“I wanted to make a strategy game that was more dramatic, something where you would really be able to feel the pain and struggle of the characters. That’s why characters can’t be revived once they’re killed, to impart a sense of gravity and seriousness. In turn, I think the result is that the more love you have for your characters, the more rewarding the game is.”
—Shouzou Kaga, regarding the creation of Fire Emblem
Shouzou Kaga (加賀昭三 Kaga Shouzou), self-styled as Syozo Kaga, is the creator of the Fire Emblem series. He was a video game designer who worked for Intelligent Systems and led the development of Fire Emblem from its inception until the release of Thracia 776. In addition to leading the development, he was a major creative contributor to each game's setting, story, and presentation. Around the year 2000, he left the company and founded the independent studio Tirnanog, which developed the TearRing Saga series.
Fire Emblem Era Edit
During the time he was with Intelligent Systems, Kaga was recognized as the mind behind the creation of Fire Emblem and was the subject of interviews and guidebook Q&A sections regarding the games. After working on the Intelligent Systems game Trade & Battle: Card Hero in 2000, and before the release of Thracia 776, however, he left the company to found an independent studio, Tirnanog.
The details of Kaga's departure from Intelligent Systems are largely a mystery, but due to subsequent legal battles with Intelligent Systems and Nintendo, his relationship to the companies was clearly strained. Despite being the creator of Fire Emblem, Kaga was conspicuously unmentioned in the series's 25th anniversary book The Making of Fire Emblem. One of the final Fire Emblem projects that Kaga worked on, the Nintendo 64 title Fire Emblem: Ankoku no Miko, was cancelled the same year he left Intelligent Systems.
TearRing Saga Era Edit
The first game developed by Tirnanog was originally titled Emblem Saga, which styled itself as a successor to Fire Emblem. Because the game's design, name, and setting bore very strong similarities to (or otherwise outright borrowed from) Fire Emblem, Nintendo sued the game's publisher Enterbrain on grounds of copyright infringement. Emblem Saga was renamed to TearRing Saga: Utna Heroes Saga, and key story elements were changed to distance the game from Fire Emblem. Nintendo initially had their claim rejected by the courts, but won a settlement upon appeal. However, TearRing Saga was ultimately ruled to not be in breach of copyright, and sales were allowed to continue. This court ruling set a precedent for numerous Japanese developers to make extremely similar spiritual successors without the consent of their original games' contractors.
During the legal battles with Nintendo, Tirnanog began on a second title in the TearRing Saga series, TearRing Saga 2, originally conceived as a side-story to Utna Heroes Saga following Richard's or Sennet's journeys. Eventually, however, the idea for TearRing Saga 2 was dropped, and Tirnanog decided to focus on an essentially unrelated setting instead for their next game, which was called Berwick Saga. Berwick Saga had a marked departure in gameplay from both Utna Heroes Saga and Fire Emblem, and Kaga himself was unlisted in the game's credits despite his close involvement; this was perhaps to avoid further legal troubles, as the legal dispute with Nintendo had lasted until 2005, the year of Berwick Saga's release. Despite having early ideas to remake Holmes's route from Utna Heroes Saga in the engine of Berwick Saga, Tirnanog ultimately produced no further titles, and in March 2012, Kaga announced on his blog that he was retiring.
The ultimate fate of Tirnanog is unknown, but several members of its staff are known to have worked on later Enterbrain titles such as Magician's Academy, indicating that the company may have been bought by Enterbrain.
Vestaria Saga Era Edit
Despite his apparent retirement, Kaga announced in May 2015 that he was at work on an independently produced strategy RPG called Vestaria Saga: The Seven Sacred Rings using SapphireSoft's tool SRPG Studio. The game, later renamed to Vestaria Saga: Knight of the Fallen Kingdom and the Star Vestal, and was released as a free download on September 5, 2016 and was well received by fans. Amidst minor but vocal fan controversy surrounding the game's relationship to Fire Emblem, Kaga announced via Twitter that the game was simply a fun project not intended to compete with the Fire Emblem series. In September 2017, Kaga announced that work was underway to try and get the game officially localized into English.
Kaga also announced through his blog that Vestaria Saga's story would have to be split between multiple games due to its length, announcing at least four subsequent entries in the series to be released in the future: two main-story games and two side-story games. The latter games, Heroes of Lukka and The Sacred Sword of Silverbirch, are planned for release sometime in Spring 2018, while the former are currently on hiatus as the development team takes a break. It is unclear whether these subsequent games are also planned to be officially localized into English.
- 1990 - Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light
- 1992 - Fire Emblem Gaiden
- 1994 - Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
- 1996 - Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
- 1997 - Fire Emblem: Archanea Saga
- 1999 - Fire Emblem: Thracia 776
- 2001 - TearRing Saga: Utna Heroes Saga
- cancelled - TearRing Saga 2
- 2005 - TearRing Saga: Berwick Saga
- cancelled - Holmes Saga
- 2016 - Vestaria Saga I: Knight of the Fallen Kingdom and the Star Priestess
- TBA - Vestaria Saga Gaiden: Heroes of Lukka
- TBA - Vestaria Saga Gaiden: The Sacred Sword of Silverbirch
- TBA - Vestaria Saga II
- TBA - Vestaria Saga III