I grew up playing with you, Fire Emblem, and I’ve played with you for over half of my life. I’ve probably spent over a thousand hours with you. So when I say all of this, I just want you to know it comes from a place of love. So, Fire Emblem… can you please stop with the fan service?
You know what I am talking about. You used to have well clothed and armored women; something few of your peers could claim. Sure, Lady Lyndis showed some leg, and Ursula showed some cleavage, but it was all in good fun. And while great characters like Lucina still exist, they are increasingly becoming the minority. Tharja has become a proverbial poster child for the new found skimpiness. And some character designs come off as straight up creepy. (I am talking to you Nowi!)
But it is more than just mostly naked women. It extends into some of the dark things that have become commonplace since your “Awakening”. And I don’t want to give you the wrong impression; some of the times we have spent together since your Awakening has been some of the best times of my life. I love who you have grown into so much; don’t forget that. But after the publisher gave you the terminal notice you have grown a lot… and fast. So fast that maybe some of the new stuff isn’t all good?
For instance, since your Awakening, marriage and offspring have become quite popular. I, too, have enjoyed matching people up– sometimes based off of compatibility, sometimes based off of who I think would make the most awesome kids together. But it doesn’t always make sense. I mean, during your Awakening there was a whole storyline about time travel and the fact that the children were from the future made sense; in fact, it reinforced the whole time travel theme. But during Fates, you decided to use odd alternate dimensions to explain away grown offspring– which were a much smaller part of Fates’ story. They would go to these alternate dimensions where time moved faster, you said, and then they’d grow up and come back. But this meant that these characters logically had to get pregnant and deliver these children as their current selves (don’t even get me started on the children that got pregnant), whereas that burden was pushed onto these characters’ future selves during Awakening.
And then, even though these kids grew up largely without parents, the kids loved them once they returned for some reason? Meanwhile, in Awakening your kids were returning to see younger versions of their parents and there were all sorts of interesting dynamics that arose from that. Like characters that had to face that their future selves weren’t great parents and didn’t do the things that they wished they had. I mean, in an odd way they got a second chance and that was really cool. Or the parents that weren’t ready to be parents to these damaged future children that needed to be tucked in at night.
Anyways, I’m ranting. The point is that it creates this odd dissonance that I was constantly faced with while playing. And it is hard to get immersed when every 5 seconds I’m saying,”This makes no sense.” Eventually, I became disinvested and just started rolling my eyes. But it is not just Fates.
While marriage and breeding are fun, it comes across as a weird romance simulator, which was on full display with the weird face touching in Fates. In older Fire Emblem games, two characters having support conversations didn’t have to lead anywhere. They could merely learn about one another in a platonic way. Now all the support conversations– at least between men and women– fall into one of two categories. Either they are super flirty, or they aren’t flirty at all. And this creates problems, because if you are super flirty, but never get into a relationship then it leaves an odd, unexplored tension. Or even worse is when characters get married even when they don’t know one another based off of the time they spent together.
Then you have the DLC that littered your Awakening with characters from the past. And during Fates there were random encounters where you would run into heroes from other games, suggesting that certain characters were reincarnated or otherwise somehow related to one another. But the significance of this was never made clear so it just felt like you were recycling characters… And all of that has now manifest in Fire Emblem Heroes, whose whole premise is idolizing heroes from the past. At least there wasn’t any dating… I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.
It’s just, I don’t even know who you are trying to appeal to with this. Most longtime fans that know your pre-Awakening characters aren’t the people that want a minimalist mobile game. And while I wish you the best with Heroes— hell I actually enjoy it a lot— I also hope to see you return to your roots. And I don’t mean Shadows of Valencia— that’s just some experimental homage to an already oddly experimental part of your past. And I don’t want to go back to the Path of Radiance days, where we don’t have skills, pairing up mechanics, or even possibly marriage. I love those things. But I just want you to tone down the fan service a little bit, maybe. Because it really is constantly yanking me out of the game’s story. I mean, I fell in love with you because you told stories that captivated me and drew me in. I loved the way that made me feel, just like I love the way your art feeds my imagination and the way your strategy challenges my brain. Path of Radiance’s story was marvelous. There was death, mystery, racism/xenophobia, slavery, and all sorts of other topics while also featuring a great cast and many terrific highlights. But I’ve played 2 of the 3 Fates and still have no clue who the mysterious semi-invisible warriors are!
At the end of the day, this is just how I feel. A lot of people love this stuff. Maybe I’m old school. Maybe I’m just holding onto the days of yore. And I don’t want you to think I am trying to tell you who to be. I held my tongue after the character DLC during Awakening. And I bit my tongue during the nonsensical excuse for children during Fates. But when I saw Heroes, I realized this problem wasn’t going away. It became more tangible like there was a loss of substance. Frankly, there is a problem in our relationship and that’s okay. Because we can fix it. I can accept some of it. And, well, I can’t tell you what you have to do. We’ll have to figure that out together. I just had to tell you because I don’t want you to get lost in success and glamor. In all the new found love that you’re constantly surrounded with only to become something that I don’t recognize. Something that ultimately isn’t much like the thing that we all fell in love with, to begin with. Come on, you know the bikini DLC was not your brightest moment.