Nintendo is cutting off the potential for renewed controversy with its new Fire Emblem game by editing a scene that caused some Japanese players to refer to it as homophobic.
Fire Emblem Fates will not include a scene where the character Soleil is drugged in an effort to convert her into a heterosexual (as Nintendo World Report first wrote about). In the 3DS strategy role-playing game, which is due out in North America on February 19, Soleil is a warrior who is sexually attracted to women. But the game has a scene where if the player pairs her up with a man, he’ll spike her drink (without her consent) with a potion that makes her see women as men and men as women. When the drug wears off, Soleil reveals that she fell in love with the female version of the male protagonist, and that love has carried over now that she sees him as a man again.
For many, this was far too similar to the reviled and debunked attempts of “gay conversion therapy,” where so-called professionals, typically from religious organizations, try to force a sexual-orientation change on young people. For Nintendo of America, this was a potential problem.
“In the version of the game that ships in the U.S. and Europe, there is no expression which might be considered as ‘gay conversion’ or ‘drugging’ that occurs between characters,” a Nintendo spokesperson said in a statement.
The publisher did not say how it has changed this scene or whether it axed it completely. We’ll know more soon, as the game is only a month away from release.
Nintendo likely went through the effort of editing this scene after dealing with a similar controversy when it released the 3DS life simulator Tomodachi Life in 2014. That game enables you to make your own characters who can get into relationships, but they do not have the option to pair up with other people of the same sex. At the time, GLAAD, one of the leading national organizations representing the rights of gay people, called that omission “hurtful” and “behind the times.” Nintendo quickly apologized for that oversight, while saying that it would try to do better in the future.
“We will strive to design a gameplay experience from the ground up that is more inclusive and better represents all players,” a Nintendo spokesperson said at the time.
And while the Japanese version of Fire Emblem may have stumbled on this front, Nintendo’s Western divisions have taken some steps to keep that promise.