Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (JP) (known in-game as Fire Emblem (JP)) is the first game in the Fire Emblem series developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo.

It was first released on the Famicom (known internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System) on April 20, 1990. It takes place on the continent of Archanea.

It stars Marth, a character who later appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The Falchion weapon from this game acts as the Fire Emblem franchise's symbol in the Super Smash Bros. series. The game was rereleased on multiple systems in Japan including the Wii Virtual Console in 2009, the Nintendo 3DS virtual console in 2012 and the Wii U virtual console in 2014. The game was later released on the Nintendo Switch Online service exclusively to Japan in march 2019 before being released worldwide for the first time on the Nintendo eShop proper on December 4th 2020.


Fire Emblem was one of the earliest games in the turn-based strategy genre on home consoles. However, unlike other strategy games, Fire Emblem borrowed several elements from role-playing games such as Dragon Quest, and is among the first, if not the first game in the tactical role-playing genre. Later games in the series made numerous changes to the gameplay. The following is a list of gameplay differences that distinguish this game from its sequels:

  • There are no colored tiles indicating a unit's movement range, and the player must move the cursor to see how far one of the characters can move.
  • Characters can only hold four weapons and/or items at a time. Also, weapons/items cannot be traded between two units. The player can give a weapon or item to another unit if they are holding fewer than four weapons and items, but only one can be given at a time, and the giving unit will not be able to move until next turn.
  • Weapon and item storage makes use of a tent (similar to the method used in Fire Emblem), and it costs ten gold to deposit one weapon/item, while withdrawing items costs nothing. Also, the player cannot purchase a weapon or item at a store and send it directly into storage, meaning that characters carrying full loads cannot make purchases. However, anything dropped by a defeated enemy can be sent into storage directly.
  • Healing units (such as clerics) cannot gain experience from using staves. The only way they can earn experience is by being attacked by an enemy (even if the enemy misses).
  • Pegasus knights become dragon knights when they promote. Ever since Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, pegasus knights and dragon knights have been completely different classes. This was reintroduced in The Sacred Stones as an alternate class change for Pegasus Knights.
  • There is no weapon triangle, or rock-paper-scissors relationship between weapon classes. However, weapons still have their own traits. For example, most axes and lances are more powerful, but less accurate than swords.
  • Many classes, such as armor knights, axemen, hunters, and thieves have no promotion. Marth also cannot be promoted.
  • Castles only occupy one space, which means that the average boss can be surrounded and attacked by four different characters in a single turn.


The game takes place on the fictional continent of Archanea. The third game in the series, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, also takes in Archanea. It was also supposed to be the name of an unlockable map in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but the map was taken out as one of the final changes made.

There are several nations:

  • Archanea: Known as the Holy Kingdom, and shares the same name as the continent. It was founded by King Adrah after the a bloody conquest. The Fire Emblem is the kingdom's treasure.
  • Altea: A kingdom of knights, founded by the Hero Anri. It is allied with Gra, who share the same ancestry. Marth hails from this kingdom.
  • Gra: A kingdom that branched from Altea. After the death of Anri, some members of Altea's royal family left over inheritance issues and founded Gra.
  • Talys: An island kingdom. Marth escapes here after his homeland of Altea is invaded by Dolhr troops.
  • Aurelis: A kingdom located in the plains. It was founded by Marlon of Archanea, who was the younger brother, of Archaneas King Cartas.
  • Grust: A militant kingdom, famed for its Sable Order squadron. It was founded by General Ordwin.
  • Khadein: Known as the sanctuary of sorcery. It was founded by Archsage Gotoh.
  • Macedon: An island kingdom, home to Pegasus Knights and Dragon Knights. It was founded by Iote.
  • Dolhr: The kingdom of dragons, directly north of Macedon. It was ruled by the Shadow Dragon, Medeus. It is inhabited by Manakete.
  • Pyrathi: A minor kingdom in the east, it is very xenophobic land which hates outsiders.


Marth is prince of Altea and a direct descendant of Anri, the warrior who slew the Shadow Dragon Medeus. However, after the kingdom of Dolhr attacks Archanea and Altea, Marth is forced to become an exile in the far island nation of Talys. His sister Elice is taken hostage after his father King Cornelius is killed battling the evil Dark Pontifex Gharnef. With the help of the Altean knight Jagen, the Talysian Princess Caeda, and others, Marth embarks on a quest to find the Divine Blade Falchion which was stolen by Gharnef after his father's death. Only then will he be able to confront the resurrected Medeus, and save the world from his wrath.


List of Classes

Job Specialized Item Upgraded Class
Lord Sword None
Cavalier Sword, Lance Paladin
Paladin Sword, Lance None
Knight Sword, Lance None
General Sword, Lance None
Pegasus Knight Sword, Lance Dracoknight
Dracoknight Sword, Lance None
Mercenary Sword Hero
Hero Sword None
Fighter Axe None
Pirate Axe None
Archer Bow Sniper
Sniper Bow
Hunter Bow None
Horseman Bow None
Ballistician Catapaults None
Thief Sword,  None
Cleric Staves Bishop
Bishop Tomes, Staves Bishop
Freelancer Swords None


The game would get a remake for the Super Famicom known as Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, which also contains a new sequel to the original game (dubbed as Book Two, while the remake of the original game is known as Book One). A second remake named Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon was made for the Nintendo DS in 2008-2009. The remake is the first time that the original Fire Emblem game made its way to American and European shores. Apparently, Scott Pelland of Nintendo Power fame received the game in America when it was first released in Japan. He desperately wanted it to be released in North America, though his wish wasn't realised until the DS remake was released, which he covered in the magazine.

External links