Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem
Fire emblem noken.jpg
Wallpaper featuring, from left to right, the protagonists Hector, Eliwood and Lyndis from Fire Emblem, the first Fire Emblem game to be released internationally
Genres Strategy role-playing
Developers Intelligent Systems
Publishers Nintendo
Creators Shouzou Kaga
Composers Yuka Tsujiyoko
Platforms Family Computer, Super Famicom, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, DS, Wii, 3DS
Platform of origin Family Computer
First release Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Ken
April 20, 1990
Latest release Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū
July 15, 2010
Official website Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム Faiā Emuburemu?) is a fantasy tactical role-playing video game franchise developed by Intelligent Systems (specifically Shouzou Kaga),[1] the maker of Advance Wars (which shares some of Fire Emblem's strategic elements), and published by Nintendo. The Fire Emblem series is well-known for its innovation and for being one of the first Eastern style tactical role-playing games, with a strong emphasis on Western forms of medieval folklore. The series is also renowned for having deeply developed characters, as well as the fact that most units' death—or defeat in battle—is permanent in the game until the end of the playthrough.[2] The series currently spans twelve games, and has been released on the Family Computer, Super Famicom, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS and Wii.[3] In July 2010, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū for the Nintendo DS, a remake of the third game, Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo, to commemorate the series's 20th anniversary.[4]

Most games in the series have been released exclusively in Japan. Fire Emblem, the seventh title in the series, became the first game of the franchise to be released internationally in 2003,[5] largely due to the popularity of Fire Emblem characters Marth and Roy's appearances in Super Smash Bros. Melee.[6] Released outside Japan as Fire Emblem, the game was designed specifically with newcomers to the series in mind, and the first ten chapters were structured in a manner that eased newcomers into the gameplay.[7] All Fire Emblem games produced since have also been released internationally, except for Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū.[3]

Contents

Gameplay

Basics

Gameplay map screen from Fire Emblem: Thracia 776

The Fire Emblem series of turn-based tactics games centers around moving units through a map grid in order to defeat the opposition. Players use strategic movements and positioning to complete mission objectives such as seizing a base,[7] surviving for a number of turns, or defeating a boss. Many conventions of traditional console role-playing games are also present; for example, there is extensive use of scripted cutscenes to advance the story, units gain experience points and grow stronger over the course of the campaign, and the player can visit shops to outfit characters with weapons and equipment.[8] Depending on the game, these events may take place during or in-between battles.

The combat system bases itself on a rock-paper-scissors method of fighting,[2] as each weapon type has both an advantage and a disadvantage against other types. Starting in the fourth game, Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, the weapon triangle has been lance beats sword, sword beats axe, and axe beats lance.[9] Bows are unaffected by the triangle, can attack from a distance, and do higher amounts of damage against flying units like pegasi,[2] but this is offset by the bow-wielder's inability to counter-attack melee strikes. A similar magic triangle exists in some games. In the Game Boy Advance Fire Emblem games, light beats dark, dark beats anima, and anima beats light.[10] In other games, fire beats wind, wind beats thunder, and thunder beats fire. Magic and certain axes and spears can be used either from a distance or in melee range.

Unlike in most other games, most weapons in the Fire Emblem series have a finite number of uses and will eventually break. Therefore, the player must often buy replacement weapons or spend gold to have broken weapons repaired.[7] Typically, weaker weapons allow more uses than more powerful ones, and are often more accurate.

Units

Using units in battle will allow them to gain experience points; a character's level will increase upon gaining one hundred experience points. Leveling up party members can be a challenge, as many newly recruited units arrive with inferior levels and statistics,[11] but because the amount of experience earned from defeating an enemy is determined by the level discrepancy between the battling units, characters at lower levels earn more experience than higher-leveled characters when defeating enemies of comparable level. In addition to statistics, units have a weapon level for each type of weapon they can use; these run from E (lowest) to S (highest). In Radiant Dawn it is possible to achieve an SS weapon level, which is one level higher than S.[12] Units can only use weapons whose level is equal to or lower than their own, but weapon levels can be increased by repeatedly using weapons of that type.

As characters level up, they may gain the ability to change to a more powerful character class, often referred to as "promotion." Depending on the mechanics of the particular game, characters may promote upon reaching a certain level,[2] through the use of special items that instantly cause promotion, or by visiting a certain location. Major characters may automatically promote during story events. Characters that promote receive a one-time statistics upgrade that is higher than the average leveling upgrade and additional abilities that are standards of the higher-tier classes.

Characters

Unlike in Advance Wars and other tactical RPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics, player-generated units are absent. Instead, Fire Emblem utilizes a distinct cast of characters, each belonging to one of many character classes and having a personality and past of his or her own.[2] Typically, the size of the player's character roster is very small at the beginning of each game, but as progress is made, other units may join the player's party through story events or through actions taken. The later games in the series typically contain playable rosters between thirty and seventy characters deep.[13]

Supports

Romance and friendship are prevalent themes throughout the Fire Emblem series. Starting from the sixth game, Fūin no Tsurugi,[14] this characteristic has been further emphasized in the gameplay itself through the use of support conversations. In the GBA Fire Emblem titles, these conversations can be triggered by having specific pairs of characters end their turns standing next to each other. After a specific number of turns have accumulated, the player is given the option to view a support conversation between the two characters; this process can occur up to three times.[13] Path of Radiance altered the approach by requiring characters to be in a certain number of battles together and not necessarily adjacent to one another.[15] Radiant Dawn changed the system further, allowing multiple means of accumulating support between characters; in addition, supports can occur between any two playable characters, but can also be removed. However, the conversations were trimmed down to a bare minimum with set questions and answers, a controversial change among the fans.

Characters who support each other receive statistical bonuses, based on support level and each character's elemental affinity, that activate any time they are within three spaces of each other on the battlefield.[13] If two characters with a mutual romantic attraction, strong friendship, or other form of mutual connection engage in three support conversations throughout the game, the result will sometimes affect the game's ending.[16] Depending on the characters involved, such results could include marriage, a deepening of friendship, a continued pursuit of their ongoing relationship, or in some cases a bittersweet parting.

Death

One of Fire Emblem's signature elements is the concept of "permanent death." Fire Emblem characters that run out of hit points and die cannot be brought back to life in the game.[2] This also affects recruitable NPC and enemy units. If a player wishes to continue using a character or to recruit a would-be playable unit that has been killed, then the player must restart that chapter from the beginning. In addition, a "Game Over" occurs whenever one of the main characters falls, or in other situations depending on a mission's requirements. Only under special circumstances, such as being significantly related to the story, will characters who have fallen in battle not actually die, though the player will still be unable to use them in further battles.[8] In extremely rare situations, characters that fall in battle can become playable at a later point in the game. For example, in Fire Emblem, the game is split into two parts, Lyn's tale and Eliwood's (or Hector's) tale; all characters from Lyn's tale are recruited again in the second part of the game, as characters who are "killed" retreat from the battlefield due to extreme wounds, and recover by the second part ready to fight again. In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, there is a compulsory sidequest in the game, in which if the two Cavaliers fall in battle, they will still return later on. Also in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, some partner units and previously playable enemies will retreat from battle and later return as playable. In Fire Emblem: Gaiden, dead units can be resurrected a limited number of times via Lion Head statues. In Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo, towards the end of each book, an item called the Ohm (or Aum) staff will become available which, via certain characters who can use it, can resurrect dead units. In a similar way, Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu allows the player to revive perished characters with the Valkyrie staff. Finally in Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū, players for the first time can have the option to turn off the "permanent death" feature under "Casual Mode," or turn it on under "Classic Mode," the former mode intended to appeal to beginners.

Fictional universe

The primary settings of the Fire Emblem series are commonly defined by the names of the continents on which the games are set. Aside from Akaneia and Barensia, which are confirmed to be part of the same world, each continent is thought to exist in its own separate universe with its own incarnation of the Fire Emblem. Games set on the same continent are typically linked through the overarching storyline and character relationships. For example, Fire Emblem is a prequel to Fūin no Tsurugi,[17] and some of the characters in these games are blood-related. There are currently six continents:

  • Akaneia:[1] Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no TsurugiMonshou no NazoAkaneia SenkiShadow Dragon
  • Barensia:[18] Gaiden
  • Jugdral: Seisen no KeifuThracia 776[19]
  • Elibe: Fūin no Tsurugi[14]Rekka no Ken[17]
  • Magvel: Sacred Stones[20]
  • Tellius: Path of Radiance[21]Radiant Dawn[22]

The Fire Emblem

The eponymous item of the games is a plot device or item that has taken multiple forms throughout the series, changing with the setting. The original Fire Emblem was a shield. In the remake of the original game in Monshō no Nazo, the Fire Emblem can open chests, and in the second half of the game, it can be upgraded with five orbs to turn it into the Shield of Seals.[23] In Seisen no Keifu, it does not appear, but it is mentioned as the family crest of a noble house by the person succeeding it.[24] In Fūin no Tsurugi and Fire Emblem, the Fire Emblem is a gemstone required for a ceremony to recognize the heir to the kingdom of Bern, and was used to seal away a dragon. In The Sacred Stones, the Fire Emblem is one of the eponymous stones, which holds the spirit of a demon. In Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, it is a medallion containing the imprisoned spirit of a goddess who was referred to as a dark god.

Media

Main series

The following is a list of games released in the series.

Games predating Fire Emblem were released only in Japan. As a result, there are no official English language titles for these games, except Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light, Fire Emblem Gaiden and Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade. These names are used in the sound test for Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii.

Original release date(s):[25]
  • JP April 20, 1990
Release years by system:
1990 – Family Computer
2009 – Virtual Console
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan as Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi[26] (lit. "Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light")[27]
  • First game in the Fire Emblem series
  • The first Fire Emblem Family Computer game



Original release date(s):[27][28]
  • JP March 14, 1992
Release years by system:
1992 – Family Computer
2009 – Virtual Console
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan
  • A side story of the original title


Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo

Original release date(s):
  • JP January 21, 1994
Release years by system:
1994 – Super Famicom
2006 – Virtual Console
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan as Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo (lit. "Mystery of the Emblem")[29]
  • Enhanced remake of Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi along with a sequel
  • The first Fire Emblem Super Famicom game
  • The first Fire Emblem Virtual Console game
  • It was adapted into a 2-part anime series


Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu

Original release date(s):
  • JP May 14, 1996
Release years by system:
1996 – Super Famicom
2007 – Virtual Console
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan as Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu (lit. "Genealogy of Holy War")[30]
  • Deviates from standard Fire Emblem gameplay mechanisms
  • First Fire Emblem with a separate setting. However, it takes place on the same planet as Shadow Dragon, just on a different continent and at about the same time.


Fire Emblem: Thracia 776

Original release date(s):[19]
  • JP September 1, 1999
Release years by system:
1999 – Super Famicom
2008 – Virtual Console
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan
  • A side story of Seisen no Keifu first released on the Nintendo Power download service
  • Regular ROM version was released in 2000


Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi

Original release date(s):
  • JP March 29, 2002
Release years by system:
2002 – Game Boy Advance
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi[31] (lit. "Sword of Seals")
  • The first Fire Emblem title to appear on a Nintendo handheld
  • The first Fire Emblem Gameboy Advance game
  • In Super Smash Brothers Brawl, the game is listed as The Binding Blade[32]



Original release date(s):
  • JP April 25, 2003
  • NA November 3, 2003
  • PAL July 16, 2004
Release years by system:
2003 – Game Boy Advance
Notes:
  • Known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken[33] (lit. "The Sword of Flame")[34]
  • The first Fire Emblem title to be released outside of Japan
  • A prequel to Fūin no Tsurugi



Original release date(s):
  • JP October 7, 2004
  • NA May 23, 2005
  • PAL November 4, 2005
Release years by system:
2004 – Game Boy Advance
Notes:
  • Known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Seima no Kōseki (lit. "Shining Stones of Holiness and Evil")
  • Incorporates several play mechanics not seen since Fire Emblem Gaiden
  • Only Fire Emblem title not related to any other game in the series by setting or story


Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Original release date(s):
  • JP April 20, 2005
  • NA October 17, 2005
  • PAL November 4, 2005
Release years by system:
2005 – Nintendo GameCube
Notes:
  • Known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Sōen no Kiseki (lit. "Trail of the Blue Flame")[35]
  • The first title in the series to be rendered in three-dimensions and to incorporate full motion video
  • The first title since Thracia 776 to incorporate a customizable skill system
  • The first and only Fire Emblem GameCube game


Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Original release date(s):[36][37]
  • JP February 22, 2007
  • NA November 11, 2007
  • PAL March 14, 2008
Release years by system:
2007 – Wii
Notes:
  • Known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Akatsuki no Megami (lit. "The Goddess of Dawn")[38]
  • The sequel to Path of Radiance
  • First Fire Emblem title since The Sacred Stones to have multi-tier promotions
  • The first Fire Emblem Wii game


Fire Emblem (working title)

Original release date(s):
Release years by system:
Spring 2012 – Nintendo 3DS
Notes:
  • New entry in the main series, announced for the 3DS at the 2011 Nintendo3DS conference.
  • Features a new option to perform a team-up attack with a supporting character.


Remakes

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Original release date(s):[39][40][41]
  • JP August 7, 2008
  • NA February 16, 2009
  • EU December 5, 2008
Release years by system:
2008 – Nintendo DS
Notes:
  • Known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Shin Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Ken (lit. "New Dark Dragon and the Sword of Light")
  • The first Fire Emblem DS Game
  • Second enhanced remake of Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi
  • The first game in the series to have online capabilities.[42]


Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyū

Original release date(s):[43][44]
Release years by system:
2010 – Nintendo DS
Notes:
  • Known in Japan as Fire Emblem: Shin Monshō no Nazo ~Hikari to Kage no Eiyū~ (lit. "New Mystery of the Emblem ~Heroes of Light and Shadow~")
  • Remake of Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo and sequel to Shadow Dragon
  • The first game in the series to feature character customization.
  • The first game in the series to allow players an option to switch off the "permanent death" feature.
  • With no release date outside of Japan for 3 years and with the release of the 3DS, it is very likely this game will be the first to be Japan exclusive since Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi. This does not mean that Nintendo will cease localizing Fire Emblem games altogether.


Other/cancelled games

BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki

Original release date(s):
  • JP September, 1997
Release years by system:
1997 & 1999– Satellaview
Notes:
  • Released only in Japan as BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki (lit. "Record of Akaneia Wars")
  • A set of four short game prequels to Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi / Monshō no Nazo
  • Broadcast on the Satellaview service in 1997 and later re-broadcast in 1999


Fire Emblem 64

Original release date(s):
Cancelled
Release years by system:
Cancelled
Notes:
  • A Fire Emblem game was originally planned for release on the Nintendo 64DD,[45] but the project was discontinued due to the 64DD being a commercial failure.


Music

The musical scores for Fire Emblem have been composed by Yuka Tsujiyoko for most of the series' history.[46] Most of the games in the series featured soundtracks composed entirely of instrumental music. However, BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki broke from this trend with the end credit theme "Wind", a lyrical song sung in Japanese (and which was later rearranged and released as a single for Fire Emblem: Thracia 776). Similarly, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn have featured lyrical songs, "Life Returns" and "Dawn Awakens" respectively, both sung in the fictional language of the games called "The Ancient Language". "Life Awakens" is the song that the fictional heron laguz(bird-humanoid shape shifters) sing. It is sung as "Galdr", which is the fictional language of the game sung. The song is sung during a cut-scene, and also at the end during the credits. "Dawn Awakens" is also sung in the ancient language, but is not sung during the game, but only during the credits if certain criteria was met in-game, A lyrical version of the "Fire Emblem Main Theme", previously used in older advertisements, is also in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Due to the worldwide release of the game, this version of the song is sung in Latin.[47]

There are also recurring tracks in the Fire Emblem series. The most frequently used is the "Fire Emblem Main Theme" which is played at some point during each game. Its use is particularly varied, as it is sometimes used as the title screen theme, while in Path of Radiance, the song is not heard until the very end of the game, when each character's performance is ranked. Since Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, battle themes of previous Fire Emblem games have been remixed as arena battle themes. Similar rearranging appears in other circumstances, as well; for example, the musical score for the trial maps in Path of Radiance was originally the music score for Chapter 10 of Seisen no Keifu. The games' music has been released on various soundtracks in Japan.[48]

Anime

Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎 Faiā Emburemu Monshō no Nazo?) is a two episode Japanese original video animation directed by Shin Misawa and produced by KSS and Studio Fantasia. Released in 1996, it is based on Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo,[citation needed] the third game of the series, which in turn included a remake of Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Ken, the first game in the series. The English language adaptation of Fire Emblem is licensed by ADV Films.

Manga

Several manga adaptations exist for various games in the series. These include a manga based on Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Ken, by Maki Hakoda, and three manga based on Seisen no Keifu by Fujimori Nattsu, Mitsuki Ōsawa and Nea Fuyuki.[49] The last released manga was Fire Emblem: Hasha no Tsurugi (ファイアーエムブレム 覇者の剣?, lit. Fire Emblem: Champion's sword), a re-telling of the events of Fūin no Tsurugi, but with alternate leads Al, Gant and Tiena.[50] These three characters are referenced in Fūin no Tsurugi in the form of three special weapons: Al's Sword, Gant's Lance and Tiena's Staff.

Card game

The Fire Emblem trading card game was released by NTT Publishing Co., Ltd. in August 2001. Six series were produced before its termination in 2006. The first three series depicted characters from Seisen no Keifu, the fourth featured characters from Thracia 776, and the Anthology expansion featured characters from both games, but with artwork from different artists. The final two expansions featured characters from Monshō no Nazo. The trading card game is similar to battles in Fire Emblem, but players battle with different types of cards, such as character, terrain, weapon and surprise cards. NTT Publishing also published Fire Emblem soundtracks and books.[51]

Influence on other media

Appearance in other games

Marth (left) and Ike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Since its inception in 1990, the Fire Emblem series had largely been confined to Japan. In 2001, however, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. Melee, a fighting game containing characters from throughout the company's videogaming history. The original Japanese release of this game contained two characters from the Fire Emblem series: Marth, the protagonist of the first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (Fire Emblem: Ankoku no Ryū to Hikari no Ken), and the third, Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo; and Roy,[52] who stars in the then-unreleased sixth game, Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi. According to Nintendo's official Japanese website, Marth was put in Super Smash Bros. Melee upon the request of Japanese gamers. If Marth is unlocked, players can change the music of the Temple stage to a remixed version of the "Fire Emblem Main Theme" and Shadow Dragon (Ankoku Ryū to Rekka no Ken)'s "Encounter Theme".[53]

Marth's design and playability earned him extra attention while the game underwent debug testing in North America, and it was by the decision of Nintendo of America that he was included in the North American version. Roy had been included in Japan to promote the upcoming release of Fūin no Tsurugi, and was likewise included in the North American version. It was due in part to Marth and Roy's popularity from their appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee that Nintendo decided to localize and market Fire Emblem games for North American and European release.[6]

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Marth returns as a playable character,[54] along with Ike from Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn.[55] Lyn, one of the lords from Fire Emblem, also makes an appearance as an Assist Trophy item summon, while other major characters appear as trophies, stickers or both.[56] One of the game's stages, Castle Siege, is inspired by the Fire Emblem series.[57] The Fire Emblem Main Theme has been arranged similar to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl main theme, including orchestral arrangement and Latin lyrics,[58] though the Fire Emblem music from Melee is used among other pieces of music.[59] A trial version of Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo has been included exclusively in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[60]

In another Intelligent Systems game, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, a young Toad raves about his favorite video games when spoken to. The first game he talks about is Fire Emblem.[61] Likewise, the Nintendo DS game Daigasso! Band-Brothers features the Fire Emblem theme as a song.[62]

Controversy

Controversy began in 2001 when Shouzou Kaga, one of the series' main developers, left Nintendo to found Tirnanog, an independent studio. One of his first games was Tear Ring Saga for the PlayStation, a game that borrowed heavily from the Fire Emblem series in terms of graphics and gameplay.[63] The game was initially similar to Fire Emblem in title, with the development name being Emblem Saga. Nintendo filed a lawsuit against Tirnanog and the game's distributor Enterbrain seeking $2 million in the belief that the game infringed upon Nintendo's copyright.[64] Nintendo lost,[63] and Tirnanog later produced a sequel called Tear Ring Saga: Berwick Saga.

Media reception and sales

The Fire Emblem games have scored well in the media — Fire Emblem was awarded 9.5 by IGN in 2003.[8] On Game Rankings, Fire Emblem averages 88%, The Sacred Stones averages 85%, Path of Radiance averages 86%,[65] and Radiant Dawn averages 78%.[66] Critics have welcomed the character development and plotlines but have criticized the limited multiplayer options.[8] A common criticism of the series' GameCube and Wii titles is that their 3D graphics are lacking compared to many other console titles.[67]

In 2006, Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo appeared in Famitsu's Top 100 Games list, where it is number 68.[68] Radiant Dawn was the highest selling Wii game of the week ending February 25, 2007, with 73,359 sales in Japan.[69]

See also

References

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