It was on everybodyísí mind when Super Smash Bros Melee game out in America. Who the hell were Marth and Roy and how come I havenít seen them in any Zelda games? Well after a year or two a Fire Emblem game was seen State side and saw Roy in the twinkle in his Fatherís eye. But America still didnít get a game with Marth and his tiara, that is, till Shadow Dragon was made. Shadow Dragon is the 11th installment in the growing Fire Emblem series, and the 2nd remake of the 1st Fire Emblem. Getting a completely new design, some more controls, options, chapters and online play Shadow Dragon certainly promises (to milk a franchise) a lot for a remake of a classic game.
FE: SD? Nintendo your doing it wrong!
Shadow Dragon tells the first Story
in the series, revolving around an impossible hair colored hero (what is this series fancy of unnatural hair color, especially blue Ill never get that), named Marth, and his fight to restore his kingdom to what it once was. Along your journey you meet various villains ranging from armies, mages, archers, and dragons (oh my), the standard enemy norm for all you Fire Emblem veterans out there. But no need to worry as you will also team up with some of the oddest patch of allies to ever fight in a war, also very common in the Fire Emblem series.As well Shadow Dragon also provides some newer stories and faces along the way to help provide some newer experience in this old chest nut of a story. From Mommaís boys, to Brothers that attack sisters, Russian voman that can't pronounce W's, and even a comical clown know has Gaggles.
The story is rather basic, and overall isnít that impressive, itís the standard ďbad guy brings back to live evil being, in this case (you guessed it) the Shadow Dragon, evil being (shadow dragon) tries to take over the world and destroy all humansĒ plan that as been check over and over again on the clichť checklist. The real appeal to this story however is the characters, and that is really important for what Fire Emblem is trying to pull off. You may have some characters you hate (Jagen), some you will like (Minerva), and others you fall in love with (Athena). But because of how the game is played one false move can mean the death of your beloved character, and when your character dies they stay dead. (ATHENAAA!!!! NOoOoo DONíT BE A HERO!). Because of this it gives you a drive to keep characters alive, and move on strategically which helps keep both the game and story intertwined. Not to mention releases some steam off by killing off other characters by sending them to their doom! (donít worry Jagen help is along the way heheh)
If Marth dies then every bodies games will be over!
Which brings me to the actual Gameplay
. Like all Fire Emblem games there are only a few things you really need to understand about it.
a)Itís like chess with RPG elements
2) When your character(s) die(s) they stay dead
E) One bad move can ruin everything for you.
The formula has not really changed over the years, but there are few new things to talk about. For one thing there are more buttons on the DS, and guess what? They do more stuff too, X, for instance, will give you the areas of your enemiesí range of attack/heal. This is a very helpful feature for anyone that has played the GBA games, as not knowing where your opponent can attack can kill off someone that wasnít meant to take the hit (I.E. Jagen). You can also mark certain enemies if you just want only worry about their attack range (I.E. ArchersÖ..). Shadow Dragon mainly uses the bottom screen for maps, and the top screen for battles, character information, and map information. In addition to all that you can now use the start button to skip your enemiesí phases, or your own. This all makes gameplay very fast paced and easy to use for on the go. However you canít just turn it off and turn it back on anymore because it just doesnít save your spot like it use to. Shadow Dragon has a different system for saving during battles, in battle there are save tiles, if you go on them and save on it, it will save that place in battle so you can returned to that particular save anytime, so it takes some getting use to. It can be very
helpful (*cough*RNG abuse*cough*), you can still suspend battle however, in case you donít want to waste the save tiles.
It's easy winning wars, just point the army and shoot!
Along with the new controls Shadow Dragon also brings along a few more additions to the party other Fire Emblems havenít yet (and no itís not a bag of chips and all that), online play. Online gives this game loads of replay value simply on building a good team on Wifi (which can get pretty ridiculous). Basic online play is done with 5 characters you personally built in game and test your characters and tactics on other players. Shadow Dragon provides a number of ways to increase your chances against other players(other then just being smarter then them); this includes forging weapons, cards, and an online store. The online store updates regularly on what weapons and items it has for sale for you, depending on the days (brave weapons aka cheap weapons are the most trick of them). Forging helps bring your weapons to itsí full potential and devastate your opponents, and cards are something that actives during online battles that gives you a little something extra that helps you get more of a edge on your opponent., depending on what it does (but not the hokey pokey). On top of online play, Shadow Dragon also offers 5 different hard modes to keep any Fire Emblem veteran on their toes (and frustrated for days to come). For the most part, besides the new additions to this game, itís pretty much the same game as all the other Fire Emblems, thankfully the online adds a much need spice to this rather normal hamburger.
in Shadow Dragon is also very much alike with its former gaming counterparts. It still helps the atmosphere for that medieval century feel (that you had at your 10th birthday party), but much of its track is near the same or an offbeat version of former soundtracks in past Fire Emblem games (or just phoning it in). It is disappointing, but you canít really imagine Fire Emblem games without the same track. Much like the Zelda series keeping some of their tracks from time to time, but in a much more cost effective way, in other words using the exact same sound track, but renaming the songs to suit the game. Although a good number of these songs are pretty catch (for being 10 or so years reused), it often gets boring listening to the same tracks over and over again.(especially if you done it for the past 5 or so games) The songs do help express the emotion in the game and help bring atmosphere for lighter moods, and sad ones to bring you down from the lighter ones. Sound effects are also the same, same sound for critical hits, same sound for magical hits, and healing items, nothing new. If you heard one Fire Emblem sound track you hear them all, nothing new.
Why can't the rest of this game be this pretty?
Speaking of new, first thing I noticed about Shadow Dragon was its Presentation
of its units. I have to say that they have some of the ugliest 3D models I have ever seen. I really wish they go back to sprites on this, or at least change art direction on it. The 3D models are way to big and slow moving compared to the sprites of the past portable Fire Emblem games. Fire Emblem seems to be a game for sprites, as they simply have not been able to make 3D pretty in any other Fire Emblem game, I donít know why they keep trying. This is probably the biggest obstacle for this game too, I donít even care about graphics that much, and even I was regretting my purchase at first due to the horrible 3D models. Horrible models aside everything else is presentable, the maps look nice and the terrain looks detailed, kinda like an old map in some ways, but it doesnít led you to any treasure. There are also some cutscenes with really detailed art work that just puts those 3D models to shame and wonder why they ended up with such designs for everything else when they had this good looking art work. It is a real shame, even the critical hits, which were a real treat back in the portable Fire Emblem games, are reduced dramatically and are not nearly as fun to watch as they once were due to the horrible 3D models and graphics. Really that is Shadow Dragons biggest flaw. If it was back to sprites or perhaps took a different route in art design this game would have been a lot more bearable in the eye sockets.
Get it? Slain, Dragon? Eh? Eh?
When the dragon is slain and the countries are reunited (and Marth still doesnít have a clue about love), Shadow Dragon brings back to life the classic Fire Emblem story, but with rather poor graphics. But with help of some charming characters, a lot full of hard modes and online to be dealt with, Shadow Dragon makes up well over for its horrid graphics. Itís a good game to get started in the series itís not too hard for newer people and itís not too easy for the fans of the previous games. For the most part this game is rather average experience for a Fire Emblem game, but the online battles take it to an interesting (obsessive) level so I suggest any fan to spin this game for ago, and any newbie thatís ever been curious about this series to check it out now! So I have to ask, will you join the League?