The very first entry in the long-running Fire Emblem series is finally getting an official English localization. While the game was given an enhanced remake in 2008, called Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, the upcoming release will be the first time the NES original version of the game sees an English-language release.
Nintendo has confirmed that the game will be available through the eShop for $6 starting on December 4. However, puzzlingly, the game will be removed from the eShop after March 31. Eagle-eyed Nintendo fans might note that this is the date when Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 35 are both being removed from the eShop.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light
Originally released in Japan in 1990 for the Famicom system, Fire Emblem follows a young prince named Marth. Western fans were largely introduced to Marth as a special guest character in 2001’s Super Smash Bros Melee. In the game’s story, Marth has to stand against the evil Shadow Dragon, Medeus. To do so, he has to reclaim the legendary blade of light, Falchion.
The game was originally created as a companion to the popular game Famicom Wars, though filtered through a lens of role-playing games and using medieval era units instead of modern technology.
While Western fans know that series as Advance Wars, thanks to the title of the Game Boy Advance version that was released outside of Japan, it has long been the sibling of Fire Emblem. However, in recent years, Fire Emblem has far outpaced Advance Wars in terms of sales and popularity, leading to the long-running series being shelved indefinitely.
The English-language re-release of the game will not be part of Nintendo’s NSO program, unlike the numerous other NES games that are available at no extra charge to subscribers of Nintendo Switch Online. Instead, it will be a standalone $6 release. However, it will include the fast-forwarding, rewinding and save states that the NSO releases of NES titles support.
There will also be a special, limited-edition physical release for the game. The collectors’ edition box will retail for $50, and commemorates the series’ 30th anniversary. The physical edition will include a replica of an NES cartridge, a deluxe art book, a replica game box, a localized instruction manual, and a mini Nintendo Power collectable. Suffice it to say, Fire Emblem fans are likely to be scooping this one up.
Nintendo Switch Online
Some Switch owners have noted that the $6 extra price tag to access the English version of the game seems unfair. After all, the game is included in the NSO subscriptions of Japanese users. A counterpoint to this is that the release required a substantial amount of localization work. However, the existence of the 2008 remake does call into question just how much localization would have been necessary for Nintendo.
In either case, the game is yet another moment in the company’s recent dealings that has left fans wishing for the return of the proper Virtual Console. The Wii, 3DS, and Wii U all offered ports of classic Nintendo games through a service called Virtual Console. However, the Switch has had no such service, and instead Switch owners have access to select NES and SNES titles through Nintendo Switch Online.