Why Did Fire Emblem Skip The Nintendo 64?

Note: Another one of my unfinished articles. Well, technically. I needed to find sources for a few things when I wrote it, but didn’t. Oh well. The basic gist is simple: Why did Fire Emblem skip the Nintendo 64? Share your theories below while I set the scene…

Lute

This is setting the scene. I’m good at this aren’t I?

The Fire Emblem franchise has appeared on a number of Nintendo systems, and it will soon make its debut on the Wii U with the crossover Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem. It’s nice that the series has managed to be on every system like a Mario, a Zelda, a…*reads the title of the post* Erm, wait, what? Huh? It skipped the Nintendo 64? But why? And how?

Well, let’s first set the scene a bit.

It’s 1999, and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, was released…for the Super Famicom. Not even mentioning the fact that it was initially not intended to be a normal release, Thracia 776 was a SFC title at the time when the Nintendo 64 had come out…in 1996. For emphasis, Genealogy of the Holy War came out in May of 1996, the N64 came out in June. Unfortunately, the life cycle of the N64 lasted until November of 2001, and the Gamecube came out.

So just what happened? How did Fire Emblem manage to skip the Nintendo 64?

Well, let’s start with the technical problems. It’s not quite a secret that the Nintendo 64 was a revolutionary system with its bringing of the analog stick, but it’s also not quite a secret that RPGs on the consoles were few and far between. Cartridges had run its course compared to memory, yet Nintendo choose to use it, despite other competitors moving forward to using discs, which contained more space and more memory. With the upgrade to 3D, this presented a challenge for the Intelligent Systems staff. Considering the type of style Fire Emblem employs, it looks like they would have needed more time to actually create a manageable FE game for the N64. But knowing all that, couldn’t have IS just stuck with the traditional FE style? That depends on how they planned the game, and if they planned to have it in 3D, then it might have taken a while to get the engine right.

But unfortunately, it was more than just the technical side of things, it was the internal side of things. First, one of the Producers of Fire Emblem, Gunpei Yokoi, left Nintendo in 1996, or essentially after Genealogy of the Holy War. Then it came down to where will Fire Emblem go now? Well, the creator of the series, Shouzou Kaga, supposedly wanted to go back to the Akaneia series — hence why Fire Emblem: Akaneia Saga (BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki) was released for the Satellaview, with no background music, you gained points for defeating enemies, and you had voice acting — it wasn’t a proper game. It has been surmised that the standalone maps for that game were intended to be in a brand new FE game set in the Akaneia saga. But instead, we had a continuation of the Judgral Saga with Thracia 776. Then in 1999, Shouzou Kaga left the company and started his own studio Tirnanog.

We now move into 2001, and that was when the Game Boy Advance came out. At this point, there was no point in focusing on a N64 version of Fire Emblem. So it’s feasible that whatever plans they had for the game they moved to the GBA line, with of course its limits. And thus, Fire Emblem was at a bit of a stalling point. It also skipped the Game Boy (though that provided its own limitations, so considering where FE had reached, would be difficult to bring it forth for the system), but for a period of time the franchise didn’t really advance.

But it makes me wonder if Fire Emblem had reached the N64, or at the very least, not gone into development hell. Well, not that it would have mattered since Nintendo hadn’t released a FE game in the West at this point….

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About Walters

Lonely Fire Emblem fan. Almost a FE apologist.

9 thoughts on “Why Did Fire Emblem Skip The Nintendo 64?

  1. I knew that the development team had issues jumping to 3D, like you stated, but I was not aware of the internal strife. To be honest I can see their lack of experience when I look at Path of Radiance. The models are clunky and not very fluid. Granted the game didn’t need to rely on visuals in order to be a good title, but you can see that they learned a lot of things from Path of Radiance and you can see them adapt in in Radiant Dawn. Smooth character movements and much better character models.

    On another note, I get the impression that the Fire Emblem franchise started rumbling after Smash Bros. Melee. US gamers, like me, wanted to know who Marth was and when we found out it was almost an insult that this wonderful series had never graced the US shores. I’m darn sure they took a huge leap localizing the first US Fire Emblem for the GBA and after how well it was received they just started flowing in once they knew we would buy them.

    Then we come back to that Fire Emblem Anthology I would give my left leg for. The US missed out on practically ALL the 16 bit classics and Nintendo would be well to give them to us. In one disc. Price is negotiable.

    • Yeah, and it only intensified a bit when Shouzou ended up making TearRing Saga. Only because it was an obvious Fire Emblem clone haha.

      Even with Radiant Dawn I’m not sure they tapped into 3D all that well. I mean I think the Wii was capable of much more than the GCN.

      I think I’d give up my kidney and both legs just to play the anthology. But I don’t know man, creating a game like that might just send people into hibernation for at least a month, it might be too dangerous!

  2. The N64 was not in question for Mr. Kaga and IS. He was more concerned with pushing the series forward. Plus what he had done by staying on the Famicom is what the N64 tech and hardware would have failed to play if he had chosen to place it there. I’m told that there are still programmers creating games for the Famicom for its flexible specs. It would have been nice to see him release one for the N64, but I’d rather have a complete game on a 20 year old system, then an ok mediocre game on the latest console. Which has been the case with the past systems. Twilight Princess ported over to Wii, Radiant Dawn using no Wii Features, and now all the past games being remade with minimal advances(Shadow Dragon, OoT3D,etc.) When Kaga remade his first, he basically made the previous version obsolete, yet at the same time still relevant enough that it should be played.

    • I don’t disagree with what you said actually. I think it would have been cool to make a FE game for the N64, but it’s pretty clear there were reasons why it wasn’t done. So if it was intended to be for the Famicom, that probably would have been the best for the franchise, even if the N64 was the latest console. And good point on the remake, though I believe it did have more to do with Monshou no Nazo being with a remade FE1 as opposed to just it being an FE1 remake.

      …Then again, I haven’t played FE3 sooooo…what do I know?

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