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What We've Missed: A Review of the Fire Emblem Series
Written By: Tikerman

As the first ever-stateside release of a Fire Emblem game approaches, many fans are wondering: what is Fire Emblem? Many gamers have begged Nintendo to release the games from this series in America, to no avail (until now). There has been hype surrounding the acclaimed RPG/strategy games. And, with the release of Super Smash Brothers: Melee, many gamers were very confused as to exactly who Roy and Marth are. So let me fill you in.

It all started in 1990, when Intelligent Systems released Fire Emblem for the Famicom (the Japanese NES). Fire Emblem was an innovative game, combining strategy and role-playing elements. The previous year, Intelligent Systems had released Famicom Wars, the predecessor of the popular strategy series Famicom Wars. Fire Emblem used a similar strategy system, but combined it with role-playing elements, such as experience gathering and leveling up. You start out with the protagonist, Marth, who is defending his land from evil invaders. As you go on you gain many companions, with their own various stats and abilities. A very interesting aspect of this game is that if your companions die, they die for good, and if Marth dies, you lose the game. Fire Emblem was popular and an innovator of the genre, but it was never released in America.


The next Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Gaiden, was released two years later, also for the Famicom. Gaiden played very similarly to Fire Emblem, although it introduced more traditional-RPG aspects. This game features two new characters, and a new storyline. Otherwise, the games are very similar.


The first Fire Emblem for the Super Famicom was Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. This was comprised of two parts: Darkish Holy War, a remake of the first Fire Emblem, and Heroes’ Holy War, which was a continuation of Darkish Holy War.


The next Fire Emblem for Super Famicom was Genealogy of the Holy War, which is considered the best Fire Emblem to date. Genealogy of the Holy War takes place on a new continent, GrandBell. This game strays from the storyline of Marth, which had occupied the most recent and first games. The most interesting thing about this game is that it crosses two generations; your skills and abilities are carried over to your son, adding an entirely new aspect to this game.


The last game released on the Super Famicom in this series was the oddly named Thracia 776, which actually came out in 1999! It continues the Genealogy of the Holy War storyline, starring a hero named Leaf, who leads a rebellion against his Empire. This is a very long game, consisting of 24 chapters which each require a lot of time. It is also considered the most difficult of the bunch.

Intelligent Systems’ latest Fire Emblem release was Fire Emblem: The Sealed Sword, released in 2001 in Japan. The Sealed Sword continued the Strategy-RPG legacy, busting out with high-quality graphics and music. Its gameplay is not considered as good as Genealogy or Thracia, but it is still considered a good game.

And now we come to the present. After releasing not one, not two, but six Fire Emblem games in Japan only, Nintendo has decided to bring one to the states, Fire Emblem: Sword of Fire.  Intelligent Systems is known as well for developing the Wars series, starting with the Japan-only Famicom Wars, and featuring a game on every system since. They also developed Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA) and Paper Mario (N64), as well as a plethora of other Japan-only titles.

Posted: 9-18-03
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