Wednesday, March 2, 2016

CRES's Thoughts On: Fire Emblem Fates Controversy or Don't Read if You Want to Enjoy Fire Emblem Fates

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately. Right now I'm a little caught up in some internet drama that, just like a trainwreck, I just can't look away. As you can probably guess, it involves one of my favorite video game franchises of all time: Fire Emblem. Namely, the newly released Fire Emblem Fates. Now, I'm sure you have all heard about the controversy surrounding this game, and I have been silence on it because I didn't want my expectations to be skewed. However, after looking into the controversy a little bit more (after playing a bit of Fates) I have lost all desire to play Fates at the moment. That's right, what I have learned from looking into the issues surrounding Fire Emblem Fates' localization has made me, a diehard Classic Mode Fire Emblem fan, not want to play the game.

I'm warning you right now, if you want to or are planning to play and enjoy Fire Emblem Fates, take the blue pill and just leave right now. If you want to take the red pill, I'll show you just how bad it can get.

 The Start of the Controversy 

The source of all problems
Around mid-January, a news article started to make the rounds on Gaming News outlets that Fire Emblem Fates has some "questionable" material in it. It all surrounded about a girl named Soleil and a support conversation she has with the male version of the protagonist. Supports, for those of you who don't know, are conversations that two characters can have which will improve their performance in battle and are split into four different ranks, C (the lowest), B, A, and S (the Highest) with each character being able to achieve S rank with only one of their potential supports.

The story goes that in this support conversation a drug is used unknowingly on Soleil to "convert" the character from being gay to straight, by making her see men as women and vice-versa, to which the male character can continue to have a romantic relationship with her. I'll go into the ACTUAL details of the support conversation later, but know that this little story spread like gossip which is what it was and nothing spreads faster (kudos to the person who gets that reference), and ultimately Nintendo of America announced that there is no such content in the game.

Stroking a girl's hair? What kind of freak are you!?
Fast forward a bit and we learn that another bit of Fire Emblem content is also on the chopping block, this time the face touching mini-game. In the Japanese version of Fates (Fire Emblem if), you can invite members of your army to your room and touch their faces in order to raise their support with you. After the Soleil debacle, gaming media outlets started talking about how this, admittedly odd, addition to the game was also cut by Nintendo of America. But then later Nintendo of America said that there was still going to be face touching... but only with the S rank supports. See, the actual Mini-game is out, but the results of said mini-game are just given to the player just by selecting the option. What NoA MEANS by that face touching is still in the game is that there is a completely unrelated feature where you can "wake-up" your partner from bed by using the touch-screen or microphone.

Now, you might be wondering "Okay, it's just one questionable scene and a dumb little mini-game that I didn't really care for in the first place. What's the big deal, the game is still the same as the Japanese version, right?" And if it was just that, then this would just be the oddities of localizing a game for a foreign market. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, we having even gotten to the really frustrating parts.

 That's Dragon for "Altered Dialogue"

The general rule for translating a piece of work from one language to another is to be as faithful to the original as possible. This doesn't mean a direct word-for-word translation, but rather the intention and the idea behind each word gets conveyed accurately, even if it means changing something here and there if the cultural context makes understanding the concept difficult. For example, a common idiom in Japanese might well known throughout Japan, but is completely nonsensical when a direct word for word translation is done, so different English idiom that means the same thing can be substituted. Jokes revolving around word play is particularly nasty things to translate. This is why people like to have "Accurate" translations as appose to "Literal" or "Direct" translations.

So how does Fire Emblem Fates fair?..... Not well....

To start several lines of dialogue has been completely altered from their original Japanese, some of these alterations have been made to obfuscate or change some details, details like the age of some of the younger characters in the game. Case in point Elise, the player character (from here on out referred to as Corrin for the English version and Kamui for the Japanese version) "younger" sister. The quotation marks are because in the English version lines of dialogue have been added to make her an "adult" when her actual age is quite a bit younger.

I SWEAR Officer, she said she was 18!
Whether this change was made because they didn't want someone younger than 18 fighting in a war or because she can be married in the game is unclear, but she isn't the only character who got "older" as she crossed the sea.

So, Nintendo Treehouse (the ones responsible for localizing the game) fudge the ages a bit as to not appear on an episode of "To Catch a Predator" so what? Well, that's not just it. In addition to changing lines of dialogue in an effort of creating fake IDs, Nintendo Treehouse also completely rewritten several lines of dialogue. The following two pictures are heartfelt reunions between fathers and daughters. Not that you can tell in the official US version, as any emotion within was stamped out by unfunny jokes.

Seriously? What the F*^&!?
I guess being a translator is easier than I thought. All I have to do is completely replace the text of the original with "waggity, waggity, waggity" and the game will sell 300,000 in the first week.

Regional Personality Disorder

So we have several lines of dialogue that have been completely changed from the Japanese original, but at least the characters are the same, right? You should really stop asking questions Rhetorical Device. I'd like you to meet Hisame and Effie, two characters you can recruit in game. Hisame was a quiet, stoic type who just so happens to like eating pickles... Note the use of the past tense in that sentence, Hisame WAS a quiet stoic type who just so happens to like eating pickles in the Japanese version of the game. In the US version his personality has been replaced by a pickle, and not just one pickle, his brain has been over-run with the preserved vegetables that he can't stop talking about them, like ALL THE TIME! Don't believe? Just take a look at this:

Pickle Pal. Just like a Pen Pal only harder to write with.
But of course Mr. Pickle over here is better than what they did to poor "little" Effie (or Elfie as she is known as in Japan). In her land of origin, Elfie was a woman of imposing statue given her role as a knight, but underneath the armor she is just a normal, sweet, gentle girl at odds with her immense strength.... In America she is some steroid fueled "I don't need no touchy-feely crap" man-eater who can't go two sentences without mentioning how impressive her muscles are. I mean, just look at this:

SERIOUSLY! Just like with the *wagity, wagity, wagity* and "That's Dragon for" examples above, the new dialogue completely ruins any kind of emotional impact the scene would have had. I mean, who in their right mind would confess their love for you, and THEN make a comment about how much they can benchpress. The only people I can think of who would do that are ego-centric narcissus who would say "Of course you love me. Just check ME out!" So that's TWO characters completely assassinated by Treehouse's localization, what's next? Cut content and dialogue?

Cut Content and Dialogue

I've already said at the beginning that the face-touching mini-game was removed from the game, but that's not the only thing removed unfortunately. Costumes considered too risque for Americans where sealed away in the game's code with no way to access them (much like the "Hot Coffee"). What where these costumes? Bikinis. No seriously they where just bikinis, take a look:

"Wanna go to the Beach?" "But I got nothing to wear." "We can find.... oh.."
So head petting is out clothing options are out. What about Dialogue? You know the sort of thing that drives Fire Emblem's story and world building? Yep, that's out as well. As I said before, Fire Emblem contains a system called "Supports" where two characters can talk to each other, learn more about each other and forge a closer relationship with stat bonuses when they are next to each other in battle. Well, talk to each other and learn more about each other is stretching it a bit in regards to this next video. This is LITERALLY what they did to one of the game's support conversation.

"..." "..." "..." "..." Support increase? This is NONSENSE. The Japanese version has the two talking about their fates as assassins and the really heavy stuff that goes with it, but in the USA they both suffer from Silent Protagonist Syndrome. Oh and if you think it's just this ONE support think again. Between Corrin and another character Sakura, LARGE CHUNKS of their dialogue has been removed, in some cases over HALF OF THE SUPPORT IS MISSING! These images are a bit large so I'm going to leave them as links, feel free to read through them at your leisure. I'll wait.

Let's quickly revisit good old Kanna for some more alterations and bastardization of the Support system.

Kanna: Forever Alone

As I said, Supports are Fire Emblem's way of incentivizing players to develop the relationships between characters and starting with the previous game, Fire Emblem: Awakening, players had access to another tier of supports: S Rank. In Awakening, each character can have only ONE S rank support with another character and that's because an S Rank support meant that these two characters are now married, and if they are among the First Generation of characters in the game they will have a child together. While the Second Generation don't have children characters associate with them for a Third Generation, these characters can still get married just like the rest of the cast.

In the Japanese version of Fates S rank still means the two characters are married; however, in the US version of Fates there something else going on with S Rank supports: The Permanent Friendzone. Characters among the second generation can achieve S Rank with each other, and even have one of them confess their love for the other, only to have that love shattered and the relationship stuck in a permanent friendzone. That is what happened to poor little Kanna. 

See if you are playing the game as a female character, when you get married you will have a son named Kanna. Kanna can have a S Support rank with a number of different girls. In the Japanese version he can marry any of them. In the US version, all but ONE will result in a permanent friendzone where Kanna is rejected by the girl he loves, and since this is an S Support rank he nor the girl he confessed to can EVER get married to ANYONE ELSE! Don't believe me? Here is another video and image to back me up.

Oh, speaking of Soleil, her S supports also got wrecked.

Soleil, Converted TO Gay

Remember Soleil? The poor victim of "Gay Conversion Therapy" and drugs? Or at least that's the story that our "trustworthy" gaming news media tells us. Let's actually look at Soleil's character for a bit. Soleil in the Japanese version is a girl who likes looking at and flirting with other cute girls. From what I gather this isn't necessarily a sexual attraction to other girls but rather more of a fondness toward them. Soleil isn't portrayed as gay, on the contrary all of her S rank supports are male, meaning that she can only be married off to guys. So the "Gay Conversion Therapy" isn't even accurate at the first word in that phrase. The scene that caused the uproar was one of her Supports with the male version of Corrin where prior to the support Soleil wants help from Corrin because she can easily swoon at the sight of a pretty girl, which is a danger for a soldier in the middle of a battle. So Corrin slips some magic powder in her drink which causes her to see guys as girls and vice versa. Corrin apologizes to Soleil immediately afterwards and Soleil forgives him because he was doing it with the best of intentions and then proceeds to gawk at the various guys who now look like girls to her. Hilarity ensues.

When you actually break the scene down the only questionable part is Corrin slipping magic powder into Soleil's drink unbeknownst to her. An action that Corrin quickly apologized for admitting his mistake and to Soleil "No Harm, No Foul." And if Nintendo Treehouse was worried about a controversy, maybe make it so that Corrin informed Soleil what the powder was and she took it willingly. We'd still get the same results, but without the implication of date-rape that it somehow led to. But no, instead Treehouse decided to completely redo the support so that now instead of a magic powder, it's a blindfold and a little bit of pretend... Yeah, that's graceful.

 But that's not ALL they did with Soleil. For some reason Treehouse turned nearly ALL of Soleil's S support ranks to Permanent Friendzones, leaving her with almost NO marriage partners left. Why? I have no idea, the current theory is that Treehouse decided to turn a straight girl INTO a gay one. Yeah, so instead of a "Gay Conversion Therapy" controversy we have... a "Gay Conversion Therapy" controversy but in the other direction so that makes it progressive? Here is another image too large to fit here that will help break it down.

 The Result of the Chaos

Seriously Nintendo?
Fire Emblem Fates' localization is a trainwreck. Not only did Nintendo Treehouse remove content from the game, but they removed several lines of dialogue, altered several more, and bastardized the personality and relationship of several of the characters. I've heard that over 2,000 lines of dialogue from the original game have been altered or flat out removed. And that is not counting the several instances of terrible writing and poor proofreading. It has become SO bad that fans of Fire Emblem have organized on Twitter under the hashtag #TorrentialDownpour to unite against this kind of censorship. What's worse is that several gaming news outlets like IGN and Polygon have come out in DEFENSE of Nintendo, citing the original content that was changed was creepy and offensive to Westerners (Note they ONLY mention the head-petting and their version of Soleil's support conversation as the "changes"). "This is just the act of Localizing a game" they say, "It's not censorship because the government isn't doing it" they decry. Of course they where singing a different tune when Steven Universe was censored, I'm sorry "Localized" in the UK. And since when did the definition of censorship require a government body to enforce the changes. Worse still is that there are some FANS who are defending Nintendo's decisions. "Be glad we got the game at all" they say. "So long as the main game is still there I'm happy" I've heard. Even the actions of #TorrentialDownpour are mocked when the news broke that Fates broke the franchises' sales record for it's opening week by a factor of 5.

However, it is not all bad news. Some news outlets, Breitbart and Forbes, are covering the topic of Fire Emblem Fates' localization and they have less than amicable things to say about it. And despite being unlisted in the Twitter search results (for some reason) #TorrentialDownpour has been gaining ground on the internet. There is a lot of pressure on Nintendo right now, especially since The Gaming Ground has uncovered some questionable behavior among Treehouse's staff while looking into Fire Emblem Fates. Unfortunately, things only seem to get worse. Bravely Second, the sequel to Bravely Default, has been released in Europe and as players are going through the game it too seems to have been victim of massive amounts of censorship and removed content. It even went so far as to have pictures from the Bravely Second's ARTBOOK removed (Source). That's right we've gone to flat out censoring ART.

So what can you or I do about this? Quite simply talk about it. Spread the word. Make some noise. If you want censorship to stop make it known. Demand that we receive faithful and accurate translations of our favorite games from Japan, not some "Localized" crap. Contact the people in change. Tell them what YOU want as a consumer. YOU HAVE THAT POWER! #OperationFaceplateNA started for the exact same reasons, fans where dissatisfied for being told what they could have, and look what that got us: The smaller New 3DS. It's not too late for Fire Emblem Fates or Bravely Second. Fates could receive a patch to fix it's issues. Bravely Second hasn't been released in America yet so there is still a chance it could be changed. Just remember that if we do nothing, nothing will change.

Sorry this took so long.

CRES, Over and out.


  1. You forget the same sex relationship with Nils and Rhajat are the same dialogue as the straight one. Nintendo won't give a shit as the game sold 400k which is the strongest launch sales of the licence, they will give people a middle finger to anyone complaining about their poor localizations job.

    For the Bravely Second one of the art removed the bloody image of Geist is inside the game which make the censorship dumber.

    1. Dood, there is a LOT of things I didn't say about the localization. And I wouldn't say Nintendo won't give a shit because things seem to be happening behind the scenes.

      Parents and Anti-CP groups like the Wayne Foundation are putting a lot of pressure on NoA. Torrential Downpour's reach is extending farther than anyone would have imagined. We have contact with Japanese fans who are PISSED that WE got an inferior product. Even a member of the DIET (the Japanese government) supporting us. And all the while SJWs and other individuals who are defending Fates's localization (for who knows what reason) are desperately trying to get us to shut up.

      Something is going to happen one way or another, the only question is whether it will be a positive change or a negative one.

      As for the Bravely Second note, I'm confused as to which is worse, Geist being censored in the artbook but not in the game, or the Tomahawk class being censored in the game but not the artbook.

  2. Just a note on the whole Soleil thing as someone who's actually bisexual.

    All Treehouse has proven by removing most of Soleil's marriages is that they don't understand the concept of bisexuality. If they wanted to change her sexuality so bad (which I really don't agree with since I dislike it when localization teams change a character), they could have at least done it right.

    If they wanted Soleil to be lesbian, they should have made her able to marry other females (at least F!Kamui). Since they didn't do that, I'm assuming they intended her to be bisexual.

    If they wanted Soleil to be bisexual (which I assume they did, given Laslow's extremely not subtle hint hint wink wink about it), they shouldn't have removed any S-Ranks. One thing I hate people assuming about me is that I have to "pick a side, gay or straight" or some shit like that, and that's what the Soleil decision feels like to me. "Oh. Soleil's bisexual now? Well, bisexual people are obviously the same as gay people so let's just get rid of all of her male marriages aside from the crossdresser and Kamui! Because bisexual people can't possibly be as many straight relationships as real straight people can!"

    (Sorry for the tirade, as you can see I'm pretty pissed off by the fact that not only did they change a character's sexuality, but they did it in a way that essentially says that bisexual women are not allowed to love men if they aren't pretty much a women anyway or the glorious protagonist.)

    Treehouse please. If you're going to completely change a person's character just to shove overly-PC nonsense down our throats, then at least do it right.

    1. The thing is the S rank supports are still there and they still function the same way, it's just the dialogue around them have been changed to "Friendship."

      I mean it's lazy in other ways too. At one point, someone on #TorrentialDownpour posted an image of Kanna(M) getting S rank with one of his "Friend" supports, but when they went to the Hubba Tester it gave the same dialogue as if they where married.

      I'm guess Treehouse couldn't, or didn't have enough time, to completely rewrite the game so that Soleil (and Kanna(M)) had less S rank supports, or had S rank supports with different characters. So, in order to force their message into the game they had to rewrite the script.

      Now, there are a lot of Pro-Fates Localization people who say that Treehouse has to talk to Intelligent Systems in order to okay these changes, but I highly doubt that IS was informed honestly about these changes if they where informed at all.

      Seriously, on all accounts the localization is just BAD, and it gets worse the more you look into it.