Nintendo of America is releasing a 3DS game titled “Fire Emblem Fates,” on Feb. 19. Since its first release in Japan in June 2015, fans have been helping themselves to plenty of spoilers and features of the newest game of the Fire Emblem series, and many are excited for the game to be released in the West.
However, the renaming of the characters has caused considerable commotion–there are a couple of the characters in Fates who actually are or resemble characters from a previous game, Fire Emblem Awakening.
The Japanese version made the names of characters that resemble Awakening characters anagrams of their lookalikes, which the localization version also did–but caused problems for the localized version in the process.
The main theme of Fire Emblem Fates is making choices, and experiencing the consequences of them; the player was born to the royal family of a Japanese styled country of Hoshido, but was kidnapped into the royal family of Nohr, the European-styled country of darkness in the game which is not necessarily evil. The player is forced to choose between the two when a war rises.
Naturally, the characters of either countries were given names that fit their country’s style in the Japanese version, even for the Awakening lookalikes, such as Tiamo from Awakening transformed into a Hoshidan character named Matoi. Some of the localized names of the Awakening lookalikes revealed include Caeldori and Rhajat, respectively anagrams of Cordelia and Tharja from Awakening.
However, both characters are from Japanese styled Hoshido, but Caeldori sounds far from an Eastern name and Rhajat has Hindu origins, also far from Japanese. Hence, fans have been criticizing that the localization is forsaking continuity of style over trivial Awakening references.
Also, the localization team revealed that it had made various changes other than changing the characters’ names. It was confirmed on January 26 that the American localized version will be cutting out a minigame in which the player can use their stylus to physically interact with characters, namely petting them, which occasionally results in a character reciting erotic lines if the character is the player’s spouse.
The localization team explained that it was because of its job to change the content of the game to fit its audience and not mere translation, it had to remove the inappropriate minigame, which they said was considered as inappropriate in Japan as well. They also asserted that they have discussed with the Japanese producers of the changes they have made.
Fans have been expressing a variety of reactions, from relief to fury, with many of the fans who have been expecting the full Japanese content merely translated into English on the latter side. Others have said that it was a good thing that the game was staying true to its strategy game genre.
Comments on various sites like Reddit and game news sites such as Polygon have lots of complaints against Nintendo, calling the cutting of the minigame, censorship.
The pro-minigame fans argue that it should be the player’s choice to be able to play the minigame or not, as it is an extra, not mandatory feature of the game that one can simply ignore if one finds it offensive. If the minigame seemed too inappropriate, it also could have been regulated by age restrictions.
Fans also point out that the criticisms against the game for objectifying and forcing its characters to be touched is invalid, for the player has absolute control of most aspects in the game regarding the characters, including where the characters moves in battle, what they do in the battlefield, which weapons and skills they are equipped with in combat, the support relationships of the character and thus the spouse and friends of the character, and even the capabilities of a couple’s child.
The alternative opinion on the issue was speculation of why perhaps it could not have been included due to other issues, such as storage, or simply the size of the game. Fates has a total of three routes that can be played depending on the player’s choice of allegiance–Hoshido, Nohr, or neither–which results in completely different plots and battle scenarios.
With each route having 23 chapters in addition to lots of extra features and Downloadable Content (DLC), storage does seem like a significant issue for the game.
Not to mention, although not confirmed, it is generally expected for the localized version of Fates to have dual audio (both English and Japanese voicing of the characters), for Awakening had the feature. This naturally results in double the size of the audio files for the entire game.
A more cynical view of the game combines the issue of the localization team’s “censorship” and storage issue, as players sarcastically comment that the game will be butchered up to nothing by the time of its release.
While it is a reasonable and understandable choice of why the localization team made choices in altering character names and features of the game, perhaps more consideration in what the players expect and want could have been considered more.