first appeared on the Gameboy Advance. It was the first in the series released outside of Japan. Back when this came out in 2003, I was already a fan Nintendo’s turn-based strategy games thanks to Advance Wars
. However, I was not ready for how unique Fire Emblem
was compared to its sister strategy game, nor was I ready for how freaking awesome
it would be.
What separates the two besides the obvious thematic differences is that Fire Emblem is much more of a role-playing game. Instead of managing an army of disposable units, each of the characters in your party has a name and story arc. You equip them with weapons and other gear. Best (or worst) of all, if they die in the game, they die forever. The strategic joy from Advance Wars is certainly here, though it’s only amplified by how high the stakes are when you’re managing a team of characters you care about that could die if you screw up.
Intelligent Systems and Nintendo have improved on the formula over time, though this first international release is still a masterpiece that is as fun to play now as it was in 2003. For die-hard fans of the series like me, owning this new version on the Wii U Virtual Console gives me a way to play the game again on a modern platform. If you haven’t played any in the series yet, this is a relatively affordable entry-point, since the game is under $10 on the eShop. If you’re ever going to give the series an honest try, this is a great place to start!
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