Man on Fire: Addressing Nintendo’s Concerns for Fire Emblem: Awakening

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

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I don’t know what it is about the Strategy genre. Something about grids and weapon triangles and controlling anything from a small squad to an entire army just…gets to me. The various staples of the genre have varying degrees of quality in my opinion, so I can’t exactly call it my preferred genre… but games like Fire Emblem: Awakening are the ones I spend the most time with. I would play on the highest level of difficulty despite concepts of the games being foreign to me with intent to spend hundreds of hours growing into a competent tactician.

It’s crazy to think I would have never been introduced to the Strategy game, much less the Fire Emblem franchise, if it weren’t for Super Smash Bros Melee. But if you found your way here, I’d imagine you’re well versed in how the United States was introduced to the series. All of you, no doubt, have your own memories of playing through the handful of Gameboy Advance Fire Emblems, or through Path of Radiance, or Radiant Dawn. And you’ve played the DS remake of the first Fire Emblem; maybe you’ve even played Japanese versions of games that never found their way here…

Many assumed Fire Emblem: Awakening would share the same fate. I was there when it was showcased during the first ever Nintendo Direct stream. Twitters of popular folks in the industry were ablaze, “Oh look, it’s another Fire Emblem game we’ll never get!” But I was ever faithful, despite being burned by Nintendo of America so much in the past. There was potential! There were announcements of it being the first game to feature DLC on the Nintendo 3DS, as well as subtle things like Sacred Stones being included as a 3DS Ambassador title…

But still, no news came. February 22nd arrived, where another Nintendo Direct offered hope that the game may see a European release. Europe offered fans a vague translation of the Japanese stream that took place early on. Many important titles were stamped with “release plans to be announced later”. Several titles mentioned during the Nintendo Direct stream, like Pokemon Conquest for example, have indeed been announced in territories outside of Japan.

I couldn’t be too angry with Nintendo of America when Reggie did not mention Fire Emblem during the USA-exclusive stream because that was the time they chose to announce that The Last Story was coming stateside. Still, there was a part of me that felt empty despite what this success meant for Operation Rainfall and the overwhelming support offered to both Nintendo and XSEED Games. I wanted news, some sort of acknowledgement, but it was looking more and more like E3 would be the most appropriate time to reveal the good news.

Up until Iwata spoke at the Investors Meeting on April 26th, I would have gone on an angry tirade if not kept in check, accused Nintendo of America of avoiding the issue just for the sake of an epic E3 reveal. The company most likely knows that the people most likely to buy this game on day one have been aware of the game since it was first announced in Japan. Their silence is somewhat nerve-wracking to dedicated fans, but I’ve grown more and more optimistic as news and allusions make themselves known.

The fact remains that NOA has yet to bring up the game on a public forum outside of a brief mention in Nintendo Power that spoke of titles popular in Japan. But the tone Mr. Iwata set at the briefing implied an air of caution when it came to releasing Fire Emblem: Awakening oversees. Nintendo Company Limited has done just about everything they can, in my opinion, to confirm a global release for Fire Emblem: Awakening except for make an official announcement.

I feel as though Nintendo’s apprehensive tone is something worth discussing. Is Nintendo legitimately afraid of the core audience (whether they openly admit it on a game-by-game basis or not) despite trying to win them back? Do they have reason to be afraid?

It’s important to let questions like these float around our heads in the weeks before E3, where the future Iwata alluded to during the briefing shall be given form with the announcements about WiiU and (hopefully) a diverse library of software for the future.

I most certainly look forward to what the future holds for Nintendo. And I encourage you all to remain hopeful for an announcement regarding Fire Emblem: Awakening’s global release in due time. When the game is announced, I believe we should do our part to quell Nintendo’s fears…to prove, as we have many times before, that the hardcore Nintendo fan will continue to support even their somewhat niche, less streamlined franchises.