After 30 years of being a Japan-exclusive release, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light is finally being localized. Nintendo just recently announced that a newly translated English version of the game will soon be coming to the Switch. It’ll be available as an eShop download only, pricing at a very affordable $5.99. The game’s already up for pre-purchasing so you can hop right in when it releases on December 4th.
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light first came out in 1990 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It marked the beginning of the Fire Emblem franchise and would lay the groundwork for all future games that proceeded it. However, the game never officially released anywhere outside of Japan, which is what makes this particular announcement so exciting. There are millions of Fire Emblem fans all around the world, including myself, who will be experiencing this game for the first time. It’s a great opportunity to both see where this prolific series got its roots, and reflect on how it’s evolved when compared to the more modern games.
Speaking of modern Fire Emblem entries, the Switch version of Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light also includes new features found in current games. More specifically, a turn rewind mechanic and the ability to speed up animations. This is of course accommodating for newer players as both of these features are key elements in recent titles. But not to fret, as these are merely options. If you’re a purist who wishes to play through the game in its original form, you can still do so. The fact that Nintendo has updated this game at all is a pleasant surprise, and if anything, only adds value to this localization.
Even with the pandering to a modern audience, it’s clear that Nintendo isn’t forgetting about its older fans with this release either. The largest testament to this being this game’s collector’s edition. At $49.99, the Fire Emblem 30th Anniversary edition contains a replica NES Game Pak, a miniature Nintendo Power collectible, and multiple other items that are sure to satiate any retro gaming nostalgia. Compared to other North American collector’s editions, this one is shockingly pretty grand. For any hardcore longtime Fire Emblem fans, you’re certainly getting your value out of this purchase.
While the reception to this announcement was for the most part positive, there is one minor detail that has gotten people online a little riled up. For whatever reason, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light will only be available up to March 31st, 2021. You’ll still be able to play the game after said date, it’ll just no longer be on the eShop starting April 1st.
If this sounds familiar it’s because the same is also the case for Super Mario 3D All-Stars. No one knows exactly why Nintendo is doing this, but it’s going to happen nonetheless. Truthfully, if you have any interest in playing this game, just download it the moment you can. At such a low price you really don’t want to potentially miss out on this classic RPG.
All in all, the localization of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light is a much-appreciated tribute to the franchise’s 30th anniversary. Albeit, a number of months late. Regardless, I think most people can agree that Nintendo taking the time to honor their legacy content is really cool.
Older video games with such rich histories to them, like Fire Emblem, should be preserved. And making them more accessible to younger and different audiences does just that. It will never be a bad thing that more people can play a game. I can only hope that we see more region-locked releases get the same treatment going forward.