FEDA: Emblem of Justice - Reader Retroview  

Fine, Entertaining Dynamism Abounds
by JuMeSyn

25-45 hours


Rating definitions 

   The Super Nintendo did not lack for quality RPG releases in English, yet an even greater number of titles were left in Japan. Some were quickies based on anime, others would most assuredly have been welcome across the Pacific had they been translated. One of these is FEDA, which would have been all the more welcome thanks to its tactical nature. FEDAís initial resemblance to the Genesisís Shining Force titles is not entirely contradictory, but the differences unique to FEDA make it worth seeking out for any aficionados of the tactical RPG grouping.

   Brian Stelbart has a sudden change of heart when his imperial unit is massacring a village, and strikes out against his commanding officer. This act cannot go without punishment, and Brian is consigned to a prison cell prior to further actions. There he would probably have remained if Ain Macdougal did not break him out. These two are the protagonists of FEDA, and their effort to escape imperial justice quickly becomes noticed by fighters of the liberation movement. They subsequently become important figures in this movement to crush the oppressive empire. Aside from the use of the evil empire which was hardly original even in 1994, the story here is interesting because Brian and Ain (plus their contingent of allies) are not the only parts of the liberation army taking action.

Look man, I warned you what would happen if you didnít get the money! Look man, I warned you what would happen if you didnít get the money!

   As this is a tactical title, the battles are quite important. Visually they look quite like Shining Force: two sides attack each other via quick cut-scenes showing actions being performed. Anyone who has seen a Shining Force or Fire Emblem battlefield knows what this looks like; to any so lamentably lacking in experience the two sprite armies start separately and move towards each other with an overhead view to accommodate plenty of terrain at any moment. Characters gain experience by attacking enemies, and at every 100 experience achieve a level-up. There are distinct differences from the Shining Force battle system however. Primary among them is the lack of an agility effect upon movement. Instead of the fastest characters moving first, agility determines dodging rate and nothing more. A chess variant on the tactical RPG system is employed in FEDA: the player gets to move the first unit each turn, then the computer moves one of its units, and this is repeated until the end of the turn.

   Other differences from Shining Force are: the lack of new techniques learned via leveling-up, magicís weakness compared to physical attacks, 10 instead of 12 allies on the field at once, and a morality system based upon how the player fights. This system assigns a 9-point rating scale to the player. Many battles have objectives other than simply killing everything, and how closely the player hews to the objective determines the rating, in addition to how quickly the player moves along. If the player wants to fight some extra battles on the world map and backtrack to grab more equipment after getting some extra money, the rating will be affected. Directly, the rating affects the ending. It also affects the allies who will join the playerís cause. There are no hidden characters, but many will only join if the player is either Law or Chaos aligned at the time. Should the playerís subsequent actions alter this status, characters can and will leave permanently because of it.

   Interaction in battle is simplicity itself, just like a Shining Force game. Outside of battle is considerably more annoying. Movement on the map is not entirely intuitive Ė the player must select the current location of the force and determine a movement direction out of those available. Shopping is annoying Ė nothing major save for quite a few extra button presses being necessary to move from buying to selling. One very annoying surfeit is the inability to check status of the force at any time. Instead the player must enter camp and talk to the person who can change party members to see what each characterís status is.

Rejected footage from Return of the Jedi. Rejected footage from Return of the Jedi.

   Visually FEDA does look remarkably like a Shining Force game on the Super Nintendo. The cut-scenes demonstrate a bit more visual prowess than the Genesis could usually demonstrate, and since Shining Force 1 and 2 already looked very good considering the Genesisís technical inferiority that means FEDA looks nice. Aurally it isnít superb but neither is it horrendous. A reuse of music a touch too often is the main complaint, considering there are over 70 battles mandatory to progress in the game. Some of the music is pretty good, other pieces are just generic. Sound effects are good enough not to be annoying.

   How challenging FEDA is will depend greatly upon what the player chooses to do. Playing the most legally minded path will be difficult indeed; thanks to the need to ignore enemies attacking if the objective of a battle does not involve killing them. Replay is ample thanks to the many ways battles can be tackled, the multiple endings, and the many characters that will not join on the first play. Gauging how long the game requires to complete is difficult thanks to it not having a clock, but between 25 and 45 hours should incorporate all the different playing styles that can be employed in finishing it.

   The major complaints that could be levied against FEDA are that it can get monotonous in stretches thanks to too few enemy types that get reused many times, and sameness to the battles in parts thanks to this and battle backgrounds being used too often. Nevertheless FEDA is a worthy play for Shining Force veterans and any tactical RPG lovers, particularly since some of the developers who worked on the first Shining Force are behind this title. It may not be in English, but the battles are instinctive enough to make that surmountable.

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