There are no damsels in distress in the Fire Emblem series. OK, so that’s hyperbole, there are plenty of women and men who need rescuing throughout each game’s campaign. The important thing is, while there are people who need to be saved, the series, as a whole, has been pretty good at championing equality. The cast is quite well rounded, with strong male and female characters teaming up to work together and save the world.
This means Fire Emblem is a fantastic place to start for gamers who crave equality in their games. Players are treated to adventures where they can find someone similar to themselves to stand behind. Granted, characters of color are still somewhat rare in the series, but this is one of the few series that, throughout the years, has shown women inhabiting key roles.
The more recent installments of Fire Emblem have been the most positive and progressive. Those who wonder where they can find a game with a great heroine needs only to look to their DS or 3DS. The three most recent releases, Fire Emblem Awakening, Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou no Nazo: Hikari to Kage no Eiyuu, and Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, are the best examples. All three allow for self-insertion. The true main character is the player, who can create an avatar in his or her own image. Especially notable is Fire Emblem Awakening, a game that has unique dialogue options for male and female avatars. These unique dialogue options make any player feel like the game was tailor-made for him or her. It's a fantastic step forward; it shows consideration for the player. Not to mention, it calls attention to the fact that, yes, there are women who flock to hardcore series like Fire Emblem.
Though really, all three of the aforementioned games do acknowledge the gender difference. When it comes to battles, the male and female characters are equal. It's just the support conversations and story that acknowledge a minor difference. For people who play Fire Emblem Awakening, being a woman can be beneficial, as pairing a female avatar with Chrom results in the Morgan character obtaining the incredibly helpful Rightful King skill.
Female leads in Fire Emblem games are not uncommon though. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, and Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken all have Micaiah, Eirika, and Lyn leading the ranks. Micaiah and Eirika are among the primary heroes in each of their respective games, with Eirika especially commanding a lot of respect and prestige, should someone choose to play her tale. In fact, experiencing it is mandatory if someone wants the whole story. Lyn has to share quite a bit of the limelight with Hector and Eliwood, but she still counts as one of the strongest Fire Emblem heroines of all time. She fights as the last of her tribe. Eventually, Lyn transforms into one of the strongest swordmasters in the game, if not the strongest.
Of course, it isn't all about strong female leads. One of the reasons Fire Emblem can be championed as a series that offers equal opportunities for both genders is the strength of the supporting cast--the armies that keep the cause alive. There have always been strong warriors of both genders in Fire Emblem games, dating all the way back to the original Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryuu to Hikari no Tsurugi, which was remade and rereleased on the DS as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. I'm sure players were thankful that characters like Caeda the Pegasus Knight, Linde the Mage, Midia the Knight, and Minerva the Dracoknight were around.
This trend of female cast members you can count on in Fire Emblem has continued over the years. While more recent installments, from Fire Emblem on the GBA onward, have been the most obvious when it comes to naming women who more than prove themselves in battle, it has been going on for years. Celica is a prime example in Fire Emblem Gaiden, though she begins as a pacifist priestess. Ayra and Brigid are even better examples in Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu, not to mention Eyvel in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776. And, though they're weak against arrows, players can always count on the all-female Pegasus Knights when things seem dark.
In short, the Fire Emblem series is wonderful for many reasons, including its constant ability to provide players with strong characters of either gender that can be used to save each world. Yes, sometimes the characters may provide fan service or fall into rather obvious tropes, like the now infamous moe-Nowi from Fire Emblem Awakening, but that doesn't lessen the impact of a series offering up strong female cast members, be they the heroes or supporting allies, since the series' debut in 1990. If anyone is looking for a game that champions strong female characters, they need to look no further than their nearest Nintendo platform.