Fire Emblem: The Lonely Mirror (New FE8 ROM Hack)

#9

So I just completed a run on normal through the hack thus far, and I have to say- tremendous work. There is a lot of quality and care put into this, and I look forward to the future of this project.

Having said that, I’ve got a bullet points here as far as good and bad

  • Objective variety: I like how each chapter is approached slightly differently and has their own hook. Beyond even that not every map is sieze, they all even have their own approach to the maps. In particular I dig the paralogue where you are not only rushing for villages on a (admittedly generous) turn count, you also have to strategize with only two characters with fairly limited kit
  • Plot: The story, the writing, and motivation are all great spins on a very IS style plot. I like the novelty of the bandits only being a sub-plot after the ball gets rolling on the main storyline, the threads to pull you into the magical portion of the story are well planted and lead in interesting directions, and the current cliffhanger leaves me looking forward to the next chunk of story
    +Map Design: I can not give you enough praise for design in each chapter. Every map had a good feel and hook, invited creative play, and was balanced for both offensive and defensive play, as well as thinking on your toes. My only real gripe is that treasure and gear progression feels somewhat sparse, but that’s it’s own point overall
    +/- Characters and Classes - I’m conflicted on this one. On the one hand, every character feels unique, and indeed, no two characters on your side share a class (with one exception) and stand apart enough in growths, design, and stats to make each character usable. Having said that, some feel more usable then others. Both caden and liaden more or less obsolete Winifred, unless you just prefer female sniper bases and the cain/abel seems fairly stacked in favor of the cain (vergil) this time around, with great base defense and solid axes in an enemy roster less balanced toward swords. Kudos for side-stepping the Jaigen pretty neatly. I walked away ending up liking Joseph and Miles, and am curious to see how everyone plays closer to endgame
    -Loot and gear progression: to give credit, the vendor/armories are placed at appropriate points in progression, and much of the gear and gems gained thus far are excellent additions and well timed. Giving the lord a magic sword instead of a rapier is actually fairly clever and further differentiates leah and boone as to how they can address fights. I only consider this a negative because
  1. there is no opportunity for promotion- I understand this is a design decision, and perhaps you aren’t yet ready with class balance or progression yet to pen that can of worms, and the one promotion item feels appropriate in timing in both plot and gameplay (it seemed naturally appropriate to give it to caden, as my highest level character and a symbolic gesture of him taking the throne [spoilers]). Beyond that one chance, with a decent variety of choices, there are still roughly 10 characters that don’t get a chance to mix things up or get buffs to stats that need a boost
  2. Magic weapons vs res - this isn’t a hard critism against magic. I like the shining bow, and having a magic sword early opens up a lot of tactical opportunities, but neither seem especially well balanced against roughly 60% of what your army stands up against; ironically, this seems to swing both ways, to an extent, as the number of dark mages and their triangle advantage against every mage you get, as well as the relative might of thunder mages asgainst everyone but Joseph, makes near every enemy mage a landmine you play around
  3. misc- there seems to be too few chests, with underwhelming loot, knives feel underpowered compared to swords, and the lack of any gear above C rank hurts the later third-sh of the game

All and all, I enjoyed this hack thuroughly. If Lael were a light magic user to counter dark mages, that would help mitigate the relative power of dark mages. Otherwise, Great maps I love, a good cast of heroes, and a solid plot that leaves me wanting more. Great work!

#10

Alright, always good to see new hacks! Especially an initial release with such a large number of chapters!
For now, here’s my feedback on the Prologue through Chapter 2. I’m playing on Normal.

Prologue:

  • A pretty standard prologue chapter. I think I may have actually beaten it without getting hit.
  • I find it a bit strange that Espen tells Leah to run as the Celyste army approaches after having tried to kill her earlier.

Chapter 1:

  • I’m only a couple chapters in and Leah is already not doing well. She gets two-rounded by most enemies she tries to fight and has not gained a single point of Pow. She can’t even hurt the boss! Have you considered giving her a Rapier?
  • Kathryn is a typical healbot, nothing special.
  • Grant is probably my favorite so far. I just have a big soft spot for Knights and Generals.
  • Vergil might be decent, but I don’t think I would’ve given him a Steel Axe yet. His hit rates suck with it against anything that doesn’t wield Lances and that low Skl growth rate isn’t going to help. I’d probably start him out with an Iron Axe instead.

Chapter 2:

  • There’s a bug with the Sky Knight’s highlighted map animation. It jerks to the left when it raises its wings.
  • …Yeah. A Rapier on Leah would REALLY be appreciated. I know the Sky Knight reinforcement drops a Longsword, but it would be much more helpful for her to have that anti-Cavalry effect sooner because she’s near-useless without it.

Overall (so far):

  • Right now Leah is probably the worst Lord I’ve ever seen in a hack. She can’t do any damage without effective weapons, she can’t reliably dodgetank, and her durability is atrocious. Please figure out some way to buff her. Give her a Rapier, increase her base stats, anything.
  • The portraits are pretty hit-or-miss. Some of them look good, while others (like Leah’s) look kind of rough around the edges.
  • Chapter 2 feels like a bit of a difficulty spike compared to the Prologue and Chapter 1. It took me a while to figure out I needed to rush to the western chokepoints and turtle there for most of the map.

I’ll try to keep playing later, but I can’t make any promises.

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#11

Thank you for checking out the hack, and I appreciate your feedback.

Yes, I know Leah tends to have a difficult time Ch 1 through Ch 3 - especially if she does not level well. Leah actually gets her personal weapon at the beginning of Ch 5, but I can understand that being a bit late. I will play around with her beginning the game with a Rapier-like weapon to see how it affects the pacing.

Aww… Kathryn is more than a “heal bot.” Well, I at least like her.

Yes! There are some portraits that could use some touch ups - especially some of the bosses as I didn’t want to spend too much time with all the other work I am planning for this hack. I am eventually planning on going back and doing some portrait fixes. I do have my own personal backlog and priorities, but just keep in mind that creating a ROM hack is A LOT of work! I do work full time on this as my second job, so things will get done!

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#12

Thanks for the well constructed feedback, WaywardTroper. I cannot believe you breezed through the hack so quickly. You have some keen insight and look to be paying attention to some finer details. Actually, some of your points are very intertwined with the story.

Future Chapters Spoilers

Chapter 11 will begin after a 3-year time jump. Liang and Caden are units that rejoin actually pretty late in the story. I believe Ch 21 and Ch 24 respectively. While Winifred will be rejoining Ch 15. The reason that she is seemingly worse is that she will have a lot more availability throughout the whole campaign. Of course, I am trying to balance all my characters in some way. Likewise, Travis will rejoins in Ch 12 and Vergil rejoins in Ch 20.

Lael is a catalyst for some future events, but I might consider giving her access to light magic. That could be interesting.

I am planning on a long campaign for this ROM hack - it will be between 30 and 40 chapters. I am still trying to determine the best chapters to begin giving out promotion items - or whether I will switch to Master Seals.

2 Likes
#13

Master seals simplifies promotion, and opens up extra rom space for additional items, so unless you intend on patching in an extension to open more space, I’d recommend them over class specific, plus it allows more flexibility with party composition.

I like the idea of balancing around bases, growths, and availability, but I see potential issues; for example I’m going to hazard a guess and say Joseph is a Sety archetype, and ultimately represents the interests of his nation while his brother tries to maintain the peace in their newly stabilized nation, as a result, he’ll be a psuedo-lord of sorts who rejoins the plot fairly early after the time skip. Compared to brett, who comes in with a sturdy base HP and Pow as well as the stronger fire magic, Joseph relies on growths and the high hit/crit of wind magic… but he gets a majority of a chapter alongside Miles to play catch up, can potentially get the energy ring to patch a potentially lower pow, and gets forsetti and S rank wind magic like Rexcalibur or Blizzard or Fimbulvetr to become a critting machine. So unless Brett gets a significant chunk of additional chapters to shine, he’ll be overshadowed. Admittedly, Brett has fire magic with its own checks to take advantage of… but then so does Lael (hence my suggestion)

I do like how you’ve balanced everything; it definitely skews towards challenging, especially with the reinforcement spawn mechanics, but I like how it gets me to react and adapt and better utilize under used weapons. I’m curious to see how you continue the balance from here, and how you’ll contrast Faith from say, a wyvern rider you recruit, or her rival/sister you run into in Ch 9

Caveat-ting of what Voni said, I think the issue Leah runs into is she is an Elrika by design, especially with her growths and bases, meaning its a bit of a coin-flip how good she is. I like the relatively early angelic robe to give her the extra HP she needs (although I would change that back to +7, but I digress). What would help her, potentially, is a buffed con to mitigate sword weight so she could compensate for a potentially lower Pow with the various iron blades and steel swords that drop. I could also see a prof weapon down the line to invert weapon triangle and with a 15 crit to help compensate as well. Maybe a gift between nations to strengthen peace negotiations?

#14

My feedback on Chapters 3-5.

Chapter 3:

  • Brett packs a very good punch with his magic. He was able to wear down the boss well enough for Leah to finish him off and grab some much needed EXP.
  • Handling the Fire/Thunder/Wind Trinity of Magic by way of effective bonuses is a novel means of circumventing the common issue of the Trinity of Magic being too weak because most magic users have high Res and low Def. I like it.
  • This chapter was refreshingly not as difficult as the last one thanks to the ally units (especially that super-strong Hero guy whose name I forgot). Leah still badly underperforms compared to everyone else, though she’s gotten better.

Chapter 4:

  • Faith was good for reaching the northern Village and that’s about it. At this stage she’s really only as good as Leah by virtue of being a flier. Her combat performance is just as bad, though this may have had something to do with the large number of Axe users. Also, her Con is so bad that she can’t double-attack with anything other than an underpowered Slim Lance.
  • A tricky, but still doable chapter, though several lucky Critical Hits made things easier. The large number of Brigands feels like it can be a bit overwhelming, but thankfully this is a Defeat Boss chapter.

Chapter 5:

  • Atticus is also not very impressive as a combat unit, but at least he has Thief utility and Knife access for reliable 1-2-Range.
  • Majestra should be a very fun toy to play with. 15 Critical on a magical sword is insane. But I don’t know if it’s enough to patch up Leah’s performance since it has limited uses.
  • I love how there are still functioning shops in what I’m guessing is supposed to be a ruined hellhole of a town.
  • This is a very frustrating chapter for many of the typical reasons associated with Fog of War chapters. Even with savestates this chapter was a nightmare. It doesn’t help that it’s difficult for Faith and Atticus to contribute when their combat is so bad. I would recommend removing some of the enemies entirely, possibly the reinforcements.

Overall (so far):

  • Majestra makes Leah’s combat performance skyrocket from 0 to 100, but whether it’ll be enough to carry her through enough of the game that she can stay good afterwards remains to be seen.
  • Having played a few more chapters, I’d say the main problem with this hack is uneven difficulty. Most of the time they’re either fairly easy (i.e. the Prologue and Chapters 1 and 3) or horribly difficult (i.e. Chapters 2, 4, and 5).
  • I think Faith and Atticus ought to join with Levels on par with the rest of the party (who are mostly about Level 7-9) so that they’re not so useless in combat.
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#15

Thanks for the additional feedback.

Regarding Leah’s performance, I am providing her with a limited Rapier weapon to get her through the early parts of the game and increasing her Con. Majestra also has 50 uses, and will be reset after the time skip; When also considering the Hammerne staff, Leah can probably spam Majestra as much as she wants.

Gah! Balancing is very difficult when considering I have been the only person play testing. I have probably done 40+ playthroughs, and at this point, the game is very, very easy for me to complete. I will be of course doing changes the more I play.

  • Chapter 2 is easy now that Leah begins with a Rapier because it is super effective against everything. You also don’t even need to kill everything, and just rush to the gate instead. You can beat this in 4-5 turns.
  • I honestly don’t think Chapter 4 is too bad if you secure the forts. Just bait the boss, and win. Faith does have a difficult time on this map, but she can get the villages and pick off enemies. I will say that this chapter appears to be very difficult the first time one plays.
  • Chapter 5 is difficult, and in my opinion is probably the most difficult map in the current build. This is also the chapter I have the most fun with when I play… but I guess I enjoy fog of war. I believe there are only 4 units that are reinforcements, but I can play around with it.
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#16

Now this is interesting… I’ll keep this in mind as I play.

Something I forgot to add, some descriptions indicating which weapons are locked to certain classes (i.e. Fire/Thunder/Wind tomes, Knives) would be nice to have.

Now, my feedback on Chapters 6 and 7 and Prelude 1.

Chapter 6:

  • Does the Light tome give Res +2? A description saying so would be nice to have.
  • So many enemy magic users… Thankfully bait-and-switch tactics make this chapter pretty doable.

Chapter 7:

  • I see Caspian, Winifred, and Travis are all recruitable. Do I have to keep them alive to obtain them? (Of them, I only defeated Winifred). I love Winifred’s Archer Serra animation, by the way. I’ve made a separate save file in case I lost her.
  • The opening was tricky with all those enemies clustered in one place, but once that was over with it was smooth sailing. I really hope I don’t have to keep Winifred alive as an enemy to recruit her.
  • …I think I forgot to visit the shops. Dangit. What did they have?

Prelude 1:

  • I must admit I don’t like this sudden flashback with seemingly no warning. It also doesn’t help that the enemies here have a very silly motivation after the rest of the story so far has been fairly serious.
  • Silvan’s unique battle animation, while amusing, doesn’t look like it fits with this portrait. Unless this is an
AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILER

Endgame Thor-type deal

  • The Houses in this chapter give some pretty underwhelming rewards.
  • Does freeing Silvan have any kind of benefit? He’s not listed among the recruitable characters, unless he’s not recruitable until a chapter not in the current patch.
  • LOL, the main villain is a Bard. Can’t wait to fight him.

Overall (so far):

  • How long is this Prelude going to last? I feel the way it’s presented screws up the pacing, unless there’s something I missed.
2 Likes
#17

Agree, kinda ruined the experience.

#18

Woah, added to my list! Looking forward to giving it a go in the near future.

#19

The Prelude is 3 chapters long, and even the chapter with the bandits relate back to the main story. I used the first chapter as a way to introduce new characters in a more light-hearted manner. If you thought the transition was jarring, do you have any suggestions to make it feel better?

Otherwise, I am sorry if the prelude ruined the experience for you. Maybe the hack isn’t for you.

1 Like
#20

Is this Prelude just there to give the player exposition, or is it like Boone explaining to Leah what happened before?

#21

I get where the prelude is coming from, as it serves a two fold focus:

  1. grinds the whie lions, Miles, and Joesph to make up the potential level gap and
  2. Gives a bit more background to our merry bunch of newly recruited mercenaries and their motivation for dropping a lucrative contract for one more in their moral interests
    It may further break pacing, but perhaps a bit of interjection from Leah as part of the pre/post chapters, like incredulity over sacking drunk bandits, and foreshadowing/comparing the dark influence over the odd behaviour of some of the enemies fought thus far

I do like the in-media-res of prologue three in particular, and how it ties the plots back together. If one were to “trim the fat” so to speak, Prologues 2 and 3 have the strongest writing and relevance to the plot, but I would hardly suggest cutting chaters so early, as I like the break in escalating conflict and difficulty to dig more into characters and plot

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#22

My feedback on Preludes 2 and 3 and Chapter 8.

Prelude 2:

  • Ooh, I have to say I was not expecting Terrors to show up. That said, uggggggh, ambush spawns. Ambush spawns always, always, always suck. Could these not have waited until a certain turn to show up like reinforcements typically do?
  • I struggled with this chapter until I figured out that Winifred could snipe some of the enemies over the eastern wall. That made things a little easier.

Prelude 3:

  • What kind of houses are these supposed to be?
  • Hey there, casually nerfed Forseti tome.
  • LOL, the Proclaimers. Did they walk 500 miles to get here?
  • This is probably my favorite chapter in the game in terms of gameplay. It feels tense, yet still manageable thanks to the ample chokepoints.

Chapter 8:

  • Thank goodness you don’t lose any of the White Lions if you kill them in Chapter 7. Now that the parties are merged, I can give my thoughts on them properly. Though it’s really weird that certain members can potentially end up weaker than when you fought them as enemies.
  • Boone is pretty decent, I suppose. Good stats all around and a nice personal weapon. I’ll probably use him because I really want a proper Lance infantry unit if Soldiers are enemy-only.
  • Caspian suffers from the typical GBA Fighter problems of having HP and Pow as his only good stats and being mediocre everywhere else, particularly in Spd. I’ll probably bench him. (Actually, Brett’s kind of slow too now that I get a better look at him, but at least he’s a magic user with good accuracy to make up for it.)
  • Winifred is also underwhelming. Joseph renders her almost completely obsolete and I’m not sure I want to put effort into training her when Liang can at least take on magic users more easily with his good Res. I think she too is going on the bench. (Situations like this are why I hate Wind magic being effective against Flying units.)
  • Travis might merit some more training since he’s mounted, but I don’t know if I want to do it since I already have Vergil as my main Axe user and I hate Cavaliers anyway.
  • Myles is also one of the better Prelude characters if only because the previous chapter gives him good opportunities to train so that he doesn’t suffer as badly as the others from being underleveled. Too bad about that 1-Range lock, though. Hopefully I can find him a magic sword or something.
  • Lael… Oh, boy, Lael… I’m not sure what to make of her. On one hand, she’s suffers the worst from being underleveled, but on the other, she’s a second healer and can at least defend herself, which Kathryn can’t do until she promotes, while also probably ending up faster than Brett in the event that she is trained properly. …Eh. I’ll give her a chance.
  • Joseph is very good with his 1-2-Range, anti-Flying capabilities, and early access to stronger tomes. I’m definitely using him.
  • Liang can contribute more easily than Winifred thanks to his superior Res and earlier access to the Shining Bow. Like Myles, he too benefits from ample training opportunities in the previous chapter. I think he’ll end up being both my main Bow user and my main Thief.
  • The Shine tome’s bonus of Lck +2 is absolutely pathetic. You realize that 2 points of Lck only equals 1 point of Hit and 2 points of Avoid, right? I would at least double that bonus.
  • The main challenge of this chapter is rescuing the three trapped characters. Grant (mine, anyways) was surprisingly useful here as he takes almost no damage from the Revenants and Baels, and while he does take some nasty hits from the Mogalls, he makes up for it by being able to one-shot them with the Axereaver. Funny how I’ve used that more for Mogall-busting than Axe user-busting.

Overall (so far):

  • I would probably increase the White Lions’ starting Levels slightly so they can be caught up with Leah’s group more easily.
  • The last couple of chapters have been excellent. When you say there are 14 chapters in this release, does that mean there are 14 total or the story is playable up to Chapter 14? Either way, I’m looking forward to what the last few have to offer.
#23

I am not a fan of ambush spawns either. The ambush spawns in Prelude 2 are the only ones present in the game. I felt that it was okay in this situation because 1) only three, fairly weak, enemies could pose a problem to you, 2) I wanted to give a bit of a shock with the added monster units, and 3) there is some warning given in the text; though, I can see it not being specific enough.

In regards to the houses in Prelude 3, I haven’t quite figured out the best way to edit tilesets yet. I did create a snow village tileset by editing the palettes; however, I didn’t like how it looked in Municro as it is the “walled city.” At that point, I figured it could make sense for Municro to have funky, walled housed.

Yes, the bonus that Shine provides is pretty underwhelming. The light magic bonuses will likely be changed in a future build.

I found your character assessment interesting. The Winifred vs Joseph argument you brought up was something I never actually considered. It was always Brett vs Joseph in my mind. Joseph could fill a lot more use on a team than I initially thought. I will certainly keep this in mind.

I will say that many of the White Lion characters like Caspian, Travis, and Winifred will have opportunity to become party staples in a story arc that happens after Chapter 10, which is not in the current build (in-progress). There will also be less perspective switching going forward. I did draw a lot of inspiration from FE 7, 8, 9, and 10 for this project…

I don’t think I answered your question regarding the Silvan choice. You get a Speed Wing if you turn him into Rinto as a reward, and you get nothing otherwise. Basically, choose to play with the Speed Wing or without. You will receive a different reward in Chapter 13 (not in current build) if you choose to let Silvan go, but this does not have an effect on the available chapters.

2 Likes
#24

Archers being rendered obsolete by magic users, especially Wind magic users, is something that often annoys me.

My own game, Sanctaea Chronicles, tries to get around this by giving every Bow 2-3-Range, while most Tomes still only have 1-2-Range. This way, Bows can act as a safe counter against otherwise OP 1-2-Range weapons like Daggers, Tomes, and Kodachi/Javelins/Hand Axes and not be so restricted in their niche. To top this off, the Aero (Aircalibur) tome in my game is NOT effective against Flying units despite being wind magic; it is merely the Anima magic equivalent of a Silver weapon.

#25

Doing a run through hardmode currently, and consistently hitting an event trigger bug. Starting turn 2 on chapter 6 causes whoever ends their movement first on my side to trigger end chapter dialogue and then rolls into chapter 7

#26

Yikes! That is a really bad and weird bug. Let me see if I can find out what is causing this and patch it for you. Honestly, I haven’t done much of any testing on hard mode yet; but there are differences.

#27

Specifically it triggers after the light monks spawn, so I’m thinking it’s tied with their event listing, maybe how it’s prioritized?

#28

Actually, what appears to be happening involves the unit positions on hard mode. There is a shaman next to the gate who happens to have a door key, and then enemy AI is set to use door keys on this chapter. The door key is being used and thus triggering the seize flag on turn 2. I have found a way to disable the AI from opening doors on this chapter using HxD.

I will upload a new build shortly after I disable access to Chapters 11 through 13 as they are not all there yet from a text/map design aspect. You will also find a number of edits that have happened in the last week, including:

  • Leah begins the game with Rapier, which has 20 uses (not locked to Leah). to help in the first couple maps.
  • Lael now uses light magic.
  • Winifred has increased level and bases.
  • Additional chests are available on maps to make use of lockpick. Treasures have been restructured, but you won’t be getting anything overpowered like brave weapons in the first 10 chapters.