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Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade pre-release information

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An early promotional flier for the game, which features both an early design for Roy and screenshots which differ from the final game.

Prior to its release in 2002, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade - like most games - received previews in the Japanese gaming press and in other sources, including Roy's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Some of the screenshots of the game used in previews are comprised of preliminary content or data which is clearly different from the game's final form, especially in previews from earlier points in the game's development.

Early title

At an early point in the game's development, the game was titled Fire Emblem: Priestess of Darkness (Japanese: ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒の巫女). It was showcased under this title at Nintendo's Space World event in 2001,[1] having been first revealed by this name in August 2000 in a list of games to be showcased at the 2001 Space World. The game did not gain its final title until July 2001.[2] Priestess of Darkness was presumably named in reference to Idenn, who is known by that title in the course of the final game and her theme music is named as such.

Roy's design

Early footage and promotional material depicts Roy with a different appearance to that of the final game: although his basic color scheme is the same, he looks younger, his armor is different and his hair is styled vastly differently. Although this design was obviously scrapped and replaced with his actual design by late 2001, when Roy appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee, his map and battle sprites in the finished game still depict him with the distinct oversized hair of this early design.

Gameplay

Battle screen

The game's battle screen and its presentation of units' stats underwent a significant number of revisions throughout development. Curiously, screenshots and even GIF animations of most of these versions are still publicly available on the game's official website, mixed in with screenshots of the finished game.

Ss fe06 preliminary battle1.jpg The earliest known battle screen differs greatly from anything seen in any other Fire Emblem game before or since. Featuring a more exaggerated style to its HP bars, it gives little statistical information.
Also of note is that both Shanna and the enemy female Bern mage have somewhat different battle sprites at this point.
Source: Serenes Forest; Pre-release changes, via IGN
Ss fe06 preliminary battle2a.gif This version is clearly based on the style of the first SNES Fire Emblem game: Mystery of the Emblem. Unlike that game, however, it omits mentioning the units' names, classes or equipped weapons. It is also much more compressed than those games, letting the battle animations take up the bulk of the screen space.
Source: Official website; "What is Fire Emblem?", page 3
Ss fe06 preliminary battle2b.gif A variant of the above, which differs only by implementing name labels; it is unclear which is the earlier version. The labels are somewhat lower and longer than they are in the final release. Also note that during the Critical attack small flames appear, something not in the final version.
Source: Official website; "What is Fire Emblem?", page 3
Ss fe06 preliminary battle3.png This version is closer to that of the final release, albeit distinctly rearranged.
Source: Official website; "Special Terrain"
Ss fe06 roy wielding binding blade.png The final release's battle screen, which remains unchanged in Fire Emblem and received only cosmetic changes in The Sacred Stones.

Status menu

One different version of the unit status menu is known to exist.

Ss fe06 preliminary status.png An early version as seen at Nintendo Space World 2001. The item icons are temporary placeholders, and appear to have been borrowed from Fire Emblem: Thracia 776: the Rapier borrows the Brave Sword icon, the three staves (Heal, Mend and Physic) all use the Iron Sword icon, and the Vulnerary uses its Thracia counterpart. This screenshot also features Roy's old design.
Source: Serenes Forest; Pre-release changes, via IGN
Ss fe06 roy status menu.png The final release's status menu.

Dialogue scenes

The style in which dialogue in cutscenes is presented in speech bubbles is known to have changed at least twice.

Ss fe06 preliminary dialogue1.jpg One of the earliest known screenshots of the game in general; almost nothing in this screenshot bears a resemblance to the content of the final game. The style and positioning of the text box resembles those of Genealogy and Thracia.
Translation: "Bows are my specialty! Because I always go hunting in the mountains!"[3]
Source: Serenes Forest; Pre-release changes, via IGN
Ss fe06 preliminary dialogue2.jpg An early dialogue style closer to the finished version, featuring Alen and a villager. It appears that at this point, each new speech bubble would cover up the previous one.
Source: Serenes Forest; Pre-release changes, via IGN
Ss fe06 dialogue example.png A scene of dialogue in the final release, and by extension the subsequent two Game Boy Advance Fire Emblem games.

Coloring

Early screenshots depict the game with a somewhat darker and more subdued palette than the final game; this change was presumably made to aid visibility, given the Game Boy Advance's lack of a backlight. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones would later adopt this coloring approach as part of its style, since by the time of its release, Nintendo was producing both the Game Boy Advance SP and the Nintendo DS, both of which feature a backlight.

Ss fe06 preliminary coloring.png An example of the darker palette in action, in Deke and Shanna's conversation in Chapter 2. The chapter's map is also slightly different from the final version.
Source: Official website; "Characters", page 2
Ss fe06 dialogue example.png The same scene in the final release. Shanna's dialogue is unchanged, save for adding an instance of the word "but" (でも).

English release

As of mid-March 2002, Nintendo of America had publicly stated that they intended to release The Binding Blade in the United States.[4] Needless to say, this plan never eventuated, with Fire Emblem taking its place as the first internationally-released Fire Emblem game. No evidence of any work by NoA on The Binding Blade is known to publicly exist.

References

  1. IGN staff (2001-01-23). "Fire Emblem - Maiden of the Dark". IGN. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
  2. VincentASM. (2013-02-25) "Fire Emblem 64". Serenes Forest. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
  3. https://kantopia.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/fire-emblem-64-screenshot-design-work-scans-25th-anniversary-book/
  4. Harris, Craig. (2002-03-15). "Fire Emblem Hits Japan Airwaves". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-25
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
Playable characters AlenAstoreBathBartreBorsCathCeciliaChadClarineDayanDekeDorothyDouglasEkhidnaElenElphinFaeFirGarretGeeseGonzalezGwendolynHughIgreneJodelJunoKarelKleinLalumLanceLilinaLotLughMarcusMerlinusMiladyNiimeNoahOgierPercevalRaighRoyRutogaSaulShannaSinSophiaSueTheaTrecWadeWoltZelotsZeiss
Non-playable characters EliwoodGuinivereHectorMaryMordred
Trial Map characters BrunnyaEliwoodGalleGuinivereHectorMurdockNarcianZephiel
Bosses ArcardoBrakulBrunnyaChanDamasDebiasDoryEinErikFlaerGalleGuerreroHenningIdennKabulKelKudokaJahnLeganceMaggieMarralMartelMonkeMorganMurdockNarcianNordOatesOrloPeresRaithRandyRoartzRobertsRoseRuudScollanScottSiguneSlaterThorilTickWagnerWindhamZephielZinque
The Eight Generals AthosBariganBramimondDurbanElimineHanonHartmutRoland
Regalia and personal weapons ApocalypseArmadsAureolaBinding BladeDurandalEckesachsForblazeMaltetMulagirRapierSaint's Staff
Chapters 1: Dawn of Destiny • 2: The Princess of Bern • 3: Latecomer's Sorrow • 4: Crumbling League • 5: Fire Emblem • 6: Ensnared • 7: The Ostian Revolt • 8: Reunion • 8x: The Blazing Blade • 9: The Misty Isles • 10A: Western Resistance • 11A: The Hero of the West • 10B: Amidst a Struggle • 11B: Flight Toward Freedom • 12: The True Enemy • 12x: The Thunder Axe • 13: Rescue Mission • 14: Arcadia • 14x: The Infernal Truth • 15: The Dragon Child • 16: Storming the Capital • 16x: The Glorious Ascension • 17A: Ocean's Parting • 18A: The Frozen River • 19A: Bitter Cold • 20A: Ilia's Salvation • 20Ax: The Blizzard Spear • 17B: The Bishop's Teachings • 18B: The Law of Sacae • 19B: Battle in Bulgar • 20B: The Silver Wolf • 20Bx: The Tempest Bow • 21: The Binding Blade • 21x: The Elder Revelation • 22: An Undying Dream • 23: The Ghosts of Bern • 24: Legends and Lies • Final: Beyond the DarknessTrial Maps
Locations ElibeBern (Dragon SanctuaryShrine of Seals) • Etruria (Aquleia) • IliaLycia (AraphenLausOstiaPheraeThria) • Missur (ArcadiaNabata) • Sacae (BulgarTaras) • Western Isles
Groups, objects and concepts Disturbance of BernEnding WinterFire EmblemThe ScouringWar Dragons
Related topics Fire Emblem: Hasha no TsurugiName chart • Other games (Fire Emblem) • Pre-release information (Unused content) • Sound RoomTimeline
Preliminary data and content
Pre-release information Shadow Dragon NESGaidenMystery of the EmblemGenealogy of the Holy WarThracia 776The Binding BladeFire EmblemThe Sacred StonesPath of RadianceRadiant DawnShadow Dragon DSNew Mystery of the EmblemAwakeningFates
Unused content Shadow Dragon NESGaidenMystery of the EmblemGenealogy of the Holy WarThracia 776The Binding BladeFire EmblemThe Sacred StonesPath of RadianceRadiant DawnShadow Dragon DSNew Mystery of the EmblemAwakeningFates
Prototype builds Fire Emblem prototype build 0205Fire Emblem prototype build 0219The Sacred Stones prototype
Other Fire Emblem 64Fire Emblem Wii