Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light – FIRST FIRE EMBLEM! – Review

Fire Emblem: Three Houses was one of the best turn-based strategy games released in 2019. Going on to win tactics game of the year from The Game Awards… and deservedly so. And now, on Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary, Nintendo has seen fit to release a remake of the 1990 original that started it all.

Check out our VIDEO REVIEW of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light!

What’s The Game’s Story About?

The story follows Prince Marth of Altea. Exiled from his homeland, Marth slowly builds up a squad of allies. Creating an army to acquire the sacred sword, Falchion, whilst seeking out a legendary treasure called the Fire Emblem. His ultimate goal being to slay the evil Shadow Dragon, Medeus, in order to restore peace and prosperity to his kingdom.

There’s a lot happening here… Just not inside the game itself.

There’s a lot happening here, but it’s very hard to know what’s going on from purely playing the game. It chucks you straight into the thick of things without giving you much of a backstory. So, if you wanna know more about the world and characters, you’re gonna have to make a few solo searches yourself. As there is a tonne of lore in the original… You just won’t find it in the game’s actual content, unfortunately.

Does Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light Still Hold Up?

Keep in mind when you’re playing that, even though this is a remaster, don’t expect anything drastic. This is still an 8-bit tactics game that is solely focused around the different battles and little story segments you get with each new map. With all due respect, this makes the whole experience rather repetitive and you can get bored relatively easily. Not to mention, when fighting, you’ll have to figure out through trial and error which units are more effective against others. 

You’ll have to figure out through trial and error which units are more effective against others.

Apart from this, the tactics side is brilliant! Especially with having certain tiles that add specific stat buffs or debuffs. And since I’ve never played this Fire Emblem before, I was pleasantly surprised at how similar the essence of the first entry is to Three Houses.

The scripted battle sequences are still super dramatic!

The only real main aspect that’s missing is the extensive narrative. But hey, this tactical-RPG was made in 1990, 5 years before I was born. So it stands to reason that it wouldn’t have had an immense story. Even then, I still find it enjoyable. I mean, you can’t HELP but find it enjoyable when you listen to that 1990’s retro game music. It just gets the head bopping.

Quality of Life Changes In Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light

It is important to note, however, that there have been some changes for the new Switch release. The first being that you can now rewind to previous turns. This is something I am massively familiar with, having played Three Houses multiple times. It is definitely one facet that makes the game a lot easier. As it allows you to foresee the outcome of upcoming events, then back out and try something different. The only problem with this though (and it’s the same issue I had with Three Houses), is that having to be careful with your characters whilst living with the knowledge that your move is final, creates a certain feeling of suspense that might be lost with this extra addition.

Living with the knowledge that your move is final, creates a certain feeling of suspense that might be lost with this extra addition.

Secondly, you can now fast forward enemy and player actions. This is a great inclusion, as battles can end up taking a long time to complete. Especially if you’re trying to plan out some sneaky suss moves. With this speed-up of the game’s processes, this means that you can take your turns more quickly. Letting your units advance around the battle-map faster.

And Lastly, you have the ability to create and load Bookmarks. Which again, are incredibly useful. Particularly when you are slugging through a tough battle and need to stop suddenly. So basically, how it works is that when you save a bookmark and load it, it’ll take you straight back to where you were previously.

All these additions have been tried and tested in other Fire Emblems. And they’ve brought them back here to help improve the experience of this classic, for a wider audience. 


The main point to take away from this title is that it’s going to play massively off of peoples nostalgia. Or in my case… curiosity. My first Fire Emblem experience was Three Houses, and for me, it was THE best game of 2019. So as soon as they announced this Shadow Dragon release, it was just something that I had to see. Was it going to be like Assassin’s Creed, where the first entry was kind of forgettable? Or like Crash Bandicoot, where the original’s now regarded as a classic?

Nevertheless, the ultimate here question is – should I purchase Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light or not? Honestly, it depends. IF you enjoy tactics games, then definitely give this a go. It’s a fantastic effort for a retro title released all the way back in 1990. Giving you a glimpse into one of the first real early entries in the tactical role-playing genre. That being said, if you don’t like tactics games… Well, then why are you reading this article?

Reviewed by Dillon Van Der Putten

Game by INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS CO., LTD. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.


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