Earlier this week, Nintendo dropped one of the most interesting bombshells it has dropped in a very long time: the Wii U will get an RPG collaboration between Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei.
In the world of fan-fiction video game crossovers like Street Fighter x Tekken, Kingdom Hearts, and Marvel vs. Capcom, this might be the strangest yet. Fire Emblem is traditional fantasy; Shin Megami Tensei is modern and full of demons. They make for odd bedfellows. (Although they both revolve around combat and relationship-building, so maybe they have more in common than you'd think.)
So as Kotaku's JRPG columnist and an Official Expert On All Things Ridiculous, I consider it my duty to take a break from the wonderful Ni no Kuni and engage in some wanton speculation about what a Shin Megami Tensei-Fire Emblem game could look like.
First, a quick primer on both of these franchises. Fire Emblem is a set of dark fantasy strategy-role-playing games that have mostly been released in Japan, although North Americans got a few of the games (on Game Boy Advance and Wii, for example). Fire Emblem has also been the big topic of conversation here at Kotaku over the past week or so, as Kirk, Stephen and I all work our way through the wonderful new 3DS incarnation, Fire Emblem: Awakening. We talk a lot about who's getting married and who's been killed. It's the best sitcom ever.
And what of Shin Megami Tensei? If Tales is the fast food of gaming, SMT is the brussel sprout: hard to get into, but when it's prepared right, you won't believe you've been ignoring it for all these years. It's a tough series spanning a ton of surreal, modern games in which dark themes and demons take centre stage. The most popular SMT games are Persona 3 and Persona 4, hybrid dungeon crawler-high school simulators that many people rank among the best RPGs ever made.
So my first thought, when I heard that SMTxFire Emblem is an actual thing that will actually exist, was that it must be a strategy-role-playing game. Some sort of grid-based tactical game in which you can recruit and build up characters from both series, then use them to fight demons or wizards or whatever the fuck. It seems like a good fit: Fire Emblem is already a strategy series, and there have been Shin Megami Tensei-based strategy-RPGs.
I imagine it'll take some creativity to justify smashing these two series together. Maybe all the SMT characters somehow get sent into the Fire Emblem world, like when the Jetsons accidentally went back in time and met the Flintstones. They'll squabble at first, but when they find a common enemy, they'll learn to co-exist and be BFFs like Gimli and Legolas. It'll be totally adorable.
But wait. Which characters are we going to use? From Fire Emblem we need the most recognisable ones: Marth, Roy, Ike, Lynn, Eliwood. Maybe some pegasus knights because pegasi are totally badass and I really like writing the word pegasi. Repping Shin Megami Tensei will be a bunch of high school kids, some demons, some goddesses, that dude Igor with the big nose, and a bunch of other really mysterious people who are either 1) never explained or 2) turn out to be demons and/or goddesses.
Time out! What if it isn't a strategy game? What if it's a hardcore dungeon-crawler? What if it's a visual novel? Just spitballing here. How about a dress-up sim starring Naoto and Marth? An edutainment game called Kanji & Krew that lets you travel around the world of Fire Emblem, fighting crime and teaching kids to stay off drugs? Maybe a fighting game with Persona characters? (Nah, that'd be ridiculous.)
What if it's an RPG where Shin Megami Tensei characters summon Fire Emblem characters as demons? What if it's a soccer game where your teammates are from both games? What if Fire Emblem's entire cast of knights and wizards is forced to travel to a small, sleepy suburb of Japan, where they have to go to high school?
Maybe I'm not getting creative enough. This is a Wii U game. What if you have to play Fire Emblem on the GamePad controller while Rise Kujikawa tries to distract you by singing and stripping on TV? What if there are two worlds, one on the big screen, and one in your lap? What if you have to
What if you have to go into your television and fight shadow monsters?
OK. I've got it. Persona 4's Teddie is really sick, right, and it turns out there are demons living inside of his bear suit and the SMT characters aren't powerful enough to take them on alone, so they call up some goddess buddy who is like "okay I'll help you out... for a price" and she summons the cast of Fire Emblem and they all bring their swords and lances and shit and everybody fights all the demons in Teddie's body and they save the day and Teddie is gonna be OK but then it turns out the goddess's price was your soul so you have to go fight that goddess and then everybody dies.
SMT x Fire Emblem: Teddie's Inside Story. You're welcome, Nintendo.
Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.