Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

released on Apr 20, 1990

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Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

released on Apr 20, 1990

Fire Emblem: The Dark Dragon and Sword of Light is the first game in the Fire Emblem series, developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It was first released on the Famicom (known internationally as the Nintendo Entertainment System) on April 20, 1990. It takes place on the continent of Archanea. It stars Marth, a character who later appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee. It has never been officially released outside of Japan.


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Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon and the Blade of Light is, like, really fuckin good. It's gameplay and aesthetics are timeless, the soundtrack is one of the best on the system, and it layed a solid foundation for the rest of the series to build off of.

Considering it's practically the first in the genre, it has surprisingly competent design. The combination of rpg elements with the gameplay formula defined by Famicom Wars results in an experience that was unlike any other at the time. The permanent death mechanic is also at its best in this installment.

The units in this game (especially early on) are numerous and weak as hell, making them designed to die that the player will naturally create drama through gameplay. Roshe is the only unit you haven't moved yet and you know for certain that if Navarre will die if he is exposed to 3 units, so you move Roshe in front of him so he dies in Navarre's stead. There's a scenario that's unique to you and your gameplay experience. huzzah. Some people don't like having to kinda rely on your own imagination like this, but that's just how it was back in ye olden days.

The main flaws that I think the game has are that the plot is difficult to follow due to the lack of a world map in-game and also the final boss is immune to ranged attacks, meaning I will never be able to beat the game with Castor. The frequent reuse of protraits also kinda sucks but, like, I get it.


This laid a solid foundation for the series to build off. The tried and tested gameplay of Fire Emblem is all here from breakable weapons and permadeath to grid based maps and recruiting characters during battle, FE1 offers a compelling experience.
Unfortunately it hasn't aged as well as time goes on. If you started with something like say FE7 or later, you're going to miss being able to see enemy ranges and combat forecasts. The lack of being able to trade weapons and items as well as requiring Marth to visit villages also slows down the flow of maps despite them being pretty well designed.
It's a solid first entry but also one that has all the quirks of being the first entry


I tried playing this a few years back on the DS but found it horribly boring. Decided to try it out on the SNES, which remade the first game as part of Mystery of the Emblem. I figured a trimmed down version of the game might be more satisfying, and it was, though it still has quite a bit of issues. The UI is one of the bigger gripes. Everything feels terribly clunky and there's a bit too much going on in the menus. This is likely a translation issue from the fans to some extent, though it was still awfully cluttered regardless. The big claim to fame for the franchise is permadeath, which is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it adds a layer of depth to the strategy elements in that you could forever lose access to a valued unit if you make an error. It's kind of cool to think about, but in practice it's actually incredibly annoying. That's permanent progress you've just lost and have no way to get back, and this is a long ass game to be pulling those kinds of strings. The process of resetting each time a unit of yours dies is certainly allowed and encouraged by most of the people I see talk about these games, but I suppose I'm not into the genre enough to warrant such resetting. Saving at the beginning of every turn seemed like the least pathetic way to curb this annoyance, but even then, you actively make the game a relative cakewalk. Around chapter 7 I began to allow whatever happened to happen and rolling with it, and it was more engaging and less stressful. It helps that these characters have absolutely no engaging qualities, so parting with them is little more than a tactical disadvantage. I had about 4 units left that did the fighting toward the end and it carried me pretty heavily until chapter 15, where I died a few times and recognized I was satisfied with the experience at this point. It's a neat game, though horribly dated and a bit unrefined. 3/6


With the really cool idea being put aside, this game is overwhelmingly outdated. It's cool to be playing history and all, but the game just never made me feel like continuing my playthrough. I'm glad I played it, but I'm even happier it's over.