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Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem Gaiden

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Monshō no Nazo
Seisen no Keifu
Thracia 776

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Fūin no Tsurugi
Rekka no Ken
The Sacred Stones

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Path of Radiance
Radiant Dawn

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Shadow Dragon
Shin Monshō no Nazo

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Awakening
Anime
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by Ethrin, Aganar, Personman and Valesta - updated July 6, 2014

Fire Emblem is the "original" console strategy RPG, a genre that was previously bound only to computers. Designed by Intelligent Systems, a division of Nintendo, Fire Emblem was the brainchild of Shouzo Kaga. This mix of RPG-style character development, growth and storyline focus coupled with the tactical placement of units on maps of War Simulations (dubbed SRPGs or simulation role-playing games) became one of Nintendo's most popular franchises in Japan, and has directly influenced every major SRPGs since then in one way or another, including Shining Force, Langrisser, and Tactics Ogre.

Throughout its many installments, Fire Emblem has retained many core characteristics that have been carried over from game to game. Most characters can wield at least two weapons (usually a spear, an axe, or a sword), which have various strengths and weaknesses. These weapons wear out from use, requiring to constantly obtain new ones. In most games, the shops are located on the battlefield, so you might need to take one of your characters out temporarily to have them stop by at a local store to restock. Characters can also visit houses on the battlefield to chat with the locals. Units also tend to talk to each other during a battle to reveal extra story tidbits or strengthen their power. In some cases, you can even recruit enemy soldiers on your team. Most games feature a huge roster, often centering on a handful of primary characters, accompanied by dozens of secondary characters.

The funny thing about a lot of strategy games is that so few honestly feel like they were focused on strategy. Real time strategy games are often more about micro managing growing throngs of units or dealing with more and more types of resources. Other strategy RPGs focus too much on the customization elements, where gaining levels and optimizing combinations of skills are far more important than tactical placement on the map. Fire Emblem, on the other hand, demands that you create and execute a sound strategy, as opposed to masking its difficulty in exponentially increasing layers of numerical bureaucracy. It strikes an optimal balance between offering enough complexity to feel deep and keeping things simple enough to not become cumbersome. Sure, leveling up is still very important, but you can't just grind your characters to victory. Instead, you're encouraged to balance them out and pick your battles wisely. In most of the games, battles cannot repeated, so there's only a limited number of experience points to be had. If you focus only on a few characters, the rest of the roster will become incredibly weak by the end of the game. Many of the titles have one extremely overpowered character (sometimes called "trap" character), which can cause lots of damage but doesn't gain much experience. They're helpful, but you need to spread out your attacks so your experience is better distributed among the team.

The enemy AI is surprisingly smart, striking viciously at weakened opponents and doing everything it can to ensure its victory. Perhaps Fire Emblem's most controversial elements lies with permanent player character death. Yes, once a character is killed, that's it - they're gone for the entire game, and (usually) there's no way to resurrect them. This requires that you carefully consider every move, especially when maneuvering weak units like magicians or healers. While this aspect often frustrates obsessive-compulsive players who refuse to give up any of their characters, the later games in the series tend to toss enough units into the roster that you can spare to lose a few and not have to worry about becoming outnumbered. If you play semi-compentently, you'll probably have more characters than you know what to do with, anyway, because many missions limit the number of units you can take into battle..

Fire Emblem (Game Boy Advance)

There are tons and tons of different character classes - swordsmen, axe wielders, cavalrymen, heavy knights, archers, magicians and healers. Most units can only attack if they're adjacent to one another. Spearmen, magicians and certain axe wielders can attack diagonally, or two spaces forward. Archers can attack two spaces away, but can't attack anything directly adjacent. Heavy knights are slow but extremely powerful. Calverymen (in the later games) can move again after attacking. Pegasus knights have huge range but often suffer from poor defense.

It also utilizes a class promotion system. Once characters reach a certain level (and in some games, when they use a certain item), they transform into a more powerful unit, and their level is brought back down to one, creating more room to power them up even more. The Fire Emblem games are a bit weird in that the stats are upgraded randomly when gaining level, as opposed to the fixed stat growth in most other Japanese RPGs. This means that some characters may end up being more powerful than others, even when using them evenly.

Despite its many iterations, there has been very little change in Fire Emblem's core mechanics, which remain largely identical through most of the series. Even the music, supplied by veteran Yuka Tsujiyoko, maintains the same general style. The first major shakeup occurred with the fourth installment, which introduced a rock-paper-scissors style strength/weakness system, added larger maps and divided the storyline into two generations. Most of these changes were absent from later games, although the weapons triangle remains a staple of the series. The second major shake-up occurred with the 3DS game, Awakening, which added a "casual" mode that removed permadeath, focused on pairing up and marrying off characters, and other changes to make it more approachable to a wider audience.

Oddly enough, Fire Emblem's introduction to the gaming world outside of Japan was through the party/action game Super Smash Brothers: Melee for the Nintendo GameCube. Marth was the hero of the first and third Fire Emblem games, while Roy starred in the first, Japan-only Gameboy Advance game. Their theme music is a medley of the Fire Emblem main theme and the "Encounter" theme, which was originally from the first game, but reused in later titles. Rumors circulated that Nintendo of America planned to cut the Fire Emblem characters out since no one in the West knew about the franchise, and outcry ensued. Thankfully, they were left in, as they're both remarkably good characters to play as. It's also possible that their popularity convinced Nintendo to localize the later two GBA titles, although Roy's game never made it to America.

There are fifteen individual Fire Emblem episodes altogether, including two remakes for the Nintendo DS and one for the 3DS. Although none of them are numbered, many fans often address the titles with numbers to make things less confusing (and then NCL made things more confusing by including the remakes in the official numbering on the franchise homepage later).

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (Super Famicom)

Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo (NDS)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GameCube)

Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)


Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi (ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒竜と光の剣) - Famicom, Wii, 3DS (1990)

Cover

Thousands of years ago, dragons and humans lived in harmony on the continent of Akanaea. But this peace was brought to an end by the evil Medeus, the leader of a race called Manaketes (human/dragon hybrids that can change forms). The humans fought valiantly, until the hero Henry came forth, wielding the legendary Falchion sword, and slayed Medeus. And all was well for another hundred years, until Medeus came back to life. With the help of the evil wizard Gharnef, the Manaketes slowly began spreading their influence, taking over the country of Doluna, and once again waged war on the land of Akanaea. But Medeus' primary objective was to hunt down and slaughter the descendants of Henry.

This includes Prince Marth, the heir to small nation of Altea. Marth flees to a remote island, leaving his family and his heirloom - the legendary Falchion - behind. But the Dolhran army has found and cornered him, and the only thing he can do is fight back and save his country.

Characters

Marth

Prince of the small kingdom of Altea and main character of the game. He is the only Lord class unit in your control. His name has been translated several ways (including "Mars" and "Matus") with "Marth" being Nintendo of America's official translation. All of the allied units are colored blue on the map, hence the blue hair, which has become a trademark among Fire Emblem heroes.

Caeda

The princess of the island nation of Talys and Marth's major love interest. Caeda is a skilled Pegasus Knight and wields a silver tongue, as she convinces more enemy units to join your cause than any other character. Better known as "Sheeda" to fans of the series before it took off overseas.

Elice

Marth's older sister. She's the sole unit capable of using the Ohm staff, which can raise a fallen unit from the dead.

Nyna

The princess of Archanea. Spared by a Grustian general, the infamous Black Knight Camus, Nyna found sanctuary in the Kingdom of Aurelis.

Hardin

The King of Aurelis and a capable Cavalier. He joins Marth's cause when Grust invades his nation. He may seem like a minor character out of the many you'll recruit, but he's crucial to Fire Emblem 3.

Tiki

The last descendant of Naga, the God Dragon. She is a Manakete, capable of using ancient stones to morph into a dragon. She hasn't fully matured and cannot harness the true power of the God Dragon Stone yet.

Gato

An ancient priest who crafted the holy spell that can defeat Medeus.

Gharnef

The evil priest that revived Medeus. He wields powerful dark magic that can only be defeated by an ancient, holy spell known as Starlight.

Medeus

An ancient member of the Manakete race and king of the Earth Dragons. He originally started an empire in the land of Dolhr and was defeated by the hero Henry. Rather than fall to his rule, the neighboring countries of Grust and Macedon opted to ally themselves with Medeus.

Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi ("The Dragon of Darkness and Sword of Light") is the bedrock on which the franchise was born. Marth and his army proceed through twenty-five maps, defeating enemies, finding new comrades, buying weapons and capturing castles, all to re-obtain the Falchion sword and kill Medeus. The plot is mostly limited to small conversations at the beginning and end of each stage, but it's still more detailed than many 8-bit RPGs.

Using the same basic engine as the Famicom Wars games (predecessor to Advance Wars), the interface looks and feels a bit spartan. There's no visible indication on how far a unit can move, and you need to pull up some menus to look at stats instead of them popping up when units highlighted. The cursor movement is sluggish, the characters shuffle slowly around the map, and the ground beneath them often remains green even when stepping on other terrain (like water). The battle backgrounds are stark black, and while the combatants are relatively well animated for a NES game, they're a bit slow and boring. You can shorten these sequences in the options, thankfully.

In spite of these setbacks, Fire Emblem is a surprisingly engrossing game. The graphics are fairly bland, but the music quality is pretty good by NES standards, and it's especially cool when the music changes once the tide of the battle turns in your favor. While the weapon triangle found in the later games hadn't yet been implemented, and there's only one class of magic, there are 25 potential player characters and a total of 21 classes. Certain terrain effects are more important than in any other game in the series - you can scale walls and you'll find one-way hills that units can climb down, but cannot get back up. Because of this, it really feels like units' classes are more important than their stats, because troops like Pegasus Knights can ignore these terrain effects. There's even a mid-game save option, which was quite a luxury for back in the day.

The story of Fire Emblem was retold as part of the first "chapter" in Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo for the Super Famicom, featuring updated graphics and better interface. It's especially nice to be able to see how far units can move. It's fairly true to the original, but a few characters and maps have been cut from the roster, with a total of twenty maps versus the twenty-five of the original, and some levels have been altered a bit. There's only a bit more dialogue, but the chapter openings are a nice touch. The game was then completely remade for the Nintendo DS, under the name Shadow Dragon, which will be covered later on. The Famicom original is rendered somewhat obsolete by these, but it's still worth checking out for curiosity's sake.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Director:

  • Keisuke Terasaki

Szenario:

  • Sūzo Kaga

Genre:

Themes:


Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)

Fire Emblem (Famicom)


Additional Screenshots


Fire Emblem Gaiden (ファイアーエムブレム 外伝) - Famicom, Wii, 3DS (1992)

Cover

Fire Emblem Gaiden was released two years after the original. While most of the graphics have been recycled (outside of some improved combat animations) and the clunky interface is practically identical, this sequel takes many other drastic departures from its predecessor.

Fire Emblem Gaiden takes place on the faraway continent of Valentia, where the gentle god Mila and the demonic god Duma fought thousands of years ago. After the battle, Valentia was split into two parts. Zofia, the Kingdom of Scripts, was established in the south, and the Rigel, Kingdom of Knights, was established in the north. Emperor Rudolf of Rigel amasses an army in an attempt to unite Valentia under his rule. With the help of Dohza (also known as Desaix), a holy knight that betrayed Zofia, the Kingdom of Script is now collapsing.

There isn't much crossover with the plot of the original Fire Emblem, though a few characters make appearances, like the trio of Pegasus Knight sisters - Catria, Palla and Est - and Camus, previously an enemy, who has lost his memory and refers to himself here as Zeke.

Characters

Alm

A young boy from the village of Ram. Trained by the knight Mycen, he gathers and leads an army to free Valentia from the tyranny of Rudolf. He promotes to Hero later on and gains the ability to use bows as well as swords. Appears with blue hair in-game, but all of his other depictions show him with green hair. While initially treated as a lowborn peasant, he has a secret past, indicated by the mark on his hand.

Celica

A close childhood friend of Alm, who was carried away to another village at a young age. Under the watch of Mila's Great Sage Nouma, she masters magic and the sword. She doesn't know her country of origin, as she spent most of her childhood with Alm in Ram. Her quest starts out on an island far south of Valentia. She is joined together with Alm with a similar mark on her hand, indicating a lineage that she does not initially expect.

The game starts with Alm and three young villagers from the town of Ram in his army. You have the option of changing these villagers into one of five classes - mages, cavaliers, mercenaries, archers or soldiers. From then on, they'll proceed down a linear class change path. It may seem simplistic, but it's a lot more customizable than most Fire Emblem titles. The game takes you through two quests, one lead by Alm and the other by Celica. Eventually you can control them on the same overworld map and alternate between them as will, though beyond an extremely brief encounter in the middle of the game, their paths won't cross until the very end. Therefore, all of their party members are seperate (though you can trade items between each other through the use of peddlers). Their stories focus on slightly different elements even though they're both on the same side - Alm's path focuses on directly fighting the generals of the Rigelian army, while Celica's concentrates on the pirates that roam the land and the evil forces that are manipulating the war from behind the scenes. It's quite a rowsing moment when the two parties finally join together for the penultimate battle.

There are a huge number of differences between Gaiden and the original game, most of which were discarded for subsequent entries. So, as with Castlevania II, Zelda II, and Super Mario Bros. 2, it suffers from that "second installment weirdness" of other NES sequels. For starters, you can walk around towns and talk to people, plus there are dungeons to explore. There's an overworld map which lets you walk around the continent of Valentia, with enemy units that need to be dealt with before you can proceed. Sometimes new enemy units spawn on the field as well. Beacuse of this, rather than having a fixed number of number of battles, you'll get into many, many more fights in this game than in most of the others. Conversely, this is one of the few early Fire Emblem games where you can actually revisit older maps for experience. For the most part, level grinding is practically a necessity, given some of the immensely strong foes you'll face.

Others bits of strange mechanics are abound as well. Archers can attack at point blank, whereas normally they have a blind spot in the spaces immediately surrounding them. Magic spells now drain the spellcaster's HP, making them even more vulnerable if you keep them too close to the fray, but conversely, the healers also have spells that can steal enemy HP for their own. There's no need for any items to promote your characters, you just reach a certain level and then visit a shrine of Mila. There are also limited-use fountains which can be used to level up certain stats, and a few can even revive fallen characters. characters always have a default weapon. So rather than having individual pieces of equipment, each character can only hold a single item. These can be offensive or defensive items to boost stats, or can be a consumable item to restore health on the battlefield. Weapons never wear down either, so you never need to worry about them breaking. There are no stores, or even any form of currency.

There's also a greater emphasis on randomness in this game. Terrain plays a huge part in determining whether an attack hits or misses, and you'll find more critical attacks occurring here than most other Fire Emblem games. Units are balanced differently too. Archers are extremely powerful here, as they can attack outside of the range of all of the other units with the right equipment/class, but they'll also miss more often, so they're also unreliable. Unfortunately some of the maps make for some irritating battles, especially the ones with squares where you can only move a single space a turn, or even worse, sap your health. There are also enemies that can summon several smaller units into battle, and certain enemies, witches, that can teleport around at will. If you're really unlucky, they'll teleport next to a weak unit and kill them immediately. And rather than focusing primarily on human (and dragon) combat, there's a larger number of monsters and undead creatures to fight this time around. It's quite a difficult game, as to be expected, but there's also a hidden Easy mode that doubles obtained experience and makes some other tweaks, like allowing you to trade items between parties at will. Finally, all of the games in the Fire Emblem series feature a red haired girl with a ponytail named Anna. Except for this one, anyway.

Because of all of this, Fire Emblem Gaiden was regarded as the bastard child of the series. However, the years have vindicated it a bit, as the Game Boy Advance game Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones brought back the map screen and dual protagonists, plus it was given the remake treatment with the 2017 3DS game Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Sega's Shining Force series for the Genesis also borrows many of its elements (like walking around towns) from this entry.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Director:

  • Sūzo Kaga

Genre:

Themes:


Fire Emblem Gaiden (Famicom)

Fire Emblem Gaiden (Famicom)

Fire Emblem Gaiden (Famicom)

Fire Emblem Gaiden (Famicom)

Fire Emblem Gaiden (Famicom)


Additional Screenshots


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem Gaiden

Page 2:
Monshō no Nazo
Seisen no Keifu
Thracia 776

Page 3:
Fūin no Tsurugi
Rekka no Ken
The Sacred Stones

Page 4:
Path of Radiance
Radiant Dawn

Page 5:
Shadow Dragon
Shin Monshō no Nazo

Page 6:
Awakening
Anime
Other

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