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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: The Blazing Blade 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 screen light. 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 screen light.

Ss fe06 preliminary coloring.png An example of the darker palette in action, in Dieck 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).

Chapter 2

A set of early screenshots appear to feature a playthrough of an early version of Chapter 2: The Princess of Bern. This set of screenshots also demonstrates what appears to be an intermediate stage of coloring adjustments, with portraits matching the darker coloring, seen in earlier screenshots, and the maps being closer to the final game's lighter colors.

Chapter 2 screenshots
Pre-release Final
Ss fe06 preliminary chapter 2 01.png Ss fe06 chapter 2 01 comparison.png
The movement arrow appears to have not been implemented as of these palette revisions. This screenshot demonstrates more changes to the the map. Additionally, either enemy placement or the player unit's starting positions appear to be different, as getting the enemies into the positions in the pre-release screenshot in the final game would require deliberately manipulating their movements and not typical gameplay.
Ss fe06 preliminary chapter 2 03.png Ss fe06 chapter 2 03 comparison.png
Some screenshots feature a different map palette from the darkened version and final; this was presumably an intermediate revision. The map has numerous small placement differences but features the same over all layout. The menu has several subtle differences.
Ss fe06 preliminary bors villager portraits.png Ss fe06 bors villager comparison.png
Another instance of the darker palette style. The female villager on the right also has slight differences in her portrait; the top half of her head was made a bit smaller and her eye placement was adjusted. The houses in the background were made taller and the tree on the right was redrawn. The changed length of the text box implies that a line earlier in the conversation was changed. The button prompt is now as it appears in final.
Ss fe06 preliminary chapter 2 04.png Ss fe06 chapter 2 04 comparison.png
Aside from the battle UI differences discussed in an earlier section, there is the additional difference of the character name labels remaining present during boss conversations; in the final game all the battle UI elements slide off screen upon the initiation of a boss quote. The battle graphics for the Knight and Mercenary are also both subtly different; the Knight's shadow changed shape and there are several differences in the Mercenary sprite as well, particularly on the clothing. Deke's character palette is also different. The button prompt is missing from the pre-release screenshot though it is unclear if the screenshot was taken before it had a chance to appear or if it is truly absent. The boss's, Ruud, boss quote is slightly reworded.
Ss fe06 preliminary chapter 2 02.png Ss fe06 chapter 2 02 comparison.png
The last screenshot of this batch, featuring Roy preparing to seize the castle gate. This screenshot implies that the mountains and castle were moved up a tile or the top row of the map's tiles was trimmed.

Map

A large percentage of the map can be puzzled together from this set of screenshots. Unfortunately, none of the provided screenshots feature the very bottom of the map. The map in this set of screenshots differs from the Dieck and Shanna dialogue scene so that screen of the bottom portion of the map was not used for this reconstruction.

Chapter 2 map comparison
Pre-release Final
Ss fe06 preliminary chapter 2 combined.png Cm fe06 2.png

Chapter maps of 1 through 13

The official site features images of the game's first 13 chapters, all using a slightly darker palette. Their presence here is mostly for complete documentation and the demonstrate no particular other major differences. Note that due to the large size of some maps they do not all display in full size; click them to view the full sized versions.

Chapter map comparisons
Website Final
Cm fe06 1 preliminary.png Cm fe06 1.png
Cm fe06 2 preliminary.png Cm fe06 2.png
Cm fe06 3 preliminary.png Cm fe06 3.png
Cm fe06 4 preliminary.png Cm fe06 4.png
Cm fe06 5 preliminary.png Cm fe06 5.png
Cm fe06 6 preliminary.png Cm fe06 6.png
Cm fe06 7 preliminary.png Cm fe06 7.png
Cm fe06 8 preliminary.png Cm fe06 8.png
Cm fe06 8x preliminary.png Cm fe06 8x.png
Cm fe06 9 preliminary.png Cm fe06 9.png
Cm fe06 10A preliminary.png Cm fe06 10A.png
Cm fe06 10B preliminary.png Cm fe06 10B.png
Cm fe06 11A preliminary.png Cm fe06 11A.png
Cm fe06 11B preliminary.png Cm fe06 11B.png
Cm fe06 12 preliminary.png Cm fe06 12.png
Cm fe06 12x preliminary.png Cm fe06 12x.png
Cm fe06 13 preliminary.png Cm fe06 13.png

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: The Blazing Blade 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.

Gallery

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 AlenAstoreBathBartreBorsCathCeciliaChadClarineDayanDieckDorothyDouglasEkhidnaElenElphinFaeFirGarretGeeseGonzalezGwendolynHughIgreneJodelJunoKarelKleinLalumLanceLilinaLotLughMarcusMerlinusMiladyNiimeNoahOgierPercevalRaighRoyRutgerSaulShannaSinSophiaSueTheaTrecWadeWoltZelotsZeiss
Non-playable characters EliwoodGuinivereHectorMaryMordred
Trial Map characters BrunnyaEliwoodGalleGuinivereHectorMurdockNarcianZephiel
Bosses ArcardoBrakulBrunnyaChanDamasDebiasDoryEinErikFlaerGalleGuerreroHenningIdennKabulKelKudokaJahnLeganceMaggieMarralMartelMonkeMorganMurdockNarcianNordOatesOrloPeresRaithRandyRoartzRobertsRoseRuudScollanScottSiguneSlaterThorilTickWagnerWindhamZephielZinque
The Eight Legends AthosBariganBramimondDurbanElimineHanonHartmutRoland
Regalia and personal weapons ApocalypseArmadsAureolaBinding BladeDurandalEckesachsForblazeMaltetMulagirRapierSaint's Staff
Chapters Tutorial • 1: Breath 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 Freezing Lance • 17B: The Bishop's Teachings • 18B: The Laws of Sacae • 19B: Battle in Bulgar • 20B: The Silver Wolf • 20Bx: The Bow of Swift Wind • 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 EmblemGenerals of EtruriaThe ScouringWar Dragons
Related topics Fire Emblem: Hasha no TsurugiName chart • Other games (Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade) • Pre-release information (Unused content) • Sound RoomTimeline
Preliminary data and content
Pre-release information Shadow Dragon and the Blade of LightGaidenMystery of the EmblemGenealogy of the Holy WarThracia 776The Binding BladeThe Blazing BladeThe Sacred StonesPath of RadianceRadiant DawnShadow Dragon DSNew Mystery of the EmblemAwakeningFatesTokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FEEchoes: Shadows of ValentiaHeroesWarriorsThree Houses
Unused content Shadow Dragon NESGaidenMystery of the EmblemGenealogy of the Holy WarThracia 776The Binding BladeThe Blazing BladeThe Sacred StonesPath of RadianceRadiant DawnShadow Dragon DSNew Mystery of the EmblemAwakeningFatesTokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FEEchoes: Shadows of ValentiaHeroesWarriorsThree Houses
Prototype builds The Blazing Blade prototype build 0205The Blazing Blade prototype build 0219The Sacred Stones prototype
Other Fire Emblem 64Fire Emblem Wii