Nintendo has had to alter a few of its games for release to audiences outside of Japan recently, from changing unlockable outfits in Fatal Frame 4 to putting more clothing on a young teenage character in Xenoblade Chronicles X. They’re now having to it again, altering a scene in the forthcoming Fire Emblem Fates.
The scene was flagged up last year, when parts of the game’s script were translated and posted online after its Japanese release. The scene revolves around Soleil, a lesbian character who finds it difficult to remain focussed (or even conscious) around attractive women. In an optional scene the playable male protagonist is given the choice to slip Soleil some “magic powder” without her knowledge, which causes her to see men as women. Eventually she falls in love with the male protagonist who she sees as a woman and, even when the powder wears off and she can once again see he’s male, she remains in love with him and proposes marriage.
It was argued at the time that this was clearly just a practical way for the protagonist to solve Soleil’s problem of fainting around women and allow her to work better with the rest of the team. I mean, honestly? I don’t know if I really want to live in a world where people argue that drugging someone and taking advantage is considered the most practical way to give a confidence boost. One of the highlights of the Fire Emblem games is that you’re able to get involved with pretty much any character you like in storylines that ultimately lead to romance or marriage, but the way they’ve gone about this storyline is incredibly wrong.
Not only is the scene problematic in that it features drugging a character to alter their perception and take advantage of their confusion, it also reads as a form of gay conversion therapy and suggests that, sure, a woman can be attracted to other women but this will all stop when she meets the “right guy”. The scene is wrong on so many levels it would require an escalator to bearably explore them all; it’s not okay to circumvent consent with drugs, and it’s not okay to pressure someone into a relationship.
Thankfully, Nintendo announced today that the scene would not play out that way in the American and European releases of the game:
“In the version of the game that ships in the US and Europe, there is no expression which might be considered as gay conversion or drugging that occurs between characters.”
The actions in the scene are objectively terrible and removing it is the only sensible thing to do; its absence won’t be detrimental to any player’s enjoyment of the game but keeping it in could be damaging.
Nintendo haven’t made clear how they plan to change the scene in the game, whether they’ll cut it out entirely or rewrite it. Whatever they do, it couldn’t possibly be any worse than what was already there.