Marth’s origins make it to the United States
For those of you who played Super Smash Bros Melee and wondered where the heck Marth came from, this game will give you the answer. Marth became a character in Super Smash Bros 2 years before the Fire Emblem franchise would make its way over to the United States. Then after another 5 years, Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon arrived as a remake of the first Fire Emblem game. It gave the international audience its first look at Marth’s story, with improved graphics and gameplay from the original version that came 25 years before.
The story of the game is that long ago, the continent of Archanea was conquered by the king of dragonkin, Medeus, who gave rise to despair and fear. The tyranny was broken when a hero intervened, a young man from Atlea with a divine blade. The hero was victorious against the dragon, and for some time, the land enjoyed peace. But peace would end when the Shadow Dragon returned centuries after. The descendant of the dragon slayer hero would have to take arms against the Shadow Dragon to restore peace to the kingdom once again. However, that descendant is not Marth, but rather his father who is off at war while Marth stays behind studying. When you finally take control, Marth has just been called to see his sister when enemies appear.
The gameplay itself remains similar to the games that came before it. This is a turn-based strategy game, allowing you to move all the characters before the enemy moves to attack back. Be wary of the health and strength of the characters you move. They may be ganged up on by multiple enemies or struck down by an enemy with a weapon they are weak against, like Pegasus Knights with the near instant kill against bow wielding enemies. Just be aware of this because if they get struck down then they will not be usable for the next battle, or any battles afterwards. They still may appear in the game’s storytelling, however
Shadow Dragon included the new feature of online battling, having the forces you trained through your story to battle against those of your friends. Being the first Fire Emblem game on the DS, the touch screen could be used for controls over the buttons. Personally, I used the button controls more than the touch screen because it blocked the view of my items. The dual screen of the DS made the game much easier without the need to switch to the menu to get a map of the area. The movement screen wasn’t crowded with character information or battle goals. It was all just above on the top screen making a quick glance up save a lot of time.
Prologue chapters were added that enabled playing through the events that took Marth to the beginning of his quest to defeat the Shadow Dragon, giving some exposition before jumping into the thick of the story. However, the length of the game is short, consisting of 25 chapters. This may sound long, but when compared to 40+ chapters in other titles that arrived to the US, it begins to lack in comparison. I personally had struggled with levels, trying to ensure I made it to the end of the game with the full cast of characters in my party. I would reset the game each time I lost one to start the battle all over again, or if lucky, from a save point that I made. When I had completed the final chapter, I had a feeling of, “Is that it?” I was stunned and confused that the game was over already. The story finished itself, but I was still left wondering if that was really all there was to it.
Overall, the game is just as enjoyable as the other games in the series. The gameplay makes this series just as much as the characters it introduces. If you enjoyed other games in the Fire Emblem series, then you should pick up this one when you get the chance.