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Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade - also known as Fire Emblem: Binding Blade and Fire Emblem: Sword of Seals - is the sixth game in the Fire Emblem series, released only in Japan on the Game Boy Advance in 2002. It takes place on the continent of Elibe, which is in a new continuity separate from all previous games.

One day, the country of Bern decides to make unprovoked attacks on its neighbors Sacae and Ilia, and after successfully conquering them sets its sights for Lycia. Roy, son of Marquess Eliwood of the Lycian territory of Pherae, is tasked with leading the army in place of his ill father to defend his homeland and ward off the invading forces. What starts off as a fight against a hostile nation turns into a quest to gather the Divine Weapons of legend, uncover the truth about an ancient war against dragons known as The Scouring, and save the world from destruction.

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The Binding Blade is notable for two major contributions to the franchise. The first is the introduction of the recurring Support feature, an expansion of the Relationship Values introduced in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Characters build their relationships by spending a lot of time together in battle, which unlocks special conversations between them that allow for extra characterization, Character Development, and occasionally reveal character backgrounds. Unlocking Supports also grants boosted stats to characters with shared ranks when they stand near each other. The second contribution is more indirect — Roy was included as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee, which helped give Fire Emblem international exposure and led to later games getting released outside of Japan.

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The game also has a manga adaptation, Fire Emblem: Champion's Sword (Hasha no Tsurugi), that was published in Japan from 2002 to 2005. Taking place concurrently with Roy's story, it follows a quartet of Canon Foreigners on their quest to find the Fire Emblem.

The Binding Blade is followed by Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, a prequel starring Roy's father Eliwood.


Tropes in The Binding Blade:

  • Action Girl: Oh, take your pick. Melady, Lilina, Fir, Echidna, Sue, Shanna, Thea, Igrene, Dorothy, Fae, Cecilia, Cath, Clarine, Gwendolyn, Niime, Juno, Sophia, even Elen after she promotes. It helps that this game has Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Alliterative Name: Roy's final weapon, which the game takes its title from, is either the Sword of Seals or the Binding Blade.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Starting with this game, the unit starting positions can now be altered on the map from the preparations menu. This was done to avoid the stress of having to reorder units via complicated methods just so they could have a set position, which was present in the previous games. It's still possible to do the latter method, however.
    • Mercifully, the enemy units in Chapter 4 will ignore Clarine while she's an NPC as she trots over to Roy. They will continue to not target her once she's recruited, though this is probably due to a programming oversight.
    • The requirements to unlock two of the Gaiden chaptersnote  do not require Elphin, and Melady & Zeiss respectively to be deployed. All the player has to do is fulfill the other Gaiden chapter requirements,note  as well as ensure that they're still alive. In Elphin's case, however, he is never recruited in the Northern route of Western Isles, making that route's version of Chapter 12x only requiring 20 turns to be unlocked.
      • While a surviving Zelot doesn't have to be deployed in Chapter 20 Ilia to unlock the gaiden chapter following it, his wife, Juno, still needs to be recruited by Shanna or Thea, if they're both alive, and the 25 turns requirement is still needed.
  • Arc Number: The game tends to do things in threes, such as having three high-ranking generals for Etruria and Bern. Most notably, there tends to be three characters of one class, each fulfilling a different niche.
  • Art Evolution: Unlike in previous games, where the battle sprites were semi-realistic, the ones in this game are more expressive and cartoony, and are placed on floating platforms instead of a flat ground. These sprites would continue to see use for the next two GBA games.
  • Artificial Human: Most of the Manaketes you will face in the game were created by Idunn.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: This game marked a shift in art style with the turn of the millennium. Character illustrations began to be done digitally and the designs slowly drifts away from the 90s fantasy flair of the Jugdral games. The in-game color palette is far brighter compared to the previous titles on the Super Famicom, a necessity due to the original model of the Game Boy Advance not being backlit.
  • Badass Adorable: Fae's dragon form is ridiculously cute, and she attacks by sneezing flame breath on her enemies.
  • Badass Family:
    • Roy's potential parents in Blazing Blade include Lyn and Fiora, both warriors, and Ninian, who is a half-dragon. Lilina's mothers (Farina, Florina, or Lyn) are also ladies of war, and their respective parents are rulers of their countries. Lilina and Roy can also potentially be cousins.
    • Wolt similarly hails from one of these (son of Rebecca, who could marry Sain, Wil, or Lowen), as do Lugh and Raigh (Nino's twins, fathered by either Jaffar or Erk).
    • Even without factoring in Canas from Blazing Blade, Hugh and his grandmother Niime are both very capable mages.
  • Bag of Spilling: A retroactive example with The Blazing Blade, and justified. Twenty years pass between the two games, meaning there is plenty of time for characters to lose their edge through old age, injury, and inaction.
  • Beast and Beauty: Gonzalez and Lilina.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The Binding Blade gives us some subversions in a series that plays this trope straighter than an arrow most of the time: the axe-wielding Gonzales (whose ugliness and low intelligence make him feared), and the plain-looking Dorothy (with her small eyes and plain, boyish clothing).
  • Blue Blood: The protagonist Roy, his childhood friend Lilina and great amount of the cast are part of royalty or nobility.
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • This is the first game in the series to lack any involvement with franchise creator Shouzou Kaga, since he left Intelligent Systems before its predecessor Thracia 776 was released. It is also the first handheld title, as all previous games were on home consoles instead, though it was going to be on the Nintendo 64 under a different title at one point.
    • It is by far the only game in the franchise:
      • to not have a dark mage as one of the main antagonists (or at least the main antagonist), as all enemy shamans and druids encountered throughout the course of the game are instead mooks or minor bosses.
      • that introduces a playable elderly woman in the form of Niime, who is a prepromoted druid, as all other playable elders are male. As of now, no other game in the series, even after Binding Blade, has introduced a female elder that is playable, though Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has unused data for Dara, which could imply that she would've been playable at one point.
      • In which the lord's father doesn't die (Despite suffering from an illness), but rather it is the heroine's (Lilina's father Hector) who does. Since Eliwood only shows up in the first chapter of this game and doesn't make any further physical appearances outside of the non-canon Trial Maps, this also makes Roy the only lord in the series to have his father show up onscreen and survive, and overall one of the few lords with at least one parent still living.
    • While previous final bosses were all males, Idunn, the true final boss of this game, is female instead.
    • Whenever a weapon breaks, they no longer remain in a unit's inventory as broken weapons, which was a feature that was once unique to the SNES games. They simply vanish after they break just like the NES duology, and subsequent titles went with it, until Fire Emblem: Three Houses finally brought them back after a 20-year absence.
  • Call-Back: Not present ingame, but the opera commercials made for it are homages to the one used for Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light. Interestingly, unlike the latter (which has only one known version), the former has three versions that differ in length, and the version of the Fire Emblem theme used in the commercial was released as part of the game's OST.
  • Character Select Forcing: It is quite difficult to deal with Hard Mode Leygance and Henning in chapters 8 and 8x without a trained and early-promoted Rutger, unless someone else got blessed with speed and accuracy.
  • Childhood Friends: Wolt and Roy, Lilina and Roy, possibly Sin and Sue.
  • Classic Video Game Screw You: Surprise reinforcements that can move and attack immediately, often right at your flanks or the rear, admittedly most rear reinforcements only screw you over if you're really taking your time. While these are sometimes mitigated by advance warning via dialogue, Rutger is infamous for warning you that he's coming out to the battlefield, only to show up in an unexpected spot and gut one of your units unfortunate enough to be nearby.
  • Continuity Reboot: The Archanea, Valentia, and Jugdral games were all in the same universe, while The Binding Blade and its prequel take place in an entirely new universe.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: In Chapter 13, Miledy (and Guinevere) instantly flies over from the castle over to Roy, across a waterway and bridge that would take Miledy multiple turns to cross.
  • Crutch Character: Marcus, Zelot, and to a extent Dieck are all essential for carrying the player through Early Game Hell, particularly Hard Mode. While the former two fall off combat-wise, they remain useful for their mobility and utility; Dieck's combat stays good if he's trained, but starts to fall off toward the end. Rutger is practically required for early Hard Mode as well, but he retains his usefulness as a boss killer.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Shamans Raigh, Sophia, and Niime, the three dark magic users of the game. The last of these is the mother of Canas from the prequel, who is a strong believer in this trope.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: The Sacae tribesmen seem particularly fond of this, as their plan is to lure Roy's group into the Gate (or several of them) then spawn reinforcements all around them. This tactic makes sense, considering that Sacae is the fictional counterpart to the Mongols/Huns/Native American tribes.
  • Despair Event Horizon: King Mordred of Etruria is sunk in a depression from the death of his son Myrddin and is almost apathetic about what's happening to his country. He gets better when Elffin the bard reveals that he is Myrddin.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: After defeating the evil king its revealed that the mastermind is an evil dragon.
  • Dub Name Change: Some of the territories and cities named after European countries and cities are changed in the PAL version to avoid confusion, e.g. "Bern" becomes "Biran" since the former is the capital of Switzerland.
  • Early Game Hell: One of the more pronounced examples in the series. The early enemies are very strong, such that even Crutch Character Marcus isn't completely safe, and many of the early party members (Bors, Wolt, Wade) are borderline worthless. As the party grows larger, the good units start to blossom, and the stronger characters join, the difficulty becomes much more manageable. Chapter 4 is considered a particularly nasty one, as it's about when you start facing enemies strong enough to really challenge Marcus, but you don't get Rutger until near the end.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Being the first Game Boy Advance title, several of the classes' battle sprites in this game look different compared to the ones of the later two:
    • The sprites of the swordmasters, mercenaries, male heroes, thieves, male archers, snipers, male bishops, sages, and nomadic troopers all have different hairstyles. In addition, the male priests have slightly darker hair.
    • The mercenary, mage, shaman, and druid sprites have brighter and saturated colours compared to the ones that appeared in later games.
    • Some battle sprites also look different:
      • Male mages have a taller hood, brown boots instead of colour-coded ones, and a slightly different cape, as well as being drawn at a different angle.
      • Male bishops wear hats that the ones of later games lacked.
      • Male sages wore shoulder pads and a slightly different shirt, whereas their distaff counterparts have puffed-up sleeves, and wore bracelets instead of arm-length gloves.
      • Mercenaries have slightly different builds compared to the ones of later games.
      • Thieves are given a somewhat youthful appearance here. Later games had their sprites altered to appear much older.
    • Unlike other GBA mages, Lilina uses a different battle sprite when unpromoted. In this case, hers has long hair, straight bangs, wore bracelets instead of gloves, and wears a shirt/skirt combo, all of which the female mages of succeeding GBA games lacked.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Due to The Blazing Blade being a prequel, there are several instances where characters are ignorant of elements that were also key plot points twenty years ago, although it's not difficult to rationalize things away given the time the heroes spend undercover, Canas' determination to keep the events out of the history books, and the fact that Eliwood would probably not want to talk about the painful events his Infinity +1 Sword caused.
      • In particular, there's the fact that Lyn, the heroine of the prequel, is completely absent and unmentioned. That's because, when Binding was developed, she simply didn't exist; Rutger, Fir, and Karel are the fast sword-swingers of this title, and Lyn came into existence for Blazing as a good point-of-view character for the planned Anglophone-friendly intro campaign and was "meant" to simply fade into the background after the game. This has always stood out a little bit, but with the passing of time, the advent of Fire Emblem Heroes, and with Lyn becoming one of the most popular characters in the franchise, her complete absence is now an elephant in the room. Between a few snatches of info in Blazing and Heroes, there are guesses as to what happened to her (the most popular being that she's the mother of either Lilina or Sue and, either way, perished trying to defend Sacae from Zephiel after taking up the Mulagir), but since she simply didn't exist when Binding was written, there's no definitive answer.
    • Thieves revert to not being able to class change, even though the Jugdral games allow them to do so.
    • In this game, there are no unpromoted classes capable of using light magic, something that isn't the case with the other types of magic. Later Game Boy Advance installments feature the Monk class, which is an unpromoted class that uses light magic, essentially giving light magic an equivalent to Mages and Shamans.
    • Oddly, horseslaying weapons such as the Rapier or Halberd do not get a damage bonus on Troubadours and Nomads. This was fixed in the future GBA games.
    • While the game does introduce the support system that would become a franchise cornerstone, the game curiously only supports paired endings for Roy; everyone else's endings are unaffected by supports, which can lead to a few narrative oddities (such as Fir, for example, being a heartbreaker, as she goes off to further her mastery of the sword after the game's events, leaving her potential suitors in the dust). Units who don't participate in the endgame also get a very simplified versions of their endings. There's also no support conversation viewer after beating the game, which the prequel and Sacred Stones would include.
    • This was the game that introduced the Bandit Brothers, a pair of Gonk twins with Villainous Incest implications. Unlike later games though, their portraits are pallete-swapped from one used for earlier Berserker bosses. In later games, this look is reserved for the bandit brothers alone.
    • Some graphical differences between Binding Blade and the other two GBA titles:
      • The character mugshots do not blink. The prequel and Sacred Stones would later add blinking animations to the character portraits.
      • The cutscene backgrounds were drawn like the sprites and the overworld. Blazing Blade and Sacred Stones would later use either photographs or paintings ported into the system instead.
      • With the exception of Zephiel, Idunn, Leygance, Roartz, and the Wyvern Generals, all bosses use the standard red palette like generic enemies instead of using ones that match their portraits' color scheme. However, in the case of Damas, Ruud, Slater, Erik, Dory, and Debias, this was due to an oversight.
      • Ballistae have their battle animations used. As for the other GBA games, however, they were never used, probably due to the ballistae in those titles having wheels attached.
      • The credits roll in this game, compared to other Game Boy Advance titles, looks drastically different; instead of using text, it uses letter graphics, and appear in a slideshow instead of crawling upwards. Also, if the true ending has been reached, it will show full endings of 10 of the characters that participated in the final chapter.
    • If one were to not count Archanea Saga, the game has the earliest example of DLC maps in the main series. However, unlike the ones from later installments, the DLC were simply just 4 additional trial maps that could only be obtained through certain events at the time of release, and were never programmed into the game itself. These maps have yet to resurface in any form.
    • Unlike previous installments, this game actually has a playable tutorial, but instead of being played through a new save file, it is an optional chapter that is played separately. This would be elevated in the prequel, where the tutorial itself is actually part of the save file.
    • Binding Blade was the first Fire Emblem game to feature a Hard Mode, and it was mostly a fairly simple affair of autoleveling the enemies to be stronger, as opposed to later games making significant changes to map or enemy design or outright altering core mechanics. There was also the famous Hard Mode Perks, which didn't show up again after Blazing Blade.
    • Unlike future GBA installments and beyond, base accuracy for the different weapon types are significantly more stratified in Binding Blade, with lances and especially axes being much less reliable than swords or bows. Combined with tough opponents with the capacity to dodge and bosses on +30 Avoid thrones, this leads to low hit rates that often surprise players who started with later games.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Binding Blade stands out for having enemies more or less fairly levelled (and somewhat harder than contemporary games), but scary difficult-to-hit bosses parked on thrones that are a legitimate threat to your units. Chapter 8x is one of the better examples, where there is a horde of easy enemies for you to train weaker units with, but Henning is a Wake-Up Call Boss where you basically need a promoted character to deal with. Hard Mode has tough bosses and tough enemies with higher stats and in greater numbers.
  • Elemental Weapon: The four physical Divine Weapons have epithets associated with a different element: Durandal, the Blazing Sword; Armads, the Thunder Axe; Maltet, the Blizzard Spear; and Mulagir, the Tempest Bow.
  • Elite Mooks: Implied, Bern often has squads of soldiers of the same class clustered together and tend to move together, with one either being higher levelled, promoted, and/or has better weaponry compared to the others that's implied to be their leader. Taken to an extreme in Chapter 21, when Roy invades Bern, he faces all the remaining Wyvern riders still protecting it, which comprise of scary high-level Wyvern Lords with Silver Lances leading both regular veterans (Level 20 Wyvern Riders) and fresh recruits (Level 5 Wyvern Riders).
  • The Empire: The game kicks off when Bern, already a powerful and militaristic kingdom, decides it's going to rule over the whole continent and invades Lycia.
  • Face of a Thug: Gonzales is an ugly character in a series that usually plays Beauty Equals Goodness straight, but he's actually a kindhearted man who only associates with bandits because of his difficulty in being accepted anywhere else. Garret also has one for how unruly a life he has led marring it.
  • Faking the Dead: It is revealed that Zephiel faked his death after a failed assassination attempt in order to turn the tables on his would-be murderer, King Desmond. This event is alluded to in the epilogue of The Blazing Blade. Prince Myrddin of Etruria did likewise.
  • Fantastic Racism: Bern mounts a genocidal campaign against the tribes of Sacae; Sue and Rutger are both witnesses to the atrocity. The dialogue also implies that they're racist elsewhere too, since Galle is judged to be an excellent wyvern rider "in spite of his Etrurian heritage".
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Sacae is based on Mongolia with a dash of Japan, and take both their English and Japanese names from exonyms for the Scythians of the Eurasian steppe. It's a far-eastern nation with a notable tradition of horseback riding and archery, and a religion that worships the sky and earth. However, for a people based on Mongolians, they mind their own business most of the time and are in fact invaded by Bern, instead of being the ones doing the invading like their real life counterparts. For the Japanese aspect, Myrmidons/Swordmasters clearly use katanas and those characters, especially Karel, are heavy with "wandering samurai" tropes.
    • Etruria is based on Medieval Rome. It is the seat of the Church of the game's resident Crystal Dragon Jesus and a nation with a high level of civilization. Notably, the real life civilization of Etruria was a state in what is now Central Italy which was conquered by Rome.
    • Ilia is named for the poetic name for the city-state of Troy in Real Life. Very little is known about ancient Troy except for what is found in Greek epic poetry and medieval knightly romances, which is probably why the in-game Ilia is entirely populated by mercenaries and knights.
    • Bern is named after the capital of Switzerland. It may seem odd that the capital of a nation famed for neutrality would be the basis of a brutal, militaristic empire like Bern, but in the Middle Ages, Bern was a powerful and brutal city state that had conquered and ruled substantial parts of Switzerland and Continental Europe. Much like the in-game Bern, it was also famed for being mountainous and difficult to assail.
    • Lycia is based directly on the real-life Lycian League, a confederation of Roman city-states bound by agreement to assist each other in times of war. Much like in the game, the real life Lycian League had problems with member states not honoring the alliance or trying to sell each other out to larger, more powerful nations.
  • The Federation: The Lycian Alliance is a confederation of independent fiefdoms that unite militarily when faced with an outside threat. (In theory.) In the end, it's united into a single country under Lilina and possibly Roy.
  • Four-Star Badass: The Etrurian Generals and the Wyvern Generals.
  • Genocide Backfire: Rutger is spared from Bern's cleansing of Bulgar because of his half-Bern heritage and appearance. If he's recruited and gets his revenge on Bern, it's certainly this.
  • The Grotesque: Years of mistreatment had led Gonzales to genuinely think he's a monster, as he'd been rejected by villagers and used by his lord as a mindless pile of muscles only good for spreading havoc, until Lilina saw through his scary exterior. A rare subversion of Beauty Equals Goodness in the series.
  • Guide Dang It!: Recruiting Douglas doesn't make sense at a first glance. He starts as an enemy and proactively attacks, and nobody can make him a friendly unit by talking to him (including his prince and his adopted daughter) like other potential recruits. You have to seize the throne first.
  • Hard Mode Perks: The first game in the series to institute a Hard Mode, and it was pretty clear they saw it as more of a bonus than its own game—what it primarily does is simply autolevel the enemies to be stronger. Recruitable units that are on the map from the start don't obtain these bonuses, but due to an oversight, units that show up as reinforcements do. And Binding Blade has a notoriously significant jump between Normal and Hard Mode, with late-game enemies gaining as much of ten extra levels of class growths, which means recruitable units also receive these gargantuan boosts. The idea stuck around for the sequel (though it may have been an oversight there as well), but hasn't shown up since then.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Arcadia is a small village protected by warriors and tucked away in the desert behind a big sandstorm. It's the only place humans and dragons live side-by-side since the Scouring.
  • The High Queen: Lilina and Guinevere ascend to the throne as the queens of their respective countries in the end of the story.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Zephiel's firm belief that humanity is horrible is why he's able to gain allies in disaffected dragons. They believe that all of Elibe's suffering can be laid at mankind's doorstep, starting with The Scouring. As such, they want to purge the continent of them. And humans did strike the first blow in the Scouring after generations of peaceful coexistence.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • King Mordred is held hostage by Bern forces at the instigation of his Treacherous Advisor, Roartz, to force Etruria's top generals to fight Roy's army.
    • Roartz also takes Zelot's wife Juno hostage if he flees to Ilia, but the Lycian Army can free her and recruit her before anything bad happens.
  • In Harmony with Nature: Roy in his romance with Sue, in which they both connect with nature.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted with Erik. After helping his father's attempt to start a war in Lycia and kill Eliwood and Hector in The Blazing Blade, he apparently "reforms" and becomes the Marquess of Laus after his father's death. Years later he betrays Lycia again, but this only leads to him getting killed by Roy.
  • Kissing Cousins: Blazing Blade retroactively makes this a possibility for a Roy x Lilina pairing, as Florina or Farina might be Lilina's mother, and their sister Fiora might be Roy's. Also, in a downplayed example of this trope, Roy and Lilina themselves are both descendants of Roland.
  • La Résistance:
    • The freedom fighters of the Western Isles, trying to eject the government-sanctioned bandits that are forcing them into slavery.
    • Cecilia also leads Loyalist forces against the coup in Etruria partway through the game.
    • Sue and her grandfather Dayan are also the few ones of their tribe still resisting the enemy.
  • Last of His Kind: Jahn claims to be the last dragon, even his battle theme is named after that fact. Technically, there are other dragons around, but Idunn is not a "true" dragon since she became a Dark Dragon, and the war dragons she created are not real dragons either. However, there are dragons on the other side of the Gate and in the Dread Isles, as seen in the prequel.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • A number of supports outright discuss game mechanics such as the weapon triangle and support affinities.
    • Astolfo mentions a bit of Elibean "common knowledge" that at least three people on the continent that share the same face, in the GBA game most blatant about Palette Swap bosses.
  • Lighter and Softer: The plot, while not completely lighthearted, isn't nearly as dark as the previous two games.
  • The Load: Roy receives his promotion via story event very late in the game. It's not hard for him to ram level 20 long before this, so he can't fight or else the rest of the party loses experience.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are a lot of characters. The playable ones alone total at 62, with an unusually high number joining in the first few chapters by Fire Emblem standards.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Chapter 7 on Hard Mode is one of the more notorious chapters in the game in that it is practically impossible to guarantee the survival and recruitment of all 3 NPCs (Trec, Zelot, and Noah) and ensure that your own party all lives. The one saving grace is that the two cavaliers are non essential, and it's easier to keep Zealot alive in order to get the Ilia gaiden chapter and the true ending.
    • Chapters 11A/10B are also renowned for being difficult multi-objective messes that hinge on green unit AI. Good luck trying to not only recruit both Klein and Thea safely and keep their bad units alive for the promotion items, but also rescue every village before they're destroyed in time.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Roy and Sophia if paired since she has an extended lifespan and will outlive him.
  • Meta Twist: While it took a lot of inspiration from the Archanea games, it does play around with recurring tropes and parts of the plot to differentiate itself.
    • Roy and Lilina's fathers are the inverted counterparts of Marth and Caeda's. Marth's father, Cornelius, was killed during the War of Shadows, while Roy's father, Eliwood, only ever shows up in the first chapter and become irrelevant afterwards. Meanwhile, Caeda's father, Mostyn, survives the events of the game just fine and all, but Lilina's father, Hector, dies during the Disturbance of Bern instead.
    • Zephiel has a similar thing going on. It's common for the villain to have once been a decent man, who was then corrupted by an evil force (Julius in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Hardin in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem). Zephiel has characters explaining he used to be good but became twisted and malevolent, and he's usually shown alongside Idunn, a creepy woman in a dark cloak that apparently showed up when he changed. Then we learn that Idunn is an demon dragon from the distant past. So she was the one who corrupted him and he's just her pawn, right? Nope! Zephiel became the way he was through a good old-fashioned Despair Event Horizon, and when he did so, he released Idunn from her prison so she could help him. Idunn is the one who's a magically-corrupted pawn, and though she's the Final Boss, she's pretty much mindless for most of the game and is only carrying out Zephiel's final wish alongside his surviving servants by the time you fight her.
    • Perceval seems to bear resemblances to Camus, and looks to fit in with the eponymous archetype... except he's actually recruitable, doesn't choose My Country, Right or Wrong, and survives the events of the game (if he is kept alive).
  • Missing Mom: Roy's mother is supposed to be dead, and Lilina's mother is never mentioned so her fate is unknown, but it is possible that she is also dead.
  • Multiple Government Polity: The Lycian League of The Binding Blade and its prequel Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade are a collection of duchies and marquisdoms, each with their own ruler but allied and pledged to support one another if one comes under attack. At least, that's the idea; in practice, some of them prove quite willing to sell each other out when The Empire comes calling.
  • New Meat: Implied in Chapter 21. When Roy invades Bern proper and marches toward the Shrine of Seals, Bern throws nearly everything it has left in terms of Wyvern Riders at him, both dangerous high level ones and surprisingly low level as reinforcements, suggesting that what's left is the elite home guard and fresh recruits.
  • Nintendo Hard: This is the only game that might rival its predecessor for "hardest game in the series on Normal difficulty" (later games added increasingly higher difficulty levels in order to simultaneously make the series friendly to newcomers and provide challenges for veterans who enjoyed the ridiculousness of the early games). While fatigue meters, leadership stars, and unit capturing are gone (and only the last has ever returned, in a much less frustrating form), Fog of War became a mainstay, as did gaiden chapters, with the addition that missing even one of these gaiden chapters—or allowing the Infinity Plus One Swords that you acquired therein to break prior to the end of the chapter in question—would cause the game to end three chapters prematurely. This was also the game that codified the series' desert maps (namely the part about the hidden items scattered across the maps, something that Radiant Dawn extended to nearly every map), except this game's incarnation of the desert map was also a Fog of War map...with a requirement for unlocking a gaiden chapter...that involved keeping alive a freshly recruited and forced party member with stats so poor that were she an enemy, your main character could kill her in one round with his starting stats.
  • Noble Savage: Sue, Dayan and her Sacae tribe can be viewed this way by some nobles.
  • No Cure for Evil: Notably averted, most maps have at least a few staff-wielders equipped with Physic or another healing staff. One factor of what makes Chapter 7 so difficult is that two staff-wielding Priests with Physic will keep other Bern soldiers in the fight if you don't kill them on player phase.
  • No Name Given: Object example; the titular legendary sword is just called the Binding Blade. However, in the English version of Heroes, a variant wielded by Legendary Roy is called "Dragonbind", though this was only done because of the character limit.
  • No Pronunciation Guide:
    • How is Elibe pronounced? Ey-leeb? Ey-lee-bay? Eh-lib?
    • The legendary weapon Eckesachs also lacks an officially voiced pronunciation. Is it Ex-axe? E-ke-sach-ess?
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Yoder/Yodel comes to you with whichever of the legendary weapons you did not obtain when you went to Sacae or Ilia, and it's implied that either he or him leading the Elimine Church liberated the other nation and got ahold of the legendary weapon. By themselves.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Fire Dragons have wings made of fire.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you don't meet the conditions to unlock the bonus chapters, you will never see the Divine Weapons, and failing to collect just one of them means you won't face the True Final Boss.
  • Perpetual Storm: Subverted. Chapter 14 takes place in a desert with a perpetual sandstorm, which is supposed to protect the dragon-human settlement Arcadia from outsiders. It does eventually end once you hit Turn 25.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The Silver Blade has 1 more Might than the Silver Sword in exchange for less accuracy and durability and a lot more weight.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Or, more appropriately, Red Girl, Blue Boy for Lilina and Roy respectively. Their hair colors, however, invert this.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Raigh and Lugh, respectively. The former sports a snarky grin and has a reputation for being cold and heartless, whereas the latter is kind and cheery. Both are potent magic users, though, with the former using dark magic and the latter using anima magic.
  • Private Military Contractors: Roy recruits two entire mercenary bands and gets several more independent ones. The first group was hired by Eliwood specifically to bolster Roy, the second had a contract with Hector and their leader decided Roy inherited their employ.
  • The Quisling:
    • A common theme in The Binding Blade is nations selling out their allies and switching sides to the invading empire to save their own skin:
      • Several members of the Lycian Houses betray their alliance to side with Bern, either due to being afraid of Bern's military might or tempted with the promise of power.
      • Etruria is turned into a puppet state for Bern after their king is struck with grief and then taken hostage. All of its generals except Cecilia obey Bern's orders, though they end up joining Roy's army one by one.
      • Monke of Sacae and Sigune of Ilia side with Bern for the same reasons, thinking that Bern's victory is inevitable.
    • Interestingly, despite being the one benefiting from this, King Zephiel sees this trait as a reason why the entire human race is not to be trusted. He intends to hand over the world to dragons if he successfully conquers the continent.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Roy's army is initially made up of his knights and retainers, but expands to include mercenaries, orphans, thieves, defectors, and genuine veterans.
  • Rags to Royalty: The commoners Larum and Shanna can romance the aristocrat Roy.
  • Recurring Element: There are many aspects of The Binding Blade that are extremely similar to previous games, notably Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Some of the characters (Miledy is a very blatant Expy of Minerva in terms of class, looks, and personality and Altena in terms of relationship to Galle) and parts of the plot. (mostly about Idunn being the "Dark Dragon", the various political coups, the legendary warriors and their weapons, all of the liberation that Roy does) The game does tackle all of this in a different enough manner to not be a total repeat, but it's clear that there was a lot of inspiration taken from previous titles.
  • Relationship Values: The Binding Blade introduced the support system in its modern form, patterned after the marriage system from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Certain characters build friendships or romance by ending turns next to each other, quickly for some and glacially slow for others. Characters that have built their friendships sufficiently can then partake in special conversations and receive status buffs when near each other.
  • The Remnant: On the golden ending route, the remaining forces of Bern that return from all over Elibe become this once Roy kills Zephiel and conquers Bern. They continue resisting Roy reaching the Dragon Temple, both out of pride and loyalty to Brunnya; the chapter is even called "The Ghosts of Bern".
  • Rescue Romance: Four of Roy's six potential love interests have to be rescued at some point.
    • First is Sue, held prisoner by Wagner in Thria.
    • Then there's Lilina, locked up in her own castle as part of an attempted coup.
    • The last two, Cecilia and Sophia, are a twofer, being locked up in the same cell after Zephiel defeats the former in Missur.
  • Required Party Member:
    • Certain playable characters must join and survive the chapters that precede the Divine Weapon side chapters in order to unlock them. Some of the chapters also have additional requirements such as turn limit.
    • Fae must be deployed in Chapter 24 and the Final Chapter.
  • Retired Badass: Roy is able to recruit some characters who have all but ended their careers such as Karel or Juno.
  • Roar Before Beating: A Brigand class character will let out a deafening roar before landing a critical blow. As they usually tend to be monstrous powerhouses only kept in check by their notorious inaccuracy, you know this is not going to be pretty.
  • Save the Villain: This is the only game in the franchise in which the true final boss can survive the events of the game, but that's only when Idunn is defeated with the Binding Blade and Fae is still alive.
  • Single Line of Descent: Lilina, Roy, and Sue are each the only child of their parents, who fought the previous war and are rulers or chiefs of their own people.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Ilia, an entire country covered in snow and ice. Due to its poor fertility, many took up jobs as mercenaries to keep the country wealthy. It is where the divine Blizzard Spear, Maltet, is hidden.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In Chapter 3, Zephiel, Idunn, and Narcian—all of them very powerful fighters—are all present at Araphen Castle. Idunn, the Final Boss, offers to take out Roy's band of low-level fighters and mercenaries, but Zephiel declines and departs with her, leaving the matter to Narcian. He promptly turns the matter over to a low-level knight so he can lech on Clarine. This happens again in Chapter 13, but instead to a low-level Wyvern Lord and a large force of Etrurian cavalry.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Binding is a bit worse about it than a number of other FE entries due to just how long the game's gone without an official release, and how long the fans only had katakana and a few sources of romanized names in JP materials to rely on (with some of those clearly not matching the katakana—"Thite" being a classic example). The whole cast only got official names once Fire Emblem Heroes rolled around with its Choose Your Legend event.
  • Story Branching: Roy goes through either Sacae or Ilia depending on whether or not your pair of nomads or pegasus knights, respectively, have higher cumulative experience. You also recruit different characters on each path—the leader of Sue & Sin's clan in Sacae, and Thea & Shanna's older sister in Ilia. It is worth noting that the Ilia path is the "default" one, and is selected as a tiebreaker if all other factors are equal.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: There's a Halberd available at the end of Chapter 3, a weapon that normally wouldn't be available until sometime later in the game. The following chapter is infested with powerful Cavaliers that just so happen to be weak to that weapon. The same goes for the Wyrmslayer, which you receive right before you encounter the first Manaketes and before the Wyvern attacks really get bad.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Possible if Roy and Cecilia romance each other by the choice of the player
  • The Dragon: The mastermind of the war is literally an evil dragon.
  • Timed Mission: Apart from Durandal and Aureola, the Divine Weapons are found in bonus chapters that require you to win the previous battle within a certain number of turns. Otherwise the enemy goes and trashes the shrine they're housed in to keep you out.
  • Trope Codifier: While Thracia had several elements of classic Fire Emblem, this game cemented what to expect from a Fire Emblem game, such as the recurring tropes being in full-force, the plot structure of fighting a kingdom and then slaying a dragon of some sort, and a backstory that has a great deal of mythos to add to the world.
  • Turn Coat: After Hector's defeat at Araphen, Marquess Erik of Laus sides with Bern to avoid a similar fate. This just gets him killed by Roy's army instead. A number of Ostian officers also turn against their country when Hector dies.
  • Undying Loyalty: The mercenaries of Ilia are ingrained to never break their contracts, regardless of morality or their individual odds. This is because their homeland is so poor, that cultivating reputations as reliable sellswords is all they have.
    • The company comprising of Zelot, Noah, and Trec all hear that Hector (their employer) dies, but still continues to fight the rest of the Ostian forces that turn on Lycia. Hearing that Roy is still fighting for Hector is enough for them to join him.
    • Thea is similarly loyal to Klein and will only join your side when he himself talks to her, not even Shanna talking to her will sway her, though at least she and her unit will stop attacking your forces.
  • The Unpronounceable: In Fae's B support with Elffin, the former mentions that her full name is something humans physically cannot understand.
    Elffin: Fae...the name has a unique feel to it. Is it your real name?
    Fae: No, Fae's real name is verrry long. But they say that it's a sound that humans can't hear. Fae's the only part that you can.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Lycia Alliance army is sent to the Western Isles to fight "bandits," but their would-be foes are rebels who have very legitimate reasons for opposing the government. You are eventually informed the the reason for this "mission" is that the Etrurian official who gave it to you, Advisor Roartz, is The Quisling.
  • Villainous Valor: Say what you will about Bern, their forces do not let you conquer their home nation easily in Chapter 21 as they throw everything they have at you besides the palace guard and their garrisons elsewhere. After you conquer Bern castle itself and kill Zephiel, the latter continues to resist against Roy despite having no longer having their king.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss:
    • Leygance in Chapter 8 is the first promoted boss, and forces the player to use effective weaponry and/or promoted units if they haven't learned to yet.
    • Henning in Chapter 8x is infamous for being really hard to hit, much less kill, for being so early in the game. Hard Mode practically forces the player to deal with the problem with an early promoted Rutger, or rely on another blessed promoted unit.
  • Wandering Culture: Sacae is home to numerous nomadic tribes primarily comprised of Horse Archers, such as Sue of the Kutolah tribe.
  • Weather of War: There's a sandstorm in Chapter 14 that serves as a form of fog-of-war.
  • We Have Reserves: This repeatedly occurs with characters who are hired as mercenaries. Klein's soldiers suggest openly that they fling Thea's pegasus squad in as cannon fodder (which he refuses, one reason she likes him) and Dieck has some horror stories about employers using people like him as bait for enemy forces.
  • The Worf Effect: The Lycian Alliance is thoroughly routed in the first few chapters of the game, with Hector of Ostia dying of his wounds. It's all the more dire if you played The Blazing Blade first and have firsthand experience of Hector's badassery.
  • Written by the Winners: The Scouring, a brutal war between humans and dragons, was started by humans after generations of peaceful coexistence. The eight human generals are now revered as the "Eight Legendary Heroes," with one even having a religion dedicated to her.
  • You Are in Command Now: Roy leads Pherae's soldiers in his father's stead, but Hector places him in charge of the entirety of Lycia's loyal forces (such as they are) after being mortally wounded by Zephiel. Once he liberates Etruria, he is in charge of their army as well.
  • You Have Failed Me: Murdock repeatedly leaves his generals who fail him (such as Narcian and the Etrurian traitors) to hold off Roy's army, even as Galle points out they will almost certainly fail. Murdock justifies this by saying Bern has no use for officers who cannot win, and that either outcome works for him.

Alternative Title(s): Fire Emblem 6

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