Update: We've now added Fire Emblem Engage to this recently retooled, reader-ranked list governed by each game's respective User Rating in our database. Read on for more details on how to rate the ones you've played and, potentially, influence the ranking below...
It might have taken a while for Nintendo's premier SRPG series to find its feet in the West, but the storming success of 2019's Fire Emblem: Three Houses on Switch proved that Intelligent Systems' turn-based strategy series is now up there with the Marios and the Zeldas in terms of hallowed Nintendo franchises. With so many entries and nary a low point among them, it's about time we invited you, dear readers, to wrangle them into a ranked list ahead of the upcoming launch of the latest game in the series, Fire Emblem Engage.
The ranked list you see below has been transformed from a Nintendo Life-ranked team list into a reader-ranked version based on each game's User Ratings on this here website. It contains every game to be officially released in the West, which means it doesn't include Japan-only Fire Emblem games that never officially left their homeland.
That means you won't find the Super Famicom trio Mystery of the Emblem (in its original or 'New' form), nor Genealogy of the Holy War, Thracia 776, The Binding Blade on GBA, or the ephemeral BS Fire Emblem for the Satellaview. We've got our fingers crossed for rereleases/remakes of those Japan-only treasures, but in the meantime, we'll have to 'make do' with the little lot below.
We have included the Warriors spin-offs and mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes, as well as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Encore), even though it's really a Shin Megami Tensei game with Fire Emblem cameos. What's that? You don't approve of their inclusion? Simply pluck them mentally from the list and you're good to go — such is the beauty of this User Rating-led system. Hurrah! If there's one thing that's clear from the selection below, it's that the overall quality of this series rivals the Mario and Zelda franchises in terms of consistency; it's not really possible to play a 'bad' Fire Emblem game.
Remember: This ranking is not set in stone! Registered Nintendo Life users can click on the stars below and rate the games out of 10. The list order is created from those fluid NL User Ratings and is therefore subject to change, even after publication. If you've previously rated these games in our database, thank you! If not, you can add your score to the game at any time, present or future, and it will still count and potentially influence the order,
So, climb aboard your mounts if you've got 'em, and prepare for battle as we countdown the best Fire Emblem games ever, as ranked by you lovely people.
Note. To avoid some duplication, we have excluded straight ports of games that are now available on Switch (so no New 3DS Fire Emblem Warriors or Wii U Tokyo Mirage Sessions). We have, however, kept the Shadow Dragon DS remake. Enjoy!
It was lovely to see Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light finally localised for the West (in its original Famicom form, no less), but while we can appreciate the foundation this first game in the series put down, it's tough to return to this comparatively restrictive 8-bit version of the series' turn-based gameplay, even with a sound understanding of its historical context and a healthy adoration of the series. Fans will get a kick out of it, and the new features introduced make it less of a grind than it might be, but all but the most devoted FE aficionados will find it difficult to enjoy this one after 30 years of iteration and improvement.
In pure revenue terms, this mobile entry in the series is hugely popular and it's not without a certain charm. The fact that Fire Emblem Heroes costs nothing to try is certainly a positive, although the mobile game's trademark timed mechanics and mixture of currencies will no doubt rub series veterans the wrong way.
As a one-handed, 'lite' interpretation of the series, it's not bad at all, although its battles quickly become repetitive once you've built a strong team and the gatcha mechanic used to 'discover' new allies moves away from the careful weaving of core gameplay, narrative, and character relationships which makes the Fire Emblem formula so special.
Love 'em or hate 'em, Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors games have a loyal, passionate fanbase and the steady stream of crossover Musou games has helped keep the formula fresh and given fans of other franchises an attractive entry point into the world of Warriors. Zelda fans have the Hyrule Warriors series and Fire Emblem enthusiasts have their predictably named crossovers, too.
Fire Emblem Warriors delivers trademark Musou gameplay — which pits you against hundreds of enemies simultaneously in real-time combo-licious combat — but also adds a layer of unit management, giving you the ability to instruct units on the fly and zip between them across the conflict zone at will. Consequently, you get a Fire Emblem-style feeling for the entire battlefield, in addition to the balletic third-person button-play you'd expect from a Warriors title. Throw in luscious visuals, loads of characters, and a dusting of mechanics borrowed from Nintendo's series, and you're left with a compelling hack-and-slash that even Musou-sceptics would do well to investigate if they've got an ounce of Fire Emblem fandom in their veins.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a thoroughly entertaining mash-up of Musou mayhem, strategy, and relationship-building aspects that should more than satisfy fans of both the franchises involved here. It improves upon its 2017 predecessor in several ways, most notably in providing a far more engaging story featuring a narrative that's ripe for several replays. With impressively solid performance on Switch and an action-packed campaign that'll see you blasting your way through tens of thousands of foes for a good 30 hours in a single playthrough, this is right up there with the very best Warriors titles that developer Omega Force has ever served up.
Fire Emblem Engage is a stellar entry in this storied franchise, but it's also one that takes a noticeably different stance than its most recent predecessor. It's all about the combat this time around, at the expense of the relationships and romance that made Three Houses such a fan favourite, so if you're looking for that social element here, you're bound to be left feeling at least a tad disappointed. However, for those jonesing to get down and dirty with some sweet turn-based tactical action — action that's embedded in a satisfyingly OTT, beautifully presented anime narrative — this is a very fine example of the genre.
The next game to release after GameCube's Path of Radiance, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a DS remake of the original Famicom Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light that launched the franchise in Japan but never saw release on the NES or in the West (until surfacing for a limited-time on Switch, that is — did you get it?).
Featuring series favourite (and Smash Bros.) veteran Marth, this remake was the first time people outside Japan could experience the original game and the DS provided the perfect platform for it. Nintendo has a reputation for top-notch remakes and this is no exception. It'll cost you a pretty penny to pick up a copy nowadays and it's clearly far less complex than recent offerings, but this is still a great example of the series' core gameplay.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is one of the most colourful, approachable, and downright endearing RPGs you’ll find on the Switch. Its new story chapter, music tracks, and character assists improve on the original to an extent, but not enough to greatly affect its overall quality. Thankfully, what was there was already fantastic, meaning those who missed out on it the first time around really have no reason not to get stuck in now. On balance, this RPG is significantly more Shin Megami Tensei than Fire Emblem (roughly 85% SMT, 15% FE — and somehow ends up feeling like something completely separate from either of the two), so Fire Emblem fans take note. But it's a great time nonetheless.
Following the 'revival' of the series, Fire Emblem Fates stepped things up a gear with a two-pronged assault. Comprised of two separate games, the Birthright campaign had you siding with your blood relatives in Hoshido while Conquest saw protagonist Corrin siding with the kingdom of Nohr. The latter choice upped the difficulty to old-school levels and asked a little more from the player, but regardless of the path you took, you were guaranteed a lengthy campaign that built on the foundation of Awakening and added a host of extras including more varied and interactive battlefield environments, the ability to bring past heroes into the game via their amiibo figures and, very importantly, feet for the characters. After all, 3DS was all about stability.
And if two paths weren't enough for you, Nintendo kindly provided a third option, Pokémon-style, with the DLC campaign Revelation in which Corrin refused to pick sides. Best enjoyed once you've polished off the previous campaigns, it was another triumphant part of a fabulous Fire Emblem feast. Fates was nothing if not substantial, and while the story can feel like it's dragging at times, it's tough to hold too many grudges against padding since the core loop is so polished and fun.