Saturday, October 8, 2016

Below the Cut: Gemfire (NES, SNES, Genesis)

(Source: GameFAQs)
Gemfire - Rating(6 RPP)
1) 2 - Character Advancement: practice/experience based advancement, stat or level increases, multiple classes or characters, customize characters
2) 1 - Combat: character stats used for combat, additional combat options, turn based
3) 0 - Items and Equipment: store to buy and sell, equipment decisions, item decisions
4) 1 - Story: main story at the forefront; world full of hints and lore; descriptions for objects, people, and places
5) 2 - Exploration: open world from the beginning, visited locations remain open
6) 0 - Quests and Puzzles: side quests not related to the main quest, puzzles and riddles to solve

It's well known that D&D has its roots in war gaming. So, it's understandable when a strategy game includes set characters, stats, and improvements that some might tend to call it an RPG. However, these characters are rarely influential to the story. In the case of Gemfire, a small country is at strife. The play selects a family to control as well as a scenario, which dictates how many territories are under the family's control from the start. As with most KOEI games, the player improves each land and conscripts armies to gain more land. The ultimate goal is conquest.

Characters lack advancement options. A land's stats can increase, so I gave it a point for that. Different families have different special units, but there's no customization. Character and land stats don't influence turn based combat as it's the armies that do battle. There's no store, items, or equipment.

The plot doesn't progress during the game. The entire world is rather small; however, it is fully accessible from the beginning. There are no additional quests or puzzles to solve.

It's a fine game, and on the shorter side compared to other KOEI strategy games. We'll have to wait until Dragon Force to get closer to a true strategy-RPG, although Langrisser did well. On paper, strategy games seem to fit neatly in as a hybrid of RPGs; however, there are so very few of them that accomplish full integration. Now, I glossed over a lot of details, and may have missed some aspects as I didn't play it. So, if any of this is misinformation, or there are missing details that might tilt the scale, do speak up.


  1. "So, if any of this is misinformation, or there are missing details that might tilt the scale"

    Naah, you've pretty much got it. As you say, it's a fine game (though the AI is a bit pathetic in battle), but while it's got some RPG elements, it's clearly much more of a strategy/sim/wargame than an RPG.

    1. Sad to hear that the AI isn't very challenging. A strategy game that doesn't have much of a challenge isn't really worth much.

  2. You can occasionally find magical items when using the 'Explore' command. They will boost one of a character's statistics, though its not a game-changer.

    Gemfire (Royal Blood in Japan) did receive a Japan-exclusive sequel, but so far as I know it never received a fan-translation. I'd be interested in playing it, if that ever gets done.

    Also, different families may have one of the Gemstones, which provide different wizards in battle, but there is a large pool of "common" mercenary units available to all the families in the wizards' place (the '5th Unit' slot). Should a family fall, their Gemstone is captured and usable by the victor, its not particularly specific to the family itself.

    1. Oh, I didn't realize there were items. It reminds me a bit of Dragon Force, which we'll see in a few years on the Sega Saturn.

  3. The NES version retailed for $80-90 when it came out! Loved this game to death, but not enough for my parents to spend that much on it.