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Fans are losing their minds over all the "censored" content in Fire Emblem: Fates

From canceling pre-orders, to boycotts, petitions, and more! Fans are outraged by the sheer amount of so-called "censorship" that plagues the Western release of Fire Emblem: Fates

EDIT (10/02/2016): Review copies have disproven the original rumor. Read more here.

Warning! This article deals with numerous NSFW situations, potential spoilers, and coarse language. Continue reading at your own discretion.

The Western release of Fire Emblem: Fates seems to only expand its controversy by the day. While it started with a rampage of misinformation regarding over supposedly homophobic scenes, just yesterday it expanded to the removal of the "skinship face petting" minigame. Now fans of the series are slowly growing in paranoia over what else might be removed on Twitter and Reddit.

#GamerGate enters the fray!

Like moths to a flame, it didn't take long for #GamerGate to get involved with the controversy. In what #GamerGate supporters are calling a "perfect example of SJW work gone horribly wrong", various international Nintendo groups responsible for local releases of the game are starting to censor material left, right, and center. 

Retrieved from the /r/KotakuinAction subreddit, GamerGate has been following censorship in the Italian version where gay marriage has been removed in an effort to "localize" the game. Meanwhile, other GamerGate supporters are hounding after the removal of the "petting" minigame, making it out to be the first in a series of supposed "SJW" victories as Nintendo of America claims - once again - that this was done in an effort to localize the game.

Many GamerGate supporters are starting to question just how much of the game is going to remain intact. Conversations are being changed from the source text, otherwise fine names are being changed, portions of the game are facing the axe, and it seems as though very little of the advertised unique features of this entry in the series are left over. 

The Twitterverse's sword-hand is twitching!

Twitter hasn't been a safe haven for Nintendo either. In almost every single post found on the Nintendo of America Twitter page features an endless stream of angry fans protesting the removal of the "skinship" feature. #Nintendo isn't a safe haven either as the more vocal groups have started posting content that ranges from meme-worthy comics to rants, and even some potentially offensive images.

Some of the following content may be considered offensive. Once again, continue at your own discretion!

If you think that this is bad, wait until you see the dedicated hashtag. Known as #fireemblempetting, the hashtag has seen more than its fair share of use in the last few days. Unlike the Nintendo of America Twitter page, or the Reddit pages on either /r/KotakuinAction or /r/FireEmblem, the discussion on #fireemblempetting is a little more mature. Here are some examples of what you can expect by searching for #fireemblempetting tweets.

The worst part of all this? Nintendo is still silent.

That's right. Despite all of the public outcry for all the censored content, it's business as usual for Nintendo of America. There have been no signs of secondary confirmation of the removal of the skinship minigame by Nintendo of America or any news source other than Kotaku. In fact, the only source to claim to have spoken to Nintendo about the removal is Polygon, and - as this GameFAQs user explains - even that source is sketchy since it is quite literally looks like a plagiarized claim.

Want proof? Check out these quotes pulled directly from both the Polygon and Kotaku articles:

"You might have heard somewhat misinterpreted or exaggerated information about the Japanese original game," a representative for Nintendo told Polygon, "but even in the Japanese original version, we have not included any features which are considered inappropriate in Japan.

"Having said that, however, making changes are not unusual when we localize games, and we have indeed made changes in these games."

Allegra Frank via Polygon

And meanwhile...

“Yes, that is the case [that petting isn’t in the English version]. You might have heard somewhat misinterpreted or exaggerated information about the Japanese original game, but even in the Japanese original version, we have not included any features which are considered inappropriate in Japan.”

Nathan Grayson via Kotaku

Notice anything eerily similar about the quotes? Everyone has. In fact, it almost appears as though someone took a thesaurus to one of the quotes to form the other. This has understandably created a great deal of confusion among readers and followers of the controversy, fans running in various directions in an attempt to cling to any hope that the articles are spreading false rumors.

Editor's note: Many times, PR reps will give the same canned responses to several outlets.

What is particularly unsettling about either quote from "a Nintendo representative" is that neither one directly states that the petting mechanic has been removed. Instead, the quotes rather imply it throughout the article or have the "petting" game's mention inserted into the quote with the infamous [bracket] quotes.

So what now?

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure what to tell readers when it comes to this. If you really want to believe that you are making a difference you can join any of these petitions found on Change.org:

Bring back skinship in Fire Emblem Fates

Do Not Censor The Skin Ship "Petting" Mini-Game In Fire Emblem Fates

Do not censor Fire Emblem: Fates for it's worldwide release

Otherwise, there is very little fans can do at this point other than rant on either Twitter or other Nintendo pages. With the game's release only a several weeks away it seems unlikely that anything will change. Physical copies have likely printed already, and the game is already rated by ESRB at this point. If anything, the numerous angry fans or low sales will force Nintendo of America to rethink their decisions, after which we might have a chance of the mode returning as free DLC or software update.

What do you think, RR-sama? You are Mr. Controversy!

As someone who works on a pragmatic level whenever possible, I have to say that this hardly affects my enjoyment of the game. I pre-ordered the Fire Emblem: Fates Collector's Edition to play Fire Emblem, not Medieval Waifu Simulator 2016. As such, the changes don't really affect me.

At least, that was my stance at first...

Turns out that the skinship feature actually has quite an effect on gameplay, particularly for players interested in the Conquest version of the game. Successful skinship runs result in buffs in the next mission, as well as increased affinity/support levels. This can make Conquest much more difficult since you already have a limited time to increase your support levels with characters, not to mention that you are typically underpowered to begin with on each map.

Not only that, but several characters say interesting things outside of the usual 'sensual' stuff. For example, one character reveals her real name through skinship.

Lastly, while I'm not a particular fan of the fan service, I do enjoy the fact that various characters show their more sensitive sides during skinship scenes. They also show a lot of their individuality through these scenes as well. All that aside, who wouldn't want to be that character from an anime that pulls of the "okay, you totally like me" situation with a tsundere girl/guy?

In the end, I'm stuck having paid full price for a game that is a chopped up version of the old one. I'm not as angry as some fans, but I certainly feel cheated to an extent, despite playing the game for the story and strategy elements.

But enough about me. What do you guys think about the absurd levels of cut content? Are you going to run over to Twitter to rant? Want to argue for the removal instead? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Published Jan. 27th 2016
  • Si_W
    If 'fans' are losing their minds over this, then they are seriously unbalanced and need to seek professional help.

    Hyperbole helps no one...
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Hmm. I suppose I should add "figuratively" next time around so simple-minded people can understand it better. Note taken.
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    I'd be pissed if I cared about FE: Fates. They went out of their way to attract waifu/husbando bullshit with Awakening and got a flourishing fanbase because of it, then turn around and censor Fates despite the big draw to the franchise now being the characters.

    The Fire Emblem series has been around for a long time, and its first actually popular entry in the East was Awakening. Awakening, of course, following the now-honored tradition of Japanese devs throwing a bunch of romance-oriented bits into old franchises to pull in anime fans. Awakening is super popular because of pandering. And it's no surprise there's such a backlash over the cut content in Fates after Awakening's big "WOW YOU NEED TO PLAY THIS" push in gaming communities was because of the pandering, otherwise it would have stayed a super niche title. The same thing happened with the shift Persona 2 into Persona 3 & 4.

    I don't agree with NoA on the censorship and it's confusing because it's not exactly a game marketed to kids. It has a specific demographic. I would say Nintendo has trouble figuring out what their demographics are and this type of censorship could hurt sales, but Xenoblade Chronicles X sold very well despite the censorship. Though XBCX's censorship was far less than what's going on here.

    We're back to 90's-era censhorship in gaming and there's no one to blame but the perpetually offended crowd and the people who enable them. Vocal minorities can go a long way when the people that actually care don't speak up in droves, and instead sit around on forums and bitch without making their voices actually heard.

    This is a problem we're seeing with more than NoA-localized products, JP devs are wary to publish games over here because some people like to make a stink and censorship is more prevalent than it's been in almost 20 years. Fans of Japanese games need to speak up, pronto. Because Japanese devs and pubs think their games aren't wanted or are offensive to the entire market, when they're just shat on by games media because they're not part of our marketing machine and it's been that way since MS dominated the Western market with the 360.

    I'd like to say NoA are making a mistake, but the majority FE:Awakening fans will eat it up to get their waifu fix regardless of the censorship.

    Excuse some of my language, this topic as a whole just makes me mad.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    I agree with a lot of what you are saying here. Fire Emblem was certainly fading away in the East despite being widely popular there originally, and the West is still deciding what it wants from the series. However, as it stands, the majority of the player came to Fire Emblem after Awakening was released, and so they should be catering to that sales group.

    XCX had its fair share of censorship, but that was mostly in the realm of 13 year old swimsuits (which I'm totally fine with) since it didn't affect the game. Unfortunately, as I stated at the end of the article, the removed content actually contributes a fair share to the game - including in-game effects during battle.

    Ah, 90's era censorship... Pokemon Demonology, anyone? I know JP devs are starting to get paranoid while others are starting to simply say "screw it, and screw you" to western audiences because they simple don't want to put up with any of this. It's really hurting global sales, and it hurts the fans the most. Vocal minorities are a pain in the arse when it comes to stuff like this, and it's not going to end anytime soon. I would recommend further reading on the Echo Chamber Media effect, and how misinformation can lead to games simply dying as a result of the social media age.

    In all seriousness, Nintendo of America certainly needs to get their act together. They need to learn when to take a punch from the vocal minorities to turn a profit, or very soon Reggie & Co. are going to be out on the streets. Hopefully they'll see the vocal majority that has spawned from this and add it back as DLC at a later date. I actually started a poll on Twitter to see what fans think, and so far it seems that people wouldn't mind this if they added the feature later as DLC, even if it's paid.

    https://twitter.com/writingeternity/status/692454044196040707

    Don't worry about the language. I love thought out comments! :D
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Oh, and by the way everyone... This tweet came out shortly after I finished writing this article. Talk about adding insult to injury!

    https://twitter.com/NintendoAmerica/status/692391650493087748
  • Jay Ricciardi
    Contributor
    Oof, only 104 people between two separate petitions to bring this feature back. That's less than this petition to cancel one school's midterms: https://www.change.org/p/args-student-body-cancel-midterm-exams
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    It's quite sad, really. I'm hoping that the public outcry alone will get Nintendo to change its mind if the news is true. Nintendo still hasn't said anything confirming or disconfirming this change, so we'll have to wait and see when the game comes out.

    I'd imagine they'd backpaddle on this much backlash though. I mean, the news literally coats the first few pages of Google if you search for "Fire Emblem Fates"
  • Mathenaut
    The fact that the only sources are Kotaku and Polygon really makes this stink. On one hand, they are about the most unreliable outlets in gaming. On the other hand, they would be front and center to champion this if it were true.

    This isn't the first case, either. Alot of US releases are receiving the 'anime localization' treatment. In the long run, it's bad for local distributors but great for bringing attention and access to source distribution.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Don't remind me. I was watching Gurren Lagann with my girlfriend the other day, and even though there is a Funimation dub that has the bathhouse episode, the one on Netflix is butchered to the point where nothing in the episode makes sense.

    Oddly enough, Kotaku seems to be on the side of GamerGate this time in believing that the game shouldn't have the skinship feature removed. Even Patricia who is targeted by GamerGate as being their "SJW writer" was admitting that this removal was stupid.

    Hopefully the backlash results in the final release having the feature, or that we will receive it as free DLC later. I'd even be tempted to pay for it, provided it's not more than $10 a pop, as much as I wouldn't like to nurture that attitude with NoA.

    I just want to pet Luna, dammit! I know who she is, and she reminds me of my girlfriend so much! :'(
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    All this aside, I'm surprised Nintendo would go through the lengths to completely remove it. I mean, if they're just going to rip through the game anyway, why not downsize Camilla's oversized breasts while they're at it?
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    It's easier to remove the code to entry to a part of a game, than to change character art and models.

    See: Nippon Ichi's total botch on Mugen Souls, which had a bathing minigame removed while still having fanservice and big boobies elsewhere.

    Or, hell, much of what Nippon Ichi localizes today is censored in that way -- total removal of features while leaving everything else intact. Sometimes these removals cause gamebreaking bugs they NEVER fix because N1 can't code to save their skins.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Well yeah, I know that. It was more of a hyperbole, but I guess that never translates well over text.

    My gf loves Nippon Ichi games, and she has more often than once voiced her opinions of these features. More and more, it seems that fans of Japanese games are having to ship games from overseas to get the full game. It's a sad reality.

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