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Fire Emblem's dating sim elements [roundtable]
 
Now that I've got your attention, vote for Bart!*

It's the old, familiar story: Fire Emblem coulda been a contender, and it had one shot to impress the world again! So Intelligent Systems poured their all into Awakening, which launched to rave reviews and very strong sales (around 2 million). Not only that, but FE fever exploded afterward, sneaking in cameos in games like Codename STEAM, featuring no less than six playable characters in the latest Smash Bros, and even being a part of its own crossover with Tokyo Mirage Sessions.

And, like anything that becomes popular with a big hit, a number of original fans are irritated at Awakening. And a big reason why is because of how it handles relationships. The Support system from previous games makes a return and gets implemented even deeper in Awakening and its sequel, Fates. Instead of simply making your units best friends, they can now marry each other and have kids. What's more, a character in the game who represents "you" (the player) can marry any unit in the game that you'd like! This has led some to derisively describe modern FE as a "waifu simulator."

It's tough to say how much that element effected sales; I don't think it was particularly prevalent in Awakening's early marketing, but there's no denying that the fanbase grew significantly after Awakening. Either way, Fates ramped the romance angle up further, letting you hang out with close-ups of the player characters in your quarters (and...pet their face?), or do goofy anime tropes like going to the base's spa and spooking all the ladies with your lecherous self.

Apparently, Awakening was going to be the last FE game if it wasn't a home run. So I guess we can thank Tharja's cleavage for our six Smash Bros. characters! What do you guys think of these additions? Do they hurt the series' integrity, or are they harmless fun? Does the fact that these elements probably contributed to Awakening's success make a difference?

*Top image size made extra-small to be work safe~

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Posted: 12/07/16, 18:01:11  - Edited by 
 on: 12/07/16, 18:00:01
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I think it works...sorta. Fates is better done that Awakening in the sense that you can invite units (male or female) to your private quarters and spend time with them (though the petting/blowing is pointless), I just wish there was a little more dialogue in those PQ scenes.

The kids aspect was interesting in Awakening and fit right in with the storyline, but felt out of place in Fates (not to mention the kids were terrible units in Fates).

In times or war, conflict, and struggle, camaraderie with your teammates is natural. It feels natural to find love on a battlefield. So I think seeing characters fall in love and get married feels natural. I don't mind it...I just wish it had more of a bearing on the story.

So yeah, I'm for it. It just needs to continually be fleshed out and feel natural, not overly cheesy (I'm still looking at you, petting minigame).
Posted: 12/07/16, 18:22:13  - Edited by 
 on: 12/07/16, 18:22:28
I honestly didn't know fans didn't like the new relationship stuff. Seemed fine to me but then I didn't really do much with it.
Posted: 12/07/16, 18:23:10
@ludist210
I think I mostly agree.

I actually feel that the criticism this series has gotten lately for these elements is a bit overblown. They're still beefy games with tons of content and great strategic gameplay, plus all sorts of neat customization aspects like class changes, skill allocation, pairing up and so on. They look and sound terrific and have a lovely blend of 2D and 3D art throughout. I find the characters and story above-average as well, and much of the writing is funny or emotional.

In defense of the romance thing specifically, I think it's kinda charming. Pairing up units you think have good chemistry can lead to some endearing scenes, and even provide some solid emotional moments. Romance, drama and emotion are pretty rare for 1st-party Nintendo games, so I find it largely refreshing.

That said, I agree that Fates has some dumb inclusions like blowing on your girl to cool her off after a bath (what the??). A little bit of anime cheese won't kill the series but it shouldn't get out of hand.
Posted: 12/07/16, 18:27:06
Honestly by the end of FE: Awakening the marrying aspect was the reason I was playing, ha ha. I am such a sucker for romance like that. I planned all my battles around who was with whom. When Chrom married Sumi I IMMEDIATELY BANNED HER FROM EVERY FIGHT EVER. Nothing is going to hurt his dear wife if I have any say. I'm not going to say I wrote fanfiction about their happily ever after, but I'm not going to say I didn't really think about what that fanfiction would be like.

...

So, uh... yeah. It's cool, I guess.
Posted: 12/07/16, 18:28:04
TriforceBun said:
In defense of the romance thing specifically, I think it's kinda charming. Pairing up units you think have good chemistry can lead to some endearing scenes, and even provide some solid emotional moments. Romance, drama and emotion are pretty rare for 1st-party Nintendo games, so I find it largely refreshing.
I agree. Some of those scenes actually make you care about characters that you otherwise wouldn't have used.

@J.K. Riki

Chrom married Sumia in my game too, and I never took her out of battle. She became a force in later battles (especially once she classed up and learned Galeforce, meaning she could move twice in a turn if she got a kill). Enemies went down in a hurry with her on the battlefield.
Posted: 12/07/16, 18:56:09  - Edited by 
 on: 12/07/16, 18:58:21
Chrom married Sumia in my game too, and she died on the volcano level to an archer. Very tragic.
Posted: 12/07/16, 19:07:56
I haven't played Fates so I can't comment on that.

I'm fine with the marriage/children elements in Awakening. While previous games did have romance/marriage between units, they were limited to only one (maybe two?) potential mates, and they never got hitched during the game, only in the three-sentence epilogue for each surviving character. And most units couldn't marry at all. Awakening giving the player up to 6-7 choices of life partner for every single unit made it fun to play matchmaker. Letting the player marry any opposite-sex unit they want is pushing it a little, but it's wish-fulfillment and no big deal I guess. Children units were fun and made sense with the plot if you didn't think about it.

My only real issue with the "dating sim" stuff in Awakening isn't even related to the romance system itself. I was just disappointed that the entire cast was made up of one-note characters and anime tropes. Like, the Radiant duology had a few jokey units running around (Ilyana is always starving), but it also had its fair share of characters who felt grounded in the setting and had decent depth for having so little screen time. In Awakening it's like...support conversations mostly just have units displaying their character gimmick back and forth a few times. The shtick goes on long enough to kind of get old, then one of them whips out a ring because their two previous conversations about how the other character really likes candy or hates getting pranked or whatever is enough to convince them this person is their soulmate. Compared to past games it just feels kinda hollow, like the characters only get married because you decide they should, instead of them actually being a romantic match.

So I guess my qualms aren't with the dating sim elements themselves, but with the writing. At least, in Awakening. It sounds like Fates may have gone overboard, however.
Posted: 12/07/16, 21:27:37  - Edited by 
 on: 12/07/16, 21:29:26
@TriforceBun

Darkest timeline. LA LA LA LA THAT NEVER HAPPENED.

Posted: 12/07/16, 21:46:24
@J.K. Riki



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Disclaimer: I haven't yet played the newer Fire Emblem titles. I grabbed Awakening and then like most of my FE games, it went to the backlog after about the third mission . I just don't seem to have the stamina for big in depth RPG's anymore.

But that leads directly into my feelings about these features. I've started previously that I vastly prefer Advance Wars to Fire Emblem for it's sharper focus on battlefield strategy and tactics, as opposed to FE's focus on troop management. The fatigue factor I suffer from when playing FE, is directly related to the sheer amount of time I spend managing inventory, checking my weapons, shuffling my team around. You can easily spend more time in the pre-battle management screens as you would in the battle itself.

Which means that adding yet another layer of complexity in things to manage in the form of these relationship systems...it's not overly appealing to me. I can appreciate that a lot of people like the opportunity to connect with the characters on another level, and that it may have done wonders for the series as a whole. But personally I'd find it frustrating. I'd be too obsessed in trying to find and set up the 'perfect' matches from a gameplay perspective, instead of letting it happen organically and having the cards fall where they may.

I dunno, maybe I 'm being unfair. I know from previous FE experience that if you make the 'wrong' decisions on which characters to train and who to support, you can make the game much harder for yourself. But maybe there's enough choice in the newer games to mitigate that.

...Still...Extra complexity in an already complex game. Meh. Give me a new Advance Wars, where I don't have to worry about Nell trying to get it on with a Neotank or something, please
Posted: 12/07/16, 23:06:48  - Edited by 
 on: 12/07/16, 23:07:15
I've basically played only Awakening so I don't have much to say on the subject. It's one of my fave 3DS games, but it's in spite of those elements. I like the pair-up system and the convos that can result from it can be interesting (and funny), but with most pairings the marriage part of it feels very forced. There are also enough units in the game that I never particularly cared about the children units, and barely used them. I know there are ways to make them the most powerful units based on who are the parents, but that seems like overkill (and there are easier ways to make an overkill unit).

It didn't detract much from the game and I don't really care if it stays or goes, but it does feel a bit out-of-place and I understand the complaints.
Posted: 12/07/16, 23:25:37
Shadowlink said:
Give me a new Advance Wars, where I don't have to worry about Nell trying to get it on with a Neotank or something, please

You be careful or you're going to give those Japanese Devs ideas.
Posted: 12/07/16, 23:48:21
It shall henceforth be known as the offhand comment that launched a thousand DeviantArt accounts...
Posted: 12/08/16, 00:07:44
I'll just leave this here...

Posted: 12/08/16, 17:42:33
TriforceBun said:
FE fever exploded afterward, sneaking in cameos in games like Codename STEAM, featuring no less than six playable characters in the latest Smash Bros, and even being a part of its own crossover with Tokyo Mirage Sessions.

And they showed up in Project X Zone 2, the best strategy RPG no one is playing!



Posted: 12/08/16, 20:23:39
@J.K. Riki

I'll probably get blamed for this.
Posted: 12/08/16, 21:10:35
@Shadowlink

Uh, I sure didn't come up with the idea, sicko.
Posted: 12/08/16, 21:46:23
I don't have any problem with characters developing affinity for one another. The affinity interludes range from off-putting to amusing, and I wouldn't be sad to see them go.

I'm glad the US version of Fates removed the rubbing stuff. It's a little annoying in Pokemon Sun, I would find it super weird to do that to people.
Posted: 12/08/16, 21:48:43
@J.K. Riki

I didn't say anything about Andy.

Or flowers.
Posted: 12/08/16, 23:24:31
@Shadowlink

Well I didn't feel comfortable drawing the scene that takes place directly after, which I'm sure is what you had in mind.

Oh I thought about it. But it was creepy and weird.
Posted: 12/08/16, 23:41:12
@J.K. Riki
Ooh, this is awakening some...odd feelings in me~
Posted: 12/09/16, 00:33:36
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