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The Ones I Finished Video Games

Game 244 — Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem

I’ve completed my 244th video game, Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem for the Nintendo DS. This wouldn’t have been possible without a complete fan translation of the Japanese version by The Heroes of Shadow as well as an addendum patch by joesteve1914 that aligns the translation with the newer official games. It really is an extraordinary time in the romhacking scene. Here are my thoughts on the game:

I enjoyed Fire Emblem: Three Houses so much that I decided to go back to the beginning of the series, but I took the roundabout way. Instead of playing the NES original, I played the much maligned Nintendo DS remake… but not before applying Cirosan’s Full Content Patch. The patch attempts to bring Shadow Dragon to the level of quality of New Mystery of the Emblem. In retrospect, I’d say that effort was a success because I had a decent time with the game.

It only makes sense that I’d eventually get around to playing the sequel.

New Mystery of the Emblem is an expanded remake of the third game in the series, which was originally released for the Super Nintendo in 1994. It picks up one year after the events of the first game, with Marth being tasked with quelling a rebellion in a neighboring country in the the Kingdom of Archanea. Things are hardly as simple as they seem at first, and Marth’s crew ends up undertaking a quest to save the world.

Archanea seems to have history that pre-dates Marth, but the narrative of this game isn’t particularly complex. Rather than a being nuanced character story, this game strikes me as a legend full of archetypal heroes and villains. And the narrative is just something that happens between battles. It’s a bit simplistic, but that simplicity fits the theme of the game.

However, New Mystery of the Emblem does make an important addition to the Fire Emblem series. At the beginning of the game, you create a custom, self-insert character (default name Kris) to fight alongside Marth and his army. This may seem insignificant at first, but it is a detail that points toward an interesting thematic element of this game. New Mystery of the Emblem isn’t simply a retelling of the events depicted in the SNES version of the game. If you pay close attention to the game, it presents itself as a revision of the historical record. It suggests that Marth wasn’t the singular hero of the legend. Kris proves himself to be as important—if not more so—to the tide of battle as Marth attempts to reunite the Kingdom of Archanea. Kris’s contribution to the quest was lost to history… until this game.

It’s a subtle detail that fits the way that all of the Fire Emblem games (that I’ve played) seem to be told in past tense. It’s almost as if the events of the game are imperfectly passed from one generation to the next, and our telling of the events of the original Mystery of the Emblem have to be updated to include this new historical discovery.

Beyond this little narrative treat, New Mystery of the Emblem is a fairly straightforward tactical game. You move your units around a battle grid, fighting enemy units until you can seize the enemy control point. Along the way your units level up, your equipment degrades, you recruit new allies, and you learn about the growing danger that threatens the world The game does become more challenging toward the end, pushing me beyond my meager proficiency with tactics games. Thankfully, you can also use the Drill Grounds to grind your characters to godlike power in short order. Additionally, I think there are even a few points where you can miss an item that makes it impossible to complete the game.

Overall, this game is pretty far from perfect. I even bounced off of the game for a few months, before I felt the urge to come back and tie up some loose ends. I think New Mystery of the Emblem is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the Fire Emblem series.

I’ve tentatively ranked it 210 out of 244.

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