Fire Emblem Fates is still on track for its February 19th North American release date, but it’s already been available to Japanese 3DS owners for some time, originally launching there on June 25 of last year. Early impressions seem to indicate that the game retains many of the same great features that 2013’s Fire Emblem Awakening contained and more, but a new aspect that players discovered in that original version has become a hot topic of controversy and discussion, along with plenty of speculation regarding how the English version will handle it.
Awakening introduced the ability for characters to bond on the battlefield and attain various levels of companionship, with many possibilities for certain characters to marry and produce children as playable fighters later in the game. The Japanese version of Fates expanded on this feature by allowing more physical methods of bonding. Similar to the Pokemon-Amie feature introduced in Pokemon X & Y, players could enter a screen featuring an animated closeup of each character, and poke and rub their faces with the stylus for various reactions and support growth.
An even more personal mechanic was featured when purchasing accessories, where players were given the option to strip characters down to their underwear and interact with their entire bodies via stylus, provoking suggestive dialog that also included incestuous overtones when interacting with siblings. Additionally, one possible romantic subplot involves the game’s male lead desiring a lesbian character named Soleil, and spiking her drink with a potion that makes her visualize men as women in order to gain her attraction.
An American Nintendo representative confirmed today that the stylus-based physical interactions have completely been removed from the English version of Fates, following up a recent announcement that the Soleil subplot will be altered or removed to not offend audiences. This is the latest in a string of recent censors made for localized Nintendo titles, including removing revealing outfits for underage characters in Xenoblade Chronicles X and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water.
The morality of both the content and the act of censoring it has spurred a lot of debates among gamers, but Nintendo of America has been known for removing controversial aspects during game localizations for literally decades, so it doesn’t seem that their current approach will change any time soon. I’ll certainly admit that the deleted content seems very out of place for a series like Fire Emblem, and considering that other great Japanese games like Danganronpa are sometimes ground to a halt for obvious and often uncomfortable fanservice, trying to play things more straight is probably the better approach for series with a Western fanbase.