The Other Ways Nintendo Is Changing The English Version Of Fire Emblem Fates

The Other Ways Nintendo Is Changing The English Version Of Fire Emblem Fates

Despite being another sequel in a longtime Nintendo series, Fire Emblem Fates is… quirky. Its Japanese version sparked quite a bit of controversy among English-speaking fans when it launched last year. Nintendo is making some big changes. As I reported last week, Nintendo is removing a scene that’s been regarded as homophobic from the upcoming English version of the turn-based tactical role-playing game. It involves your male player character spiking the drink of another character named Soleil, a woman who’s physically attracted to other women, with magic powder. The result is that she comes to see men as women, ultimately falling for the (male) player character. Given the historical context of things like gay conversion therapy, it’s a plot line with serious potential to re-open some old wounds. Also, it’s convoluted as the goddamn Da Vinci Code — or the latest sequel in Dan Brown’s book series series, B.o.B’s Twitter feed.

In a follow-up to that story, a Nintendo rep clarified the company’s reasoning in the face of “censorship” accusations while also explaining how same-sex marriage — a series-first — will function as part of the game’s confusing buffet of vaguely named versions:

Making changes is not unusual when we localise games, and we have indeed made changes in these games. When we localise a game we do so in order to make it appropriate for that particular territory. All our choices were made from that point of view.

In the Conquest edition a male main character created by the gamer can pair up with another male character (Niles) which ultimately leads to marriage. Similarly, in the Birthright edition, a female main character created by the gamer can pair up with and eventually marry another female character (Rhajat). Like married couples of the opposite gender, these same-sex couples enjoy the stat boosts that come with marriage, which means when they are paired up in battle they are stronger than when they are apart or paired up with another character.

In the third edition, Revelation, that will be released as DLC in the eShop on March 10, a same-sex marriage is possible regardless of the sex of your main character, as both Niles and Rhajat can be encountered in this edition.

Another point of contention in the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Fates was a feature that let players use the 3DS touch screen to stroke characters, some of whom would respond with suggestive dialogue. It got excessively, um, interesting when it involved the player character’s adoptive siblings (who are apparently still romanceable). You can read a few fan translations here, if you want.

While the English version of Fates still includes many relationship-building activities by way of robust castle functionality, Nintendo confirmed to me that petting is 100 per cent out. A rep explained while also defending the original intent of the Japanese version:

Yes, that is the case. You might have heard somewhat misinterpreted or exaggerated information about the Japanese original game, but even in the Japanese original version, we have not included any features which are considered inappropriate in Japan.

I asked Nintendo for more information about specific changes — especially in regard to Soleil and other romances that take potentially localisation-unfriendly turns — but Nintendo didn’t want to spoil specifics. They did, however, once again offer that making changes in the name of localisation is not unusual, and that it’s happened with many of their games in the past.

I got to play a bit of both the Conquest and Birthright editions of the game during a recent Nintendo event in San Francisco. Those of you who don’t consider slight changes in the name of localisation to be the holiest of grails will be happy to hear that Fates is pretty much More Fire Emblem — in a good way. It’s got some cool bells and whistles (I’m especially excited to really dig into the castle features and get way too attached to my band of fantastic hair styles with people attached), but battles are extremely similar to those in the series’ previous 3DS entry, Fire Emblem Awakening.

While I don’t love the idea of shelling out for multiple versions of the game, I did enjoy just how different they seemed to be. They begin in roughly the same place, but after around five chapters, you reach a pivotal moment — a choice in which you can, if you so please, spend more money (ugh) and download the game’s other version on the spot. After that, the stories diverge significantly.

Birthright‘s a lot like Awakening. You’ve got a big army of goody two-shoes (and yes, characters have actual feet this time!) ragtag hero types, and you can move around a world map, tackling missions and assorted battles as you please. Of the two versions, most people will likely find it easier. I played a level in which I fought off an army led by the main character’s adoptive sister, Camilla. It was fun, but not particularly difficult. I wanted to reason with Camilla and get her on my side, but there was no option for it — at least, in that level.

Conquest is intended to be more like an old-school Fire Emblem game: less choice, more challenge. You’re essentially rolling with the “bad” guys, and you often end up out-gunned, if not out-smarted. At the Nintendo event, only four people (of probably around 30) managed to even beat the Conquest level, which saw the main character’s army backed into a corner, forced to defend for a handful of turns. I’ve played quite a bit of Fire Emblem over the years, so I decided to try and beat the level without losing a single character. I would have pulled it off if I hadn’t gotten impatient (and therefore, sloppy) on turn nine. Oh well, I still won. It was challenging, but not the most brutal Fire Emblem level I’ve ever played. It was definitely a marked change from the level I played in Birthright, though.

All throughout, the localisation was fine. I did a few pre- and post-battle conversations between party members, and — much like in Awakening — relationships were characterised by wartime grimness juxtaposed with ever-so-slightly zany anime tropes. In one vignette, my character offered to essentially stalk another character and constantly sing his praises to boost his confidence. The other character was understandably weirded out. In another conversation, a character tried to bribe his romantic interest into being less icy and closed off from everybody else with her favourite candy — while mixing in some stuff about her weight. Casanova he was not.

If what I played is any indication, Fire Emblem Fates is Fire Emblem Awakening after a morning pot of coffee and a nice, wholesome breakfast of steroids. I’m intrigued, albeit not completely sold, because who knows? Maybe most of the levels are terrible and the characters are all whiny, argumentative garbage babies. It seems pretty unlikely, but constrained preview events aren’t super great for holistic evaluations of games. Expect more in the next couple months.


  • Awakening and Fates are everything wrong with the approaching mentality of games, losing your identity in hopes of shoe-horning aspects that sell well, the whole concept of the series is lost and I can’t wait for the series to die, like it should have done after 10.

    • awakening is a great game and has still held true to the older games. sure there are added elements like the relationship mechanic which to be honest, you can actually ignore completely and still win the game. i thought the characters were great, story was great. game play was nothing byt Fire Emblem.
      ive played the first 3 or 4 fire emblems, plus path of radiance and radiant dawn, and awakening felt very very familiar to me and made me feel at home. i thought it was very enjoyable.

      what in particular dont you like about the newer games?

  • Has there been any word on the release date for this in Australia? None of the retailers have a date.

    • I was told it would be the same as the European release date by EB Games. Take that for what it’s worth, given their website says TBC 2016.

  • It’s not anything like gay conversion therapy. That sometimes involved making someone nauseous and forcing them to look at homoerotic photographs so that they would build up an aversion to same-sex attraction. The complained-about scenario is the equivalent of gender-swapping beer goggles. Soleil is actually happy to have the powder given to her and goes off to ogle the men in the army (now that she sees them as girls).

    People are reading a lot into the male MC’s reasons for giving Soleil the powder. Taken at face value, he gives it to her to try and solve her problem of fainting when she’s around ‘cute girls’. The attraction between that grows between MC and Soleil is coincidental.

    Having read the pastebin translation: it’s pretty clear that this is just an example of bizarre JRPG writing. MC is not doing anything that upsets Soleil in any way.

  • Is FE even a Tactical RPG anymore?

    If I was new to the series, everything I’ve read on it so far would make me believe it’s a fantasy dating sim or something.

    Are there any improvements/additions to the actual gameplay? New unit types? New strategic moves? A change-up of the rock-paper-scissors formula?

    Anything other than gay marriage and facial petting, really….

    • There is actually a number of improvements/changes in gameplay.

      -Weapons triangle has been redone to be: Swords and Magic have an advantage over Axes and Bows. Axes and Bows have an advantage over Lances and Hidden Weapons. Lances and Hidden Weapons have an advantage over Swords and Magic.
      -Pair up has been nerfed/redone to become attack stance and guard stance
      -Tons of new classes and weapon types
      -More victory conditions
      -A+ support rank added

      So theres a lot to still get into apart from all the my castle stuff.

  • Why do you always put the word “censorship” in quotation marks when writing these articles? That implies that it’s not censorship. It is very much censorship. Yeah, this stuff seems sort of wacky or stupid, but that doesn’t mean it should be removed. Kotaku posted an interview with YandereDev earlier this week. In that interview, YandereDev said,

    “I’ve always been strongly against censorship, even when the subject being censored was unimportant to me. First they will censor things that you don’t care about, then they will censor things that you do care about, and then they will censor you. You have to protect all things from censorship, even the things you don’t care about, to protect yourself and the things you care about”

    So, even if the thing being censored seems stupid or unimportant, that doesn’t mean it’s alright for it to be censored.

      • I am actually against all censorship. And, as somebody moving into the game development scene, I will never censor anything in any of my games.

  • I can understand the petting feature being removed from western culture simply because it’s a, “Don’t touch me like a dog” weird.

    I’m also wondering about the whole Japan incest fascination thing they have, where they’ll have sexual feelings towards their biological siblings. Isn’t the story spread into two choices? One where you side with the people who raised you as their own, and the other side that’s related to you by blood? Being a Fire Emblem game, how do you make relations then?

    • The main character isn’t related to either family, gosh, shock and horror right? Too bad people can’t just be patient and play the thing to find out how they were supposed to?

  • Completely down with a publisher requesting the removal of extraneous elements from a game. No issues with localisation affecting the content of a game, so long as changes are reasonable and contextual.

    One of the bigger issues I’m seeing with editing during localisation is that the amount of people complaining is nowhere near proportionate to the amount that will either:
    a) Refuse to buy a game that has been edited in localisation.
    b) Buy an edited game from a region that has the content they want.

  • Are you sure that you’re not misunderstanding the use of familial terms for non family members as a form of respectful address? In Japan it’s common for people to refer to non family members using terms like uncle, aunt, grandma, big Brother etc.

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