The Five Times That Video Games Stood Up Against Prejudice and Oppression.

Given the current events and following the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we want to dedicate this piece to the protesters fighting for human rights. We’ll feature five stories in video games where characters stood up against authority figures who spread nothing but lies, hatred, and ruled with an iron fist. These uplifting stories of rebellion will hopefully bring some peace of mind and a brighter outlook on the future.

Please keep in mind that the following game sections contain spoilers. If you see the game’s title and are even mildly curious, I strongly suggest buying them.

Final Fantasy X

The Al-Bhed people were shunned by the followers of Yu Yevon, the guardian deity of the world of Spira. However, throughout the game, you begin to notice corruption within the church of Yevon. As your team became branded enemies of Yevon, the Al Bhed came to your rescue. This aid came, in no small part thanks, to Rikku, the Al Bhed girl that you befriended early on in the game.

 

This connection bridges the party to the Al Bhed working together for a better cause. Even though the Yevon loyalists in the party, such as Wakka, initially reject such a radical change, they eventually warm up to the Al Bhed. Eventually, you join up with them in a united effort to save Spira, using their machina to destroy Sin, and set a new course for the world.

Tales of Symphonia

From the beginning of the game, you befriend Genis and Raine, your elf friends. Only later do you learn that they were half-elves, a being repressed throughout Sylvarant and Tethe’alla due to their mixed heritage.

While their secret comes out later in the game, the protagonist, Lloyd, still unites his friends and continues his journey to save both worlds. Genis, despite saying he hates humans, reassures Lloyd he’s still his best friend. Even when the mayor of the town, Iselia, preaches his racism towards your half-elven party members, the people stand against him.

Regarding the overarching storyline, you later learn that the Sylvarant’s folk hero and eventual antagonist, Mithos, began his entire crusade because of the half-elven oppression and the death of his sister, Martel.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

“Sub-humans.” That was the word used to describe the laguz, or beastkin people, in Tellius. The country of Gallia waged battles with the beorc, or humans, and faced discrimination simply due to their appearance. When Ike fought against the Daein army, he traveled to Gallia, which he later learned was his birthplace. Throughout his travels, he encountered new laguz friends, united them for the cause of liberating the country of Crimea, and took down the Mad King Ashnard.

The story comes full-circle when Ike would unite the Tellius continent once more to defeat the Begnion Senate and their army. Near the end of the game, Ike’s forces, the Greil Mercenaries, defeat Senator Lekain and the Begnion Senate, ending a decades-long struggle between Begnion’s iron grip and the laguz who fought against their oppression.

Persona 5

Persona 5’s story tackles sensitive social issues. Authority figures who bully, exploit, and even murder become the victim of the Phantom Thieves’ vengeance. The whole point of the story is to help your friends rebel against oppressive authority figures and, as they join you, take the fight against other horrible people in Tokyo.

You’ll enter their cognitive Palaces, fight their Shadows, and change their conscience. Doing so will change their heart, forcing them to own up, confess their crimes, and relinquish their positions of power.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Three Houses marked the third Fire Emblem game where racial injustice became a major focal point of the plot. Claude, one of the House leaders, wants to unite Fodlan. He does so due to his Almyran background. The people of Almyra, dark-skinned warriors, faced oppression from the Fodlan continent for decades.

When joining the Golden Deer route, you’ll fight alongside Claude and his quest to reform Fodlan’s government. This includes allying with the church, the enemy of the Black Eagles route, and uniting your forces against the Adrestian Empire and Those Who Slither in the Dark.

 

Final Thoughts

For anyone keeping up with the protests, we’ve all gone through a tough time. Supporting our fellow human beings, including those who are different from ourselves, becomes an important cause in these times. Hopefully, this list helps inspire you with these courageous stories of people fighting alongside friends and make the world a better place.

Be sure to follow our social media channels listed below for the latest in gaming culture!

Interested in Donating?

Know Your Rights Camp – Started by Colin Kaepernick, this camp helps empower teens and meets three cities, at the moment:  Atlanta, Baltimore, and Miami.

 

Want to Donate, but Not for the Cause?

HFC (Hilarity for Charity) – Founded by Seth Rogen and Laura Miller Rogen, this non-profit helps spread awareness about Alzheimers, as well as funding research.

 

History Lesson: Persona 3, Persona 4, and Atlus’ Localization Changes

With the recent releases of Catherine: Full Body, and Persona 5 Royal, developer Atlus fell under scrutiny due to notable censorship of these two fabled titles. In the case of Catherine, a bit of controversy emerged from dead-naming a trans-female character. In Persona 5 Royal’s case, Atlus chose to change a scene where Ryuji got hit on by homosexual men. This created outrage from various sides of the fanbase to include responding by boycotting the game.

While many fans of Atlus’ games got their start to the series with Persona 5, their past titles showcased scenes that might be deemed “not kosher” in today’s political climate. While Catherine was originally released in 2011, and Persona 5 came out in 2017, Atlus deemed it necessary to edit the re-releases’ scenes to acclimate the changing internet culture. One example of these past titles includes 2007’s Persona 3. I’ll outline a few scenes that, while some viewers may find innocuous or humorous, might also raise a few eyebrows.

Persona 3

During a trip to the beach, three of the male characters decide to go on a “babe hunt.” This means they will flirt with women on the beach in hopes of getting a date. While their first two attempts end up getting blown up in their faces, the third option starts off successfully.

The scene begins at 5:06 when Akihiko and Junpei make their pass at a woman. All is going well until Akihiko points out what is implied to be a stray beard hair. This outs the character as trans. However, while the identification itself isn’t so much noteworthy, she also comments how close she was to snagging a “boy-toy.” This implies the character to be promiscuous and predatory, seeking to date someone and trap them.

Persona 4

In the month of June, three male characters once again go on a “babe hunt,” this time in the city of Okina. While their efforts end with their rejection, one character seems to get catfished with the number he got. The number he calls belongs to a classmate, Hanako Ohtani, who is morbidly obese and unattractive.

At 14:00, you’ll meet the girl who follows the stereotypes of “selfish, ugly, fat girl.” She suddenly invites herself to Yosuke’s bike and breaks it by jumping on it.

Days later, you meet her again on a camping trip. She’s unwilling to share her massive portion of food and snores loudly at night. At 7:14, Yosuke asks her for food, only to be turned away. At 14:21, the snoring ensues.

Also note that the Persona wiki deems that there is another overweight character in an earlier game, Persona 2, who’s said to be treated more sensitively. However, if you look through the gallery, you’ll notice that she ends up losing weight at some point in the game, perhaps used as a sort of redeeming quality to her appearance. Once again, many players deem this scene normal and humorous. Others, however, might consider this fat-shaming.

How has censorship changed the landscape for gaming?

Moving slightly off the Atlus subject for a minute, keep in mind how much the political climate has changed in just the past 5 years. Nintendo censored Fire Emblem Fates, Fatal Frame, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and the recent Tokyo Mirage Sessions release on Switch. They even censored Bernadetta’s Support conversation in Fire Emblem: Three Houses in a recent patch as well as replaced a voice actor due to his history of abuse. Another smaller example would be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s censorship of Mithra, from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. However, Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, explained in the past that he had to censor female characters or else the game’s CERO rating would raise.

Sony has also taken measures, in their recent policies, to censor or not release games in the west. Among these include longtime favorite series from Japan, such as Senran Kagura and Dead or Alive.

How this affects Atlus’ games.

Persona 3 and Persona 4 were released before the days of digital patches and updates. The aforementioned scenes fell in with cultural humor considered normal for its release. While the scenes were likely created with humor and no harm intended, reflect on censored games in the past few years. They might not pass the litmus test to be released without various amounts of editing to be re-released in the west today.

In my personal case, I played Persona 5 before going back to 3 and 4. Knowing of the censorship of Persona 5 and watching the aforementioned scene, it immediately crossed my mind. “They probably wouldn’t be allowed to get away with this today,” I thought as I watched the scenes. Granted, I could be entirely wrong, but I could also see why groups on social media could create an issue out of it.

However, please consider that Atlus has done a tremendous job of gracefully touching social issues. They tackle one character’s insecure homosexuality in Persona 4 and allow his newfound friends to accept him for who he is. Persona 5 deftly tackled issues of bullying, sexual assault, exploitation, plagiarism, suicide, blackmail, sex work, and trauma. The story revolves around punishing abusive adults, and removing them from power, while exposing their crimes for the world to see.

Some parts of the internet argue Atlus is insensitive with handling certain characters. Others praise the series for its deft handling of social issues. However, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the gray area. It becomes paramount to educate other players on the importance of accepting other people, for who they are. This falls in regardless of whether a publisher will cater to the whims of one side or the other. A black and white difference encourages fighting among fanbases whereas a gray area brings players together for a common cause: respect for other viewpoints.

Final Thoughts

Given the recent examples, scenes that involve alleged transphobia, fat-shaming, deadnaming, and homophobia are indeed hot-button issues. It’s easy for a few articles to argue one side, attack the other, and create social media fighting while doing so. However, this article does not serve to cater to any side, but to serve as a history lesson on Atlus’ titles and how recent localization policies affect social media as well as game re-releases. If you’re a fan of Persona 5, or Catherine, and did not know about these scenes in Persona 3 and Persona 4, then hopefully this enlightened you with a bit of trivia.

Also, on last personal note, Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden are wonderful JRPGs that I strongly recommend getting. If you enjoyed Persona 5, please give them a try one day!

Do you feel these issues are worth addressing for game releases or do you feel they’re blown out of proportion? Let us know in the comments below!

Celebrating Fire Emblem’s 30th Anniversary.

On April 20th, 1990, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for the Famicom. The Japanese Strategy/RPG series followed with several installments that never came to U.S. shores until the 7th entry. Thanks to Marth and Roy’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001), and largely due to fan demand to release the series outside of Japan, Nintendo would eventually release Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade (2003) in the west for Game Boy Advance.

Why do people love Fire Emblem?

Perhaps one of the most defining traits of Fire Emblem is its character design. Super Smash Bros. Melee created icons out of Marth and Roy. But the series is widely known for its colorful artwork and memorable character designs. While the fantasy storyline tasked you with saving the world, you would also learn about the backstories of your comrades-in-arms.

Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade quickly became popular thanks to its addictive Strategy/RPG (SRPG) gameplay. The grid-based gameplay offered movement similar to Chess. However, the level of flexibility and variety Fire Emblem offered, in its map design, classes, and overall gameplay, resonated well with fans.

But Fire Emblem introduced the permadeath mechanic. Lose a unit and they will stay dead. Your option would be either to press forward without them or restart the entire map and give them another chance. Note that later games, from Awakening onward, became much more forgiving in that department.

While the west had seen other SRPGs, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Shining Force, prior to Blazing Blade’s release, Fire Emblem offered more to the genre. Fire Emblem quickly became known for its addictive gameplay. You could promote your units, earning a new weapon and more powerful stats. Plus you could support units, growing their bonds, and even giving them a special ending together. Blazing Blade featured several difficulty modes, including one that let you play through Hector’s Route. This began a series tradition where you could replay a title to see another part of the story.

Additionally, Fire Emblem is known for its remarkable storytelling. Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn speak of relevant, worldly themes such as racial and class divide. It showcases horrors of war and even pit former friends against each other, something you would see in Fates and Three Houses. Even the Japanese-exclusive titles, like Genealogy of the Holy War, weren’t afraid to showcase dark themes, such as incest and genocide.

Fire Emblem also gained recognition for its music. The map, battle, and recruitment themes all share special recognition. Many of them appeared as remixes in the Super Smash Bros. series. “Together We Ride,” the recruitment theme from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, stood out as being one of the most famous due to its inclusion in Melee.

Decline and Rise

Despite several releases appearing in the west, none of them sold as well as Blazing Blade. In fact, the remake of Mystery of the Emblem, for DS, never came to America. Plus, due to its poor sales, the series began a major decline. It was thanks to every possible effort by developer Intelligent Systems and Nintendo to make Awakening the success it would become. What could have been the final game in the series breathed new life into Fire Emblem.Thanks to heavy marketing, new mechanics, and broadening the fanbase, Fire Emblem: Awakening would go on to become the series best-selling title. It would later be succeeded by Fire Emblem Fates, also released for 3DS. Nintendo would continue to appeal to fans, and reel in new fans, with spin-offs, such as the free-to-play mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes, which was released in 2017.

Most recently, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Three Houses, for Nintendo Switch, in summer of last year. The title features over 100 hours of gameplay and story and quickly became one of the Switch’s most successful titles. Among its accolades includes a score of 89, at Metacritic, and winning the Player’s Voice award at last year’s Game Awards. Additionally, Three Houses’ success would also influence Nintendo’s decision to include Byleth into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

How is Nintendo celebrating?

In Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo has released a new orb banner celebrating the 30th anniversary. This includes a throwback, of sorts, to Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. These two stories feature Marth and the origin of the series. Keep in mind that Mystery of the Emblem’s “Book I” is a remake of Shadow Dragon, for the Super Famicom (SNES), while Book II continues the story after.

In this banner, you can summon childhood versions of Marth, Caeda, Merric, Palla, and recruit Minerva as a free unit. As a duo-unit, Palla also comes with her little sisters, Catria and Est. This throwback also features maps based on the original Shadow Dragon. Nintendo will continue posting updates on their social media channels for Fire Emblem Heroes. Keep up to date with their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts for more info.

Additionally, Nintendo and Cygames’s collaborative mobile JRPG, Dragalia Lost, will also hold another Fire Emblem crossover. While the series has crossed over in the past with Fire Emblem, as well as Mega Man, this event will also center around the series’ 30th anniversary. You can check it out in the tweet below.

How are the fans celebrating?

Twitter has already begun trending #FireEmblem to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. If you search for the trend, you will find numerous works of fanart and cosplay dedicated to the series. Be sure to check them out!

Meanwhile, some of the series’ voice actors are also celebrating the anniversary.

Many players will surely celebrate Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary by clearing routes in Three Houses. I, for one, hope to clear my Golden Deer run before the month ends. Also, if you own Three Houses but haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the Cindered Shadows DLC from the Three Houses Expansion Pass, which released earlier this year!

How are you celebrating the 30th anniversary of Fire Emblem? What’s your favorite game in the series? Let us know in the comments below.

Atlus Encourages Players to Demand Persona 5 for Nintendo Switch

Atlus Calls for Action

With the release of Persona 5 Royal only a month away, Atlus West – the publisher of the illustrious Persona series – began a campaign to encourage players to ask for a Switch release.  IGN asked Atlus Community Manager, Ari Advincula, about Persona 5 coming to Nintendo Switch. Her response was, “I am a strong believe in ‘never give up on hope’.” Featured on Reddit, the thread received over 16K upvotes. While Persona has maintained being a Playstation-exclusive franchise, Atlus has released spin-offs of the series on Nintendo systems. Among them include Persona Q and Persona Q2 for 3DS and the upcoming Persona 5 Scramble – a Musou title – for Nintendo Switch later this year.  More notably, however, the protagonist from Persona 5 made his debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, last year, as a DLC character. Put together, all of these elements have perpetuated hope for the award-winning RPG to come to Nintendo’s console. As of February 16th, #BreakFreePersona was trending on Twitter. The social media movement garnered a huge following with players demanding Atlus release Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch. For Smash Bros. fans who do not own a PS4, it would become a capital investment for Atlus to introduce Joker fans to his home game for the first time.  As has been the case for over two decades, Super Smash Bros. serves to market characters and games to players from the games they were originally from. Note that Cloud appeared in Super Smash Bros. before Final Fantasy VII ever came to a Nintendo system. Yet, while even Final Fantasy VII is now available on Nintendo Switch, Atlus currently shows no signs of releasing Persona 5 Royal on the system.

Atlus Titles on Nintendo Switch

In the meantime, Atlus has recently re-released their Wii U title, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, for Nintendo Switch. Also noteworthy is, despite their strong line of games for the 3DS, Atlus has yet to make an update regarding Shin Megami Tensei V, which was first revealed several years ago. With that said, we’ll keep you updated on the news regarding Persona 5 Royal for Nintendo Switch. Have you played Persona 5 before? Would you like it to come to Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below!