Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light is the first game in the Fire Emblem series, developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The game was first released on the Famicom in Japan on April 20, 1990. It was first officially localized into English and released outside of Japan on the Switch on December 4, 2020. An early entry in the strategy role-playing genre, the game established numerous gameplay mechanics and concepts that continue to be employed in the franchise to this day.
- See also: Archanea Series
The game takes place on the continent of Archanea, which is home to a number of nations:
- Archanea: Known as the Holy Kingdom, and shares the same name as the continent. It was founded by King Cartas after the first battle with the Earth Dragons. The Fire Emblem is the kingdom's treasure.
- Altea: A kingdom of knights, founded by the Hero Anri. It is allied with Gra, who share the same ancestry. Marth hails from this kingdom.
- Gra: A kingdom that branched from Altea. After the death of Anri, some members of Altea's royal family left over inheritance issues and founded Gra.
- Talys: A newly founded island kingdom. Marth escapes here after his homeland of Altea is invaded by Dolhrian troops.
- Aurelis: A kingdom located in the plains. It was founded by Cartas of Archanea, and was initially ruled by his younger brother, Marlon.
- Grust: A militant kingdom, famed for its Sable Knight squadron. It was founded by General Ordwin.
- Khadein: Known as the sanctuary of sorcery. It was founded by Archsage Gotoh.
- Macedon: An island kingdom, home to Pegasus Knights and Dracoknights. It was founded by Iote.
- Dolhr: The kingdom of dragons, directly north of Macedon. It was ruled by the Dark Dragon, Medeus. It is inhabited by Manaketes.
Marth is prince of Altea and a descendant of Anri, the warrior who slew the dark dragon Medeus. However, after an attack from the neighboring kingdom of Dolhr, in which his father is killed battling the evil priest Gharnef and his sister Elice is taken hostage, Marth is forced to become an exile in the nation of Talys.
With the help of the Altean knight Jagen, the Talysian Princess Caeda, and others, Marth embarks on a quest to find the sacred sword Falchion and the Fire Emblem that will allow him to wield it. Only then will he be able to confront Gharnef and the resurrected Medeus, win the kingdom of Altea back, and rescue his sister.
Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light was one of the earliest games in the turn-based strategy genre on home consoles. However, unlike other strategy games, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light is among the first, if not the first game in the tactical role-playing genre. Later games in the series made numerous changes to the gameplay. The following is a list of gameplay differences that distinguish this game from its sequels:
- There are no colored tiles indicating a unit's movement range, and the player must move the cursor to see how far one of the characters can move.
- Characters can only hold four weapons and/or items at a time. Also, weapons/items cannot be traded between two units. The player can give a weapon or item to another unit if they are holding fewer than four weapons and items, but the giving unit will not be able to move until next turn.
- Weapon and item storage makes use of a tent (similar to the method used in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade), and it costs ten gold to deposit one weapon/item, while withdrawing items costs nothing. Also, the player cannot purchase a weapon or item at a store and send it directly into storage, meaning that characters carrying full loads cannot make purchases. However, anything dropped by a defeated enemy can be sent into storage directly.
- Healing units (such as clerics) cannot gain experience from using staves. The only way they can earn experience is by being attacked by an enemy (even if the enemy misses).
- Pegasus Knights become Dracoknights when they promote. Fire Emblem Gaiden retained the pegasus mounts when they promote into Falcon Knights, but this was reverted back in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and the remakes. Ever since Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Pegasus Knights and Dracoknights have been completely different classes with separate promotion lines. This was reintroduced in The Sacred Stones as an alternate class change for Pegasus Knights.
- There is no weapon triangle, or rock-paper-scissors relationship between weapon classes. However, weapons still have their own traits. For example, most axes and lances are more powerful but less accurate than swords.
- Many classes, such as Knights, Fighters, Hunters, and Thieves have no promotion. Marth also cannot be promoted.
- Castles only occupy one space, which means that the average boss can be surrounded and attacked by four different characters in a single turn.
- Magic attacks do not scale with any stat, meaning a mage's attack is always equal to the might of their tome. This is balanced out with the fact that resistance is a very rare stat, as all playable characters have a resistance growth rate of 0%.
- See main article: List of characters in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light.
- See main article: Chapters (Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon).
- See main article: List of Classes in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light.
Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light has received two remakes. The first, the Super Famicom title Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, includes a truncated retelling of the original game referred to as Book One, in addition to a sequel storyline, Book Two. A second remake titled Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon was released worldwide for the Nintendo DS handheld. Shadow Dragon includes the full story of the original Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, plus a new prologue, as well as a multiplayer mode and other additional features.
Thirtieth Anniversary Release
On October 22, 2020, Nintendo announced that Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light would receive an official English-language release in western territories with a brand-new localization in celebration of the franchise's thirtieth anniversary. Released on December 4, 2020, this digital-only release features several quality of life improvements and modernized features through its emulation, including the ability to revert back to previous turns and adjust the speed of enemy turns. This digital edition was only available for a limited time, and was removed from the Nintendo e-Shop on March 31, 2021.
In addition to this limited digital release, a limited physical edition of the game was published in North America. This limited edition features a number of goods meant to emulate a packaged North American NES game, including a replica NES game cartridge, box, and English-localized instruction manual, along with a 222-page Legacy of Archanea art book, a collectable featuring the game on a faux Nintendo Power magazine cover, and a digital download code for the game.
- This is the only game in the series to have two remakes and no enemy-exclusive classes. Even the final boss uses one of the playable classes.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Lucina's birthday is April 20th in reference to the original release date of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light.
- On April 20, 2020 Nintendo released two special versions of the game on the Japanese Famicom -Nintendo Switch Online service to mark its 30th anniversary.
- The first version features a save during Chapter 18, The Sable Order, with a Triangle Attack primed for the player.
- The second version features a save at the final chapter, Chosen by Fate, with all the characters having stats to be viable in the battle. All characters except Marth also have their animations disabled in battle.
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light is the third Fire Emblem game to be rated E by the ERSB and the first E-rated Fire Emblem title since Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
- The faux-magazine cover included with the physical thirtieth-anniversary package includes a fictional issue number of 11.5. In 1990, Nintendo Power was published every two months, with issue 11 released in March of that year and issue 12 that May. Thus, 11.5 would have been released in April of 1990, the month of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light's original Japanese release.