to its predecessors, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem, set over a thousand years in those games' past and in a different part of the world; contemporaneous events and civilizations from Archanea are referenced in the game.
Genealogy of the Holy War is set in Jugdral, a land whose rulers bear the holy bloodlines of the Twelve Crusaders. The game is split up into two halves, separated by the timespan of a generation. In the first generation, while most of his nation's army is off to war in the eastern nation of Isaach, Lord Sigurd defends the duchies of Grannvale from a sudden invasion by the neighbouring Kingdom of Verdane, but is rapidly embroiled in a conspiracy against his father, Vylon, in the events which ultimately lead to the birth of the Grannvale Empire, and in the machinations of the Loptyrians to create a human vessel for their dark god Loptyr - the same tyranny fought by his son, Seliph, seventeen years later in the second generation.
- 1 Plot
- 1.1 First generation: Sigurd's story
- 1.2 Second generation: Seliph's story
- 2 Gameplay
- 3 Characters
- 4 Chapters
- 5 Development
- 6 Reception
- 7 Fan translation
- 8 Trivia
- 9 Etymology and other languages
- 10 Gallery
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Hundreds of years before the beginning of the game, the world of Jugdral suffered under the grip of the Loptyr Empire, whose lineage of emperors acted as vessels for their "dark god", the earth dragon Loptyr. This changed in the year 643 with the Miracle of Darna, where twelve dragon gods led by Naga descended upon the city of Darna, the last bastion of a battered resistance force, and bestowed their power upon twelve warriors. These twelve became the Twelve Crusaders, and under their leadership the Lopt Empire fell after a decades-long holy war. The Crusaders then parted, with seven of them forming the Kingdom of Grannvale and its six duchies, while the other five founded their own kingdoms: Isaach, Agustria, Silesse and Thracia, which itself later partially splintered off into the Manster District.
First generation: Sigurd's story
In the year Grann 757, war was beginning, with the bulk of Grannvale's army deployed to Isaach in retaliation for what they perceived to be an unprovoked strike against Darna. With no perceived opposition, King Bator of neighbouring Verdane took the opportunity to launch an invasion of Grannvale at the behest of Sandima of the Loptyrians, and his son Gandolf conquered Jungby Castle and abducted its Lady Adean. In response, Sigurd of Chalphy led his limited forces in defense of Grannvale and pursuit of Adean, later joined by Quan of Leonster and his wife Ethlyn, Sigurd's sister, and by Lex of Dozel and Azel of Velthomer. After reclaiming Jungby and realising that Adean had been captured, Sigurd was visited by Velthomer's Lord Arvis, who passed on the well-wishes of King Azmur and a Silver Sword.
After seizing the bordering Evans Castle, Sigurd received a royal messenger informing him of his elevation to the status of "Holy Knight" of Grannvale, and then led the group in a direct foray into Verdane itself. On the way, he encountered the errant Princess Ayra of Isaach, forced to serve Verdane while her nephew Shanan was held hostage. Sigurd liberated Shanan and convinced Ayra to defect to his army. Meanwhile, Prince Jamke released Adean and Dew from their imprisonment, then left to confront his father about his misgivings over the invasion. Bator continued to parrot Sandima's claims and defenses and ordered Jamke to launch a full offensive against the invaders, but after Jamke left, Sandima attacked Bator for asking questions about his claims. After conquering Marpha Castle, Sigurd encountered Deirdre; the two instantly became enamoured with each other, but Deirdre nonetheless fled. They met again as his forces passed through the Spirit Forest, and Deirdre offered to assist in combating Sandima and confessed her newfound love for Sigurd.
After killing Sandima and conquering Verdane Castle, Sigurd found the dying Bator, who passed on to him the news of the machinations of the Loptyrians, their efforts to revive their "dark god" and how they had infested much of the world. Some time afterward, Sigurd and Deirdre married.
Attack from Agustria and subjugation
Exile and civil war in Silesse
Return to Grannvale
Second generation: Seliph's story
Uprising in Isaach
To the rescue of Leonster
The last battle against Grannvale
Genealogy of the Holy War is an unusual beast among the series. Its general gameplay is rather different, and it boasts a large number of unique systems and features alongside introducing several gameplay points which would go on to become series staples.
Holy Blood and Weapons
One of the core themes to the game is the legacy of the Twelve Crusaders, reflected in gameplay with the Holy Blood system. Some units possess one of thirteen lineages of holy blood, which enhance the unit's growth rates and weapon ranks. Holy blood comes in two forms, minor blood and major blood; characters with minor blood receive the standard stats bonus and one more level to its weapon, while characters with major blood are gifted with double bonuses and a * rank in the Crusader's weapon.
- Example: Azel, a Mage, possesses minor Fjalar holy blood. As a result, he starts with a C rank in thunder and wind magic but B in fire magic; without it, he would have had C in the three, as that is the rank borne by all Mages. He also receives a bonus increase of 20% to his HP growth rate and of 30% to the Magic growth rate, the bonuses given by the Fjalar blood.
With each holy blood lineage comes an associated holy weapon, one the weapons once wielded by the Twelve Cruasders. Only the crusaders' descendants who have inherited major holy blood can wield them, with one such descendant normally being born per generation. These weapons are vastly more powerful than normal weapons, but their maintenance is conversely much more expensive.
Love and children
With the game split into two generational parts, a key aspect of this is that many of the units of the second generation are the children of those of the first. During the first generation, the female playable units (except Deirdre and Ethlyn) can be paired up to fall in love with male playable units and bear two children, who will go on to comprise the bulk of Seliph's army in the second generation. As long as they fall in love and remain alive until the end of Sigurd's story, their children will be available in the second half; otherwise, they will be replaced with a matching substitute character who fills their role in the story.
This is one of the main factors in Genealogy of the Holy War's replayability; since the women can be paired with almost any men, who heavily influence the children, units in the second generation are quite variable. A child's stats, growths and skills are determined by those of their parents, so different fathers will yield different combinations and accordingly different results. Additionally, a child's starting inventory is mostly comprised of the inventory of their same-gender parent as of the end of the first generation, though they will only inherit weapons if they are capable of using them by default with a few exceptions.
Genealogy of the Holy War was the debut of the skills system, abilities possessed by individual units designed that can change the course of a battle. Here, skills are classified into two groups, albeit some of them, such as Follow-Up, can be in both.
- Personal skills: These are skills that are inherent in some units. They can be passed down to children.
- Class skills: These abilities are present in all units of the class. They cannot be inherited.
These abilities are a factor to be taken into account when battling, as they give the characters an edge over their opponents - skills are not limited to playable characters.
Skills can also be passed down; the children will have the personal skills of both of their parents. The only exception to this rule are the three "sword skills": Astra, Sol and Luna, which can only be inherited by non-mounted, sword-wielding children.
Outside of inheritance, this incarnation of the skills system is the only one where skills are completely static and cannot be removed, swapped or otherwise externally altered.
Unlike other games where weapon durability is more variable and limited, most weapons in Genealogy of the Holy War have a durability of fifty uses. After that they break, as normal, but the remnants do not disappear as in other games. In allied castles, weapons can be taken to a weapon repair shop to be restored to full uses, for a fee equivalent to a portion of their worth depending on how many uses need to be restored. On the other hand, their availability is very limited; there are not many of each type, and only some bosses give one when defeated.
Also unique to Genealogy is its weapon kills stat, which corresponds to the amount of enemies defeated with an individual weapon. Once it reaches 50, the weapon gains the Critical skill. For each killing after the fiftieth, the bonus increases*. Conversely, the standard crit stat normally possessed by weapons does not exist in lieu of this system; the few killer weapons which exist in the game instead give the Critical skill by default.
Inventory and funds
Related to the weapon changes, the game introduces two unique restrictions on item access and funding. First, items cannot be freely traded between units, and instead must be sold and re-bought at pawn shops in order to be transferred to other units. Unlike other games, there is a set small number of weapons which exist in the game, and duplicates are seldom available; this actually has its benefits, as it mandates consistently repairing and reusing the same weapons, slowly improving them through the weapon kills mechanism, and these weapons are passed down from first-generation units to their second-generation children. No consumable items exist in Genealogy, with the only non-weapon items in the game being stat-boosting and skill-granting rings.
The army's funds are now also decided on an individual basis. Every unit has their own supply of gold, obtaining more from saving villages, and rely heavily on their gold for repairing their weapons and exchanging items. For the most part, units are not allowed to swap gold with each other, with the exceptions of married couples being allowed to give each other their gold, and Thieves - whose Steal skill allows them to regularly get more gold - can give their gold to any unit.
Genealogy of the Holy War marked the debut implementation of another series staple: the weapon triangle. In its incarnation in this game, whenever a unit attacks, they receive a 20% bonus to their hit rate if their weapon bests the enemy's choice according to the weapon triangle; should the opposite situation be true, though, the unit receives a penalty of 20% to their hit rate.
There are two weapon triangles, one concerned with physical weapons and one wtih tomes:
- Physical weapons: Swords -> axes -> lances-> swords
- Tomes: Fire magic -> wind magic -> thunder magic -> fire magic.
The cast of Genealogy of the Holy War is divided roughly equally by generation. 24 units are playable in the first generation, while 25 are playable in the second generation, counting child units and their equivalent substitutes as one unit per pair; however, in the second generation, only 24 are playable in a given playthrough, as the player must choose between recruiting Johan and Johalva. Finn is the only character to be playable in both generations. The game's total playable cast - first generation, second generation, both children and substitutes - consists of 62 characters.
Although the player has access to fewer classes than in other games, they cover the whole weapon and almost all magic spectrum; the only enemy-exclusive form of attack is Dark magic.
The following table shows the mothers, their children and their respective substitute character:
Seliph and Julia
Altena and Leif
Lester and Lana
Dimna and Mana
Ulster and Larcei
Roddlevan and Radney
Delmud and Nanna
Tristan and Janne
Leen and Corpul
Laylea and Sharlow
Ced and Fee
Hawk and Femina
Arthur and Teeny
Amid and Linda
Faval and Patty
Asaello and Daisy
At twelve chapters, Genealogy of the Holy War is ostensibly the second-shortest game in the series, behind Gaiden; however, each chapter is more comparable to numerous individual chapters contained within one, being enormous and requiring the seizing of multiple castles per chapter. It is also the only game in the series where the entirety of gameplay takes place on exterior siege maps, with none of its action occurring inside cities, villages, castles, fortresses, ships or anything similar.
The game which eventually evolved into Genealogy of the Holy War was not originally conceived as an actual Fire Emblem game, and many of the initial plans for the game deviate greatly from the finished product. According to Shouzou Kaga, one aim which led to the development of Genealogy was to temporarily break away from the Archanean setting to do something new with the series, similarly to Gaiden. The initial concept for the gameplay had more in common with traditional Japanese role-playing games and was based around squads, where the player would move squads of ten characters across a world map and would encounter and battle enemies. However, as the development continued, the game eventually shifted back to playing more like a traditional Fire Emblem game, based on both feedback from Nintendo and opinions among the team. Due to all of these changing plans, according to Tohru Narihiro, the Genealogy project was scrapped and remade from scratch at least two or three times. The development of the game was further complicated by both staff and office changes at Intelligent Systems, which resulted in Yuka Tsujiyoko and her sound team staying behind at their former location while the rest of the team worked at their new office.
When he was writing the scenario of Genealogy, one of Kaga's primary aims was to produce a large-scale historical drama where the world undergoes great change over a period of time and, in his words, "the history [is] the protagonist". As part of this, Kaga also wished to convey how many historical events and behaviours are unpalatable by modern standards (citing patricide and incest as examples) as a key theme and, to a lesser extent, how people's mistakes ended up changing the world. In this, he was determined not to whitewash history and sought to present a medieval drama reflective of the true nature of the era, and to present both the heroes and the villains as fighting for their own justice to emphasize the dangers posed by branding a conflict a "holy war" on either side.
Many of the gameplay changes Genealogy engendered are claimed by Kaga to have been directly inspired by this scenario direction. The game's enormous maps were intended to change the impression delivered by prior games that the conflict was being fought on a small scale, instead emphasizing the game's events as a massive, world-sweeping conflict. The changes to the game's inventory and money systems, limiting the ability to swap items between units and giving each unit their own personal money supply, were developed in a bid to balance out which units are used by players, discouraging dumping every resource into a small handful of units.
Although the generational divide was a major element of the finished product in both gameplay and story, it was not part of the original concept that became Genealogy. According to Narihiro, the idea of adding an element of romance was proposed partway through by Kaga based on the popularity of romance games at the time. The idea of inheritance based on variable parents, Narihiro suggests, also derives from Kaga's fondness for horse racing (probably by analogy with how retired champion race horses are used to breed more horses). Once the second generation became part of the plan, Kaga planned Genealogy to be a three-part work, with a third segment following Seliph's story. Its intent was to directly confront and analyze the moral issues raised by the rest of the story and properly resolve loose threads. However, time constraints forced Intelligent Systems to cut this part entirely, with the game ending with Seliph's story.
During its development, Genealogy was tentatively titled Fire Emblem: Heir of Light (Japanese: ファイアーエムブレム 光をつぐもの), a title which even appeared on a publicly released promotional leaflet for the game (although the poster did mark it as only a temporary name). The final release still has an appearance of this subtitle, as the name of Chapter 6, and the title was also used as the title of a manga adaptation of the game.
- Game Designer, Scenarist / Director: Shouzou Kaga
- Supervisor: Keisuke Terasaki
- Chief Programmer: Tohru Narihiro
- Technical Advisor: Toshiyuki Nakamura
- Programmer: Kouichi Abe, Toshiaki Yonezawa, Keiji Nanba, Mitsuru Matsumoto, Manabu Shimada, Takahiro Ohgi
- Graphic Designer: Fumika Noichi, Katsuyoshi Koya, Masahiro Higuchi, Azusa Iwamoto, Naoko Kugo
- Sound Creator: Yuka Tsujiyoko, Kenichi Nishimaki
- Art Work: Masafumi Sakashita, Fujiko Nomura, Yasuo Inoue, Yusuke Nakano, Noriyuki Sato
- Assistant: Kaori Aoki, Hiroshi Tanigawa, Masaya Kuzume, Yutaka Maekawa, Hirokazu Goutani, Hiroshi Takemoto
- Special Thanks: M. Okada, K. Nishizawa, K. Sugino, Y. Katsuki, T. Nagareda, K. Nishimura, K. Ikuno, K. Yamada, O. Yamauchi, M. Yamamoto, T. Harada, H. Yamagami, N. Ozaki, M. Okuno, R. Kitanishi, M. Okuda, M. Sengoku, K. Yamafuji
- Producer: Gumpei Yokoi
As of 2002, Genealogy of the Holy War was the second-best-selling Fire Emblem game, having sold an estimated 498,216 copies in its original Super Famicom print run. The official US English website for Fire Emblem alleges that Genealogy was the most successful Fire Emblem game in Japan, but it is uncertain how true this claim is in light of all other evidence pointing to Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem historically holding that title.
Genealogy of the Holy War was the first Fire Emblem game to receive an unofficial translation patch, with a subset of noted defunct fan translation group j2e working on the game between 2000 and 2002. The group ultimately disappeared and left the patch unfinished, in a state that was "not to be enjoyed"; through the following decade, Twilkitri and other contributors picked up where j2e left off and continued to work on the patch, although both the programming and parts of the script remain incomplete. Several forks of Twilkitri's work have arisen over the years with various aims and additions.
In 2016, on the 20th anniversary of the original release of Genealogy of the Holy War, the first complete translation patch for the game was released as a public beta. This patch, known as the "Project Naga" translation, features a total retranslation of the script including the previously unfinished epilogue, a new, slimmer font which allows for much more text to fit into the windows, and also fixes numerous glitches from the original game. It is currently completely playable, but as a beta, it still has various technical errors which are currently being identified and corrected through feedback from players.
- Genealogy features the only classes with the ability to use almost the entire weapon/magic spectrum: the Master Knight, which wields everything except dark magic, totalling the ability to wield nine weapon types, and the Baron, wielding everything except light and dark magic. No other playable class in the series ever has access to more than four weapon types; the only other class in general to exceed this number is Order Incarnate, a boss-exclusive class, with access to six.
- Along with Thracia 776, Genealogy of the Holy War is the only game in the series which existed as of 2008 to not be referenced at all in Super Smash Bros. Brawl; every other game in the series which existed at the time has some degree of representation, whereas Genealogy and Thracia do not.
- Along with Gaiden, Genealogy is one of the only games in the Fire Emblem series where it is not possible for attacks to deal zero damage under ordinary circumstances. Unless the Pavise skill blocks an attack, every attack that successfully connects with its target will deal an absolute minimum of 1 hit point of damage, even if the target's defensive stat is much higher than the attacker's offense.
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|
|English||Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War|| As of Fire Emblem Awakening.|
The title refers to the Holy War, Holy Blood, and children mechanics of the game.
|Japanese||ファイアーエムブレム 聖戦の系譜||Officially romanized as Fire Emblem: Genealogy of Holy-War.|
|Spanish||Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War||As of Fire Emblem Awakening.|
|French||Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War||As of Fire Emblem Awakening.|
|German||Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War||As of Fire Emblem Awakening.|
|Italian||Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War||As of Fire Emblem Awakening.|
- Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu Release Data for SNES, GameFAQs, Retrieved: 2015-04-17
- Kaga, S.; trans. TheEnd, Official Guidebook, Serenes Forest, Published: 1996-10, Retrieved: 2015-04-17
- Narihiro, T.; trans. Xkan, Toru Narihiro – Interview on development changes during Genealogy of the Holy War – FE 25th Anniversary, kantopia, Published: 2015-11-28 (trans. 2016-06-03), Retrieved: 2016-07-15
- Kaga, S.; trans. Amielleon, Kaga Interviews (Page 3/Q1), Fire Emblem (according to Japan), Published: 1999-01 (trans. 2013-02-22), Retrieved: 2015-02-24
- Kaga, S.; trans. Amielleon, Kaga Interviews (Page 3/Q2), Fire Emblem (according to Japan), Published: 1999-01 (trans. 2013-03-21), Retrieved: 2015-02-24
- Kaga, S.; trans. Amielleon, Kaga Interviews (P3~4/Q4), Fire Emblem (according to Japan), Published: 1999-01 (trans. 2014-10-01), Retrieved: 2015-02-24
- University of Japan Copyright Center, 日本ユニ著作権センター／判例全文・2002/11/14d 3, Translan, Published: 2002-11-14, Retrieved: 2015-04-17
- History of Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem (archived by Serenes Forest), Published: 2003, Retrieved: 2015-04-17
- ddstranslation, Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War Re-translation (Project Naga), Romhacking.net, Published: 2016-05-14
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War official Japanese website
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War Wii Virtual Console website (Japanese)
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War Wii U Virtual Console website (Japanese)
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War Fire Emblem Museum section (Japanese)
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