The better question is what isn’t Fire Emblem. But we’re gonna roll with it. Today I will make my first proper Fire Emblem post, and why start anywhere else but explain just what this entire series is?
Fire Emblem is a strategy RPG franchise that was created by the mind of Shouzou Kaga and the developers at Intelligent Systems. In 1988, there once was a game called Famicom Wars — a game that happened to be a Japanese exclusive game for the Famicom. Famicom Wars, which was a tactical turned based military game, provided one of the basics for the first game of the series, Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryuu to Hikari no Tsurugi (Shadow Dragon and The Blade of Light). The turn based strategy features — from units, to maps, to who you’re facing, to conquering the enemy’s headquarters, to having to kill all of the enemies, to phases, and to units with specialized abilities — are exactly what you see in every Fire Emblem game. The differences? Fire Emblem plays like an RPG. You’re not going to get any no-name units — instead, you’ll get a character with a name, a backstory, their abilities, and use them in your quest to beat the game. You’ll get extended cutscenes, lots of dialogue between the characters, have your characters level up, and use weapons like swords, axes, lances, tomes, and bows. That’s also another difference, and of course, the defining trait of Fire Emblem: it’s setting.
Throughout Fire Emblem’s history the story has always been set in medieval times, meaning outdated politics and/or clothing from the lost ages make an appearance through each of the games in the series. Betrayal, lost love, deaths, pettiness, and mythical beings are all featured in one series or another. It started with the Prince of Altea, Marth, who had to flee to his own Kingdom while having to deal with the loss of his people; and is carried from then to even today’s hero, the Prince of Ylisse, Chrom, who had to overcome his own personal tragedy before liberating the world. And throughout the series, even the most minor characters have their own personal struggles they have to deal with and overcome as they help the main lord with their quest to save the world.
Since it’s debut in 1990, there has been 13 Fire Emblem games, spanning the Famicom, the Super Famicom, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo 3DS. With the Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem game, it will soon make its debut for Nintendo’s WiiU. For a franchise to have lasted this long, it obviously must have achieved a level of success. Thankfully for us Western players, it has lasted so long.
Anyways, Fire Emblem has had a long history, but more or less its history really started when Marth and Roy made their debut in Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was the first time the Fire Emblem video game series had made it worldwide, and then after a long time wait, the 7th installment in the series, Fire Emblem: Rekka No Ken, called Fire Emblem, made its debut worldwide (2003 for North America, 2004 for Europe and Australia). That is when everyone was able to understand why this series is so beloved, and why Nintendo and Intelligent Systems keeps pumping out new titles. With the release of Awakening however, it looks like Fire Emblem has achieved a level that it has not reached outside of Japan for years.
In Part 2, I will elaborate a bit on two things: why it finally reached the West and other things pertaining to Fire Emblem. For now, just share how you all got introduced to Fire Emblem, whether it was any of the GBA games, the console games, the DS games, or Awakening…or somehow those olden games!