"I remember you saying, 'We will make sure that we don't have any regrets.'"
- Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, speaking to Fire Emblem developer Hitoshi Yamagami
The Fire Emblem franchise was introduced during the NES era, but didn't make it to the West until the 2000s, and globally, its sales had begun to dwindle too far by the time the 3DS came around.
At that point, it was slated to be cancelled -- after one last game: Fire Emblem: Awakening.
"The Emblem series isn't making the numbers, so this is going to be the last one," a Nintendo sales exec told the team, as revealed in a new Iwata Asks interview published by the company alongside the Japanese release of the series' latest installment, Fire Emblem: Fates.
The team's response to that mandate? "'This is going to be the last one, so let's put in everything we want so we don't have any regrets.' Then we had a big list of different things, 'I want to do this' and 'I wanna do this,' and the result was Awakening," says Nintendo producer Hitoshi Yamagami.
Awakening was, consequently, well-loved for its high quality, and became the best-selling game in the franchise in some time -- especially in the West, where it really caught on. This success also means that the series reached its 25th anniversary intact -- the first installment of the franchise hit Japan in 1990.
The result? "We were able to make a big comeback. It became the bestselling game in the Emblem series overseas," says Nintendo president and CEO, Satoru Iwata.
The consequence of burning brightly -- and expecting to make the last game in the franchise -- meant that the team had "used up" most of its ideas on Awakening. But then a request came in for a new title based on that success -- which created a panic but then resulted in the ambitious Fire Emblem: Fates, which is out now in Japan and due in the West next year. The game offers three full-length scenarios across three different releases.
The full Iwata Asks interview goes into more depth on the game, its development process, and in particular the team's collaboration with writer Shin Kibayashi, a prolific creator of manga, TV, and even kabuki theater. This is his first major game project.