Today marks the 20th anniversary of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the seventh entry in the Fire Emblem series, in Japan. But what makes this title extra special is that this was the game that brought the tactical RPG series to the West. A North American release followed in November 2003, with Australia and Europe following in February and July 2004, respectively

Known simply as Fire Emblem outside of Japan, this marked the first game in Intelligent System's strategy series to leave Japan. And in part its probably thanks to two things — the success of the developer's other famous TRPG series in the West, Advance Wars (which similarly also was the first game in the Famicom Wars series to launch in Europe and North America), and Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Fire Emblem was an unknown entity in this part of the world back in the 2000s, but the brawler put the series on the map thanks to two playable characters — Marth, the hero of the true first Fire Emblem on the Famicom, and Roy, who was added to the game to advertise the upcoming sixth game in the series, The Binding Blade.

Fire Emblem The Blazing Blade 2
Image: Nintendo

The Blazing Blade is actually a prequel to The Binding Blade, and one of the lead characters — Eliwood — is Roy's father who makes a few appearances in the story. Set 20 years before the events of Roy's story, you follow three main lord characters in Eliwood, Hector (who is the father of Lilina and also appears in the sixth game), and Lyndis — often called Lyn — a brand new character.

The first 10 chapters of the game focus on Lyn after she discovers your character, the tactician of this game. Serving as a tutorial for Fire Emblem (as this was many people's first game in the series), these ten chapters follow Lyn as she attempts to meet with the Marquess of Caelin, Hausen, her grandfather. The rest of the game takes place one year after the events of the tutorial let you pick either Eliwood or Hector as the lead on a quest that starts off being a search for Eliwood's father, but eventually, they must stop the sorcerer Nergal from summoning dragons to the continent of Elibe.

While The Blazing Blade is pretty similar to its predecessor gameplay-wise, many of the changes made to the game were to make it a little bit more accessible to the West. While permadeath was still present, sidequests, difficulty levels for all three "tales", the ability to change Thieves and Transporters' classes, and class change items could now be used from the menu as opposed to simply using them on the field.

Lyn in particular remains a very popular figure among the Fire Emblem community, and she's made multiple appearances since as an Assist Trophy in the Super Smash Bros. series. She's also an unlockable unit in Fire Emblem Awakening's Smash Brethren 3 DLC, and she's an equippable Emblem in the franchise's latest game, Fire Emblem Engage.

Fire Emblem Engage Lyn
Image: Nintendo

Many of the game's units and characters have reappeared throughout the franchise, and it ranks highly in your Fire Emblem ratings (at least at the time of writing this), so it's clear that The Blazing Blade is fondly remembered by series fans.

The game got a Wii U port thanks to the GBA Virtual Console library in 2014, and we're also due to get the game on Nintendo Switch Online's GBA service sometime this year. Perhaps this week, the week of the game's 20th anniversary, is the time to do it.

What do you think of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, then? Do you have a favourite lord? Vote in our poll below and share your memories of the first Fire Emblem game to reach the West in the comments.

Who is your favourite lord in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade? (415 votes)

  1. Eliwood8%
  2. Hector31%
  3. Lyn61%