The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Binding Blade

by Melth

Part 36

Kind of an odd title. I mean, Zephiel’s dream totally DOES end here, no matter what. Even if you don’t get the true ending, in fact. He completely lost the war long ago and now stands no chance whatsoever of ever accomplishing what he wanted.

Anyway, this is the final chapter of the game unless you knew how to unlock every single sidequest. And that’s one of the stupidest things about FE6. On the other hand, this is actually a pretty good chapter for this game.

Chapter Summary:
Roy crushes Zephiel in one final battle at Bern’s castle- except Zephiel sends away his last general with the Dark Dragon to continue his plans. They don’t. And Roy goes after them anyway, guided by the legendary weapons.

As you can see, we apparently went WAY out of our path to go to the Shrine of Seals (which I’m pretty sure is in a different place in FE7). Why was Bern’s whole army stationed there rather than somewhere fortified on the border? And if Roy didn’t actually even plan on taking the Sword of Seals, why did he lead us there?

Many Fire Emblem games- FE9 in particular- try to play this kind of moment up as really dramatic and dangerous when in fact the climax of the generic FE plot came long ago and the villain hasn’t had a chance for many chapters now. This game is one of the worst offenders in that regard. At least in FE9 there was still the danger of activating the medallion if the war went on too long and in FE8 there were like 5 minutes until the Demon King returned at full power. In this game there’s no time pressure of any kind. The war is over, Bern has been crushed, and the threat of the dragons has also been ended (insofar as they even were much of one to begin with). The story is basically over but they’re trying to write like we’re just now getting to the most exciting part.

Remember Brenya? Of course not! She hasn’t done anything since chapter 3. And in fact she didn’t do anything there. The whole plot thread where she doesn’t trust Idoun is dropped immediately and never mentioned again. Not even now when it would be totally appropriate to bring it up again!

What even happened to her whole army? Did she just misplace them somewhere and forget them like Narshen did? Maybe we’re supposed to think the Etrurians fought them offscreen? If so, they really should have mentioned how that campaign was going while we were fighting through Ilia. It WOULD explain how Yodel suddenly appeared with Miurgre.

This is pretty much the only plot twist in the game; you probably expected to fight Idoun right after Zephiel and maybe Brenya as a miniboss. Or maaaybe for Zephiel to run with Idoun and leave Brenya to fight like most FE villains do. Come to think of it, why DOESN’T he do that? It’s not as if Roy would just stop looking for the source of the dragons after defeating Zephiel. That would just be silly.

This would be a great point for Brenya, who never liked Idoun or understood why Zephiel was keeping her around, to demand some kind of explanation before abandoning him. If the writers remembered anything they said previously anyway.

That might be more ominous if she ever did, or was capable of doing, anything significant. Over the course of the game we’ve fought maybe 10 dragons and they were pretty much all pushovers. Idoun would be no threat at all without all of Bern backing her up. And sure enough, if you don’t get the true ending, then she apparently never does anything ever again and is just forgotten.

Who the heck are you talking to? We’re not even in the castle, let alone near the switch you’re guarding!

You could do that. Or maybe you could try to stop us at the walls or the gate.

Merlinus knows something! Apparently he knows all about this secret means to open the throne rom of Bern.

Ultimately, this switch gimmick affects nothing. It just means you have to sweep out the treasure rooms and kill all the enemies. Like you always do anyway.

Ok, better idea. What if we just walk away? The ONLY way to open the doors to where Zephiel is is to use those two switches and then the Fire Emblem. If we leave, it is completely impossible for him and his guards to escape, so he’ll starve to death. This is the worst castle ever.

Unless of course he could leave by the reinforcement stairs in that room. But if that works, then we could surely enter by those stairs from elsewhere. Either way it’s dumb.

I kind of feel like they switched the dialog in this conversation. Roy is playing Merlinus's part.

Battle Preparations & the Map:

Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the turn 15 thief
Secondary Objective: Steal the Hero Crest from Zephiel
Secondary Objective: Get the Sleep Staff from the left top chest
Secondary Objective: Get the White Gem from the left middle chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Nosferatu from the left bottom chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Wyrmslayer from the right top chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Dragon Shield from the right middle chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Swordreaver from the right botom chest (Pretty awesome loot here)
Reinforcements: Almost infinite, actually. Bishops wielding status staves will spawn every 5 turns in the top middle, so don’t even try to crowd control them. Then there’s a single thief on the left on turn 15 (and Cath on the right if you don’t have her). Once you open Zephiel’s door, powerful troops spawn in one wave in the bottom left and bottom right start zones. And heroes, berserkers, snipers, and druids spawn out of the stairs in Zephiel’s room every 3 turns or so. The reinforcements might end on turn 50 or something, but for all practical purposes they go on forever. The throne room ones can be pretty dangerous since they can easily focus fire you while you’re fighting Zephiel or his minions.
Turn Limit: 25. That limit is fairly tight if you play conventionally due to the spread out nature of your objectives and how you can’t really rush Zephiel even after you finally open his door.

Like chapter 6 and Pale Flower of Darkness, this map has a hidden room. I’ve got a map for that too, but first I’ll talk about this outside stuff. First of all, the map is pretty tangled up with walls and pretty large. But for this game, it’s really not that big and doesn’t take THAT long to walk around. Any possible epic feel is lost because they’re been wasting time with enormous maps all game long. Plus the music is the same inappropriately cheery, start of the game type stuff as last chapter.

The most unusual thing about this chapter is how you open Zephiel’s door. Kind of like in Blood of Pride in the prequel, you have to have units step on multiple separate switches before it will open. But that’s not enough. You ALSO have to have Roy walk in front of the door after doing that and then either use the Sword of Seals (which heals him, costs a charge, and can only be done if he’s injured), or just equip it and wait there. If you don’t know about that option, it can be quite confusing.

It’s important to notice that the map is asymmetrical. The left contingent is significantly smaller and only the right group has easy access to the boss chamber. Furthermore, the left group has a much longer path to take to get to their switch. The upshot is that the left group is the limiting factor for your speed- if you play conventionally anyway.

Reinforcements play very little role in this map until the door is opened- though the more or less endless supply of staff bishops in inaccessible spots can be a minor nuisance if you have people stationed in the wrong area.

So what you see is what you get, really. There’s a lot of strong enemies on this chapter but they’re fairly spread out. The only really dangerous staff user is the Berserk druid in the box.

Then there’s the throne room, which is full of terrible surprises. First, the enemies are in a good formation such that you can’t safely take them on on the turn you open it. Second, Zephiel has a steal-only Hero Crest. Why? There is nothing else you must steal on the whole chapter except one lockpick and there’s absolutely no reason to bring a thief into the middle area when the chests are on the right and left. What a nuisance of a surprise. Third, a serious wave of reinforcements will pop up in your start zones. And fourth, very powerful reinforcements come out of the stairs in a pattern people seem a bit unsure about. Maybe it’s every 3rd turn after you open the door?

Other than that, there’s nothing going on here that we haven’t seen many times before (Speaking of such things, you can actually recruit Cath on this chapter if you haven’t already. What a uselessly late join time).

POOF! When you start the chapter, a whole bunch of enemies who were not on the map during battle preparations immediately spawn, possibly forcing you to rethink a bunch of stuff and restart. This sort of nonsense showed up on chapter 21 too (and actually with one brigand on 19x in HHM for some reason).

Now who to bring?

This is it. There are no more people below level 16 or so. Noah and Fa are both up near there themselves and Wolt and Barth are about level 12 too. Only Wendy and Bors and Ward are truly low level. I am now scraping the very bottom of the barrel as I try to keep pulling down tons of XP.

Units Allowed: 15 + Roy. A comfortable number even for a map where you have 2 groups.
Units Brought:
1) Roy. FINALLY promoted and available! Roy has not only promoted but also has the Prf Sword of Seals, which is a fairly awesome weapon. Of course, it only has 20 charges and you must save some for the final boss to get the true ending. Guess what? He’s still bad. He can’t double anything and does maybe 30% of enemy health with the Sword of Seals. And he’s still fragile. He’s much easier to train than he was before, but he’s still a terrible unit.
2) Alan. Alan and Lance are now actually 2 of my lowest-level units so it makes sense to bring them for XP. Plus paladins love these big indoor maps where they can suddenly be as good as flyers. And now that Roy is finally coming back onto the field in a serious way, their support bonuses are good again.
3) Lance. Like Alan but worse.
4) Miledy. One of my strongest units, and as usual her 8 move is very handy. I’ll want to do a lot of rescue drops, so I’m bringing a lot of mounted units.
5) Zeiss. Now stronger than Miledy, making him my second best character after Lilina. Only he has the stats to pull off the dangerous mission of shredding the bottom units alone.
6) Lilina. I don’t want to use her in combat since she’s so high level, but she remains a great backup when something goes wrong. Plus she’s the best wielder of Bolting available, and I bought a pile of them last chapter for a reason.
7) Hugh. Might actually be able to edge out Zeiss for the honor of being my second best unit due to truly phenomenal defenses on a mage. Hugh will be the right group’s main magical fighter and will back Lilina up on healing.
8) Oujay. I’d like to keep building his support with Lilina. Plus he’s at this great level of damage now where he leaves most enemies alive with 1-3 HP when using a weak weapon, which makes him very handy for training…
9) Bors. Bors is my second-lowest level unit (Wendy is 2 levels lower) and the only truly low level person who’s trainable (Wendy cannot do so much as scratch damage to any enemy on this chapter with any weapon she can wield, meanwhile Ward will be running 10% hit odds against the easiest prey). It will be tough, but I believe I can feed him at least one of the nearby mercenaries and perhaps another too.
10) Clarine. Mostly here to use the advanced staves like Warp, Physic, etc. However, she’s very low level, so I might use her in battle a bit too. And of course she’s a mounted unit, which is also handy.
11) Shin. Shin is actually the strongest unit on the left, which is something of a problem since he’s only moderately good. The trouble is that due to support groups and certain people I need for certain missions, I couldn’t really put many better people here.
12) Lugh. He’s no Lilina or Hugh, but being a magic user makes him a top notch unit.
13) Ray. He’s no Lugh, but each side needs at least 2 healers and maybe they can get some support.
14) Noah. I can’t put someone truly pitiful like Bors on the left side because I don’t have enough strong people there to baby him. I need someone like Noah who’s only pretty bad instead.
15) Cath. She’s not far from level 20 and I think I see enough opportunities to train both her and Noah up. Plus there’s a lockpick I want to steal.
16) Lalum. The left group needs to walk further, train more, and use weaker people to defeat the enemy. They definitely need Lalum more than the right people.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Chad and Astol. Level 20 and I have plenty of chest keys.
2) Fa. I kind of wanted to bring her out, but she’s low on weapon uses, required on the last chapters, and will get more XP there anyway. Plus her bad movement hurts here.
3) Wendy. Untrainable, she can’t scratch anything.
4) Ward. Untrainable, he can’t hit anything (and he’s higher level than Bors).
5) Dorothy. She’s now quite high level actually.
6) Wolt. Much higher level than Bors, otherwise I’d have brought him instead.
7) Tate. There are too many snipers around, so air units are pretty much strictly worse than cavalry here.
8) Thany. Barely capable of holding her own at the best of times due to poor Str and Def (despite being blessed in those stats).
9) Niime. Totally useless, as usual. Clarine is way better at warping and physicing on this chapter because even she has enough Mag to reach and she can move much faster and not waste XP.

Now before beginning this chapter I didn’t actually know about Zephiel’s hero crest or the starting zone reinforcements, so I didn’t really plan for them. By the time I found out, I really did not feel like restarting when it had been so boring already and I was so far in. So that’s why Cath isn’t on the right side, among other things.

Most people are still loaded up with the best gear they can carry (plus javelins and handaxes). I didn’t really know who would be getting the chests, so there are several sets of chest keys being traded around as I change my plans.

Lugh has Forblaze because the left side needs it more than the right. Maltet isn’t in play since it’s nearly broken and I’d rather use Hammerne on something better. Other than that, the legendary weapons are in the hands of the usual suspects.

Every mage has one or more Boltings since those are very handy here. Clarine has Warp, Miledy is holding onto a spare Restore for her to use later, and Lilina has the Hammerne.

The Delphi Shield went to Zeiss since he’s going to need to face more sniper attacks than Miledy.

The Characters:

Well, here’s the main villain and the architect of everything bad that ever happened in Elibe for the last 15 years. He’s perhaps the biggest jerk in history since at least Nergal had the excuse of being under the control of dark magic that ate his brain. And Zephiel turned out this way despite having a lot of pretty great role models around and apparently being totally cool in the prequel. Anyway his whole personality consists of nothing but hating humans because he thinks they’re jerks like him when they’re not. He’s one of the least engaging generic warlord villains in the series, and that’s saying a lot.

I think there are 4 things that make a great villain: threat, vileness, charisma, and understandability. What made Sonia and Nergal so successful in my eyes was that they had all 4.

A great villain needs to be a threat; victory over them needs to feel uncertain. Sonia and Nergal beat the heroes soundly on several occasions and at least held their own otherwise, plus they completely crushed or manipulated numerous other characters. They were competent enough that beating them meant something.

A great villain needs to be odious. The player should viscerally want to defeat them. So Nergal snatched Elbert away from you after more than 10 chapters of trying to save him, trollishly showed up to mock Eliwood when he accidentally killed Ninian, etc. Sonia murdered sympathetic characters left and right and delighted in abusing Nino. They were easy to hate.

But at the same time, a great villain needs to be interesting and fun enough that the player doesn’t want them to just go away. Sonia and Nergal were always teleporting around, doing and saying awesome stuff. Nergal had a stylin’ outfit, both of them were clever, etc. They were cool characters, so one didn’t begrudge them their screen time.

And finally, they were human and understandable. Not sympathetic, but they had motives and backgrounds that made some sense. Nergal in particular had a lot of pathos to his story, particularly in that he didn’t even know who he was.

Lyon and the Demon King together have all of these key traits even though they lack many of them individually. They were the best part of FE8 in my opinion, they were what gave life to an otherwise dull story.

The Black Knight certainly had threat and charisma and vileness (especially in FE9), but he kind of fell apart on the human dimension because of how totally different his personality was between games and a lot of what he did never actually made sense in hindsight. Ashnard was kind of a failure across the board because he had terrible, stupid strategies, never did anything after attacking Crimea, looked stupid and said stupid things, and was just crazy and inconsistent with no real motives other than being generically evil. I guess he could maybe get a bit of credit for vile, but not much.

Zephiel is kind of like Ashnard, but even more clearly non-threatening and less understandable if anything. Ashnard sat around doing nothing. Zephiel runs around directly sabotaging his own cause left and right while going on about how important it is that he not fail. He’s just kind of rude to Hector in one scene and sort of vaguely petty and arrogant otherwise, but he lacks the sort of visceral hateability that better villains have. And he has like 4 lines in the game, one of them so cliché that he himself mocks it. No charisma, no coolness. He doesn’t do or say anything interesting. And then the worst part is his ridiculous motive. His dad was almost as much of a jerk as he is, so he decided to murder everyone in the world and hand control over to a species that’s even worse. Even in this game it’s clear that he had a lot of great people in his life, and FE7 makes it even worse (assuming you take FE7 and FE6 as both canon in the same continuity, which I have argued doesn’t really make sense), so it just doesn’t make much sense for him to be such a misanthrope.

There are many ways FE6’s story sucks, but that Zephiel is a lousy villain is a prominent one of them.

Look at that darned hero crest! If you want that, you pretty much will have to restart the chapter after already beating it since there’s no indication he’ll have one and there’s no reason to bring thieves anywhere near him.

Zephiel is finally here to stay (THIS would be a chapter where it makes sense for him to walk away from us, but I guess he got that out of his system on chapters 3 and 13). Anyway, his stats were only moderately impressive on chapter 13 and they aren’t better now, so he’s really easy to kill. For that matter, Murdock was almost strictly better. His guards are the real threat.

Also he’s apparently huge, despite no one remarking on his stature. And despite being tiny in the prequel?

Oh and his legendary weapon, besides not being that good, is really silly. It’s some kind of giant, ornamental staff thing the size of a person that mechanically transforms itself into a sword somehow.