So I’ve received a ton of positive feedback on my Guide to the Metroid Series that I wrote a few days back. A lot of people contacted me with their thanks for making a guide to push them in the right direction, and I actually got a request to do another series that I know quite a bit about. What series did they request? Well, surprisingly, Fire Emblem!
If you guys didn’t pick up anything about Fire Emblem from reading my blog, then I’d honestly be surprised. Fire Emblem is one of my favorite tactical RPG series of all time, and I talk about it like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Naturally I jumped on the offer to share my knowledge of the series.
This guide will be in the same style as my last guide, which focused on organizing the series into general categories, or tiers, so new or inexperienced players can get the most of out their time with the games. Without further ado, here’s the guide!
Note that next to the names of each game, I’ve put an abbreviation inside parenthesis that resembles (FE#). This is to inform you which number in the series that this game belongs to. For example: Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones (FE8) is the 8th in the series, and it’s widely accepted numerical abbreviation.
Also, the older, Japanese only games consisting of Fire Emblem 1-6 can all be emulated with little effort. If you wish to play any of these older titles, the Fire Emblem database SerenesForest have a section for translation patches for various languages.
Fire Emblem (Fire Emblem: Rekka No Ken) (FE7) (Gameboy Advance)
Also running under the names “Fire Emblem 7” and “Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword,” Fire Emblem 7 is as close to the true Fire Emblem experience as you could possibly get. FE7 introduced the western hemisphere to the series for the first time and set the standard for handheld titles at the same time. Featuring a very in depth tutorial featuring Lyn for beginners and the infamous Hector Hard Mode for experienced strategists, Fire Emblem 7 is a great entry point to the series and a mouthful for the battle hardened. Truly the best handheld Fire Emblem title all around, and the first Fire Emblem game anyone should play.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (FE9) (Gamecube)
The first 3D Fire Emblem in the series and the first game in the Tellius series debuted on the Gamecube and was immediately recognized by fans as one of the best titles thus far. Path of Radiance (or PoR) introduces a new race of beings called the Laguz, who transform into beast forms to do combat, and an overhauled pre-battle base screen. The Laguz and base mechanics were carried over to Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, which is a direct sequel to this game. Path of Radiance has who I believe to be one of the best lord character in the series: Ike. Ike’s character receives much more development than most lords in the series, and it pays of quite well. Taking a lot from previous Fire Emblem games and making the most of previous games’ criticism, the transition of 3D was a success thanks to Path of Radiance. Play this before Radiant Dawn, as Path of Radiance is a prequel to Radiant Dawn, but overall, play these whenever you wish, as it’s a good entry title and real ballbuster on Hard Mode (unless you solo everything with a blessed Ike like a badass).
Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (FE4) (Super Famicom/Super Nintendo)
Genealogy is widely considered to be the best of the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Fire Emblem titles. While featuring a few mechanics that were not brought over into the new generation of Fire Emblem games (Fire Emblem 1-5 are considered to be the older generation), it did introduce many things that were taken for granted in newer generation games. For starters, the series’ signature Weapon Triangle debuted in FE4. The Weapon Triangle dictates what weapons are advantageous and disadvantageous against other weapon types and was implemented into the series from then on. It also features a Relationship System where units could fall in love and have their children fight later on in the storyline. This along with the Special Skill system for individual characters were popular features that were reintroduced in the latest title: Fire Emblem: Awakening. Genealogy set the foundation of the new generation games, and it’s influence cannot be overlooked. I would not recommend this for a starting title as the mechanics are very untraditional, but definitely something you have to get to.
Must Play Titles
Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones (FE8) (Gameboy Advance)
Being the third Fire Emblem game on the Gameboy Advance, Sacred Stones took the series in a different direction with the readdition of a World Map introduced in Fire Emblem 2: Gaiden. In most Fire Emblem games, you progressed chapter by chapter, but in Sacred Stones, you had the option to go fight random monsters and take the game at your own pace. This left open opportunities for grinding, which is something you don’t get to do in a Fire Emblem game unless you exploitcertain mechanics. With the widespread grinding, many people felt Sacred Stones lacked challenge, and people who had this as their entry title couldn’t adjust to the standard Fire Emblem chapter progression, leaving them frustrated. Not the best entry title, but a refreshing experience overall; You’ll definitely get your money’s worth of play time if you like to max all of your characters
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (FE10) (Wii)
Radiant Dawn is a sequel to FE9: Path of Radiance that takes place years after the main event of PoR: the Mad King’s War. One of the main gimmicks about Radiant Dawn is following multiple parties through their own story arcs. This leads to a somewhat confusing clusterfuck of a story and an overall non-beginner friendly front. While a new player could stumble their way through, they’d be at a disadvantage for concepts like evenly leveling an army and squad coordination. Still, the battle animations are very well done and the game can put up a fight on some difficulties. Play this right after Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance to keep the story fresh in your mind and gain some experience with the basic game mechanics.
Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow (FE12) (DS)
Is the name long enough for you? Well try the Japanese name: Fire Emblem: Shin Monsho no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyu. Try saying that five times fast. Sadly, FE12 never saw a western release, so the only way to play this would be to import it or emulate. FE: New Mystery of the Emblem is a remake of Fire Emblem 3: Mystery of the Emblem. Just like the original game, FE12 features a remade portion of the first Fire Emblem and the original after events that followed. It uses the same art style and menus controls of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, which was the previously released game in the series. If you don’t mind importing a Japanese DS and this game, or can work an emulator with ease, then this is a great title for players of any experience level.
Fire Emblem: Awakening (FE13) (3DS)
The most recent title and the game responsible for saving the series from death, Fire Emblem: Awakening is seen by many as a sort of “compilation” game. While featuring its own original cast, most of the extra content is a throwback to the previous twelve Fire emblem games. Awakening sits in the awkward position as “compatible with new players but geared towards veterans” and kind of fails in both departments. New players won’t get the references to older games and veteran players will be slightly disappointed with the return of the World Map system, which slightly kills the challenge. On higher difficulties, this game can be nightmarish, but overall, everything can be overcome with grinding. Still, with a gorgeous art style, the return of FE4’s Relationship system, and infinite playtime thanks to the map and downloadable content, Awakening will last you quite some time. before you get bored. A definite buy for any skill level
Experienced Players Only Titles
Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 (FE5) (Super Famicom/Super Nintendo)
Thracia 776 is widely considered to be the most difficult Fire Emblem game overall and winner of the most “I Really Want to Fucking Kill Myself Right Now” trophies, as many new features were combined with Genealogy’s previous additions to make a fearsome combination. While some features like Fog of War, Rescuing friendly characters, Escaping a large enemy force, and Capturing important locations became a staple in the series, it also threw in the Fatigue System. With this sytem, if a unit was fighting consecutive battles, they couldn’t participate in the next chapter due to being exhausted. Combined with over leveled enemies, swarms of crafty reinforcements, and very difficult map progression, Thracia 776 is a merciless challenge for only the most adaptive and experienced Fire Emblem players. Like the other old generation games (FE1-5), it never saw a western release, so you’d have to import a rare physical copy or emulate it with an English patch to play it, but if you get your hands on it, be prepared for the final boss of the entire series; you will remember the name Thracia 776 for as long as you live after playing this.
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (FE6) (Gameboy Advance)
Going under the name Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals before Nintendo gave an official name to it in Fire Emblem: Awakening’s DLC, Fire Emblem 6 was never released worldwide, which calls for emulation with a translation patch. Fire Emblem 7: Blazing Sword was made as a prequel to this game, and as its sequel, it really kicks the player in the face. While being mechanically identical to FE7, The Binding Blade what many people consider “RNG Rape.” In the series, many combat actions are determined by the use of a random number generator, or RNG, and FE6: The Binding Blade has what appears to be a consistently and widespread unfair RNG. Many units will receive bad stat gains upon leveling up, enemies will score critical hits with less than 3% chances, and the map layouts could almost be considered impossible if your army got shafted by the RNG. Experienced players be warned: if you don’t like watching your attacks miss at 75% accuracy and getting killed with an enemy’s %35 accuracy, you might not be ready for this title just yet.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon/Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light (FE11/FE1) (DS/Famicom/NES)
So is this two games in one? Well, kind of. The first game in the series, Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light was only released on the Japanese version of the NES; the Famicom. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on the DS is a direct remake of FE1 that actually saw a worldwide release, making FE: Shadow Dragon the only way to experience the series from the start without emulation (although this game emulates just fine). Shadow Dragon is seen as a shoddy remake, and I agree to an extent. While production values were low, it did introduce the first cast of FE characters, so if you’re really interested, play Shadow Dragon only if you’re curious on how it all started. If you REALLY want to go to the beginning, play Shadow Dragons and the Blade of Light for that true retro feeling and that awesome first map theme.
Fire Emblem: Gaiden (FE2) (Famicom/NES)
With Gaiden literally translating to “side story,” FE2 takes place on another continent during the events of Fire Emblem 1. Fire Emblem Gaiden and Thracia 776 are oddly the only FE games to take place during another FE game, which is something the series never explored again. Besides a small tidbit of trivia, Gaiden is easily forgettable, even though it introduced the World Map system utilized in Sacred Stones and Awakening and was the source of later ideas used in new generation games. Gaiden should only be played if you’re a completionist or big into the story, as you can live without playing it.
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (FE3) (Super Famicom/Super Nintendo)
Fire Emblem 3 (Monsho no Nazo) is a two part game featuring a remake of the first Fire Emblem in one half and the subsequent events in the other half. This game has been rendered obsolete due to the remake, New Mystery of the Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow (FE12). If you want to get in on the experience, I’d play the remake, but I would only play this one if you don’t have access to the remake or prefer to play the original.
Hopefully you guys find this guide useful for entering what is one of the most popular strategy RPG series to date. While some titles can only be emulated these days, western players would do just fine with physical copies of the newer generation games. If you’re new, definitely check out Fire Emblem 7: Blazing Sword, as it refined the Fire Emblem formula for many games to come. If you’ve got a game or two under your belt, check out that second section for some other solid titles or consider tackling The Binding Blade or Thracia 776. Don’t worry about a challenge; those games don’t fall short of inducing suicidal tendencies! Anyways, I’ve been typing for quite a bit, so I’m gonna unwind for a bit with some Lost Planet 2. I hope you enjoyed the guide! Share this with some friends so they can get in on the Fire Emblem Fun!
Heh, Fun Emblem. Fumblem.