It wasn’t until 2001 when characters Marth and Roy appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee that the Fire Emblem brand gained some recognition with mainstream gaming fans. Yet, despite this, the series remained an obscure and niche series in western territories even amongst Japanese RPG fans.
This all changed, however, in 2014 with the release of Fire Emblem: Awakening taking the series to new heights with good sales figures, Game of the Year nominations/awards, and critical acclaim. That success has continued with the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses taking the number one spot in certain territories and outselling the likes of Wolfenstein: Youngblood.
Gamers are finally seeing what the Fire Emblem fans have been raving about for nearly 30 years. The series boasts incredible depth in its gameplay mechanics but the character development and stories play a huge part in that enjoyment too. Let’s take a look at the best stories in Fire Emblem games that have been released outside of Japan.
10 Fire Emblem: Warriors
Fire Emblem: Warriors is a spin-off title released in 2017 developed by Omega Force the team responsible for the hack and slash titles Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, and many more. Fire Emblem: Heroes Warriors combines the best of both worlds with the series strategy elements playing a major part alongside Warriors’ staple of wiping out hordes of enemies on the screen at once.
Unfortunately, if one has played a Warriors title you’ll know that they aren’t great storytellers especially in comparison to Intelligent Systems. In addition, Warriors borrows heavily from the Awakening, and Fates so a sense of deja-vu will be unavoidable for long time fans. It's a fun mash-up of two franchises just don't go in expecting to be blown away by the script.
9 Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon DS
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon was released in 2007 for the Nintendo DS and was a remake of the first two – Japanese-only - games in the series Shadow Dragon and Blade of Light. It’s a great starting point for the series from a gameplay perspective and it's as a pure a strategy role-playing game can be.
However, by today’s standards Shadow Dragon’s story which follows the iconic Prince Marth trying to retrieve the stolen Falchion in order to destroy the Shadow Dragon is a predictable and standard affair. With exception to the lead protagonists, the character development isn't fleshed out enough either. Don’t let this put one off of the game however, the remade Shadow Dragon on the Nintendo DS is a fantastic SRPG.
8 Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was released on the Gameboy Advance in 2005 was the second iteration to be released in the West despite being the eighth game in the series. It received critical acclaim from fans and critics alike for its solid tried and tested gameplay mechanics.
However, The Scared Stones biggest weakness is the underdeveloped plot that follows Princess Eirika on a mission to save her kingdom and eventually the world. It’s cliché but still enjoyable and features a branching path that allows you to play as either Eirika or her brother Prince Ephraim.
7 Fire Emblem GBA
Released as Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken in Japan Fire Emblem on the Gameboy Advance was the first game in the series to published in the West in 2003. In addition, it served as a prequel to Fire Emblem: Binding Blade a title that was never released outside of Japan.
In terms of its storytelling, this prequel entry is fairly standard as medieval Japanese RPGs go and weaker than other strategy offerings that year – Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Front Mission. However, in typical Fire Emblem form the character development, great writing, and perfect translation shine through.
6 Fire Emblem: Fates
Fire Emblem: Fates was an ambitious but expensive project which saw the story of Fates told across two full-priced games Birthright and Conquest, and the DLC Revelations. Despite the adventurous nature of Fates all three parts manage to be overly familiar in its execution from its beginnings with Birthright and its conclusion with the expansion Revelations. Additionally, splitting the tale across three titles meant that it didn't feel as focused or as driven as its predecessor Awakening.
It is still a lot of fun placing the player in the shoes of a protagonist fighting on the side of the enemy in Conquest. Resultantly, it's an interesting take on the rebels vs. evil empire narrative that's synonymous with the series. The true star of Fates is the gameplay, however, with all three games feeling different enough to justify the purchase.
5 Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia was released in 2017 and was a remake of Fire Emblem: Gaiden. The second entry, Gaiden was originally released on the Famicom in Japan but never saw a release in western territories.
What is surprising is how deep the story is with what is a remake of a 25-year-old title. It follows the Alm and Celica and both offer interesting and significant differences with Alm’s path taking the more traditional Fire Emblem route and Celica’s slightly more compelling journey shows her taking the fight to an evil god.
4 Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Released on the Nintendo Wii, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn was a direct sequel to the GameCube’s Path of Radiance and the conclusion to Ike’s story. Radiant Dawn picks up three years after the events of the first game and focuses on several different character narrative and provides the game with far more scope.
Sadly, the traditional character support conversations have been scaled back in favor of base conversations to expand the story. They’re still compelling though and you’ll be hooked on this tale of betrayal, prejudice, and revenge right from the opening cinematics.
3 Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem: Awakening was released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. It was the thirteenth entry in the series and was intended to be the last hurrah for the series as a whole. However, in a sense of irony thirteen definitely wasn’t unlucky in this case and was the game that finally brought the series into the mainstream solidifying its future as a franchise.
Taking place 2000 years after the events of the original Fire Emblem developers Intelligent Systems pulled out all the stops in terms of gameplay and even more so with the fantastic story. It’s a traditional Fire Emblem with warring nations but the well-written character dialogue, development, and interactions truly bring this entry to life.
2 Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses has only been out for a short time and it has already outsold previous entries in the series further solidifying its name amongst best of Nintendo’s exclusive titles. It’s the most accessible title to date and has a welcoming story that’s superbly written.
Three Houses manages to pull together elements from the best games in the series and creates a compelling narrative that’s unique with every playthrough. In addition, the game takes heavy inspiration from the unlocalized Genealogy of the Holy War a big fan favorite amongst Fire Emblem fans.
1 Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance
If there was ever a title in the Fire Emblem series that is begging for a remaster to reach new fans and a bigger audience it is Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance. Released on the Nintendo GameCube in 2005 it suffered a limited print and is quite rare nowadays and an expensive investment running at around $200-$300 for a used copy.
The game’s story follows Ike who unlike previous Fire Emblem protagonists is a likable but relatable common mercenary with no noble descent. There are themes of racism and discrimination that is handled in a surprisingly mature manner and offers up a far more subtle social commentary on the subject than most modern games. In addition, Path of Radiance offers up some of the most memorable villains in the series with standouts like the Mad King Ashnard and The Black Knight.