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Monday, February 16, 2015

Ike and Abe? That'd never happen.

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Abraham Lincoln is the antithesis of the Radiant Hero.

I already wrote earlier about how misrepresented and terrible Ike is in Code Name S.T.E.A.M. here. You know, the protagonist Ike of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4 fame.

For a reminder, he looks like this in Code Name S.T.E.A.M.:

Ike Code Name S.T.E.A.M. 3DS game STEAM amiibo
Deformed head, twig limbs. Terrible.
 
However, not only does he look out-of-place, but the very notion that Ike, the great Radiant Hero (you can see a ton of pictures of what he should like here) and saviour of Tellius, would ever team up with the likes of Abraham Lincoln is out-of-character. (The rest of this article has Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn spoilers, especially the former. ...The latter ones aren't a big deal.)

Here's the basic reason: Ike worked to unify the continent of Tellius, while Abraham Lincoln worked to divide the "United" States of America. I mean, that's why people talk about Lincoln, right? People don't talk about anything Lincoln did as president besides the War of Northern Aggression (also known as the "Civil War"). So Lincoln being in Code Name S.T.E.A.M. (according to Wikipedia, in Japan the subtitle is "Lincoln vs. Aliens" so he's being made a selling point) is a reference by Intelligent Systems to his actions in the Civil War. I'm sure Intelligent Systems isn't doing it for the litany of tyrannical offenses that Lincoln did as "president", some of which are listed here.

Ike truly cared about the condition about the oppressed Laguz in kingdoms like Daein and the Begnion Empire. Abraham Lincoln never truly gave a damn about the black slaves. There's a clear difference in motive from the get-go. Yes, Ike helped Begnion sort itself out in Path of Radiance with regards to Laguz slaves for the support of the Begnion Apostle Sanaki to help defeat the Daein Mad King Ashnard. His motive there was not just for the sake of being a good Samaritan. But he was also bothered by the depravity on a personal level.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Chapter 15 The Feral Frontier Ike beorc behavior Tormod
You think he's bothered now? Wait until he meets Duke Oliver of Tanas.

Ike would also be bothered by Mr. Lincoln's Daein-like set-up. You see, the Kingdom of Daein had "Four Riders", four of the top generals that serve the King (or president) directly. Lincoln had four such generals as well (admittingly, he had other ones too but they kept dying or getting fired or put somewhere unimportant). Let's compare.

Daein's Four Riders and the Union Generals

We are going to start with Ulysses S. Grant and The Black Knight.

Union general Ulysses S. Grant of the Civil War with The Black Knight from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
On the left: Ulysses S. Grant. On the right: The Black Knight.

Ulysses S. Grant became Lincoln's main general and trusted individual, despite some peculiarities regarding alcoholism. The Black Knight also became Ashnard's trusted vassal, with the Mad King wondering who would win in a fight between the two. The Black Knight had his own agenda though, sort of like Grant because Grant wasn't even pro-Lincoln to begin with. The main reason why these two are compared is that they both are the most important of Lincoln's generals and Daein's Four Riders in the respect that Grant becomes President of the United States, and the Black Knight is still around doing important things three years after the Mad King's War. Surely more important than being comatose or dead, like the other three of the Four Riders! People who have played Radiant Dawn know full well how important the Black Knight is there.

Now let's look at William Tecumseh Sherman and Petrine.

William Tecumseh Sherman of Civil War and Petrine of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
On the left: William T. Sherman. On the right: Petrine.

While General Sherman was not a woman, they share similarities in their cruelty. Sherman is famous — and reviled by those in the South, especially Georgia — for his scorched earth tactics, obliterating infrastructure as he went to wreck Atlanta. Sherman took pride in causing millions (now billions) of dollars in damage to infrastructure and people's livelihoods. Ike refused to do anything against Daein's beleaguered citizens, but for Sherman, making lives difficult and ruining the lives of citizens was the entire point! Sherman was known early on in the "story", as is Petrine as the first of the Four Riders that the player is made aware of. Petrine had similar, sinister tactics to Sherman, including tactics as brutal as flooding the Daein town of Talrega. That's right, she ordered that a town in her own country be flooded in order to stop Ike's advance!

Here's a fun one: John Fulton Reynolds and Bryce.

John F. Reynolds of Civil War Battle of Gettysburg and Bryce Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
On the left: John F. Reynolds. Bryce is on the right. How come the Fire Emblem dudes don't have last names?


The most striking similarity between these two gentlemen is their looks. Let's get that out of the way as the primary reason for why they were paired together.

Reynolds and Bryce were also both high-ranking, honourable, and well-respected generals killed in war-deciding battles. Mr. Reynolds was killed in the Battle of Gettysburg, while Bryce was killed by General Ike himself in the battle to take the capital of Crimea back from Mad King Ashnard. Lincoln had warped the Union's effort to win in politics, which Reynolds wanted to be excused from. Lincoln declined, but Reynolds fought and dedicated his life for the Union anyway. Similarly, Bryce acknowledged that Ashnard was a messed up dude, but he still dedicated his life to Daein.

Last to go (and least), John Buford and Bertram.

John Buford Union Civil War general and Bertram / Renning Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
John Buford (left, black & grey) and Bertram (right, black & purple).

John Buford actually survived the Battle of Gettysburg! But he died later that year due to illness. You know who was also sick, in more ways than one? The mysterious Four Rider known as Bertram. This dude is mental, especially since Daein gave him experimental drugs.

You hear that kids? Stay away from those drugs or you'll be spouting quotes like, "Turn the ground...ssssoft with blood. Make a graveyard...of thissss place. Bury them all." And before Buford died of his illnesses, he too suffered from delirium!

Buford and Bertram were also both in cavalry (horse-riders), which are both integral to their role as characters in battle. More importantly, Buford had ties to the Confederacy, since he grew up in Kentucky and his extended family was fighting for the Confederacy. However, he still chose to fight for the Union. As for Bertram, he is in reality royalty of Crimea and is the brother of the deceased king. He fought for Daein due to the drugs that warped his mind, but isn't actually killed in battle because one particularly eloquent fellow in Ike's army realises that Bertram is just Renning with a spooky helmet. So both men have very close ties to the country they're fighting!

Abraham Lincoln and Mad King Ashnard


The natural conclusion is that Abraham Lincoln is most like Ike's enemy, Mad King Ashnard. Totally not related to Mad King Sharpnard.


President Abraham Lincoln and Mad King Ashnard from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Left: President Abraham Lincoln. Right: Mad King Ashnard.

Both Lincoln and Ashnard are cruel individuals who don't give a damn about the law. Ashnard only cares about a person's strength, and Lincoln only cared about waging war and tore down anything that stood in the way of that. He granted America its first-ever income tax (an unconstitutional measure) and suspended habeas corpus by way of executive order. Lincoln mass-arrested people on suspicion of disloyalty to the Union. (Hey, do you know what Ashnard did to people who might be against him? He'd feed them to feral tigers or something.) Lincoln and Ashnard both conscripted people to have them fight in their crazy wars. When Ashnard took over Crimea, he enslaved Crimeans and ruined their economy. Lincoln, under General Sherman, did the same thing with the Confederates. Ashnard also killed his whole family to be king, which I guess Lincoln didn't have to do.


Update: Apparently Abraham Lincoln has a mega Lincoln form, just like Ashnard had when he activated the Fire Emblem! Another similarity. End Update.

Ike is no fool. Behind his bold and blunt exterior lies a clever man who could figure out Apostle Sanaki's intentions while he was in Begnion for the first time. Which is why the amiibo system in Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is so dangerous and detrimental! Sure, Ike slashing through aliens seems cool, but everything about him being in that game is just so wrong. Fortunately, only New 3DS owners or people who buy an NFC hockey puck will be able to use amiibo on their handheld devices. You also have to physically acquire an Ike amiibo, and KoopaTV knows all too well how hard it is to get one's hands on a specific amiibo.

To close this, I might as well talk about the Code Name S.T.E.A.M. 3DS demo. I didn't like it. The game hides way too much information from the player to my liking. I'm used to Fire Emblem where, with the exception of rare "fog of war" scenarios, the player knows everything: Movement ranges of the enemies, what enemies are on the map, the strength of those enemies, the terrain for the whole map, the size of the map, and so on. It's quite difficult to plan things in Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and it feels like I'm fighting with the game more than with the generic aliens. Strategy simulation buffs may like it because, hey, you don't know all that information in real life war! But I don't think realism is the goal here anyway. The game's atmosphere in general is just... creepy. Ick.

Realism isn't the goal, but the consequences on characters are very real. We care very much about characters in games, so this is troubling indeed...


Ludwig not only has a very different perspective of history than you do, but he also probably has a very different perspective on games than you do. But that's part of what makes the KoopaTV experience so different than anything you will experience anywhere else! KoopaTV welcomes your differences of opinions, and keeps the comments section open for you to express them.


Turns out that reviewers didn't like the game either.
Here is what Abraham Lincoln's voice-actor, Wil Wheaton, has to say about it.
What are the Confederate generals like? Well, Robert E. Lee is the Pokémon Stoutland.
Abraham Lincoln is the final boss of Capture the Confederate Flag, which is KoopaTV's 2015 videogame.
KoopaTV dedicated Memorial Day 2016 to the Black Knight/Ulysses S. Grant.

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