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  • Adaptation Displacement: Outside Japan, Marth's much more well known for appearing in Super Smash Bros. than his own games; the international release of Shadow Dragon didn't actually do much to dispel it, as it was a fairly quiet release.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Elice and her relationship with Merric. Fans who don't like the pairing have suggested Elice's feelings for him are maternal rather than romantic, even going so far as to suggest she has a woobie fetish and is looking for a sweet, sickly little boy to mollycoddle based on their conversation in Shadow Dragon.
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  • Americans Hate Tingle: While this game and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem are well regarded in Japan, the rest of the world sees them as some of the weakest parts in the series. This is more or less because by the time they were released overseas, they had been spoiled by later, more mechanically refined entries in the series and significantly more advanced turn-based strategy games, and that the remakes didn't do all that much to bring it up to speed with modern offerings. The fact that this is the part of the series that gets "nostalgia baited" for their sake in modern games like Fire Emblem Awakening, Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE, or Fire Emblem Warriors does it no favors. Marth in particular gets a fair bit of grumbling, since he's seen as a Vanilla Protagonist (especially since he'd long been written in Smash Bros fanon as a more distinct character).
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
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    • In the first Fire Emblem, Gharnef is a mere check if you have the Starlight spell to break his Imhullu spell. Medeus from the same game is infamous for being in par with Idenn and Veld as the easiest final bosses in the franchise. If Marth scores a critical in the first attack with the Falchion against a full-health Medeus, the fight's over. (On higher difficulties in the DS version, Marth will not be able to critical Medeus to death without a little Strength investment.)
    • Michalis in the original and Shadow Dragon. Despite having an Iote Shield, he is disappointingly easy for a late-game boss. The Iote Shield is probably there just to prevent him from becoming a Zero-Effort Boss. Mystery Book I tries to alleviate this by making him move from his throne to join his forces, (thus making it more of a chore to get Starlight) but it only does so much.
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  • Base-Breaking Character: Est suffers quite a bit of flack for creating one of the most divisive archetypes who come in so late and so weak that people often disregard their Magikarp Power statuses. Not to mention being "in the way" of Palla/Abel. Still, she has her fans for reasons aside from that such as her bright personality and interesting relationship with her sisters across the series.
  • Breather Level: The Gaiden chapters in Shadow Dragon. Since they can only be accessed if you have less than 15 units, it's clear the developers intended them to be an opportunity to regroup, nab some free EXP, goodies, and a unit, and get your act together before everything goes pear-shaped again. On Hard difficulty, four of the five drop the quality of enemy weapons one grade (6x goes from Steel to Iron, 12x from Silver to Steel, and 20x and 24x from Brave to Silver), and the AI is far dumber to match.
  • Critical Dissonance: Japanese critics trashed the game when it came out, due to the ugly visuals and hard-to-understand gameplay. However, it proved popular among general players, and strong word of mouth ended up propelling sales.
  • Die for Our Ship: You wouldn't believe the shit Caeda gets among the Marth/Roy fans (who more often than not have absolutely no knowledge of Fire Emblem beyond what they know from Super Smash Bros.).
    • Elice is loathed by Merric/Linde fans.
    • By far the worst case is Est. She gets an unbelievable amount of vitriol simply because she and Abel got together after the War of Shadows. Not helping this is that they don't have a very happy ending in Mystery and many fans decry this turn of event and say that Abel should've gone to Palla who has an unrequited crush on him, often saying that the former has "shit taste". This is ignoring the fact that Abel and Est were fine with each other's company before their endings and that their supports in New Mystery imply this was a case of Poor Communication Kills.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Since this is a game where characterization were mostly kept minimum, a lot of the recruitable unit can become this even if they do not contribute much to the story.
    • Caeda's job was at first basically 'recruit some units, but Marth is going to do a lot of other recruiting' and being just another unit. Aside of being a childhood friend of Marth, she's pretty much inconsequential, Nyna actually had more presence in the story than her, but she also had a stellar performance in-game. Her next appearance saw her being Promoted to Love Interest, and while other FE heroines like Lyndis or Lucina tend to overshadow her in popularity, Caeda is highly revered by the fandom as the 'OG heroine of Fire Emblem' despite her insignificant start.
    • Ogma is considered a great unit overall with his well-rounded bases and growth rates. His manly appearance, gameplay traits and Undying Loyalty to Caeda started an archetype based on him.
    • Navarre's Tall, Dark, and Handsome looks as well as being one of the most likely unit to deal critical hits also started an archetype and is said to have inspired the Myrmidon class, which is defined by their high critical rates and exotic (usually Eastern) flair. He would later be reclassed into a Myrmidon in the remakes.
    • The Christmas Cavaliers Cain and Abel had very stellar performances and Those Two Guys dynamic in the original amongst Marth's original team that they became some of the most known characters in Altea and started another ongoing archetypes that permeates through the series. Cain is less characterized than Abel in the sequel, but his better availability and performance balance it out.
    • After Shadow Dragon, Wolf's good growths, Bishōnen looks, and sympathetic background made him very popular.
    • Vyland, among the Japanese fandom. Despite his dubious usefulness and utter genericness in a game with both far more developed characters and a billion better Cavaliers, he has a bizarre borderline-memetic following in the Japanese fandom.
    • Wrys, seemingly due to his baldness, and the fact that he got cut from the main party of Mystery of the Emblem, making his absense all the more noticeable with his cameo, in the Japanese fandom. He can convince your Avatar to shave their head in New Mystery. His recruitment quote ("I can't fight, but I can heal others with my staff") is one of the first things to have reached memetic status among the Japanese fandom, highlighted with how he repeats it word-for-word in New Mystery and Heroes. While his popularity was initially exclusive to Japan, his appearance in Heroes granted him Memetic Badass status in the West, and as a result more fans.
    • Xane is very well liked, for his cheerful trickster personality, Hidden Depths, relationship with Tiki, and the general gameplay usefulness of his shapeshifting — having two of your best unit never hurts. He's also one of a mere three playable male Manaketes. There are many who lament that Xane made no appearance in Awakening, especially given that there's no reason he couldn't have.
    • Catria of the Whitewings. She might look like just another recruit, but the one little tidbit that she has an unrequited crush on Marth shot her to unexpected popularity that she appears in a lot of extra arts, appearing in most games within the Archanea continent, and quite possibly inspired the characterization of Cordelia, who became popular on her own, in Awakening. It also helps that she tends to have good performance, rivaling her sister Palla (see below), and she's pretty attractive on her own.
    • Palla also has a sizable fanbase for being the most level-headed and mature of the three Whitewings. She's also a powerful unit in all of her appearances and is often lauded for her performance. Just like Catria, many really like her attractive look and took note of her unrequited love angle (with Abel instead of Marth).
    • Linde is definitely one of the more memorable characters in the game even if she is inconsequential to the plot overall except for carrying the Aura tome and being able to use it with less requirement than others (and having actual beef against Gharnef for killing her father). Put in another unrequited love (with Merric) and an overall attractive look and she shot to popularity. She set a precedent for plucky female mages who may or may not have a tragedy angle such as Tailtiu, Lilina and Nino, who all became popular on their own.
    • Athena is by far the most popular Shadow Dragon original character, likely having to do with her hilarious conversations, odd yet attractive looks, and for being a powerhouse on par with Ogma and Navarre.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Palla/Abel is significantly more popular than the Official Couple of Abel/Est. Est's status as a Tier-Induced Scrappy, and the Downer Ending the couple get are given as reasons why Palla/Abel is preferred. There's also a rather small camp that prefers having Palla go with Abel's buddy Cain instead (or instead, Catria does that, seeing that she somehow has a support bonus with Cain despite not interacting with each other and her crush was on Marth instead).
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A number of fans (old and new alike) openly prefer the European English and OVA spellings and pronunciations over the American English ones in Shadow Dragon - particularly for countries: Akaneia over Archanea, Doluna over Dolhr, etc.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Taking a quick look at Game-Breaker and questionable mechanics in the first game should be enough to see the amount of issues that would be prevalent over the course of the series such as the advantage of superior mobility from the Paladin class, the side effect of having a Flier with superior stats spreads, the strength of mobility from the Warp Staff, and last but not least the extreme advantage of having really high base stats compared to a growth oriented unit, which surprisingly comes from Wendell instead of Jagen, whose archetype ended up being the poster boy for three games in a row later on in the series.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • The original, and perhaps one of the most overpowered Lord in Fire Emblem series, is none other than the very first appearance of Marth. Marth has stats that, while they may seem unimpressive at first, happen to be enough to singlehandedly trivialize the early chapters and enough to last him throughout the entire game with little to no support. Marth has dominance over several broken resources, including the game's ridiculous version of stats boosters. However, on top of this, Marth has an exclusive access to three exclusive weapons: The Rapier, which is buyable for most of the game for 900 gold apiece, and is effective against Knights and Cavaliers, which make up 80% of the enemies in the game; Mercurius, which is acquired mid game and is one of the strongest weapons in the game (and boosts his growth rates to boot); and the Falchion, which allows Marth to ignore direct attacks and allows him to defeat Medeus. The only time Marth can have any sort of difficulty is during the small part of the early game where he is stuck with his decent, but not impressive, stats against axe-wielding bosses, and against Camus.
    • The so-called Christmas Cavaliers (Cain and Abel duo). Both units join in the first chapter, have both of the best weapon classes available, have great bases, and arguably some of the very best growths in the game. It's no wonder they have always been top tier in Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light's remakes. Mystery of the Emblem instead gave us Luke, Roderick and Cecile, who have roughly equal bases to what Cain and Abel had... but with even better growths, having some of the best growths in the series. The Paladin class has always been on the edge of gamebreaking in FE, and these guys are part of the reason.
    • Alongside Cain and Abel, Hardin in the original is a Jagen-type character thanks to his ability to wield the Silver Lance with an actual growth rate and the fact that he joins during chapter 6. In both the original and Book 1 of Mystery, Hardin is usually considered the best Cavalier in the game.
    • Wendell in the original is outright the best magic user in the game, having the best base stats and competent growths he has all that's needed to carry the party through a majority of the game. Add in that he can already use both magic and staves without needing to promote and you have one of the most solid units in the entire game. Even in later appearances he can still be of great use thanks to resources such as star shards and reclassing.
    • Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light in general, being a relatively outdated game, has tons of this. One of the more notable examples was the ridiculous stat-increasing items, which give boosts of around +4 or +5 compared to the +2 of later games, while the stat cap in this game is 20. Safe to say, most of them are nerfed considerably in the more modern games, and for good reason. And there are places later in the game where you can buy them - for a pretty penny, sure, but that's what Arenas are for. With a bit of grinding, you can have an entire team with maxed-out stats by the endgame.
    • Caeda in the remake. Caeda has exclusive access to the Wing Spear, a stronger version of the Rapier (8 MT, which translates into 9 extra damage compared to the Rapier) which does not face Weapon Triangle disadvantage). This weapon allows Caeda to curb stomp any horse-riding and armored units, both of which are all over the place in Shadow Dragon. To top it off, Caeda has an extremely overkill speed growth, and the forge mechanic allows her to mitigate her low STR, especially notable with forged effective weaponry, which gets +3 Damage for every MT forged on it, such as the aforementioned Wing Spear, and her flying traits gives her absurd versatility in term of applying her offense. Promotion into Dracoknight also makes up for her weak points (low STR, HP, and DEF). It says something when Caeda barely gets buffed in the transition to New Mystery, her Wing Spear gets significantly nerfed because New Mystery is not as much of a Cavalier + Knight Swarm as Shadow Dragon, and she is still up there with Palla and Catria (both of whom enjoyed a massive amount of buffs) for the best character in the game after My Unit.
    • The Warp Staff in Shadow Dragon. It allows you to teleport one of your units anywhere on the map, even right next to the boss. Oh, and it has seven uses (unlike previous games where it usually had three), you get it really early and, you can find more. By abusing it, you can complete most chapters in the game in two turns or less. It's nerfed in New Mystery simply by virtue of coming much later, and isn't even available on Lunatic (the highest difficulty level).
    • Wolf and Sedgar in Shadow Dragon, thanks to their newfound massive growths to make up for their low base stats. It helps that unlike the likes of Est, they join early on. The reclassing system works wonders for them; players tend to reclass them into Generals, giving them overkill HP and Defense stats. Generals in the DS games can use bows, so they don't need to worry about wasted weapon ranks should they decide to switch back to Horsemen.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In Japan, this game was given a very creative commercial that used opera music. Come the remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, a track added gives off the same vibe.
  • Ho Yay: Rickard has a pretty blatant crush on Julian; he even ends his dialogue with hearts when talking to him.
  • Iron Woobie: Marth, especially in Shadow Dragon. His father is betrayed and murdered, his sister sacrifices herself to save him, his mother is murdered, his people get abused by Dolhr, and he just takes his punches and keeps marching forward.
  • Memetic Mutation: In Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Marth's not wearing pants!
    • Pantsless Marth in general is a Memetic Badass owing to his smug look, lack of pants, and his capability as a Game-Breaker.
    • "You can't win against Gharnef": A line said by a smug-looking villager in one of the maps.
    • The first game's character portraits get a lot of this for being So Bad, It's Good, particularly the hilariously smug Abel and Cain.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Although it's difficult to pinpoint exactly when he crosses it, but it's generally agreed that Gharnef crosses it after he murders Linde's father in the game's backstory all because he was not chosen for the Aura tome.
  • Narm: This piece of artwork for Shadow Dragon would be all well and good... except everyone's expression (especially Ogma's) is really Off-Model, undermining any attempt to seriously appreciate it. Thanks for that, Shirow Masamune.
  • Narm Charm: The original Japanese commercial. An opera that is about how to play the game and takes itself seriously, but is still cool in its own way.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • While originally seen as benchwarmer prepromotes, Wolf and Sedgar's massive stat growths in Shadow Dragon have made the duo really popular.
    • Jagen has technically been saved from the Scrappy heap a long time ago, since most fans of the series who know their stuff are aware that he's actually pretty great for the beginning, much like several later characters of his archetype.
    • Due to the limitations of his first game, Marth was often considered a bland and ignorant character with little characterization. With the remake of Shadow Dragon, Marth got a chance to show more of his internal conflict, political skill, and somewhat awkward charm in conversation.
  • The Scrappy: Matthis suffers from this, as well as being a low Tier-Induced Scrappy, mostly because of his poor growths in both the original games and in the remakes. He also gets the bad reputation for the uncanny ability to kill his own sister, Lena, who's required to talk to him to recruit him, and has a reputation as a coward.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • In the original game, staff users are unable to gain experience by using staves. They have to survive an attack, which is not conducive to their typically frail stats. This is rectified in the remake.
    • Weapon Level was kind of terribly thought-out; you either got a good run of luck with it and then found it pointlessly levelling up for the rest of the game (only a handful of weapons require a Weapon Level above 10), or you had a bad run with it and had your characters using steel axes at the endgame (many characters had growth rates of 30% or less). It was ditched fairly quickly for weapon ranks, and the remakes followed suit.
    • In Shadow Dragon, you have to kill off people to unlock the Gaiden chapters. This isn't seen as a good mechanic since it completely goes against a pretty universal player instinct to keep everyone alive if possible. Made worse by the fact that the game has a large playable cast and gives you characters left and right, yet most of these chapters require 15 or less people alive (including generic replacements) before reaching them.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Most of the criticisms towards Shadow Dragon can be attributed to this, being that it left the 18-year-old core original game alone and made only a few tweaks beyond the obvious presentation facelift.
    • The original games themselves really suffer from this. The Famicom's Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light started a genre, true, but as a result of being the first (and the game being on the NES) the interface practically qualifies as a war crime, animations are molasses-slow, especially on the map (and are unskippable), the plot barely exists, the graphics are ugly even for an NES game, and once a few certain characters promote difficulty goes out the window. Mystery of the Emblem on the SNES is somewhat better (see below), but it still lacks attack ranges on the map, the animations are still slow (armored Knights, Jesus) and while the plot is better, it still lacks some of the elements (like supports) that most modern fans would think of as defining Fire Emblem.
  • So Okay, It's Average: This seems to be the general consensus on the first game's remake, Shadow Dragon. Even discounting the lack of updated content and having to let characters die to open up sidequests, the game's generally competent, but unremarkable, across the board. This is not helped by having a generic story and no support conversations to give the characters life. The generic story can be excused since it had to follow relatively closely to the original to fit with the sequels, but the sequels never made to North America anyways so it just ends up being disappointing.
  • That One Boss: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for the most part is a really easy game. That being said, there are two exceptions to this.
    • Hyman, the boss of Chapter 3 has absurdly high stats for his placement in the game. He has absurd levels of strength and HP alongside having a 1-2 range Hand Axe, which makes going toe-to-toe with him a gambit no matter who you use. However he's only really a spike on average difficulties, if you're playing higher difficulties, then he's outright one of the hardest bosses in the game, as his stats suddenly become ludicrously high and can potentially one-shot most of your party. Not helping either scenario is that he comes incredibly early on, so reclassing is not yet available and otherwise Game-Breaker units like Marth or Cain and Abel have yet to fully flourish.
    • Camus is a good example of this trope in the first game. Camus has solid stats and wields the lance Gradivus, which gives him high attack power and 1-2 range. Camus is arguably the only boss that can't be trivialized by the Game-Breaker Marth.
  • That One Level: The remake's version of Chapter 13, "The Wooden Cavalry". Unlike in the Famicom original, Ballisticians have long range, preventing your units from closing in through without taking damage. If your good units are mostly made of fliers and fragile healers, tough luck.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Elice is supposed to be one of the driving forces for Marth to defeat Medeus, but she's rarely talked about and has very little time to be used. If she were talked about more or rescued earlier, perhaps she could have been a far more memorable character. This sadly did not change in the sequel.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Only six classes could promote in the original game, automatically writing off most units who could not. Mystery of the Emblem slightly improves this by connecting four existing classes into lines, and the DS remakes feature lines introduced later, even going so far as changing certain Mercenaries into Myrmidons! The DS remakes improved things by giving non-promotable classes an actual promotion or higher caps to make up for it, such as giving Marth a level cap of 30 to work with.
    • Jagen is probably the most affected by this. In the game's universe, he's considered a Cool Old Guy, veteran knight, and tactician. In real life, he started an archetype of EXP THIEVES! Then came the Metagame shift, and people cared more about availability than growths, causing all Crutch Characters including Jagen to become more popular.
    • In the DS remake, Wrys is surpassed by Lena in both growths and base stats, so he is not considered very useful despite appearing in the very first chapter.
    • Unlike the rest of the members of the Wolfguard, Vyland's never been good in any version of the game.
    • In the remakes, Bantu starts out with pathetic stats and has possibly the worst growths in the game. He also lacks the traits and comparatively good bases of his NES/SNES counterparts who were usable despite low growths.
    • Rickard is usually considered inferior to Julian in terms of growths.
    • All of Nyna's retainers get this treatment to some extent.
      • Tomas is pretty underleveled at the point he joined and has a terrible health pool. Trying to level grind him in the arena can be frustrating in the extreme and not really worth it if you keep him an archer. He is often compared to a properly-trained Gordin and an excellent prepromote Jeorge, both who came earlier.
      • Midia and Boah are prepromotes who are outclassed if you didn't lose the better units early on. Boah in particular is hated for having the worst growths in the game and being the weakest of the potential mages. Though like Jagen he has some use as a Crutch Character owing to his good staff ranks.
      • The Knights Dolph and Macellan are both outclassed by the previous Knights you got. At least Roger gets an insane luck growth later on. Macellan in Shadow Dragon is especially bad, stemming from later availability than Draug and worse growths with none higher than 35% other than HP.
  • Uncanny Valley: The dialogue portraits for the DS remakes, which have an unsettling median between anime-inspired and realistic. Poor reception to the style likely brought the succeeding 3DS games back to an anime-inspired style like the GBA and Tellius games.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Michalis. It's understandable that Maria would want to save him, being his little sister and a healer, it's harder to agree with Gotoh's assessment of him as a Tragic Villain. Michalis killed his dad to take the throne and used Maria as a hostage with orders that she be killed if Minerva pulled a Heel–Face Turn, allying Macedon with The Empire because his besieged allies couldn't send reinforcements and he let Gharnef convince him he could make Macedon more powerful than them. Given these crimes, he's probably not the character that you'd be looking to get a redemption arc in Mystery.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Marth was a pretty common subject of this among western Super Smash Bros. fans, as his design in those games seems to lend itself to making that mistake. In everything other than Super Smash Bros., though, it's hard to make such a mistake.
    • Rickard due to his long hair, big eyes, and apparent crush on Julian.
    • Many have mistaken Xane for a girl.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • Jagen and the Jagen Archetype. They used to be hated by the fanbase, and then the metagame shift happened and Jagen has a much better position. Ironically, some the players even discovered that Oifey actually is worse than the original Jagen (if only because if you're experienced with breeding the second generation, the children vastly outclass Oifey to the point of him being pointless).
    • When Shadow Dragon came out, Caeda was considered a high-tier mage, but nowhere near the top of the tier list, which is populated by Wolf and Sedgar. And then people discovered how to really use Caeda, mainly due to her exclusive access to the Wing Spear. Nowadays, Caeda is considered the best character in the game alongside Lena.
    • Shadow Dragon (the DS remake) also has gotten more sympathy since its release. It was criticized for being a straight remake with better graphics than the NES game, which would be good if the latter had aged better. Since it was a fairly quiet release, it wasn't exposed as much to the demographic that would appreciate the faithfulness to the original game. However, many people who learned about the remake or looked back on it think that it was a good game for what it was, and many people were happy to see it re-released on Wii U Virtual Console.
    • Marth is usually viewed as a mediocre unit owing largely to his disappointing performance in Shadow Dragon. And then people started playing Shadow Dragon and the Sword of Light and realized how overpowered he used to be and his performance in Mystery of the Emblem is no slouch either. Nowadays, it is joked that Marth's pants serves as a power limiter.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Badass?:
    • Nyna gets this from some fans. Considering how tough her life has been, it isn't surprising she suffers from emotional damage! Considering her shattered spirit, is it really surprising she handed her kingdom to Marth, after all the mess she was a part of?! Some fans also tend to blame only her for all that happened in book 2, forgetting over Boah and Hardin's in it (in-universe, all three characters blame themselves).
    • Caeda is sometimes called a slut for daring to use her good looks and charm to recruit guys into the group. Many of the people who never played Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Mystery of the Emblem and their remakes, or only watched the anime, also excuse her of being a Faux Action Girl. This is despite Caeda never getting kidnapped, and being a Lady of War In-Universe as well.
  • The Woobie: Oh boy. Nyna's life is just pretty much a litany of suck. First her kingdom gets attacked and she's on the run. Then in process of restoring her kingdom, she ended up having to witness her lover Camus dying to fight for his country. She never got over it and because of this, accidentally set Hardin, who loved her genuinely, into a path of evil and ruined her country even further, and she gets kidnapped, Brainwashed and Crazy and nearly sacrificed for Medeus. But wait! Camus somehow returned to her to snap her out of the trance! Even if he's now the masked knight Sirius! Unfortunately, by that time, he already found his Second Love, Tatiana, and was committed to her already, not re-pursuing the relations with Nyna, so after saving her, he leaves her again. It's no wonder that after all these, Nyna just handed Archanea over to Marth then vanished. There's just so much the poor lady can take.

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