New information about the upcoming Fire Emblem: Aoi Honoo no Kiseki (translated to "Fire Emblem: Trail of Blue Flames") for the Gamecube has been unveiled through the recent promotional Touch DS! events in Japan. This installment of the long-running series will pick up where the classic console games left off rather than continuing in the style of the recent GBA games.
Evidence of this return can be found in the game's difficulty. The early games in the Fire Emblem series, like most Nintendo Entertainment System games, were known to be extremely difficult, but when the series tansitioned to the GameBoy Advance, the games became much easier. Aol Honoo no Kiseki addresses this issue, much like the previous game in the series, by having three difficulty settings selectable at the start of the game. These difficulties will be much more accentuated than they were previously, however. Normal mode will be for players who just want to play through the game, Hard mode will be for those who desire more of a challenge, and Maniac mode will return to the NES-era difficulty level, which the game's developers say will probably only be welcomed by long-time Fire Emblem veterans.
The Skill system used in the GBA games will be returning in Aol Honoo no Kiseki and will be expanded upon in a manner very reminiscent of the old Super Famicom games. One example of the newly-expanded Skill system appears in the form of powerful "hidden techniques" that a player may choose to teach a unit at the cost of that unit losing all of its previously-learned abilities.
New additions to the series include new winged and beast units who can transform mid-battle, and a new command which translates as "Push." Pushing a unit will result in it moving one square in the direction it was pushed, which can help to increase that unit's range of movement. Presumably, creative strategists will find many more uses for this command.
Fire Emblem: Aol Honoo no Kiseki is scheduled for release in Japan this Winter. With the popularity the series has started to gain in the US, fans have reason to anticipate a release on our shores, but no such plans have been officially announced as of yet.