Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎, Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo) 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: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi, and Book Two is a continuation of events, following the same characters. In 1996 KSS released an anime OVA, Fire Emblem, based on Monshō no Nazo. 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 Shin Monshō no Nazo. The game as a whole received a prequel on the BS-X Satellaview, titled BS Fire Emblem: Akaneia Senki Hen, which were included in Shin Monshō no Nazo.
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.
Differences from Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi
For clarity purposes, in this section "Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi" will be abbreviated as "FE1" and "Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem" will be abbreviated as "FE3".
- Things that have been removed in FE3:
- Five chapters have been deleted in Book 1 of FE3. However, they are put back in the next remake, Shadow Dragon.
- Six characters are missing: Wrys (Rif), Darros, Roger, Jake, Beck and Gotoh. Some other characters have been added or changed.
- Aside from staffs, and tomes, as well as dismounting mentioned below, no classes wield two weapon types in FE3.
- Things that have been improved:
- In FE3, there are colored tiles indicating a unit's movement range. This feature was introduced in FE3. In FE1 the player had to move the cursor to see how far one of the characters can move.
- In FE3, weapon appearances are different for each weapon during battle. In FE1, every weapon looks exactly the same in battle (due to the limitations of the Famicom).
- When you leave a wounded character in a fortress in FE3, you will see his or her HP increase from the getgo at the start of each turn.
- Things that have been added in FE3:
- In FE3, there is a narrative introduction for every chapter.
- In FE3, each character has a death dialogue.
- In FE3, Armor Knight can be promoted to General. The Lord and Thief classes are unable to promote, unlike in later games.
- In FE3, mounted units can dismount. They are forced to fight on foot in interior missions. They use lances only when mounted and swords only on foot.
Marth is the prince of Altea and a direct descendant of Anri, the warrior who slayed the shadow dragon Medeus. However, after an attack from the neighboring kingdom of Doluna, Marth is forced to become an exile in the neighboring nation of Talys. His sister Elice is taken hostage after his father is killed battling the evil priest Gharnef. With the help of Altean knight and his mentor Jagen, the Princess of Talys, Shiida, 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, win the kingdom of Altea back, and rescue his sister. Along the way, Marth learns of Medeus's connection to the ancient Manakete tribe, who were able to transform into dragons using special stones, and that Medeus is the king of the last remaining dragon tribe.
In the new second book of Mystery of the Emblem, Hardin, former Prince of Aurelis and ally to Marth in Book 1, ascends to the Emperor of Akaneia. However, Marth smells a rat as Hardin's military begins to occupy neighboring countries by force, and Marth and his army is used to conquer smaller countries under orders of General Lang. Marth soon discovers the forces of darkness at work again as Lang, Hardin and his forces become corrupt. 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 goes on a quest to retrieve the 12 Starsphere Shards to revive the shattered Starsphere. All the while, having been branded a traitor by King Hardin, Akaneian forces hunt him and his allies relentlessly, all the way to the desert of Khadein. Finding out from Boah that a depressed Hardin was turned evil with the Darksphere by Gharnef in the form of a merchant and only the Lightsphere can save him. When the Sage Gotoh assists him on his quest, Marth journeys through the icy mountains to obtain the Lightsphere and repairs the Starsphere, required to defeat and free Hardin.
With the Lightsphere, Marth and his allies stage a final assault on Akaneia to liberate Altea, to save Hardin and his sister. Sadly Marth isn't able to save Hardin from the Darksphere without killing him 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 are residing. Gharnef again holds the Falchion sword, and using the Starlight magic, Gharnef is defeated, and 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 rescues the ladies while Marth finishes Medeus, for good this time.
- Marth (マルス, Marusu) is the protagonist of the game, Prince of Altea. He is 16 years of age and a descendant of the hero, Anri, who once defeated the dark dragon Medius with the Falchion.
- Shiida (シーダ, Shiida), 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, her protector and Marth understands but disapproves.
- Jagen (ジェイガン, Jeigan) is a veteran knight of Altea, and a loyal retainer of Prince Marth in both books. In Book 2, he has grown older, however, 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 partner is Kain. He is in love with Est of the Whitewings but Palla, another of the Whitewings also has a crush on him.
- Malledus is Marth's elderly tactician in Book 1. He explains to him the events of Anri's war with Medius. During Book 2, he becomes ill, and Jagen takes his place.
- Hardin is the Prince of Aurelis and the king's brother. When Marth first meets him in Book 1 he is an stubbornly honorable man, and the one of the few people in Orleans who still willingly protects it. He shortly joins Marth's cause to defeat Medius. However, in Book 2 he is one of the main villains. He was deeply in love with Nina and married her, becoming the King of Orleans. But after discovering she didn't love him, Hardin became heartbroken and locked himself in his room, not allowing anyone to see him. Taking advantage of this, the evil priest Gharnef used the dark orb to possess Hardin. It is too late to save him without killing him in the process. In his last moments, Hardin thanked Marth for freeing his soul from Gharnef's dark orb, and asked him to take care of Nyna in his stead.
- Nyna (ニーナ, Niina) is the Princess of Akanea and the last surviving member of the royal family, following the slaughter by Doluna. 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 Akanea 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 is a masked knight who is, in all possibilities, Camus, in disguise. He was previously presumed dead at the hands of Marth, after the events of Book 1, but somehow survived. This time, his alliegiance is only to his belief than any kingdoms. In the end, he never once accepted being Camus and refuses to stay, saying there is someone waiting for him.
Books One and Two were developed with complete independence of each other, and feature different sound-tracks. The recruit theme in Book Two is a classical version of the one in Book One. There has been a manga written on the first map of the first book. Nintendo was forced to remove content in Book 1 due to hardware constraints.
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. Book 2 however was met with praise. Mystery of the Emblem was popular enough to hold the No. 1 position on the Famitsu chart for one year. In 2006, Mystery of the Emblem was the only Fire Emblem game which appeared in the top one hundred games list from readers of the magazine Famitsu, at 68th place.
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