Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn with Metropolis Coffee Company's Falstaff Winter Blend

 I was excited when I received Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn in the mail a few weeks ago. Several years ago, I played through its predecessor, Path of Radiance, and had a great time doing it. The original Fire Emblem dates back to 1990, and was released only in Japan for the Famicom. Among the most revered turn-based strategy games ever created for consoles, the Fire Emblem series is known for its high difficulty level. Radiant Dawn has you leading an ever-evolving party into battle after battle. If a character dies, they die, and that's that. The enemy AI is ruthless, and making the simplest mistake often times means losing a battle. I remember Path of Radiance as being challenging, but it did not prepare me for the frustrations that Radiant Dawn delivers. The game requires a great amount of concentration.

I beat the first level of Radiant Dawn after failing only once or twice. Then playtime was over. I probably died 12-15 times on the second stage, and things only got worse after that. I was at a loss for what to pair with it, but I happened to come into possession of a bottle of Orin Swift's The Prisoner, a red blend from Napa that lovers of Californian wine seem to go nuts over. The Prisoner is little more jammy, oaky and boozy than I care for, although it did go nicely with a wedge of Colston Bassett Stilton. Well over 15% ABV, The Prisoner failed to help me focus on strategy, and I don't think I beat a single level while drinking it.

Following this frustrating experience, I shelved Radiant Dawn for a while. However, I ended up feeling guilty, and being stuck at home sick this morning, I decided to give it one last chance. Because I was sick and it was before noon, drinking booze was not an option. It occurred to me that (dare I say it?) delicious coffee might actually be a better pairing for the game anyway. So I brewed up a French press of Metropolis Coffee Company's Falstaff Winter Blend, and with fear in my heart, I fired up Radiant Dawn.

Falstaff Winter Blend is a nicely balanced, medium-roast blend. Metropolis does not divulge the origin of Falstaff's beans on their website, unfortunately. It is full-bodied with a subtle chocolatey, nutty aroma and delicious notes of mature plum (that's what those of us in the booze industry call prune). After a few sips of the coffee, I felt reasonably alert and proceeded to vanquish my enemy with relative ease. The level I beat had given me some trouble in the past, and my spirits were greatly heightened after finishing it. I immediately took on the next stage, which proved to be extremely difficult. On my fourth try, I lost the battle because some NPC's on the other side of the map from my party failed to fight off the enemy. This very large and heavy straw broke the camel's back, possibly in several places. The fraction of Radiant Dawn that I played through was a humbling experience, but unfortunately, I don't come close to having the patience to play through it. Some might call me a quitter for drinking stuff that's not booze with this game. Some might call me a quitter for quitting. But at least I'm a caffeinated quitter.


  1. Never got into Fire Emblem, and it looks like I'll be continuing that! Your pain is my gain.

  2. Fire Emblem is a lot like chess. I can plan a few steps ahead for about 3 turns, and then I lose focus and suffer humiliating defeat.