It's no secret here that we love what is quite possibly one of the finest games currently available on Nintendo's 3DS system, Fire Emblem Awakening, and we could wax lyrical about the reasons why.
The fourteenth instalment in the Fire Emblem franchise, and the first made for the 3DS, Awakening opened up what was previously a niche Japan-based series to the West and it caught like wildfire.
And now its successor has a confirmed release date for North America and Canada. Fire Emblem Fates is coming; it'll be here February 19, with a European release date still to be confirmed.
From the sounds of things Fire Emblem Fates is set to rival Awakening, though if you want to get the full story you'll be looking to purchase three different versions of the game. It also features an interesting twist to the relationship mechanics of the series, being the first Fire Emblem game to provide a mechanic for same-sex marriage.
Whilst the introduction of this mechanic has been largely praised (despite the certain restrictions upon the homosexual relationships) there was a similar storyline which kicked up a lot of dirt for Nintendo recently regarding Fire Emblem Fates, I speak of course about the gay drugging controversy.
The Drugging Controversy
This is where things start to get muddy. In case you somehow missed this there was an online controversy kicked up last year regarding a mistranslation of a segment from the game which was read as a forced "gay conversion".
The segment in question was a support conversation between the (male) protagonist and a gay female character (Soleil), in which Soleil appeared to be drugged with a power which allowed her to see males as females and females as males. As a result she ended up falling in love with the male protagonist, seemingly "cured" of her homosexuality.
Of course this would be a wildly inappropriate storyline to include in any video game, never mind one which is a tactical focused mainstream RPG. However, as it turns out, the translation wasn't entirely accurate.
With the full translation of the dialogue now provided things start to become a little clearer. The drugging is still uncomfortable in terms of subject matter, but given that it's never actually stated that Soleil is a gay woman it seems like the initial outpouring was a little much. You can check out the full dialogue via NicheGamer and decide for yourself whether or not you think it's inappropriate.
Is Fire Emblem Fates Being Censored?
Censorship is a muddy issue in and of itself, but we do know now that this particular support conversation won't be available in the Western release.
In a statement to Polygon Nintendo of America issued a response to this controversy, clarifying that changes were made to the game to "localize" it appropriately for an American audience:
"In the version of the game that ships in the U.S. and Europe, there is no expression which might be considered as gay conversion or drugging that occurs between characters.
Making changes is not unusual when we localize games, and we have indeed made changes in these games. When we localize 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."
So, is this the correct thing to do? It isn't a secret that there's a lot of cultural differences between the East and the West, and things that might fly for example in anime and video games in Japan would be considered inappropriate in the West.
This issue in particular is sketchy due to the fact that a character is drugged without her consent, but it's not quite as bad as it was first made out to be. Altering this segment isn't going to have a big effect on the game, it's just a case of changing the presented dialogue options, so in the grand scheme of things it's no real loss.
We'll find out for sure when Fire Emblem Fates releases in the US on February 19.