Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
|Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem|
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (Japanese: ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎 Hepburn: Faiā Emuburemu: Monshō no Nazo?) is a tactical role-playing video game developed by Intelligent Systems, and published by Nintendo for the Super Famicom home video game console in 1994. It is the third installment of the Fire Emblem series, and the first to be developed for the platform.
The story is divided into two parts: the first part is a remake of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, while the second is an original story acting as a sequel to the first game. After defeating the sorcerer Gharnef and the Dark Dragon Medeus, peace is restored to Archanea and Marth restores his kingdom. His ally Hardin ascends to the throne of Archanea, but begins hostile military expansion across the continent, forcing Marth to confront his old friend and the force driving him. Gameplay follows the traditional Fire Emblem system of tactical battles taking place on grid-based maps.
Mystery of the Emblem began development in 1992 after the completion of Fire Emblem Gaiden for the Famicom. The staff from previous entries, including series creator Shouzou Kaga and composer Yuka Tsujiyoko, returned to their respective roles. While originally conceived as two separate projects, the team eventually merged the proposed remake of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light with the original story content of Mystery of the Emblem. The gameplay, which had veered away from the first game's tactical RPG routes in Gaiden, returned to its more traditional stance. The difficulty was lowered to encourage new players to try the series. The game has been positively received by video game journalists, and with 776,338 units by 2002 was the best-selling title in the series to that date. A remake for the Nintendo DS, Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, was released in 2010.
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem is a tactical role-playing video game where players take control of Marth, the main protagonist of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, and his army across story-driven missions on the continent of Archanea. In between battles, characters can engage in conversation with each other, which advances the story. Battles are turn-based and take place on grid-based maps. Victory is achieved when an enemy base is captured or all enemies are defeated. Each character holds four weapons and four items, and each has an assigned character class, which affects their movement range, damage and what weapons can be used. Mounted units also have the option to dismount, which changes their abilities and stats while reducing movement range.
When combat is initiated, a separate screen shows the battle play out: attack power is based on the strength of weapons and their units, while damage is calculated based on both the type of attack used and the opposing unit's physical and magical defense. Critical hits do triple the damage of normal attacks. Each battle awards experience points, which raised a unit's experience level: levels are capped at 15, while skills are capped at 20. When a character class is advanced, all stats are returned to Level 1.
Mystery of the Emblem is set on the continent of Archanea, and is split into two half,s dubbed "Books". "Book 1" is a retelling of the events of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light: Marth, the prince of Altea, is forced into exile when his homeland is attacked by the neighboring kingdom of Doluna. With his father killed and his sister captive, Marth must muster a force to defeat the will driving the invasion, the evil priest Gharnef: his allies include the princess and Pegasus knight Caeda, and Marth's mentor Jagen. His quest leads him to recovering Fachion, a magical sword which can defeat Gharnef and which only Marth can wield due to his ancient heritage as descended of Anri, the warrior which defeated the dark dragon Medeus. Having recovered both Falchion and the magical Fire Emblem shield, Marth confronts Gharnef and Medeus, the latter of whom is leader of the last surviving tribe of Manakete, an ancient time which could shapeshift into dragons. In the end, Marth defeats Medeus and restores peace, surrendering the Fire Emblem to one of his allies for safekeeping.
In "Book 2", Marth's ally Hardin has become the new Emperor of Archanea. Two years later, Marth becomes suspicious of his former friend when Hardin begins the forceful military occupation of neighboring countries, with Marth's army being used as part of the conquests. Marth soon discovers the forces of darkness at work again as Hardin and his forces become corrupt. Marth soon also learns that Medeus and Gharnef are still alive. Tracing an old legend, Marth retrieves the Fire Emblem once again, and goes on a quest to retrieve the twelve star orb shards to revive the shattered Starsphere. All the while, having been branded a traitor by Hardin, Archanean forces hunt his allies relentlessly, all the way to the desert of Khadein. Finding out from Boah that a depressed Hardin was turned evil with the Darksphere by Gharnef in the form of a merchant and only the Lightsphere can save him. When the Sage Gato assists him on his quest, Marth journeys through the icy mountains to obtain the Lightsphere, required to defeat and free Hardin.
With the Lightsphere, Marth and his allies stage a final assault on Archanea to liberate Altea, to save Hardin and his sister. Sadly, Marth isn't able to save Hardin from the Darksphere without killing him in the process. After Hardin dies, two special chapters are unlocked, and Marth and his allies discover where the new incarnations of Medeus and Gharnef are residing. Gharnef again holds the Falchion sword, and using the Starlight magic, Gharnef is defeated, and Marth confronts Medeus, who has now taken the form of a dark dragon. In the final confrontation, Medeus holds captive Sirius's love interest Nyna, Minerva's younger sister Maria, Julian's lover Lena, and Marth's sister Elice. After a fierce battle, Marth manages to defeat Medeus and peace is restored to the land. Marth and Caeda, by then in love, become the rulers of Marth's kingdom.
Development and release
Mystery of the Emblem was developed by Intelligent Systems, the original creators of the Fire Emblem series, under supervision from publisher and studio owner Nintendo. Development began after the completion of Fire Emblem Gaiden, with development lasting almost three years. Shouzou Kaga returned as designer and writer. Keisuke Terasaki acted as director, while Gunpei Yokoi returned as producer. The characters were designed by Katsuyoshi Koya, who would go on to work on Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. The music was composed by Yuka Tsujiyoko, who worked on the soundtrack with sound designer Masaya Kuzume. She would later refer to the game as her favorite title out of the Fire Emblem games she had worked on.
Due to the increased hardware capabilities, the team were able to increase both the content and graphical quality. With the aim of encouraging new players to buy the game, the overall difficulty was reduced compared to previous entries. After the unconventional gameplay of Gaiden, Mystery of the Emblem returned to the traditional gameplay used for Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, in addition to continuing the story of Marth after focusing on different characters for Gaiden. Mystery of the Emblem was initially only going to include original story content, but after consideration, it was decided to include an upgraded version of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for those who had not played the original. Another proposed plan was to split the release into two parts: a remake of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Mystery of the Emblem. Due to space limitations, some characters featured in the original version of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light needed to be cut. The romance between Marth and Caeda was introduced as a refined version of a similar plot featured in Gaiden. As with previous games set in Archanea, the series' titular Fire Emblem took the form of a shield inset with five magical gems. According to Kaga, Mystery of the Emblem was intended as the last major title to be set on the continent of Archanea.
Mystery of the Emblem was released for the Super Famicom on January 21, 1994. It was the first Fire Emblem title for the system, and the first to use a 24-megabit cartridge. It would later receive multiple releases on Nintendo's digital Virtual Console platform: the version for the Wii released on December 26, 2006; the version for the Wii U on April 27, 2014; and the version for the Nintendo 3DS on June 22, 2016. Like other early Fire Emblem titles, it did not receive a Western release, though a full fan translation was released in 2008.
As of 2002, Mystery of the Emblem had sold 776,338 units. This made Mystery of the Emblem the best-selling title in the Fire Emblem series to that date.
Famitsu was generally positive about Mystery of the Emblem, citing both its overall quality and the improvements made to the gameplay and presentation of content from Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. Mike Moehnke of RPGamer felt that the story was "fine without being great", especially as it was a partial remake of the first game. While he enjoyed the gameplay, he noted that it felt like a precursor to the more refined and expanded mechanics of later titles in the series, despite praising the dismounting mechanic. The graphics he found unimpressive for the platform, while he found the audio a mixed effect with a lack of tunes in the first half and more variety and strength for the second half. He finished that the game was worth seeking out for series and genre fans, but that the language barrier and advances of subsequent Fire Emblem titles made it less appealing.
Nintendo Life's Gonçalo Lopes praised the general narrative, technical improvements and overall gameplay. He generally called it one of the best entries for the system and the series as a whole. In a retrospective on the game for its 20th anniversary, Dengeki Online called it both one of the best entries in the series, the genre and the system. Destructoid later ranked Mystery of the Emblem among the five best titles in the Fire Emblem series.
Mystery of the Emblem was adapted into an original video animation (OVA): two episodes were released in 1996, but no further episodes have been produced following poor sales, leaving the OVA series unfinished. Marth's Japanese voice actor, Hikaru Midorikawa, would go on to voice the character in subsequent appearances in spin-off and crossover media. These episodes were dubbed into English and released in North America in 1997, six years before Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken was localized. The localization was supervised by A.D. Vision, whose previous notable work included Neon Genesis Evangelion.
After the release of Genealogy of the Holy War in 1996, a title was released for the Satellaview peripheral service between September and October 1997. Titled BS Fire Emblem, the game is set prior to the events of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, featuring characters from the Archenea timeline. It was the first title in the Fire Emblem series to include voice acting, created using livestreaming during the original broadcast. BS Fire Emblem is not typically treated as part of the series, although its events are part of the Archanea timeline.
Mystery of the Emblem was remade and released in 2010 for the Nintendo DS: titled Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, it was built upon the gameplay systems of the first game's DS remake Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, and incorporated a customizable avatar as the main character alongside Marth. It also remade the story episodes of BS Fire Emblem, dubbed "New Archanea Chronicles". This is the first time content from a Satellaview title has been re-released in any form. Archenea later provided the setting for the 2012 Nintendo DS title Fire Emblem Awakening. Released overseas in 2013, it is set 1000 years after the events of Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light.
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