Nintendo conducted a poll for Fire Emblem Heroes urging fans to pick a favorite character of theirs that they would love to see featured. Each fan could vote once a day for 13 days for almost any character from any of the main Fire Emblem series of games.
This is part of a miniseries I am doing on analyzing the vast amount of poll data available to us and what it means for the fandom and their favorites regarding characters.
Thanks to the tireless work of Elieson over on serenesforest.net, we can take a look at the break downs by game!
Today we will focus on FE6 (Binding Blade) and FE7 (Blazing Blade). The latter is the first Fire Emblem game that came to the west, and indeed it shows! Combined they form the Elibe games.
There are some general things to keep in mind before we get started, however.
- This was a worldwide contest from all territories on all the games. All votes were included to one ballot. This is useful to know when it comes to character popularity.
- The “overall place” is out of 791 characters that could be voted for. Any number you see in the “overall place” category is ##/791.
- This was just one game out of the entire series that was available to be voted on. While Nintendo recorded 1.2 million votes (actually calculated to be 1,279,158), that is across all games. For the purposes of this analysis, we will only base it on the votes that went toward the game being analyzed. Even then, it is a limited format as there are plenty of factors that come to play.
- For instance, if this was purely a poll on Shadow Dragon, then votes would have been better distributed to what characters people actually favor, as it would be characters versus each other, rather than against characters from the entire series.
- The assumption I am running on is simply this: If the voter picked their favorite from this game against the rest of the Fire Emblem games’ casts, then surely they would pick these characters if they were only up against other characters from their own game.
- However, the issue with this assumption is that it ignores the 13 votes each member had, who may have distributed it across other characters from other games rather than multiple favorites they may have had in one single game. (For example: A voter votes Marth and Tiki, and though they would have cast a vote to Ogma if it was just Shadow Dragon, they instead cast their votes for Hector in Blazing Blade, thus skewing the results Ogma would have had in this game alone had it been isolated) Please be aware of these limitations when seeing the data.
- Some characters were split if they appeared in multiple games (i.e. Marth in FE11 and 12 are two different votes. This is a point worth noting, as we will see.
- Male characters and female characters were polled from the same limited set of 13. This means if someone voted for a favorite male character one day, they did not get to vote a female character the same day. This is worth noting because male/female characters are not in competition with each other. So, their voter base could only vote for a character in one gender or the other, meaning there may have been more votes for female characters overall than male, even if the voter had a male they would have preferred too. There is potential to skew the results here, as would have been solved with two polls (one for each gender).
- For the purposes of game-by-game analysis, the gender split does not matter too much as it is purely to gauge potential popularity. However, when we address the overall gender vote later on, this will be more important –much like how it was when analyzing the top 20.
- Each individual was able to vote multiple times. One person could vote 13 times over the event period (and this assumes from one device)! As such, do not treat the total amount of votes as total amount of people who voted. Those are two very different things!
- Nintendo had released midterm results on current poll standings. I consider this an important aspect in determining the final outcome to overall popularity, as I will address if relevant to the game.
- I may also reference the Famitsu Fire Emblem popularity poll now and then, as seen here.
Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (FE6)
|In-Game Placing||Overall Place||Character||Total Votes|
- A total of 71,015 votes were cast across all the characters of this game.
- That is about 5.5% of the overall vote.
- Roy is in 1st with 28,982 He is the highest scoring male character of the game.
- Roy alone has 40% of the votes cast for this entire game.
- He has a huge lead over the 2nd place, Lilina, with a vote difference of 23,252
- He had appeared in 2nd place for overall male character votes during the midterm results. He remained in 2nd place for male characters on the final poll.
- Lilina is in 2nd with 5730 She is the highest scoring female character of the game.
- That is only about 8% of the total votes cast for this game, a huge gap from Roy’s.
- Lot placed 3rd as an odd upset compared to the other characters on the top five. This could be attributed to similar reasons as the otherwise insignificant axe user Dorcas placing 3rd on the Blazing Blade poll, as seen below.
- The top five characters of this game had 61% of the votes despite only making up only 8% of the cast. The rest of the 59 characters had only 39% of the 71,015 votes allotted to the game,
- Only four characters made it to the top 100.
- The game is well distributed in the 200-500 range however, with not too many appearing on the lowest tiers.
- Dayan is the lowest ranked male character in last at 64th place (755/791 overall) and the lowest scoring female character is Juno in 56th (620/791).
- Both are pre-promotes and exclusive to certain paths in the game.
The Binding Blade is the last game I have not covered that did not release outside of Japan. Despite that, Roy enjoyed stellar popularity –surpassing even Marth (who even when combined cannot top Roy’s votes) for most popular male character, behind only Ike.
There is an easy explanation for this, which speculation on the rest of the table supports: Super Smash Brothers.
Marth and Roy were the first two characters featured in the popular Smash Bros series (making their debut in the second installment, Melee) and were cited as reasons for bringing the series west in the first place.
Marth enjoyed a great influx of votes on top of already being a flagship “face” for the Fire Emblem series –but Roy gained even more attention for being beloved in Japan for both his presence in Binding Blade and Melee, whereas the west enjoyed the prequel to his game (where he makes a cameo) as well as his Melee presence.
It is curious that Marth scored less than Roy, considering Shadow Dragon (featuring Marth), as well as Awakening’s story and DLC featuring him would keep him quite prominent. However, it is possible that Roy’s fiery design (and weapons) were more attractive to general audiences. On top of this, voting to see Roy may be a way for fans to emphasize his popularity in hopes his own game comes to the west in some form. He too was featured in Awakening as DLC, and returned to the Smash Bros series after missing Brawl in the form of DLC in Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U. Perhaps it is that return that helped bolster his numbers over Marth who has continued to be in the Smash Bros series as a staple character.
The old stereotype of someone new to the Fire Emblem series (sometimes to the chagrin of established fans) was a simple question:
“Are Marth and Roy in this game?”
This question, though innocent, emphasized how more people knew about Roy than they did about the games he was from.
Evidence is self-explanatory on the chart. After Roy’s 28,982 votes comes Lilina in second place –with just 5730. That is a steep drop (a mere 20% of Roy’s number), and in fact is the steepest drop in votes (behind FE9 which I will cover in a few days), which shows there is a great disconnect between those who voted for Roy and those who voted for other Binding Blade characters. Those who knew Roy of Smash Bros fame but had not played FE6 would of course vote for Roy, basically.
Oddly, those who did play FE6 often like his character, but consider him an abysmal unit. Considering this is a popularity poll as a character and not a unit, however, it is likely that those who played the game overlooked these flaws too.
Another strange thing is that he did not appear on the Famitsu favorite Fire Emblem character polls taken in June 2015 –losing even to Ephraim (FE8) and Finn (FE4). If that was any indicator of Japanese fan preferences, then perhaps it was the western inclusion in the vote that saved him thanks to Smash Bros.
There is another factor though: the midterm results. Roy was already in second place when they were shown. As I point out in my general notes, this alone would have gotten a lot of people changing their votes for him. The influence of showing midterm results cannot be completely ignored when considering the top contenders (even though they were already placing second before this). It does mean it may have convinced those voting for other FE6 characters who were not in the top 20 to vote for Roy instead, abandoning who else they may have voted for.
Moving on to the non-Roy votes, Lilina placed as top female character which was somewhat expected –as were Sophia and Fir. Note that they are all already in Fire Emblem Heroes –which makes the absence of some of the others (and inclusion of some) strange.
Bartre, for instance, placed 51st (of 64) and made it into the game, while Rutger (who placed 5th) is nowhere to be seen. This is odd too, considering Rutger often placed really high on FE6 popularity polls for male characters.
Regarding bad guys, Narcian placed rather high, and indeed already had an event featured in Fire Emblem Heroes regarding him. The main antagonist, Zephiel, also placed on the top 20, making him relatively popular for antagonists that have generally been placing lower. Iduun placed higher than Zephiel despite being a background presence for the majority of the game –a rarity as exposure generally seemed to be correlated with popularity –but of course design is something to take into account too.
Lot in 3rd place is the definite oddball here. Lie Dorcas in FE7 (as you will see in the next section), his placement here is a surprise and quite out of place. It was likely a result of voting an underdog (or memeified) axe user. It certainly worked, considering he beat Sophia, Rutger, and Fir. I’m sure a lot of people were (and still are) rather confused about that. He is a relatively unremarkable character and has not really placed high in previous polls, so is likely due to a western influence (as previous polls were conducted on Japanese audiences only). Consider the fact that his counterpart Wade placed 58th –or 7th last.
Speaking of which, on the lower end of things, it is surprising to see the story significant Guinevere at 46th place. Perhaps it is due to her status as an NPC for the main story that she placed such. When we look at the lowest nine characters –Juno is the lowest female character, and is a pre-promoted unit featured on a certain path. Pre-promotes generally haven’t been scoring too well, as seen with Zelot, Garret, Yoder, and Dayan down the list too.
Elffin is another surprising name near the bottom, being a unique unit (a bard) who also has more story relevance than his dancing counterpart Larum (who did not fare too much better). Both are chosen depending on path that you go on, and in the end both placed lower than even Bartre.
Hector and Eliwood, returning from FE7 (below), still did well despite little to no presence in the game (Eliwood for a chapter or two, and Hector for a few, though quite a powerful moment involves him, too). It is likely their retrospective popularity from FE7 that drove their votes higher.
Let’s move on to the sequel (in chronological release) and prequel (in story) next and see how it fared.
Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade (FE7)
|In-Game Placing||Overall Place||Character||Total Votes|
- A total of 161,477 votes were cast across all the characters of this game.
- That is 12.6% of the overall vote.
- Blazing Blade is the third most voted for game out of those polled.
- Lyn has a whopping 49,917 votes, or 31% of total votes for this game. She is the highest scoring female character of the game, and top scoring character for both genders on the overall poll.
- Her votes alone are more than Gaiden and Thracia 776 combined, as well as more than Genealogy of the Holy War and Mystery of the Emblem
- She had previously placed 4th highest on a popularity poll conducted (only on Japanese audiences) via Famitsu last year.
- She has been in the Smash Bros. series as an assist trophy since Brawl.
- She was in 1st place for female characters on the midterm results for female characters. She remained in such.
- Hector is in 2nd, with 26,557 He is the highest scoring male character of the game.
- He had previously placed 8th on a popularity poll conducted (only on Japanese audiences) via Famitsu last year.
- He has no significant Smash Bros.
- He appeared in 3rd place on the midterm results for male characters, and remained as such.
- For the purposes of this poll and counting, Limstella has been placed in the “female” category, although it has been argued that due to her status as a morph she can really go either way. If there are any issues, simply count 690 votes as a margin of error on either side of the gender vote.
- Dorcas came in 3rd ahead of Eliwood, a lord and main character of the game. This is one of the more surprising results and leads with him as the highest overall scoring “underdog” character, considering the little significance he has to the game.
- There were nine characters that made the top 100.
- The remaining characters are well distributed in the 101-500 range, with the lowest still being a respectable 627th
- Zephiel is the lowest ranked male character at 54th place (627/791). He is also a non-playable character in the game, though significant to the overall plot.
- The lowest scoring female character is Vaida in 53rd (601/791). She is a pre-promote who joins late and an antagonist before that.
Blazing Blade was the first Fire Emblem game to be released in the west thanks to the interest Smash Bros Melee drummed up –the numbers certainly show that too. The game many fans in the west started on and that some still hold dear today placed third highest in terms of overall votes (behind Fates and Awakening) –as well as having the top overall voted character: Lyn.
Lyn won the overall poll with her 49,917 votes. She was already shown to be in 1st for the female category in the midterm results, which may have had some effect on her popularity too, as pointed out with Roy and in the general notes. She was the first character many western fans had met, considering she greets the player and runs them through the tutorial for Blazing Blade, with a story of her own. She was the first female lord for many, another point that would make her stick out.
In terms of exposure beyond Blazing Blade, she has been featured in the Smash Bros series as an assist trophy since the third installment, Brawl. In addition to that, she came into Awakening as DLC with a revamped design. She had also placed 4th highest on the Famitsu popularity poll. Her popularity seems to be rather steady since Blazing Blade, and perhaps this was a call out to see her featured more prominently given the chance in Fire Emblem Heroes. She was included among the first batch of featured characters in the game. Perhaps this was from perceived or expected popularity, the midterm results, or the final results. Likely a combination.
Hector came in 6th overall place, 3rd for males, and 2nd for this game. One of the three main characters of the game and the only one to wield an axe (a first in the series), he is often seen as a contender for lords Smash Bros FE fans ask for. His high votes are likely the same desire to see him included in more Fire Emblem related crossovers in general, due to his character that stuck out to many who played the game.
Eliwood, the third of three characters, placed 4th here and 36th overall, likely due to what fans saw as his relatively “bland” personality (when compared to Lyn and Hector). Though the original story focused on him, Hector’s role and own story likely overshadowed his. Indeed, Eliwood placed significantly lower than his two friends (and future son Roy) –and was beaten by even Dorcas.
On to the non-lords, Dorcas placed 3rd despite being a relatively insignificant character and unit in the game (much like Lot in FE6, who also placed 3rd…) with a minor role in Lyn’s earlier story. He has, however, become a meme to many, from his rather silly name to a certain Fire Emblem commercial that aired in the west:
If you already heard/saw anyone quote that commercial and had no idea what they meant –now you know! (Note how the uploader’s commentary also expresses a love for Lyn, with “Lyndis” being her full name).
However, like how Lot placed high and Wade placed low –Dorcas placed high and his axe wielding counterpart Bartre placed quite low –at 50th (of 54). Perhaps there really is a deeper correlation between these four axe users than previously thought…
Looking at the rest of the top 20, we see that some of the characters made it to Fire Emblem Heroes already. Lyn, Hector, Eliwood, Nino, Florina, Matthew, Raven and Serra (among others) are already featured in the game.
Oddly, some of the others who often score high in popularity are missing, such as Jaffar, Ninian, and Guy. The former two are quite prominent to the story, too. We see Lloyd appear here too –thus making him the highest scoring non-playable antagonist of the game, making it to the top 20 (his brother Linus did nowhere near as well, placing 47th). Ursula, another non-playable antagonist, placed at 20 (and appears in Fire Emblem Heroes). It is an interesting pick and choose, to say the least. Perhaps some were chosen from perceived popularity –hence why Dorcas is missing. Will he be included soon?
When we look at the lower end of the results, we see once again units that are less available (Athos, Renault), path exclusive (Wallace, Geitz), or pre-promoted (Marcus, Isadora, Vaida), or an antagonist (Ephidel, Nergal) fill the bottom.
Ephidel placed lower than his “sisters” Limstella and Sonia, likely due to his role ending much earlier than theirs. Nergal, the main antagonist, placed rather low at 49th (of 54) with much fewer votes than Zephiel did in FE6. It seems he was not as well liked (or perhaps not as memorable) as some of the other antagonists (though when antagonists are pit against protagonists, the voter can only pick one –rather than voting for a “favorite antagonist,” they have to vote for a single character and may likely pick one of the many protagonists). This is much like the issue with the gender split voting!
Renault has very little use as he comes in so close to the end, as does Athos. Wallace and Geitz only come on certain map variations, as do Karel and Harken (though Karel placed much higher than the others, up at 29th). Lowen, a cavalier you get from the start of Eliwood’s story placed very low for a unit of his standing. Perhaps it was the lack of eyes (covered by his hair) that made his design unappealing to some, or perhaps his character was just unmemorable.
As pointed out before, Bartre sits quite low for a non-pre-promote, readily available unit. Pehaps those who voted for him went for his more mature Binding Blade incarnation… regardless, his wife to be (and Fir’s mother) Karla did not place too high at 35th either, though did quite well for a pre-promote who joins near the endgame of a specific path.
In last place is Zephiel –the young, good hearted one. He has an important role in this story (and is quite central to FE6 indeed), but perhaps it was with that role and downfall in mind that not many voted for this incarnation.
One must keep in mind that though this is being treated as a popularity contest, it was at its core a “choose your legends” quest to see who was to be featured in Fire Emblem Heroes. This is one factor that may be important when looking at people like an NPC who placed low.
Though, I am curious, if the NPC had placed top, what would Fire Emblem Heroes have done to adapt them? Or would they be outright ignored? It would have been something worth voting for just to see (even Dorcas wields an axe and is a fighter, so that would be easy enough).
On a final note, Leila (another non-playable character) likely placed as high as she did (beating many playable characters at 25th) due to her relation to Matthew and design that stood out compared to some others. When it comes to including characters to see how they would be implemented (as they were not playable before), it may have been something interesting to see!
Elibe is the continent many Fire Emblem fans in the west were first exposed to. Smash Bros Melee’s promotion of Binding Blade through Roy’s inclusion helped bring Blazing Blade west while still making fans very aware of Roy’s own game.
As a result, we see that Roy is recognized by many thanks to Smash Bros and the continued associations that come from it, and hence placed quite high. This is further backed by the cliff-drop of votes for the follow up character in FE6 –Lilina, only having 20% of his vote, compared to FE7 which had less of a drop and better distribution across its top characters.
Evidence a foreign audience helped Roy’s numbers comes from his lack of placing at the top of the Famitsu popularity poll as one example, which was primarily on Japanese audiences!
Blazing Blade’s votes alone show the impact of being recognized by the world audience, however, especially when compared to Binding Blade’s overall voting numbers (161,477 vs 71,105). This means FE7 had many more votes to distribute over its cast, even if Lyn made a significant portion of that.
Lyn came in first place due to the above reasons, but also because she has not been prominently featured beyond her own game (an assist trophy in Smash Bros rather than a fully playable character, for instance).
Hector for similar reasons as the above, though he has had even less inclusion, and also has more unique properties (such as wielding an axe rather than a sword).
Roy, Lyn, and Hector were all on the midterm results, and their positions had not changed since then. This is likely a significant factor, too.
In both games, pre-promotes, path exclusive, and late-game units scored less. However, FE6 had some of the main antagonists (Narcian, Zephiel, and Idunn) place higher than FE7’s (Nergal, Ephidel, etc). That is not to discount Lloyd and Ursula who did fairly well, however.
Lot and Dorcas both placed in 3rd of their respective games, begging deeper questions that go beyond this analysis…
Phew! That wraps up the Elibe games! Tomorrow we enter the continent of Magvel as we look at the standalone game Sacred Stones.
As usual, feel free to leave any comments you may have or observations of your own below!