Fire Emblem Theme
I recently replayed through Fire Emblem (7: Rekka no Ken/Blazing Sword) on the Wii U Virtual Console, and it holds up extremely well. Awakening was one of the best games to come in 2013 amidst a slew of other amazing "Year of the 3DS" games, and is probably still one of the best games on the system. Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn are both fantastic games that sell for very high prices, but are worth every penny, with perhaps the best told and least traditional story in the series. The older entries in the series that were never translated are challenging, but very fun games: FE4 with its trademark generational system is great, and FE5, one of the hardest games I've ever played, both stand out as some of the best strategy RPGs in the genre due to their unique mechanics and crushing but rewarding difficulty, respectively. Fire Emblem 4 and 5 also take a seldom seen approach in that Fire Emblem 5 is a midquel to Fire Emblem 4, taking place in between chapters five and six of that game. The story is full of political intrigue - it's certainly the most politically oriented set of games in the series - and takes place over the span of two generations, so you're able to watch the children of the heroes take over at a certain point. It's an ambitious concept that the games pulled off very nicely.
The story is almost always cliche, but I don't think there's been one FE with a plot I did not enjoy. Most of the stories revolve around a sacred item known as the Fire Emblem, whose history, purpose and appearance changes from game to game, and a bid to save your kingdom from an evil invader. As I mentioned above, some of the games do step outside of the series' comfort zone of "little lordling saves the world and rescues his kingdom," such as the Tellius duology - Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn - where the main character, Ike, is not a lord, but rather a mercenary leader. Even in this case, the game is still very much grounded in high fantasy tropes, but again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Without spoiling too much, the Tellius games even manage to make ye olde Black Knight trope interesting again.
As long as I'm on the subject, I might as well parrot some love for my favorite class in the series. Mine has to be Swordmaster and its variants, although it pains me not pick other amazing classes like Hero or Paladin. From the Fire Emblem Wiki:
The Swordmaster (ソードマスター, Swordmaster; 剣聖 Kensei, Sword Saint, in the Japanese version) is the promotion of the Myrmidon. These lightly armored foot soldiers are capable and have an increased chance to deal critical attacks. The Swordmaster has a high amount of speed when compared to many of the other classes, giving them high accuracy and evasion, making them a very deadly class. The Swordmaster class was officially introduced in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (where Ayra and her daughter Larcei defined the class, including its signature skill, Astra). The Blade Lord Lyndis from Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken and the Great Lord Eirika from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones are considered to be a variations of Swordmasters, having the same stat caps. The average HP stat of Swordmasters varies greatly regardless of gender, it can be high or low.
My introduction to this class, like many others, was with Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, commonly known as Fire Emblem in the west. Lyndis is a lordly variant of the Myrmidon and Swordmaster classes, but the character that really sold me on them was Karel, the Sword Demon.
A pre-promoted unit in any given Fire Emblem has an 80% chance of being not as good as a unit that you raise yourself, but Karel tears up the battlefield with the best of them. He looks extremely cool and returns in the next chronological entry as an older, wiser, and redeemed man, now known as the Sword Saint.
|An older Karel finds redemption. As his story is told in reverse, this is the first incarnation of the character you see, provided that you play the games in their order of release.|
The animations for Myrmidons and Swordmasters are also among the best in the series, with a very flashy flair to the way that they move and an extremely intense critical hit. Even their regular attack has them spinning through the air. Lyn's Blade Lord variants are quite possibly the most stylish critical animations in her game. You can always count on the Myrmidon line to add an extra bit of cool to their attacks.
|Karel's critical animation from Fire Emblem 7.|
|Lyn, the Blade Lord, with her own unique critical animation.|
|Lyn uses her divine weapon to up the ante. The Game Boy Advance sprites were, as you can see, extremely stylized, and are largely regarded to be the best style of presentation that the series has had.|
Even when the series moved onto awkward 3D models in Path of Radiance and beyond, the Swordmaster class always managed to convey a sense of immense speed and skill with its animations, with its units sheathing and unsheathing their swords extremely quickly and making very precise strikes with their blades.
The most recent Fire Emblem, Fates, has quite possibly the most brokenly overpowered character in any of the games in Ryoma, and his class is... you guessed it, Swordmaster! Ryoma takes the class to an entirely new level with his sacred sword, Raijinto, which essentially functions as a Silver Sword with a ranged attack. His terrifyingly strong offense combined with his high dodge makes him nigh unstoppable, and represents the best of what the class has to offer.