Fire Emblem (JP) is a series of turn-based and tactical RPG games developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The director of the first 6 games was Shouzou Kaga, who left the company afterwards and had his role filled by Tohru Narihiro for further games until the 2nd DS title when he transitioned to producer. It is credited with being the first tactical RPG.
The gameplay in Fire Emblem games are remarkably similar across all games, with each game usually adding something significant to the formula.
Fire Emblem involves using a handful of units on a grid-based map to defeat enemy units. During their turn, the player is able to move their units one at a time and attack an enemy if they are within the unit's range. Once a unit has moved, the unit cannot be moved again during that turn. Once the player has moved all of their units, their turn ends and the enemy's turn begins, where their units will move to attack yours.
Each unit is unique in that they have a class, which determines what weapons they are capable of using, how many grid spaces they can move, etc.. Each unit also has growth rates, which determine which stats grow upon the unit leveling up.
In every game starting with Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (and excluding Archanean War Chronicles due to the nature of that particular game), units have supports with one another. Supports are mostly stuff that develops the background of characters, but they also provide adjacency boosts in a fight. In later games, achieving max support with characters can unlock alternate classes for a character and give access to Paralogues with new characters.
The first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, was a late Famicom release that caught the attention of the Japanese audience with its challenging gameplay and permadeath system. The games that followed grew in success in Japan leading to the development of a Nintendo 64 Fire Emblem title. However, development struggles along with the poor performance of the system in Japan led to the title's cancellation with Intelligent Systems moving back to the Super Famicom with a successor to the most successful entry at the time, Genealogy of the Holy War, with Fire Emblem: Thracia 776.
After this, they stopped solely focusing on home consoles and released their first handheld game on the Game Boy Advance, which would be their focus for the next three games. Around the same time, the Fire Emblem series made its way to the west for the first time via Super Smash Bros. Melee, which featured two characters from the series. Marth, the protagonist of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem, as well as Roy, the protagonist of the recently releasing Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade on GBA. After the west was familiarized with the series through Smash Bros. Nintendo decided to bringing the games to the west starting with Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade for the GBA, which acts as a prequel to The Binding Blade. Following it came Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, which was unrelated to the other games and closed the GBA era.
Following this, Intelligent Systems came back to home consoles with Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the Nintendo GameCube. This marked the start of the decline of the series as Path of Radiance is still the worst selling mainline entry in the series today, showing that it was incredibly unpopular on release. A sequel was later released for the Wii under the name of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Radiant Dawn was likewise a very unpopular game who barely did better than Path of Radiance and is the second worst-selling game in the series to this day. After these two games, Super Smash Bros. Brawl released and the protagonist of the two recent games, Ike, replaced Roy as the second Fire Emblem representative.
To ensure that the series survived, Intelligent Systems decided to put everything they could in the first 3DS entry included an expanded support system that included Marriage again, simpler objectives, a narrative that tried to tie the worlds from the previous games and regular online content as well as DLC. The game was landmark success for the franchise, especially in the West. This was not only the first entry in the series to surpass 1 million in a fiscal year, but the game also sold several packs of DLC to make a notable increase in Nintendo's digital revenue. Nintendo soon greenlit another entry in the series with Fates.
The success of both Awakening and Fates led Nintendo and Intelligent Systems to consider the franchise a major franchise for Nintendo's future. Meanwhile, Robin and Lucina from Awakening were added to the next [Super Smash Bros. game, titled Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, which released in 2014. In 2015, Roy was added back as DLC followed by Corrin, the main character of Fates. The new status of the franchise come to initial fruition with 3 Fire Emblem titles in 2017; the Gaiden remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Nintendo's 3rd mobile title Fire Emblem Heroes and a Warriors series spin-off in Fire Emblem Warriors.
As soon as January 2017, the return of Fire Emblem to home consoles was teased with the announcement of a new game stated to release on the Nintendo Switch in 2018. The game was properly shown for the first time at E3 2018. It was given the name of Fire Emblem: Three Houses and pushed back to 2019. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate released later that year and it added Chrom to the list of the Fire Emblem characters that were already playable in the series. The game got rid of the marriage mechanic that had become tied to the new 3DS games and instead opted for a single romance that would only affect the endings. It also used the free roaming mechanic reintroduced in Shadow of Valentia to put a hub at the center of the game, which separate gameplay in two halves. Since the premise of the game puts the player in the shoes of a professor at a military school, the roaming phase can be used to teach students and do activities that afect the other half. The other half is traditional Fire Emblem combat with its own gameplay twists. The game is also separated into four different routes depending on the class you teach.
In early 2020, Byleth Eisner, the protagonist of Three Houses was added as DLC to Ultimate. Around the same time, the Cindered Shadow side story was added as DLC to Three Houses. Three Houses would eventually dethrone Fates as the best selling Fire Emblem game. Later that year, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light would release worldwide with an official english translation for the first time on the Nintendo Switch for the series 30 years.
List of games
There are a total of 16 main games in the Fire Emblem series. 3 of them are integral remakes.
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light - Famicom (1990)
- Fire Emblem Gaiden - Famicom (1992)
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem - Super Famicom (1994)
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War - Super Famicom (1996)
- Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 - Super Famicom (1999)
- Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade - Game Boy Advance (2002)
- Fire Emblem - Game Boy Advance (Released in Japan as Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken, 2003)
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones - Game Boy Advance (2004)
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - Nintendo GameCube (2005)
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn - Wii (2007)
- Fire Emblem Awakening - Nintendo 3DS (2012)
- Fire Emblem Fates - Nintendo 3DS (2015)
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Nintendo Switch (2019)
- BS Fire Emblem: Archanean War Chronicles - Satellaview (1997) - A very abridged remake of Mystery of the Emblem with some alternate scenarios
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon - Nintendo DS (2008) - Remake of Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light
- Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem - Nintendo DS (2010) - Remake of Mystery of the Emblem
- Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia - Nintendo 3DS (2017) - Remake of Gaiden
- Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is a crossover, turn-based role-playing game between the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei series.
- Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore is an expanded port to the Nintendo Switch featuring additional side stories as well additional costumes
- Fire Emblem Heroes is a mobile game that takes the series elements and simplifies it into a single screen affair. In addition, most characters from the series are included.
- Fire Emblem Warriors subseries
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Following the inclusion of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, 2003's Fire Emblem saw a worldwide release, with every following game, excluding New Mystery of the Emblem, being released worldwide as well. The series saw modest Western success with the Radiant saga doing better in the West than Japan, but its sister series, Advance Wars, was the more popular ones.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Following his appearance in Melee, Marth would return to the series in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but Roy would be replaced by Ike. However, with the underperformance of Radiant Dawn, Intelligent Systems decided to cancel the new Fire Emblem game on the Wii, in favor of trying to earn back with a remake of the original game on the DS. However, Shadow Dragon's poor look and bad balance deterred fans from this game and the next game which was a similar remake of Mystery of the Emblem. After this, the franchise took a short break. Lyn was also introduced as an Assist Trophy.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, in addition to Marth and Ike returning, Robin and Lucina from Awakening were also added as playable fighters. Roy was re-introduced as a DLC character, followed by Corrin from Fates. Lyn still remained as an Assist Trophy.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
All the characters from the previous Super Smash Bros. games return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Lyn is still an Assist Trophy like in the two past games. Previously, she was the only Fire Emblem character among Assist Trophies, but in Ultimate, she is joined in this capacity by Black Knight from Path of Radiance and Tiki as she appears in Awakening. In addition, Chrom and Byleth appear as playable characters, with Byleth being a DLC character as part of the Fighter's Pass.
Fire Emblem: Trading Card Game
In the August 2001, NTT Publishing Co., Ltd. released Fire Emblem: Trading Card Game in Japan. It features characters, items, skills, and locations from the first five Fire Emblem games. It features seven full expansions and 50 promotional cards not tied to any particular expansion.
The first three expansions, the first one going unnamed, the second being titled Bonds of Fate, and the third being titled A New Power, featured characters from Genealogy of the Holy War. The fourth expansion, titled Disturbance in Thracia, featured characters from Thracia 776.
The fifth expansion, not counted as a series and simply titled Jugdral Anthology, featured characters from both Seisen no Keifu and Thracia 776. The final two series featured characters from Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem. The game was discontinued sometime around 2006.
Fire Emblem Cipher
For the 25th anniversary of the Fire Emblem series and to accompany the launch of Fates, Nintendo launched a collectible card game based on the Fire Emblem series called Fire Emblem Cipher. It incorporates characters from across the Fire Emblem series through various card packs based on different games. The card game also ties into Fates by allowing 3 characters to be unlocked in-game via code, those being Marth, Lucina, and Minerva, all at level 10, though none of them are promotable by any method.