Most of the time, I get games as a gift, be it a birthday gift, Christmas gift, or a gift for a job well done. But every once in a while, I’ll just pick up a game because I just so happen to have the funds. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, was one of those “just because” purchases, mainly because I have always wanted to learn about where Marth came from thanks to his appearances in Super Smash Bros., and in that, I was not disappointed.
The detail in the cutscenes is what struck me the most graphic wise, but otherwise, which you’re on the battlefield, the characters look like little blobs until your cursor highlights them. You then get a detailed picture of that character and their stats. If this was a big console remake, I would’ve liked more detail, but given this is on the DS, it is very nice looking, tiny blobs on the field aside. You can at least tell the basic classes and Marth apart via subtle details. (for example, clerics wear white robes and carry staves)
Given this is a remake of the first Fire Emblem which (until the release of Shadow Dragon) has not come stateside, the story is for the most part, very simple: Marth’s homeland is overrun by invaders, and he is forced to flee–while on the run, he amasses a band of followers and with the aid of the sword Falchion, takes back the kingdom that is rightfully his. However, Shadow Dragon has a few new chapters that attempt to set up and flesh out the story to give it depth, some of which are only unlocked if you have a certain number of units alive on the field. Cliche aside, the story is still well done, and I am glad that an attempt was at least made to flesh an NES era story out, but if you’re in the mood for a pure and simple heroic romp, this will be right up your alley.
Good games often come with good music, and Fire Emblem is no exception–there’s a musical theme for every major moment that usually fits well, but after a while of listening, they may all start to sound the same. But what makes it worth it is the music during the story scenes–it isn’t often that the music makes me want to keep playing.
Fire Emblem is a series notorious for its difficulty, and this can be a welcome challenge and the bane of your existence if you’re not prepared. Unlike others in its genre, you cannot revive fallen units, one they die, they’re gone. If Marth is the one to bite the dust, then it’s the dreaded Game Over screen for you. As a result, you have to play it cautious and plan ahead, as one wrong move can prove to be a needed unit’s demise. If you don’t mind having to reset chapters and ask for help (which you will likely do many many times), you’ll be fine, and the game’s first few chapters will ease you into the gameplay, but you need to come prepared with an iron will and patience if you want to survive.
Graphics and a flat story bring it down a few points, but the music and high challenge factor more than make up for it–if you’re a strategy fan looking for something challenging, this is for you.