Marth (マルス, Marth) is the main playable hero in the first and third installments of the Fire Emblem series of tactical role-playing games. Previously well-known primarily in Japan for a game series that was never localized abroad, Marth was included in all language versions of Super Smash Bros. Melee as a playable character, and his popularity in the game (along with that of his similar counterpart Roy) influenced Nintendo's decision to release all subsequent Fire Emblem titles (excluding New Mystery of the Emblem) internationally.
The first game in what would become the long-running tactical role-playing medieval high fantasy series Fire Emblem, released on the Famicom (Japanese NES) and entitled Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light), introduced Marth as the main character. His design was noticeably different from his modern-day incarnation. The second game in the series, Fire Emblem Gaiden, took place on the same fictional world but on a different continent and was only tangentially related to the first and did not feature Marth. The third game however, titled Fire Emblem: Monsho no Nazo ("Mystery of the Emblem") and released on Super Famicom (Super NES) early in 1994, was both a remake of the original game and a continuation of that game's story. Marth underwent a character redesign to resemble the more "bishōnen" prince he is portrayed as in today's modern image of him, and he became the only FE -series main character to feature in a starring role from the start of the game in more than one FE title. In both these games, his in-game unit is the only one that belongs to the Lord character class, and that became tradition with all main starring characters of subsequent FE titles, being units that must be kept alive and start out weak but become very powerful over the course of each game.
Marth returns to the Fire Emblem series as a downloadable and playable character in the 3DS games Fire Emblem: Awakening (via SpotPass and DLC) and Fire Emblem Fates (via amiibo and DLC). Dialogue in the latter shows that the amiibo-summoned version of Marth is the same character that appeared in Smash itself.
The Falchion is Marth's sword. It remains his only weapon through his four appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series, and is Fire Emblem's series symbol for Melee, Brawl, and Smash 4. All of Marth's attacks use the Falchion with the exception of grabs and throws. In the games, the Falchion appears to be a golden broadsword during in-game battle sequences. However, it has been shown as a longsword with a steadily widening blade in its official artwork. A Falchion has also been used by Alm, and Sigurd's Tyrfing sword greatly resembles the Falchion. It is extremely effective against dragons in all its appearances and vital to killing Earth Dragons and Dark Dragons.
Marth is one of few playable heroes in the series to actually wield the Falchion. This weapon would later be wielded by his descendants Chrom and Lucina, respectively, although with an updated design.
The Falchion's sister weapon is the Fire Emblem or the "Shield of Seals"; they were both created together by the Dragon God Naga from his fangs. However, they do not have to be used together, as Marth's ancestor Anri uses the Falchion alone, as does Marth himself in Smash. Marth wields the two weapons together in the Fire Emblem games.
The Falchion has a property no other weapon has: attacks are stronger if landed at the tip of the blade, which acts as a sweet spot. Successful use of this is the crux of Marth's success in the Smash games he is playable in.
When Super Smash Bros. Melee was being developed, requested character polls posted by Japanese fans placed Marth as the most popular character, so HAL Laboratory included Marth as a playable character in the fighting game, and also placed the main character from the then-upcoming Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (Fuuin no Tsurugi) game, Roy, as another playable character alongside Marth. Nintendo of America feared that these characters would not have appeal to western gamers and thus would have to be removed, but there was enough stateside approval of Marth and Roy that they were kept. Marth and Roy were introduced along with the Fire Emblem franchise through the worldwide release of Melee, and the result was immensely positive, causing Fire Emblem games from installment seven onwards to be released internationally; the first of these games also featured Eliwood, the father of Roy. Marth and Roy were not given dub voices in the game, retaining their Japanese-language voice samples (with Midorikawa reprising his role as Marth's voice actor starting from Melee onwards).
Marth makes his Smash debut (and by extension, his international video game debut, excluding the Mystery of the Emblem anime adaption, which was released in North America) as an unlockable character in Melee. His design is based off his appearance from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. He can be unlocked one of three ways: using all fourteen starter characters at least once each in Vs. Mode matches, beating Classic mode with all fourteen starter characters on any difficulty, or playing 400 Vs. mode matches. In each of these cases, after fulfilling the conditions Marth must be battled one-on-one to be unlocked.
Marth is one of the game's more effective fighters, currently ranking 4th on the Melee tier list. His strengths include the long reach of his sword attacks and the very good damage and knockback specs of the "sweet spot" on the tip of his blade, his moderately fast dash, long grab, usefully floaty wavedash, excellent edgeguarding capabilities, easy and efficient combos, and great SHFFL, with his drawbacks being his lack of a projectile attack and laggy up special recovery. Marth's "clone", Roy, has attacks that are almost identical in appearance, and many "Marth vs. Roy" debates ensued in the years following Melee's release but professional analysis places Marth in a higher tier than Roy because he lacks Marth's subtle but vital advantages.
All of Marth's standard and special attacks involve him using his sword, the Falchion.
As with the other playable characters in Melee, Marth has three trophies which are obtained by defeating the single-player modes - a normal trophy from Classic Mode and two "Smash" trophies from Adventure and All-Star Modes respectively. The text of his Classic Mode trophy reads:
Marth returns as an unlockable playable character. Like Melee, his appearance is based on his design from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. Marth has superior range to most characters in the game, and relies on the length of his sword to effectively zone against his opponents. But this time however, it is uncertain as to whether or not he has been nerfed since Melee like a lot of other higher tier characters. He is currently resting in the "A-Tier" according to the official SBR tier list.
Marth returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U. Marth is now a starter character, as opposed to being an unlockable character as he was in Melee and Brawl. He has been visually updated to closely match his attire from Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem, Heroes of Light and Shadow as opposed to his design from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, which was used in Melee and Brawl.
Marth was greatly nerfed going into SSB4, as a result of receiving many significant nerfs and exiguous, inconsequential buffs. These nerfs significantly hamper his neutral game, depriving him of his outstanding punishment and comboing capabilities from his previous appearances. Although many returning characters received an overall buff, Marth, along with other Brawl-dominant characters such as Meta Knight and Falco, are among the few truly nerfed characters to make them more balanced with the rest of the cast.