While plenty of new features have been added, several old ones have returned, including the opportunity for players to get married—an option that was removed from the game in 1995. Getting hitched in Fire Emblem results in stat bonuses and children—as long as the pairing is heterosexual.
Explicit same-sex romance in video games is a fairly recent phenomenon but homoerotic dialogue and storylines have been around for quite some time, including in Fire Emblem. From suspiciously campy villains to intimate conversations between male “friends,” Intelligent Systems has probably bruised their eyelids with all the winking they’ve been doing.
Which makes it all the more irritating that after 18 years of Fire Emblem without marriage, early reports indicate Intelligent Systems has revived the feature as if the world hasn’t changed since 1995. Some gamers have already registered their dismay—and, in some cases, bewilderment, that same-sex characters can’t wed:
On NeoGAF, BigJiantRobut commented how female characters Lyn and Florina “were pretty much engaged anyway.” Meanwhile, a poster on Nintendo3DSBlog made it clear he was voting with his wallet: “If a game offers marriage options and leaves another group out of the equation then, yes, I am not paying money for it. Try walking a few steps in my boots and you will be enlightened.”
You could argue that Japan isn’t one of the 11 countries that recognize marriage equality, but Fire Emblem is about as far removed from modern real-world Japan as Game of Thrones is from, say, Germany.
You might even argue that LGBT gamers are reading things into Fire Emblem that just aren’t there. But you’d have to ignore dialogue like this conversation between two male characters. (See image at bottom.)
Perhaps next time Intelligent Systems will live up to its name and, instead of just having same-sex characters talk about how they can’t live without each other (wink wink), it’ll just let them get married and be done with it.