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Fire Emblem: Awakening Was Almost Set On Mars

Posted by Andy Green

Nintendo's President conducts an eye-opening Iwata Asks

With Fire Emblem: Awakening emerging on North American shores this week, it seemed only fitting that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was joined by the team behind the game in the latest instalment of Iwata Asks. Usually Iwata-san interviews three or four members of the development team, but this time - as if to stick with the theme of the series - Nintendo's chief assembled an army from Intelligent Systems to talk about its upcoming game.

During the discussion the team revealed how the game had become bogged down during the early stages of development as they tried to figure out how this game was going to pan out. The game's project manager, Masahiro Higuchi, revealed that they came close to dropping the medieval style setting altogether in favour of a more modern environment.

That game was nearly titled Fire Emblem 2011, but Higuchi explained how this idea never really got off the ground:

We made proposals that were a complete departure from the medieval worldview so far — like Fire Emblem completely in the modern world or the one which has the sense of an fairy tale. But they were too far out, so we couldn't get started. (laughs)

Scrambling for ideas the developer even came up with an elaborate plot that would see the Fire Emblem universe head to Mars. This idea didn't last too long as it was promptly shot down by producer Hitoshi Yamagami:

I was like, "Is that even Fire Emblem?!" (laughs) In the end, such a drastic break didn't go very well.

I proposed to Higuchi-san and Maeda-san that instead of a complete departure, we could make a culmination of all the Fire Emblem games so far — and their eyes lit up. (laughs)

This culmination of ideas became the foundation of the game, the developer put every idea from past games into a melting pot and solved problems that arose on the fly. Something the team especially focussed on was the new bonding system, in which characters grow closer to one another through battling side-by-side and engaging in further conversation at base-camps. There's even a marriage system thrown in for players to engage with, allowing those characters who grow especially close to become eternally partnered.

Dual battling is also a big feature in Fire Emblem: Awakening, allowing characters to team up with each other to defeat foes. Doing this will enhance their bond, making them stronger when fighting side-by-side. Genki Yokota, the director at Nintendo, explained that the duel system results in various styles of play with some players choosing to team up with other characters while others will go into battle alone.

One area of the game that has caused much controversy is the addition of casual mode, and it appears even the members of the development team had differing opinions on it. Higuchi in particular appeared to have his doubts on the addition but in the end said he feels casual mode opens the door to new players who may be scared off by Fire Emblem's hardcore nature. Masahiro Higuchi is obviously a big fan of the series and says he hopes seasoned Fire Emblem veterans would join him in playing the game in 'lunatic' mode, the hardest difficulty setting.

Kouhei Maeda, the game's director, has managed to finish it on lunatic mode, calling the difficulty "incredible". Other members of the team have yet to master it though with development producer Tohru Narihiro saying: "lunatic is beyond me".

As we explained in our Fire Emblem: Awakening review, we thought the game mixed the casual and hardcore elements brilliantly.

What are your thoughts on these new insights into Fire Emblem: Awakening? Will you be playing in lunatic mode or will you be opting for a more casual approach? Let us know in the comments section below.


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User Comments (28)



Aqueous said:

I'm not seasoned but I joined him the moment I started which led to my current lack of progress..... Also figures the Mars thing would be picked out of that article



MrKenta said:

It wouldn't work for a Fire Emblem game, but I'd be interested in a game with a similar gameplay but with something like a Cyberpunk theme.
Hackers instead of thieves, riding hoverbikes instead of horses, a guy in a huge mech suit instead of a knight...



MitchVogel said:

I think they could've pulled it off if they implemented it right. It certainly would've made for an interesting game!



Jeremyx7 said:

They should totally make a futuristic sci-fi themed game with similar gameplay mechanics as the Fire Emblem series along with added gameplay elements! Would be pretty cool.....

Interesting read btw.



Spoony_Tech said:


Don't mess up Fire Emblem please. Fantasy world. Stick to it!

Leave the rest up to the collaboration with Atlus!



Lunapplebloom said:

Now that is a thing of interest, though I'm glad they stayed true to the series. Fire Emblem on Mars would have been to much of a departure.

Also, even though I am a seasoned player, I won't be joining him in Lunatic Mode. As his development producer Tohru Narihiro said, "lunatic is beyond me".



SkywardLink98 said:

Since every game store local to me is sold out of pre-orders, I'll be hoping to pick up a copy tonight at midnight from Walmart. If that doesn't work, I'll be going to my local gamestop tomorrow at 10:00 A.M. to get any copy they have/



Shanksta said:

@Void I actually liked the new Total Recall. I'll always love the first one but the second one was different enough for me that it was like a different movie. It wasn't the best movie, but I enjoyed it.



DerpSandwich said:

I think a futuristic Fire Emblem would be really awesome! I'm not a longtime fan of the series though, and I could see how people might not like that.



Zombie_Barioth said:

An original futuristic strategy game would me interesting but part of the appeal of Fire Emblem for me is the medieval setting and how the different classes fill the role of more familiar units.

Besides there are more than enough games that center around guns, tanks, and other modern or futuristic weaponry, FE doesn't need to become another typical military game.



Grodus said:

They could've implemented it so easily: just stick some kind of mechanism for time travel in the game.



shinpichu said:

Fun fact: Mars is an alternate romanization of Marth's name. In fact, there was an OVA adaptation of FE3 in the Nineties where it his name was localized as Mars.



Weedy said:

Surely a futuristic FE would be better suited in the Advance Wars franchise, although the game play is a little different. But for all your current futuristic FE needs why not try Ex-com, although that would require a console without a Nintendo logo on it!!



stipey said:

I don't see why it couldn't work. The setting is not what makes Fire Emblem shine, not by any stretch of the imagination. Look at the transition from Civilization to Alpha Centauri, or more aptly, Warhammer to Warhammer 40000, a series that's gone on to far outperform the original.

As long as the fundamentals were kept in tact, (turn-based, tactical gameplay, many characters who can all die permanently, story full of political intrigue etc) the game would still feel like Fire Emblem, regardless of when and where it's set. Wow, the idea of playing Fire Emblem set in real-life cities is almost too much for me.



DaemonSword said:

Thank goodness they didn't go with that silly idea. That would've as bad as Highlander 2, breaking so many rules of the first film, with the immortals coming from planet Zeist. Ugh!



MeloMan said:

Hah, I knew I wouldn't be the only one to pick up on the fact that Marth is known as Prince Mars in Japan

Can't blame the guy who made the suggestion during development



GreenDream said:

That reminds me of Military Madness: Nectaris. A space-based Intelligent Systems sort of TBS title. Might be interesting to explore, but best leave Fire Emblem away from that kind of project. Hopefully, the one who pitched that idea could work on that separately. The main problem is funding...



Henmii said:

Interesting! Maybe they should have tried it (making it sci-fi)! I think Nintendo still needs to make a sci-fi Zelda! Retro studios would do a great job on it!

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