The First Fire Emblem
Posted September 15, 2007on:
this article was written by Aveyn Knight
The game in question isn’t the Fire Emblem game that stars Eliwood, Lyn and Hector, which is actually the seventh game in the series and known as Rekka no Ken (literally “Blazing Sword”) in Japan.
In fact, I am referring to Fire Emblem: Ankokuryuu to Hikari no Tsurugi (literally “Dark Dragon and Sword of Light”), which was released in 20 April 1990, in Japan, for the Famicom (the Japanese NES). The game was the first (if not, at least one of the first) Strategy RPG, worldwide, inspiring many other games of the same genre. The game, however, wasn’t released outside of Japan, so many Western fans did not know about its existence.
(Marth finishes off a boss)
The game is set in the continent of Akaneia, home to several nations. Hundreds of years ago Akaneia was terrorised by the Dark Dragon, Mediuth. A youth from Aritia, Anri, slayed Mediuth and brought peace to the lands. However, hundreds of years later, Mediuth mysteriously returns and Akaneia is attacked by Mediuth’s new Durhua Empire. Marth, the hero of the game (and who some fans may recognise as one of the fighters from Super Smash Bros. Melee) loses his homeland of Aritia to the Empire. Years later, Marth decides it’s time to fight back and rallies an army to defeat Mediuth.
[Note: Some of the names that were used were taken from Fire Emblem games and sources, as opposed to from Super Smash Bros. Melee. For example Akaneia instead of Akanea, Aritia instead of Altea, Durhua instead of Dolua, Mediuth instead of Medeus.]
(Kain, the first “Red Knight”)
Many fans were won over by the game’s marriage of Strategy and RPG elements, providing a deep story and immersive tactical gameplay from both genres. The cast of characters was last and filled with unique and memorable characters, although their personalities and involvement in the story were very basic. However, the characters would be more fleshed out in later installments of the series.
Naturally, the graphics are now relatively basic and the general gameplay is slower and less stream-lined. However most of the gameplay features in this game should be familiar to long-time or recent fans, although many features aren’t quite as polished. For example, you could still move units to attack, heal, talk to recruit characters and etc. Buildings such as Armouries, Vendors and Arenas were also present. Later on, you can also choose a roster of units to participate in chapters.
Despite the familiarity, there are some notable differences.
The weapon system was distinctively different, although the type of usable weapons should be familiar (eg. Iron Sword, Silver Sword, Killing Edge). Weapons were not grouped by Rank (eg. E to A), but by a number called Weapon Level. Each character had a single Weapon Level stat, which determined what level of weapons they could use. The Weapon Triangle also did not exist at this point.
Most of the classes in this game should be familiar as well, including staple classes such as Cavaliers, Mages and Pegasus Knights. However, not all the classes could promote (or class-change). Lords, Fighters, Armour Knights and Hunters were not able to promote initially, despite the latter two having obvious promotion classes. Pegasus Knights also promoted to Wyvern Riders (called Dragon Knight in the Japanese games), and it wasn’t until later that the two classes had their seperate class branches.
(Sheeda about to recruit Nabarl)
The next difference is probably the largest thing that I’m glad was removed. That is, healers (such as Priests) could not gain experience from using their staves. Instead, the only way for healers to gain experience and level up was to get attacked by enemies. Actually, it wasn’t extremely difficult to level them up, since they got around 25 experience each time. However it can be a headache for players that like to keep their healers away from danger.
Overall the game is a quality Strategy RPG and one that was well ahead of its time. These days it does seem rather outdated, but it can still be a fun game to play. However, the existence of the far superior remake (Book 1 of Mystery of the Emblem) does make the game slightly redundant to play. For those still keen, this is still the original Fire Emblem and does have some extra features over the remake, such as slightly more chapters and characters.
For more detailed information about the characters, classes, items (and etc.) of the game please check out this link.
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