Fire Emblem isn't Nintendo's most popular franchise — that title still belongs to a certain red-and-blue plumber. However, for hundreds of thousands of fans, Fire Emblem is arguably Nintendo's deepest game — while most of the publisher's titles are relatively family-friendly, Fire Emblem tackles themes of violence, love, war and death.
It's a far cry from The Legend of Zelda, to be sure — but it's one of the reasons why so many people love the series.
Now, Fire Emblem may become one of Nintendo's most progressive franchises: according to the publisher, the upcoming strategy RPG will allow players to marry characters of the same sex. For the first time in the series, gay marriages are possible.
The news comes just a day before the game's Japanese release (the game will debut in the U.S. sometime next year). In an interview with Polygon, Nintendo confirmed that both versions of the game (Conquest and Birthright) will feature same-sex relationships: one for male characters and another for female characters.
"In the Conquest edition of the game, there is a male character that the game's player may have his/her male main character marry after they bond in battle. Similarly, the Birthright edition features a female character that a female main character may marry after bonding in battle. Both of the aforementioned characters can be encountered in the third edition of the game."
So, why bother getting married at all? Well, for straight characters, the possibility of siring an heir was a big part of Fire Emblem: Awakening, and it seems the same will hold true in Fates. That being said, it's not as if gay characters will be stuck at a disadvantage: new combat ratings unlock as soon as the relationship is official, and these bonuses can then help turn the tide of battle. On top of that, marriages in Fire Emblem: Awakening could have a big impact on the story — with any luck, the same thing will happen in Fates.
While it's still a little strange that Nintendo is taking the Pokemon route with its same-sex marriages (as each gender's respective same-sex marriage is limited to a specific version of the game), it's still a huge step forward. Gay relationships in gaming haven't always been handled very well and are usually relegated to nothing more than a joke — hopefully, Fire Emblem: Fates can help change that.
It'll still be some time before Fire Emblem: Fates arrives in the States: the game is due out sometime in 2016.