By Landon Crook
Tell me, what do you think of when you hear the word Nintendo? Mario? Zelda? Perhaps Splatoon, Star Fox or Yoshi. However, there is another series that looks to become another one of Nintendo’s iconic franchises, albeit quietly.
“Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light” is a strategy role playing game first released in 1990 on the Famicom. The game was rather unique and something most people never played before. The game had a diverse cast of characters, an okay story and new and interesting game play mechanics. The game involved moving your units on a tile layout, with a fixed distance each character can go, with each character having unique stats and wielding different types of swords and lances to combat enemy units.
The game also incorporated a permadeath mechanic, where if a unit was killed, they are dead forever. The game had shaky sales and reception, but it laid the foundation for what the series would become.
The sequel “Fire Emblem Gaiden,” released in ‘92, was a commercial success. Gaiden was the game that showed Nintendo that they might have something special on their hands, but once again, the reception was rather mixed, as Gaiden changed a lot from what Shadow Dragon established. Gaiden is often compared to “Zelda II” for both games having short-lived innovations.
The third game, “Mystery of the Emblem,” released in ‘94 on the Super Famicom, was a partial remake of the first game and featured a new story which continued from the events from the first game. It was also a commercial success, having the best sales of any game in the series until “Awakening.” It also was received fairly well unlike “Shadow Dragon” and “Gaiden.” The 4th game, “Genealogy of the Holy War,” released in ‘96, followed up on the success of “Mystery of the Emblem,” being commercially and critically successful, often regarded as the best entry in the series for it’s long-lasting innovations and excellent story.
This was also the first game where story was the forefront, as with the previous three games, due to memory constraints, the story took a backseat.
The 5th game, “Thracia 776,” released in ‘99 on the Super Famicom, was a commercial success at the time, but is the worst selling game in the series. The poor sales were due to the Nintendo 64 already being out for about four years at the point of the game’s release.
Over the years, other games were released. “Fire Emblem” (GBA), released in 2003, was the first Fire Emblem game released in America.
The series eventually lost popularity and was threatened to be cancelled, but due to the success of “Fire Emblem: Awakening,” released in 2012, the series was brought back and helped make “Fire Emblem” as popular as it is today, with even a TV show possible.