Long ago, Medeus, king of the dragonkin, conquered the continent of Archanea, beginning an age of fear and despair for all its people. That tyranny was broken, however, thanks to a miracle. A young man hailing from the Altea region appeared with a divine blade in hand. He stood against the Shadow Dragon, and struck him down. [...] However, after a century's passing, the Shadow Dragon returned. He forged an alliance with a fiendish sorcerer who sought to rule the world, and their combined might toppled kingdom upon unsuspecting kingdom. Again, darkness threatened to engulf the continent.
Fire Emblem: The Dark Dragon and the Sword of Light (Famicom, 1990) is the franchise's debut, starring Prince Marth of Altea. It tells of his efforts to win back his homeland and the entirety of Archanea from the Dolhr empire, and of his search for his family's Ancestral Weapon Falchion, which is needed if the dragon emperor Medeus is to fall. The game is a pioneer in the genre of Japanese Turn-Based Strategy RPGs, but partially as a result, its interface has not aged particularly well. A Fan Translation was completed in 2011.
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (Super Famicom, 1993) is the third title in the series, comprising both a compressed remake of the first game (Book 1) and a new sequel (Book 2), giving players the option to skip to the sequel if they're already familiar with the original game. In the sequel, several years after the fall of Medeus, Marth is dispatched by Emperor Hardin of Archanea to deal with an uprising in Grust, but is appalled to find his "allies" are instead brutally oppressing the citizens. Marth gathers a liberation army to fight back against the now corrupt Archanean Empire. A fan translation was completed in March 2008.
BS Fire Emblem: Archanea War Chronicles (Super Famicom / Satellaview, 1997) is a collection of four Satellaview broadcast maps based on the Mystery of the Emblem engine, telling a number of sidestories set before the beginning of the first game. The nature of these games' distribution system makes them difficult to emulate at all, never mind with accuracy, so they generally go overlooked. These four maps are generally considered to comprise a single game and are for the most part not counted in the numbering scheme of the Fire Emblem series, though Guinness World Records does count them.
11 years onward, the Nintendo DS saw two remakes of Marth's adventures:
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (Nintendo DS, 2008/2009) is a remake of the first game, and is generally counted as the eleventh installment in the franchise. It is the first game in the series to have a vaguely decent multiplayer mode, complete with online play, and has a new feature that lets the player switch the classes of their units at will; otherwise, it's pretty much a straight remake with only a few additions and modifications. With the international release of Shadow Dragon, Marth is now the record holder for "longest delayed solo debut after a debut inanother series".
Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem ~Heroes of Light and Darkness~ (Nintendo DS, 2010), generally counted as the twelfth title, is a remake of Book 2 of Mystery of the Emblem. Unlike Shadow Dragon, it is far less of a direct redo; it reincorporates characters left out of the original Mystery, introduces those from the Satellaview chapters and Shadow Dragon, alters the story slightly and implements a completely new subplot, as well as the inclusion of a player-createdcharacter. It includes remakes of the four Archanea War Chronicles chapters as bonus content, as well as all-new bonus chapters as downloadable content. For reasons unknown, it didn't receive an English release, but as of November 2012, there is a complete fan translation!
Also present in the Archanea canon are countless manga retellings, as well as a two-episode anime OVA adaptation of Mystery of the Emblem. It actually was dubbed and released in the US by ADV Films, long before Super Smash Bros. happened, but remains quite obscure.Additionally, the next two Fire Emblem games, Genealogy of the Holy War and Thracia 776, are set in the same universe as the Archanea games but in the distant past and on a completely different continent, Jugdral; the stories are pretty much only connected through Naga, the Divine Dragon God who has a large role in the histories of both continents. On the other end, Fire Emblem Awakening is set in the distant future of the Archanea universe.
This sub-series provides examples of:
Adaptation Expansion: The Nintendo DS remakes to the original Famicom games, but New Mystery of the Emblem in particular.
In the chapter before Hardin is recruited in both Dark Dragon and Shadow Dragon, a villager gives you a Silver Sword that supposedly belongs to him and asks you to return it to him. With the introduction of weapon ranks, however, Hardin is initially unable to use the Silver Sword in Shadow Dragon.
The complete lack of Sages and the Myrmidon line in FE11 was because the original game had all myrmidons in FE11 be mercenaries, and Mages and Curates/Clerics promoted into Bishops. The Gaiden chapters (and FE12) fix this.
A main villain, Lang, not only massacres whole villages if one person rebels, but kills boys and rapes girls. You can imagine how well that was taken by Marth and his group. It's also invoked in the backstory of Lena's pupil Maillesia (which involved her going into hiding and having to pretend she's much younger than she truly is to avoid him or his troops) and in Yubello and Yumina's (as the fallen heirs of Ludvick, Lang and others kill their guardian and then use them as pawns)
Princess Maria, whose own brother Michalis uses as a hostage to force their sister Minerva to fight for him. As a result, Maria spends a long part of her life as a hostage, and Minerva can't do anything but fight on the evil Michalis's orders to ensure she won't die.
Art Evolution: Mystery of the Emblem was the first Fire Emblem to have an actual artist in the development team. To give an example, look at Astram's portrait between the various games: FE1◊, FE3◊, FE11◊, FE12◊
More apparent in Shadow Dragon, as the character art was done by Shirow Masamune.
As an additional piece of trivia, it was the second anime adaptation of a Nintendo title (the first one being Super Mario Bros.),a few years before the Pokémon animated adaptation appeared in Japan.
Back from the Dead: Camus/Zeke/Sirius in Gaiden and Mystery of the Emblem, this time aiding you on your quest. Also Michalis, though he gets Killed Off for Real near the endgame. Except if you're playing the remake of Mystery of the Emblem for the DS, in which Michalis can actually survive.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Used in the remake of Mystery of the Emblem. The Bishōnen Michalis not only gets to come back from death twice, but also lose all his scars, become a king, then leave the continent and become the king of another continent! And this is after he killed his own father, was a Bad Boss to his soldiers, and an overall tyrant. The very plain Hardin still dies unhappily due to being a tyrant despite a lifetime of good. The worst part was that Hardin was possessed and had more of a connection to Marth, while Michalis did his evil deeds out of ambition. Seems you get a third chance if you’re really hot, but if you’re not attractive you don’t even get a second.
Character Customization: The new main character of the Mystery of the Emblem DS remake is actually a creation of the player, built from a selection of designs and attributes.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Very much so, especially in harder difficulties, there are mooks using forged versions of otherwise unforgable weapons. Also, especially in the remakes, many enemies have their own unobtainable weapons such as Swarm, Meteor, and Glower tomes.
Conspicuous CG: The art style of Shadow Dragon; improved slightly in New Mystery.
Continuity Snarl: The sidequest requirements in Shadow Dragon cause some pretty serious Mind Screw in New Mystery. Basically, everyone from Shadow Dragon returns alive and well in the sequel. While this was explained in the case of the sacrifice in the prologue, the real problem is that Marth recognizes all the sidequest-only characters, despite meeting them all in Shadow Dragon requiring practically all the other characters to be killed. Only one Shadow Dragon sidequest is explicitly stated to be non-canon: 24x (as Marth doesn't recognize Nagi) and that was the one with the least harsh requirements. Exactly how the others could have occurred with everyone surviving just boggles the mind. Or maybe the sidequest requirements in the first game are just Canon Discontinuity.
Crapsack World: Archanea really starts to seem like this in Book 2 and when you read up on its history.
Knorda in particular is a Crapsack Town. The whole place was taken over by a gang of thugs some time ago, Katarina was born there, and was constantly beaten and abused. Linde somehow fell into their hands during the War of Shadows, and who knows what world have happened to her if Marth hadn't got there when he did. And then we learn in Mystery that Ogma and Samto were forced to compete in brutal gladiatorial games there since they were kids. What's utterly baffling about this is the town is literally right outside Archanea's palace, and yet no one thinks to do anything about it until Marth's arrival!
There's a reason for this: It's stated at the end of the BS Fire Emblem "Fall" by Camus that the King wasn't a very good ruler and was too concerned with living in luxury than ruling the land correctly. Between that and having some other general (Camus got imprisoned for a while) govern the area, it's only natural that things didn't get better.
Crutch Character: Jagen is a very well-known example and former Trope Namer. In the original, he has less than a 10% chance of raising each stat upon level up (with some having a 0% chance), but starts decent compared to your level 1 unpromoted units. Arran replaces him in book 2 (Jagen is now Marth's tactician and doesn't fight) with only slightly better growths (Arran has a defense growth) and is worse than Jagen in the remake (his only advantage over a statsless replacement unit in growths is 10% extra luck growth). Both remakes and Mystery lampshade their roles, telling the player to work on other units.
The remake gives Caeda a special weapon to compensate for her new inability (thanks to the introduction of weapon ranks) to grab Jagen's silver lance to compensate for her rather weak start.
Averted by Wolf and Sedgar in the remake Shadow Dragon. They look like classic Crutch Characters, and even completely worthless if you look at their stats... however, they compensate for having much less levels by having some amazing stat growths, making both Wolf and Sedgar very viable late-game. (However, power-leveling them in the arena at early levels can be pretty bad since the game didn't seem to take the stats into account when generating arena enemies, making Wolf and Sedgar having the stats of a level 1-5 character fighting stats of someone at level 18+.)
Darker and Edgier: FE3 Book 2/New Mystery when compared to FE1 /FE3 Book1/ Shadow Dragon. Not as much as the Jugdral Series, but things have gotten much worse for Archanea by that point.
Dead Guy on Display: When Marth's army moves in on the Archanea Palace in Shadow Dragon, Nyna recalls that this done to her entire family in the early days of the war.
Depending on the Artist: The Infinity+1 Lance Gradivus is illustrated in the official artwork for both Shadow Dragon and New Mystery, being held by its initial wielders in each, Camus and Hardin respectively. However, the color and patterns on its spearhead differ significantly between the two, and the spearhead itself is shaped slightly differently.
Early in Shadow Dragon, you have no choice but to sacrifice a party member to divert the enemy away from Marth. You can choose Marth to do this; the situation has its own dialogue. Of course, since that ends the game, Marth is pulled back and you have to choose again.
Discontinuity Nod: In the prologue of New Mystery, Marth has a long conversation with My Unit about how deeply the deaths of comrades during the last war affect him, and how while some people believe in the importance of "sacrificing the few to save the many", Marth would have none of that, and aims to save everyone under his command. It's likely this is a deliberate jab at Shadow Dragon's controversial sidequest requirements.
In addition, while the prequel rewarded you with sidequests for killing off your characters, this game openly mocks you for the same behavior.
(almost) Everybody Lives: New Mystery of the Emblem allows you to avoid a shocking number of character deaths such as Michalis and the Wolfguard from the original, leaving only faceless Mooks, Hardin, Lorenz, Boah (heavily implied), and a few villains.
Shadow Dragon made most people think that everyone lived...except the sacrifice. Except this was actually the case.
Equipment Spoiler: Subverted in Mystery of the Emblem's Book 2: You can get a few axes, but never get an axe user; you're supposed to sell them for cash. Averted in the remake, which features playable axe users and replaces those bonus axes with simply getting bonus money. Note that this is outright lampshaded in the script.
You got the Firestone before the first Manakete you can recruit joined your team, in both Shadow Dragon and Mystery. And in fact, he actually joins without any equipment, meaning you need to get spoiled in order to even use him! Sadly, his Nerf in Shadow Dragon discouraged you from using him.
Fan Translation: Obviously a necessity, since only Shadow Dragon was officially localized. As of November 2012, all five Japan-only games can now be enjoyed in English with these, including Archanea War Chronicles through the remakes of its maps in New Mystery.
Gameplay and Story Integration: A mild but very clever form of it. The sacrifice in the prologue of FE11 can't be brought back using the one use "bring unit back from the dead" staff (even though characters that die by other means in the prologue can). Frey (who doesn't appear when the prologue is skipped and is seen as the canon sacrifice) appears in the tutorial in New Mystery of the Emblem. He reveals through conversations with the player character that he was the canonical sacrifice, but upon being discovered as a fake, was beaten up and left for dead. Frey was then rescued by some citizens, and survived with some memory loss and a terrible scar. So thus, you could not revive him with the Aum staff...because Frey never actually died to begin with!
Guide Dang It: Recruitment requirements (a good number of people actually try to recruit Camus, or even Michalis), as well as gaiden chapter requirements in the FE3 remake.
Heroic Lineage: A strange case. Marth and the other Altean royal family members claim linage from Anri, the hero that defeated Medeus. Then Mystery of the Emblem reveals that they aren't actually descended from Anri, but his younger brother Marcelus. Yet Marth is called Anri's descendent anyway.
Inconsistent Dub: Like with Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, both the American and European releases of Shadow Dragon had several disagreements with names. For example, Caeda in the West was Shiida in Europe, Aurelis was Orleans, Macedon was Medon, and Dolhr was Doluna.
Inventory Management Puzzle: Especially infuriating in Dark Dragon. You can only give items to another unit, and once you've given an item, the unit's turn ends.
Joke Item: FE3 loves this — they give you silver axes in a game where absolutely no one is able to use them. note You were meant to sell them for funds; since the remake actually has axe users, it replaces them with bags of cash. The remake gives you a bouquet of odds and ends, not the least of which is a bloody frying pan!
However, said joke items in the remake can actually be quite useful. Forging cost depends on the value of the item, so a nearly worthless 1-might frying pan can be forged into an 11-might axe with a much higher hit rate than a steel axe, for barely any gold compared to what forging normally costs. (It still looks like a frying pan in your inventory, though.)
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Nagi's support with My Unit, she reveals she has some sort of divination ability and notes that My Unit is "an enigma" "guided by a mysterious fate", while MU notes s/he has felt someone's guidance. Strange.
Left for Dead: The ultimate fate of the decoy (canonically Frey) from FE11's Prologue, according to FE12.
Loads and Loads of Characters: New Mystery brings back characters from Shadow Dragon who never appeared in the original FE3 (including the SD-exclusive characters) and even adds the characters who only appeared in the BSFE episodes. Player controlled units in the main game alone add up to 77, the largest playable cast of the entire series (just edging out Radiant Dawn at 73).
It's worth noting that at least in the remake, Falchion isn't necessary to beat the boss. If, for example, Marth was barely used throughout the game and thus still of a low level, it's still possible to complete the final chapter with said low-level Marth sitting on a fort to prevent reinforcements spawning while others take down the boss.
It's also worth noting that in the remake, to get the weaker Falchion, you have to have not only missed it, but also have let Tiki die. (Tiki is the only other way to kill the final boss outside of Cherry Tapping).
Love Triangle: Type 4 Love triangle in Book 1 with Hardin as A, Nyna as B, and Camus as C. In book 2, it becomes a type 5 as Camus now loves Teeta.
Mood Whiplash: Occasionally occurs in the Supports of New Mystery. For example, Xane's third conversation with My Unit starts with him pretending to be Jagen and declaring his love for them, but then discussing how he no longer fits in with humans or dragons, and how cynical he's become due to living so long.
Nerf: Between Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem, Javelins went from a respectable 7 might to a pitiful 3! That's even worse than an Iron Sword!
Wolf and Sedgar's growths are also nowhere near as game breaking as they were before.
Almost everything in Dark Dragon and Mystery are nerfed in the remake, such as the overpowered stats boosters in the NES and SNES games.
Marth perhaps gets hit by the biggest nerf in the series by far, going from an overpowered juggernaut in Dark Dragon, and Disc One Nuke in Mystery, into one of the worst Rapier wielding Lords in the series in Shadow Dragon and merely good in New Mystery.
Nintendo Hard: Lunatic in New Mystery makes Hard 5 in Shadow Dragon look like a joke. (Seriously? Having to deal with a 19 ATK Archer supported by any number of enemies that can 2 hit kill your guys so early on?)
No Export for You: Obviously, the original games had this status, and the fact that the 12th game is a remake of the third suggests that Gaiden will probably retain this status forever. New Mystery of the Emblem sadly looks to have also gone this way — it's been almost two years since its Japanese release, it was absent from Nintendo's 2011 E3 press kit (which announces many other US release dates), and there's been no word about it from any other international Nintendo source. It's particularly odd since, given the recent re-release of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones as one of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador games, it's not like Nintendo of America/Europe has taken to completely ignoring the franchise again.
Now that Fire Emblem Awakening is out and very successful on the 3DS, it seems like the main issue was one of timing — the game came out in Japan in July of 2010, and the 3DS landed on March 2011. So it would've been a DS game releasing at a time when Nintendo was trying to push 3DS games. Pokémon might have had the clout to stay on the DS, but it's likely New Mystery simply missed its release window.
No Pronunciation Guide: The English dub of the OVA has some rather strange pronunciations of some of the location names — its handling of pronouncing "Durhua" (aka Dolhr) is particularly prone to inconsistency.
Nostalgia Level: FE3/FE12 has several of them, each taking place on the same area as a level from FE1/FE3 Book 1/FE11.
Chapter 8 takes place on the Chiasmir bridge where Marth's army fought the Sable Knights (this level was not present in FE3 Book 1).
Chapter 9 takes place in the Khadein desert where Gharnef first appeared.
Chapters 15 and 16 involve Marth liberating Altea again.
Chapter 17 takes place at the Gra Bastion where Marth faced Jiol.
Chapter 19 takes place in the pass of Archanea outside of the palace.
Chapter 20 takes place inside the palace of Archanea, where Midia is held as a hostage again.
Purple Prose: The English localization of Shadow Dragon is incredibly eloquent and floral to the point of bordering on this trope, an incredibly stark contrast to the rather barebones scripts of the earlier Dark Dragon and Mystery fan translations, and also fairly different from earlier official localizations of the series. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, common consensus is that the game is much better off for it, with the New Mystery fan translation seeking to emulate the style.
Malledus:"Sire... You must live. Drink deeply now of these injustices; sip on these slights they serve. Remember them!"
Redemption Equals Death: Having been nursed back to health by his sister and not quite killed by the other after apparently dying in FE1/FE3 Book 1/FE11, Michalis (formerly someone evil enough to kill his own father) dies stealing Starlight from Garnef to give to Marth's group in FE3 book 2/FE12. It is possible to keep him alive in FE12, then he loses his scarsand becomes a king, then leaves to become a king on another continent.
Ret Canon: The 12th game properly introduces a lot of bits that were originally just Word of God backgrounds to the story proper. For example, a conversation between My Unit and Ogma brings up Ogma's fighting style being based on gladiatorial fighting.
Sciziophrenic Difficulty: FE11's Normal mode. While the Hard modes are consistently some level of difficult, Normal mode really can get a laugh from you looking at the enemy types you fight further than their weapons. For example, disregarding the Gaiden Chapters, the only chapter to use Bishops that use staves and tomes is Chapter 17, the only enemies in the mercenary class are in Chapter 11, horseman enemies only appear in the early games as incredibly difficult prepromotes and disappear forever past Chapter 8 outside of one last appearance in Chapter 16, dracoknights are interchangable with pegasus knights a la Wyvern Riders in the GBA games instead of being treated as promoted enemies, there are no enemy Sages, Warriors, Berserkers, Dark Mages, Sorcerers (sans Gharnef, though even he was initially a Bishop), Myrmidons, or Swordmasters since they didn't exist in FE1, Bishops and Mages were interchangable almost every time the former appears, and the only healer enemies in the Final Chapter were a pair of CURATES.
Send in the Clones: When confronted at Thabes in Shadow Dragon/Book 1, Gharnef creates two clones to confuse the player. It's taken further in New Mystery with Legion, whose clones endlessly replace themselves until the real one is defeated. You can even control some of his clones in a downloadable episode.
Subverted as of New Mystery, Frey (who is the canon sacrifice) explains what really happened...
Spell My Name with an S: All over the place, by necessity of how long they went without an official translation; very few names are remotely consistent and standardized, among them being "Marth" and "Camus". A particularly interesting example occurred long before then: Marth being called "Mars" in the dubbed OVA (though it was still pronounced closer to "Marth" than it was how "Mars" is normally pronounced). The English release of Shadow Dragon managed to both put many of the name quandries to rest AND create even more with differences between the European and American versions!
Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: In Mystery of the Emblem and its remake, Lorenz dies at the end of chapter 1, which is his only appearance in the whole game; later, Boah is strongly implied to have died in his brief appearance late in the game.
Time Skip: The events of Mystery of the Emblem happen 2 (or 4) years after Dark Dragon. The new prologue chapters in Shadow Dragon happen 3 years before the latter.
Translation Train Wreck: The Mystery of the Emblem fan translation is... unfortunate, with an overly literal interpretation of the dialogue that can be pretty stifling to read at times. Luckily, New Mystery's fan translation brings some redemption.
Vendor Trash: In the NDS remakes, there are items called 'Bullion' which serves only as this with three different values depending on its size.
In FE3 Book Two, you can obtain three Silver Axes over the course of the whole campaign; however, there are NO units that can actually equip them, thus rendering them little more than free gold.
It gets worse in Book Two towards the tail-end of Chapter 20 when you obtain the Gradivus, the strongest lance in the game — when the next chapter is the only place the player can effectively use it before the Final Chapter. Normally, Armors and Cavaliers (and their promoted classes) can equip the Gradivus assuming they have sufficient weapon skill. Unfortunately, Cavaliers can only wield lances when mounted, and they are forced to dismount indoors and fight with swords, and to make things worse, the Final Chapter is entirely indoors. This leaves the two Armors (Draug and Sheema), who are unfortunately very subpar units and not worth using in the last level. This often results in players either using the Gradivus exclusively in Chapter 21 and/or selling it so they can buy the higher quality swords, tomes, and stat boosting items.
alternative title(s): Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon; Fire Emblem Gaiden; Fire Emblem The Dark Dragon And The Sword Of Light; Fire Emblem Mystery Of The Emblem; The Dark Dragon And The Sword Of Light; Shadow Dragon; Mystery Of The Emblem; Fire Emblem Akaneia; Fire Emblem The Dark Dragon And The Sword Of Light; Fire Emblem1; Fire Emblem2; Fire Emblem1; Fire Emblem2; Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon; Fire Emblem Gaiden; Fire Emblem Mystery Of The Emblem; Fire Emblem3; Fire Emblem11; Fire Emblem12; Fire Emblem3; Fire Emblem11; Fire Emblem12; Fire Emblem New Mystery Of The Emblem Heroes Of Light And Darkness; Fire Emblem New Mystery Of The Emblem Heroes Of Light And Darkness; Fire Emblem Archanea; Fire Emblem Archanea