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Why Nintendo should remake Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War

Fire Emblem has recently become one of Nintendo's most consistent and well-received franchises. They should capitalize on this with a remake of an old classic.

It's no secret: Nintendo's had a rough past few years. With Wii U sales continuing to crawl and the financial failure or postponement of new installments in many of the company's bestselling series, few things seem to have gone right since the launch of the latest console generation. However, one of the best recent success stories of Nintendo is also one of its most unlikely: the revitalization of the once-fringe franchise, Fire Emblem.

Fire Emblem burst onto the mainstream gaming scene with the commercial success of Fire Emblem Awakening in 2012. Originally intended to be a final throwback to the original Fire Emblem game, Awakening went on to sell more than 1.9 million copies worldwide, saving the series and establishing Fire Emblem as one of Nintendo's central franchises. The newest title in the series, Fire Emblem Fates, has continued its predecessor's success, and is so far one of Nintendo's bestselling games of 2016. Nevertheless, few newcomers realize just how old and varied the series is; since the release of the first Fire Emblem in 1990, Nintendo has produced 14 Fire Emblem titles, not including spin-offs. However, the first six games were released exclusively in Japan and have never reached Western shores (with the exception of the first, which was remade and localized as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon). Given the poor reception of the first two remakes (for the first and third games) in both Japan and the West, it is understandable that such remade titles were abandoned in favor of brand-new games. However, with the new-found popularity and commercial success of Awakening and Fates in the West, it would now make sense to remake and localize older Fire Emblem games, starting with the series' fourth title, Genealogy of the Holy War. 

Why Genealogy of the Holy War? Because it's the game that's most likely to appeal to new and old Fire Emblem fans alike. First released on the Super Famicom in 1996, Genealogy has developed a cult-like following among fans for its dark, detailed plot and politics, and its morally ambiguous characters -- particularly its villains. Genealogy is considered by many to have the most intriguing story in the series, something that many seasoned fans have found lacking in Awakening and Fates. Players find themselves thrust into the middle of a politically-charged and historically-rich continent called Jugradal, which is divided between eight different kingdoms, many of which are furthered divided into various provinces and duchies. The story follows the young Lord of one such province, Sigurd, as he finds himself embroiled in a cross-kingdom conflict that has much more frightening roots and harsher consequences than he could ever imagine. Sigurd is joined by various lords, princes, and common-folk from the various kingdoms as he attempts to restore peace to the land and defend his friends and family.

Nevertheless, Genealogy also offers many of the gameplay developments that newer fans find most enjoyable, such as the expanded support system and the ability to marry units and produce offspring. In fact, Genealogy's entire plot rides on the player's ability to successfully pair-up units, for the second half of the game follows the fruits of the first generation's couplings, headed by Sigurd's son, Seliph. Seliph's story runs parallel to Sigurd's as he travails the continent fighting for freedom, though any more details here would be spoiling. And with the simple writing and inclusion of support conversations between characters outside of battle, Genealogy could very easily be remade and improved with an Awakening and Fates'-style support system. 


How Awakening really saved the series

Genealogy of the Holy War is truly an engrossing Fire Emblem experience, with fantastic and familiar gameplay mechanics, lovable, unique characters, and a significantly improved plot. Furthermore, Nintendo released a Wii U port of the game in Japan as recently as 2013, demonstrating the game's continued relevance. So, what's holding back localization?

Unfortunately, Genealogy has a few central plot elements that might prove too distasteful for Western audiences, such as incest and organized child-killings. Nintendo is known for being hesitant to introduce anything to the West that might disturb young gamers or their parents, particularly within Fire Emblem and its spin-offs. Additionally, the incredibly long and large maps of Genealogy might be off-putting for fans used to the smaller skirmishes of Awakening and Fates, though it is important to note that Genealogy at least includes the ability to save at the start of each player's turn, decreasing the amount of time players will waste rage-quitting after losing a unit. Nonetheless, I think Nintendo could pull it off if they were simply willing to take more of a risk, reinforcing the fact that the game's plot-mandatory incest is very, VERY bad while downplaying some of the other squicky character relationships. And although sacrificial child killings and murder-by-fire are both disturbing (don't look either up if you don't want to be spoiled!), Fire Emblem's graphics aren't really, well, graphic enough to worry about permanently scarring The Children. 


The maps are legit crazy, IF BY CRAZY YOU MEAN CRAZY AWESOME

Despite a few problematic elements, Genealogy of the Holy War has proven its worth and acclaim over the years. Fire Emblem is poised to become one of Nintendo's most important franchises, and soon more and more fans will clamor for the release of localized older titles. It is in Nintendo's best interest to capitalize off the growing popularity of the Fire Emblem franchise, and while we wait for the series' next installment and the announced mobile game, a remake and localization of Genealogy of the Holy War seems the perfect way to please fans new and old. 

Published Jun. 12th 2016

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