Top 10 Fire Emblem Games [Best Recommendations]

There’s no denying that Fire Emblem has become a global franchise these days. Fire Emblem Fates alone is a multi-million selling title, and Fire Emblem Heroes, according to Nintendo, is pulling in over $500,000 a day in pure revenue. The series has come a long way since the days of the Gameboy Advance.

So, we thought in honor of the occasion, we would rank the games released in the West! After all, there’s a good chance you only recently discovered the franchise. You have a lot of work to do to catch up, so maybe this will help you prioritize?

10. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (Fire Emblem: Shin Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light)

  • System: DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: February 16th, 2009 (US)

Despite being a prince, Marth has lived a pretty rough life. His father left him in the care of his trusted ally, Gra, who only backstabbed the king and murdered him and everyone Marth knew and loved. Luckily, Marth managed to escape to Talys, a small island nation, where Marth manages to stay incognito for a few years. Once grown up, Marth sets out to free his homeland, Altea, from the grips of Gra and become a man worthy of wielding the sacred Falchion blade.

Often considered the black sheep of the games released in the West, Shadow Dragon might get a bit of an unfair rep. This is mostly due to a strange mechanic that actually rewards the player for actually killing off certain party members in order to unlock bonus chapters, which expand upon the main narrative of the game. It can be frustrating to go into it knowing you’re going to have to lose certain characters to see the whole game, but it is also one of the only games that actually makes use of the permadeath system that made Fire Emblem famous for reasons beyond just punishment for poor strategy. And that’s at least worthy of commendation, we feel.
No official trailer available


9. Fire Emblem Heroes

  • System: iOS/Android
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
  • Release Date: February 2nd, 2017

It’s been some trying times. Princess Sharena and Prince Alphonse have been tasked with ruling over the Kingdom of Askir, but the Emblian Empire won’t relent in their assault. Unfortunately, the Emblians have fearsome warriors that they’ve summoned from distant worlds and have managed to gain complete control over them. When all hope seems lost, a brilliant tactician arrives on the scene and manages to score some major victories over the Emblian Empire’s leader, Princess Veronica. Can Sharena and Alphonse claim victory from the jaws of defeat and uncover the mystery of what happened to their friend Zacharias while they’re at it?

That’s a lot of story to take in, but really, Fire Emblem Heroes is every fan’s guilty pleasure. The gameplay has been simplified from the normally sprawling battlefields of the mainline games to accommodate for quick play sessions on your phone, but you’ll find a lot of depth to the combat nonetheless. The result is something more akin to something like Pokémon, where a lot of the strategy comes from assembling a team of units that manages to balance out each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. The best part? These units are taken straight from most of your favorite characters of almost every Fire Emblem game! Make sure to play daily to rack up your orbs and build up your army!

Fire Emblem Heroes – Trailer:


8. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (Fire Emblem: Seima no Kouseki)

  • System: GameBoy Advance, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: May 23rd, 2005 (US)

Demon King Fomortiis has managed to be held back for centuries now thanks to the presence of the five Sacred Stones. Each stone is held by one of the nations of Magvel, which has allowed peace to reign over the land… that is, until the Grado Empire unexpectedly launched an attack against Renais. Now Prince Ephraim and Princess Erika are scrambling to make sense of the situation, especially considering Prince Lyon of Grado has been a dear friend to them for years. But Ephraim and Erika will nonetheless part ways and get to the bottom of this once and for all.

Sacred Stones is oft forgotten as part of the canon of the main games. However, it introduced many features that would end up becoming a staple of the franchise. This was one of the first games in the series that included a world map for the player to travel on, allowing for a more open game, and gave less skilled players an opportunity to grind their team. This goes for both levels and supports, so no longer were you stuck awkwardly forestalling the end of a battle waiting for your favorite couples to build affinity for one another. It also experimented with a branching story that would later be expanded upon with Fates, allowing the player to choose between either Erika or Ephraim at one point of the story and having an entirely new set of missions for either one.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (Wii U Virtual Console) Trailer –


7. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn (Fire Emblem: Akatsuki no Megami)

  • System: Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: November 11th, 2007

It’s been over 3 years since the end of Path of Radiance. Both Daein and Crimea are attempting to rebuild their nations. Crimea has already found a ruler, but Daein has not been so lucky. Daein has been forced under the rule of Begnion for now, and has a corrupt government that seems to show no sign of ever relinquishing control. However, there is one small hope for the country. A small band of rebels that call themselves the Dawn Brigade have started fighting back against the violent oppression of their nation’s people. They are headed by a young girl named Micaiah, who may know more than she lets on…

A lot of fans haven’t completed Radiant Dawn due to a translation error where the game’s Normal mode is actually listed as Easy and Hard is dubbed as Normal. Many just gave up a few chapters in after picking the seemingly standard difficulty only to be meant with so much resistance. Bite the bullet and play it on Easy. Trust us. You’ll find perhaps the most ambitious Fire Emblem game to date, with an absolutely massive, sprawling narrative covering various different factions and a little under double the number of chapters found in its predecessor, Path of Radiance. It ended up as a swan song to classic Fire Emblem, before the series reinvented itself with Awakening.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn Nintendo Wii Trailer – E3 2007:


6. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia (Fire Emblem Echoes: Mou Hitori no Eiyuu’ou)

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: April 20th, 2017 (JP)

Valentia has been split by religious differences for centuries now. One half of the continent, which has formed into the prosperous kingdom Zofia, follows the goddess Mila. The other half follows the god Duma, but their nation Rigel has not been so lucky. As a result, the government of Zofia has become lazy and uncaring, as the land just sort of runs itself and has opened itself up to corruption, while Rigel has been through so many hard times that its people no longer seem to care. The two nations have become embroiled in war, and two young warriors named Celica and Alm set out to stop the madness once and for all.

Fire Emblem Echoes is actually a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden; a sequel to the original Fire Emblem game for the Famicom. It was not actually a well-liked title among the fandom, and it took a remake of the original game with an added sequel for the Super Famicom to make up for it. But the game had a lot of interesting ideas that were forgotten in later entries of the franchise, such as fully explorable dungeons and characters who would leave your team if your interests diverged. With the booming popularity of the series, Intelligent Systems decided to bring it back to the modern age in hopes of it latching on classic Fire Emblem fans put off by the dating focus.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia – Two Armies:


5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Genei Ibunroku #FE)

  • System: Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release Date: June 24th, 2016 (US)

It’s been five years since the talented opera singer, Ayaha Oribe, suddenly vanished in the middle of her performance. In fact, it wasn’t just her, but the entire troupe and the audience! The only apparent survivor was Ayaha’s sister, Tsubasa Oribe. Now Tsubasa has grown up and is investigating what exactly happened on that fateful day. One day, as she’s in the midst of an idol try-out, she gets sucked away into a strange void called an Idolosphere. You’ll play as her childhood friend, Itsuki Aoi, and drive into the Idolosphere to save Tsubasa and find your place in the Japanese entertainment industry!

#FE may not sound or even look like a Fire Emblem game, but trust us, it is. It’s actually a crossover with Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei franchise, and the gameplay is pretty close to that of the ever-popular Persona franchise, using skills to exploit the weaknesses of enemies in order to gang up on them. However, instead of Personas, your characters will actually summon heroes from the Fire Emblem franchise! You’ll also use your knowledge of Fire Emblem to figure out enemy weaknesses (If they’re wielding a sword, you’ll use lance attacks, lances are beat by axes, etc), making it a full melding of the sensibilities of both series!

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE – Official Game Trailer – Nintendo E3 2016:


4. Fire Emblem: Awakening (Fire Emblem: Kakusei)

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: February 4th, 2013 (US)

Despite being royalty, Chrom actually prefers to lead his own private military group that he calls the Shepherds and leaves the ruling to his sister, Emmeryn. One day, while out on a mission, Chrom stumbles upon someone passed out in the grass. This would be Robin, and thankfully for Chrom, they seem to be somewhat adept at the art of war. Chrom deems Robin his personal tactician, and together they set out to stop Gangrel, king of the Plegia Empire, from summoning monsters that have been running amok throughout the land.

Awakening famously saved the Fire Emblem franchise from the brink of obscurity, and it’s not hard to see why. While permadeath had been a defining feature of the series, Awakening was the first game released outside of Japan that finally allowed that to be turned off. It also removed the limit on the number of supports that characters could hold with one another so that players wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally maxing out the bonds between characters before meeting another character they like better. They also had a tangible payout for pairing up characters with the re-addition of the child characters, adding a complex meta-game to the pairing system. Do you just match up the characters you like together, or do you match up characters based on the skills and stats they inherit from their parents?

Nintendo 3DS – Fire Emblem Awakening Trailer:


3. Fire Emblem (Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken)

  • System: GBA, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: November 3rd, 2003

One day, a mysterious tactician is found out in the Sacaen Plains by a nomad girl named Lyn. While she normally likes to do things on her own, Lyn decides to make use of this tactician to help her avenge her tribe by taking out a local group of bandits. One thing leads to another and she is met by two knights who go by Kent and Sain. They inform her that she is actually of Caelin nobility, and they need some help keeping her great uncle Lundgren from usurping the throne. What she doesn’t realize is that, in the distant land of Pherae, there’s some even greater trouble brewing…

For just about everyone in the West, this was the introduction to the long running strategy-RPG franchise. Fans were taken in by its simple but straightforward storytelling and fun characters. Even now, while Marth is generally touted as the “face” of Fire Emblem, most Western fans still associate the franchise with Eliwood, Hector, and Lyn. Despite Awakening and Fates taking up most of the spotlight, Fire Emblem still holds up to the modern franchise to this day.

Fire Emblem Wii U Trailer:


2. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki)

  • System: GameCube
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: October 17th, 2005 (US)

Young Ike and his sister Mist work under their father, Greil, in his mercenary group. One day, out on a mission around the border of the nation of Crimea, Ike stumbles upon a woman roughly his age being attacked by Daein soldiers. This woman turns out to be Princess Elincia of Crimea, who managed to escape from her nation after the Daein attack on her homeland. Now, Ike and the rest of the Greil’s mercenaries set out to investigate this attack and return Elincia to her throne.

Path of Radiance was a welcome return to consoles for the series after spending the past few years surviving on handhelds. As a result, the game has a bit of a grander scale than the games that preceded it, with sprawling, multi-tier maps and a much bigger story than had been seen in past Fire Emblem games. It’s perhaps the most well-realized of the “classic” Fire Emblem games (i.e. before Awakening), with a much less esoteric support system (characters only have to be in the same battle rather than stand next to one another) and some incredibly grand battles.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance GameCube Trailer – E3 2005


1. Fire Emblem Fates (Fire Emblem: If)

  • System: 3DS
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: February 19th, 2016 (US)

The world is at the brink of war. The Nohrian empire continues to break non-aggression pacts they’ve held with the nation of Hoshido and they’ve just about had it. Corrin, however, doesn’t really understand any of this. Rather, they live up in their room in the Nohrian stronghold, spending their days lazily playing with their brothers and sisters. One day though, Corrin is finally tasked with a mission: to act as reconnaissance at a Hoshidan fortress stationed by the border, right along the Bottomless Canyon. One thing leads to another and Corrin is captured by Hoshidan forces and discovers they are in fact of Hoshidan royalty and were falsely lead to believe they were of Nohrian nobility! Corrin will need to decide who they truly consider family: those who raised them, or those of blood? But… maybe there’s another way?

While Fire Emblem as a franchise has for the most part been relatively consistent in quality, there is something to be said about how the series has felt a bit stagnant with the same “European Medieval Fantasy combined with anime” style over the course of every mainline title. Fates is the first that actually mixes up the setting a bit and has too very different, visually distinct nations, with Hoshido inspired from feudal Japan, and Nohr having its very dark, desolate wasteland. It’s also pretty ambitious with its story, taking place over the course of not one, not two, but three full games to work through to get the full tale. It’s a grand story and will take you hundreds of hours just to see everything.

Nintendo 3DS – Fire Emblem Fates E3 2015 Trailer:


Final Thoughts

Fire Emblem is one of those series that has so many different kinds of games that fanbases have formed around singular titles rather than as a unified fandom. There’s no real easy pick for the true “best” game in the series, though we’ve attempted as much here. Disagree? Please, share your thoughts in the comments below!

Matt Knodle

Writer

Author: Matt Knodle

I come from Indiana, where I grew up near a video rental shop that proudly stated “The widest selection of anime in the state”, setting me on a course to enjoy as much anime as possible. I’ve devoted myself to over-analyzing various sports anime and video games probably more than they were ever intended. I currently co-host a weekly sports anime fan podcast called KoshienCast with my good friend, Matt.

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