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Anybody else here play 8-bit ROM hacks of Fire Emblem?


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Hi, my name is Jackson and I'm addicted to 8-bit Fire Emblem games. Wait, this isn't Gamers Anonymous?

Seriously though, my fondness for especially the original Fire Emblem has led me into looking for ROM hacks of it. And unfortunately, there don't seem to be that many of them.

I've played through Time For Tom a couple of times. It has some interesting ideas, and I appreciate that it has all-new maps and seems to feature a multiverse of characters from several different FE games. (Even though I've really only played the two FC/NES games, and don't follow newer games.) It seems to run somewhere between reliably glitchy and occasionally unstable, though. The hacker's ambitions seem to exceed his coding abilities, but how much can I complain when I'm playing a hacked game? I've played what I believe to be the whole game, but it's always crashed as soon as I take the last throne, so I've never seen the ending.

I'm currently about 2/3s of the way through my first playthrough of Famicom Merciless. It seems to have been hacked by a Westerner, but the game is still entirely in its original Japanese text (which makes navigating the game a fair bit tougher!). I actually paused my playthrough to go and play through the original FE in Japanese so I could memorize the menus and item names. (I don't read Japanese; my memorization of the characters is quite superficial.)

Famicom Merciless is a much less ambitious hack than Time For Tom. It seems to reuse the same maps and dialogue from the base game. Unit placement is generally identical as well, although I was pleasantly surprised to see some units were moved around on some chapters in the middle-third. The main change has been in beefing up the stats (generally strength, defense, and HP) of all enemy units on the board to make a tougher game. Some enemies have also had their weapons upgraded. Recruitable characters that start as enemies are also enhanced, which makes several of them much more useful. I know I've put a lot more effort into using and training Kashim, Roger, and Machis than I normally do on the original FE. Already-useful characters like Navarre and the Triangle Sisters are really powerful in this hack.

The first third of the game was much slower to play through versus the original FE, as the enemies were just so much stronger than my party. It's pretty irritating when an enemy archer can kill Marth in one critical hit even if the prince had full health. Doga, who seems almost bulletproof in the first handful of chapters in the original FE, can actually be killed by two axemen even without critical hits. I have relied on ranged attacks while playing through this hack, between buying a bunch of extra javelins for all of my knights and using sometimes 3-4 archers on many maps.

The game's difficulty spike reduced over the middle third. I have of course added better warriors and equipment, but I have also noticed that the longer battles with higher-HP enemies has also leveled up my troops faster than they normally would in the original FE. I've even had to bench many of my favorites early in the game as they were near-maxed out and it would be several chapters before I had access to promotion items to upgrade their classes.

I've just reached Chapter 18 in the last couple of days, which is where Est joins the party and gives Marth the Miracle sword. I was confused and irritated as it seems that he's ineligible to use it! I don't know if the hacker created/raised a Weapon Level stat barrier, or if this is some kind of glitch. I'm really hoping there aren't similar shenanigans with the Falcion, because that would make the game unbeatable. But in general, I'm enjoying relearning the game with these changes.

I guess I just needed to share all this with someone. I hope someone else is playing these, so we can gush/complain together...

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I’ve played “hacks” of these games in the sense that I’ve beaten both 8-bit FE games with unofficial translation patches applied! But not substantial gameplay alterations like you’re talking about.

Not a fan! The quality of life and interface issues are just too much for me. I’ll give Gaiden credit for how its quirks and oddities minimize a lot of the issues and I see it as the much better game as a result but in exchange it kinda doesn’t bother with actual map design.

My biggest problem with the actual mechanics was probably the critical rate. Later games tended to have mechanics to let you mitigate enemy crit rates but I don’t think the first two have any of that. So going heavy on ranged attacks like you did sounds like a good approach. Good luck!

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Well yeah, I have obviously logged most of my Fire Emblem hours playing "hacks" in the sense that I've mostly played the English-translation patches of the two 8-bit games. And actually I think I've only played through Gaiden once. It did have some interesting changes to the formula, but in general I liked the first game a lot more.

Enemy crit rates are definitely a point of irritation and anxiety, to be sure. I tend to position troops in such a way where the glass cannons can't be reached by enemies, and those who are in front can withstand critical hits from the enemies in their range. Of course, it's not always that easy. I had Raddy as a Level 10ish Hero crossing the mountains 2-3 turns into Chapter 24, and an enemy sniper just walked right up and killed him in one shot. Moments like that just piss me off like crazy.

Edited by nerdynebraskan
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Ok, I finished the Famicom Merciless hack last night. The difficulty never returned to how it was on the first third of the game. The enemy placement, when and where it was changed, sometimes seemed to be easing up on some of the built-in challenges of the original game.

Camus was no longer the boss on Chapter 20, so he just charged right into my army with the other paladins and I got to swarm him on neutral ground. With the castle bonuses, he's probably the single most dangerous enemy in the original Fire Emblem. His stats were buffed in the hack, of course, but on open ground (and with the army I had 20 chapters to build) I took him down on my first try with no casualties.

Chapter 22 was also made easier with changes to enemy placement. The five Pegasus knights start right on top of your army, which was maybe supposed to be some kind of special challenge. But I had brought four archers into a map dominated by enemy fliers, so I cut them all down with barely a scratch before the end of Round 1. And then I had a couple of rounds to prepare for the other half of the starting army. C22 has the most brutal enemy advance in the original game, especially since you have to be aggressive to try to save Gato's village from the thief on the back end of that army. But C22 in Famicom Merciless doesn't even have a thief! He was replaced by an enemy priest, which is more powerful offensively, but also negates any sense of urgency to get to the northeast corner of the map.

And the allies I continued to gain in the latter part of the game were really tough, if not outright overpowered. The Triangle Sisters started out almost as strong as they usually are in the original FE when you get them to L20 P knights, and they were pretty much maxed out on all stats by the time I got them here to L10 Dragon knights. Lawrence is pretty much invincible if you can get him some magic defense. And Ellis/Elice actually starts as a priest, instead of the cleric she appears as in the original FE. She's such a liability in the original game, but she was actually useful and dangerous right out of the gate in the hack.

Oh, and the Miracle sword? It wasn't exclusive to Marth in Famicom Merciless! I passed it from him to Kain in C22 just juggling items around, and saw that he was eligible to use it. He made good use of it for the rest of the game. Its eligibility must have been changed from Marth-only to sword-wielding characters with a high-enough Weapon Level stat.

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