#47: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)
Release Date: October 17, 2005
Believe it or not, it was actually my (now) Xbox 360 playin', FPS lovin', Call of Duty fanatic brother who first got into Fire Emblem (before I even heard of it). So when Path of Radiance released on the GameCube, he convinced me to buy the game and give it a try... and I instantly fell in love with the game. Whether it was the easy to play, difficult to master gameplay (which was tough as nails, even on easy), the fantastic cast of characters (really, I actually came to care about these guys, so of course I had to reset every time someone died), or the wonderfully engaging story, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance had it all (even cat-girls!). With this game, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Fire Emblem, and for that I am very thankful.
Favorite Character: Ilyana
Favorite Villain: The Black Knight
Believe it or not, but the only reason why I gave Fire Emblem a chance was the Gamecube drought. I had read good reviews of the GBA game, but refrained from trying it, because the reviewers pointed out some unpleasant things like annoying micro-management (forced to buy stuff on the maps), perma-deaths and high difficulty. With JRPGs generally being a mixed bag, I just passed on the series.
Having bought Path of Radiance changed my mind about the series and I immediately bought Fire Emblem 7 and 8 for the GBA afterwards. The negative side-effect was that from this point on all other SRPGs became complete and utter garbage, because Fire Emblem is that much better. It requires actual strategy, because you can't rely on Bauernopfer tactics and grinding (well, FE8 allows you to grind which obviously makes it a bad FE).
I am not sure why you like Ilyana though. Probably just because of her personality. Her stat growth is quite messed up for a mage, with strength and defense rising at better rates than the stats that are more important.
Fire Emblem will do that to you. I started on FE7, and man I love this series. Only got into it because I heard it was so similar to Advance Wars, and I only picked up Advance Wars because Kirby was so short, and I was on vacation and wanted something for the long carpool home.
There are other good SRPG's, none as good as Fire Ebmlem, but some come close. Front Mission 4 for PS2 is probably better then Fire Emblem for Gamecube, but near the end of the game, there is significantly more micro managing. However, no perma deaths, you just pay a penatly for people dying, so it's worth keeping people alive.
Also with Front Mission, since you pilot mechs instead of people, parts can break (arms, legs, or torso). If the torso goes your dead, but if you loose an arm you loose a weapon and a means to defend, if you loose legs, you can't move as far, and dodging significantly decreases, and you can equip different mechs (or wanzers) with long range missles, shields, battons, brass knuckles, maschine guns, rifles, and even large clubs lol. Generally Front Mission isn't as simplistic as Fire Emblem, but FM4 for PS2 is still legitimatly a goos SRPG, in case your Fire Emblem starved.
Front Mission for the DS is a SNES port, so it's a bit dated. Probably too complicated, so if you try FM, try FM4 for PS2.