How Super Smash Bros. Melee Introduced Fire Emblem to Western Audiences

February 4, 2017 - Super Smash Bros

Old Newcomer

On Jan 18, Nintendo clinging an whole Direct livestream to a Fire Emblem tactical-RPG franchise. Clocking in scarcely an hour, a Direct strike fans with a undoubted blast of announcements for games set to invade countless platforms—Fire Emblem Heroes for mobile devices, a reconstitute of Fire Emblem Gaiden for 3DS, a action-heavy Fire Emblem Warriors for Switch and 3DS, and a bone-fide supplement on Switch someday in 2018.

Demand for Fire Emblem is during an all-time high, origination it one of Nintendo’s many in-demand franchises. It wasn’t always so select in a United States. As a matter of fact, it’s approaching that a array would usually be on a tips of savvy importers’ tongues if not for a success of Super Smash Bros. Melee.


Although Fire Emblem games are grown by Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd., Nintendo has been a partner in their origination given their beginning.

Intelligent Systems was founded by Tohru Narihiro in Dec 1986. The fledgling studio held a large mangle when Nintendo engaged Narihiro to pier program grown for a luckless Famicom Disk System to ROM cartridges, a company’s storage middle of choice for a NES console outward of Japan. Impressed by Narihiro’s technical skills, Nintendo given a studio with engineering collection to support in coding games designed by Nintendo’s Research Development 1 division. Most famously, RD1 and Intelligent Systems co-developed Metroid for Famicom and NES.

As a budding partnership flowered, Nintendo concluded to furnish and tell games done by Intelligent Systems. Narihiro’s initial game, co-developed with RD1, was Famicom Wars, a turn-based plan diversion in that players control hostile red and blue armies. Players are given supports to build factories and holder out units. Some units are matched to land-based combat, while others take to a skies or conflict by sea.

Narihiro’s subsequent diversion was Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and a Blade of Light. With Narihiro essay code, author and engineer Shouzou Kaga aspired to combine Famicom Wars’ tactics-heavy gameplay with enthralling stories and RPG mechanics like those found in Square’s Final Fantasy and Enix’s Dragon Quest—a artistic alloy that warranted a nomination “tactical RPG.”

For Fire Emblem, Kaga recognised of turn-based gameplay with aloft stakes. Players were reserved a calculable volume of units that changed and fought opposite grid-based maps. Like in Famicom Wars, players with a mind for plan increasing their contingency of feat by positioning units to feat fitting terrain.

Unlike Famicom Wars, however, units in Fire Emblem weren’t mass constructed during factories. Troops were equivalent to characters. Winning battles afforded them opportunities to turn adult and grow stronger. If a impression died in battle, it was left for good.

Critics and consumers held on to Fire Emblem slowly, warming to a sobriety of each skirmish, and to Prince March, a protagonist out to retrieve his bench from an immorality sorcerer. The diversion eventually sole good adequate for Nintendo to elect expansion of a sequel, Fire Emblem Gaiden.

Intelligent Systems gifted solid expansion alongside a ascent celebrity of a tactical RPGs. In further to 4 some-more Fire Emblem Games for Super Famicom, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Advance platforms, inner teams grown hits like Paper Mario for N64 and Mario Kart: Super Circuit for GBA, all constructed by Nintendo.

Around a time Nintendo’s GameCube console entered into production, a rising star inside Nintendo took an seductiveness in Fire Emblem.


Masahiro Sakurai got his start during HAL Laboratory, another tiny studio inexorably related with Nintendo’s. At age 19 he invented Kirby, a pinkish beach ball-shaped impression means to take enemies’ super powers by inhaling them.

Some years after Sakurai was allocated a executive of Super Smash Bros., a cartoonish fighting diversion starring over half a dozen of Nintendo’s many tangible characters. The diversion went on to sell over 5 million copies, guaranteeing a sequel. Sakurai opposite took a director’s chair for Super Smash Bros. Melee, a supplement for a GameCube.

Better graphics and tighter gameplay were expected, though Sakurai was generally meddlesome in characters. While Mario, Pikachu, and Link were famous and desired around a globe, Sakurai expel a wider net. Specifically, he had his eye on Fire Emblem’s Marth. He favourite swords, and wanted some-more characters who could cranky blades with Link. He also campaigned for Roy, a some-more new book to array criterion introduced in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, a sixth entrance in a authorization and a initial on Game Boy Advance.

Released in Nov 2001 in Japan, Super Smash Bros. Melee done a burst stateside a following month. The diversion went on to sell 7 million copies, installation it a highest-selling diversion for GameCube. At one indicate it was estimated that roughly 70 percent of GameCube owners had Melee in their collection, a top insert rate for any diversion on a system.

Fire Emblem’s characters played an constituent purpose in a game’s success—but not during first. Sakurai secluded a swashbucklers as secrets characters that could usually be unbarred by players peaceful to make a vicious time investment. To exhibit Marth, players had dual options: transparent a game’s Classic Mode with all 14 unchanging characters, afterwards best Marth in a one-on-one contest; or play 400 matches in Versus mode. Roy was unbarred by completing Classic Mode regulating Marth.

The deceive of privacy around Marth and Roy done them now appealing to Smash Bros. players. Mario, Link, Zelda, Bowser, Pikachu, and Kirby were households names, though Marth and Roy were finish unknowns. That mystery, joined with a fad of finally laying hands on them after jumping by so many hoops, increasing their appeal.

There was means for even some-more excitement. Discovering Marth and Roy was like distinguished oil by accident—a mint Nintendo authorization fountaining adult a resources of characters and stories and gameplay possibilities.

There was only one problem. No Fire Emblem games had done their approach to western shores. Only players flush with adequate money to import them, and peaceful to learn how to review Japanese, got to get in on a fun.

Serendipity intervened.

Advanced Tactics

Nintendo’s pillars business plan is identical to diversifying a financial portfolio. Rather pinning all their hopes on one pillar, such as a Game Boy or Super NES, they support mixed pillars during once. Either they’ll all thrive, or one can be used to support a other during a downturn. That plan paid double in 2001. While Super Smash Bros. Melee took GameCube by storm, Intelligent Systems and Nintendo rolled Advance Wars onto GBA.

Advance Wars was designed as a devout inheritor to Tohru Narihiro’s Famicom Wars. Red and blue armies fought for dominance, bolstered by colorful anime-style graphics and two-player support around a GBA’s Game Link Cable.

The multiple of strenuous support for Marth and Roy, and vicious commend and clever sales for Advance Wars, communicated a transparent summary to Nintendo and Intelligent Systems. Western consumers had a hungry for tactical, turn-based gameplay.

The companies motionless to move a seventh Fire Emblem, subtitled Rekka no Ken in Japan, to a west. Titled simply Fire Emblem and expelled for GBA, it met with clever sales and vicious reception. Although reviewers informed with a authorization elite stories and mechanics from progressing entries, critics who were personification a Fire Emblem diversion for a initial time fast got wrapped adult in a story-driven battles.

Many admitted it higher to Advance Wars essentially given of a ever-present hazard of losing characters. One slip, one clearly harmless choice not complicated from each fathomable angle, and a dear impression could be mislaid forever.

Future Conquests

Fire Emblem’s assembly is ardent about their favorite franchise, and Nintendo and Intelligent Systems have them covered. Fire Emblem Heroes noted a initial pretension done for Android and iOS platforms, and another 4 games are slated for Switch and 3DS by 2018.

Not that tactical decisions and emotionally taught stories are all that a authorization offers. For players who only wish to blow off some steam, Marth, Roy, and a flourishing garb of characters mount prepared in watchful in each incarnation of Super Smash Bros. given Melee.

While it’s loyal that Fire Emblem will never outsell Mario, Zelda, or Pokémon, sales aren’t everything. More than ever before, Fire Emblem offers something for everyone. 

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