Fire Emblem Genealogy of the Holy War Link Arena V0.9.3

Inspired by Mekkah’s Link Arena battle videos, I decided to undertake the task of porting FE4 characters and mechanics into the GBA Engine for Link Arena battles. This has been one of my biggest projects and i’m excited to share it.

FE4 Link Arena.emulator_01FE4 Link Arena.emulator_04
FE4 Link Arena.emulator_03FE4 Link Arena.emulator_05

What all have you done?

What I have done is ported most of FE4’s mechanics and characters over to the GBA engine so that people can play Link Arena battles with each other. All the characters from Gen 1, Gen 2 as well as substitutes, enemies and NPC’s from the game are able to be played in a Link Arena style format. Every weapon (excluding staves) and item from FE4 have also been added with their FE4 stats. The hack uses a variety of patches such as the Skill System to mimic FE4 as much as possible.

Skill System? Doesn't that break the Link Arena?

Yes and No. While the glitch where your screen turns black whenever you check your units status is fixed, the multiplayer function of the Link Arena will not work as the game will hang after making an attack. The Practice mode of the Link Arena does work although there is a bug where your characters skills will get reduced if you reset the game after making a team. I hope that this isn’t too disappointing to everyone and I hope my faux Link Arena will still be as enjoyable as the real thing.

FE4 is a really unbalanced game. This couldn't possibly work well in an Arena style format.

While I think this is true to an extent, I think players can find ways for teams to be balanced to an extent. Hopefully by having over 60 characters to choose from, some creative combinations can be had so that people will have fun.

How do Child units work?

It is not possible to have every iteration of the child units in the hack, so i had to make a decision on which specific version of each child to implement. As a result, I decided to go with “Canonical” pairings. Below are the pairings I have chosen for child units.

  • Dierdre x Sigurd
  • Ethlyn x Quan
  • Aideen x Midir (I know the manga does it differently idc)
  • Ayra x Lex
  • Sylvia x Claude
  • Erin x Lewyn
  • Tailtu x Azel
  • Brigid x Dew
  • Lachesis x Beowolf
  • Brave Lance x Finn
How do Holy Weapons Work?

In FE4, there is Major and Minor Holy Blood. What I have decided to do is that if a character has either Major or Minor Holy Blood, they would be allowed to use their respective Weapon. For Example, Oifey is allowed to use the Tyrfang, Azel is allowed to use Valflame, and Arden is allowed to use everything. However, you can decide amongst the people you are playing with on what you are and are not allowed to use in the arena.

What currently works?

Almost everything actually. It was through the monstrous help of the amazing people both here and the FEU Discord that these things got added. Here is a (incomplete) summary of the changes made to FE8 to make it play like FE4

  • Skills
  • Critical: This one was very interesting to implement but I was successful! There is a patch that removes Skill from the critical formula. However using the “Critical Charge” skill (Renamed Critical) overwrites this change in a weird way, and actually only factors in Skill% into the critical equation rather than (Skill*1.5)%. Since a skill is required for a critical to happen, this means nihil blocks both critical and skills just like in FE4. The bonus from S-Rank weapons have also been removed.
  • Astra: A patch was used so that Asta’s 5 hits are all at full damage rather than half
  • Nihil - It has now been fixed and does not cancel non-sword skills
  • Wrath: A patch was used so that you are guaranteed to crit just like in FE4. It also procs middle battle (Thanks Contro!)
  • Charm/Charisma
  • Vantage
  • Luna
  • Sol
  • Pursuit: Yes pursuit has been added in all of its controversial glory! (Thanks Contro!)
  • Pavise: Proc rate was changed to level% just like in FE4
  • Adept: Proc rate was changed to AS+20% just like in FE4! (Thanks Contro and Vesly!)
  • Other FE4 skills have been added but serve no purpose in the context of the arena. (Except for two skills which we will get to in a moment.)
  • (+/-20%) Weapon Triangle
  • Full Magic Triangle: There is a patch that allows a full weapon triangle to be used just like in FE4, but sadly it does not work with the Skill System. So I just recreated it by using monster weapons. And Like FE4, Light and Dark are neutral to each other while having an advantage to all other forms of magic.
  • Holy Weapons: See the Holy weapons section.
  • Unit Levels do not reset upon promotion, although an item still has to be used to promote.
  • Max Level is 30.
  • Constitution is set to 0 for all characters to mimic FE4’s AS formula.
  • Max HP is set to 80 and all other stats reflect their FE4 counterparts.
  • Single RN instead of 2RN just like in FE4.
  • Luck has been removed the Hit formula.
  • Luck has been removed from the Crit Avoid formula.
  • Rings have also been added that have skills and give stat bonuses, although not all of them serve a purpose.
  • The SNES critical formula has been added.
  • The effective weapon formula has been added. (Although with a caveat. See Caveat section)
  • all of FE4’s map sprites have been added for true authenticity! (Hand ripped by me.)
What doesn't work as of now?

Only 2 major things and a few really minor ones, although the severity of these things truthfully depends on the person.

  • Miracle: The skill is in the game and can be used, but it functions completely differently. Instead of the +10% avoid per HP below 11, this variation always allows the user to survive a hit above 50%. I don’t think this is a deal breaker as in the context of the “Link Arena”, I think it works out pretty well.
  • Accost: This is a skill i know people have been trying to make for quite some time. I do not know if it will ever get added. To combat the lack of this skill, skill scrolls can be purchased and given to any characters. If you feel like characters like Jaholva need a buff, out a scroll on him. If there is a similar skill that would be a good substitute, let me know.
    +Minimum damage of 1HP.
    +The first proc of Astra will always do half damage instead of full. Probably won’t matter as it will most likely kill anyways.
    +Adept and sword skills may still proc together… I think?
What are the caveats?

Aside from the fact that the true Link Arena functionality is borked, there are a few small caveats that you need to be aware of for things to work.
-Canto/Remove: In order for the faux Link Arena to work, EVERY unit will need canto in order to move back to their initial starting position after making an attack. If they do not have it, the Arena WILL BREAK. Canto/Remove skill scrolls can be purchased and placed on any unit who does not have that skill. Most Swordmasters, Heroes, and Myrmidons will not have Canto so it will need to be bought.
-Weapon Effectiveness: Most characters have a hidden skill on them called “Effective.” This skill is needed in order to make sure effective weapon (Bows, Wing Clipper, Armor Slayer, and Horse Slayer) work properly. If it is removed, the weapon will NOT work and I advise you not to use them.
-A new Skill has been added that forces mages to attack at one range but they are still able to counter at 2 range. This is to enforce the idea that you are still supposed to play this like a normal Link Arena, although two range swords, axes, and lances are unaffected. Still, attack at 1 range unless it is with a bow!!!
-Larcei and Ulster: The Sword twins have a lot of skills… like too many. In order for them to be used, they will need Canto, however they must give up one of their skills. For Larcei, TWO skills will need to be replaced. My recommendation is to give up “Effective” and “Paragon” as the latter is useless and the former isn’t as useful as the other skills.
-Lightning: because of monster weapons work, any character that can use them can use them unless it is weapon locked. For the case of Lachesis and Lewyn, they are able to use Lightning while not promoted. Not a big deal but I thought I would mention it.
-Hel: It sadly does not reduce HP to 1.
-Seige Tomes: Don’t use them… Don’t do it.
-Status Swords: Yes, they are in the game. No, you shouldn’t use them.
-Equipping weapons: While the ability to equip weapons have been disabled, you scan still equip weapons by checking damage on enemy with that weapon. While it is tedious, if you choose to not attack an enemy with a certain character, make sure that character re-equips his original weapon.

What will never work?

There are mechanics in FE4 that are not needed or even intended to be used in an Arena style format.

  • Steal: No need to steal
  • Dance: Due to how I set up the faux Link Arena, you will never even be given the opportunity to Dance for a fellow unit.
  • Staves: Staves do not work in the normal GBA Link Arena so i did not bother porting over FE4’s staves.
  • FE4 Rings: There are some FE4 Rings like Renewal and Return which i DO NOT plan on getting to work as healing in the arena is against the spirit of the original GBA Link Arena.
  • Battle Animations: This is way to big of a task for me and i will not even attempt it. I am using many animations from the FEU Repo and I am grateful that so many people allow others to use their amazing animations.
    -Battle palettes are borked but I am working on getting semi-accurate palettes installed.
  • Sibling/Marriage Bonus

Download Patch: (Updated 2022/06/03)
FE4 Link Arena Patch 9.2.1
FE4 Link Arena Patch 9.3

How to play!

At the start of the game you will be asked if you want to play with only Gen 1 characters, or with Gen 2 and extra characters. To recruit these extra characters, simply talk to them. The characters come equipped with what they start with in game. However, you can purchase any additional items from the various shops and armories. One other thing you may notice is some characters have Canto while others do not. Every unit MUST have Canto for the Arena to work. They can be purchased from a shop in game. There are shops which sell stat boosters, Skills, every FE4 item, and FE4 weapon. To the right of the starting units is a stretch of tiles that you can use to level up your units to whatever level you wish. Their growths reflect their growths from FE4. Although some extra units like Arion and Manya have custom growths as growth data does not exist for them. They also come with a master seal to promote them. And like FE4, their level caps at 30. Once you have all the units you want to use ready, head to the escape point at the top of the map. If you would like to save your all your setup so that you do not have to do it again, end your turn on the most western path to head to “Battle Preparations II.”


When you reach the next chapter, you will be able to select from 20 characters to occupy the 20 units that you would normally see in a traditionally Link Arena battle. There are 4 teams, ‘A’ through ‘D’. Sort every unit around the 20 spots till everyone is on their respective teams. When everyone is sorted, hit start. I should note that you can still play with either 2 or 3 people.


From here, the game will play exactly like the link arena although with a few things to note. Choose which character you are going to attack with and move him to an enemy team’s unit. if you are a bow user, you can attack from two spaces away, but if you are a sword, lance, or axe user, then you need to attack up-close. If you are a magic user, then anyone you fight MUST have the ability to counter attack. In addition choosing to attack someone and selecting a weapon will equip that weapon. In the normal link arena, this does not happen and the weapon you previously successfully attack with will be equipped. If you do not decided to attack with a certain you, please re-equip their previous weapon. There is no way to force this so you will have to use the honor system. After attacking, Canto+ will activate you will need to move back to your starting position. From there, end your move, and your turn will end automatically. The next player will then have the opportunity to take their turn.

When you attack a unit, make sure you move out to the middle section first. DO NOT ATTACK FROM YOUR STARTING POSITION.

How to play Online!

[Ignore all of this if you use Parsec to share screens.]

As mentioned above, due to the “hacky” way in which i tried to implement the arena using the Skill System patch, you are unable to link several GBA’s together using emulators like mGBA and VBA, or the actual hardware itself using a flashcard. My method around this is to use the recently released Steam version of RetroArch.
Step 1) Have the host download and install RetroArch on their computer. You will need around 400MB of storage.
Step 2) Have the host launch RetroArch from Steam and navigate to Main Menu → Manage Cores. Select the mGBA core and then select “Install Core”
Step 3) When the core is finished installing, back all the way to the main menu, select “Load Core,” and scroll down and select the mGBA core we just installed. This will bring you back to the main menu.
Step 4) In the Main Menu, select “Load Content” and navigate to the rom file you want to load, which in this case the FE4 Link Arena. Select the ROM and it will boot.
Step 5) When the game is running and you can see the Fire Emblem logo, on your keyboard, hit “Shift+Tab” to bring up the Steam Overlay. Scroll down to your friends list, right click on the user you would like to invite, and the select the option “Remote Play Together.” An invite will be sent to the recipient.
Step 6) On the Non-Host’s computers, in Steam, you should have received an invite to play RetroArch from the Host in chat. In the chat window, select “Play Game”
Step 7) For the Non-Hosts, select your input device, whether it be a controller or keyboard, but do not select what player you want to be, just select your input device.
Step 8) Minimize the Steam Overlay and you should now be given the option to play. Click on “Let’s Go!” in a moment, you should be viewing the Host’s screen and should have the ability to make inputs. All players share the same controller, so whenever it is your turn to attack, you may enter inputs.


Going through testing there are a couple things i think are worth noting or suggesting.
-Sword Twins are broken: They are honestly way to powerful in the Link Arena. Vantage is just broken on some characters so make sure you pick an archer to deal with them.
-There are many ways to set up your team composition. here are a few suggestions: Gen 1 only, Gen 2 only, Combined Generations, Completely random Unit Selections, Choose from every unit, have every player use at least one Gen 1, Gen 2, Substitute, and Bonus unit.
-Here is a link to FEA to receive the character averages for FE4.
-Try playing with characters at not just level 30, but level 20 as well.
-I have added a shop that sells Holy Weapons with both 1/2 bonus stats and NO bonus stats. Try that out if you feel like they are too broken. This may be the best way to get that authentic Link Arena experience.
-Try limiting the amount of Holy Blood Users on a team to 1 or 2, or just go wild.
-Try letting minor Holy Blood users use a holy weapon to spice things up.
-Promote Arden

And that’s it. Thank you for reading this far. This has been a ton of work and I still have so much work to do from both a mechanical and graphical standpoint. I don’t need a team of people, but any minor contribution from anyone to help more closely match FE4’s mechanics would be amazing because as of now, I lack the ability/knowledge to 100% this project. I do not think that most of the remaining changes are out of the realm of possibility, just out of my current skill set.

Also I have made all the assets I have ripped or created available for anyone to use as a way to give back to this awesome community.
Download Assets: FE4 Link Arena Assets


-Fixed Tornado not having the correct weapon weight
-Fixed Beowulf and Delmund not having Promotion gains
-Fixed Arthur not having the correct weapon ranks. (Although now Azel has an A in thunder when promoted)
-Added ability to remove skills from character by adding blank skills. (End unit’s movement at coordinate 7x5)

-Burion no longer uses the female version of the Master Knight.
-Generals now have Bow animations.
-Tomes can no longer INITIATE combat at 2 range but can still COUNTER ATTACK at two range.
-Nihil no longer blocks non-sword based skills. Which means Pursuit, Pavise, Miracle, ect, will now work as intended.
-The “Effective” skill now has an appropriate skill icon along with the new “TomeCounter” skill.


this is very cool

Version 0.9.3 is here.
It fixes a few major issues like Pursuit and Nihil not working as intended.

did the link arena assets get deleted?

Any plans to do this for another game like Thracia 776?