Fire Emblem may have taken its sweet time finding fame in the west, but it's been a popular franchise in its native Japan since the days of the Famicom.
The revelation comes in a freshly-translated Famicom Tsuushin interview from 1994, where Sakaguchi chats with Fire Emblem designer Shouzou Kaga about their respective franchises.
Sakaguchi explains that the first Fire Emblem - released in 1990 - had quite an impact at Square:
Everyone wanted to know what kind of game it was. Back then there was nothing like it, and I would say its closer to an RPG than a simulation game. So at Square, when it came out, we bought it right away, and everyone gathered together to play and study it. I can't say it was the easiest game to pick up and play, but I felt something very special and addicting in it. And of course I've been playing it ever since!
When asked if he had checked out the latest release - Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem on the Super Famicom - the Final Fantasy boss admitted that he had forced himself to resist its charms:
I've been knee-deep in the FF6 development until just now, and the new Fire Emblem was released during the height of our work. I bought it on the day it came out, but I knew that if I opened it up, I wouldn't do any work, so it was sitting on my desk there like a decoration. During the most intense parts of the FF6 development, I comforted myself by saying, "As soon as this is done, I can play Fire Emblem as much as I want…"
The full interview is well worth checking out, and comes with a bonus 1990 interview with Kaga regarding the original Famicom Fire Emblem.