Fire Emblem is a series of tactical role-playing games developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo. Each installment of the series takes place in a different setting, centering on a mystical object that varies between titles called the Fire Emblem. In essence, the gameplay is a chess match but with swords, magic, and knights riding Pegasus. A staple of the series is the support conversations your characters can have. When your characters fight together on the battlefield, it unlocks bonus dialogue that strengthens the bond between compatible characters and they gain bonuses, such as extra speed or strength, in battle. In some special cases, compatible characters will develop a romantic relationship when their camaraderie reaches the highest level possible, which in the game, is level “S.” While supports can be implemented across all genders, only heterosexual relationships could be established.
Fire Emblem: Awakening took it a step further where now, after our characters develop a relationship, they can have children and through a time travel plot device, your character’s children will travel from their future to your present time and fight alongside you to fight the enemy that threatens their future. This was a big deal for the series since it offered a new level of customization since children characters inherit stats from the parents and so who your characters pair with is just as strategic as military placement. And it’s great fodder for “shippers.”
But even with all this, there was an obvious lack of any LGBTQ representation. The closest we had in Awakening was a dark sorceress who stalked our custom avatar no matter which gender they were. This changed in Fire Emblem: Fates Birthright & Conquest, the latest installment in the series, which features same sex options in their different versions. If you wanted to play as a lesbian, you play the Birthright story path. If you wanted to be gay, you play in the Conquest path. Each version had different characters, setting, and difficulty so being version locked just to have your sexuality represented was a bit problematic. Luckily, the latest DLC, Revelations, offers the best of both worlds in terms of overall game experience including both same sex options.
Now onto the actual options themselves, I’m disappointed to say that there’s only two gay characters in the entire game, one for each gender respectively. Though gay is a stretch here since they can be with either gender so gameplay wise they’re queer characters. We have our Outlaw class Niles for the male side and the Diviner (magic user) class Rhajat for females.
I will say that the relationship you can form with Niles was done really well since it fleshes out the dark histories of both him and your avatar and it doesn’t shy away from calling your relationship a legitimate marriage at the end. Rhajat, on the other hand, was pretty much a copy and paste of the aforementioned stalker character from Awakening, Tharja, and her support conversations center around her being creepy and your character eventually learning to like it.
As I said before, the lack of options is noticeable. Us LGBTQ players are version locked with only one option while straight players have a whole candy store of hunks and ladies to choose from. One missed opportunity was the knight Silas, whose support conversations don’t vary much between genders and can carry romantic implications.
I apologize in advance for the spoiler ahead. Silas’ backstory centers around him joining the army in order to eventually reunite with your character on the off chance that he encounters you on one of his missions and he will join your army no matter which version you pick. Silas will commit treason for you as long as he can be with you. Keep in mind this is a heterosexual character but at this point we’re still in gray areas here. Any best friend would follow you to hell and back.
Now for the suspicious part. Since your player avatar is nobility, they lived a secluded life in a castle most of their life and Silas was the only reprieve from that. In conversations, it was revealed that he and the avatar developed a close friendship and talked about all the places the avatar wanted to see if he or she ever left the castle with Silas promising to remember every place to visit so he can take the avatar there. He was exiled from the castle for trying to sneak the avatar out of the castle for a picnic and so he enlisted with the army since it was the only way to eventually reunite with him/her. Your character is essentially the Princess Jasmine to his Aladdin with all the promises to show a whole new world that a sheltered royal would otherwise never get to see. When said pair is reunited years later, Silas remembers the long list of places the avatar wanted to see. This backstory is the same no matter which gender your character is with only one extra support level, which is the “marriage” conversation for female characters. If a sheltered noble/knight in shining armor backstory can provide the foundations of a heterosexual relationship, why can’t it apply to a same sex one? Nintendo could’ve easily added him to the roster of options since the story is sweet to the levels of diabetes and the dialogue wouldn’t need any tweaking.
The next part that Nintendo dropped the ball on was the children characters. Having kids makes a return in this installment and of course, same sex pairings can’t have children. From a biological standpoint, this makes sense but gameplay wise, we are losing out on two-three potentially powerful characters so it feels like the game is punishing us for being gay. How can they rectify this? Instead of unlocking the potential biological offspring of the characters, there could’ve been two other characters that are unlocked exclusively through same sex pairings that could be the adopted children of said couples. A war torn country is ripe with orphans so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that our couples could adopt said orphans and train them so they “inherit” the skills of the parents.
In conclusion, while I’m thankful Nintendo is finally listening to us and increasing the amount of diversity in their games, they’ve barely scratched the surface of our stories and experiences which can translate well to any future Fire Emblem game.
P.S. How many straight men wear this outfit? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)