Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn is a 2007/2008 Turn-based strategy role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo on the Wii. It's the direct sequel to 2005's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the GameCube. It's the second main title to be released on a home console outside of Japan, the fourth to be released in the West and the tenth overall. It was the last home console game in the series until 2019's Fire Emblem: Three Houses, published on the Nintendo Switch.
Why It Rocks
The story is, according to many fans, one of the greatest ever told by Nintendo and one of the best in the whole franchise, with plenty of engaging and engrossing moments.
Many likable characters, both old (like Ike and Mist) and new (Pelleas, Almedha, Yune). Many returning characters now get more development, such as Sothe going from a simple spy to having a brother-sister relation with Micaiah, or Soren discovering his true origins. Ike is also much more confident and brave after his experiences and growth in the previous game, and it's easily one of the best main characters in the series.
The game introduces the Branded, children of a laguz and a beorc, recognizable (as their name implies) by a mark on their body. Many characters, both old and new, are discovered to be Branded.
Jarod, Sephiran, Izuka, and Ashera are among the best antagonists in the series.
The art style and graphics were improved thanks to the Wii's stronger hardware specs, allowing for less grainy graphics compared to the previous game.
Virtually every character from the previous game is recruitable at a certain point, with every character returning to the main army for the final stretch of the game.
The game introduces a third tier of classes, accessible when a promoted unit reaches level 20 (thus promoting again). To compensate, laguz, who can't promote, can go up to level 40 instead.
New sets of weapons are introduced, each with its special tweaks, such as bronze weapons being lighter and more durable, but unable to deal critical damage and weaker than normal iron, steel, or silver ones, or Crossbows, which are heavier than bows, but have a higher strength and range.
You can finally forge more than one weapon per chapter.
The support system is completely remade from the previous games. Instead of having a set of compatible characters, each of whom with three support ranks (C, B, and A), now every character can form Buddy Supports with each other. Buddy Supports provide stat boosts (like the previous games) to the characters involved, but each one can reach A rank with only one other unit. On the other hand, if the player completed Path of Radiance and transferred the data to Radiant Dawn, returning characters can form Bond Supports with each other, which work exactly like the supports from the old games. Characters can also now gain Support points in many different ways, from being deployed in the same chapter, to entering a battle screen next to each other, to helping each other in battle.
The skill system is updated from the previous game, by introducing blank scrolls that can be used to copy abilities and shuffle them between characters. The Skill Meter mechanic from the previous game also returns.
The map design is very gimmicky, but in a good way. For example, in Part 1 Chapter 4, the map is a gold room with certain points that can heal you. Plus, there are only laguz units in this chapter due to the story. You can even get some gold coins and other items if you stand on a certain spot.
Many plot threads from the previous game are resolved, such as the death of Ike and Mist's parents, Lehran's Medallion and the Black Knight and Ashnard's backstory.
The story is divided in three parts, which follow different characters and converge into one final story.
Lots of climactic boss battles, such as Deghinsea, Zelgius, and Lehran.
When the game first launched, the story was extremely controversial among fans, due to its complexity and constant shifts of pace.
Part 3 has some serious pacing issues, with the game constantly forcing the player to switch back and forth between different characters.
While very minor, the localized versions of the game's difficulties were mistranslated. This made it so Japanese Normal mode was named Easy mode in localized versions, along with Japanese Hard mode being called Normal mode and Japanese Maniac mode being called Hard mode. This caused video game critics to call this game one of the hardest Fire Emblem games yet (although this was still before many people translated the Japanese-exclusive Fire Emblem games which some are still harder than).
Like the last game, forging is still limited. But there are new weapons to forge like knives.
The final chapter is very long and is split into five different parts. To make matters worse, there is only one base screen at the beginning of the first part (though the game gives you the ability to manage bonus experience, supports, and skills directly from the preparations menu).
Due to a localization mistake from the Japanese NTSC version to the Western NTSC and PAL versions, the names of the difficulty settings got mixed up, with Hard mode being labeled as Normal, and Normal mode being labeled as Easy, causing a lot of confusion among players.
A localization error in early copies of the localized versions caused the game to corrupt save data imported from a Path of Radiance save file cleared in Easy mode, requiring players to send their disks to Nintendo to receive a working copy, due to the Wii's inability to download patches. Thankfully, newer prints of the game removed this glitch entirely.
The localized versions lack certain story points only featured in the Japanese version if you played in hard or maniac mode such as how Ranulf found out who the Black Knight was. In the localized versions, Ranulf in the localized version and Japanese normal mode instead says that Ranulf finds out the Black Knight's identity without any context.
The localized version's voice acting is atrocious. There is only one female voice actress for the female characters, and you can tell easily because Mist and Mia sound exactly the same. At least the voice acting is funny and the cutscenes they are in look excellent.
Some units are available only in a New Game + run, most infamously Pelleas, the only dark mage in the game.