No, you’re not imagining it; Nintendo has finally acknowledged that same-sex couples exist. The new Fire Emblem game allows same-sex marriage between the main player character and a NPC.
Fire Emblem Fates is due for release in Japan this month on 3DS, with a European and US release due sometime next year. The latest entry in the long-running strategy series will come in two different versions, à la Pokémon: Conquest and Birthright, each of which has its own storyline and set of characters. At some point further down the line, a third edition will be made available for owners of one of the existing versions, again featuring its own storyline.
“In previous Fire Emblem titles, like 2012’s Fire Emblem Awakening, players could marry characters of the opposite sex if they bonded closely through conversations,” Nintendo explained in a press statement issued yesterday evening. “If relationships reached S-rank status in Fire Emblem Awakening, characters could have children, creating new playable characters. Fire Emblem Fates will feature an A+ ranking for characters of the same sex who form a strong bond.
“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. 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.”
Nintendo has come under fire in recent years due to its conservative stance regarding same-sex couples, most prominently when it released Tomodachi Life in the West last year. The Japanese version of Tomodachi Life featured the ability to enter into a same-sex relationship, which became wildly popular. The feature was missing from the Western release however, with Nintendo eventually stating that the feature had only been a bug and that gay relationships were “strange”.
At the time, Nintendo said that it had “never intended to make any form of social commentary”; but a subsequent campaign via social media networks prompted the publisher to state that it would consider same-sex unions in future titles. It appears that Fire Emblem Fates is the first game to bear the fruits of that statement.
Nintendo’s statement continues: “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. 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.”