Fire Emblem Gaiden is the second installment in the Fire Emblem series developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. The game was released on March 14, 1992 in Japan. It is also the second and final Fire Emblem series title to be released exclusively on the Famicom.
A remake of the game for 3DS, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, was released on April 19, 2017 in Japan and May 19, 2017 internationally.
Development began following the commercial success of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light in 1990. The original game's designer and writer Shouzou Kaga returned to those roles and also became director. In addition to Kaga, Gunpei Yokoi returned from Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light as the game's producer, while the visuals were created by Naotaka Ohonishi, Satoshi Machida and Toshitaka Muramatsu. The music and sound design was handled by Yuka Tsujiyoko, who had worked on the first Fire Emblem.
Kaga designed Gaiden to address issues raised with the first game, such as tedious elements of map navigation. The system of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light was used as base for various improvements to aspects such as enemy AI, although the gameplay adjustments ended up removing some of the strategic elements. These elements included a navigable overworld and more overt role-playing elements, along with the introduction of the class evolution system. Balancing these elements proved challenging for the team. The game made use of the new MMC4 memory chip, developed partially in response to the memory capacity problems faced during the development of the first game. For the story, Kaga wanted to deepen the relationship between the player and their units, represented through the growth of the characters through their battles. To create a stronger and broader central narrative, Kaga created the game's dual protagonists.
- See also: Archanea Series
As the name implies, Gaiden serves as a side story to the original game: Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light ("Gaiden" is literally Japanese for "side story"), taking place on a different location—the continent of Valentia—thus having no bearing on the first game's narrative. However, a few characters from the original game, such as the Whitewings, do make return appearances.
Prior to the events of the game, Valentia came into violent dispute over the beliefs of the sibling gods Mila and Duma, with Duma believing mankind should strive for power and Mila believing that mankind should be led towards peace and pleasure. This dispute eventually led to a pact that divided the continent between them. The lands of the north were to be ruled by Duma and the lands to the south would be ruled by Mila. Eventually two nations rose from this division, Rigel in the north and Zofia in the south. However, the heavy involvement of the gods in the nations they came to rule led to a contrast between them; the people of Rigel became strong, yet forgot kindness in their might, and the people of Zofia grew corrupt and knew nothing of toil.
The game follows two protagonists, lifelong friends Alm and Celica, over the course of five chapters and takes place in two kingdoms on the continent of Valentia: Rigel and Zofia. The world map is slowly revealed for players to traverse through the game's five chapters.
Chapter 1: Zofia's Call
The first chapter begins with Alm training with Mycen, his grandfather, in Ram Village, and witnessing the arrival of Lukas, who has come to the village seeking Mycen's aid. He reveals that the Zofian general Desaix has launched a coup and sacked Zofia Castle, killing the king in the process. In response, a group of knights under Clive's banner have formed a liberation army against him, aptly dubbed the Zofia Liberation Army, but have been put on the ropes and now request that Mycen lead them. Mycen refuses to get involved and forbids his grandson from doing so as well, but Alm chooses to go in his stead regardless. He, alongside the villagers Kliff, Tobin, and Gray, join with Lukas and set out of the village.
On the way to the Liberation Army's HQ, Alm's party rescues Silque, a cleric of Mila, from bandits in the Thieves' Shrine and comes across the Southern Fortress. Here, they clash with Desaix's forces for the first time, and find Clive's sister Clair imprisoned within the building's confines. Once they arrive at the headquarters, Clive requests that Alm take control of the Zofia Liberation Army. Alm also learns that Desaix had formed an alliance with Rigel and hears a rumor that the recent crop failures are due to Mila's disappearance.
Upon reaching Zofia Castle, Alm's forces clash with Desaix and his lieutenant, Slayde. After felling either Slayde or Desaix's double, Desaix retreats back to his own fortress, vowing revenge. At the top of the castle, Alm reunites with Mycen, who ventured to Zofia Castle on his own in secret. Mycen encourages Alm to follow the path he believes in and release Valentia from its cursed fate.
Chapter 2: The Pilgrimage
On the island of Novis, Celica sets off from Priory and parts ways with Nomah, the sage who Mycen entrusted her with, to discover the truth behind Mila's disappearance. She is accompanied by fellow cleric Genny and the mages Boey and Mae. At Novis Greatport, Celica hires the mercenary Saber to protect them as they travel to the mainland by ship. After clashing with the pirates plaguing the seas, Celica arrives at the Pirate's Fortress, where her party comes to the aid of the knight Valbar in his battle against the pirate lord Barth. Celica also encounters a Draco Zombie in the Sea Shrine guarding the Blessed Sword.
At Zofia Harbor, Celica briefly meets with Palla and Catria, who have traveled to Valentia tracking down the pirates who kidnapped their sister Est. Celica parts ways with the Pegasus Knights and makes her way to Zofia Castle, where she reunites with Mycen. Mycen sends her up to Alm and the two reunite, though they soon argue over whether war with Rigel is necessary and Alm's plans to find the missing princess of Zofia (unaware that Celica is said princess). Celica then departs for the Temple of Mila.
Chapter 3: War of Deliverance
After Celica leaves Zofia Castle, a landslide separates her from Alm's forces. At the Zofian Coast, Celica once again encounters the Whitewings and assists them in battling bandits loyal to Grieth. At Zofia Harbor, Palla reveals that they were actually looking for Celica and wishes to lend their strength to Celica's journey in return for helping them rescue Est. Celica soon arrives at a Mountain Village that has fallen into decline due to Grieth's constant ravaging and abduction of the youth to work as his slaves. Here, she meets the villager Atlas, who joins with them to stop Grieth.
After liberating the Desert Stronghold, Celica comes across the mercenary Jesse, who was imprisoned for attempting to rescue Est from Grieth. Jesse is at first unsure that the army can defeat Grieth, but also points out the animosity between Grieth and his subordinates Sonya and Deen, who hold each other in check. Jesse states that if Celica defeats one, the other will join them. At Grieth's Citadel, Celica finally defeats the pirate and earns the loyalty of the officer who she didn't slay. She also liberates Grieth's prisoners, among them Est and a priestess of Mila who knew Celica's mother, Liprica. After recounting the tale of how she came to be wed to the king of Zofia and her death, the priestess gives Celica a circlet that proves her identity as princess of Zofia.
Once they arrive at the Temple of Mila, they find it occupied by shamans of Duma led by Mikhail. After defeating the shamans, Celica learns from the priestesses within that the temple was attacked by the Rigel army and that Mila was sealed by King Rudolf in the Falchion, which he received from Duma. In order to pass forward, Celica must open the floodgate beneath the temple simultaneously with the one at the Sluice Gate.
Meanwhile, Alm's forces enter into battle with the Rigel army in the regions north of the castle. Alm's forces make their way to the Forest Village, where they are approached by Luthier, who requests their aid in recusing his sister Delthea from Tatarrah. Alm also learns that the Rigel forces are forcing the Sluice Gate closed and that it must be opened before it floods Zofia.
Alm's forces lay siege to Desaix's Fortress, and in a panic, Desaix orders that his men execute Mathilda, who they had captured. Desaix is slain, and with his dying breath he accuses Mycen of selling out Zofia to Rudolf's son. Within the castle, Alm revives the Royal Sword and recruits Mathilda into his army.
Once they arrive at the Sluice Gate, Tatarrah orders the brainwashed Delthea to attack Alm's forces, but she is freed when Tatarrah is slain. Inside the gate, Delthea reunites with Luthier and joins Alm's army, and the two floodgates are opened, allowing both Alm and Celica to venture into Rigel proper.
Chapter 4: Land of Sorrow
Within the Temple of Mila, Celica reunites with Nomah, who followed them in secret and fell down into the basement, and joins them to give himself peace of mind. Celica's forces begin to fight their way through the swamp and reach the fortress of Dolth, who attempts to fight them off by summoning Draco Zombies. Eventually, Celica arrives at the Sage's Hamlet, where she meets with Halcyon, the former High Priest of Duma who was defeated by Jedah and banished. Halcyon confirms that the Falchion lays beneath Duma Tower, but comments that Jedah will not allow anyone to come near the tower. At Celica's request, he increases Alm's power, promoting him to Hero.
Meanwhile, Alm's forces begin their attack on Rigel, fighting their way through Terror Mountain and to the mansion of Nuibaba, a necromancer who has gained great power by selling his soul for the Medusa spell. After defeating Nuibaba, Alm finds the Rigelian priestess Tatiana imprisoned in the manor. Tatiana explains that she was kidnapped by Nuibaba and Jerome to force her lover Zeke to fight, as he opposed the war. Tatiana accompanies Alm's army as it engages Jerome and Zeke, allowing Zeke to betray Jerome. At the Rigel Village, Alm and Zeke reunite and Zeke is at first unwilling to betray Rudolf, who showed him kindness after he washed up on shore without his memories, but changes his mind upon seeing Alm's birthmark, as Rudolf instructed him to follow the bearer of this mark as he would be Rigel's savior.
Celica's forces enter the Duma Swamp, where they are ambushed by Jedah and a horde of Mogalls. After fighting their way through the Mogalls, they approach Duma Tower. Atop the tower, Jedah introduces himself and shows her a vision of Alm's forces struggling against the Draco Zombies of Dragon Mountain. Jedah offers to open Alm's path in return for Celica and her army allowing themselves to be sacrificed to Duma.
Freed from Dragon Mountain, Alm's forces push on to Rigel Castle, where they enter battle with Rudolf's forces. During the battle, Rudolf refuses to attack Alm and is cut down, revealing with his dying breaths that Alm is actually his son Albein and entrusting him to claim the Falchion and defeat Duma. Within the castle, Alm is met by General Massena and the remnants of Rudolf's army, who hail Alm as their new king. Alm meets Mycen within the castle as well, who explains that Rudolf entrusted Alm to him in hopes that Alm would be able to free Valentia from the chains of the gods, who are inadvertently leading the land to ruin, and that Rudolf was willing to make himself a destroyer so that the heroes of the land would rise to stop him. Mycen joins Alm's army and encourages him to march onward to Duma Tower to rescue Celica and defeat Duma.
Final Chapter: Together to the End
Alm and his army venture into the Temple of Duma and fight their way through the god's servants as Celica's party struggles against Jedah and Duma. Alm comes across the temple treasury and is forced to go through along, fighting against powerful monsters for the right to claim the Falchion. Falchion in hand, Alm fights his way to Duma's altar and reunites with Celica's army. There, the two reconcile and begin to fight against the onslaught of Mogalls being commanded by Jedah and his daughters Marla and Hestia.
After slaying Jedah, Alm and Celica enter into battle with Duma himself, with the god appearing to be invincible. Alm is ultimately able to seal the god into a great slumber with the power of Mila through the Falchion, and with his last words, Duma entrusts Valentia to Alm and warns him against repeating their mistakes or reawakening them.
After the war, Alm and Celica unify the continent into the Kingdom of Valentia, and become the new kingdom's first king and queen.
While the basic battle engine and formula from the original game are still present in Fire Emblem Gaiden, a number of new gameplay features were added or changed:
- Regular stat caps were raised from 20 to 40.
- The Villager class features branching promotion trees, allowing the player to select a character's promotion class.
- Class change is done in special shrines, without the need to use special items.
- Only special weapons need to be equipped, and neither these nor the unit's default weapons will ever break.
- Spells are learned through leveling up, and they drain the spellcaster's hit points with each use, but would take the unit's Power stat into account for determining the amount of damage dealt or healed (something that didn't happen in the first installment of the series)
- The game also features an overworld map that players can travel through between battles and towns that can be freely explored, with more territory becoming available as the game progresses.
- The first appearance of the support system, in that Alm and Celica having a higher chance to critical hit when near each other.
Although most of these changes to the game were abandoned in Mystery of the Emblem and onward, many of them would return in one form or another for one or two games at a time, while a few, like the support system, would be developed further and incorporated into the core of the series. Some examples of systems with roots in Gaiden include Genealogy of the Holy War's limited and permanent items and class-change system, The Sacred Stones's and Awakening's navigable world map and branching class promotions, Radiant Dawn's tiered promotions and branching storylines, and Fates's unbreakable weapons.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, a remake of Gaiden, retains many of the gameplay components of the original game. Elements that remained unique to Gaiden, such as the town and dungeon exploration, were greatly expanded upon in the remake. Shadows of Valentia was also the first game since the release of Genealogy of the Holy War to not feature the Weapon Triangle, remaining true to Gaiden in that sense as well.
- See main article: List of characters in Fire Emblem Gaiden.
- See main article: Chapters (Fire Emblem Gaiden).
- See main article: List of Classes in Fire Emblem Gaiden.
- Gaiden has the least official character artwork out of any game in the series. Due to this, in the Fire Emblem Awakening SpotPass content, Gaiden is not represented by any of its villain characters save for Deen, who is an optional boss that can be recruited by the player. In contrast, all other games represented in Awakening's SpotPass content feature at least one major unrecruitable villain.