Game Review

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Stuart Reddick

What this remake lacks in innovation it more than makes up for in polish

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Nintendo DS is the best current generation system to look to when it comes to role-playing games. With titles like Final Fantasy IV, Dragon Quest V, The World Ends With You and Children of Mana, this portable gaming wonder plays host to some of the biggest RPG franchises in the history of the genre.

Adding to the list of must-have RPGs on the system is Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, Nintendo’s attempt at revitalizing the classic NES game that kick-started the franchise. Instead of just taking the backbone of the original and bringing it to the Nintendo DS, Nintendo has gone out of its way to implement a ton of new features, most notably online play.

With that being said though, it isn’t difficult to see that the game is based off of a NES title that was first released almost two decades ago. On the bright side though, this is the first time it's been granted an international release. Back in 1990, the game was released only on the Famicom (the Japanese counterpart to the NES) and it wasn’t until almost a decade later that the series broke free from its reigns and escaped from its native Japan.

Like the other games in the series, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a turn-based strategy RPG in which players assign commands to individual units on a gird-based battlefield. After assigning commands, players just sit back and watch the enemy take their turn. This cycle repeats itself until Marth, the protagonist of the game, seizes a particular square. To do this, players just progress their army through hordes of enemies, engaging in battles along the way. Once they arrive at the square, they’ll have to take down a boss that once defeated allows players to seize the square and progress to the next level.

Due to it being more an enhanced remake, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon isn’t all that innovative and doesn’t hold up all that well compared to recently released installments in the franchise. With that being said though, it isn’t hard to see the distance the developers went to polish the game to perfection. Each battle is heavily tuned and balanced and is presented through a very slick and slender interface.

One of the gameplay mechanics that is essential to victory is the 'rock-paper-scissors' triangle in which swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. Though this mechanic wasn’t included in the original, it fits into the game perfectly and adds a new layer of strategy to it.

For the most part, the story in the game is pretty standard RPG stuff. Though it has its moments (such as when you’re forced to sacrifice one of your units to continue with the game) most of the key moments are fairly dull and forgettable. Due to the age of the game, it's understandable, but it would’ve been nice for Nintendo and Intelligent Systems to go one step further and revamp the story a little.

Like other RPGs, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon features twenty different classes that each of the units in your army can take on. Some units have abilities that will prove to be essential in routing the enemy whereas others will prove to be vital in making it to a treasure chest. Returning from past games is the ability to earn the support of certain characters by getting a previously recruited unit to talk to them. Sometimes finding out the unit to talk to them with is a little difficult, but once completed, you’ll have a brand-new soldier at your disposal.

Perhaps one of the neatest additions is the inclusion of an in-game tutorial that helps explain the basics of the game to newcomers and veterans of the series. It starts off relatively easy, which is great for newcomers who are trying to wrap their brain around the concept, but as time progresses, it starts to become rather difficult. If you've played any of the other games in the series then this won't be so much of a problem, but newcomers might find it a bit hard-going.

The biggest addition thrown into the mix this time around is the ability to connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and battle opponents from around the world. Using the units that you’ve trained in the story mode, players can take on another army consisting of five units and see how they stack up. With all due honesty, it’s nice addition that is implemented really poorly. If you’ve just started playing the game, you may end up playing against somebody who has already completed the game. Unless you’ve trained your units to their maximum levels, prepare to lose.

From a visual perspective, the game looks great. Units are very well animated during fight scenes which take place on the upper screen, but on the downside, they lack animations when on the playing field, which is presented on the bottom screen. With that being said though, the battlefields and character models look great.

Conclusion

When everything is said and done, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a solid role-playing game that will keep players occupied for countless hours. Though the game isn’t quite as long as recent installments (there are only 25 chapters this time around), Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection helps make up for the shortness of the game - providing you’ve completed it and gotten all the best units, items and stats. If not, prepare to lose each and every battle online. With that complaint aside though, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a very worthwhile RPG that should satisfy gamers looking for a hardcore experience.

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User Comments (18)

Nanaki

#1

Nanaki said:

Nice review. I'll certainly be giving this one a whirl once I've finished its Wii counterpart (funnily enough, I am writing a review for that as we speak).

I think it's great that Ninty are reviving the old games of the series. I have always wanted to play through those titles that never saw a release outside of Japan.

SmaMan

#2

SmaMan said:

I have a question, does this game have the extra chapters that the SNES version had? The SNES version (sometimes referred to as FE3) had a remake of the NES version and added a bonus set of chapters that took place after the first one. Are those included?

professorlayton

#3

professorlayton said:

Well there are a couple of extra prologue chapters, but besides that, I don't think it has anything else when it comes to the story that the first game didn't have.

AVahne

#4

AVahne said:

@ professorlayton

there are also some extra gaiden chapters that weren't in the original game but you can only access them by having less than 15 characters still alive in your army with the exception of one gaiden chapter

Cthuloops

#6

Cthuloops said:

I like this game a lot. Not the best FE, but certainly not the worst. Could've been a little more innovative, but whatever. I also didn't like the art style at all. I miss the GBA art style they had going. The new style is very drab and boring. :(

Zenman

#7

Zenman said:

cool! i am a fire emblem fan and it is nice to see another game!
this new art style is nice, too, it's like PoR(and RD) and the GBA fire emblems but--darker

AVahne

#8

AVahne said:

@ SmaMan

no gaiden means side-story,so a gaiden chapter is usually in fire emblem a chapter that must be unlocked and usually gives a certain reward for completing it.gaidens are in many fire emblems games now

CorbsAdmin

#10

Corbs said:

This is another DS title that's on my wish list. That list is really getting long at the moment. :)

CanisWolfred

#12

CanisWolfred said:

The NES Fire Emblems were the only FE's that I've ever really liked, so I can honestly say I was interested in this. However, now I think I'll just stick with what I got and be done with it. I prefer Famicom Wars, anyways.

I just hope Nintendo remakes Super Famicom Wars someday - it's far and away the best game in the series, yet so far it hasn't hit Western shores yet. I also would've liked to see a remake of Famicom Wars, but Days of Ruin already technically came with a remake of the original, with the new units from Days of Ruin. While it isn't as good as the original game, it's better than nothing, and chances are an actual remake wouldn't have been much better.

MindFever

#13

MindFever said:

well.this realy sucks that the ONLINE play isnt somewhat "toned down"... you know, like the ability of the game to select "random players" as your opponents or same/stronger than your player (like in the latest Advance Wars title...Days of Ruin or Dark Conflict, whichever is the latest)...

i seriously want this,but i think ill try Advance Wars first ... (because of the better online component)

MindFever

#14

MindFever said:

Famicom Wars? say what you want,but its a pretty stupid title to use Famicom ... as if i would make a game called the Nintendo Brothers - it just doesnt fit.Or Nintendo Force - Dual Cartridge or something ...i am not trying to be funny as you noticed

Also (dammit,every post i write i forget something in the previous one) : I WANT Ancient Empires 1,2 and the upcoming 3 !!! its like a fantasy rpg strategy... on the mobile is just freakishly adictive,long and amazing (visualy and sound like)

SyFyTy

#15

SyFyTy said:

Days of Ruin and Dark Conflict are the same game, just different release areas, just FYI, ...localizations. I personally liked the art just a little better from the GB Advance days (talking FE now) but I DO like the fact that this FE allows you to lend warriors to a friend to fight with, I'm just not sure whether that fights online or just single player that it's loaned out for. Also I think it's up to three that may be loaned out at a time. I'm not certain whether the iotems found while out on loan can be kept or not. Also, I love the arenas battles to make money, though I'm not sure if they were in the other versions or not... If the loaned ones get killed off in battle you don't lose them on the original game cart though... I like this Dragon sword because there are so many little options that the pothers didn't offer that really make it one of the more versatile of all the F.E/s I would go as far as to say without the official game guide (which I normaly avoid like the plague) to explain the options, you would be missing half of what the game has to offer. I hate to flame but I really have to wonder whether the reviewer actually played the game or just read the instructions. Because there was little if anything added that one could not glean from the retail package written here.

SyFyTy

#17

SyFyTy said:

No James .."Yeah, but it's not as good as Shining Force, is it?" it's BETTER. Unfortunately with the 3ds this will be the last of the graphics style I loved so much in this game.

R-Moss

#18

R-Moss said:

Still better than Awakening, despite what the contradictory review says...

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