The Fire Emblem franchise began in 1990 with the release of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, which was released for the Family Computer and was exclusive to the Japanese market. While the game did not create the Tactical RPG or Strategy RPG genre, many video game historians note that this game established many of the genre's archetypes. It blended the classic chess formulas of various games from the past with classic RPGs features, namely the ability for characters to gain experience from battle and growing stronger over the course of a story as well as swapping equipment for different needs.
For twelve years, five additional games were released as Japan exclusive titles, up until Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, which was released in 2002 for the Game Boy Advance. The Fire Emblem franchise gained initial exposure internationally when Marth and Roy were included in the 2001 release of Super Smash Bros. Melee. Also due in part to the western success of Intelligent Systems's other tactical strategy game Advance Wars, the Fire Emblem franchise began localization with the release of seventh Fire Emblem title, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, known at the time simply as Fire Emblem.
Mediocre sales plagued the franchise, selling enough units to keep the franchise alive, but sales trends in Japan and Internationally were lukewarm at best, despite solid game reviews. Prior to 2013, only four of the five games released after Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade were released internationally; Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem remained a Japan exclusive.
Fire Emblem Awakening, the thirteenth title, was developed with the idea in mind that it might be the final game in the franchise. The development team brought back numerous features from throughout the series to create a game that could serve as a proper finale. If the game did not sell enough units in Japan alone, the franchise would be permanently shelved. The game was well advertised and had exceptional sales, more than any previous title. The success of the sales in Japan lead to the localization of the game worldwide, leading to similar sales success and newfound interest in the franchise.
Currently sixteen Fire Emblem tiles have been released with seven of them being released only in Japan and nine released worldwide. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the most recent Fire Emblem title, released July 26, 2019. As of November of 2020, Three Houses became the best-selling entry in franchise history, with over three million copies sold worldwide.
Fire Emblem has been represented in five of the six Super Smash Bros. games with eight Fire Emblem characters appearing as playable characters and three as an Assist Trophy. Super Smash Bros. Melee introduced Marth and Roy. Super Smash Bros. Brawl introduced Ike. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U introduced Robin, Lucina, and Corrin with Chrom making a cameo appearance in Robin's Final Smash. Chrom became a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Byleth was later added as DLC in the same title. Lyndis serves as an Assist Trophy in Brawl, For 3DS, For Wii U, and Ultimate. The Black Knight and the Awakening version of Tiki debuted as Assist Trophies in Ultimate. Many characters from Three Houses also appear on the stage Garreg Mach Monastery and Sothis appears in Byleth's Final Smash.
The franchise has also seen a number of spin-offs. Such releases include games developed in collaboration with third parties like Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE and Fire Emblem Warriors, trading card games including Fire Emblem 0 (Cipher), and the mobile phone game Fire Emblem Heroes.
As part of celebrating the franchise's thirtieth anniversary in 2020, Nintendo produced a new localization of the original Fire Emblem title, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, for English-speaking audiences. This special release of the original Famicom title was released digitally on the Nintendo Switch on December 4, 2020.
Counting announced games in development, the franchise currently has thirteen original games, three enhanced remakes, and four spin-off titles. With the exception of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, games predating Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade were released only in Japan.
|English titles||Japanese titles||Platforms &
|Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light
||ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒竜と光の剣||The first game of the series.|
|Fire Emblem Gaiden
||ファイアーエムブレム外伝||A side story of the original title, first game to take place on a different continent. Deviates from standard Fire Emblem gameplay mechanisms. Last game available for the Famicom.|
|Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
||ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎||Enhanced remake and sequel to Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light|
|Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
||ファイアーエムブレム 聖戦の系譜||First Fire Emblem to feature the weapon triangle, romance and marriage, and a second generation of characters influenced by the player's actions with the first generation.|
|Fire Emblem: Thracia 776
||ファイアーエムブレム トラキア776||A side story of Genealogy of the Holy War first released on the Nintendo Power download service and last game available for SNES.|
|Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
||ファイアーエムブレム 封印の剣||Game Boy Advance:
JPMarch 29, 2002
|The first Fire Emblem title to appear on a Nintendo handheld and first unrelated to the Archanea Series.|
|Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
||ファイアーエムブレム 烈火の剣||Game Boy Advance:
JPApril 25, 2003
|A prequel to The Binding Blade and the first Fire Emblem title to be released outside of Japan. First game to have a custom Player Avatar that is present in the plot.|
|Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
||ファイアーエムブレム 聖魔の光石||Game Boy Advance:
||The first title in the series to feature a navigable world map and promotion class branching since Fire Emblem Gaiden. Last game avaliable for GBA.|
|Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
||ファイアーエムブレム 蒼炎の軌跡||Nintendo GameCube:
JPApril 20, 2005
|The first title in the series to be rendered in three-dimensions and to incorporate full motion video, as well as the first main-series title to feature voice acting.|
|Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
JPFebruary 22, 2007
|The sequel to Path of Radiance. The first game in the series to incorporate a save data transfer mechanic, allowing players to upload Path of Radiance data at the start of a new game. Also the first entry in the series to allow creating permanent saves mid-battle.|
|Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
||ファイアーエムブレム 新・暗黒竜と光の剣||Nintendo DS:
JPAugust 7, 2008
|Second enhanced remake of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. Introduced the concept of reclassing.|
|Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem ~Heroes of Light and Shadow~
||ファイアーエムブレム 新・紋章の謎 〜光と影の英雄〜||Nintendo DS:
JPJuly 15, 2010
|Remake of Mystery of the Emblem Book 2. First game to have an Avatar since Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, and the first game to have the Player Avatar engage directly in battlefield combat as a unit.|
The debut of Casual Mode. Last game available for Nintendo DS.
|Fire Emblem Awakening
JPApril 19, 2012
|First game that allowed supporting units to actively assist in battle.|
First game to use Voice Actors outside of animated cut-scenes.
|Fire Emblem Fates
||ファイアーエムブレム if||Nintendo 3DS:
JPJune 25, 2015
|First game to have multiple game versions.|
First game where the players have to choose different storyline paths that do not largely merge back into one later in the story.
Featuring some characters from Awakening universe by default and DLC Xenologue storyline.
|Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
||ファイアーエムブレム Echoes もうひとりの英雄王||Nintendo 3DS:
JPApril 20, 2017
|Enhanced remake of Gaiden. First core series Fire Emblem title to feature full dialogue voice-acting.
First game to feature a mechanic that allows the player to rewind turns and undo actions.
|Fire Emblem: Three Houses||ファイアーエムブレム 風花雪月||Nintendo Switch: WWJuly 26, 2019||Introduced Battalions as an additional battle tactic.|
Features a gameplay cycle of exploring an overworld hub and improving character stats and then entering a story battle.
|English language titles||Original titles||Platforms & release dates||Notes|
|Fire Emblem: Archanea Saga||ファイアーエムブレム アカネイア戦記編||SNES: JPSeptember to October 1997||Satellaview prequel stories to Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light|
|Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE
||幻影異聞録♯FE||A turn-based JRPG spin-off developed under collaboration with Atlus as a crossover between Fire Emblem and Atlus's Shin Megami Tensei. A remastered port - Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Encore - was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2020.|
|Fire Emblem Heroes
||ファイアーエムブレム ヒーローズ||iOS and Android: WWFebruary 2, 2017||The first game to be released on mobile platforms. A "gacha"-style game in which players draw random legacy Fire Emblem characters to build their forces.|
|Fire Emblem Warriors
||ファイアーエムブレム無双||A hack n' slash Warriors series spin-off, under collaboration with Koei Tecmo's Omega Force and Team Ninja.|
|Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes||
|A hack n' slash Warriors series spin-off, under collaboration with Koei Tecmo's Omega Force and Team Ninja.|
This spin-off is a direct sequel to Three Houses.
The Fire Emblem franchise is mainly a Tactical RPG series. The core gameplay sees the player select characters in their roster to battle a set enemy faction in turn-based battles that emphasize strategic movement and action. In each battle, players move their characters across a grid-based map, defeating enemy units with the goal of completing the battle's main objective.
As units are used in combat, they gain Experience, growing stronger when they accrue enough to Level Up, increasing their stats. Growing to a certain Level allows a player to Promote a character, granting the character a stronger class with increased stats, growth rates, and access to new weapons and/or unit types.
The core of the series combat is sourced to the character's weapon options, which are locked to their current class. Characters can use a host of direct weapons such as Swords, Lances, and Axes or ranged options like Bows, Tomes, and Daggers. Some characters are chimeric in nature and have the ability to transform into animals, namely the Manakete race who can transform into dragons. Healing is an option through Staves to recover health of injured allies, preventing them from falling in battle. As characters continuously wield a weapon or staff, they become proficient with them, gaining the ability to wield stronger versions of said equipment.
Unique effects of weapons are important as several weapons have different effects such as reversing the weapon type advantage, debuffing an enemy so their stats are lowered, or dealing effective damage against certain enemies.
Every weapon and staff also carries a set number of uses that denote the number of times they can be used before they break and are unable to be used. Players are given funds throughout the game, allowing them to spend it on new weapons to keep their weapons well stocked. Occasionally, players can receive weapons from defeating certain enemies, stealing them from enemies, or receiving them from a locked chest.
Players command their units to attack enemies with the goal of reducing the enemy's HP to 0 and keeping their own characters alive. The most important aspect is a character's stats which influence factors such as their ability to connect hits, deal damage, take damage, and launch Critical hits/Skills. Their weapon further contributes by increasing damage output and applying various effects. Other factors influence the outcomes of battles from a weapon's advantage over another or the Support bonuses of nearby allies.
Maps and Movement
Gameplay maps in the series vary in size and scale between entries, but are divided into grids of squares. All characters may move a set number of squares during their turn, with the maximum range of a character dependent on their Movement stat. Some units such as Pegasus Knights are capable of flight, and are thus able to pass over terrain that may slow or halt other units. The specifics of terrain varies from game to game and from map to map within individual games, but units may also be subject to terrain bonuses or penalties depending on what ground they stand on. For example, standing among trees may make a character more difficult to hit, while a character may take damage from standing in terrain that is poisonous.
Every battle in the franchise has a set objective that the player must achieve in order to move on to the next one. Rout the Enemy, Defeat the Boss, Seize, Survive, Protect, and Escape are the most common objective types.
—Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon in-game guide.
In the Fire Emblem series, when a character's health points reach zero, their deaths are permanent and are thus lost for the rest of the game. This is a deviation from most traditional RPGs, where characters would reach zero health and be merely incapacitated or capable of being revived. This leads players to be mindful of their units and use care in deploying them into battle, keeping back any that are significantly injured. If a plot-important character other than the primary protagonists (whose deaths result in a Game Over) lose all of their health points, they receive a crippling injury that prevents them from fighting, but continue to play a role in the story.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon features side chapters (also called Gaiden chapters) that only become available if the player has lost certain numbers of units; these chapters offer new recruitable characters to prevent the player's roster from growing too thin.
Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem introduced Casual Mode to the franchise. In Casual Mode, the permanent death mechanic is turned off and any player character that is defeated in battle will stay in the player's roster and become usable again in the following chapter. The purpose of Casual Mode is to ease the difficulty, letting new players into the game more easily. Fire Emblem Fates takes this approach a step further with the introduction of Phoenix Mode, in which defeated characters return to battle on the very next turn with full health. Just as Casual Mode is meant to ease the barrier of entry to those put off by the traditional permanent death mechanic, Phoenix Mode is meant for strategy RPG novices.
In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the introductory chapters that make up Lyn's Tale are meant as an extended tutorial for those new to the Fire Emblem series in general. As such, Lyn's Tale does not feature permanent death. Units that are defeated in Lyn's story return in Eliwood's/Hector's story, which makes up the main portion of the game. However, characters that are lost in Lyn's story are weaker than they otherwise would be when they are reintroduced.
Occasionally, an NPC triggers a Game Over scenario in a similar manner to the death of a Lord character and thus must not be allowed to die to finish a map.
Support and Social Elements
Beginning with Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the Fire Emblem series has implemented and experimented with gameplay systems designed around building bonds of support between characters. Genealogy of the Holy War introduced the Love System, which is an underlying mechanic that affects the love between two compatible units. Characters that fall in love in the game's first half will eventually have children together, and the appearance and stats of the second generation of player characters that appear later in the story are dependent on the pairings that became parents.
Later games refined this initial approach into a Support system, in which two characters may build support by fighting together in battle, advancing their relationship. Depending on the characters in question, this relationship may remain platonic or turn romantic, and support relationships that reach their maximum rank may affect the paired characters' epilogue in the game's end. Characters that build support with one another earn bonuses in combat when in proximity to each other on the field of battle, and these bonuses grow more potent the stronger their bond.
World & Themes
The Fire Emblem series does not take place in a singular world. Instead, the stories of Fire Emblem titles comes from various worlds wholly separate from each other. Some titles are interconnected with each other due to taking place in the same world, but different points in time or location such as The Blazing Blade being a prequel story to The Binding Blade or Radiant Dawn being a direct sequel to Path of Radiance. To date, there are seven separate main series worlds with one world in particular hosting nine of the sixteen main series games over a period of several millennia.
The overall arching design of the Fire Emblem series relies on medieval Europe, blending themes of knights and magic into the overall lore as well as mythical themes of dragons and pegasus. The series heavily borrow names, themes, and designs from various mythologies, though Norse Mythology is particularly used the most. Other prominently features stories include Arthurian Legends. Fates is notable for blending in Feudal Japan themes for its story, particularly in the nation of Hoshido.
Though many of the games are set in separate, distinct worlds, the series has acknowledged a multiverse of sorts with the introduction of the Outrealm in Fire Emblem Awakening as the framing device for its downloadable content. Fire Emblem Heroes takes this approach a step further with its central conceit being a world in which it is is possible to summon forth figures from across all of the different Fire Emblem worlds, and the original Fire Emblem Warriors follows a similar approach with its narrative seeing heroes and villains from several games in the series pulled into a new world only to cross paths in a new conflict.
Over sixteen main series titles, two spin-offs, and a mobile game, hundreds of characters have been featured as playable, enemy, and NPCs. Due to the contained worlds and points in time for each game, rarely does a character appear in multiple games unless games are either a direct story sequel/prequel of another or a remake.
Each game generally features around 30-50 playable characters giving the player a multitude of characters to utilize throughout the game. One to three of these characters are the main protagonists of the games and usually carry the title of Lord to denote them, though there are notable exceptions to this rule. Occasionally, an Avatar character is featured, allowing the player to create and customize a character who appears in story as a representation of themselves during the story. Kris, Robin, Corrin, and Byleth serve as playable Avatars while Mark is a NPC tactician. Other characters of a game's cast are filled with characters of unique histories who can be recruited into the player's army to fight for the Lord character's cause. While separate from each other, several characters across the franchise have similar story themes and gameplay functions that create Archetypes of unit types that have appeared throughout the franchise.
Characters may appear in multiple games and have a change in playable status. Eliwood and Hector are NPCs in Binding Blade, but are playable in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade. Seliph is the opposite, being playable in Genealogy of the Holy War but only appears as an NPC in Thracia 776.
It is rare for a character to appear multiple times outside of direct sequels/prequels and side stories. However, three characters are notable exceptions. Naga is a divine dragon entity that appears in eight of the main series titles. Jake the name of a man who appears in a multitude of games, though are wholly separate characters from each other. He has appeared as a playable Ballistician in one game, and an NPC shopkeeper in another. He tends to share a relationship with Anna, another character who appears in multiple games. Anna is particularly notable as she has had multiple incarnations who have appeared throughout the series. She has appeared in fourteen of the main series Fire Emblem titles to date, with Gaiden and its remake Shadows of Valentia being the only two games she does not appear in. She is commonly depicted as a humble, but whimsical NPC shopkeeper who assists the player by running a Secret Shop, but later began making playable appearances starting with Awakening.
The Fire Emblem
The Fire Emblem, the namesake of the franchise, is not a singular item. Rather, it takes on many forms depending on the game it is in. Regardless of the game, the Fire Emblem takes the role of a pivotal object or a symbol of importance in the plot. Currently, the Fire Emblem has taken on seven different appearances, including the Binding Shield in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Lehran's Medallion in the Tellius Series, and the Omega form of the Yato in Fire Emblem Fates.
Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia remain the only two games in the franchise that does not have a Fire Emblem involved in its plot. However, its passive connection to the Archanea Series gives it some history with a Fire Emblem.