While not the most well received Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was my first step into what would be my favorite Nintendo franchise. It spawned my love for the strategy RPG genre and got me to the point where I need to buy the new Fire Emblem games when they come out. From the permadeath, to the weapon and experience management, this game had me entranced in both its gameplay and story. I wanted to get each support conversation with every unit, and yes, that does take an obscenely large amount of time. I wanted every unit to survive, with my own strategies without the need to restart the game. The monsters were a good element allowing for some terrifying battles, such as the gorgons and their ability to petrify. I wanted to bring justice to Valter for all the horrible things he had done during the course of the game. I became engrossed in the story before I knew it, and even after completing it I wanted to do it all over again with different unit combinations. There was never a moment I wanted to put this game down, and that easily carried over to subsequent games in the series. The support conversations in particular gave a sense of depth to each character and made me connect and care for each character.
Yes this does sound like a love letter to Fire Emblem, but this series remained consistent for me even to this day. The Sacred Stones set me down that path! The game was difficult in moments and gave me cause to care for my strategy, much like the XCOM games. The Sacred Stones may be the forgotten twin of the Gameboy Advance generation, but it is just as good as the original North American release of Fire Emblem, and even more so. I will always play it, speedrun it, and try to figure out better ways through it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.