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Fire Emblem: Awakening team was divided over Casual mode inclusion

Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 22:46 GMT By Brenna Hillier

“That’s not Fire Emblem,” one Intelligent Systems staff member said when confronted with the idea of introducing a Casual mode to turn-based RPG series Fire Emblem, which traditionally punishes carelessness with permadeath.

In an interview posted to the RPG’s official Nintendo minisite, staff expressed their initial concern but growing appreciation for the more beginner-friendly casual mode.

“It’s that nuance. If someone dies, you can’t just go and resurrect them like in other games. You need to think more carefully about the value of the lives you’re controlling in the game,” project manager Masahiro Higuchi said.

“It connects with the difficulty level, too – it makes you work your way through the game very carefully, which I think makes each victory all the more exhilarating. It’s one of the charms of Fire Emblem, which is probably why adding Casual mode generated a fair amount of controversy.

“But while permadeath is a part of the series, it’s also something that I think kept a lot of people from trying the game. That’s not good for us, if people don’t even pick it up to see what kind of other things we’ve put into the game. And in the end we did get a lot of feedback from people who tried [Awakening] because of Casual mode, so in that respect I’m glad it’s there. But I still play in Classic mode myself,” he added.

Nintendo’s Genki Yokota, Awkening’s co-director, said the first time he heard about casual mode his first reaction was “no way”.

“My boss brought up the idea, and just like Higuchi-san, I was angry at the thought of going too casual. But in the end, we figured giving players a choice would help expand the appeal of the game,” he said.

“Believe it or not, now I play exclusively in Casual mode. But like Higuchi-san said, some of the fun of Fire Emblem does lie in the possibility that you can lose a member permanently at any time. Both approaches have their advantages, so it’s hard to say what direction we’ll take next time.

“Well, I’m pretty sure we’ll have Casual mode in there, actually,” he added, but said in a particularly important scenario such as a war scene, permadeath might be mandatory.

Fellow co-director Kouhei Maeda, of Intelligent Systems, said there’s value to both kinds of play.

“Fire Emblem’s always had this core tenet of permadeath, so doing away with that was never really something we considered in the past. But whenever we’d have new hires entering the company playing the game for their first time, they’d lose a bunch of units and get completely stuck – and thinking back, the same thing used to happen to me back when I started. So yeah, I think Casual mode was a good idea,” he said.

Maeda ended up as Casual mode’s ambassador when other staff stubbornly refused to come to terms with it.

“Me and Higuchi-san had been making a big stink about it, like, ‘No, no – don’t do it!’ And then Maeda-san comes in and is all casual about it, like ‘Oh, let’s just try it. What’s the big deal?’” Yokota said.

“Casual mode was first introduced in the Japan-only game Shin Monsho no Nazo, right? At the time, my desk was right next to Higuchi-san, and he was arguing every day with people at Nintendo about it,” art director Toshiyuki Kusakihara added.

“That went on for months. Finally, one day he asks me ‘What do you think about removing permadeath? My response? ‘That’s not Fire Emblem.’ The funny thing is, when I play now, I play in Casual mode.”

“For novices, or even people like me who come back to the series and are still adjusting to all the new rules and features, these kinds of easy mistakes can easily cost you a character or two. So I think it’s good that we offer the choice between Casual and Classic. In online forums and such, you’ll see veteran players and people who probably had their first Fire Emblem experience with Awakening still debating which is better.”

The whole development confessed to resetting their games if they lose battles in Classic mode, though. The full interview is quite a lot of fun, so if you’re at all keen on Fire Emblem do click through.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is a 3DS exclusive which hit the US in early February. Its European and Australian release is set for later this month.

Thanks, Shack News.

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9 Comments

  1. Lengendaryboss

    Interesting Causal Mode considered for the 3DS which is by no means a causal handheld. (Sarcasm)

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Francis O

    Yet Fire Emblem is one of the most casual friendly titles on the market. (Sarcasm)

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Lengendaryboss

    @2 So your saying its one of the least hardcore non friendly title not on the market on 3DS’s owners radar guess thats true, can’t imagine anyone taking kindly to that :)
    Never saw that coming did you?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Francis O

    I’m saying systems aren’t hardcore or not like you’ve been spewing all over VG247. Games are, The 3DS is for everyone, core gamers, kids, causal gamers, because there is games for everyone.

    Stop saying the 3DS is a casual handheld. It’s for everybody. Just like the Xbox 360 is for everybody. (Kinect) And the PS3 is for everbody (Wonderbook /Move)

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Fin

    3DS is a casual handheld, the way the Wii was a casual console.

    Desired audience and actual audience are two different things.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Lengendaryboss

    @4 Not denying that. But each console is primarily aimed at a certain audience while also providing for the other. I wouldn’t have to be “spewing all over VG247″ if you just stop fixating on my comments so much.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Francis O

    #6
    You should start actually focusing on the content on which you are commenting then. Instead of your casual system BS.

    #5
    The 3DS is for everybody. There are just as many hardcore games as causal games on the system.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Lengendaryboss

    @7 Again with the negative behaviour. I am done arguing for the time being, you keep stating your opinions because thats what they are and will always remain to be.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. noamlol2

    i dunno man

    mass effect 2 had permedeaths
    but that didn’t stop me from replayed that level 4 fucking times

    plus i agree that the entire romance thing could be a bitch if permadeath is allowed

    so i think it should only be in some parts of the level and that you can reload your save if you fuck up

    #9 2 years ago

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