First released in 2013 in North America, Nintendo’s Fire Emblem: Awakening, then the most recent game in the company’s popular turn-based tactics series Fire Emblem, introduced a new romance system, allowing players to pair off characters of the opposite sex into couples, eventually leading to children who were far more powerful than either of their parents.
With Awakening’s follow-up, Fire Emblem Fates, hitting Japanese store shelves tomorrow, Nintendo has promised to update the romance system to allow for same-sex couples as well.
“We can confirm that Fire Emblem Fates for Nintendo 3DS...includes the possibility for a same-sex marriage to take place between the main character created by the gamer and another character in the game,” Nintendo revealed in a statement. However, as Fire Emblem typically has players controlling massive armies in addition to their own player character, this differs from the system with which opposite-sex relationships are handled, as it only allows the game’s protagonist to romance a character of the same-sex, rather than letting the player pair off any two same-sex members of their army. In addition, it seems as if gay players won’t have many choices as to whom they can romance, with only one potential same-sex partner being included per version of the game.
“Fire Emblem Fates comes in two different versions, called the Conquest and Birthright Editions. 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.”
In other words, Conquest will allow for gay male relationships and Birthright will allow for gay female relationships, both only being available between the game’s protagonist and a specific non-player character. Think of it like Pokemon: Red and Blue, except instead of colors, it’s Pokemon: Gay version and Pokemon: Lesbian version. However, Nintendo has stated that “For those who have purchased either the Conquest or Birthright edition, a third edition will be made available as downloadable content at a later stage,” and that “Both of the aforementioned [same-sex romance] characters can be encountered in the third edition of the game.”
As Nintendo has been criticized for not including same-sex marriage in their games in the past, most notably with 2013’s Sims-esque Tomadachi Life, this represents a significant move forward for the company. "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," Nintendo said. "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."
Fire Emblem Fates is set to hit the U.S. and Europe sometime in 2016.