So, after a two-year silence since Shadow Dragon in 2008, Intelligent Systems have announced a new Fire Emblem game. It’s sort of a remake of a remake, since half of the original Monsho no Nazo (or FE3 as it’s mostly called by the English fandom) on the Super Famicom was in itself a remake of the first Fire Emblem on the Famicom – although presumably they won’t include that section of the game in the DS remake.
The fandom is somewhat unimpressed in its response. It’s been three years since the last original offering, which was met with mixed reviews (although it’s still my favourite of the series), and all we’ve had in the meantime was a fairly lukewarm remake. Shadow Dragon, while not exceptionally bad, was pretty bland by FE standards – particularly due to a severe a lack of decent plot or characterisation, two things which English fans have come to expect from the series (although in fairness, the remake was pretty faithful to the original in this respect). It was also seen as quite money-grubbing of Intelligent Systems to only remake the first game, rather than the more extensive FE3.
Personally, I’m rather split on this issue. On the one hand, I’m pessimistic about the potential quality of the remake – Shadow Dragon definitely felt like a letdown after the four previous English-released games. Also, two remakes in a row carries the hint that perhaps IS is out of original ideas for an entirely new game. On the other hand, although a competent English patch of the original FE3 exists, it would be nice to have an official translation (admittedly, it’s not set in stone yet whether it’ll get a Western release but I’d wager it will do). Plus, a remake of FE3 might lead onto a remake and consequent translation for Seisen no Keifu, often hailed as the best in the series for its complex gameplay and storyline.
Besides all that, I’m a pretty rabid Fire Emblem fan. Having shelled out for all five of the Western releases (including my copy of The Sacred Stones found by chance in a Hungarian supermarket!) I guess I’ll probably do the same for this one if it comes out over here. FE has a pretty small fandom and we’ve only had about half of the series released in English, so we should support Intelligent Systems and encourage them not to abandon the Western market.
To end on a lighter note, whenever a new FE title is released, a common response in the fandom is to ask whether Marth features in the game, harking back to the days when FE was still unknown and most gamers’ exposure to the series was through Marth and Roy’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Melee – and consequently, newbies’ first questions about a Fire Emblem game would always be “is marth in this???”. For once, we can finally reply that yes, Marth is in this one.