Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
You probably don’t know Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. The game hasn’t received a lot of attention, for once arrives in Europe before the US and has to do with a very unattractive box art. Inside the box, however, I found a very enjoyable strategy game that reminded of Advance Wars, another top game on the DS.
Some googling quickly showed that developer Intelligent Systems was responsible for amongst other things WarioWare and Paper Mario, something that already gave us hope for a nice experience. This game also appears to be the 8th episode in the Fire Emblem series which suggests the gameplay should be polished. The first impression is therefore positive. You get well-known turn-based combat with the necessary areas divided into squares but also a lot of RPG elements like classes and increasing experience that improve your units. Most notable in the genre, however, is the storyline that’s more than some rehashed text in between missions.
The main story doesn’t get a prize for originality (save a girl, save the empire, defeat a dragon) but is set up excellently and it most of all the extensive characters that make everything so fun. The reason the makers put a lot of time and effort in this is clear. They wanted you to care about the characters who you build throughout the game: once they die on the battlefield you’ll have lost them for ever! This not only results in the necessary immersion but also for a lot of exciting moments and a small cheer of joy when one of your men barely managed to escape imminent death. Also you’ll constantly have to look for a balance between using your strongest characters and leveling the rookies.
Too bad that although the graphics are oldskool enough to please the purists amongst you they’re not fun or charming enough to receive the label “cute”. Functional and less eye candy than I hoped for. The controls of your troops on the other hand did get an excellent finishing and you’ll never have to fumble unnecessarily with your stylus to get your party to do what you want thanks to the good use of the double screen. And good as a lot of battery time will be spent on this game that counts 25 levels and is also blessed with a well worked-out multiplayer. If you succeed in finding someone else through the Wi-Fi network that is.
This remake of an 18 year old NES game, as that’s what it is, is a very good idea and again delivers a strategy title to put your teeth in. If you’re looking for an alternative for Advance Wars or like RPG elements with the necessary tactical combat then you certainly should give this game a chance. If you like it you’ll be sure to have hours of qualitative and deep gameplay.