Nintendo is well known for their long running franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Metroid and more. One such series that has a huge history and fan base is Fire Emblem. The next games in the series, Fire Emblem Fates, are set to release this February here in North America and I’m here to give you the info you need to know, so you can get the most from your Fire Emblem experience.
Another Nintendo franchise is born
Fire Emblem found its start in Japan on the Famicom (which we know here in North America as the Nintendo Entertainment System). The game would be one of the first home console turn-based strategy games and was developed by Nintendo R&D1. Now Nintendo R&D1 is legendary among Nintendo developers, they were responsible for some of the most notable games in arcades, on the Nintendo Game&Watch, Nintendo Entertainment System, GameBoy, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Virtual Boy, GameBoy Colour, GameBoy Advance and Nintendo Gamecube. Some of these titles include Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros, Tetris and Dr. Mario.
The first game to have the title Fire Emblem was released in 1990 for the Famicom and was known as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. The game would introduce the basic mechanics of the series and many would consider it to the be first game in the tactical role-playing genre. Three more games would be release in Japan, one on the Famicom as a direct sequel to the first and two more on the Super Famicom in following years. Although not all the games were set in the same time and place, all of them would make mention of the legendary Fire Emblem in some form or another. All the games would continue to use the same basic mechanics and all of them would have engrossing characters and story the series is now well known for.
Fire Emblem comes to the west
In 2002, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade was released for the Game Boy Advance. It would, over the next two years, become the first release of the series outside of Japan and simply be known as Fire Emblem in Europe and North America. It would be followed up the year after by Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, this title would also be released in Europe and North America, and would be the final release on Game Boy Advance.
Fire Emblem: The Path of Radiance, would be released on Nintendo GameCube worldwide in 2005. It would be the first game in the series to feature voice acting, 3D graphics and full-motion animated cutscenes. The next game Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, would be released on the Nintendo Wii in Japan and North America 2007, and would be release to the rest of the world in 2008. It would be four more years before we saw another release and Fire Emblem: Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS, which would go on to be the fastest selling game in the series. Now we are quickly approaching the next chapter of the Fire Emblem series.
Fire Emblem is not just a name
Even though not all the games in the Fire Emblem series take place in the exact same setting, they are all grounded well within the medieval time period. Each game is also mainly focused on the conflict between at least two or more countries spanning an entire continent. Another element that ties all the games together is the legendary Fire Emblem itself. It might not be present in a physical form in every game, but it is certainly talked about and is at least known in legends by the game’s characters. In the first game Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Fire Emblem is a shield inset with magical gems. In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, it is a magical medallion which is used to hold a goddess of chaos.
Fire Emblem’s heart is its gameplay
Combining tactical simulation gameplay with engrossing plot and deep character development usually found in role playing games, all come together to give the series great gameplay and a deep connection to its characters. The battles in Fire Emblem take place on a grid-based map, where you control a set number of characters . The maps and the characters are all tied to the games stories. Every character in the game has a specific class, which gives them set abilities and movement distances. Some of the character classes also give character innate skills unique to that class. In some of the later games in the series, characters classes can be upgraded or changed some time with and sometimes without special items. During battles each character gains experience points as they perform actions, as they gain more experience they will level up. Leveling up will grant the character new skill points awarded randomly to that character’s attribute, like strength, maximum health or agility.
Introduce in the Super Famicom game Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is the Weapon Triangle system, which would go on to be a key element in all of the following games in the series. This system determines the strengths and weakness associated with certain weapon and magic types. As far as weapons go it works as such, spears are stronger than swords, swords are stronger than axes, and axes are stronger than lances. As for magic it functions under a similar system where, fire is stronger than wind, wind is stronger than thunder, and thunder is stronger than fire. This system will have some additions in the newest game to come later this year.
Another key element to the Fire Emblem series is that the in game characters relationships can be developed on and off the battlefield. All sorts of interactions can affect these relationships, but most notably is the fact that the game uses a permanent death mechanic. When a character dies in battle they are removed from the game, aside from a few exceptions, such as characters who are pivotal to the main story. However in later iterations of the game there was the addition of a casual game mode where fallen characters would be revived at the end of battle.
The latest Fire Emblem game or should I say games
With the success of the previous Nintendo 3DS title Fire Emblem: Awakening, it reinvigorated the series and brought it back from near cancellation. Previously released in Japan in June of 2015, the next game in the series is actually being released as two physical games and as one download only add-on. The two physical releases are Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, which if you purchase one and finish it, Nintendo will offer you the second game at a reduced price. Also Nintendo will be selling all three in a bundle together as well.
The main story of all 3 games will follow the story of your custom created and customizable avatar, which will be a first for the series. You will then be unwillingly caught up in a war between the kingdoms of Hoshido, your original birthplace and Nohr, your now adopted home. As the games progress you will be faced with the choice of what side to support. All the games in Fire Emblem Fates, will continue to use many of the same mechanics the series is known for and will even offer some new gameplay elements unique to each scenario.
New to the series the Fire Emblem Fates games will also feature an area called “My Castle”, which allows you to interact with your allies and help forge stronger relationships. Also another series first, Fire Emblem Fates, will support the Fire Emblem Amiibo figures, Marth, Ike, Lucina and Robin. When used with your 3DS they will appear in your game, ready to do battle at your side.
Already a legacy and with a huge new story coming to us soon here in North America on Nintendo 3DS, you have no reason not to play any of the Fire Emblem games. Fantastic stories, epic battles and lasting relationships await, as you set out to defend your chosen kingdom in the new Fire Emblem Fates, set to release February 19, 2016. So be sure to pre-order your copy now and expect another article with more details on the blog coming soon!