Also known as Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, this was the very first entry to come to the West and is actually a prequel to the Japan-only Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade which starred series stalwart Roy. The Blazing Blade (or just plain old Fire Emblem if you prefer) follows Roy's old man Eliwood and served as a wonderful introduction to the series for us Westerners, the majority of whom had been wondering about the series after seeing Roy and Marth as fighters in in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Another remake (this time of the second game in the series Fire Emblem Gaiden), what Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia introduces with its needlessly noodle-y title it makes up for with a game that steps back from the triple-route complexities of Fire Emblem Fates. Returning to the purity of an earlier time didn't mean a simpler game, though, as the original Gaiden incorporated dungeon crawling and free-roaming RPG elements that were ideal fodder for a remake using systems developed for the previous 3DS entries.
Indeed, it served as a sterling farewell for the series on the 3DS - a platform which kicked the series into big time success it so deserved - although we can't help wishing more people had experienced it on Switch. Still, this is a fine game; yet another to benefit from the localisation talents of 8-4.
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The eighth instalment to be made, The Sacred Stones was only the second to get an international release. It stars royal twins Eirika and Ephraim in a story that sees them separate to protect their homeland of Magvel from invading forces. While it didn't add much to the established formula, it's an exceptionally solid and enjoyable entry and a fittingly impressive swansong for the series on GBA. It was included as part of the 3DS' Ambassador Program for early adopters of the system before its price cut, giving owners of that handheld an opportunity to catch up if they missed it on GBA back in 2005 and prepare for the franchise's arrival on that system.
Following the revival of the series with the incredibly popular Awakening, 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.
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, but despite its polish and quality, we've got a soft spot for the purity of its predecessor.
Without Fire Emblem: Awakening, it's quite possible that the series would be languishing in the doldrums of dormant Nintendo franchises. This game rejuvenated the series, catapulting it into the top tier of Nintendo IPs on the international stage in a way Intelligent Systems hadn't achieved previously. Enabling players to switch off permadeath should they choose, it was the most accessible entry in the series to date and the wonderfully written relationships between the characters helped create bonds on and off the battlefield.
The contribution made by 8-4's fantastic localisation can't be overstated, and the characters became far more than mere units to level up; you really invested emotionally in Chrom, Cordelia, Lon'qu, Tharja, Gregor, Sully, Donnel and the rest, and we still treasure the memories of this particular gang. With StreetPass functionality and a subtle, useful application of the console's namesake autostereoscopic 3D feature, we are totally simpatico with anyone who brands Awakening as their favourite ever Fire Emblem.
As soon as Switch launched it seemed like the perfect console for Fire Emblem. Portability and strategy games are a marriage made in heaven, but being able to throw the battle on the big screen in HD gives Three Houses a scope that wasn't possible on the diminutive 3DS.
Three Houses adds new strings to the series' bow, though, with the Garegg Mach Monastery providing a Hogwarts-esque academy to explore and enjoy as you build those ever-important relationships with your characters. It's clearer than ever before that the key to the franchise is its ability to evoke feeling for your units through canny writing and charismatic characters; Three Houses creates the perfect environment to foster and develop the students in your chosen house. Indeed, the huge number of options open to you, not to mention the alternatives closed off with each choice you make, might make Three Houses an intimidating prospect, but it excels in forging a vital and worthwhile experience whichever house you pick or route you take. And contrary to Fates, you don't need to buy another game to go back and travel the road not taken.
And if that's still not enough for you, there's always DLC. Did somebody say four houses?
With this many quality SRPGs under its belt, Intelligent Systems could be forgiven for recycling old ideas or running out of new ones, but on the evidence of Three Houses it feels like the team is just getting started. After thirty years Fire Emblem has never been in better health and the stage is set for even greater things to come.
That's it for our ranked list of all the Fire Emblem games. Disagree with the order above? Let us know the error of our ways below with a polite missive in the box marked 'Comments'. We're off to see if they added Hufflepuff in the latest Three Houses DLC...