Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Common Sense Media says

Terrific tactical RPG isn't suitable for younger gamers.

Age(i)

2
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8
9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While the player's objective is to command troops in battle, the morality of the game's protagonists is unassailable. They fight the good fight, and often show incredible courage and sacrifice through their actions and words.

Violence

Lots of fighting using swords, axes, lances, bows, and magic. The animations are very simple and involve no blood or gore. There is, however, extensive discussion of war and death, and characters that perish under the player's command remain dead for the rest of the game.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This game is part of Nintendo's ever-expanding franchise of Fire Emblem titles.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon contains serious themes. Though its animated violence is mild, there is much talk of war, death, and revenge. What's more, if one of the player's characters perishes, he will remain dead for the rest of the game and other characters will mourn him. That said, the story focuses on the honor, nobility, courage, and selflessness of the main characters, who often sacrifice much -- including their own lives -- do to what is right. Parents should also be aware that the language used is surprisingly baroque for a handheld role-playing game. As such, a fifth or sixth grade reading level will be required to appreciate much of the text dialogue. This game supports wireless voice chat in an online multiplayer setting. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for children under twelve years of age.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Fire Emblem, a series of strategy games that combine strong role-playing elements with lush narrative and deceptively deep strategy, is among Nintendo's most loved and critically acclaimed franchises that don't star an instantly recognizable mascot like Mario or Donkey Kong. Sadly, gamers residing in the Western Hemisphere have never had the opportunity to play the legendary game that began the series, Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ry? to Hikari no Tsurugi for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was released only in Japan.

FIRE EMBLEM: SHADOW DRAGON is set to remedy that, to a degree. It's a remake of the 20-year-old classic that lets Westerners finally experience the story that started it all while enjoying updated graphics, dialogue, game play, and missions. Players familiar with the series will find Shadow Dragon's chess-like strategy, simple but appealing visuals, and compelling storytelling to be very similar to what they've experienced in other modern entries in the franchise, while Fire Emblem newbies are welcomed aboard via a lengthy and accessible tutorial that plays out in the form of a five-mission prologue. Bonus: A two-player wireless mode for gamers with separate GameCards adds a multiplayer element unavailable in previous Fire Emblem titles.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

A couple of things most people don't expect in their handheld games are beautiful writing and a memorable story, but that's exactly what Shadow Dragon delivers. The plot, which concerns a crusading prince who in his youth was exiled from his homeland by an invading army that decimated the kingdom's royal family, is nothing new, but its eloquent characters, many of whom often burst with genuine passion as they sacrifice themselves or mourn their comrades, effectively turn this trite tale into something a player can legitimately care about -- all the more so since these personalities could die on the battlefield at any moment and become forever lost.

On the flipside, the one thing players have come to expect of the Fire Emblem games is bar-setting turn-based strategy, and in this regard Shadow Dragon is at least on par with its predecessors. The chess-like tactics involved in managing multiple unit types with varying attacks and movement abilities require a keen mind to master, and countless variables -- such as weapon capabilities, changing odds of landing a hit, and the series' trademark weapon triangle (think rock, paper, scissors) -- provide eager strategists with plenty to chew on before each move. Battles combine with the game's sympathetic personalities to make for an extremely challenging but marvellously satisfying game of tactical role-playing.

Families can talk about...

  • Parents can talk about the way in which a game's tone changes once the player knows his or her characters are mortal. Do you approach battles with a greater degree of caution? Does the fear of death alter the sort of strategies you employ? If one of your favorite characters perishes, do you feel inclined to restart the mission with an aim to see him through safely, or do you continue on without him? You can also discuss the game's flowery language. Does the game's rather old-fashioned mode of speech lend an atmosphere of authenticity to the game's medieval-ish narrative?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS
Price:$34.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Nintendo
Release date:February 17, 2009
Genre:Strategy
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Language, Mild Fantasy Violence (Nintendo DS)

This review of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byCaleb_Mitchell May 26, 2009
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Pretty good, but the GameBoy versions win

Okay, this is a good game, don't get me wrong. It's just not as good as the first two games were for the GBA. The ability to rescue characters is now gone, the Dancer/Bard class is gone, there's just a lot of nice details from the first two games is missing in this one. As far as gameplay goes, it's primarily the same, except for the addition of using the touch screen to movie your characters, though it seems easier to just use the buttons to me. As far as appropriateness goes, it think it's okay for maybe 10+. Some rather brief language, mild violence, though the talk of death, darkness & world domination is pretty overwhelming, & a few mild suggestive themes (a few girls have semi-skimpy outfits). Also, like the site said it's got a pretty complex reading level so younger kids probably won't get the story much (heck, I'm 17 & I didn't even know some of the words in this game).
Teen, 14 years old Written bydreweth September 3, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

War game dishes out consequences for not thinking- even for a second.

Ah, yes. Fire Emblem, the thinking man's war game. The controls are bone-head easy, but the actual game is far too hard for even adults (even on easy.) The reason why it's hard is very original; play like you regularly do (send a bunch of people out to war and see who comes back) will get you to the next level. But be forewarned. All of the characters in this game have unique characteristics, and you bond with them. See, the reason why this game is so hard is that if one of the characters die, that person will be gone forever. So think twice before you send out your best Horseman to fight the boss without backup.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byStrategy Guy August 10, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

My favorite DS game of all time

Fire Emblem is probably my favorite DS game of all time . I love it but it has too much talk about death, revenge, and destruction for kids under 8 years old.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages

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