A Guide to the Fire Emblem Series

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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.

Core Titles

core

The Holy Trinity that could carry the series’ name by themselves.

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

must

Solid additions to the series that should not go unappreciated; play them as soon as you can!

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

fuck

The hardest games in the series; new comers turn back now!

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.

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The average chapter in Thracia 776

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.

Other Titles

other

The outdated or inferior games. They’d appreciate the love though!

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.

Summary

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.

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9 responses to “A Guide to the Fire Emblem Series

  1. Pingback: Taking A Break | | Obelion13 |·

  2. Hmm…not bad, not bad at all. However, I would respectfully question FE3’s low rank on this list. In many ways, it’s both the first modern Fire Emblem game and the progenitor of nearly every one after it. Except for the oddity of Fire Emblem 4, every game in the series shares the same basic battle gameplay as 3. There are additions like skills and supports, but generally, IMO FE3 is more or less the template the rest are based on. It’s also such a massive improvement over FE1 (and its remakes don’t represent that same quantum leap forwards, IMO) that I think it deserves a higher spot.

    In any case, though, nice blog! I think I might just follow you :D

    • The reason I put FE3 down into the Other Tier was simply because FE12 was a remake of FE3. If FE12 didn’t exist, FE3 would probably be higher up on the list for the reasons you’ve stated.

      And I would absolutely LOVE it if you followed the blog. While I’ll be starting a short hiatus soon, I try to update as often as I can about my personal experiences and any tidbits of interesting news floating around :3

      • I understand your reasoning, but I’m of the (perhaps controversial) opinion that the remake is less influential than the original. Aside from the addition of MyUnit and the reclassing system, which were apparently quite a success, FE11 and FE12 didn’t really impact FE13 very much. Most of what made those games distinct, like the “losing people to get gaidens” aspect of FE11, were dumped or repudiated entirely. FE3, on the other hand, pretty much established modern Fire Emblem as we know it today.

        Still, I understand your reasoning, especially since modern remakes are easier to get into than a very old game with very outdated graphics. Glad to be following you, in any case :3

        • It’s still nice to see two of the older FE games get rebooted in any case. Poor Gaiden, Getting left out like that lol.

          I’m hoping the next Fire Emblem game is mechanically similar to FE7 or FE9 since Awakening left out a lot of things like Fog of War, weapon weight, and light magic, which was kind of a disappointment.

        • Oh hey look, I guess I get to jump into this argument a billion weeks late. It’s what I get for finally looking for blogs after a while haha, just wanted to add my own thoughts here:

          “FE11 and FE12 didn’t really impact FE13 very much.”

          I would agree FE 11 didn’t impact FE13 much, but on the other hand, FE12 introduced casual mode, which was a MAJOR big thing that actually got people to play a Fire Emblem game. Normally this would not be such a big deal, except as it turned out, it was. So you add that with MyUnit (and hey, MyUnit was really good in FE12) and reclassing, FE12 was pretty important. Now, is it more influential than FE3? Maybe not since FE3 did do its thing on that 16-bit SFC, but it has a lot going against it (from its age, to the fact FE4 & 5 exist, to it getting remade) that I think I’d have to rank it the same as Obelion, especially if this is a guide to FE for those who aren’t that aware of the franchise.

          …That all being said, time for me to quickly critique Obelion’s list (Way past my bed time for a full one haha)

          Fire Emblem 7: Yeah, no doubt about this one
          Path of Radiance: It seems to be really popular out West, but in Japan, nope haha. And for some reason, seeing PoR as a core title feels wrong somehow…I blame Smash Bros for this lol
          Genealogy: No doubt about this one, let’s move on!
          Radiant Dawn: I can live with the other three choices being as must play titles, but not with RD. This is definitely for Experienced players. There’s just so many things a newbie would not get if they haven’t played any FE games before. If they get thrown this game, I expect lots of rage for the most part. I mean, even I raged over it for a bit, and I had played every FE game that had came out in the US lol
          Gaiden: No, what are you talking about? This is the only FE game that’s actually different from every other game in the series. No, I wouldn’t want to play it now, but I’d play a remake. Man, everyone just hating on the black sheeps huh? Is that what’s hip with the youngsters nowadays?!? You all disgust me!!! xD

          • I’m glad you liked the list for the most part though. It’s not the definitive list, but it’s how I see the series. And RD wasn’t as hard as people say it was, but I guess it’s just luck lol

          • Hmm…those are some good points, friend. I suppose casual mode was a pretty big change for the FE series (there’s definitely not been anything like it before FE12, that I recall, and FE13 keeps it). I can accept FE12 being quite influential on its own merits, then, but remember it only has one successor so far…we’ll have to wait and see how far its legacy reaches, i.e if many games down the line keep casual mode and so on.

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