Fire Emblem 2015 Retrospective

For most of us, 2016 is just around the corner–the important year that brings us the international releases of Fire Emblem Fates and Genei Ibun Roku #FE.


While we wait, let’s take a look back at the events of this year.

Needless to say, 2015 was a bumper-packed year for Fire Emblem, as it coincided with the series’s 25th grand anniversary.

In fact, here at Serenes Forest, we’ve posted a whopping 146 front page articles this year alone. So many that I eventually had to recruit an additional news editor to even keep up!


In any case, 2015 certainly started off with a bang.

Two years after Awakening revived the series and brought in a new generation of fans, many fans were probably eager to known when the next game would arrive.


During mid-January, fans would find their answer at the very beginning of Nintendo’s first Nintendo Direct of the year.

Fire Emblem would be returning as “Fire Emblem if“, a new epic entry for the Nintendo 3DS, scheduled for a Summer release in Japan. At long last, the cogs of fan speculation would spin intensely for months to come.

At the same time, Nintendo announced the surprise return of the Fire Emblem trading card game, which was discontinued almost a decade ago. This too would be coming to Japan in Summer.

With the renewed popularity of Fire Emblem, now seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the card game. Plus the prospect of cards from beyond Thracia 776 was enough to make many a fan drool.



A month later, Nintendo surprised fans yet again with a 25th anniversary Fire Emblem concert, taking place during July in Japan.

Most fans would probably agree the Fire Emblem series as a whole has an amazing soundtrack with dozens of memorable tracks. So the decision to hold a concert was met with welcome arms.


In the following month, Fire Emblem made an appearance at Comiket Special 6 in Japan, bringing along a stash of 25th anniversary goods for sale.

At the time, Serenes Forest (and reddit) member Hirondelle generously organised a massive pick up operation with his friends in Japan.



April’s Nintendo Direct gave us a different kind of surprise: Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, first announced in January 2013, was still in production, but under a completely new guise.

Now known as Genei Ibun Roku #FE, the direction of the game had shifted towards a modern Atlus-style RPG with bits of Fire Emblem sprinkled in, rather than the simple crossover most expected.

In addition, it was revealed that Fire Emblem if would be releasing as two separate versions in Japan: “White Nights Kingdom” and “Dark Nights Kingdom” (or “Hoshido” and “Nohr” for simplicity’s sake).

Not only that, but a third version would be releasing later on, simply known as “The 3rd Path”.

Needless to say, this decision divided fans. Many expected Fire Emblem if to be one self-contained game. Meanwhile, others were hopeful that the three versions would feel like completely different games.

To complete the trinity, fans were also treated to a fresh new look at Fire Emblem Cipher, the new name for the Fire Emblem trading card game.

The first set of cards would cover the first and last games in the series, Shadow Dragon and Awakening respectively.

Weeks later, Intelligent Systems held the first of many livestreams to promote Fire Emblem Cipher. Here, we learned that Fire Emblem if would be the focus of the second set of cards.


At the beginning of May, a completely unexpected development occurred. Shouzou Kaga, the retired creator of the Fire Emblem series, announced he was developing a new indie title, to be released for free.

In the absence of a proper development team, Kaga planned to build his new game using the recently-released SRPG Studio software with the help of his friends and volunteers from the Internet.

Next, we discovered the identity of the voice behind Aqua’s beautiful song in the Fire Emblem if trailer: a debut artist known as Renka.

Her first single would be Fire Emblem if’s theme song, if~ hitori omou, which is known as Lost in Thoughts All Alone in the English version.

Towards the middle of May, Fire Emblem fans blew up yet again with the reveal of Phoenix Mode, a game mode where characters are resurrected the turn after they die.

Vocal fans were enraged, accusing Fire Emblem of selling out to the casual audience. Even though it was a completely optional setting that most fans probably wouldn’t even touch.


The week after brought news of Maids and Butlers in Fire Emblem and the abolishing of weapon durability, which led to more debates over the identity of the Fire Emblem series.

Fast-forward several months and nobody has been complaining about Phoenix Mode, Maids or the loss of durability.

Then at the very end of the month, another bombshell was dropped during this year’s third Nintendo Direct.

Fire Emblem if would include a rest area between missions known as My Castle, featuring a hot spring and a private quarters where you can rub the faces of your companions.

The meltdowns from this reveal were spectacular. Of course, the face-rubbing was a 100% optional feature, but its very existence was very telling of the series’s worrying new direction.

That said, the face-rubbing feature isn’t quite as lewd or inappropriate as some may want you to believe; it’s more fun and goofy (and largely forgettable) than anything.



This busy month was the month of E3 and the Japanese release of Fire Emblem if.

Prior to E3, Roy from Binding Blade and Super Smash Bros. Melee was announced as a downloadable fighter for Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U.

Originally included in Melee as a walking advert for Binding Blade in Japan and part of the Marth and Roy duo that brought in many international Fire Emblem fans, Roy’s inclusion was a welcome surprise.

During E3 itself, Fire Emblem if made an expected appearance at Nintendo’s E3 Digital Event. Known as “Fire Emblem Fates” in the West, the new title would be making its way out of Japan in 2016.

Joining Fates, there was a showing from Genei Ibun Roku #FE too. The colourful, new trailer did little to ease fans’ worries, but at least we knew it was also coming in 2016.

Over the three days of E3, the Nintendo Treehouse team showed off a working (but not completely bug-free) English build of Fates, giving fans a head-start to dissect the new names.

Meanwhile, on the second day, we finally got a look at some actual gameplay from Genei Ibun Roku #FE. Idols and wacky Fire Emblem Mirages aside, the game looked very consistent with an Atlus RPG.


Days before the Japanese release, Nintendo of America let loose a few megatons to shake fans.

Firstly, Fates would also be releasing as separate versions in the West. Prior to this, Nintendo cleverly dodged the subject, but most fans probably already saw this coming.

Secondly, in a bold and controversial move, Fates would feature same-sex marriage. While fans generally welcomed this change, some were disappointed at the limited selection pool (only two characters).

Finally, on 26th June 2015, Fire Emblem if officially released in Japan. To commemorate the occasion, Nintendo released an Iwata Asks interview for the game, in English to boot.

Interestingly, Intelligent Systems were quick to admit their failings with Awakening’s story and the poor sales of the previous entries that almost led to the series’s cancellation.



In July, Yusuke Kozaki, the artist for Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates, attended the 2015 Japan Expo in France.

As part of the promotion, Nintendo released a sped-up video of Yusuke Kozaki drawing Felicia from Fates from beginning to end.

Think what you may of the character designs in Fates, there’s no denying that Kozaki is a talented artist who brings out the best in his characters.

Days later, on 9th July, the highly anticipated third route DLC, Invisible Kingdom (“Revelations” in the West), was released with little warning.

Some of the files for this DLC were present in the base game and a handful of dedicated fans even managed to download the DLC early using an exploit. So there were few surprises to be found.

13th July 2015 was a sad day for Nintendo fans, as Nintendo officially announced the passing of Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo from 2002 to 2015.

Iwata was a massively influential figure who reached out to fans with his Iwata Asks interviews and frequent Nintendo Direct presentations. Even now, he will be sorely missed.


In mid-July, Shouzou Kaga ended his months-long silence with an update regarding his indie Strategy RPG project.

Now known as “Vestaria Saga: The Seven Sacred Rings“, a title that brings back memories of Kaga’s first independently-created title, TearRing Saga, development appeared to be progressing well.

On 23rd July, the very first DLC maps for Fire Emblem if were released. Included was a free map featuring Chrom, Lissa and Frederick from Awakening.

For reference, the existence of DLC maps was known beforehand, as their names were stored in a master list of DLC accessible via hacking.

The next day, 24th July, saw the opening of the Fire Emblem 25th anniversary concert. Besides the concert itself, fans could also purchase exclusive Fire Emblem merchandise from the venue.

Serenes Forest member jlahoud offered to pick up merchandise for other members, but due to complications, he could only secure orders from the first day. Still, everybody commended him for trying.


During the concert, Nintendo announced the production of a Fire Emblem manga, with Yusuke Kozaki and Shin Kibayashi manning the helms.

Originally scheduled for serialisation during Fall 2015, the manga has since fallen off the radar…

The 25th anniversary celebrations don’t end with the concert though. Towards the end of July, nendoroids of Marth and Caeda from Shadow Dragon were showcased at the Summer Wonder Festival.

Poor Chrom didn’t make it into Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U, but the Smash update released on 31st July added him and the imposing Black Knight as a Mii Fighter (Swordsman) costume.

Well, that’s one way to add a character without spending time programming a new moveset and, at the same time, justify adding extra obscurity to the scene.



This autumn month began with a new 30 minute trailer for Shouzou Kaga’s Vestaria Saga. Despite the game being built on the strategy RPG equivalent of RPG Maker, Kaga’s artistic influence could be observed throughout.

At the time, the game was only 10% complete, so there was still a long ways to go, especially with Kaga’s small development team.


September meanwhile opened with news from Genei Ibun Roku #FE. In addition to a release date of 26th December 2015 in Japan, we learned about the inevitable costume DLC and special editions.

One of the more interesting bonus items was a priority application form for the “Genei Ibun Roku #FE Premium Live“, a concert to be held on 15th May 2016 in Japan.

Moving on, from 12th September, Elieson joined the Serenes Forest news team while I jetted off for vacation.

During this time, he expertly covered all the hot Fire Emblem news stories, such as the second season of Fire Emblem if DLC and appearances from Chrom and Lucina in Project X Zone 2, while also providing an exclusive interview with voice actor Kyle Hebert.



While I was still away, Nintendo unleashed a ton of Genei Ibun Roku #FE details in anticipation of the game’s launch, a Fire Emblem if character popularity poll and lots more.

In addition, Kaga slowly trickled out more details on Vestaria Saga. Of note, he announced that Vestaria Saga would be split into two separate games, not unlike Books 1 and 2 of Mystery of the Emblem.


Eventually I returned home, with a Japanese 3DS, copies of both versions of Fire Emblem if and two boxes of Fire Emblem Cipher (plus a gorgeous art print from Kidura) to add to my ever-growing Fire Emblem collection.

Anyway, the biggest news of November came from this month’s Nintendo Direct. In North America, Fire Emblem Fates would be arriving on 19th February 2016 and a special edition was unveiled.

Europe was also promised a special edition, but no release date. Typical.

Then, towards the end of November, we finally got the promised Fire Emblem if character popularity poll results.

A day after, the Making of Fire Emblem book released in Japan, although it’d be several days until members got their hand on the hefty book.



During the final month of 2015, a great Fire Emblem mystery was finally laid to rest.

Thanks to Microwaveit, Kirokan and other fans for scouring through the Making of Fire Emblem, we learned that the foundations of the cancelled Fire Emblem 64 were used to develop Binding Blade.

In mid-December, Fire Emblem fans were given one final surprise, courtesy of Sakurai. In the Final Smash Broadcast, Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates was announced as the penultimate DLC fighter.

Since Fire Emblem Fates is not out in the West yet, fans can get familiar with Corrin before playing his game, when he arrives on the Smash battlefield some time in February 2016.

Weeks before the end of 2015, IGN and GameXplain jumped on the opportunity to play-test Chapter 5 from the English build of Fire Emblem Fates.

Be wary of story spoilers (namely, a death and multiple reveals), while you wince at the new names that you’ll have to get used to come 2016.

Still managing to fit in somehow, Dark Horse, who published the renowned Hyrule Historia, announced the English release of The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Released as “Knights of Iris” in Japan years ago, this glamourous book, worthy of any Awakening fan, contains official artwork for every playable character, dozens of concept art and a full script transcript.


On 26th December 2015, after months of speculation and hmm-ing from fans of both of the represented franchises, Genei Ibun Roku #FE released in Japan.

While the game got a respectable 34/40 score from Famitsu , the game debuted with a poor week of sales, selling in the range of 23,000 units. Oh well.

Nearing the end, another gem from the Making of Fire Emblem was unearthed. Between Radiant Dawn and Shadow Dragon, Intelligent Systems experimented with a drastically different Fire Emblem for the Wii.

So in some parallel universe, I was playing the Fire Emblem RPG of my dreams way back in 2010. But I suppose this universe isn’t bad either.

Finally… from 29th December, Fire Emblem returned to Comiket 89 for three days of absolute mayhem and merchandise sales.

Many thanks and some sincere apologies to luyairis and his friends who volunteered to pick up from Comiket; none of us realised just how complicated things would get.

For a final piece of good news, you can order the Fire Emblem 25th anniversary concert DVD and the re-print of the elusive Fire Emblem Awakening OST from good import stores.

…and that’s everything of note from 2015.

Of course, I couldn’t squeeze in absolutely everything, so I’ll just use this opportunity to thank shadowofchaos, Kirokan, SciresM and other dedicated fans for their contributions to the Fire Emblem community.

Here’s hoping 2016 will be another great year for Fire Emblem; see you all next year!

About the Author: VincentASM
Fire Emblem fan since 2002 and webmaster of Serenes Forest. Occasionally an online content editor or brand ambassador. Is a sucker for mage girls and has an unhealthy stash of Sylveon plushies.
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