Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Choosing a Difficulty Level – Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon

Difficulty levels in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon are a touchy subject. It’s well known that it’s one of the hardest Fire Emblem games. One particular difficulty level has earned a reputation as one of the hardest challenges in all of Fire Emblem, never mind just Shadow Dragon.

So which difficulty level should you choose? Well, we’re going to break it down into three categories, each dependant on your skill level and familiarity with Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. Where do you fall in line?


Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – Normal Difficulty

Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon Difficulty Level

Great for experiencing the story

Any unit is viable

Increased content in the form of a prologue

Normal is the difficulty you should probably choose when first playing Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. This is mainly because you’ll be able to experience the nice prologue chapters, which really serve to frame the story and how it progresses. You’ll also be able to grab a spare character is the form of Frey, though you will be forced to sacrifice a unit in one chapter.

If you’re new to the series, or even the genre, Normal is ideal for you. There are a few faintly challenging moments but otherwise there is little risk to be found. You’ll be able to pick any number of interesting characters and focus on them without any real trouble. It’s an ideal difficulty level for players learning the ropes, though we would argue that heading to Shadow Dragon as your first experience of Fire Emblem would be unusual.

In conclusion, Normal difficulty is very easy and we would argue it’s even easier than the very same mode in other Fire Emblem titles. Beginners should obviously start here, but we’d still recommend seasoned players give it a go for the extra chapters.


Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – Hard 2 > Hard 4 Difficulty

Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon Difficulty Level

Most units are still viable

No prologue, less chance to level early units

Good amount of challenge throughout

It’s here then, that Shadow Dragon starts to feel like a real Fire Emblem game. Yet as you can see, we’ve skipped Hard 1? Well, it’s really only a tiny bit different to Normal mode really, and it doesn’t quite have that ideal balance quite yet.

Hard 2 is where you’ll really get that Fire Emblem feeling. It provides a good amount of challenge and functions similarly to a ‘Classic’ setting from any other Fire Emblem game – you’ll certainly be in danger of course, but you’ll still be able to focus on your favourite units and progress nicely. It’ll require some further thought, certainly compared to Normal mode, but it’s not too taxing.

If you ramp it up to Hard 4 you’ll experience what we’d describe as a hard Fire Emblem game. It’s still fair in many ways and certainly doable, but you’ll find yourself leaning on certain strong units more than usual. Still, moving within this range is something we’d recommend for series veterans who want a good challenge.


Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon – Merciless Hard 5 Difficulty

Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon Difficulty Level

One of the hardest Fire Emblem challenges in the whole franchise

Only the best units will survive

Extra content in the form of various character death quotes

Oh boy, here we go. Hard 5 is one of, if not the hardest challenge in the Fire Emblem series. In fact, we’d say that only Lunatic+ Awakening comes close to feeling this difficult. However where Lunatic+ relies upon somewhat unfair tactics – whoever decided those skills were OK in chapter 2 needs sorting out – Shadow Dragon slowly suffocates you from every angle, cutting off your options, slowly but surely.

That’s not to say it cannot be done, of course it can, but you’ll have to rely on only the strongest of units, guiding them carefully and intricately through maps filled with hugely powerful enemies. No that’s not an understatement, even the thieves will kill most of your early game army in a single round. Don’t even get us started on the Pirates.

It’s fair to say this should only be attempted by players well versed in the art of playing a Fire Emblem. Even then they’d have to rely on certain cast members and heavy use of the forging options to get through. There’s no room for making your favourite healer overpowered here, no room for taking your time – one wrong move can end the entire run.

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on Hard 5 mode is a tightly designed puzzle of doom: Tremendously difficult, frustrating in many ways, but immensely satisfying to take on.


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