The original Fire Emblem is getting its first official English release

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Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, the first game in the Fire Emblem series, is finally getting an English release—30 years on from its launch in 1990 for Famicom. The classic tactical JRPG is coming to Nintendo Switch on December 4, and will be available for purchase until 31 March 2020.

The story that Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light tells has been available to Western audiences before thanks to a Nintendo DS remake (Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon) that saw a global release. There’s also a fan-translation of the Famicom original, but the upcoming Switch release will be the first time it’s officially available in English.

As good as Shadow Dragon is, it was a substantial overhaul that sought to revitalise and modernise the game for its time. That’s well and good, but there’s certainly some appeal in being able to play the original Super Famicom game as it was, in all its 8-bit glory. The Switch release will include features like rewind, fast-forward, and save states—standard features for retro re-releases.

Nintendo is also releasing a physical Fire Emblem 30th Anniversary Edition through select retailers (EB Games, for Australia and New Zealand). It comes with a stylised physical NES box, a replica NES Game Pak art piece with a protective sleeve, 222-page Legacy of Archanea deluxe hardbound art book, a newly-translated NES instruction manual, a fold-out world map, and a Mini Nintendo Power retro collectible. The game itself will be provided through a download code.

Continuing something that’s been a bit of a trend with Nintendo lately, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light will be available to purchase for a limited time only, until 31 March 2021. Anyone who buys the game before then will keep it, but it won’t be sold anymore after that date.

Nintendo’s reasoning is because it ties into Fire Emblem‘s 30th anniversary celebrations, which conclude on that date. Still, it seems an odd decision to not preserve an important piece of Nintendo’s own history in a way that’s readily available and playable. Hopefully, it’ll find its way into Nintendo Switch Online or be sold through other means, rather than just being permanently de-listed from the store—we’ve finally got an English version of the original Fire Emblem, so it’d be a shame to lose it after all the work that’s gone into it.

For now, if you want to make sure you don’t miss out, you can pre-order Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light through the Nintendo eShop ahead of its December 4 release. It costs AUD $9.00 / NZD $9.99.

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Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.