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Video Game / Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

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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.
Shadow Dragon prologue

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light is the first entry in the Fire Emblem series, released only in Japan on the Famicom in 1990. It stars Prince Marth of Altea, telling the tale 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. Early Installment Weirdness also abounds, as the game is missing the Weapon Triangle system that helped define the series and contains numerous other oddities.

In 2008, a remake for the Nintendo DS was released called Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. It is the eleventh game in the series, and unlike Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light was given an international launch. The remake makes a number of changes and additions to the gameplay of the original to make it more in line with its immediate predecessors, expands the story with new chapters and characters, and introduces the ability to reclass units. Shadow Dragon is also the first game to have a multiplayer mode, wherein 2 players can battle each other with teams of 5 units on special maps.


Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light is followed by Fire Emblem Gaiden, which takes place on the continent of Valentia in the same continuity. The remake Shadow Dragon is followed by Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow, a remake of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem.

Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light contains the following Tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Princess Maria is sold off as a hostage by her own brother Michalis to force their sister Minerva to fight for him when he chose to side with Dolhr. 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.
  • Alliterative Family: The Macedonian royal siblings Michalis, Minerva and Maria.
  • The Anime of the Game: A two-episode OVA based on the first game was released in 1996, and was licensed by ADV Films in 1997. Word of God put out that it was supposed to last longer, but did not due to a lack of funds. Marth was voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa, who went on to voice him in Super Smash Bros.; his dub voice was Spike Spencer, who as of yet hasn't reprised the role, even in Marth's Super Smash Bros. appearances, Yuri Lowenthal would end up as Marth's English voice. The OVA was also the second anime adaptation of a Nintendo title (the first one being based on Super Mario Bros.), just a year before the Pokémon animated adaptation appeared in Japan.
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  • Anyone Can Die: With the exception of Marth, each and every one of your units can be killed, permanently.
  • As Long as There is Evil: Medeus's parting words threaten Marth with his continued manifestation as long as darkness exists.
  • Crutch Character: Jagen has a less than 10% chance of raising each stat upon level up (with some having a 0% chance), but he starts out decent with high movement compared to your other Level 1 units to help carry the team early on.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: As the first game in the series, it's missing a lot of mainstay elements and has its own oddities.
    • There's no Weapon Triangle (swords beat axes, axes beat lances, lances beat swords).
    • Pegasus Knights become Dracoknights when they Class Change. This also means that Macedon is the only nation in the series that has their military made up of both flying mounts, making it split in two between Minerva's Whitewings (who sided with Marth) and Michalis' Dragoons (the side that stays with Dolhr after his sisters' defection). Later games made the two of them distinct Character Classes with their own strengths, weaknesses, class family, and factions.
    • Healing classes don't get EXP for healing, instead gaining EXP from dodging or taking hits.
    • There are only 4 items slots per character instead of 5, and characters cannot trade items. While items can be given to other characters, giving an item immediately ends the unit's turn.
    • There is no Magic stat, and the majority of characters have a Resistance stat of 0 with very few ways to increase it. This effectively makes all spells Fixed Damage Attacks.
    • A number of Character Classes, such as the Thief and Fighter, are unable to Class Change.
    • Characters' Weapon Ranks are called Weapon Levels, a stat that randomly increases on level-up like the other stats, instead of gradually increasing based on weapon use. They also apply to all weapons a class have access to instead of having separate ranks for each weapon.
    • The Mercenary and Myrmidon class lines were originally a single class line, using the names of the Mercenary-family classes but functioning like a blend of the two.
    • Knights and Pegasus Knights were able to wield both Swords and Lances, as opposed to being restricted to one weapon type.
    • While weapon weight existed, no stat counteracted it, making it effectively a varying fixed speed penalty attached to each weapon.
    • Item durabilities were much less symmetrical than the now standard "multiples of five" setup, and weapons weren't divided as cleanly into sets of equivalent power tiers as in later games. The Iron Sword was the only base weapon labeled with a material (the others being simply Lance, Axe, and Bow), and Marth got no fewer than three different personal swords throughout the game.
    • Enemy units have a stat that displays how much EXP they are worth.
    • EXP earned from battles that don't result in enemy kills is determined by how much damage dealt by player units, capping at 20.
    • There are no class- or character-specific stat caps, so all characters can max out at 52 HP and 20 for every other stat, even for promoted classes.
    • Being able to double attack only requires being 1 point faster than the opponent, while later games require a higher lead.
    • Stat-boosting items give a boost of 4-7 points to their respective stat. Later games nerfed them considerably between higher stat caps and lowering the potency of the boosters.
    • Marth had a shield that does not show up with him after the Super Nintendo remake. He also didn't wear pants in the NES version.
  • Equipment Spoiler:
    • You get the Firestone before the first Manakete you can recruit joins your team.
    • In chapter 23, only the real Gharnef wields the Imhullu tome, while his clones carry a Swarm tome each instead. The DS remake changes this so that all of them have the same equipment.
  • Heroic Lineage: Marth and the other Altean royal family members claim lineage from Anri, the hero that defeated Medeus.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Humans and Manaketes have a long cycle of mutual oppression with each other.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: You can only give items to another unit, and once you've given an item, the unit's turn ends.
  • It Only Works Once: You get exactly one chance to bring a character back from the dead.
  • Meaningful Rename: Marth's army of Talysian mercenaries and Altean soldiers is initially known as the Altean Army. As more soldier from Archanea get involved, the name is changed into the Archanean League.
  • Multiple Endings: Downplayed. While the overall outcome is the same, the very final scene of the game changes depending on Caeda's survival. If she makes it to the end, Marth will confess his love to her, resulting in their engagement. If she died, Nyna will repeat the Star-Crossed Lovers story between Artemis and Anri from Chapter 20.
  • No Experience Points for Medic: Healers don't gain experience from healing others. They have to get attacked to get EXP.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Marth's Falchion is not a falchion at all. It is actually a longsword.
  • Pants-Free: Given the time period this game is made, some male characters are designed with no pants, most notably Marth.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • The Falchion in Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light can be missed if the player doesn't get the Starsphere or neglects to visit Gotoh. Medeus can still be defeated without it.
    • The Starsphere and the other speheres can be missed if the player neglects to open the chest its in.
  • Plot Armor: If Minerva, Palla, Catria, and Est are killed in Chapter 7 when they show up as enemies, they will merely retreat instead of killed and can still join as playable characters much later in the story.
    • Medeus has a more literal version; he has high Defense and Resistance scores, which make it pretty difficult to damage him by normal means; he's only vulnerable to Tiki's Breath Weapon and Marth's Falchion, thus necessitating that one of them kill him (and even then, Marth does more damage, so it's most likely he'll be the one to land the killing blow). It's still possible to hurt him by other means, but it takes the kind of damage that would One-Hit Kill any of his minions, and so isn't easily accessible unless some of your attacking units are overleveled and over-equipped.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Gharnef was one of Gotoh's best students before he became evil.
  • Recurring Element: This is the game that started it all, therefore, most of the archetypes started here, including the Peaceful Lord (Marth), Heroine (Caeda), the dead parental figure (Cornelius), the Crutch Character (Jagen), Red-Green Cavalier Duo (Cain & Abel), the junior Archer (Gordin), the Armor Knight (Draug), the scarred Mercenary (Ogma), the Axe Fighters (Bord & Cord), the Thief (Julian), the demure Cleric (Lena), the rogue swordsman (Navarre), the Pegasus Trio (Palla, Catria & Est), the Wyvern Duo (Minerva & Michalis, the latter's not playable, but that's how it is in the earlier days), the Secret Noble (Jeorge, his status about the super Archer is established next game), studious male Mage (Merric), talented female Mage with dead parents (Linde), the magic mentor (Wendell), the Magikarp Power unit (Est), Mutually Exclusive Party Members (Arran & Samson), late-game General (Lorenz, though he wasn't as hard to recruit compared to his successors), the 11th-Hour Ranger (Gotoh), the loyal enemy general (Camus), the ambitious opportunist (Michalis), the backstabbing politician (Jiol), the Evil Sorcerer (Gharnef) and the non-human Greater-Scope Villain behind it all(Medeus).
  • Send in the Clones: When confronted at Thabes, Gharnef creates two clones to confuse the player.
  • The Swarm: The appropriately-named Swarm tome, which summons numerous flying insects to attack its target.
  • Took a Level in Badass: This occurs somewhat literally every time a unit is promoted, but the straightest example would be Curates -> Bishops, since they go from vulnerable healers to useful support units that can still use tomes for attacking and tend to have high Resistance scores, making them surprisingly good for dueling enemy mages.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If Marth dies, your game will be over!

The remake Shadow Dragon provides examples of:

  • Canon Foreigner: New characters Frey, Norne, Athena, Horace, Etzel, Ymir and Nagi are added into the remake. Most of them are exclusive to original sidequests, while Frey and Norne are added to the prologue.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Some enemy units may use forged versions of otherwise unforgeable weapons or their own unobtainable weapons such as Swarm, Meteor, and Glower tomes.
  • Dead Guy on Display: When Marth's army moves in on Archanea Palace, Nyna recalls that this was done to her entire family in the early days of the war. Essentially her parents corpses were hung outside the Palace's entrance.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • In Prologue IV, if your entire team gets wasted before you can select a decoy, the north door will automatically open so you can still complete the chapter. Granted, if you managed to get your entire team killed, you're probably not going to survive the rest of the chapter.
    • In Prologue IV and Chapter 1, Jagen has a couple of lines of dialogue. If he is killed during the prologue, Draug takes his place during these conversations.
    • In Chapter 7, the boss' default battle quote has him curse Minerva for abandoning him. If you defeat her, it changes to a generic threat towards your army.
  • Difficulty Spike: Hard-5 difficulty has 4 tangible ones. The first is Chapter 5, where the enemies permanently upgrade to Steel weapons and Elfire tomes; the second is Chapter 10, where the enemies permanently upgrade to Silver weapons and Bolganone tomes and begin forging their specialized weapons to have +4 might and +20 accuracy; the third is Chapter 20, where the enemies permanently upgrade to Brave weapons and Thoron tomes; and the last is the final chapter, where the enemies begin forging their Brave weapons and Thorons for +4/20 and every other weapon for +8/20.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: If you want to get the gaiden chapters, you'll need to have very few surviving units at the end of the preceding chapter. This will frequently require you to keep killing off units, since the game won't allow you to have too few units to be able to field the maximum allowable number of units—which in the case of Chapter 12 means that no matter how few units you had at the end of Chapter 11, you'll need to kill someone off to reach 12x.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Reclassing is introduced in this game, but acts rather wonky compared to the system used by later games.
    • In Shadow Dragon and New Mystery, when you want to reclass a unit, you simply do so in the battle preparations screen. In later games, you have to use a specific item and can do so either between missions or on the battlefield.
    • Here, you can only have the amount of units of a specific class you could potentially have recruited plus one.For example  Later games have no explicit limit on how many copies of one class you can have.
    • Here, every unit can draw from three static pools of classes: Male Anote , Male Bnote , and Femalenote . Beating New Mystery on Hard or higher merges the Male A and B pools. In later games, each unit has their own unique class pool typically consisting of two to three base classes (although children characters in Awakening can typically have up to six). Here, any class that cannot promotenote  cannot reclass at all; in later games, all units can reclass regardless of base class.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: If you keep on losing your replacements, the game will start giving you ones with rather insulting names like "Lucer", "Auffle", "Laim", "Rejek", "Owend", "Wymp", and "Wieklin".
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The character you sacrifice in the prologue can't be brought back to life using the Aum staff (even though characters that die by other means in the prologue can). In New Mystery, Frey appears in the tutorial and reveals that he was the canon sacrifice. He was beaten up and left for dead, but was then rescued by some citizens and ultimately survived with some memory loss and a terrible scar. You could not revive Frey with the Aum staff because he never actually died to begin with.
  • Inconsistent Dub: The American and European releases had several disagreements with names. For example, Caeda in the US was Shiida in Europe, Macedon was Medon, and Dolhr was Doluna.
  • Left for Dead: The decoy you select in the Prologue is left to die.
  • Mercy Mode: The game gives you replacement units if your unit count is less than the minimum required for a chapter. Additionally, the Gaiden chapters themselves could be considered this, since you can find more unique units there and the levels themselves are easier than the main campaign, in addition to being accessible only if you've managed to get everyone killed.
  • Nerf: Stat boosting items are much less potent than the original game, granting smaller bonuses.
  • Purple Prose: The English localization is incredibly eloquent and floral, a fairly stark contrast from the scripts of earlier games.
    Malledus: Sire... You must live. Drink deeply now of these injustices; sip on these slights they serve. Remember them!
  • Recurring Element: The remake uses the old archetypes, but it's this game that solidifies the Catria archetype: Beforehand, the only hint about Catria being a Hopeless Suitor was just an invisible Support stat bonus with Marth. In the remake, her unrequited love for Marth is blatantly stated on her ending.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Normal Mode can be inconsistent with how it handles difficulty. The only chapter to use Bishops that use staves and tomes is Chapter 17, the only enemies in the Mercenary class are in Chapters 6x, 7, and 11, Horsemen only appear in the early games as incredibly difficult enemies and disappear forever past Chapter 8 outside of one last appearance in Chapter 16, Dracoknights are interchangeable 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 the first game (except in Chapter 24x), Bishops and Mages were interchangeable almost every time the former appears, and the only healer enemies in the Final Chapter are a pair of Curates.
  • Secret Character: The Falcoknight class can only be accessed by purchasing up to three Elysian Whips from the online store and promoting a Pegasus Knight with them. Since the Nintendo DS servers have been shut down, owners of the original cartridge version cannot have Falcoknights at all; owners of the Wii U Virtual Console rerelase are still in luck. This would be rectified in New Mystery of the Emblem, where you can find three Elysian Whips in regular gameplay.
  • Someone Has to Die: The final prequel chapter requires that the player select a unit to act as a decoy for a pursuing army. Interestingly, the game actually accounts for a few variations: it won't let the player send Marth (he needs to be alive for Mystery of the Emblem), and the locked door preventing escape will open if you kill Gordin as an enemy or if Marth is the only unit to survive that long. In New Mystery, you find out Frey was the canon decoy, but he survived with amnesia.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The American and European versions of the English localization have different spellings for many characters and locations. For example, the continent that the game takes place on is called Akaneia in the European version while the American version refers to it as Archanea.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: The one thug says to the tied-up Gordin that when Marth sees him dressed as a Gra soldier, he'll say “Yow! It’s an enemy ambush!” Sure enough, Marth says the same line.
  • Temporary Online Content: Several items like the Elysian Whip and the Brave weapons can only be found in the Online Shop and at certain times. As the DS wi-fi server has been shutdown, as of May 20, 2014, the items are permanently lost for the original DS release (Wii U Virtual Console owners are luckier in this regard).
  • Vendor Trash: There are items called 'Bullion' which exist only to be sold for gold.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Unlike the English translation, when Purple Prose is used instead, the European Spanish translation plays with this trope very straight. A very small example of this can be seen in the very prologue:
    Soldier (Official English translation): Prince Marth? Are you awake? Beggin' your pardon, sire, but the princess has asked to see you.
    Soldier (Official Spanish translation): ¿Principe Marth? ¿Estais despierto? Os ruego disculpas, señor, pero la princesa quiere veros.
    Soldier (Contextual English translation): Prince Marth? Art thou awake? I beg your pardon, sire, but the princess has asked to see thee.
  • You Monster!: Marth calls Gharnef a monster in Chapter 23 when the latter congratulates him for killing Camus and Michalis.

Alternative Title(s): Fire Emblem The Dark Dragon And The Sword Of Light, Fire Emblem 1, Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon, Fire Emblem 11


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