Fire Emblem's lack of memorable villains

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NibiruMul
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08 Feb 2024, 6:34 pm

While pretty much every Nintendo series has memorable villains, Fire Emblem seems to be the glaring exception. The Fire Emblem series is very lacking in memorable villains. The villain of Marth's game is very generic and a lot of people don't even recognize him - a sharp contrast from iconic villains such as Bowser and Ganon. Fates was pretty infamous for having villains that basically acted like stereotypical Saturday morning cartoon villains. The mooks tend to generic ugly guys. It seems like in most of the games, the villains are practically interchangeable (in contrast to the heroes, who have much more varied personalities). With the female villains its even worse - while some of the earlier titles had genuinely unsympathetic female villains, in recent titles it seems like they're mostly only evil because male villains forced them to be evil (and quite frequently they're recruitable).

I've always found this surprising, since normally JRPGs have a lot of great villains. I mean, Final Fantasy has plenty of memorable villains such as Kefka from FF6 and Sephiroth from FF7. You don't see that with Fire Emblem. Don't get me wrong, I do like a lot of the playable characters (and many of them have great personalities), but I feel like the villains are the series' biggest flaw.

For anyone who's played Fire Emblem...have you noticed this about the series?



honeytoast
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08 Feb 2024, 10:27 pm

I was having a discussion pertaining to Fire Emblem the other day lol.

There are a few of reasons why there are no “memorable” villains.

1. There are quite a few games that were never released in the United States. The only way to play them is to get an emulator. While Fire Emblem is a known Nintendo franchise, it’s not memorable as the more popular games which had a lot more exposure than FE. Perhaps if more games were released, it would be more recognizable in mainstream media.

2. There is no main villain in the FE franchise due to the fact that there are different universes. Almost all of the fire emblem games are stand alone, they do not tie in together, there are dozens and dozens of characters created for each game. Rarely there are sequels that will have the same character and the same villain. Creating a new villain can be tricky if you’ve already done something similar with another game.

Ganon will always be the villain of Zelda. Bowser will always be the villain of Mario.

3. Tying in with reason one, Fire Emblem was never that popular in the states. They were going to stop making Fire Emblem games if Awakening was not a huge success. Thank god it was. Then Fates was not great, the other games were fine. Fire Emblem did not get another big hit until Three Houses. Now it seems like they are on the downward trend because the next rat game was “meh.”


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roronoa79
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25 Feb 2024, 4:20 am

Honeytoast covers a lot of it.

I would argue Fire Emblem has many memorable antagonists, but very few are recognizable outside the fandom.

By far the most recognized Fire Emblem characters are those that appear in Super Smash Bros, and none of them are antagonists. Fire Emblem games also have huge casts of characters, so it is hard for individual characters to stand out. Nintendo is more likely to pick the protagonist of a game, especially when each game can have several antagonists.

Fire Emblem antagonists are, in my opinion, harder to market. They main, overarching villains are usually ancient wrinkled evil dragons and wrinkled evil wizards. They're usually unsympathetic, lack depth compared to minor antagonists, and often do not appear until the very end of the games they are in. Guys like Duma, Fomortiis, and Anankos have only a small amount of time to leave an impression. They are outshone by minor antagonists who are often more emotionally complex and involved in the plot.

Individual antagonists also might not stand out if they fit into one of Fire Emblem's many recurring character archetypes. Because so many villains fit within these archetypes (the Gharnef, the Camus, the Hardin, etc.), they stand out less as individuals. Zephiel will always be yet another Hardin. Validar will always be another Gharnef.

It hasn't helped that imho the best antagonists are in the Fire Emblem games that the fewest people have played. The criminally overlooked Tellius games gave us great antagonists like Ashnard, Zelgius, and Sephiran. Jugdral had Alvis, Trabant, Reinhard, Reydrick, Ishtar, and Julius. Far more people have played Awakening and Three Houses, both of which are known for the mixed quality of their antagonists.


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honeytoast
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26 Feb 2024, 10:56 am

roronoa79 wrote:

I really enjoyed your post. I'm adding on a couple of things:

I would say that - due to popularity - Edelgard is probably the most recognizable and memorable villain from FE. The biggest reason is that she is a major character in one of the most popular FE entries, along with the story of Three Houses being centered around her. You are also able to romanticize her as both a female and male player, you can decide to keep her alive or not, and she's an attractive character. Much more marketable than your average FE villian. They're going to be more eye-catching than a villain like Validar lol. I feel that a lot of FE games focus more on playable characters in your party versus villains. There has to be an incentive to keep them alive.

Maybe things will change for Fire Emblem, but who knows? That series either has the greatest game ever made or something meh tier.

There is that gatcha game that probably introduced people to characters from lesser-known games, so maybe Nintendo will release them in the US? Fire Emblem has always been shakey.


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roronoa79
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27 Feb 2024, 7:35 pm

Edelgard is an odd case because she can either be an antagonist or a protagonist. She can't really be seen as just one since she can always be the other. Not to mention how the fandom will bicker endlessly over whether her more questionable actions were justified or necessary. Some would argue that she is a villain even when you choose to side with her and have Byleth keep her from going over the edge like she does in the other routes.
I feel like she comes off as much less interesting of a character when she is an antagonist than how she is in Crimson Flower. She gets much more development (and earns much more sympathy) if you're in her house, whereas if you played Azure Moon or Verdant Wind first then she can seem like a boring, generic Hardin-type.
Nintendo is also going to be hesitant to give her too much more spotlight than Dimitri or Claude--even if she is much more integral to the plot.


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Δυνατὰ δὲ οἱ προύχοντες πράσσουσι καὶ οἱ ἀσθενεῖς ξυγχωροῦσιν.
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