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Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (Japanese: ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎 Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem) is a turn-based strategy role-playing game released in 1994 for the Super Famicom, exclusively in Japan. It is the third game installment in the Fire Emblem series, the first for Super Famicom, and in part a direct continuation of the story of the original game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, again set on the continent of Archanea and following the adventures of Marth of Altea.
Mystery of the Emblem is divided into two sections, dubbed "Books". Book 1 is a slightly abbreviated remake of Shadow Dragon, again following Marth's journey in the War of Shadows as he leads the army of the Archanean League against the Dolhr Empire and their ruler, the feared Shadow Dragon Medeus. Book 2 tells a new story set two years after the first book's events, in which Marth must lead a rebellion against a powerful and corrupted former ally in a new conflict, the War of Heroes, all the while uncovering the true history of Archanea and the mysterious origin of its sacred relics, the sword Falchion and the Fire Emblem.
During the Super Famicom's lifespan, Mystery of the Emblem was supported with the release of BS Fire Emblem: Archanea War Chronicles, a series of four chapters broadcast through the Satellaview satellite radio streaming service which told new stories featuring other members of the cast in adventures leading up to Marth's own. The first few chapters of Book 1 were also adapted into a short-lived original video animation series, Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, which received an English-language dub long before the Fire Emblem games themselves commenced international releases.
Sixteen years after the release of Mystery of the Emblem, an enhanced and extended remake of Book 2 was released for the Nintendo DS console, Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, Heroes of Light and Shadow. In addition to its two Virtual Console re-releases in its original form, Mystery of the Emblem was also available as a playable Masterpiece in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, allowing players to experience a three-minute demo of Marth's origins as a character; owing to the game's lack of an English version, it was removed from international releases of Brawl.
Book 1: The War of Shadows
Marth, the prince of the fallen kingdom of Altea, has lived for two years years in exile in the island kingdom of Talys, in hiding from the forces of the Shadow Dragon Medeus amidst his conquest of the land of Archanea. After assisting Talys's princess Caeda in repelling a pirate assault on the nation, Marth departed the island with its king's support to answer a call for support by Nyna, the princess of the fallen kingdom of Archanea. Marth led his small band of knighs and mercenaries through the mountains to Archanea's north until they reached Aurelis, where Nyna awaited under the protection of Aurelis's prince Hardin, a renowned resistance leader opposing Medeus's Dolhr Empire. Joining forces with Hardin's band, Marth led a charge of the Aurelis royal palace to free it from occupation by Macedon, one of Dolhr's allies in the conquest of the land. At the battle's end, Nyna presented Marth with the Fire Emblem, a symbolic treasure anointing him as the leader of the Archanean resistance against Dolhr and Medeus.
With Marth as their new leader, the Archanean League moved south to retake Archanea itself. En route they encountered Minerva, the princess of Macedon, forced to fight against her will while her sister Maria remained a hostage of the enemy. Receiving a plea from her subordinate Catria, Marth freed Maria from captivity and thus allowed Minerva and, later, her subordinate Whitewings to ally with him to put a stop to Macedon's hand in the war. After a prolonged battle, Marth marched on Archanea and stormed its capital palace, the Millennium Court, freeing it from Dolhr's control.
Next, Marth led the army en route to Altea itself through Gra, Altea's treacherous neighbor responsible for its downfall two years prior. Marth expected Falchion - his family's divine blade and a necessity to defeat Medeus - to be in Gra's possession after their murder of his father, Cornelius, but upon defeating Gra's King Jiol, Falchion was nowhere to be found. Marth and his advisor, Malledus, thus assumed Falchion was being held by Gharnef, Medeus's resurrector and minion and a key player in Cornelius's demise, and so Marth headed north to invade Gharnef's kingdom, Khadein, and reclaim Falchion. Though Marth's army won the battle, Gharnef's dark magic rendered him completely immune to any attacks and so prevented them from reclaiming Falchion. Marth was approached by Gotoh, the renowned White Sage, who told Marth of the key to defeating Gharnef: a spell tome known as Starlight, created by using two rare and powerful gemstones.
This detour proving to have mostly failed, Marth turned his sights back on Altea, now under the control of a Dolhr army led by the manakete Morzas. Marth's army led an assault on the Altean capital and freed it from Dolhr occupation, only for Marth to find his mother, Liza, had died too at the hands of Morzas, while his missing sister Elice remained in Gharnef's captivity. Afterward, heeding Gotoh's counsel, Marth led a hunt in the Fane of Raman, a temple in Dolhr-allied Grust, to collect the two gemstones needed to forge Starlight, and encountered the manakete princess Tiki, hypnotized into serving Gharnef. He then turned to finish the job and take out Grust itself, defeating its renowned general Camus when Nyna's pleas to sway Camus to their side failed. Marth then moved in on Macedon, Dolhr's sole surviving ally, and defeated its king Michalis, Minerva's elder brother.
After Gotoh forged Starlight for Marth's army to use, he sent them to the tower of Thabes to confront Gharnef. Despite his attempts to trick Marth with a host of duplicates, Marth's army prevailed over Gharnef using Starlight, allowing Marth to reclaim Falchion and free Elice from captivity. This left only the final battle itself: Marth led the Archanean league to storm Dolhr Keep, Medeus's capital, and confront Medeus himself. Using Falchion, Marth prevailed and Medeus died his second death. In the battle's aftermath, Marth proposed to Caeda and the various royals among his allies returned home to govern their territories.
Book 2: The War of Heroes
Following the end of the conflict later known as the War of Shadows, Nyna and Hardin were wed in order to continue the Archanean royal family; as part of an effort to restore Archanea to its former glory, King Hardin reorganized the kingdom into the Empire of Archanea and anointed himself its first emperor. Two years passed without incident until a new crisis arose in the Grust region, now Archanea-occupied territory. As Marth worked to heal Altea's wounds and prepared for his marriage to Caeda, Hardin bade Marth to lead the Altean army to Grust to suppress an insurrection there, a command Marth could not disobey owing to Archanea's power over Altea. Leaving Cain in charge of Altea's defense, Marth took Jagen and an assortment of knights with him to address the Grustian crisis. In Grust, he met with Lang, the general of the Archanean occupying force in the region, whose malicious attitude disgusted Marth; Lang revealed the alleged rebellion was being led by Lorenz, a former ally of Marth's, which raised Marth's suspicions about the situation. Marth soon learned that Lorenz was trying to protect the Grustian heirs, Yumina and Yubello, from the Empire and that the uprising was in response to the harsh Archanean domination of the region. Lorenz died from wounds sustained in an earlier battle, and with his last words warned Marth of Hardin's change into a tyrannical figure.
Despite Marth's protests, Lang arrived and took the two heirs into his custody, then commanded Marth to travel to Macedon and address another rebellion there, in which a military coup had taken Marth's former ally, Princess Minerva, prisoner. Marth's army successfully subdued the coup with the aid of Catria and Palla, but failed to find Minerva as she had already been taken away by her brother, Michalis. During this battle, Marth met Julian and learned of the mysterious disappearance of Minerva's sister Maria, and of the cleric Lena. He also encountered Linde, who entrusted Marth with the Fire Emblem again on Nyna's orders, although she remained unaware of why Nyna did so. Lang's next order to Marth was to recapture Yumina and Yubello, who had been freed from captivity in his castle by Ogma and were on the run; Marth, however, refused point-blank to follow Lang's orders any further, and his defiance was taken as an act of war by Lang, who fled upon being challenged by Jagen. Marth's army moved to rescue Ogma and the children, adopting them into his army along with a mysterious masked knight known only to him as Sirius. At the battle's end, Caeda arrived and broke the news to Marth that Altea had fallen to an assault by the Archanean army, and that only she had escaped while Elice remained behind to hold them off.
In a bid to end the Archanean abuse of the Grustian people, Marth led an attack on Olbern Keep, Lang's domain and the Archanean headquarters in Grust. Following Lang's defeat, Marth found Wendell imprisoned in the fortress, who told him of his quest to collect the lost pieces of the Starsphere to prevent the world from falling into ruin. On Wendell's advice, Marth travelled to the Fane of Raman in a bid to find some of the shards, only to find it stripped of all its contents by a band of local marauders. Their next destination was Chiasmir, seeking to cross the bridge to avoid pursuit, only to find the entire area already under the thumb of Hardin himself, who approached Marth and announced his intent to crack down on all possible dissent against him. Marth had no choice but to escape Chiasmir by sea, taking a ship north to Khadein. Marth resolved to find a way to pierce the dark protection his army had observed surrounding Hardin, but was interrupted by an attack by Khadein's mage corps. During the battle he and Wendell found his friend Merric fighting his former classmate Ellerean, who in a jealous fit toward Merric had seized control of Khadein and directed its army to attack Marth and Merric; he was also approached by Minerva, who had been tasked by Michalis with joining up with Marth to fight Hardin.
Once the crisis had been settled, he was contacted through magic by Gotoh, who told him of Hardin's fall to the Darksphere and requested he travel to the Ice Dragon Temple in the north in order to collect the Lightsphere, the only means of piercing the Darksphere's protection and saving Hardin. Guided by Xane, Marth travelled to the Ice Dragon Temple on foot along Anri's Way, a path once traversed by Anri himself a century prior. As he travelled the route through the Marmotord desert, the Flame Barrel graveyard and the frozen wastelands of the north, fighting degenerated wild dragons, collecting the Starsphere's shards and learning from Xane the true history of Archanea, the manaketes and the creation of the Falchion and Fire Emblem. Upon reaching the Ice Dragon Temple, Gotoh used the twelve shards to reconstitute the Starsphere, giving both it and the Lightsphere to Marth to use against Hardin. He also allowed Marth to wake Tiki and take her with him on his journey, on the condition that Marth collected all five of the Emblem's spheres to restore its true power and allow Tiki to survive.
Gotoh sent Marth's army back to Altea with his warp magic, and Marth once again fought to free Altea from Archanean conquest. At the battle's end, Gotoh contacted him again to warn him of Gharnef's return, and that Gharnef was responsible for abducting Elice, Maria and Lena for reasons unknown, and that he likely sought to abduct Nyna next. Marth resolved to lead a march on the Archanean capital itself, to stop Hardin and get to Nyna before Gharnef abducted her; unbeknownst to him, Nyna had already been given away to Gharnef by Hardin himself. After a long campaign, Hardin fell to Marth's army, and as he died his mind returned to him and he begged Marth to save Nyna and stop Gharnef. Having collected the final sphere from Hardin, the Fire Emblem was restored to its true form, the Binding Shield; Marth was approached by the four missing clerics, but the Shield's power revealed it to be an illusion cast by Gharnef. Gotoh then arrived and told Marth of how Gharnef was preparing to revive Medeus himself using the four clerics.
In order to stop Gharnef, Marth travelled to the Dragon's Table in the Macedon/Dolhr border region. En route he visited a village and encountered a severely wounded Michalis, who gave Starlight to Marth for use against Gharnef once more. In the Dragon's Table, Marth's army fought Gharnef once more and used Starlight to kill him, allowing Marth to finally reclaim Falchion from him. The revived Medeus awaited in the next chamber, now evolved into the powerful form of a Shadow Dragon, surrounded by the four clerics hypnotized into his service. Determined to rescue the clerics, Marth had some of his allies work to awaken them, clearing the way for him to kill Medeus for the second and final time.
With the War of Heroes finally over, most of Archanea's noble houses were left in ruins. Almost all of its surviving rulers ceded sovereignty over their territories to Marth himself, and so Marth united the continent as the United Kingdom of Archanea, serving as its first king with Caeda as his queen. Under Marth's reign, the continent experienced a golden era of peace and its wounds began to heal.
Mystery of the Emblem plays by and large identically to the Famicom Shadow Dragon, with the addition of a small assortment of new gameplay mechanics.
Although significantly different from its widely known modern incarnation, Mystery of the Emblem features the first known appearance of support system, in which characters can perform better in battle if they are near their friends, family or loved ones. Most playable units have a hidden in-built support bonus with certain other units, and receive a boost of a few points to their stats in battle if they are within a three-tile radius of their support partner.
Mystery is the first of three games to implement the dismounting system, in which units who ride on horses, pegasi or wyverns can get off their mount and continue to fight on foot, losing their vulnerability to effective damage in exchange for lower movement range. In exterior chapters units can dismount or remount at will, but all riding units are forced to dismount when participating in indoor chapters.
- For the first time, when selecting a unit the player is shown their movement range and where they are able to attack. In the Famicom titles, this range is not shown due to the limitations of the console.
- It is now possible for units to gain experience from using staves; in the original game, the only way Priests could ever gain experience was by letting enemies attack them.
- Exclusively in Mystery, Manaketes and their dragonstones function differently from other games in the series. When used as items, the unit is transformed into their dragon state both on the field and in battle for five turns, giving them access to a breath weapon matching the dragon type.
- Mystery connected four previously stand-alone classes into class change lines: Knights now promote to Generals using a Knight Crest, and Hunters now promote to Horsemen using an Orion's Bolt. A few other classes still lack class change options entirely, which were implemented in the Nintendo DS remakes.
Between the two Books, Mystery features a total of 60 playable characters, with 46 in Book 1 and 45 in Book 2. Six characters from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light - Roger, Darros, Wrys, Jake, Beck and Gotoh - are no longer playable, and all but Gotoh do not appear at all.
Mystery of the Emblem features a total of 44 chapters, with 20 comprising Book 1 and 24 comprising Book 2. Five chapters from the original Shadow Dragon were cut from Mystery Book 1, with their recruitable characters and important events condensed into other chapters in the game.
Mystery of the Emblem has remained the best-selling Fire Emblem game in Japan ever since its release by a significant margin, having sold an estimated 776,338 copies in its original Super Famicom print run. Among Japanese gaming communities, Mystery is widely revered as the best and most popular title in the series, and was voted the sixty-eighth most popular game in Famitsu's "top 100 games" list in 2006, with no other Fire Emblem titles appearing on the list. At its release it was scored 36/40 by the magazine's reviewers, equivalent to 9/10 from each of the four reviewers on Famitsu's panel, a feat only since matched in the series by Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade and Fire Emblem: Awakening.
A basic fan translation was completed by VincentASM and RPGuy96 in 2008.
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|
|English||Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem||As of Fire Emblem: Awakening.|
|Japanese||ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎||Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem.|
|Spanish||Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem||As of Fire Emblem: Awakening.|
|French||Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem||As of Fire Emblem: Awakening.|
|German||Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem||As of Fire Emblem: Awakening.|
|Italian||Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem||As of Fire Emblem: Awakening.|
- Translan: 日本ユニ著作権センター／判例全文・2002/11/14d: (University of Japan Copyright Center / Case law full text 14-11-2002) (Japanese)
- 実験!! ゲーム家族のクロスレビュー: ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.343. Pg.107. 14 July 1995.
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem official Japanese website
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem Wii Virtual Console website (Japanese)
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem Wii U Virtual Console website (Japanese)
- Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem Fire Emblem Museum section (Japanese)