Super Legitimate Fire Emblem Tier List

Much like Resident Evil, I've at least touched, if not finished, every single game in the Fire Emblem series. Even the Japanese ones. Here is an ordered list where I rank them based on objective facts and science-y science, much like how the Fire Emblem fan community enjoys spending far, far too much time debating the viability of individual units in a series of single-player strategy-RPGs where it totally doesn't matter. Also, I'd probably still consider all of these games totally playable, with the possible exception of the Famicom original because that game is suuuuuper rough in the way that old nintendo games are rough.

List items

  • TOP TIER:

    I'll be honest, there is no "Perfect" Fire Emblem game for me. They all have their share of quirks and problems, but Path of Radiance is probably the closest I have to a "definitive" game in the series. It's also one of the few Fire Emblem games I'd consider to have a decent story, even if it does go a little heavy on the "Fantastical Racism" angle.

  • Very much a Fire Emblem game you have no business playing unless you've played some other Fire Emblem games (including Seisen no Keifu, given that this is a side story to that). A super late-model SNES game (1999) with some fantastically tough scenario design that occasionally veers into the territory of sadism. The good news is most of the broken OP shit that the enemy throws at you can be thrown right back at them. Just make sure to use a guide.

    There's probably a little too much BS for it to be on top, but also I *love* that.

  • While it might eventually fall a few places, I was immensely impressed by Three Houses' dedication to taking the writing and characterization of Fire Emblem seriously again after the anime trash fire that is Fates.

    Admittedly, I'm less keen on the monastery elements than the mainstream fan seems to be. I think being able to develop characters from scratch is fun and all, but after a while the entire thing starts to feel like padding when low enemy stats and mediocre map design mean it's easy to cruise through without much optimization.

  • HIGH TIER

    What can I say? It's the first one to come out in the US and thus occupies a soft spot in my heart. Admittedly, some of the weird condescension towards the new western audience is a bit much now, but if you can get past that it's still really good. Bonus points for being the only game in the series to have what is essentially a "remix mode" for extra replayability.

  • Essentially the game that got the series back on track (and back to profitability) after the DS ones didn't do so hot. It's probably a little too high on this list, honestly, though I'll still stand by it more than some members of the fanbase seem to.

  • RANKS: Conquest is right here, Birthright is below Radiant Dawn, and Revelation is below Binding Blade, so feel free to insert those into this list mentally. Fates is one great Fire Emblem game, one alright Fire Emblem game and one slightly less than alright Fire Emblem game. Conquest is a fantastically tough Fire Emblem game made for people who are good at Fire Emblem games, Birthright is pretty much just Awakening again, and Revelation is a messy compromise between the two that is gimmicky without being tactically demanding.

    Of course, the writing in all three is some D-tier anime trash, which is why I can't in good conscience put any of them above Awakening, despite liking a lot of Fates' tweaks to that formula.

  • The only Fire Emblem game to have incest as both a plot device and an unfortunate side-effect of you pairing all those kids together. It's infamously imbalanced in favor of cavalry and holy weapon users, has gigantic maps that are really gigantic, but that's also totally part of the appeal. Looking forward to seeing how Nintendo will even *try* to remake this one.

  • MID TIER

    A remake of Gaiden that mostly works by playing it straight and letting the excellent production values do the rest. If only the map design wasn't also ripped straight from the source material...

  • The only game after 2003 that didn't make it to the US and a remake of Monshou no Nazo's book 2. It's solid and has some good map design, though I couldn't tell you anything about the story (mostly because I played through it before the translation patch was done). Still a victim of the DS FE's bad art style, but I cannot emphasize how much better this is than Shadow Dragon.

  • For as much as I like to bag on it, Radiant Dawn continues a lot of the stuff that Path of Radiance put down from a gameplay perspective. The story bites off more than it can chew with the multi-act, multi-team structure (it doesn't help that the English localization is based off an abridged version of the Japanese script) and as a result it goes in some totally bonkers directions, but the actual gameplay is solid... assuming you can get past the absurdly brutal first act.

  • Essentially the spiritual successor to Gaiden, which is to say it has grinding and a world map. It would be ranked higher if it wasn't also really easy, even on its Hard difficulty and even without grinding.

  • LOW TIER

    "The one with Roy" and the first GBA one. It's actually decently hard, but more often than not it's also sort of boring. That said, I'm to understand that a new fan translation was recently released, and I wouldn't mind giving that a look.

  • The worst game to have made it to the west, with some weird baggage from the Famicom original that it failed to modernize. If you want a summation of why this game isn't all that great, consider that you have to kill off your own units if you want to see the side chapters. What kind of backwards game design is that?

  • "I DIDN'T ACTUALLY FINISH THESE ONES" TIER

    While the first book of Monshou no Nazo is just a remake of the original game, the second book is a lot more interesting... but I'd sort of just rather play the remake of this game while I was at it. This one might get a bump should I ever play through the entire thing.

  • Gaiden at least has the value of being super weird in the way a lot of sequels to NES games were weird. Technically the first game to introduce concepts like grinding, a world map and alternate promotions, all of which would be forgotten about until like 13 years later when Sacred Stones happened. It's basically the Zelda II of SRPGs.

  • Listen guys, turns out game series that last for 25 years over 14 installments improve a lot from their original. While I could very much sit myself down and try to finish the OG Fire Emblem, it's a little rough to say the least. I might do it.

  • ??? TIER

    A Fire Emblem game in all but name, from the creator of Fire Emblem and subject of a successful lawsuit from Nintendo where they claimed it was too similar to Fire Emblem. It only got a rudimentary (which is to say BAD) translation patch a few years ago, so even within the fanbase it's pretty obscure. What I played of it seemed solid, but then I got distracted or stuck or something and never got back around to it.

  • Honestly, I know barely anything about the sequel to Tear Ring Saga other than it's way less of a Fire Emblem clone and has HEXES. Unlike Tear Ring Saga, it doesn't even have a rough translation patch... which probably explains why it's something I'm probably not going to play anytime soon. But I figured I'd at least inform you all of its existence.