Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, maintains it's traditional gameplay as a strategic role playing game, but as usual it features different worlds and new characters. However, this game has no gaiden chapters, but when finishing chapter eight, the story is then split into two: Eirika, which is an easier path for beginners, and then there's Ephraim's path, which is harder for veterans.
Plot. The story begins in the continent of Magvel, comprised of six different nations. Each country shares a history of the War of the Stones 800 years ago, and they are responsible for their own sacred stones. The continent has enjoyed a long term of peace and prosperity, until the Grado Empire begins plans for world conquest, starting with the invasion of it's neighbor, Renais. Prince Ephraim, leaves Renais to fight back Grado's invasion. While his twin sister, Princess Eirika, leaves Renais to get help from their allies in Frelia. However, they will discover Grado's true purpose for the war.
The secret characters that are unlocked after beating the Tower of Valni and Lagdou Ruins, are the opponents in the main game. The game also features three difficulties: Easy, Normal, and Hard.
Concept. In the beginning, you start in a prologue chapter; which gives the basics of combat, maneuvering, and using your units wisely. Your units level up by obtaining 100 experience points every time, and with special items such as; Knight Crest, Elysian Whip, Hero Crest, Guiding Ring, and Master Seal, you can upgrade your units to stronger classes. After a few chapters, you can fight against the computer with a limit of 10 to 13 units. New allies can be recruited by talking to them with certain characters, even the leader as well.
In Fire Emblem, when a unit dies, he/she will never come back for the rest of the game, but if the hero or heroine dies, the game is over. Players can roam the world map and visit other places to buy weapons, tomes, staffs and items, and sell some valuables as well for easier money. Skirmishes can be used for training, in order for your units to become much stronger.
Design. The design of the game is very much the same as it's predecessors "Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi (Sword of Seals)" and "Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken (Blazing Sword)". What is unique of this game is that you can train weaker units in skirmishes and even in the tower of Valni. Units like Amelia and Ross start out as initial units, when they are level 10, they can choose any class to where they want to promote. The good thing about this game, is that you can choose any class that you want to promote your unit, and the key of it is to choose wisely.
Rantings. It still bothers me that the death of the players units is permanent. I mean, in Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, they would retire in Lyn's chapter when they are defeated. Another thing that's a little bit cheesy is the superficial improvements of the game.
Good Aspects. The game's storyline, graphics, gameplay and concept are very well done. The game has replay value, and the great thing about it is the mini-game, where you can play as the bosses of the main game. My most used units were: Lute, Tana, Vanessa, Gerik, Joshua, and Innes. Not forgetting the main characters of course.
Overall. The final score I give this game is a 9.1 out of 10