Why It’s Hard To Play Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Fire EmblemSo a few weeks ago after watching the Fire Emblem anime, I had a desire to start playing Shadow Dragon and actually seeing ALL of Marth’s story. I was really pumped up to play it, so of course I started over and chose a difficulty level…

…And then in a matter of minutes, I stopped playing.

Granted, my days of playing video games obsessively is long gone (unless it’s something crazy addicting), but even so, I generally seem to play a good hour or two of a Fire Emblem game. Well, not for Shadow Dragon. Shadow Dragon unfortunately happens to fall into the trap of being a dated game after Awakening. I think that’s why it’s hard to play Shadow Dragon now.

That excuse could fly now, but I had this game when it came out in 2008. And I managed to beat the entire game in one go…once. Why is this bad? I’ve replayed every other FE game more than once. Uh-oh. What’s going on here? Guess I better share.

1. It Is a remake

This has been the general excuse for why playing Shadow Dragon is more of a chore than anything else, and sure, it can work…except because of that reason, you’d at least hope it’s in a state where it can be played over and over again. But aside from the main storyline, there’s nothing else to do. There’s no supports, I barely touched the online component, and so there’s little drive to keep playing again (unless to play the higher difficulty levels). Aside from the upgraded graphics and bringing the weapons triangle (that wasn’t introduced until Genealogy), there’s nothing that represents a step up from prior FE games. Speaking of prior FE games…

2. It came after Radiant Dawn

Radiant Dawn definitely has its fair share of issues (hell I apparently even ranted on it way back when), but once I got used to the difficulty curve and accepted the story as is, I had a ton of fun with it. This is mostly because it had some large scale maps and the use of skills. Skills is not available in Shadow Dragon. You would think it wouldn’t be too much of a problem since all the handheld FE games didn’t have skills (well, Sacred Stones to an extent, but not really), but I guess I couldn’t get used to it.

(On another note, I wonder if Shadow Dragon forced me to replay Radiant Dawn lol)

3. Bare bones Fire Emblem

Well, I already touched on this already, but there was no supports in this game. Let’s just say after getting used to having characters talk to each other, and the slap in the face the support system in Radiant Dawn was, I probably couldn’t accept that fact. But this mostly made the characters, who didn’t have much depth in the first place, feel stale. And of course, while the maps were ok, they definitely lacked the scale that Radiant Dawn had. And along with the story (which is pretty dated nowadays), Shadow Dragon just feels…lacking.

4. Then I just had to go play its Sequel

This is what really kills Shadow Dragon for me. I originally thought of Shadow Dragon as a decent, ok FE game that finally allowed us to play as Marth after he made his debut in Melee. After playing Shin Monsho No Nazo, I now instead see Shadow Dragon as a lazy, ok FE game that finally allowed us to play as Marth after he made his debut in Melee. Unlike this game, FE12 actually represented an upgrade in every conceivable way, with a stronger story, more conversations, sound, etc. When I finished that game, I literally felt refreshed, which is probably the opposite of how I felt playing Shadow Dragon. I think it’s obvious Intelligent Systems realized where they fell short in Shadow Dragon, and made sure to not let the same thing happen to FE12. That only makes the only FE DS game to make it to the West just look weak in comparison.

…Anyways, I think that’s about all I can come up with.

FE Marth

So…what about you guys?

Yep, now you get to tell me if you’ve had problems playing Shadow Dragon. Or make suggestions on how to play Shadow Dragon, to get us to recover and deal with its content…

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About Walters

Fire Emblem fan. Well, almost, since he's only played FE7-FE13. Needs professional help. Now is on Twitter (@FE4vsFE5).

4 thoughts on “Why It’s Hard To Play Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

  1. You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one, friend. I dunno if I’ve mentioned this elsewhere before (maybe in my blog, maybe in a comment or something…hmm, maybe on obelion13′s blog) but FE11 as a remake struck me as wanting for several reasons, mainly the ones you describe here. Additionally:

    1: FE11 is also very linear. While there were branching paths in previous FE games, like 6, there’s none of that here, and if you’ve played through it once, you’ve essentially seen everything, with some exceptions like conversations. Not much replay value.

    2: Poor graphics and art. The FE11 sprites have nowhere near as much charm as the GBA ones, and while graphics have never been a strong point of the FE series (the peglegs of the FE13 sprites always annoyed me, personally), FE11 doesn’t have fitting art to make up for it. Shirow Masamune is an excellent artist, but his areas of expertise (mechs and naked women) were wasted on a medieval game like Fire Emblem. The artists for the GBA games along with the Tellius games were much better. Even the No More Heroes guy they got for FE13 was a better choice, since that game at least has fanservice to make use of his ass-drawing abilities.

    3: The method of gaining Gaiden chapters is very strange. Most FE players conserve their units religiously, and being forced to sacrifice your guys, even if you don’t use them, can feel irritating to long-time FE players.

    Those are a few of my personal reasons for not being that into FE11. :o

    • 2. I guess I’m on my own and saying that the art for Shadow Dragon was ok. Then again, I’m not all too picky about artists (unless it’s truly awful)

      3. Weird…the only time I remember having to sacrifice a unit was in the prologue. Can’t remember if that was the case later in the game. That’s surprising to me.

      Yeah, I think the main issue with FE11 was your first one. Unless you play the higher difficulty levels, it’s the same thing.

      • I wouldn’t say you’re on your own, it’s not as if Shirow’s work for FE11 was terrible and unwatchable. It’s just that it’s not his best and he’s not really suited to it, which I think a lot of people could discern.

        In reference to sacrificing units, in FE11 you can only reach the Gaiden chapters (and thus several of the characters) if your army was below a certain size in most cases, necessitating killing your units off.

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