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Video Game / Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
aka: Fire Emblem 6

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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:

  • Alliterative Name: Roy's final weapon, which the game takes its title from, is either the Sword of Seals or the Binding Blade.
  • 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.
  • Artificial Human: Most of the Manaketes you will face in the game were created by Idunn.
  • Badass Adorable: Fae's dragon form is ridiculously cute, and she attacks by sneezing flame breath on her enemies.
  • 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.
  • Beauty = 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Despair Event Horizon: King Mordred of Etruria is sunk in a depression from the death of his son Mildain and is almost apathetic about what's happening to his country. He gets better when Elphin the bard reveals that he is Mildain.
  • 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.
    • Within the GBA trilogy, Binding Blade is the only game where the character mugshots do not blink. The prequel and Sacred Stones would later add blinking animations to the character portraits.
  • Elemental Weapon: The four physical Divine Weapons have epithets associated with a different element: Durandal the Blazing Blade, Armads the Thunder Axe, Maltet the Blizzard Spear, and Mulagir the Wind Bow.
  • 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 = 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 Mildain 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.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Sacae is based on Mongolia with a dash of Japan. 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.
    • Etruia 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.
  • 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 = 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nintendo Hard: Hard Mode can be quite the overwhelming challenge, with some levels being just short of Thracia 776 levels of hard.
  • 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.
  • 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 made up of mercenaries, orphans, thieves, defectors, and genuine veterans.
  • 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 (Melady is a very blatant Expy of Minerva in terms of class, looks, and personality and Altena in terms of relationship to Gale) and parts of the plot. (mostly about Idenn 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.
  • 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.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: In Chapter 3, Zephiel, Idunn, and Narcian—all of them very powerful fighters—are all present at Araphen Castle. Idenn, 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 & Shin's clan in Sacae, and Thea & Shanna's older sister in Ilia.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Unpronounceable: In Fae's B support with Elphin, the former mentions that her full name is something humans physically cannot understand.
    Elphin: 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.
  • Unfortunate Names: The legendary Aureola tome is uncomfortably close to "areola", which is the formal name for "nipple."
  • 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.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Fire Emblem 6

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