Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon Hands-On

We check out Nintendo's update of the NES classic that never made it to the US.

Nintendo's Fire Emblem series was one of the lesser-known gems in the veteran publisher's library of NES games. Although the series was popular in Japan, it didn't make it to the States until recently, when Nintendo brought it to the Game Boy Advance. Since then, the series has made appearances on the GameCube, Wii, and DS and has found a loyal following. Fans are in for a special treat with the upcoming release of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, which is a remake of the original NES game for the DS, with revamped visuals, refined gameplay, and additional content. We had the chance to try out a playable demo.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon will feature an all-new four-part prologue that leads into the main story. In addition, the game will have a host of new wireless modes that include playing with a friend and temporarily sharing units.

The story in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon revolves around the land of Altea, which has seen its ups and downs over the years. The ups have been nice long stretches of prosperity and happiness, while the downs have been rugged brushes with evil that have scarred the land. The game introduces you to Prince Marth, who should be familiar to Fire Emblem and Smash Bros. players. Shadow Dragon fills you in on Marth's history and follows the young monarch's formative years, which, wait for it, are pretty traumatic.

The four-part prologue introduces you to the gameplay mechanics and sets up Marth's quest. His father is betrayed during a military campaign by one of his trusted advisors, who returns to the kingdom intent on taking out the royal family. The early part of the prologue finds you guiding Marth through this introductory story business and trying to get out of the castle. Unfortunately, the bulk of his family gets left behind, including his sister, who is trying to find their mother, and Marth is on his own with some advisors.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon's gameplay stays true to the simple turn-based mechanic that the series is known for. The mechanics have been enhanced for the DS to take advantage of the touch screen. You'll have the option of standard control or simply tapping the touch screen to select characters and pick your options during a turn.

The game is as fun and challenging to play as the more recent entries in the series. As before, you'll have to carefully manage your team of characters, which will grow over the course of the adventure. You'll need to manage gear and weapons as you play, while making sure your characters don't die, because once you lose a character, he or she is gone for good. Though this is a bummer with support characters, especially those you've spent time cultivating, it is game ending when it's Marth or the other main characters.

The presentation has been freshened up over the original game. The main overhead view benefits from a rich color palette and a higher level of detail. The combat view features rendered character models with fluid animation and various flashy effects for spells and critical attacks. The audio is getting a comparable face-lift. The game's score is buffed out with richer audio, and sound effects are sharp and clear.

Based on what we played, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon will be a meaty dose of role-playing action on the DS and should please fans of the series. The revamped visuals are coming together nicely, and the additional features are nice bonuses to the single-player game. Best of all, the game should be the perfect introduction to the Fire Emblem universe for newcomers. If you're looking for a role-playing fix on the DS, you'll want to keep an eye out for Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, which should be out early next year.

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Discussion

49 comments
twilight_33
twilight_33

Fire emblem radiant dawn is my favorite game of all time I dont care what gamespot rated it I thought that it was absolutely amazing!! Every Fire emblem game has lived up to my expectations GREAT!! And i am so excited that we are getting this new one in north america I am gonna get it the day it comes out!!!!!!!!

mike2640
mike2640

I love Fire Emblem! I can't wait to get this game!

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

A chalenge never seen in the series! Like in Radiant Dawn you will lose your characters if they die in battle,but the difficult motivates you to plan your strategy carefuly,thanks that the difficult was not so overwhelming like in the Wii!Oh!Did I mention that the story and characters are great too?

psylocke8
psylocke8

Very excited about the 'new' fire emblem. I will get it the day it comes out.

feryl06
feryl06

just downloaded it---plays great! :) love the series...

Vanshluuugnheim
Vanshluuugnheim

Lennah Posted Nov 25, 2008 6:00 pm GMT When will it come?! When?! I must have it. I can't wait! Haha can you just not read. . ."you'll want to keep an eye out for Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, which should be out early next year. ". . . hahaha

JolteonEX
JolteonEX

This is great,another Fire Emblem! I pray it's worth the wait.

Lennah
Lennah

When will it come?! When?! I must have it. I can't wait!

lilaznfromabove
lilaznfromabove

i'ma so buy this..they need to franchise out more to america so we can play their games

Peach100
Peach100

Finally some information on this game. It sounds like a great game. I'm looking forward to it!

Wuzzystuffykinz
Wuzzystuffykinz

sweet. We need a good Fire Emblem game for DS, thought I'm not the biggest fan of Marth

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

Finally, words from Marth that aren't in Japanese! This game is mine.

wnba15
wnba15

I'm SO looking forward to this new one! FE was one of my favorite games on the GBA. And my GBA collection is pretty bad ass.

Dualmask
Dualmask

I'm a big FE fan, and I've been waiting for a decent one to come to the DS. About time. There's nothing wrong with bringing classics back when they're revamped like this.

nintendofanjp
nintendofanjp

Isn't it funny how alot of classic games are starting to show up in re-releases? I LOVE IT! Classic games are more challanging and considering the difficulty of NES games this will be hard to clear on Easy difficulty. Fire Emblem games will probably start to get the spotlight after around 20 years in the darkness wih this. When oh when will it be released?! I CAN"T WAIT! ^^

lionheart234
lionheart234

The fire emblem series never gets the credit it deserves, the games are awesome.... this is one game i will be getting...!

Krusnikzero2
Krusnikzero2

This looks like a remake done the right way. I'm really looking forward to playing this. Hopefully if this is successful Nintendo will release more of the older fire emblems in the US. I'd love it if they brought the virtual console version of FE Thracia to the US

higheclipse
higheclipse

i'm a HUGE fire emblem fan since FE 6 (played in japanese...0_o). I can't wait for this one!!

I_Like_Muffins
I_Like_Muffins

MARTH!! sweet! i never played the original, only the ones on GBA, and i always wanted to know where Marth was from after playing SSB games. once again, SWEET!!

LordNightwolf
LordNightwolf

the big questor remains... when is this baby commin' out?

glitchgeeman
glitchgeeman

Awesome, I've been waiting for a DS Fire Emblem since it was first created. It's been a rather long wait, but if it lives up to its predecessors (or should I say its followers?) then it's definitely going to be worth it.

kegmiester
kegmiester

well, it certainly looks very nice and maybe gives recent fans a chance to play a classic. Maybe they could throw in some extras or something.

Ovirew
Ovirew

Very excited about this game. While it is a port of an NES title, Fire Emblem games are all about the core gameplay and can satisfy their purpose even with lesser graphics - so the updates are really icing on the cake. Though I do feel a bit taken by the fact that they didn't just import the entire 'Mystery of the Emblem' game over and update that (it included the first game in addition to a brand new adventure) it just seems that they've really gone above and beyond to make this a great remake. A must-buy for me.

promano3
promano3

Sweeeeeetness. Still can't get over how awesome the first two for GBA was. I dunno about the Wii and Gamecube versions. Cannot wait.

Marder-I
Marder-I

Day 1 for me, I just wish they put this one on the Wii, ya know....... Cheers Tom

norabbitnofun
norabbitnofun

I want some!!! @FireLord4: no this has been a purely Nintendo consoles series.

Firelord4
Firelord4

I love computer japanese rpgs.Anyone knows if iny was published for pc?

charizard1605
charizard1605 moderator

Yep, Nintendo really is making up for its mistakes at this year's E3... good to know that they're receptive...

BontraXenderKyl
BontraXenderKyl

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

jake-lutze
jake-lutze

ugh... I have to buy a DS now...

digitaltiger
digitaltiger

Fire Emblem games are my favorite SRPG, this is great new for us fans.

yohan7
yohan7

awsome, I was waiting a long time for this game!

DannyBoy2k
DannyBoy2k

Having a few problems with how the Hitman: Blood Money game guide is written, I attempted to use the helpfully supplied 'Feedback' link. This turned out to be a mail-to, and so I wrote an email to the person having written said guide. Reading through it, I then popped it off, hoping for an answer of SOME sort within the not too distant future, knowing that the riter quite probably had other things to do, beyond waiting with bated breath for me to write him. The answer, however, didn't take more than 5 minutes to arrive, and told me that the address I'd tried had been rejected.

Now, I presume that one of two things happened, here. First, the address was, for lack of a better term, wrong. A slip of the finger, or some such caused the email to go astray. Or, second, the address was right...but the writer is no longer with gamespot, and so the mail bounced thusly.

My question, however, is...what should I do? I can find no other obvious place to direkt the questions I had about this particular guide, but I would like some aid in making it work for me.