Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem (DS)

Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem is a remake of the second half of the SNES game, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, which itself was a combined remake and sequel to the original Fire Emblem on NES. It’s a companion game of sorts to Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on DS as Shadow Dragon remade the events of the original and the first half of Mystery of the Emblem whereas this game remade the events of Mystery that took place after the events of the first game. To give a little more incentive to buy this game, though, it also bundles the four maps from the Satellaview streaming exclusive BS Fire Emblem: Archanean War Chronicles which aren’t (legitimately) playable any longer outside of this DS release.

The story picks up where Shadow Dragon left off. The Dark Pontiff Gharnef has been defeated and evil shadow dragon has been banished from this world. A new threat has emerged, however, as Hardin, the new emperor of the mighty Archanean Empire, has begun to act extremely out of character, ruling his realm with an iron fist and mercilessly crushing any dissent. It quickly becomes apparent that while the shadow dragon’s body was defeated, the evil of its soul continues to persist, casting a new cloud of darkness over the continent. It once again falls to Marth to muster his allies and face down this evil with swords, magic, and waifus.

The most significant change to the Fire Emblem formula that New Mystery of the Emblem introduced was the addition of Casual Mode. To some folks, this forever ruined Fire Emblem by making it approachable to casual players, but I disagree. I would call Casual Mode the single most significant addition to the series since the weapon triangle for that very reason – it makes accessible to less skilled or less patient players an incredible series. For that, I have a lot of respect for Mystery of the Emblem. The character portraits and battle sprites look absolutely fantastic for the DS. The DS was perfectly capable of decent looking 3D games, but New Mystery of the Emblem perfectly demonstrates how exceptional the DS is as a 2D system.

Everything about New Mystery of the Emblem has been streamlined since the SNES game it remakes. The menu system between battles is simple and intuitive, the conversations between characters that flesh out their characters have been expanded to show more of their personalities and interactions with one another, and the control in battle is simple to use and free of any waste. The screens are perfectly used to keep the focus on the action. The bottom screen always displays the battlefield while the top screen can be used to display either unit formation (hit points, items, etc) or a mini-map with the force strength of each side.

Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem is everything a classic Fire Emblem game should be. It takes everything that made Shadow Dragon great and improves it, and it takes most of the flaws Shadow Dragon had and fixes them. It’s a shame that this game never saw a Western release, but fortunately, an excellent fan translation exists if you can find a working ROM and a good DS emulator (or, as I did, load the patched ROM onto a micro SD card and play it on a real DS with an R4 card). The inclusion of the BS Fire Emblem maps is my favorite “extra” from any Fire Emblem game just because how difficult it is to find a working ROM of those maps, in general, let alone a ROM patched into English. For Fire Emblem fans, this game is an absolute must even if you have to use some dubious means to play it in English.

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