Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon Review
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Intelligent Sys. 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 17, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

While Shadow Dragon is indeed a game for hardcore-minded players, some elements have been adjusted to make the game palatable to a broader audience without sacrificing anything crucial. Speaking of sacrifice, units that die on the battlefield are still lost permanently, and the horror that will grip you when a favorite or powerful character is mercilessly cut down in battle is as potent as ever.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon screenshot

To balance this out, new units can be recruited at almost every mission, so you shouldn't find your army lacking in numbers even with a reasonable number of deaths. It's still a bitter pill to swallow. Four optional prologue missions added to the front end of the game serve as a tutorial and even introduce the concept of sacrificing units early on to help lessen the blow. A new save system that allows you to create a sub-save point within a particular map when you reach a set location makes things less frustrating. Of course, if the normal gameplay settings seem too easy, Fire Emblem vets can always fire up difficult mode, which boasts enemies that are up to five times stronger.

Online battles over the Nintendo WFC let you hand pick a five-member party from your current units available in the main game and pit them against friends or strangers in short matches set across small battlefields. The action flows the same as normal battles, though fog of war is implemented and matches only last 10 turns - the goal is to hold a single fortress by the end of the game or wipe your opponents out before time runs out. A five-minute limit is imposed for each turn a player takes to keep things from lagging. The online combat and other local wireless multiplayer features enhance the main game and provide some added replay value.

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Overall, the game is an excellent DS debut and offers a solid introduction point to the series for new players. It refines and fine-tunes the gameplay to provide a largely enjoyable strategy adventure. The only major complaint is the game doesn't really bring anything new to the table, aside from changes made to properly utilize the DS hardware. This would be more of an issue, if it wasn't an updated remake. As it stands, this Shadow Dragon is a great start. We want to see more next time around.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.9
Graphics
The cel-shaded sprites are awesome, and map artwork is a big improvement.
4.7
Control
The well-implemented stylus controls are a perfect addition to the old-school control methods.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack has a nice epic feel, even if the audio isn't a particularly high point of this package.
4.5

Play Value
An excellent quest with just enough new goodies to keep things feeling fresh. Local and online multiplayer options are a great addition.

4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Fire Emblem returns to its roots with a total overhaul of an NES classic never before released in America. New features include touch screen controls, multiple save options, and easy-to-follow tutorial chapters that shed new light on Marth's story. New players can jump into the action, even if they've never played a Fire Emblem game before.
  • Take the battle online and clash with players around the world over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. You can also borrow units to use in your army, talk with friends using the built-in Nintendo DS microphone, and even buy rare and powerful items from the Online Shop using in-game currency.
  • You are the general: Shape your army to suit your strategy by selecting from dozens of characters with unique spells and abilities. But guide your army wisely, because if a character falls on the battlefield, he's lost forever.
  • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon is the first to offer players a chance to test their skills against other players in combat. Using your broadband connection, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and wireless play modes, players are able to send units they've trained into battle up against those of another player. Collect optional cards to give your team a unique tactical bonus that can help you clench victory. During Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection matches, friends can talk to each other using the built-in Nintendo DS microphone.
  • Borrow units wirelessly or through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and use them in your own battles with the Loan Unit feature.
  • Six levels of difficulty ensure that even seasoned players can find a challenge in this new entry into the Fire Emblem series.
  • Purchase rare and powerful items using the gold you've acquired during your single-player campaign with the Online Shop feature. You never know what items you might come across, because new items rotate in and out of the armory on a daily basis.
  • Play through the events that brought Marth to the beginning of his quest through a new set of prologue chapters that were specially added to the game for its Nintendo DS release.


  • Screenshots / Images
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