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Our tale begins with the Shadow Dragon, the blade Falchion, and the... Fire Emblem

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
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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 Strategy RPGs, but partially as a result, its interface has not aged particularly well. Early Installment Weirdness also abounds.

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.

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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.

In 2020, an Updated Re-release of the original game was announced for the Nintendo Switch for a limited-time release on December 4th, 2020 as part of the 30th anniversary of the Fire Emblem franchise. In addition to several new quality-of-life features, the port features a complete localization, the first time the game has ever officially been released in English.


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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: Fire Emblem, 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 future game appearances starting with Super Smash Bros. Melee; his dub voice was Spike Spencer, who as of yet hasn't reprised the role as the gig of Marth's main English voice years down the line went to Yuri Lowenthal instead. The OVA was also the second anime adaptation of a Nintendo title (the first one being The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach!, based on Super Mario Bros.), just a year before the Pokémon animated adaptation appeared in Japan.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The Switch release adds a special menu (toggled with X or L+R) that enables usage of some particularly handy new additions, which include:
    • Create/Load Bookmark, which generates a savestate that can be reloaded at any time.
    • Fast-Forward, which allows you to set either enemy turns or all gameplay to 2x speed. Considering how absurdly slow the game is otherwise, this is a major boon.
    • Turn Rewind, which allows you to go back up to 15 turns, extremely invaluable in case a mistake is made or luck suddenly goes south and you lose someone valuable.
  • 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.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: If Minerva, Palla, Catria, and Est are killed in Chapter 7 when they show up as enemies, they will merely retreat instead of die and can still join as playable characters much later in the story.
  • 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.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The reveal trailer for the English localization, A First for Fire Emblem Fans. This is both the first time the original version would be playable and it is making the first game available.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light has character design that were altered, reimagined, or downright scrapped as Mystery of the Emblem more-or-less solidified many of the character's appearances.
    • Marth is completely pantless, has unkempt hair, and wears a blue tunic in the original installment. His appearance in Mystery of the Emblem has been used as his design since, even if his battle sprite still uses his old appearance. His field and battle sprites also show him using a buckler shield in combat, suggested to be the Fire Emblem.
    • Abel appears much more goofier than in future installment as he is depicted with a bucktooth. He would be a Bishounen since Mystery of the Emblem, as he no longer has a bucktooth.
    • In addition to a case of Characterization Marches On, Gordin is drawn with a confident smirk when Gordin is nowadays defined by his lack of confidence and maturity.
    • Navarre wearing shoulderpads and gear that would resemble a typical mercenary is a farcry nowadays when many recognized him with his tunic that became a reference design for Myrmidons. Even Mystery of the Emblem depicts him as the latter, even if he uses the Mercenary sprite due to the lack of Myrmidon class in both Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem.
    • There are also several colorization difference, which is notable with Lena and Maria, who wears red and blue, respectively. The two would be known for wearing white.
    • A case of Palette Swap and You ALL Look Familiar is blatant in this game with many character portraits being more or less the exact same. Several examples are Bord, Cord, and Barst, Dolph and Macellan, Matthis and Vyland, Caesar and Radd, Wendell and Boah, and Gordin, Wolf, Sedgar, and Tomas. Intelligent Systems would design these characters more distinctly from Mystery of the Emblem and onward.
    • Interestingly, Wendell is depicted with a mustache in his official art but he has shown to be clean shaven in the actual game. Wendell is never depicted with a mustache in future installments.
  • 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).
    • Healing classes don't get EXP for healing, instead gaining EXP from dodging or taking hits.
    • There are only 4 items slots per unit instead of 5, and units cannot give items to ally units with full inventories. On top of this, units' turns end immediately after they finish trading or equip a weapon.
    • Promotion/class changing works very differently in this incarnation.
      • In general, class changing is treated as a rather more secretive and uncommon affair than in future games. The needed items are much rarer, and show up much later: you get your first Hero Crest in Chapter 10, your first Knight Crest and Orion's Bolt in Chapter 12, and your first Bishop Ring and Skydrake Whip in Chapter 19. In addition, the list of classes who can promote is much shorter; Pegasus Knights, Cavaliers, Archers, Mages, Priests, and Mercenaries are the only ones capable of doing so. Curiously, there do exist classes that seem like the promotions of Hunter and Knight (Horseman and General), but they would not be made possible promotions until Mystery of the Emblem.
      • By extension, this makes Marth one of the only Lords in the series who cannot promote at all, along with the Gaiden version of Celica (well, barring Sigurd, who is prepromoted). Later Lords would either promote normally or through a story event.
      • Instead of causing a character to gain stat bonuses, promotion raises their stats to be equal to the class bases of their new class. This means that attempting to delay a character's promotion to gain more levels can cause them to gain no stats at all after promoting, making early promotion highly preferable.
      • Likely as a result of the above, promoted classes have significantly higher base stats relative to their unpromoted counterparts, compared to other games in the series. For instance, Paladin goes from 8 base Strength and 11 base Speed here to 7 base Strength and Speed in Mystery of the Emblem, and Bishop goes from 14 base Speed to 4.
      • Pegasus Knights become Dracoknights when they promote. This also means that Macedon is one of the only nations 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.
    • 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. (The two weren't properly split until the sixth game.)
    • Knights and Pegasus Knights were able to wield both Swords and Lances, as opposed to being restricted to one weapon type. Generals are a pure sword class, when every game from Gaiden onward made them either a multiweapon class or a primarily lance-using class.
    • Archers were a bit off: most artwork and sprites depicting them with fairly heavy armor, along with the Archer's lower Movement and oddly high Defense, suggest that it was meant to be the Mighty Glacier of the various bow classes. Most Archers since then fit the Fragile Speedster mold, with little if any body armor, equal Movement to other foot classes, and low Defense—a general design originally associated with the Hunter class, which hasn't been playable since in any game not taking place in Archanea.
    • Some stats have noticeably different functions. HP, Strength, Defense, and Movement work just as how they always do, but most others are off in some way. In rough order of how much they've changed:
      • Skill adds just itself to your hit rate with physical attacks, when every game since Mystery of the Emblem has instead multiplied it in some way (usually x2, sometimes x1.5). Also, it doesn't boost your hit rate with magic at all. This means that a weapon's base accuracy tends to be more important than the user's skill, though many enemies have bad Avoid. It does increase crit rate at the usual value, though.
      • Like Skill, Speed only increases your dodge rate by 1 per point, when it's been x2 or x1.5 in pretty much every game post-Genealogy of the Holy War. Much more notable, however, is that doubling thresholds are much lower; in most games, you need to outspeed the enemy by a certain number (usually 4, but 3 and 5 aren't unheard of), but here, you only need to outspeed the enemy at all. There is also no way to reduce a weapon's weight, as Strength does not serve that purpose and Constitution does not exist, making it effectively a variable Speed penalty. Because of this, an individual unit's Speed tends to matter far less for doubling than the weapon they're carrying, and many enemies can have 0 Speed.
      • Resistance does its usual thing of blocking magic damage, but nearly every single character has a flat 0 in it, making every magic attack effectively a Fixed Damage Attack. The main way to increase it is to use Barrier or Pure Water (which raises it to 7 but decreases it over time). Notably, what the Talisman statbooster actually does behind the scenes is give your unit the same effect as those two but with the decreasing removed. Not only does this make Resistance the only stat to cap at 7, but it also means a character can only have 0 Resistance or 7 Resistance.
      • Luck does not increase hit rate (introduced in Thracia 776) or physical avoid rate (introduced in Mystery of the Emblem) or reduce an enemy's crit rate (Mystery again). Instead, it increases crit rate to the same degree as Skill, and improves a character's Avoid when dealing with magic attacks. Incidentally, this means that there is no way to reduce critical rates; thankfully, most enemies have 0 Luck and abysmal Skill, but keeping your units safe from crits is still a concern.
      • Lastly, there's a stat called Weapon Level, which serves as the game's equivalent to Weapon Rank (a system introduced in Genealogy and largely standardized in Thracia). Instead of increasing with use, it levels up by chance like any other stat. For instance, any character who can use swords and has a Weapon Level of 9 or better can use a Silver Sword. This applies to all weapons a character can use, as well; characters are always equally skilled with every type of weapon they can wield, making multiweapon classes like Paladins, Dracoknights, and Bishops incredibly strong. Capping it off, it's generally much easier to wield high-rank weapons, with many unpromoted characters being able to use them at base or after one or two lucky levels on a 60-70% growth.
    • While most games following the introduction of weapon triangle made the physical weapon types roughly balanced to each other on paper (i.e. every type comes in iron, steel, silver, and legendary varieties, plus a few gimmicks each like effective weapons or magic weapons, and have advantages and disadvantages, usually with swords being the most accurate and axes being the strongest), this game makes no attempt at all to balance them. There are eight available swords plus three locked to Marth, compared to five types each of lances and axes, and swords weigh far less than the other weapon types in a game where weight can't be counterbalanced. Also, the standard axe and hand axe weigh more and deal less damage than the standard lance and javelin, silver axes do not exist (and neither do steel lances), the only equivalent to a legendary axe is the Devil Axe, and there's only four axe-users in the game, none of whom can promote—you can't even buy new axes after Chapter 9. Similarly, the silver lance is straight-up inferior to the silver sword.
    • The game's equivalent to the iron axe and iron lance are simply named "Axe" and "Lance." Swords are the only weapon to get their materials named.
    • The various magic types are not segregated at all. While it's not uncommon for the Anima tomes to be lumped into one category, Aura, Starlight, Imhullu, and Swarm are in the same category, when in later games, they'd be classified as Light or Dark. Additionally, Cleric/Priest and Mage both promote into Bishop; the idea of them having separate promotion paths was introduced in Genealogy.
    • Item durabilities are 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 is the only base weapon labeled with a material (the others being simply Lance, Axe, and Bow), and Marth gets no fewer than three different personal swords throughout the game.
    • Enemy units have a stat that displays how much EXP they are worth. In addition, any recruited enemy starts with the experience they had. EXP earned from battles that don't result in enemy kills is determined by how much damage dealt by player units, capping at 20. By extension, this means that EXP gain does not scale to level in any way; a level 10 Paladin gains the same amount of XP from killing an enemy that a level 1 Cavalier does, meaning that prepromotes can actually gain levels fairly quickly.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • If you decide to send a unit into an arena, they will enter with whatever weapon they have equipped at the time, and will degrade its uses with each round of combat, which can potentially leave your unit defenseless if you're not careful. Add the fact that there's no way to yield a fight in the arenaNote , and this makes using the arena a very risky venture. Conversely, the arena also gives a ridiculously high payout, up to ten times what you bet, when in later games, that number is only double.
    • In most games, enemy stats are calculated by taking the class's bases and leveling them through a set of "class growths." This is not the case here; instead, every odd-numbered level after the first, the enemy gains +3 to HP and +1 to Strength, Skill, Speed, Defense, and Weapon Level. Also, enemy levels on the whole are much lower, with few-if-any generic enemies being above level 10. Bosses can be higher-level, but use the same stat calculations.
    • By extension, characters recruited from the enemy do not have personalized statlines; they use the same calculations for their stats as regular enemy units. This means that the lower-leveled characters have base stats for their classes, including Minerva, Matthis, Astram, and Wendell. Also, instead of having a preset Luck Stat, their Luck is randomized. This resulted in many characters getting their stats tweaked for Mystery of the Emblem; most notably, Minerva's Speed was doubled, turning her into a Lightning Bruiser, while Wendell's Speed and Defense took some hits.
  • 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, and the game even cheats in the battle forecast window to make it look like the fake Gharnefs share his damage immunity (they don't).
  • 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: The first game has a very clunky inventory system where units can only hold 4 items for unit, as oppose to at least 5 items in later games. In addition, trading can only be done by the initiator and will end the unit's turn and the preparation does not allow swapping items around so trading and inventory management must be done during the battle.
  • 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 soldiers 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.
  • The Numbered Things: The Three Regalia.
  • 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 spheres can be missed if the player neglects to open the chest it's in.
  • 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).
  • Retraux: The 30th anniversary collector's edition of the Switch release includes a number of items designed to replicate what an actual English-language release of the game on the NES would have been like, including a box, manual, an art piece in the shape of an NES cartridge with a game label, and even a poster of a Nintendo Power cover for the game ("volume 11.5") with game tips on the other side, formatted after the early issues of the magazine.
  • 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.
  • Updated Re-release: This version of the game was ported to the Switch and adds multiple features to alleviate some of the infamous difficulty and general clunkiness, such as being able to toggle fast-forwarding through turns, the ability to create and load a savestate, and the ability to rewind turns. Not to mention an official translation job.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In order for Curates to gain experience in Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, they must survive an attack. Since they are Squishy Wizard, it is a completely asinine decision to place your healers in harm's way.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If Marth dies, your game will be over! In fact, in this game, the enemy is actively prioritize attacking Marth over everyone else in order to kill him. This can be exploited by using Marth as a shield over your other sensitive units like healers or wounded units.

The remake Shadow Dragon provides examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: Shadow Dragon added a few mechanics to help the player:
    • Shadow Dragon added a "dynamic growths" mechanic unseen in any other Fire Emblem, where each time you fail to proc a stat upon levelling up, its growth rate is increased by X1.1 of its default value, with the result being rounded down but the decimaled number being kept internally to keep building the dynamic growth off of (so if a character has a 45% growth in a stat and doesn't proc it, it'll become a 49% real growth for the next level up but kept internally as 49.5%, and then if it fails again it'll become 54% for both, and so on). Then if a stat does proc, it'll be decreased by X1.1 of its default value, but if it lowers their growth below their default value, the default growth will still be used for levelling up while the lowered dynamic growth will be kept internally to build future dynamic growths off of (so if you procced that 45% growth to begin with, it'll stay 45% for the real growth in the next level up, but will be kept internally as 40.5% for the dynamic value, and then if you proc it again it'll stay 45% for the real growth but the dynamic value lowers to 36%, and so on). Essentially, this mechanic helps prevent your characters from getting "RNG screwed" with their level ups and so over time it'll be much rarer for a character to end up significantly worse than their average stats, but it still leaves open the possibility for a character to get "RNG blessed" and become significantly better than their averages, overall being a boon for the player. This mechanic would never return in the future Fire Emblem games, but growth rates would become so much higher across the board that it was probably seen as excessive.
    • For the first time in the series, when a unit dies their inventory is not lost with them, and will be back in the player's convoy in the next chapter. So if you're playing an ironman and can't reset or otherwise don't care about a unit dying, you don't need to worry about permanently losing that expensive forge or rare weapon/item they had on them. You won't be able to access the dead unit's inventory until the next chapter though, and so are out of luck if you wanted to use something they had during the current chapter they died on. This mechanic would be retained in future Fire Emblem games.
    • If you lost so many units that you can't fill up all your available deployment slots in a chapter, you will be given generic replacement units to fill up all your missing deployment slots. These generics are a lot worse than the actual characters and on the hardest difficulty will really struggle to survive one round with enemies, and have very low growth rates too so they'll barely get better, but they're better than nothing and at worst they're cannon fodder you can use to shield or bait away from your valuable units. This mechanic would not show up in future Fire Emblem games.
    • While Radiant Dawn's Battle Save mechanic did not return, which allowed you to save at anytime you wanted and continue playing, and so was quite the Game-Breaker if abused, Shadow Dragon did add a compromise by introducing "save spots" on maps that allow you to create a midbattle save that can be reloaded as many times as you want, so if you made a big mistake late into the map you won't need to redo the entire chapter while not allowing you the possibility to rig every battle and level up your way. Each map typically has 2 save spots, with one at the beginning and one near the middle, and unlike in Radiant Dawn, this mechanic is still available on the hardest difficulty.
  • The Artifact: This game features the same weight mechanics as the Tellius games (that is, Attack Speed=Speed-(Weight-Strength, minimum 0). However, it uses the same weight stats as the older games, where weight couldn't be counterbalanced at all, and so weapon weights were much lower. Consequently, while using, say, a Silver Lance without taking some Speed loss in Radiant Dawn required at least 12 Strength, it requires only 6 Strength here. This makes the weight stat almost irrelevant, since characters grow out of taking Speed loss very quickly; likely the reason New Mystery removed weight altogether.
  • Call-Back: A few of the conversations added to the remake adds on relationships and plot elements that didn't exist yet in the original Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, but established in Mystery of the Emblem.
    • Astram is being wary towards Marth, hinting at his resentment towards the prince's decision to turn against Archanea in the future.
    • Xane tells Tiki that he is a dragon like her, but is unable to transform into one.
    • Marth and Tiki are able to talk in the latter's join chapter, referencing Tiki's Precocious Crush towards Marth later on.
    • Merric is able to talk with Linde, referencing their friendship in the adaptations.
    • Merric and Elice having a conversation hints that they would eventually be an Official Couple by the end of Mystery of the Emblem.
    • Boah considering a marriage candidate for Nyna. It was revealed near the end of Mystery of the Emblem that the marriage between Hardin and Nyna was his idea, a decision he regretted to his death upon seeing how the loveless marriage serves as a catalyst for Hardin's Start of Darkness.
  • 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.
  • Crutch Character:
    • Jagen returns in this role, of being a prepromoted unit you get in the beginning of the game with greater movement, slightly better base stats, and starts with a B Lance Rank to use the very powerful Silver Lance that makes him significantly better than your other units at the start, but has very poor growths, which when combined with levelling up a lot slower will have him fall off later in the game. Compared to the original game though his growths aren't as bad this time, with them being increased substantially (with his non-magical growths ranging from 15-40% instead of 0-10%), and you can now reclass him to a Dracoknight that gives him flying utility with better stats and improves his Speed growth to an acceptable 30% that can help him avoid getting doubled for longer. Combine those improvements with being able to forge Riderbanes to slaughter enemy Cavs (which Jagen can use right off the bat thanks to his aformentioned Lance Rank) and Shadow Dragon's dynamic growths system (where each time you fail to raise a stat its growth rate is increased slightly until you do raise it), and Jagen can maintain his usefulness for a lot longer, even on Hard 5 difficulty he can last well into mid game before he truly falls behind.
    • Ogma falls into this in the remake. He joins in Chapter 2 with great base stats that exceed even Jagen's despite being unpromoted, while he'll shine against the plentiful axe-wielding enemies in these first few early chapters, and on Hard 5 he is essentially mandatory to beat the Chapter 2 and 3 bosses unless one of your other units got lucky with multiple good level ups early. However despite his relatively high combined growth rates he'll fall off after this and never really recover; the big issue is as a Mercenary he'll be sword-locked until promotion, so he'll lack any decent 1-2 range weapon (with Levin Swords being the only 1-2 range sword, which will be very weak due to physical units gaining no magic in this game), and will be at perpetual weapon triangle disadvantage due to most enemies wielding lances after Chapter 4 (and axe users becoming rare). He can be reclassed to a Fighter or Pirate to use axes instead, but he'll start with E Rank axes, leaving him ineffectual for a long time, and his Speed growth will become subpar due to Ogma's inherent Speed growth being lackluster. Then while upon promotion to a Hero he'll gain axes in addition to his swords, he'll still start with E Rank axes to severely limit his effectiveness with them, which will especially be a problem so late in the game.
  • 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 you somehow lose every unit without Marth dying before you can select a decoy, the north door will automatically open so you can still possibly 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.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Plenty, on top of the ones in the original.
    • The Devil Axe is in rare form, with an accuracy rating of 95%. While it still has its notorious backfire rate, that's also basically the only time it's ever going to miss, and it hits as hard as some legendary weapons despite popping up in Chapter 3. This makes it genuinely a strong option, and one of the better ways to kill Hyman.
    • Forging effective weapons is by far the most famous nuke, and a major reason Caeda is so famous.
  • Early Game Hell: If you play any difficulty above Normal the Prologue chapters are skipped, which means all your units start at level 1 with low base stats and little resources, leaving Jagen as your only unit in the first map that's good offensively and can actually survive multiple rounds of combat (Caeda might be fast enough to double guys, but she can't take a hit at this point and will be at weapon triangle disadvantage against the predominant axe users). You get Ogma and Barst for readily good units in Chapter 2, and then Navarre can be recruited in Chapter 3 with passable bases and a really handy Killing Edge equipped that Ogma can also use, but you'll still be really outmatched by the enemies here on the harder difficulties. Additionally you're primarily fighting Pirates and Fighters in these chapters, so you can't exploit effective weaponry like Caeda's Wing Spear yet to take enemies out quickly. Then these three chapters have stupidly tough bosses, that unlike most of the bosses later in the game, you can't exploit effective weaponry against them since they're Pirates and Fighters, and on Hard 5 their stats can be so high that likely only one or two of your units can actually survive a round against them. Plus you don't got access to the preparations menu yet, so you also can't take advantage of reclassing or forging yet. Once you reach Chapter 4 the difficulty eases up, as besides your units having gotten some much needed levels in, you also can now reclass, forge your weapons, and are now fighting a ton of mounted and armored units that you can much more easily destroy with effective weaponry.
  • 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".
  • Exclusive Enemy Equipment: There are some examples in Shadow Dragon:
    • The Magestones used by Manaketes to turn into Mage Dragons are completely unobtainable, so you'll never have the option for Bantu and Tiki/Nagi to attack with Magic and become immune to Magic, which could have been really handy at times.
    • Gharnef's Imhullu tome, which makes him immune to everything but the Starlight tome, is naturally unobtainable.
    • Since the Nintendo DS' online servers went permanently offline, the Brave weapons became this as the developers made them exclusively available to the online shop, with no way to obtain them ingame. This especially sucks as on Hard 5 difficulty enemies will start using Brave weapons as their standard weapon in the late game, putting you at a major disadvantage. Fortunately there are romhacks that make the Brave weapons purchasable at the ingame shops.
    • If you went into Chapter 24X and got Nagi, the Swarm tome becomes this, as the only one you get access to is the one Gotoh has when he joins you for the final chapter, and you don't get him if you got Nagi instead.
  • 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • If Tiki is defeated and Falchion is lost, Gotoh informs you that Tiki isn't actually dead and has just returned to her slumber. However, the Aum staff works just fine on her, unlike the decoy, who New Mystery of the Emblem reveals is Not Quite Dead.
    • You know all the fuss of getting the Falchion? Well, on Hard-5, trying to use it to kill Medeus is actually a really bad idea. You see, Marth is capped at 25 speed and 60 HP, while Medeus has 30 speed, making it so that Marth always gets doubled. Making this even worse is that Medeus has 50 attack while Marth's defense is capped at 25, if he gets lucky (and Marth's Defense growth is pretty low, so chances are he'll be more around 12-14 at level 30). Marth will thus need extremely lucky level ups and statboosters to just SURVIVE a single round of combat and not be sent straight to the Game Over screen for trying to kill Medeus like the plot told him to.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: While the bosses in the first few levels and Medeus at the end can be really tough, especially on Hard 5 difficulty where their stats are so stupidly high that most units can't survive one round with them, the bosses for most of the game are really easy and mostly a nonfactor even with very high stats. One, bosses are usually placed on the Seize point and will never move, so you don't have to confront them until you want to and can clear out the rest of the map before you fight them without interruption. Two, most bosses don't have a 1-2 range weapon, so you can easily just attack them from a range where they can't retaliate, and since they don't move they'll just sit there taking your abuse until they die. Three, most of them are armored or horseback units, leaving them very vulnerable to the plentiful effective weaponry against them, in particular Caeda with her Wing Spear can reliably one-round or even flatout OHKO them with ease regardless of her Strength stat if you forged it a few extra points of Might.
  • 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. The American names would be the ones used internationally in future titles like Fire Emblem Heroes.
  • Left for Dead: The decoy you select in the Prologue is left to die.
  • Magikarp Power: This game has a few examples:
    • Est is in this role again, being a unit that joins you late into the game as a low-levelled unpromoted unit with bases suitable for the beginning of the game, but with high growths that can make her good with significant investment. Compared to the original game though her base stats are even worse and her growths have been nerfed while everyone else's growths are generally higher than in the original game, making hers relatively a lot less impressive and not really worth the effort this time around, especially on harder difficulties.
    • Fellow Whitewing Catria ends up fulfilling this role better than Est; she joins alongside Palla in Chapter 14 as an unpromoted unit with base stats that are weak for the later half of the game, but with some of the highest growth rates in the game that are on par with Est's, with her Speed growth being especially impressive. As she joins several chapters before Est though and has bases that aren't quite as bad, she is a lot more workable and requires significantly less effort to reach similar potential.
    • Tiki is also in this role again, but unlike Est she retained her great growths while being actually better this time around at base, and her Divinestone's effectiveness against other Manaketes makes her very useful against other Manaketes and vital for beating Medeus.
    • Wolf and Sedgar are a unique example of this; they're units you get early that appear to be Crutch Character prepromotes, but with rather poor base stats and in the weak Horseman class that makes them initially appear like permanent bench warmers that should never be touched. However they have ludicrously high growth rates, by far the best of the game, that will near guarantee their non-magical stats besides Luck to increase with each level, while their HP is guarantee to go up with a good chance to increase by 2 each level. This can be pushed farther through reclassing, where they can be made into a more immediately useful class that makes them more feasible to train in addition to even better growths, including Sedgar as a General increasing Defense with every level up and having a shot to increase it by 2, while Wolf as a Warrior/Berserker is guaranteed to increase Strength when levelling up and with a shot to increase it by 2. After some level ups they can really snowball out of control, even on Hard 5 difficulty, and become nigh-immortal against non-magical enemies.
  • Mercy Mode: If you go into a chapter with less units available than the maximum amount you can deploy in the map, the game will give you generic replacement units to fill up all your deployment slots, who are significantly worse than the actual characters but better than nothing. Additionally, the Gaiden chapters themselves are intended as this, as they can only be accessed if you go into certain chapters with 15 or less units alive, while they're significantly easier than the normal chapters and will provide you with easy EXP, extra loot, and a new unit that's better than the low tier guys and especially the replacement units. Then there's the final Gaiden chapter 24X that can only be accessed if you finish the second-last chapter without the Falchion in your possession and without Tiki alive, which gives you a weaker Falchion and Nagi (essentially a replacement Tiki that's slightly weaker than an average Tiki trained halfway) for the final chapter, to help ensure you can defeat Medeus and don't end up in an Unwinnable situation.
  • Nerf:
    • Stat boosting items are much less potent than the original game, granting smaller bonuses.
    • Despite stats being much higher and growth rates across the board generally being higher than they were in the original game, Est had her base stats made even worse and her growth rates reduced, limiting her effectiveness as a Magikarp Power unit this time around.
    • In the original game, the Falchion gave Marth complete immunity to any non-Manakete direct attack, while in the remake the Falchion no longer has any sort of defense-boosting attribute.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: The most important stat for a unit to have in this game is their base Weapon Rank (particularly in Axes and Lances), as besides higher Weapon Ranks granting significant statistical bonuses, how effective a unit will be in combat relies heavily on what weapons they can use (especially being able to use effective weaponry and 1-2 range weapons), while Weapon Ranks build slowly in this game and Arms Scrolls to instantly level them up are extremely limited (you only get one throughout the entire game before you reach the secret shop in the second-to-last chapter, where you can then buy a few more). For example, one of the reasons Barst is considered one of the best units longterm while Ogma is mediocre is because the former starts with a D Axe rank, allowing him to immediately use Hand Axes and Steel Axes while building more quickly to using the stronger weapons in the best weapon type, while Ogma would have E Axes if reclassed into a Fighter/Pirate or promoted to a Hero and thus will always be lagging behind. Only units with extreme statistical superiority such as a trained Sedgar/Wolf can still be effective while lacking good Weapon Ranks.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Chapter 8 includes a section where a large squad of cavaliers and horseman are grouped up near a cluster of forts. If you've changed Wolf or Sedgar into a General, you can warp one of them to a fort, at which their defenses combined with the terrain causes them to take 2-3 damage a hit, even on Merciless, and they're gaining about 10 XP every time they counter one of their assailants with a javelin toss. Once they've gained even one level, the defense gains make the enemy damage even worse, and before long, they're taking no damage at all. It's not hard to get Wolf or Sedgar to level 10 or so this way.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • The Falchion is rather unimpressive, essentially being just a Silver Sword with infinite uses you get near the end of the game, that deals bonus damage to Manaketes and Medeus, but for the former you could just forge a Wrymslayer or Dragonpike that's stronger, and against Medeus, Tiki/Nagi is always going to be much better, while it's also incredibly unlikely that Marth can survive a round against Medeus on the harder difficulties even if you trained him up to his max level. Now it would be nice to have regardless, but to get it you have to give up the Starsphere and Lightsphere to make a Starlight tome to defeat Gharnef; the Starsphere is incredibly useful as having it in your inventory prevents your weapons losing durability, allowing you to spam your A rank weapons and expensive forges as much as you want, while the Lightsphere negates enemy terrain bonuses when held, useful against bosses who always have +2 Defense and +20 Avoid from being on the seize tile, especially against Medeus where Tiki/Nagi or another "Medeus slayer" missing will spell doom for your run. Players will often consider the spheres more useful than the Falchion and keep them, while just ignoring Gharnef in his chapter as you don't need to defeat him to progress.
    • The Starlight tome also qualifies; for giving up those very valuable spheres you get a tome with very limited uses (only 14) and only as much power as the Excalibur tome you had since the beginning of the game, with no crit nor any other special effects other than being the only thing that can harm Gharnef. Other than for killing Gharnef you're not making much use of it, whereas you could have gotten a lot of use from those spheres for the last fifth of the game. This additionally factors into the decision for players to keep the spheres over giving them up to get the Falchion from Gharnef.
  • 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 in her ending.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: How Hard 5 difficulty plays for the most part; enemies do get more durable as all their stats are buffed, but its their offense that really spikes up, with every single enemy having A Weapon Ranks and being equipped with much better weapons, including every enemy using Silver or forged weapons once you reach just Chapter 10 and then eventually using Brave weapons once you reach Chapter 20. As a result it'll be rare for any of your units but a trained Sedgar and Wolf to be able to survive more than two rounds of combat with these terrifying enemies. However most enemies in the game are vulnerable to some form of effective weaponry, which when combined with their durability not improving that much, means you often can 2HKO them too, or even flatout OHKO them if you forged those weapons they're weak to.
  • 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 rerelease are still in luck. This would be rectified in New Mystery of the Emblem, where you can find three Elysian Whips in regular gameplay.
  • Skippable Boss:
    • Gharnef in Chapter 23 is not on the Seize tile, with a generic Bishop being there instead, so the player does not need to fight Gharnef at all to clear the chapter and progress, and he is just flatout impossible to harm anyway if you didn't get the Starlight tome. However if you don't defeat him you won't get the Falchion, but as covered in Power-Up Letdown this really isn't a big deal.
    • Unlike in the original Camus in Chapter 20 is not on the Seize tile, with Lorenz being there instead, so Camus can be completely ignored. But if the player wants the Gradivus, by far the best Lance and physical 1-2 range weapon in the game, they will have to defeat him.
  • 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).
  • Theme Naming: The generic replacement units share common naming themes.
    • In the Japanese version, all of their names are taken from German words. The first twelve are named after the German numbers 1-12, the next seven are named after the days of the week, and the last twelve are named after the months of the year. The German version naturally takes its names from Japanese words, using the same naming themes.
    • In the NTSC English version, the first twelve are given names with the Latin roots of the numbers 1-12. The next seven are corruptions of insulting words, serving as a subtle What the Hell, Player? towards a General Failure.
    • In the French version, the last twelve are corruptions of the Western Zodiac.
    • In the Spanish version, the first twelve are named after ways to say "stupid", "clumsy", and "bad". The next seven are named for the major musical pitches. The last twelve count to twelve in Japanese.
    • The Italian version names its replacements after proto-Germanic runes.
  • Tutorial Failure: The game builds up the Falchion as some ultimate weapon and the key for beating Medeus, but while true it deals bonus damage to Medeus, it can only be used by Marth, and on the hardest difficulties sending in Marth with the Falchion is a fast track to getting a Game Over. Since Marth's Speed caps at 25 while Medeus' goes up to 30 on Hard 5, Marth will always get doubled, and Marth can't take more than two hits unless you get very lucky with his HP + Defense growth and give him multiple HP + Defense boosters. And Marth with the Falchion isn't that powerful either, failing to 2HKO Medeus unless Marth is Strength-blessed or given Energy Drops. At best you can just send Marth in to deal the finishing blow after other units did most of the work, and if Marth misses, which is very possible with the shaky hitrate he'll have, then you're screwed.
  • 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 awaketh? I begeth thy pardon, sire, but the princess hast hath asked to seeth 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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