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Prerelease:Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

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This page details prerelease information and/or media for Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.

Hmmm...
To do:
This page is in desperate need of hard sources. Years of vague (if any) sourcing from people who cover this stuff, plus sites going down/getting reorganized and taking the original(?) content with them, means there's an enormous amount of important context missing.

Development Timeline

  • 2003-2004: The international success of the seventh game convinces Intelligent Systems that developing a bigger-budget Fire Emblem for the GameCube would be worth the expense, so development on Path of Radiance begins.[1]
  • April 2 2004: Path of Radiance is first announced in V-Jump Magazine.[2][3]
  • May 11-13 2004: A playable demo is present at E3 2004.[4][5]
  • November 2004: A playable demo is present at the Nintendo World Touch! DS events in multiple cities across Japan. The game is scheduled for a winter 2004 release. [6][7]
  • April 20 2005: The Japanese version of the game is released.
  • May 17 2005: An English build is briefly seen in Nintendo's press conference at E3 2005, although cutscene voices are still in Japanese.[8] A playable demo featuring Chapters 13 and 16, set to Easy Mode, is also present.[9]
  • October 17 2005: The US version of the game is released.
  • November 4 2005: The European version of the game is released.

Earliest Screenshot

Fire Emblem PoR pre paris.jpg

A screenshot of a battle sequence featuring Ike and an enemy soldier, respectively wielding a killing edge and a killer lance. Here, Ike is called "Paris" and is fighting a soldier from "Deros" (an early name for Daein?) It also features a drastically different window design and a slightly different, cel-shaded model style. Given that Ike goes by the name Ike in all other screenshots, this one doesn't seem to be from the later batches and is presumably the single oldest known image of the game.

There are a few oddities. Both "Paris" and the enemy have the exact same, fairly improbable set of battle stats (12 hit, 8 damage, 2 crit), and despite wielding a killer lance, the enemy is actually holding a sword. Given these, it's possible that this image is actually some sort of mockup.

The "Paris" name was later given to a playable character supposedly descended from Ike in the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Awakening. He was renamed Priam in international versions of that game.

(Source: Nintendo's E3 2004 press kit, via the Internet Archive)

Early Build

Fire Emblem PoR pre 4-2004 title.jpg

This batch of screenshots comes from what appears to be a very early demo build, circa April 2004. The build featured two maps but these screenshots only seem to feature one of them.

The map itself is visually very rough and simplistic, and its layout doesn't really match anything from the final game. It pits a group of eight playable units - Ike, Soren, Rolf, Titania, Rhys, Lethe, Marcia, and Zihark - against Daein soldiers.

All battle scene images shown take place on the map, and interestingly are much more zoomed in on the action compared to shots of navigating the map. It also looks like fighters, myrmidons, archers and soldiers didn't have unique designs from each other at this point, and all share a model that resembles the finished game's fighters. Additionally, the two spells seen here look distinctly different from the final game:

  • Rhys casts a healing staff of some description, the particle effects of which are colored pink at this point instead of the final teal.
  • Soren casts what appears to be a fire tome, the effects of which resembles a very basic take on the final game's Elfire.
Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 4-2004 ike attack.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final ike attack.png

Ike has a rapier equipped. Since it's the traditional starting personal weapon for Fire Emblem protagonists, it might have been his personal weapon at this point. The rapier was eventually replaced with the regal sword, but incomplete leftovers for it are still in the final game. Ike has a different, more neutrally posed portrait at this point.

Also, the cursor for menus is shaped like an armored gauntlet, like in the final game, but here it's posed completely horizontally instead of diagonally.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 4-2004 titania stats.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final titania stats.png

Instead of being an axe-wielding paladin, Titania is a lance knight - or rather, a "cavalry lance" (騎馬槍). The vulnerary that she is carrying has a blue icon rather than the final (and traditional) beige one. Her portrait is also different here, with more of a head tilt.

The stat screen is laid out very differently from the final. The "personal data" stats are backed by a bar indicating progress toward the class maximum, similar to most games since Thracia 776, and constitution and weight are listed with all the others instead of being in their own sections. The screen features an image of the Tower of Guidance as its background, and has L and R button icons indicating either page-turning or moving on to the next unit's stats.

Fire Emblem PoR pre 4-2004 soren lethe.jpg
This dialog between Soren and Lethe, unsurprisingly, doesn't exist in the finished game, although the general gist of it - Soren is a condescending asshole, Lethe is enraged - is similar to their only real interaction with each other in Chapter 8. Soren's portrait is slightly different, featuring straighter and shorter hair, while Lethe's was later completely redrawn. Lethe's name is also spelled slightly differently here: レト (Reto) rather than the final レテ (Rete).

Speaker Message (JP) Translation
Soren ではどこか邪魔にならない場所で、
散歩でもしててくれませんか。
僕たちは、忙しいんです。
In that case, would you go somewhere
where you won't be a nuisance?
We are busy.
Lethe い、今に見ていろっ!
わたしたちの本当の力、
見せつけてやる!
J-just you wait!
I'll show you our real strength!
(Source: GameOnline Japan, via RPGamer; Nintendo's E3 2004 press kit, via the Internet Archive)

Nintendo World Touch! DS

This event series featured several demo kiosks for Path of Radiance. This build features an enormous stylistic shift compared to the last one, and both the visual style and layout of windows are more or less what they are in the finished product, although the exact window designs still went through a bit more work.

The featured map is Chapter 1, which at this point has subtle differences in its layout, the environment models and the enemies present compared to the finished game.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 boyd dialog.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final boyd dialog.png

The dialog text box has a different, smoother look to it, featuring a flat gradient. Boyd's dialog in this scene went completely unchanged in the final game, though.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 map.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final map.png

At this point, gameplay menus are using a simpler font instead of the serif one in the final game, with the odd exception of the terrain window.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 ike stats.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final ike stats.png

At this stage, Ike's personal weapon has been changed from a rapier to a longsword, but it still has the usual weapon effectiveness over cavalry and armor. It looks like the weapon was just renamed "regal sword" for the final release, since the regal sword is still internally called IID_LONGSWORD. Either way, evidently he was meant to receive his personal weapon much earlier at this point; in the finished game, he doesn't get the regal sword until Chapter 4.

(By the way, Ike's longsword here shouldn't be confused with the common longsword weapon in the finished game, which has a completely different Japanese name (長柄刀 in kanji instead of ロングソード in katakana), a completely different internal label (IID_HORSEKILLER), and is not effective against armor.)

An unusual addition to the screen at this stage is that it lists minor increases to the unit's current stats, in the same way laguz transformation gains are listed in the finished game. There's no way of knowing where these increases are coming from. (Terrain? Supports? An early version of biorhythm?)

The stat screen still uses the Tower of Guidance backdrop at this point. A few window headers were moved around after this point and the window designs were also retooled.

(Source: Nintendo)

November 2004

These screenshots, which were also published in Nintendo Dream magazine around this time, demonstrate a build that's much more in line with the finished product. Oddly, the Nintendo Dream article seems to take its screenshots from multiple sources, since it has the above Boyd screenshot with the outdated dialog window right next to screenshots with the final game's dialog window design.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 shove.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final shove.png

The Shove command is highlighted in yellow here. It's got no special coloring in the finished game, where yellow highlighting appears only on Ike's Direct command.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 combat ike.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final combat ike.png
Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 combat titania.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final combat titania.png
Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 combat oscar.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final combat oscar.png

The HP windows in battle scenes are slightly different and feature the unit's name as a permanent part, and the HP number font is italicised more. The enemy myrmidons also have a faded blue color scheme that's seen at no point in the finished game, while enemy bandits have an olive-green color scheme that resembles how they look in Radiant Dawn.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 titania stats.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final titania stats.png

Titania's stat screen is almost in its final form here, except that it still has the laguz-style number increases and a left-justified row of button instructions. Her base stats are also lower than they are in the finished game, her starting inventory lacks an iron axe, and the vulnerary still has a blue icon.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 11-2004 soren stats.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final soren stats.png

Soren's stat screen has two subtle aesthetic differences: his beorc unit type icon is just a placeholder, and the divider between soldier and citizen skills is more ornate. His starting HP is also two points lower, and his Adept skill costs 5 fewer points of capacity, than in the final game.

(Source: Jeux France, via RPGamer)

January 2005?

This collection of screenshots appears to be from an unidentified promo reel for the game, which seems to demonstrate a separate build from any of the others seen. The source is probably older than the article from which the screenshots came, but unfortunately there's no attribution on the only surviving copies of the screenshots so there's no way to know for sure.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 1-2005 combat ike.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final combat ike.png

The HP bar windows for battle scenes were more elaborate at this point, resembling the ones from Radiant Dawn. Notably, at this point they actually bothered to include damage/hit/crit stats in battle scenes, something conspicuously absent from the final version; Path of Radiance is the only Fire Emblem game which didn't see fit to show that important information in battle scenes at all.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 1-2005 combat ike anim off.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final combat ike anim off.png

Battle scenes in map animation mode had a matching set of HP windows, of course.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 1-2005 levelup.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final levelup.png

The level-up screen also had a simpler design at this point.

(Source: RPGamer)

March 2005

Being only a month out from release, almost everything seen in screenshots from this point is as it is in the finished game. Almost.

Pre-release Final
Fire Emblem PoR pre 3-2005 combat soren.jpg Fire Emblem PoR pre final combat soren.png

The icon for Soren's Elwind tome isn't complete yet and uses a plain-looking placeholder tome icon, Elwind's animation is much less bright, and the enemy myrmidon is wearing the generic red colors rather than the specific orange "disguised affiliation" colors used in Chapter 13, the only chapter set on a boat where myrmidons appear. The different-looking HP numbers from the November Nintendo Dream screenshots are also still here.

(Source: IGN, via RPGamer)

References

  1. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn Developer Interview - Nintendo Dream April 2007 (translated by Serenes Forest)
  2. Fire Emblem to GameCube - IGN, April 2 2004
  3. Fire Emblem sur GameCube - GameKult, April 2 2004
  4. E3 2004 (Concept) - Giant Bomb
  5. Cubism Vol. 76: Sick Day - IGN, June 18 2004
  6. Hands On: Fire Emblem - IGN, November 4 2004
  7. ファイアーエムブレム 蒼炎の軌跡 - Nintendo World Touch! DS, 2004
  8. Nintendo E3 2005 Press Conference - YouTube, June 28 2012
  9. E3 Impression: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - RPGamer, May 20-21 2005