Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (1996)

by Ji-yeong
7 minutes read


A detailed exploration of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, highlighting its contributions to the tactical RPG genre and its significance within the Fire Emblem series.


Released in 1996 by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War stands as a pivotal game in the Fire Emblem series. Developed for the Super Famicom, it introduced several innovative features that would go on to influence future titles in the series.


‘Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War’ is a tactical role-playing game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Super Famicom home video game console in 1996. It is the fourth installment of the Fire Emblem series.

The game takes place on the continent of Jugdral, split between eight countries founded by the Twelve Crusaders, an ancient group of soldiers who ended the rule of the ancient dragon Loptous with divine aid. In the present, a cult working to revive Loptous stirs up war among the countries.

The story is told over two generations—the first generation follows the Grannvalian prince Sigurd, while the second follows his son Seliph as he works to defeat the cult and avenge his father. When Sigurd, the prince of the Duchy of Calphy, and his army become involved in the war, their actions will forever change the continent.

The game is divided into chapters, which are in turn divided between two generations of characters. Before and during missions, the player units may settle in a home base, where various actions can be taken such as repairing weapons, buying and selling items, and participating in arena battles.

The gameplay follows the traditional Fire Emblem system of tactical battles taking place on grid-based maps, while adding the Weapon Triangle and Support systems, which directly impacted both gameplay and story. The player takes the roles of Sigurd and his son Seliph across a variety of story-driven missions on the continent of Jugdral.

A greater focus was placed on the story compared to previous entries, although the gameplay also saw new additions. Production was turbulent due to staff moves and the unexpected addition of character romance and expanded storyline.

The game was originally planned to be divided into three parts, with Seliph’s story being the second part. The third part was going to explain the parent killings and incest issues. However, due to development and time constraints, significant differences from the original design were brought about.

Despite these challenges, ‘Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War’ met with critical and commercial success. A follow-up title based within the game’s storyline, ‘Fire Emblem: Thracia 776’, was released in 1999. Many elements introduced in ‘Genealogy of the Holy War’ would reappear in later titles.

As of 2024, the game is yet to be released outside of Japan, but is a choice import title. This game is often regarded as the Fire Emblem series’ darkest installment, and its impact on the series and the genre at large cannot be overstated. It remains a pivotal entry in the Fire Emblem series, and its influence can be felt in every game that followed.


The game features a rich cast of characters, including Sigurd, the noble knight; Deirdre, his fated lover; and Seliph, their son who takes up the mantle in the game’s second half. Each character comes with their own backstory, driving the narrative and gameplay.


Genealogy of the Holy War introduced large-scale tactical battles on maps that represented multiple locations. This game was pioneering in featuring a genealogy system where characters could form relationships and have offspring who would inherit their traits, affecting the gameplay of the game’s second generation.


Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is a landmark title that enriched the tactical RPG genre. Its legacy is felt in numerous aspects of the Fire Emblem series and the broader genre, despite the barriers to entry its complexity presents.

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