Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light Game Poster Image
Nostalgic strategy series debut tactically soars on Switch.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Although combat is central to the game, players are fighting against a greater evil and defending others in need. There are regular themes of sacrifice, honor, courage, and more throughout the story. The game also emphasizes the potential consequences of various choices.

Positive Role Models

Marth and his allies are generally good people with strong values. Marth, in particular, is working to save not only his own kingdom, but other kingdoms that have fallen. He's an honorable person thrust into a difficult role. His character is constantly put to the test, but he always tries to do what's right, putting others before himself.

Ease of Play

Players must build and maintain Marth's ever-growing army over various battles. Players must navigate multiple menus and micromanage units' development, such as skills, weapons, etc. Units lost, even key characters, are permanently removed, making death a real consequence. But new features, such as save states and rewind ,can give players a second chance to make better decisions.


Violence is constant, with players ordering units in their army to attack opponents in turn-based combat. Characters fight using medieval weapons and magical abilities against various creatures and human/humanlike enemies. That said, the game's classic 8-bit art style and gameplay reduce the impact of the violence, with no blood ever shown onscreen and damage represented only by flashy effects and sounds.


This is the first English translation of the first entry in the Fire Emblem series. This is also a limited release, available for purchase digitally for a small window of time to celebrate the franchise. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light is a tactical role-playing game (RPG) available for download exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. The game's a re-release of the original 1990 Famicom game, previously only available in Japan. This game was the first release in Nintendo's popular Fire Emblem series, and an early trailblazer for the tactical RPG genre. This release adds a few new features to the original game, such as rewind, fast-forward, and save states, all meant to improve players' experience and make the game a bit easier for newcomers. Violence is a focus of play, with players leading small squads against opposing forces in fantasy battles. The game's 8-bit art style and presentation keep the violence from ever being graphic, with no blood or gore shown onscreen. Instead, combat's represented with pixelated battle animations and retro sound effects. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEmberBaker December 4, 2020

Relive a classic!

This game is an amazing tactical JRPG that originally released Japan only for the Famicom (The Japanese NES) Its now been localized 30 years later for American... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byxenobladegirl May 8, 2021

Really good game but also really hard!

This is an awesome game! I absolutely love the story and gameplay. There is some sweaing such as d*mn and referencing hell, but other than that it's great!... Continue reading

What's it about?

Players can now go back to where it all began with FIRE EMBLEM: SHADOW DRAGON AND THE BLADE OF LIGHT. For the first time ever outside of Japan, the original 1990 Fire Emblem adventure is finally making its way to gamers on the Nintendo Switch. Gamers will discover the origins of the popular tactical role-playing game franchise with classic graphics and sound, along with brand-new features such as English localization, rewind and fast forward functions, and new separate save states. You'll follow Marth as he fights back against the Shadow Dragon, recruiting from more than fifty playable characters with more than twenty classes to join his cause.  Players will forge bonds and relationships over time, evolving units into powerful additions to the battlefield. You'll also have to choose your tactics wisely or risk losing a character forever and altering the course of destiny. Can you prove you have what it takes to recover the Blade of Light and slay the Shadow Dragon once and for all?

Is it any good?

This strategy series might be a hot franchise these days, but it's been a bit of a slow burn to get there, taking more than a decade for the series to even make its debut outside of Japan. Now Nintendo is giving fans worldwide a chance to revisit the origins of Fire Emblem with the limited release of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. Playing the game is a bit like opening a time capsule from the early '90s, with 8-bit graphics, sounds, and complex, menu driven gameplay that made the most of what the original hardware was capable of. While it's certainly not pushing any boundaries by today's standards, the core mechanics and plot still stand the test of time.

Younger players might need a little help adjusting to this old school revisit. Without the grandiose cutscenes of today's games, the story's a narrative heavy experience. There's a lot of reading involved. Thankfully, a lot of time and effort went into the English localization of the game, so the text doesn't feel awkward or forced. After just a few battles, it's also easy to see how this original Fire Emblem didn't just build the framework for the series, but also laid the foundation for the entire tactical RPG (role-playing game) genre. Recruiting and training new units, arming them with key equipment and abilities, and planning out just which combinations will give the advantage were just as important back in the day as they are in modern tactical RPG games. And things like the potential permanent loss of units add to the risk of each battle and can change the entire course of the story. The game's newly added features, which include a rewind and save states, help to ease players into the experience though by offering a sort of do over when mistakes are made. Overall, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light isn't just a great taste of nostalgia for Fire Emblem fans, but it's a great history lesson on the evolution of an entire genre of gaming.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about nostalgia in gaming. What's the appeal gamers find in revisiting classic games? How can replaying games from the past give a better understand of how current games came to be?

  • How do games with "permadeath" change the way players approach gameplay? Do you prefer games with permanent repercussions, or do you prefer to have a "do over" available at the ready?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strategy

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