Fire Emblem Awakening: Nintendo Dream First Year Anniversary Developer Interview (June 2013)

I spent the last two days translating an old and seemingly overlooked interview about Fire Emblem: Awakening. It was featured in the June 2013 issue of Nintendo Dream.

Note that in Japan, the game came out in April 2012. (It was released much later in the west in 2013).

A big thanks to VincentASM on serenesforest.net for sending me the scans and bringing it to my attention. Please link back if you use any part of the interview as I put a lot of time into it. The original scans of the interview are available only by request, as well as the Japanese transcript I (re)typed up.

As far as we saw, this interview had not been translated in full before!

Some fun things are addressed. Among them are in-house fighting over where FE should go as a series, how the DLC came about, how Maid outfits were almost in Awakening, and of course silliness regarding Tharja’s bikini mishap.


Fire Emblem: Awakening. First Year Anniversary Developer Interview

This issue, we have a special feature for Fire Emblem: Awakening (from now on: Awakening). In celebration of the game’s first year anniversary since release, we sat down with the developers from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems (from now on: “IS”)! This interview is a must-read for Fire Emblem (from now on: FE) series fans!

Featuring (from right to left)

  • Kouhei Maeda
    Director, Intelligent Systems
  • Toshiyuki Kusakihara
    Art Director, Intelligent Systems
  • Masahiro Higuchi
    Project Manager, Intelligent Systems
  • Kenki Yokota
    Development Planner, Nintendo

Redefining the Phrase “Emblem-like”

— First things first. Congratulations on your first year anniversary!

All: Thank you very much!

Higuchi: I wanted to express my thanks to everyone who played the game. We wouldn’t have been able to be here celebrating the first year anniversary if not for all the fans who bought the game, so thank you. Awakening was created as a culmination of what made the past titles great while also facing challenges of implementing new things. However, during development, we weren’t really sure if it would be well received by the players. So when we saw the sales were much higher than expected, we were finally able to rest easy.

Maeda: Yes, we can rest easy now, but, during development, we were faced with a rather grim situation: “If this game doesn’t sell well, the FE series is probably over.”

— Oh my!

Maeda: However, that sense of impending doom really spurred the staff to repeatedly discuss: “What can we do to get more people to play this game?” So as a result of that grim situation, one thing led to another, and in the end, well, I’m quite pleased with the results.

— Well, wasn’t the question of getting more people to play the game a topic of discussion during development of previous games too?

Higuchi: It was. We always developed games with users who had left the series in mind, of course, but we would also try to focus on expanding to new players who thought FE to be too difficult of a series to get into.

— You mean things like “Casual Mode” and the “Avatar” that appeared in the previous DS title, New Mystery of the Emblem, right? So what made things different this time around?

Higuchi: Simple. Redefining its “Emblem-like-ness.”

— Its “Emblem-like-ness”?

Higuchi: Yes. Throughout development of FE games, I was always using the term “Emblem-like.” For example, “Such and such is very Emblem-like, so let’s put it in” or “That’s not really Emblem-like, take it out.” With it being such an important influence to our development, we decided to discuss what “Emblem-like-ness” is, exactly.

— So you revised it this time around?

Higuchi: That’s right. When planning with the staff, a lot of “un-Emblem-like” things were discussed. If I had stopped them there, then the game would be no different than the rest of the series up until now, however. Basically, I figured to truly get a “new” FE game I should let the conversation continue. So from a more objective point of view, we ended up adding a lot of material that wouldn’t really be considered “Emblem-like” at all. Though, I admit, I was rather conservative and very reluctant to give up the things that made FE what it is.

— I see. So there was a bit of conflict between those who were proposing new ideas, and those like you who were stuck in the “good old days” of the series?

Higuchi: Well the premise was that we had to change it up. But navigating that ship [as captain] and figuring out where to go with my crew was indeed difficult.

— So were you eventually overwhelmed by “un-Emblem-like” people who forced you to think like them?

(Higuchi sighs and looks away)

All: (Laugh)

Maeda: Within the team, there was a split between “conservatives” and “reformists.” Among those here right now, Higuchi is one of the “conservatives,” and Kusakihara one of the “reformists.” A recipe for disaster, I suppose.

All: (Laugh)

— What about you, Yokota?

Yokota: Conservative.

Maeda: Well, you’re certainly a reformist in some areas though! (Laughs)

— Well, what about you Maeda?

Maeda: Well, I… (avoids eye contact with Higuchi and Kusakihara while speaking) feel like I’m the balance between the two extremes.

Higuchi: You? Balance? Really?

Maeda: Higuchi is said to be one with “destructive reactions” [to new things] so I try my best to remain the peaceful man in the middle is what I mean.

Kusakihara: That impression may have come from how you could hear the echoes of him reacting to every single one of my new ideas. (Laughs).

A Picture of a Confession that Troubled Mr. Higuchi

So basically there were strong feelings regarding what needed to change from the norm.

Maeda: Yes, that’s right.

Higuchi: On the other hand, though it was clear that I felt “this is wrong” due to all the “un-Emblem-like” things that were crammed into the game, I’m glad I at least had the sense to understand that it was a necessary evil.

— Since you keep mentioning it, what are some examples of “un-Emblem-like” things you can name –from the player’s point of view?

Higuchi: (With a straight face) Confession pictures.

All: (Laugh)

Higuchi: (While looking at Mr. Kusakihara) That came from “reformist” Kusakihara’s faction. It drove me nuts when it was first proposed.

Kusakihara: (Surprised) Wait, it wasn’t me! That came from Maeda’s camp…!

— Are you shifting the blame now?!

All: (Laugh)

Maeda: That actually did come from me, though… (Laughs)

Kusakihara: During that proposal, we felt that it wasn’t expressive enough. So we added flashy sparkles to the background and such in what you see today. The exaggerated overflow of emotions and expressions was purposefully made to resemble the an anime adaptation of a shojo manga.

— So you brushed it up more. Seeing that, what did you think, Mr. Yokota?

Yokota: I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. (Laughs)

Higuchi: (As if purposefully being a killjoy) No, it wasn’t! It was deeply disturbing. And yet, that picture somehow made it into the TV commercial even…! I was like, “Oh gods! You used it in the commercial?!”

All: (Laughs)

— You were that worked up about it, huh? Why was that?

Higuchi: Well, I already mentioned regarding how plain “un-Emblem-like” it was. But on top of that, the original proposal that was written to me involved “kissy-faces.” That is just one example of why it greatly disturbed me.

— Kissy-faces?!

Kusakihara: Yes. There are plenty of games that feature girls making such faces. But not really any with men. So we figured that it may have some merit to it in that proposal.

Higuchi: I remember my conclusion was “Please don’t go that far!” Even the character designer Yusuke Kozaki was opposed to it.

All: (Laughs)

— But, it’s cool that every character got a confession picture huh? Not just the pretty characters either –Gangrel and Valhart have one too!

Kusakihara: We figured that it was definitely something new. We also figured it would probably make male players very uncomfortable.

Maeda: Not to mention that it drove the group in charge of the scenario and story insane, too. “How do we even begin to lead to this being a possibility [in the story]?”

All: (Laughs)

Yokota: In the end it was a necessary element to make it feel more “complete.” I think it was done just enough to make it a pleasure to see without being overdone.

— Trying new things like that may have a mixed reception among the players, but also sounds like it came about as a result of various compromises.

Yokota: That’s right. Not everything has changed. The game at its core is still a compilation [of previous games], with a good balance between “conservative” and “reformist.” With some things left in place from before, the game in the end came out as “moderate.” We feel that is why the game was so well received in the end.

What You Have Heard From Players Through the Past Year

— Have you kept up with all the comments people have been making regarding the game and how it was received?

Maeda: I looked at a lot of players’ comments on twitter, and have seen some recommending it to their friends like, “It’s amazing! Buy it!” Seeing it spread by word-of-mouth among people like that left me very impressed.

Kusakihara: Twitter really is interesting. For instance, the people being most critical on it at first gradually had a change of heart, and the platform gives us a chance to see that happen in micro steps.

— So it was a case of fans’ first impressions being like “This isn’t FE.” But then when they played it, they felt “This is FE” in the end?

Kusakihara: It seems that way. I think it was nice for the newcomers to have been eventually able to interact and discuss the game with those sorts of people too.

Maeda: Also, within the topics of criticism directed toward us were also messages filled with great feelings of happiness and joy. I’d like to personally reach out and thank each and every one of those people. (Laughs)

— What about you, Mr. Higuchi?

Higuchi: Well, on a slightly different note than player response, we noticed more company employees outside of the FE project staff actually playing the game, too. (Laughs). We heard members who were part of other projects saying “This is amazing!” We got the clear message that everyone was having a great time with the game. (Turns toward Kusakihara): As well as with all the StreetPass-ing, hmm?

Kusakihara: That’s right. Higuchi and I went to E3 last year. There were a ton of people there having fun with Awakening’s StreetPass features. It made us pretty happy to see that.

— At first there were only super strong players on the StreetPass, which would be intimidating for anyone else. But it slowly became more varied as all sorts of people joined in the fun.

Maeda: Some were just nothing but an excuse to buy precious items, like traveling merchants. (Laughs)

— Yeah. Did you imagine the communication feature being used in such a way?

Maeda: We had a lot of ideas we thought people may find fun. But, during development, we didn’t understand the full extent of what we could do with the communication features. So often we were stumped, wondering “wait can we even do that via StreetPass?” (Laughs). Also, we figured, “Hey, it may be nice if one or two people even manage to StreetPass each other in a year!”

All: (Laugh)

Yokota: Honestly, we weren’t expecting the StreetPass features to be such a big hit. “What else can we do with the feature?” is now a major point of reflection for us.

— It may depend on the area, but it seems like there is always some StreetPass character or another on the map as if they were there the entire time!

Kusakihara: There are times when you want to fight, and other times you don’t. … We didn’t think StreetPass would get so big so regrettably made it [rather limited] that way. (Laughs).

Maeda: We made it so you can pile up about 50 people via StreetPass. We never thought people would actually be fully backed up!

Yokota: Sometimes, interesting people also appear, and you want to leave them on the map. But, it also means you can’t battle in that spot while they’re there either! (Laughs).

— Not to mention needing to gather money so you can recruit these people.

Maeda: Seriously! That’s how I feel every time!

All: (Laughs)

— So in summary, you were pleasantly surprised due to underestimating just how many people would actually pick up this game.

Maeda: Yes. We are really thankful for this!

The Character Popularity Polls

— Throughout the last year, player opinions echoed through character polls conducted through things like Nintendo Dream as well as the official site. What are your thoughts on the results?

Maeda: Owain* was the most unexpected result. We put him in as the so-called “joke character,” so we didn’t expect that kind of response at all. I was (personally) relieved that Chrom still placed in first, though.

*Placed second on the overall male character poll on the official site.

— He placed first regardless of which poll it was, huh? You must not be used to the main character actually placing first, so it must have been an incredible feeling.

Kusakihara: It’s easier for side characters to follow their own little stories that flesh out their personalities, giving them more individuality.

Yokota: Well, we were relieved to see certain characters place from the top to the middle of the poll. However… we were also…well, shocked…looking at the bottom.

Kusakihara: We thought Flavia would be a big hit with the players… yet she placed really low across all the polls…

Maeda: On the Nintendo Dream poll results, she lost even to Vincent & Victor… we were shocked by all the implications. (Laughs)

— On a related note, Mr. Maeda often openly expresses his love for Tharja in other interviews. How did Tharja* do?

* – She placed third on the official poll among female characters, and 11th overall on the Nintendo Dream overall character poll.

Maeda: Pretty good I think! (Laughs). But, during the polling, not just me but the rest of the in-house staff were frantically flipping between joy and sorrow as we viewed the results and saw where our favorite characters placed.

— It’s been a year since release. Are there any new characters you’ve come to like?

Maeda: Ah, well we did make downloadable content (from now on: DLC), and I feel Morgan became better. I grew more attached to them as we expanded on their character through various episodes.

Challenges with Add-on Content

— Speaking of DLC, up until the release of Awakening, paid DLC was not really a common thing to see in Nintendo games. Was this also a trial run for something new? What was the aim behind it?

Higuchi: Well we wanted to continue bringing attention to Awakening in a big way. After all, a game that is a finished packaged product can no longer be expanded upon. It all just ends when it’s sold.

— In other words, you wanted to lengthen its relevance in players’ minds and get more people to play it?

Higuchi: Yes. Thanks to that, Awakening was picked up by many players. Up until then, the FE series had never really been seen as a money maker for those at Nintendo. So, for example, before we couldn’t really use these characters beyond what was in the original version. But, with DLC, we expanded the lifespan of the game well beyond the initial release version, and were able to tide players over until the next DLC release, and so on.

— I see.

Higuchi: Not only did it expand the game, but it started discussions among players as to how long we would support the game. It brought back players who had completed the game already to play through the story and such again. In that sense, DLC was a great opportunity for us to utilize.

Yokota: On the other hand, we did constantly worry as to what players would think about each distribution in terms of its content and quality. With that in mind, we did have to seriously consider what sort of content to bring the players, and was a constant source of anxiety.

— That’s the sort of challenges that come with a “new” FE, I suppose. But in the end, a lot of people played it and gave them the impression that “Nintendo makes very complete DLC.”

Maeda: We were very thankful to hear them say that. It was our first time working on DLC however, so really was just a matter of trial and error. We decided on DLC only when the game was already near completion, so it was difficult to implement on the technical side of things too.

Yokota: If I recall correctly, we proposed the plan to the others at IS just two months before the project’s completion.

— To implement an experimental feature in such a short amount of time… you all must have felt strongly in favor of it?

Maeda: That’s right. (Looking at the others) Well at first, I think it was only me who felt that way. (Laughs)

The First Round of DLC: Aimed at Past Fans

— Was the first round of DLC (Series 1: Outrealm Talismans), which featured characters from past games, decided on from the start?

Yokota: Yes. When we decided to make add-on DLC, it was part of the proposal to the rest of IS.

Higuchi: It was something we wanted in from the start in order to bring a feeling of joy to past players.

— Having all the characters from the past assemble and meet has been a dream for certain fans for a long time. How did the idea to implement this via Einherjar cards come about?

Kusakihara: The truth is, they weren’t originally cards. Originally, they were just going to appear as the portraits that were used in their past games. That was because right near the end of development, Maeda suddenly said, “I want to add 120 characters.” (Laughs).

All: (Laughs)

Kusakihara: So now we were scrambling to put things together. Pictures from the previous games were pretty different than Awakening’s art style, so they felt out of place, as if they clashed when lined up next to each other. So first, we had to adjust that issue and find a way to standardize them. The idea of the Einherjar card was then born.

— And so, the chain of events from there led to the idea of bringing back various illustrators from the past to draw the characters came to be?

Kusakihara: In the end, we figured that fans would be happy even if we kept differences in the art styles.

— How did you decide on the characters which artists were to draw them?

Higuchi: We prioritized illustrators who had worked with us on previous games before, and had to reach out to them. So, first of them was Ms. Sachiko Wada, who helped us on the GBA title Sacred Stones. Then, Ms. Senri Kita, who participated in Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Then was Eiji Kaneda who worked with us on Binding Blade, and then Mr. Daisuke Izuka who helped on New Mystery of the Emblem. Next, Ms. Rika Suzuki, who had worked on BS Fire Emblem. Lastly, there was Mr. Kotaro Yamada, who had illustrated the manga Hasha no Tsurugi. These were the six we chose to bring back. After that we made offers to new illustrators.

Maeda: That way we would have an air of bringing both old and new together.

— So it seemed all the requested illustrators readily came on board, huh?

Higuchi: Not exactly.

Yokota: A lot of them are such busy people. Many got back to us saying: “That doesn’t really line up well with my schedule.”

— I feel like if you more forcefully mentioned: “You can draw FE illustrations [again]!” they would have consented.

Higuchi: On that note, the artist HACCAN who drew Outrealm Alm for us had come to our attention when he sent a passionate note that basically read: “I’ll do anything to draw for you!”

Yokota: I was involved in a Wii project called Zangeki no Reginleiv which featured HACCAN as head of character design. It was there I heard about his love for FE. So, I proposed: “Let’s make an offer.” Needless to say, he was in great spirits. (Laughs)

Higuchi: We told him “Make two rough sketches for us.” And so he sent us two versions –but they were fully cleaned and colored! They were such amazing pictures, we were like: “What the? This looks like a final product!” (Laughs).

All: (Laugh)

Maeda: Of course there was also Mr. Kozaki who introduced us to illustrators he was acquainted with.

— Quite the flow of events!

Kusakihara: By far the most surprising part is when Mr. Kozaki himself drew Katarina for us as part of the second series of DLC.

— Huh! Mr. Kozaki got to draw the final DLC image? Despite already doing quite a bit during development himself…right?

Kusakihara: Yes. “I’ll draw it” he said. (Laughs)

All: (Laugh)

Yokota: But it really was a nice way to tie it up.

Higuchi: Mr. Kozaki drew various classes and other things up for us during the planning stages, so when he said, “Katarina is a tactician, right?” He had meant he wanted to draw [her as the class he helped design]: The Grandmaster.

Kusakihara: Mr. Kozaki had played New Mystery of the Emblem, and so had an emotional attachment to Katarina as well.

Packing the First DLC to the Limit

— Returning to the subject of the first series of DLC –so characters and classes were chosen from the start, and then left in the hands of the illustrators?

Higuchi: Yes. For example, there were cases where the illustrator would greatly expand upon a vague outline we presented to them, much like Mr. Kozaki had done for us.

— So… that means Outrealm Eirika’s class, “Bride,” was decided from the start.

Maeda: Well the Bride [class] came first, not Eirika as one.

— So that means she was based on the aforementioned Bride class, then.

Maeda: Well, yes. (Laughs)

Kusakihara: It was quite the shock. (Laughs)

Yokota: And since there was this Bride, there was no more room to fit other things in the DLC. So with tears in my eyes, I had to begin cutting things out.

Maeda: As such, if there was a short list of regrets we had for this game, that sort of class [and circumstance] may have been one of them.

Yokota: On the bright side, it does show we packed in as much content as we could. All the way to the limit.

Maeda: That’s true. We used every technique we had in the book to fill it all up.

Higuchi: Since it was the first time we were implementing DLC in such a way, it was hard to decide what to do first, or how much of it to do, and how long to do it for. Deciding on those the first time really was really tough.

Yokota: Back then, even thinking of doing a second wave would’ve seemed out of the question. We never imagined we actually would do so.

The Second Round of DLC: Aimed at Awakening Fans

— On that subject, what sort of concept did you have in mind when creating the second series of paid DLC (Path of a Grandmaster)?

Higuchi: It was developed specifically for those who enjoyed Awakening, whereas series one was developed for fans of the past games.

— Mr. Yokota mentioned just moments ago about how the second series was not planned from the start?

Higuchi: Yes. (Flatly) It wasn’t.

Yokota: We saw the response to the first wave of DLC, and so we decided to work with that concept for the second series just one month after the first’s completion.

Higuchi: We announced the second series of DLC with an image.

— Yes. The illustration with Lucina in her swimsuit. I remember being rather surprised!

Higuchi: That illustration was concept art for the second series, and in truth, was actually the front cover of our proposal. It wasn’t something the players were meant to see. But, of course, there was talk about people wanting to use it as an announcement picture. (Laughs). In fact, we brought that picture with us today. (Takes out the illustration).

— Oh wow! Thank you very much! Taking a closer look at it, you can really see all sorts of other details and meanings behind this image, huh? (Laughs).

Yokota: This picture shows all the things we wanted to put in if we were given a chance to work on Awakening again. It is the embodiment of what could have been depicted by a single image. (Laughs)

— So you felt there were still some things that were incomplete?

Maeda: Not exactly “incomplete,” but there are things that could’ve been expanded upon. Whether it is things to add to the original story, or hearing echoes of what else we could have done for the first series of DLC, there were strong feelings all around about it.

— So it was a way you wanted to respond to player feedback?

Maeda: That’s right. In the first series, there were those who wanted even more beloved characters, or a story to look forward to with it, or a more challenging strategy experience. We wanted to make something that could fit all those different preferences. So, thanks to this feedback we received from the first series, we were able to implement some of these things into the second series instead.

Limitations in Swimwear, Yukata, and New Classes

— (While staring at the illustration): Nevertheless, this picture had quite the impact didn’t it?

Kusakihara: The second series featured plenty of things to look forward to, such as more difficult FE gameplay, conversations, and three full chapters featuring the “Future of Despair.” You can see, in the lower half of the picture, that Chrom and the Avatar are shown facing off against powerful, giant zombies. In this way, the front cover does depict all the sorts of things to expect from the second series.

Indeed it was all there from the beginning. However, while we can understand that the “Future of Despair” will be featured due to this image, how are we supposed to get the impression of conversations [to look forward to] by depicting swimsuits?

Kusakihara: When thinking about how to make people have fun conversations, we thought: “Wouldn’t a situation involving swimsuits work?” So that sort of plan came about.

Maeda: In addition, we built the conversation around the theme of “bonds,” while also taking the popularity poll results into consideration. We wanted to do something special for the characters that ranked highest at the time, and figured giving them special artworks may be a good idea. We thought about what kind of pictures would be best, and came to the conclusion that swimsuits and yukata would be best. Maid outfits were also under deep consideration, but we felt [the other two] were closer to our original proposal [so were not implemented].

Yokota: Regarding the special illustrations, since the second series did not feature the Einherjar cards, people could look forward to these instead.

Higuchi: However, despite Lucina being depicted in a swimsuit on the announcement picture, she actually ended up in a yukata rather than a swimsuit.

— Certain classes fighting in swimsuits and yukata were pretty interesting. How did you decide on which classes would change?

Kusakihara: It depended on the graphic of the class itself, as well as whether it would fit in the wider world [of FE]. There were some designs that could have worked, but the Sorcerer design we felt was the best fit. The Swordmaster design’s outfit meanwhile already resembled Japanese style clothing, and so fit the image for that best too. (Points at Lucina on the proposal illustration): At that time we didn’t think about all that, though, and so Lucina ended up in those red strings.

Yokota: Yeah. A lot of people agreed: “Stringed bikinis don’t really fit in this world”

Maeda: Despite that, after the DLC released, we were called out for the scene involving Tharja in her swimsuit. “This is way too lewd!” we heard.

Yokota: The people around me said: “You seem to be paralyzed! (From having OK’d this)!”

All: (Laugh)

Kusakihara: But it actually had to do with the rating systems. So in North America, they chose to hide part of Tharja’s swimsuit.

Maeda: But in their efforts to conceal it, we heard it ended up being taken as even more suggestive…

All: (Laugh)

*TN- North American version they were referring to can be seen here.

Conflict between Conservatives and Reformists Even in the DLC!

— I’m under the impression that the second series of DLC had a much greater impact than the first.

Kusakihara: That impression probably comes front the front cover of the proposal alone.

Meada: To make it so impactful, Higuchi was still looking at it from the “extreme FE conservative” standpoint for us.

— Even though it was aimed at current players of Awakening, you still intended to protect what was deemed “Emblem-like,” then? Does that mean you were still troubled when it came to the second series of DLC, Mr. Higuchi?

Higuchi: (Vigorously): Of course I was! Very much. So first I proposed harder maps, as well as the “Future of Despair” maps. I said if we do these sorts of things then I’d give the OK for this new round. But then in the end, out of nowhere came these “bonds” maps! I got pretty upset. (Laughs)

— Those swimsuits? (Laughs)

Higuchi: I said “Let me think for a couple of days.” (Laughs) However, I thought about it, and wanted the DLC to of course be something that, in the end, would have various things for players to look forward to. Those who wanted a serious story and look into the time period Lucina and her group had come from could enjoy the “Future of Despair.” Those who wanted a strategic challenge could look forward to could enjoy “Apotheosis.” When I thought about it that way, I figured I was probably better off just letting my troubles and worries go. So after two days of mulling about, I got up on my feet, and went to have a talk with the people at Nintendo…

Yokota: (Nonchalantly) And he said “I’m perfectly OK now.”

All: (Laugh)

Maeda: So, finally the Higuchi who said “This is going way too far” was able to work in harmony with the rest of us.

Kusakihara: Since it is DLC, it is often unclear what exactly it consists of until after its downloaded. To avoid such misunderstandings, we worked tirelessly on updating the official webpage with announcements. We wrote things like “Recommended for people who like ____.” We took people who may not be fond of the swimsuits into consideration too, addressing all those little things.

Maeda: The maps we made to be more difficult were too hard for even some of the development staff to complete. So we wanted to convey just how difficult those maps were, too.

— So hard that success is not guaranteed at all.

Maeda: Of course, despite that sort of difficulty, the maps certainly can be cleared. So it was a great challenge to present to players.

Kusakihara: During development, I saw the staff in charge of adjusting balance approach Maeda and say, “Can anyone even clear this?!” (Laughs)

Maeda: That was something. Eventually, two of the people in charge of balance and I were able to clear it. At first, it certainly was a case of “Who the heck can clear this?!” But then when we did clear it, it was like “Oh I cleared it.” and suddenly it didn’t seem too hard. (Laughs)

— I know that feeling.

Maeda: So from there we tried making it even harder. (Laughs) It’s how we went about streamlining it.

— Truly a challenge from the staff!

Maeda: Indeed, it’s a map that serves that kind of purpose.

— But, at its core, it is a response from the developers to what the fans wanted, delivering it through the second series of DLC, right? Like a game of catch between the developer and player.

Maeda: Thank you very much. That’s what I was going for.

The Players’ Voices Grow Louder with Awakening

Yokota: Anyway, I believe this is our first experience doing a first year anniversary interview.

Higuchi: Indeed, we haven’t got to do any until now. I feel it is the fruits of our labor after continuous years of hard work. This past year, beyond the incredible response from players, magazines like Nintendo Dream allowed readers to also participate and keep us quite visible, for which we are very thankful. … I’m tempted to give you this FE illustration, even. (Laughs).

— (Laughs). It was a year both Nintendo Dream readers and players enjoyed alike. To finish this off, please say some final things to all the people who played this game. If you would please, Mr. Yokota and Mr. Higuchi.

Yokota: Thank you very much. It has been a whole year, and yet just the other day the Sound CD was released, and the Tharja figure was shown at Wonder Festival. In this way, the world of Awakening continues to expand [even now]. We hope you continue to enjoy all things Awakening!

Higuchi: I have seen all sorts of responses from the players, and am extremely happy and grateful for all who played and enjoyed the game. The year went by fast! With things like DLC, you all can continue to enjoy this game that is a climax jam-packed with a culmination of things from the series’ past. Thank you all very much!

— Thank you all very much.

Maeda: If it’s alright, I’d like to say one last thing.

— Of course, please go ahead!

Maeda: It is not an exaggeration at all when I say this: It is thanks to all of you who played Awakening that this series can continue. I mean it. From the bottom of my heart, a great big thank you to all of you who picked up this game.


There’s a lot to take away from this. It’s always fun looking back on things. Maid outfits for instance we know ended up in Fates, so you can see how a lot of ideas carried forward in retrospect!

Please note: If you see any errors in spelling or terminology, please tell me in the comments below so I can correct it as soon as possible.

I hope this comes in handy as a source for when referencing Awakening in future discussions.

This interview took some hours of valuable free time to transcribe/translate/edit… but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to bring this all to you. Please support me by donating if you’re feeling generous! : ) It helps support my passion.

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2 thoughts on “Fire Emblem Awakening: Nintendo Dream First Year Anniversary Developer Interview (June 2013)

  1. Pingback: Awakening: 1st Anniversary Interview from 2013 - Serenes Forest

  2. Pingback: Nintendo news (May 29): Splatoon 2 x Tower Records (JP) / Ever Oasis demo / Fire Emblem Awakening - Perfectly Nintendo

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