By Josh Speer / February 1st, 2016
This article is a reflection of the writer’s views and opinions. They may not represent those held by oprainfall as a whole.
I have a confession to make – I am incredibly excited about the upcoming release of Fire Emblem Fates for the 3DS. Which version, you might ask? All of them. I am one of those fans who pre-ordered the Special Edition online at the first opportunity, and now eagerly await my chance to play through Birthright, Conquest and Revelation. You might find it surprising that such an unabashed fan of Fates still writes at oprainfall, especially given some of the bad press as of late. Nevertheless, as a gamer, a Fire Emblem fan and an optimist, I will take it upon myself to convince those worried about Fates why they should instead be excited again.
First of all, how about the fact that this is the first Fire Emblem game to release since the incredible Fire Emblem Awakening? That by itself has me excited, though I’ve been a Fire Emblem fan since it first came to the West in 2003 on GBA. I spent countless hours playing and replaying Sacred Stones as well as the original, and grew to love the series for it’s fair yet hard take on permadeath. The tactical gameplay, the weapon triangle, everything spoke to me. Granted, I haven’t loved every single game the same, most notably Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Though I liked seeing Fire Emblem on a home console, both of those games were unbalanced in many ways, not least of all that of the difficulty. Regardless, the point I’m trying to bring home is that I’ve been a fan of the series for some 13 years now, and it would take a hell of a lot for me to completely revise that opinion, let alone skip a game. Most especially a game that takes many of the improvements and conventions added in Awakening and adds to them with potentially 3 times the content available!
I suppose there’s many of you crowing about the recent controversies regarding Fates. Yes, I acknowledge that those may have some folks rightfully concerned. First there is the issue of the content revision regarding the “sexual conversion“ of Soleil via a magical powder. Secondly, there was the recent removal of a head patting mini game. While I can certainly understand fans not wanting any changes to content by Nintendo, especially after the recent Fatal Frame controversy, I would argue this is an apples to oranges situation. Fatal Frame not only was a far more serious issue, it was compounded by several foolish decisions, not least of which was the decision to not give Western gamers a physical release of what was a gigantic horror game for a console with extremely limited memory space. I would argue that the issues surrounding Fates, by comparison, are far less weighty, and perhaps not worth all the recent anxiety and disgust.
With regard to the Soleil issue, I can understand why Nintendo would alter a scene that, in an already overly charged gaming environment, might be seen as an allusion to date rape drugs. Rape is not a topic to be treated lightly, and I frankly think this was a wise decision, as I can already imagine the outcry had this not been rectified. With regard to the mini-game… honestly, why is everybody concerned about this? It was a minor, overly goofy mini-game that, in my opinion, did very little to improve the gameplay experience. It’s not like they removed the cutscenes or the support conversation dialogue. I think most serious Fire Emblem fans come to the series for one of several reasons – the tactical combat, the replay value, the character interaction and the vibrant storytelling. Silly mini-games are none of these things, and while I don’t think that Nintendo needed to remove it, I am also not sad that it’s gone from our version of the game. After all, this would hardly be the first time that Japanese gamers got access to some completely inane feature that us Western gamers didn’t. But just because we don’t get something doesn’t make it inherently special. Hell, sometimes we get games that have been improved from the Japanese version; just take Project X Zone, for example.
Now I know that some of you are also concerned about the Pokemon approach to Fates, wherein fans need to get multiple copies of the game to experience all the features. Firstly, from what I understand, each version of Fates will not only be a full game, but also significantly different from the other, not just a simple re-skin ala Pokemon. Secondly, Nintendo has already provided a way that owners of any version of the game can acquire the other for a discount digitally. That’s actually surprisingly thoughtful on their part, and any cost conscious gamer can appreciate the gesture. But for those of you who are crowing about wanting all the games at a discount, it’s not like you didn’t have a chance to pick up the Special Edition for $79.99, which essentially gives you three games for the price of two, besides some very nice looking collectibles. Oh, plus there is always the fact that we’re getting new DLC every week once the game releases, and as a fan of the DLC found in Awakening, I am very happy about this. Especially if said DLC will give me the needed edge to make my way through the brutal sounding Conquest campaign…
So there you have it. I acknowledge that there are reasons that some fans of Fire Emblem might be a little worried about Fates, but I personally am not swayed by the controversy or bad vibes. If Fates is even a fraction as good as Awakening was (I put 200+ hours into Awakening), it will easily be one of my favorite 3DS games of 2016. While it’s certainly possible that these two minor changes will ruin the game, I’m not holding my breath. And if nothing else, I love any series that not only gives me Tharja, but then doubles down with a character I lovingly refer to as Tharja 2.0, the lovely Camilla! I think I’ll be very happy with Fates, and encourage those pessimists to give the game a chance. I really think it will live up to and possibly even exceed my hype when it releases in a few short weeks.
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