It took a long time, but the Fire Emblem series found an audience outside of Japan. No one was more surprised by this than Toshiyuki Kusakihara, who has worked on many of the modern Fire Emblem games and has expressed surprise concerning the series' international success.
The first game in the Fire Emblem series was released for the Famicom in 1990, where it became one of the earliest entries in the tactical RPG genre. The Fire Emblem franchise is a first-party Nintendo series, but it was birthed in an era when there was a belief that western fans didn't enjoy JRPGs, so the series remained in Japan for years. The Fire Emblem series would eventually find success outside of Japan, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses has just been released for the Nintendo Switch to massive critical acclaim.
The success of Fire Emblem outside of Japan is a mystery to Toshiyuki Kusakihara, who worked as a director on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, as well as working on Fire Emblem: Awakening, Fire Emblem: Fates, and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Kusakihara was asked about why he thought the Fire Emblem series had become so successful outside of Japan during an interview with GameSpot and his response was: "I don't know." He continued by saying, "I actually don't know why it's been so accepted by so many people all over the world."
The success of Fire Emblem outside of Japan is usually attributed to two different games - Super Smash Bros. Melee and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Super Smash Bros. Melee featured two characters from the Fire Emblem series - Prince Marth from the original Fire Emblem and Roy from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, neither of which had been localized at the time. The popularity of both characters (especially Marth, who was considered to be one of the best characters in the game) led to a surge of interest in the series, which resulted in some of the Fire Emblem games on the Game Boy Advance being localized.
Fire Emblem: Awakening was released at a point when the sales for series had been in decline for a long time and the developers had been told that the series would end if the game didn't meet its sales target. Fire Emblem: Awakening improved upon the formula of the series without losing its identity, and it would go on to be a huge success worldwide.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses seems as if it will continue the trend of positive international reception to the series based on its reviews. However, that may change once one of its characters is announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is available now for the Nintendo Switch.