While not one of Nintendo’s most marketed franchises, Fire Emblem has come a long way. The series maintains a consistent fanbase with regular releases. These releases even include spin-offs like the upcoming Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. This game will expand in the Switch title, Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
It’s easy to forget that the series was once a Japanese exclusive on the brink of cancellation. The series narrowly escaped death to become one of Super Smash Bros.’ most common fixtures. This is due in part to the series’ unique strategy gameplay and the excellent critical reception of the games on sites like Metacritic.
10 Fire Emblem Warriors – 74
After the success of Hyrule Warriors, it made sense for Nintendo to pursue it with another one of their franchises like Fire Emblem. For those unfamiliar, Warriors or Musou games feature hundreds of enemies and a small number of protagonists. Part of the appeal for players is being able to cut through large swathes of armies.
The game began as a medieval combat simulator and returns to these roots for Fire Emblem Warriors. The base game mainly featured characters from Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates. Other characters, like Lyn, were available as DLC. The game did modestly well, but the follow-up, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, has a lot of people excited.
9 Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn – 78
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn was the only Fire Emblem game released for Wii. It was the sequel to Path of Radiance and continued the Tellius story arc. This is the second adventure starring Ike and featured a time skip, with its story told over four separate split-up chapters.
The game features all playable characters from the previous game in the Tellius arc, except one. Additionally, the support system was reworked to include all units and a new support level called Bond. The game received favorable reviews but isn’t as acclaimed as Path. Critics were disappointed that it didn’t use the Wii’s motion controls, but it’s still a hidden gem.
8 Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia – 81
Fire Emblem Echoes was made to be the last hurrah of the series on Nintendo 3DS. It was a remake of the second title, Fire Emblem Gaiden, which featured some unique mechanics, like dungeon crawling. This made it one of the more different titles in the series and the remake kept these aspects.
The game also has a unique premise with its duo protagonists, Alm and Celica. They both have different ways of play and methods of resolving conflict. According to Dengeki Nintendo interviews, it was meant to be the culmination of Fire Emblem on 3DS. Staff and cut concepts from Fates and Awakening made their way into the final product.
7 Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – 81
Fire Emblem is one of Nintendo’s longest-running franchises, but it doesn’t feel that way. This is because the series was never exported until the aughts, despite the first entry releasing in 1990. Original Fire Emblem hero, Marth, would appear in Super Smash Bros. and other side material. Players didn’t get a chance to experience his adventures until the DS remake Shadow Dragon.
The game was a graphic overhaul of the original with rebalanced gameplay. It also featured an online limited multiplayer versus functionality. The game’s plot was the same, featuring hero-king Marth’s quest to reunify his nation of Altea. The game was not overwhelmingly financially successful but did perform better critically than the original.
6 Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones – 85
The Sacred Stones is the final FE game released on Game Boy Advance and one of its best RPGs. It’s an anomaly among them, not sharing the same setting as the previous two games. Instead of Roy, Eliwood, or Lyn, players control Eirika and Ephraim. These two royal siblings are separated by an attack on their nation of Renais by the Grado Empire.
The game featured similar gameplay to the previous GBA titles. There is an additional option in the form of multiple paths for class upgrades. The game received praise for its multifaceted story and use of permadeath. The story could end at any point due to permadeath of certain characters.
5 Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance – 85
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was released on GameCube in 2005 as the third western release in the series. The success of the first GBA titles caused developer Intelligent Systems to put their all into this one. The game was the first console Fire Emblem in six years. It was also the series’ first go at 3D models and voice acting.
There were difficulties in adapting the series for the first time, as many reviewers criticized the graphics. The gameplay and story were however considered to be top-notch and introduced the hero, Ike, to the series. The game took place on the continent of Tellius and told an engaging story about the conflict between the human Beorc and the shapeshifting Laguz.
4 Fire Emblem Fates: Special Edition – 88
Fire Emblem Fates is a controversial entry in the franchise and it tells one of the most ambitious stories in the series. The protagonist, Corrin, must choose between their adoptive and real families. Unfortunately, the story was divided into three versions called Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation.
Fortunately, all three versions were included in the Special Edition. There were other controversies, such as features that were removed during localization. There were also stark differences in gameplay difficulty between versions, with some being too hard or easy. However, in the end, Fates went on to become one of the most profitable and enduring games in the franchise.
3 Fire Emblem – 88
Despite its title, Fire Emblem isn’t the first FE game, but rather its first localized game. It’s also known as The Blazing Blade and is the second Game Boy Advance game. It’s a prequel to the previous game, The Binding Blade. It stars the father of Roy, who sets out to find his own father while also vanquishing a conspiracy.
The game’s most popular character is likely Lyn. The game was the first in the series to have a player avatar, whom Lyn rescues early on. The game received positive reviews with a lot of comparisons to Nintendo’s other tactical RPG, Advance Wars, though a lot of players likely wondered where the characters from Smash Bros were.
2 Fire Emblem: Three Houses – 89
Fire Emblem: Three Houses was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. The game was partially developed by Koei-Tecmo alongside Intelligent Systems. The game aimed to be something different from the series’ previous efforts. As such, it did away with the weapons triangle from previous games.
Additionally, the game introduced a time management element similar to games like Persona 5. This was done to let the player slowly upgrade their units and to build up for a time skip element. The game takes place on the continent of Fodlan, home to three countries and the church. The player plays a mercenary turned teacher who must choose which faction to teach and fight alongside.
1 Fire Emblem Awakening – 92
In 2010, sales of the series were dwindling. The staff at Intelligent Systems were unsure if they would get another game after this, so they tried to use all the ideas they could. They introduced a new story, complex mechanics, and the controversial option to disable permadeath. These decisions ended up paying off, making Awakening the best-received game in the series.
The game brings back the avatar concept from The Blazing Blade in a more prominent role. The player plays as Robin, a customizable amnesiac hero found by Chrom, the prince of Ylisse, in a field. The game introduced plenty of memorable characters like Lucina and a time-travel element that allowed players to ship party members together to create children. The game was a worldwide smash hit and is often considered one of the best 3DS and role-playing games of all time.
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