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Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi ( translated as Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light in Super Smash Bros. Brawl) is the first game in the Fire Emblem franchise. Released on April 20, 1990 in Japan for the Nintendo Famicom, it marks the debut of series protagonist Marth. The game is credited with spawning the Strategy RPG genre and has seen numerous sequels, including two remakes in Fire Emblem: Monsho no Nazo for the Super Famicom and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon for the Nintendo DS.
The game's storyline focuses on Prince Marth of Altea, descendent of the warrior Anri who defeated the evil Medeus. When Gra, a close ally of Altea betrays the Altean army and allies with the nation of Dolhr, Marth is forced to become an exile in the neighboring nation of Talys, and his sister Elice is taken hostage after their father is killed battling the evil pontifex Gharnef. After living in Talys for several years, Marth grows into a resilient young man, and with the help of his allies, he embarks on a quest to reclaim his family's sacred sword Falchion, rescue Elice, and reclaim Altea from the clutches of Gharnef.
Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi is one of the first strategy RPGs released for home consoles, if not the very first. The game shares many features with traditional console RPGs such as experience points, leveling up, and using gold to purchase new equipment for units. The game is divided into a series of chapters, each centered around a specific battle. The player must select units to put in play and move them about a map grid to defeat enemies and accomplish mission objectives. Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi also established the series staple mechanic of permanent character death. Should a unit's hit points drop to zero during battle, he or she will die and be gone forever. In the event that this occurs, the only way for the player to recover the dead character is to reset the game and start the mission over. The only exception to this rule is in the use of the Aum Staff, a special limited-use item acquired late in the game. This staff can only be used by Elice during the game's final chapter, and it is only capable of returning a single player-character that has died to life before it breaks.