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!
Try and stop me from petting my bestie, Nintendo. TRY. pic.twitter.com/PTuMvwbBPs
— yukaeng (@kariyagami) January 27, 2016
That’s it! I’m officially boycotting Fire Emblem Fates. Sick of this censorship Bullcrap coming from Nintendo. #FireEmblemPetting
— P.W. (@SilverScarCat) January 27, 2016
it’s no surprise, really. nintendo has a long and sordid history of brutally censoring sensual topics pic.twitter.com/Tt9PLwYMnu
— ❄⛄ eevee ⛄❄ (@eevee) January 27, 2016
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.
— DepressedBanjoFan (@Mr___Perfect) January 27, 2016
#fireemblempetting so you can kill people with actual swords and burn them alive with magic but I can’t pet my Waifu?!?
— [OMIN] Omega Recluse (@RedmondTucker) January 27, 2016
— Ray Ray (@RagnaRay) January 27, 2016
— Edmund Black (@Edmund_Black) January 27, 2016
— Fresh Ness (@OnettBoyz) January 27, 2016
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
“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:
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!