With Byleth’s recent addition to the Smash Bros. roster, the Fire Emblem series has received yet another rush of attention. Despite consistently high performance on each of Nintendo’s handheld systems (and, recently, their home consoles), the series doesn’t get much love from its Western market.
It’s not difficult to see why — the series has 20 titles to its name (including remakes and spinoffs), but only 7 of those originally released in the US. And though Fire Emblem’s Western popularity has recently surged, many gamers still dismiss it as one of Nintendo’s less-interesting IPs.
I’d argue that Fire Emblem is largely underrated in the mainstream gaming community. To celebrate these brilliant and innovative games, I’ll be ranking Fire Emblem’s 9 main Western releases as part of our Games Ranked series. I hope you enjoy!
Fire Emblem Games Ranked
Starting at #9, let’s work our way towards the #1 best Fire Emblem game ever made.
9. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- System: Nintendo Wii
- Release Date: November 11, 2007
We start this list with a bit of a misstep for the series, as Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn didn’t perform well compared to other installments in the series. Following the success of Path of Radiance, Nintendo released Radiant Dawn on the Wii, marking only the second Fire Emblem release on a home console. Players move through a four-part story set in the years after Path of Radiance, featuring a new group of playable leads alongside the cast of its predecessor.
Acting as a direct sequel to Path of Radiance, Radiant Dawn was criticized for its lack of a complex or otherwise original story. It also received criticism for neglecting to make use of the Wii’s motion controls. These complaints were reflected in the game’s reviews, with Radiant Dawn receiving an aggregate score of only 78/100 on Metacritic.
8. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
- System: 3DS
- Release Date: May 19, 2017
Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia is one of Fire Emblem’s three full remakes of earlier games. In this case, Western audiences could play through a localized version of Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second installment in the overall series. Players follow dual leads Alm and Celica in their efforts to end the brutal war between their two countries.
Though the majority of the games take place in separate universes, Shadows of Valentia shares its world with its predecessor, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and its direct sequel, the Japanese-exclusive New Mystery of the Fire Emblem.
7. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
- System: DS
- Release Date: February 16, 2009
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is a full remake of the first Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and Blazing Blade. The original installment was a Japanese-exclusive title released on the Famicom, but it prompted a localized release following the success of earlier Western versions.
Shadow Dragon features Marth as its main protagonist, marking the first (and only) time that Western audiences could play the blue-haired hero outside of his Smash Bros. appearances. As mentioned previously, Shadow Dragon features the most popular universe in the Fire Emblem series, with four main titles taking place in the same setting.
6. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
- System: Game Boy Advance
- Release Date: May 23, 2005
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was the second main-series title released in the West. Since Nintendo briefly shifted the series to home consoles, it was also the last original title released on handheld systems before Awakening.
Players take on the role of twin lords Eirika and Ephraim as they work to defeat Grado, whose campaign to destroy the game’s titular stones threatens to release ancient demons on the country. The game was well-received, facing slight criticism for being too similar in concept to The Blazing Blade.
5. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- System: GameCube
- Release Date: October 17, 2005
Path of Radiance marked Fire Emblem’s first foray into home consoles, and was met with highly positive reviews. The game introduces Ike as the protagonist, who fights with the lost Crimean princess and a band of mercenaries to ease racial tensions between the Beorc and the shapeshifting Laguz.
Since Radiant Dawn acts as a sequel Path of Radiance, players have the option to save and port their data (e.g., character supports and deaths).
4. Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- System: Game Boy Advance
- Release Date: November 3, 2003
Surprised by the Western popularity of both Marth and Roy in Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo reconsidered their stance on international releases of Fire Emblem titles. To meet demand, the seventh installment of the main series, Fire Emblem (later changed to Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade) dropped in 2003 in Western markets.
The Blazing Blade serves as a prequel to its Japan-only predecessor, The Binding Blade, and features the heroes Lyn, Eliwood, and Hector. The player joins their group as a “tactician,” helping them foil a conspiracy that threatens to lead to war.
3. Fire Emblem Fates
- System: 3Ds
- Release Date: February 19, 2016
Fire Emblem Fates was released as two separate games — Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest. Both titles featured the optional DLC expansion, Fire Emblem: Revelation, which expands on the base story.
The central story of Fates requires the player to choose a country to ally with in a coming war. Birthright offers one side of the narrative, and Conquest supplies the other. This split brought some criticism to the game, as players felt it was unnecessary to divide the story between separate games.
Fates was well-received, however, and boasts the highest sales of the Fire Emblem franchise. Fans appreciated the differences in difficulty, with Birthright giving a gentle introduction to new players and Conquest providing a challenge for seasoned veterans of the series.
2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- System: Switch
- Release Date: July 26, 2019
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the most recent installment of the Fire Emblem series, returning to home consoles with the Switch. Although its sales haven’t yet surpassed those of Fates, it does hold the title of highest-rated Switch exclusive.
Three Houses was praised both for its school setting and its time management, with player character Byleth training students to serve as allies in the game’s concurrent future. It’s been criticized for its simplicity compared to earlier games, but this simplicity may be for the best. The story is complex on its own, with the player experiencing the narrative from different angles depending on the house they choose. Since each house has its own role in the main plot, many players elect to play the campaign three different times to get the full story.
1. Fire Emblem Awakening
- System: 3DS
- Release Date: February 4, 2013
Fire Emblem Awakening was the first original title released on a handheld system following Radiant Dawn for the Wii and the two remakes. Awakening takes place in the same universe as Shadow Dragon, New Mystery of the Fire Emblem, and Shadows of Valentia, with the story’s lord characters being direct descendants of Marth.
Players take on the role of a “tactician” and work alongside the hero prince Chrom and his personal army. The player defends the country of Ylisse from undead monsters and incursions from Plegia, but unexpected time travel reveals grave complications.
Awakening was expected to be the last installment of the series following dwindling sales. To Nintendo’s surprise, it received overwhelmingly positive reviews and is considered one of the best RPGs of all time. The positive critical reception renewed interest in the series. This is due in large part to the game’s accessibility, offering players the option to disable the permadeath feature for the first time in the series.
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Thank you for reading! If you have a different idea of how to rank the Fire Emblem games (or just want to share your love for the series), feel free to leave us a comment — we always love to hear from you.
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