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Image: Serenes Forest.net

Fire Emblem Fates, whether deservedly so or not, has prompted debate recently over its localisation. This has revolved around the 'Skinship' mechanic which has been referenced as a 'petting' minigame. Quotes from Nintendo stating that it had been removed made way very recently to suggestions that it's actually included, so we set our reviewer, Jon Wahlgren, the task of clarifying once and for all how it works in the game.

His explanation is below, explaining when 'Skinship' features and what it involves in the North American build of the game.

In my own run I just reached an 'S' relationship with a character (prompting marriage) and that sort of changed how the Private Quarters area worked.

Typically, you can select Invite Ally into your Private Quarters with the hopes of boosting your relationship. What then happens is you get a POV (point of view) close-up of the invitee and they say some canned line about friendship. There is no 'petting' involved in non-S relationships.

When you S-ship, there's a new Private Quarters option called "Bond," which is basically the same as Invite Ally but with a heart meter that tracks how often you've bonded with them. Every so often on this meter some kind of event triggers. The first (and only) event I've seen so far was my S-ship fell asleep so I poked them awake on the touchscreen.

There might be more events that require more poking and prodding, but I haven't gotten to them yet. You can only Bond with your S-ship every so often (there's a day/night cycle it follows), so the pace isn't particularly quick.

My understanding is that in the Japanese version anyone you invite to your quarters would get the same hands-on treatment. That isn't the case for the Western version since touch is limited to your spouse unit. There are remnants of the free-for-all since you can still get the same POV close-up of any ally you invite to your quarters, but that's it.

As Nintendo previously made clear, the ability to strengthen relationships through Private Quarters conversations hasn't been removed in North America, and it seems logical that the direct touching is limited to a spouse. It's not the case - it can be argued - that the whole 'petting' concept has been removed (this is rated 'Teen' by ESRB, for reference) but is only available when married to the other character.

In any case, we suspect that Nintendo's previous comments about removing the feature (made to Kotaku and others) related to the general practice, but the drilled down detail is that it remains in place for specific circumstances.

Localisation always sparks debate, though at least there's clarity in what has and has not been included in Fire Emblem Fates.