The Latest Fire Emblem Doubles Down on Relationships (And It Rules)

There's a certain feeling that seems specific to modern Fire Emblem games, a sense of pride when you go into battle with your carefully leveled squad. You've come to know these characters intimately, watched their relationships with each other mature, and come to think of them as family. However, amongst the expansive cast of characters in Fire Emblem: Awakening, one particular character sticks out for having a great arc, and that's Donnel.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3xmbk/the-latest-fire-emblem-doubles-down-on-relationships-and-it-rules

Yes but are those relationships with 14000 year old dragons who look like they are 12?

Continues to beat long dead horse

I wish I could feel any excitement over this game but ugh.

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Super understandable take. Haven’t seen anybody with that design yet, though, from what I’ve seen of the characters (I could be wrong).

On another note, I do always feel disappointed when I click a headline like this expecting it to be a full article only for it to turn out to be a podcast. Podcasts are fine, but, to beat my own dead horse here, they gotta be labeled better on the site.

With all that said, the great previews for this game are making me really excited. I was worried about the school aspect taking over the game, but people seem to be very pleased with it. My only concern now is that, as a big video game control freak, I’m going to spend too much time fine tuning the characters and burn myself out. Definitely think forcing myself to simulate some stuff so it doesn’t take me 150 hours to beat this campaign will be my biggest challenge. (Not that big of an exaggeration, either, I think Awakening took me 80 to complete.)

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I don’t think they are in this one, at least not from anything we’ve seen yet.

Being reminded that they’ve brought back the time rewind mechanic from Echoes means I might actually move back to Permadeath in this one. I generally played the last few on Casual just to avoid replaying levels when a character dies on the final turn, but I think I’d prefer this way.
Having more information on enemy intents is a big improvement as well, as opposed to having to go and highlight a bunch of enemies to figure out which ones are most dangerous.

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There’s, like, zero chance that the young-looking girl on the throne in the MC’s brain isn’t a thousands-year-old dragon. There is still a chance that there won’t be any romance or sexualization with her, but I’m never gonna blame someone for not holding out hope.

donnel is the lu bu of fire emblem

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Yeah, I was considering going straight to Casual for this one, but this has me considering Classic again. I just restarted battles if I lost anyone in Classic mode anyway, so having a rewind mechanic and the aggro info seems like it would make it less draining on me and my stubborn ass.

Call me a hardass, but I do wish there was an option to turn off the time travel mechanic with permadeath (and maybe there is, I haven’t heard of one). I want the permadeath experience, but I also don’t trust myself to resist the temptation of using this mechanic. I also worry that at this point the game may be designed with this mechanic in mind, making it even harder to do a “real” permadeath run. I understand why they did it, I just don’t love it.

And can you pet them with the joycons?

Yes but if you do the FBI swoops in and arrests you on the spot. The whole game is just a giant To Catch A Predator style sting

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For me it’s really more that they’ve done it many times before and there’s plenty of other places to spend my money that won’t go to people who think that was appropriate in the first place

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Great, only 3 games to buy on the 26th now. At least Youngblood is cheap.

Pleasantly surprised on what I’ve seen/read about Three Houses after not getting much out of Fates. Only concern I have is that it… kinda looks bad in spots? Was expecting a bit more of a jump in fidelity for some reason.

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As others have said, this entry in the series does seem to improve on this very unfortunate aspect of Fates and Awakening. HAVING SAID THAT, you, a professor, can romance your former students after a five year time jump. I am beyond the moon excited by everything I am reading about this game but very uncomfortable with the power dynamics of those potential relationships and how they will be handled. (Granted, the player can completely ignore those relationships but still a less than stellar thing to be included in the game.)

It feels like Awakening revealed that the games can do really well if they lean into the anime aesthetic really hard because it’s very marketable.
And unfortunately that genre is riddled with troubling tropes.
I’ve had such a rollercoaster with FE3Houses. Frustrated with the teacher/student dynamic, excited about new mechanics and positive previews/frustrated by the gender locked classes.

I wish we could be improving on some of those things, but the goalposts have been moved so much with the last couple games that it feels like “you can’t pet the faces of children” is a win.

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I completely agree and, as one who really loves the series and has since I was a kid, wish it wasn’t so defined by taking one step forward in terms of game play mechanics but two steps back in terms of everything else (or two steps to the side or whatever you get the idea).

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Can’t wait to see what new and exciting ways this entry will sneak in some disgusting homophobia!

Oh yes, I will never forgive this franchise for that one character story branch. I don’t know how anyone can forgive (CW: drugging, homophobia) curing the most loudly lesbian member of the cast of her gayness via ruffie.

Fire Emblem has been dead to me for a good while now. Radiant Dawn was bad, but at least it still tried to be Fire Emblem. The game that saved the franchise also brought it into its worst era. I get the fun that comes with relationship systems in games, but this and Persona, the two most popular Japanese franchises with these systems, are so vile and open about their homophobia and transphobia that it just tires me out every time I see the hype cycle start anew again.

How hard is it not to let awful people write for these games?

[Content warning: drugging]

It’s tough for me to condemn these Japanese writers when their backgrounds and upbringings have been so different. For a country struggling with homophobia, it’s encouraging that they are moving in the right direction even when some of the things they are putting their game are more radical in Japan than they are here. Nintendo has always played things safe. Radiant Dawn has zero (obvious) gay relationships. (Never played it but I’ve heard there’s some subtext.) We’ve moved in the right direction.

The case of the Fates character is difficult. The drugging happens in one support out of many. It is obviously unacceptable to portray drugging a woman. I hope they gave learned from that and are more sensitive to that in the future. At the same time, I think calling the character lesbian is incorrect. There are some complications in the English translation, where they made her preference for women greater than in the Japanese version. From the FE wiki:

“In the Japanese original version however, while Soleil still has a weakness towards some females, it is much more ambiguous which one she prefers, and her S rank supports have her normally marry the other male children.”

So it’s not as cut and dry as turning a lesbian character straight. ( Again, the drugging is indefensible. That I agree with you completely. But with regards to other supports, the Japanese writers saw her as bi.) This would have been a lot easier to swallow if there was a solely gay character. I hope we will see that in the near future.

I totally understand your views. We always need people pushing for more representation from these companies. At the same time, they’ve come a long way, and I feel comfortable enough with their progress to enjoy the game. And it seems like your issues with the series only began when they started trying to explore non-straight characters. There were zero gay relationships in past games.

This is obviously a glass half full view. But we asked for gay relationships, and they’re trying and improving as we go. And we can (and should!) continue to ask for more, but I don’t personally have an issue continuing to play the games since I’ve seen a visible improvement in the last few years.

I can agree with you that there are some cultural differences that make this a more complicated issue, particularly for a play it safe company like Nintendo, but I don’t think I’m willing to say “they’ve come a long way”

Fates had a single gay and lesbian option for the protag respectively (locked to particular games), and while I can’t speak to gay romance, the lesbian one is bad. It plays right into the lesbian stalker trope. The character you can end up with has been obsessed with the protag ever since she saved her life when she was a child (because of timey-wimey stuff). The relationship culminates in mutual stalking. That’s just… actively bad. Plus the protag can romance all of the characters they have been thinking were siblings for the entirety of the game.

I don’t totally think that earlier games were even free of this, they just leaned on some of these tropes less. They also made romance specifically very front and center starting with Awakening because of how the pair up system worked, and recruiting the children.
So of course the games’ portrayal of sexual identity is going to be more forefront when the game’s mechanics encourage you to pursue explicit romance.

I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m dragging you specifically (I really don’t mean to. You bring up fair points).

I’m going to buy this game right around launch. I hope to have a really good time with it. But also I’m going to be very critical of how it leans into the more problematic aspects, because it’s 2019 and we can do better. If Fire Emblem’s writers want to have compelling relationships as a major part of the game, they have the internet. They can do better. I know they’re writing unique dialogue for tons of possible pair ups, but it’s fair to not let the cheap jokes slide.

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Not at all offended, I’m always happy to learn and if I say something out of turn then I should be corrected. But! I didn’t feel dragged by your comment at all anyways. I did not play through the lesbian or gay supports in Fates, and I totally believe you that the lesbian one was weak. That sucks!

I think you have the right attitude for somebody who likes the games: play them, don’t put yourself down for doing so (not saying anybody in this thread is doing that), and be very critical of things that they can do better.

Fundamentally, I am okay liking things that have aspects that I hate. For me, I’m okay saying “Fire Emblem: Awakening is one of my favorite games, and it also has one of the worst loli characters in any game and that sucks.” FLCL is my favorite anime. There’s some stuff in it that is problematic.

But some people aren’t gonna play these games because they keep fucking up. That’s fine and perfectly understandable.

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