Greatest Of 2020: Remembering The Shadow Dragon – A Historical past Of Hearth Emblem’s Unique Journey

DS Artwork

Over the vacation season we’ll be republishing a collection of Nintendo Life articles, interviews and different options from the earlier twelve months that we take into account to be our Better of 2020. Hopefully, this offers you an opportunity to compensate for items you missed, or just get pleasure from wanting again on a 12 months which did have some highlights — sincere!

This characteristic was initially printed in October 2020.

You’ve probably seen the information that Hearth Emblem: Shadow Dragon And The Blade Of Gentle is lastly being localised within the west. Initially a Japan-only title, this NES sport kicked off Nintendo’s prolific JRPG collection and to rejoice Hearth Emblem’s 30th Anniversary, it’s being re-released on December 4th with a brand new translation. Becoming a member of Three Homes on Change alongside spin-off entries Warriors and Tokyo Mirage Periods #FE Encore, this announcement induced fairly a stir on social media, seeing criticism over the restricted launch plan and (unintentionally) renewing curiosity in a Mom 3 localisation.

First launched in 1990, Hearth Emblem was initially conceived by designer Shouzou Kaga, coming in as a joint improvement effort between Clever Methods and Nintendo Analysis & Growth 1. Having completed improvement on Famicom Wars, Clever Methods wished to maneuver away from that navy setting, getting down to create an RPG with robust narrative focus, making you care in regards to the characters. Utilising turn-based gameplay on a grid-based map, Shadow Dragon was quickly born, and every character was distinctive, coming with completely different unit courses, particular person stats and most notably, might die completely.

This story took us to the Archanea continent, targeted on the Kingdom of Altea and honest warning, some minor story spoilers will comply with right here. Shaped 100 years beforehand when King Anri fended off the Dolhr Empire, Anri killed Shadow Dragon Medeus with the sacred blade, Falchion, ending Dolhr’s assault. Discovering Medeus resurrected by evil wizard Gharnef, Dolhr launches a brand new invasion at his behest, killing Altea’s present king, Cornelius, and inflicting Prince Marth to make his escape. Taking refuge within the island nation of Talys, Marth units out to reclaim his homeland with a military of knights a number of years later, allying with different royals like Prince Hardin and Princess of the Divine Dragon tribe, Tiki. After many battles, Marth lastly succeeds, defeating each Gharnef and Medeus.

Fire Emblem Famicom

Although it wasn’t the primary tactical RPG sport, it went a great distance in direction of popularizing this style, seeing a lukewarm essential response initially however gaining important traction amongst followers. Realising it was onto a profitable formulation, Clever Methods started engaged on a brand new NES entry, and two years later, Hearth Emblem Gaiden launched. Although it options some hyperlinks to Shadow Dragon like returning characters Est, Palla and Catria, this was in the end a separate affair and happened on a neighbouring continent, Valentia. It’s a narrative higher recognized lately for its excellent 3DS remake, Hearth Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.

Marth’s adventures weren’t finished but, although, and are available 1994, Hearth Emblem made its SNES debut with Thriller Of The Emblem. Offered as a narrative of two elements, Thriller remade Shadow Dragon as “Guide 1”, while incorporating a brand-new story into “Guide 2”. Set two years after Medeus’ defeat, Guide 2 exhibits us that Prince Hardin has develop into King of Archanea, however has begun a hostile navy occupation of close by nations. When Marth turns into suspicious of this, Hardin manufacturers him a traitor however we quickly uncover Hardin is now beneath Gharnef’s affect, attempting to revive Medeus but once more. Overcoming this harmful risk as soon as extra, Marth prevails and is topped King of Archanea.

Although Marth’s predominant journey ended right here and subsequent video games moved to completely different continents, Shadow Dragon stays influential to today. It left a legacy that future entries would pay frequent homage to. Regardless of Hearth Emblem present process important gameplay evolutions, it by no means actually forgot these Archanean roots and are available 2001, Marth was represented in Tremendous Smash Bros Melee alongside Roy. The choice was historic, convincing Nintendo to localise Hearth Emblem for Western audiences, but it surely’s since led to countless complaints about too many sword customers.

Most importantly although, this legacy was celebrated on Nintendo DS and again in 2008, Shadow Dragon obtained a full remake, marking the primary time it ever launched within the West. Thriller Of The Emblem was additionally remade, although this was curiously by no means localised. It proved to be a devoted adaptation, one we thought fairly extremely of ourselves. Receiving a full visible overhaul, native multiplayer, expanded issue decisions, rebalanced weapons system and extra, it begs the query: why Nintendo didn’t use this model for the Change? By comparability, it makes the NES model virtually redundant to all however hardcore followers, although this could additionally require transforming the dual-screen parts to suit the Change.


Remakes are one matter however amongst the principle entries, gross sales had begun declining and after Nintendo launched the 3DS, Clever Methods ready for what might’ve been Hearth Emblem’s final hurrah. Incorporating parts of earlier video games however making it extra accessible to newcomers, Hearth Emblem: Awakening lastly introduced again to Archanea, although lately it goes by the title Ylisse. Set two millennia after Shadow Dragon, our protagonist Chrom is Marth’s distant descendant, working a military referred to as the “Shepherds” who fight undead monsters known as “The Risen”, individually coping with hostilities from neighbouring nation Plegia.

It turned out fantastically and although some parts proved divisive amongst established followers, similar to together with an choice to take away permadeath, gross sales had been robust. Hearth Emblem was saved and subsequent entries quickly adopted. Past Awakening, Shadow Dragon’s affect remained prevalent and spin-offs apart, Hearth Emblem continued visiting this setting. Although set on a special continent, Fates included a number of Awakening characters, briefly taking us again to Ylisse inside the Earlier than Awakening DLC too. In the same method, Shadows of Valentia additionally took us to Archanea, together with a model new sixth chapter which detailed the origins of Awakening’s predominant villain, The Fell Dragon.

Hearth Emblem: Shadow Dragon And The Blade Of Gentle has been a very long time coming for Western followers, and although it’s been over 30 years since launch, it’s actually higher late than by no means. Proving a vital inspiration for tactical RPGs, there’s little doubt in regards to the legacy Shadow Dragon left behind. Although the choice to make this a restricted launch has raised eyebrows, and selecting to port the NES version over its DS remake is questionable, we’re about to see a big piece of gaming historical past land on Change subsequent month and we merely can’t wait to present it a attempt.

Do you may have any fond reminiscences of Hearth Emblem? What was the primary entry you performed? Tell us within the feedback!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *