|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.
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.
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.
CCC Staff Contributor