Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem is a Japanese tactical role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. It is the third game in the Fire Emblem series and was released in Japan on January 21, 1994. It was the first Fire Emblem title for the Nintendo Super Famicom and the first twenty-four-megabit cartridge for the system. The game is divided into two distinct parts, or "books". Book One is a remake of the original Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, and Book Two is a continuation of events, following the same characters. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem was released in Japan on the Wii's Virtual Console service on December 26, 2006. It is, according to Famitsu sales-tracking records, the highest-selling Fire Emblem title in history, having sold well in excess of 750,000 copies during its print run (though at certain times, Nintendo itself has claimed Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is the "most successful" title).
Book 1 of the game heavily influenced the soundtrack, graphics, mechanics, gameplay, and art style of Shadow Dragon, despite that game being touted as a remake of the first game and including the removed chapters and characters. Book 2 received an extensive remake in the form of Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem.
Books One and Two were developed completely independently of each other and thus feature different soundtracks. Due to the hardware limitations of the Super Famicom cartridge, Intelligent Systems were forced to remove content from Book 1 in order to fit in Book 2.
The game was met with positive reception, but critics derided the inclusion of Book 1, saying while the graphics and sound were good, the removal of actual content and characters was a major flaw. Despite the flaws with Book 1, Book 2 was met with critical praise. Mystery of the Emblem was popular enough to hold the No. 1 position on the Famitsu chart for one year, becoming one of the best-selling Fire Emblem games. In 2006, Mystery of the Emblem was the only Fire Emblem game that appeared in the top one hundred games list from Famitsu, at 68th place.
Marth is the prince of Altea and a direct descendant of Anri, the warrior who slew the Shadow Dragon Medeus. However, after an attack from the neighboring kingdom of Dolhr, Marth is forced to become an exile in the neighboring nation of Talys, beginning the War of Shadows. In the ensuing chaos, Marth's sister Elice is taken hostage, and his father is killed battling the evil priest Gharnef. With the help of Altean knight and mentor Jagen, Princess Caeda of Talys and others, Marth embarks on a quest to find the divine sword Falchion. Only then will he be able to confront Gharnef and the resurrected Medeus, reclaim the kingdom of Altea, and rescue his sister.
During his journey, Marth learns of Medeus's connection to the ancient Manakete tribe (a group that are able to transform into dragons using special stones) and that Medeus is the king of the last remaining dragon tribe. He also obtains the Fire Emblem, a divine shield crafted by Naga, which has the power to seal Earth Dragons. Later on, Marth confronts and defeats Gharnef, procuring the Falchion. With the combined power of the Falchion and the Fire Emblem, Marth breaks through Medeus' Earth Dragons and confronts the Shadow Dragon himself. After a decisive battle, Medeus is seemingly slain once again, and Marth brings peace back to the continent.
In Book 2 of Mystery of the Emblem, Hardin, former Prince of Aurelis (and ally to Marth during the War of Shadows) ascends to the position of Emperor of Archanea. However, Marth realizes something is not right as Hardin's military begins to occupy neighboring countries by force, and Marth and his army are used to conquer smaller nations under orders of General Lang (This triggers the start of the War of Heroes). Marth soon discovers the forces of darkness at work again as Lang, Hardin and his forces are corrupted. Marth soon also learns that the Dragon King Medeus is still alive. Tracing an old legend of yore, Marth retrieves the Fire Emblem once again (this time from Linde, who was entrusted with it by Princess Nyna) and embarks on a quest to retrieve the twelve Starsphere Shards to revive the shattered Starsphere. This occurs as Archanean forces hunt Marth and his allies, branded traitors by Hardin, relentlessly, all the way to the desert of Khadein. Marth learns from Boah that a depressed Hardin was corrupted with the Darksphere by Gharnef in the form of a merchant and that only the Lightsphere can break the Darksphere's hold of Hardin. Assisted by the sage Gotoh, Marth journeys through the icy mountains to obtain the Lightsphere and repairs the Starsphere, required to defeat and free Hardin.
With Lightsphere in hand, Marth and his allies stage a final assault on Archanea to liberate Altea, to save Hardin and Elice. Sadly Marth is unable to break the Darksphere's spell without killing Hardin in the process. After Hardin dies, two special chapters are unlocked, and Marth and his allies discover where the new incarnations of Medeus and Gharnef reside. Gharnef again possesses the Falchion, and is again defeated using the Starlight spell. Marth confronts Medeus, who has now taken the form of a Dark Dragon. In the final confrontation, Medeus holds captive princess Nyna, Minerva's younger sister Maria, Julian's crush Lena, and Marth's sister Elice, who is also Merric's love interest. Sirius (Camus), Merric, Minerva and Julian rescue the healers as Marth slays the Dark Dragon Medeus once and for all.
Mystery of the Emblem drops many of the gameplay elements introduced in Fire Emblem Gaiden, such as explorable towns and a navigable world map. However, it does carry over certain features, such as a battery RAM save feature and the use of icons for weapons along with their names. The game's most prominent new feature is the Dismount command, which allows cavalier units to get off their horses and fight on foot. The limitation to this factor is that cavaliers can only wield lances when on horseback and swords while on foot. Furthermore, cavalier and airborne units are forced to dismount in chapters that take place in interior locations.
- See main article: List of characters in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem.
- Marth (マルス Marusu) is the protagonist of the game. He is a prince of the lost kingdom of Altea, and a descendant of the hero Anri, who once defeated the Dark Dragon Medeus with the Falchion. At the mere age of 16, he sets off on a quest to find the Falchion and seal Medeus once again.
- Caeda (シーダ Shīda) is the heroine of the game. She is the princess of the island Kingdom of Talis, and Marth's fiance in Book 2. She is completely devoted to Marth, and does not mind losing her life protecting him; a trait both Ogma and Marth understand but disapprove of.
- Jagen (ジェイガン Jeigan) is a veteran knight of Altea and the loyal retainer of Prince Marth in both books. In Book 2, he has grown older and is no longer capable of fighting in battle. Instead, he becomes Marth's tactician to replace Malledus, who has fallen ill.
- Abel (アベル Aberu) is a knight of Altea, nicknamed "the Black Panther." His close partner is Cain, and he is in love with Est of the Whitewings. However, Palla (another member of the Whitewings as well as Est's older sister) also has a crush on him.
- Malledus (モロドフ Morodof) is Marth's elderly tactician in Book 1. He explains to him the events of Anri's war with Medeus. During Book 2, he becomes ill, and Jagen takes his place.
- Hardin (ハーディン Hādin) is the Prince of Aurelis and the king's brother. When Marth first meets him in Book 1 he is a stubbornly honorable man and one of the few people in Orleans who still willingly protects it. He shortly joins Marth's cause to defeat Medeus. However, in Book 2, he is one of the main villains. He was deeply in love with Nyna, and marries her, becoming the King of Orleans. However, when he discovered that she didn't love him, Hardin became heartbroken and prevented anyone to see him. Taking advantage of this, evil priest Gharnef uses his dark orb to possess Hardin. By that point, it was too late to save him without killing him in the process. In his final standoff (and eventual death) Hardin thanks Marth for freeing his soul from Gharnef's dark orb, and asks him to take care of Nyna in his stead.
- Nyna (ニーナ Niena) is the Princess of Archanea and the last surviving member of the royal family, following the slaughter by Dolhr. She is rescued by Camus and eventually finds refuge in the hands of Hardin's army, which is known as the Wolves of the Orleans. She entrusts her family's treasure, the Fire Emblem, to Marth. She marries Hardin in Book 2 because Archanea needs a king, but her feelings for him were only platonic. In reality, she is still very much in love with Camus. The story ends with her leaving the kingdom to Marth and vanishes, possibly to chase after her true love.
- Sirius (シリウス Sirius) is a masked knight who is supposedly Camus in disguise. He was presumed dead at the hands of Marth after the events of Book 1, but somehow survived. In Book 2, his allegiance is only to himself, rather than any kingdoms. In the end, he never once accepted being Camus, and refuses to stay with Nyna, stating that there is someone waiting for him elsewhere.
- See main article: Chapters (Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem).
- See main article: List of classes in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem.
- Interestingly, some of the chapters in both Books take place in/on the same map.
- According to Fire Emblem The Complete, Japanese singer and actress Nae Yuuki personally requested to promote Mystery of the Emblem in a TV commercial, as a big fan of video games. In an interview in the Nintendo Official Guidebook for Mystery of the Emblem, she mentioned that her favorite character was Ogma.
- So far, Mystery of the Emblem (Book 2) is one of the few Fire Emblem games where all characters can be playable in one playthrough. The others are The Sacred Stones, Radiant Dawn (from the second playthrough onward), New Mystery of the Emblem (excluding bonus characters) and Awakening.