The first five games of Fire Emblem never premiered outside of Japan. However, these games became notorious when their titular characters, Marth and Roy, became playable characters in 2001’s Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Then, the popularity of 2002’s Blazing Blade and other turn-based RPG games convinced Nintendo of a Western release. The trend continued, with Fire Emblem characters crossing over to Super Smash and other Nintendo titles.
So, Fire Emblem reached international audiences after 2002. Still, its commercial performance has been average, at best. The franchise has faced near cancellation various times. Even so, some individual entries have received fan and critical praise.
The Fire Emblem Series
The series takes the credit for being the first tactical role-playing series in history. By tactical, it means players require some strategy to beat the enemies. This is on top of character progression systems and choice mechanics.
The gameplay is similar across all its games, although each entry adds a new element to the formula. In essence, the series revolves around a party on a grid-based map. You can move your units during your turn, but one at a time and a single time per turn. Then, if the enemy is in range, you can attack. Additionally, you can use items, offensive skills, and utility / defensive skills.
The turn ends when you move all of your units. Then, it’s the enemy’s turn, where the AI moves their pawns to attack you.
Another notable aspect is permadeath. You can’t replace your party members if they die in combat. However, newer titles add a Classic Mode and a Casual Mode; the latter revives fallen warriors for upcoming battles.
The series is about the “Fire Emblem“. This is a recurrent royal weapon or shield representing the war and power of dragons. So far, we’ve seen 13 main games, 3 spin-offs, and 3 remakes. The grand total is 19 Fire Emblem games.
Every Fire Emblem Game in Order by Release Date
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light – 1990
The first game in the series debuted only in Japan. It was a 1990 title for the Nintendo Famicom. It’s currently available for Nintendo Switch.
The title introduces the fictional Archanea continent. Marth, prince of the Altea Kingdom, travels to defeat sorcerer Gharnef and reclaim his throne. Its gameplay delivers turn-based battles and grid-based maps. On the way forward, though, there’s a permadeath feature.
Fire Emblem Gaiden – 1992
The sequel debuted in 1992 for the Famicom, only in Japan.
Gaiden added an overworld to explore but continues with the same turn-based strategies. The story revolves around two opposing armies in Valentia (another continent).
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem – 1994
The third entry debuted in 1994 for the Super Famicom, in Japan only.
The story comes in two parts. The first portion remakes the first game. The next part tells what happens after Gharnef’s defeat. Marth conflicts with his old friend Hardin due to the power vacuum.
Gameplay-wise, you control Marth and Marth’s army. Each soldier has different stats and abilities. Lastly, there’s a lengthy campaign with story-driven missions across the continent.
Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War – 1996
“Seisen no Keifu” is the next in the Japan-only Fire Emblem games. It debuted in 1996 for the Super Famicom.
The game takes place in a new continent, Jugdral. You play through a two-generation war between the rulñers for the land to revive an ancient dragon. The gameplay is similar to before but comes with new characters. The story comes in chapters, and each chapter has two character generations. Also, the game introduces weapon types, vendors, and traders who can repair weapons.
Lastly, the actions you take can make changes further down the road. It may change enemy behavior, castle troops, castle sieges, and similar.
BS Fire Emblem: Archanean War Chronicles – 1997 (spin-off)
Archanean War Chronicles debuted in 1997 for Super Famicom in Japan.
The setting is the same as the original game. The campaign came through four episodes, but there was no overarching plot. Instead, it’s a series of challenging battles using the same Fire Emblem features as before. Overall, it uses alternative scenarios from Mystery of the Emblem.
Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 – 1999
Thracia 776 debuted in 1999 for the Super Famicom (Japan release).
Its story returns to Jugdral, a generation after the previous title. The protagonist is Leif, and he rallies a private army to defeat the ruling Empire and restore the Thracian kingdom. Lastly, it adds new elements to the gameplay, like a fatigue system.
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade – 2002
The sixth entry debuted for Game Boy Advance in 2002. Its success made it the last Fire Emblem game with a Japan-only debut.
The Binding Blade introduces Elibe, yet another fictional continent. After an ancient war between dragons and humans, humanity rose to power. The story follows Roy, a young noble warrior leading an army against an evil ruler, King Zephiel.
The gameplay comes through various maps tied by story sequences. Completing each map advances the plot and opens a new difficulty level, but each map has a boss. Lastly, there’s a triangle / rock-paper-scissors mechanic between weapon types.
Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade – 2003
The Blazing Blade debuted worldwide for Game Boy Advance in 2003. It’s a prequel for The Binding Blade, with its story on Elibe.
Its story follows Lyn, Hector, and Eliwood, three young lords traveling together to find Eliwood’s missing father. Then, the gameplay adds character classes that affect abilities.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones – 2004
The Sacred Stones debuted in 2004 for Game Boy Advance in Japan. A year later, it premiered in Europe and North America as well.
It opens a new continuity in the series by introducing Magvel, another continent. There’s a war between the Grado Empire and the other four kingdoms for the power of the Sacred Stones.
The story follows Eirika and Ephraim, royal family members traveling to stop the war. The game added support conversations that grant buffs for battle as a novelty.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – 2005
Path of Radiance debuted in 2005 for the Nintendo GameCube.
The story introduces Tellius, another fictional continent. There’s a war between two rivaling nations for Crimea’s throne. You play as Ike, a mercenary traveling to restore Princess Elincia to Crimea’s palace.
The game adds three difficulty modes, but permadeath is present on every mode. There are also up to 46 characters, members of the rooster you select for each battle. Each warrior belongs to a class and uses certain weapons and skills.
Lastly, the “Weapon Triangle” mechanics come back. That means close-combat weapons do more or less damage against each type (lances, swords, and axes).
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn – 2007
Radiant Dawn debuted in 2007 for Nintendo Wii and 2008 for North America and Europe. The tenth entry in the series is a sequel to Path of Radiance.
The plot continues in the war-torn Daein nation. Micaiah and the Dawn Brigade are the main characters. They are rebelling against the Begnion Occupational army.
Its gameplay comes in four parts and changes perspectives across Tellius factions. Then, it has the same mechanics as the previous game.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – 2008 (remake)
Shadow Dragon debuted in 2009 for Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. It’s a remake of the first game.
The title expands the original events while adding newer elements. For example, it keeps class systems and the weapon triangle mechanics.
Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem – 2010 (remake)
The next entry debuted in 2010 for the Nintendo DS. It’s a remake of The Mystery of the Emblem, a Super Famicom Japanese-only release.
The story follows the same plot, but it adds a customizable avatar as the playable character alongside Marth. Also, it includes events from Satellaview’s BS Fire Emblem, so it has four additional episodes. Another new feature is the “Casual Mode.” It eliminates the permanent death mechanics for an easier playtime.
Fire Emblem Awakening – 2012
Awakening debuted for Nintendo 3DS in 2012 (Japan) and 2013 (internationally).
2,000 years after the original game, the prince of Ylisse, Chrom, leads an army to rescue Robin. Robin is the player avatar, a customizable character. Then, during the game, Chrom and Ylisse fight against the hostile army of Plegia.
New features include the ability to forge relationships between characters to improve their abilities, moving the camera during battle, and the Casual mode.
Fire Emblem Fates – 2015
Fates debuted in 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS. There’re three versions of the game, and each follows a different storyline with the same character. These versions are: Birthright, Conquest, Revelation.
The overarching plot follows Corrin, a customizable protagonist. He’s in the middle of a conflict between Hoshido, his birthplace kingdom, and Nohr, the kingdom that adopted him. He must choose a side until finding the true mastermind behind the war.
The gameplay retains previous novelties while adding objectives per battle. That means defeating enemies in particular ways could reward extra currency or gear. Conquest then included limited turn numbers and other high-difficulty mechanics. Lastly, Revelations adds elements from both versions.
Fire Emblem Heroes – 2017 (spin-off)
Heroes debuted for Android and iOS in 2017. It won several awards in the “Best Mobile Game” categories. It’s also the highest-grossing game in the series.
This is a turn-based mobile RPG game. Players control four heroes against enemy teams on 8x6 maps. Different characters have different skills, movement restrictions, and weapons. However, there’s a system to mix and match skills between your heroes (“Skill Inheritance”).
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – 2017 (remake)
Shadows of Valenta debuted for Nintendo 3DS in 2017. It’s a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden. The title follows Alm and Celica trying to end a war with opposing methods. It carries over new and old mechanics for gameplay while keeping Gaiden’s dungeon-crawling sections.
Fire Emblem Warriors – 2017 (spin-off)
“Warriors” is a Japanese-only hack&slash spin-off. It debuted for Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo 3DS in 2017.
The title combines gameplay from Fire Emblem and the warrior series for a crossover experience. Overall, it uses alternative scenarios from Mystery of the Emblem.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses – 2019
Three Houses debuted in 2019 for Nintendo Switch. It’s the last game of the main series.
The setting is the Fódlan continent. You play as former mercenary Byleth, leading students through multiple battles.
Three Houses keeps similar elements while adding extensive character interactions and time management features.
Every Fire Emblem Game in Chronological Order
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light – 1990
- Fire Emblem Gaiden – 1992
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem – 1994
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War – 1996
- BS Fire Emblem: Archanean War Chronicles – 1997 (spin-off)
- Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 – 1999
- Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade – 2002
- Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade – 2003
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones – 2004
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – 2005
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn – 2007
- Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – 2008 (remake)
- Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem – 2010 (remake)
- Fire Emblem Awakening – 2012
- Fire Emblem Fates – 2015
- Fire Emblem Heroes – 2017 (spin-off)
- Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – 2017 (remake)
- Fire Emblem Warriors – 2017 (spin-off)
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses – 2019