The last Fire Emblem — which was amazing — was available in a single version. The next one, Fire Emblem if, is available in four (at least in Japan), and it’s both hilarious and horrifying to see it all written down in the one place.
Bear with me here. And note that everything I’m about to show you has been announced only for the Japanese version of the game.
Fire Emblem if, which makes the player choose between two warring factions, is going to be available in two boxed retail versions (above), one in which you play through the light campaign, the other the dark campaign. Each path features a different story and unique characters. If you buy one of these boxed versions and want to see how the other goes down, you can buy the other campaign as DLC at a discounted rate.
(Oh, and there’s a third campaign, included in neither boxed edition, that’s available only as DLC.)
There’ll also be a special edition made available, which bundles the light, dark and third campaign in a single purchase, along with other stuff like an art book (below).
But wait, there’s more! There will also be a single downloadable version of the game that lets you choose which faction you’ll fight for (the opening sections of both campaigns are identical, with the split happening later in the game; you can see it in the image below, with the divergence taking place at chapter “6”). Once this choice is made, it’s locked in.
Anyone buying this downloadable version can then of course also buy the DLC.
Just to recap, then, that’s four versions of the one game: two different boxed editions, a modified downloadable version and a special edition.
It’s absolutely bonkers. It’s almost as though the whole process was designed so that people look at all this, scratch their heads and just think “fuck it, I’ll just get the special edition, my head hurts”.
Perhaps understandably, Nintendo of America made absolutely no mention of any of this in their own announcement of if’s release. It’d be very surprising if they don’t keep it simple and just release the downloadable/choice version as the sole version in the West, and leave the third campaign for DLC.