Just in time for Pride, Fire Emblem Fates, the next iteration of Intelligent Systems’ fantastic series of strategy RPGs, will, in a series first, allow for the possibility of same-sex marriage between the player’s avatar and another character, Nintendo recently confirmed in a statement to Polygon.
In the previous game, Fire Emblem Awakening, characters who fought alongside one another for long enough would develop affection that in turn allowed them to be more effective when near people they liked. Characters of the opposite sex could advance their relationship up to level S, at which point they would get married. Because the game’s plot involved a bit of time travel, as soon as a couple got hitched, a new mission would become available that allowed you to recruit their child, fully grown and returned from a dark future they hope to prevent. This time travel conceit allowed you to selectively breed your units to pass along particular combinations of traits to your new soldiers without waiting for the passing of generations (a la Massive Chalice). The system was a lovely fusion of mechanics and storytelling, amplifying the player’s personal investment in the characters (which is already substantial because of the series’ signature perma-death approach to losing characters on the field).
The addition of same-sex relationships to the mix is welcome, but don’t expect that you’ll be able to start enabling all of your slash fiction fantasies, because its implementation is limited, and tied to the game’s two different retail versions.
“In the Conquest edition of the game, there is a male character that the game’s player may have his/her male main character marry after they bond in battle,” the statement reads. “Similarly, the Birthright edition features a female character that a female main character may marry after bonding in battle. Both of the aforementioned characters can be encountered in the third edition of the game.”
Players who want a relationship between male characters will need to purchase the Conquest edition of the game, or wait until the third version is available as DLC, and similarly players that want a relationship between two women will need to buy Birthright or wait until the DLC. The homosexual relationship option is only one of many distinctions between the two retail versions, which feature different sets of characters and missions as they focus on different perspectives in the same war.
Nintendo got in trouble in 2014 for only allowing heterosexual relationships in Tomodachi Life, its Sims-like life simulator with miis. In response to the initial uproar, Nintendo stated that they “never intended to make any form of social commentary,” but fans rightly called them out on the normative absence of homosexuality being as much of a statement as any proactive gesture. Nintendo rapidly apologized, and while the current version of Tomodachi Life was set in stone, the developer promised to include same-sex relationships in all future sequels. It’s hard to say whether that dust-up had any direct influence on the decision for Fire Emblem Fates, but it is nevertheless great to see more thought being put towards representational diversity.
“We believe that our gameplay experiences should reflect the diversity of the communities in which we operate and, at the same time, we will always design the game specifications of each title by considering a variety of factors, such as the game’s scenario and the nature of the game play,” Nintendo said. “In the end of course, the game should be fun to play. We feel that Fire Emblem Fates is indeed enjoyable to play and we hope fans like the game.”
Fire Emblem Fates comes to 3DS in Japan on June 25, 2015, and will follow in the United States and Europe some time in 2016.