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The origins of Fire Emblem, shared in a classic interview with its creator

"I call it 'roleplaying simulation.' It’s a new genre," Fire Emblem's Shouzou Kaga said in a recently-translated 1990 chat. "I wanted to create a game where the player could get more emotionally invested."
"I wanted to create a game where the story and game will develop differently for each player depending on the units they use. Thus I added the strategy elements and arrived at this hybrid system."

- Fire Emblem creator Shouzou Kaga.

Back in 1990, Intelligent Systems and Nintendo released the first in what would become an influential series of turn-based tactical games: Fire Emblem for the Famicom. 

26 years later, Shmuplations has published translations of both a 1990 interview with original Fire Emblem designer Shouzou Kaga and a 1994 joint interview between Kaga and Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakagachi that were originally published in Japanese. Both offer notable insight into the state of Japanese game development in the '90s, though the latter is more lighthearted and genial.

For example, Kaga notes at one point that "in the beginning, the Final Fantasy series had a bit of a 'hardcore' reputation in some ways, but those elements have been progressively refined. On that point, I think I have a lot to learn myself from studying them."

In response, Sakaguchi acknowledges that "When Fire Emblem came out for the Famicom, it was made a big impression on us at Square. Everyone wanted to know what kind of game it was. Back then there was nothing like it, and I would say its closer to an RPG than a simulation game. So at Square, when it came out, we bought it right away, and everyone gathered together to play and study it."

Kaga seems to agree, and indeed in Shmuplations' translation of the 1990 interview with him following Fire Emblem''s launch, he paints his work on the game as a three-year effort to create what was then (to him, at least) a new genre.

"I call it 'roleplaying simulation.' It’s a new genre," said Kaga. "Basically, it’s a strategy game. But strategy games typically are kind of 'hardcore' and dry. (laughs) You only care about winning or losing the battle, and there’s no space for the player to empathize with the characters or story. I love strategy games like that too, but I also love RPGs. By adding RPG elements, I wanted to create a game where the player could get more emotionally invested in what’s happening."

These conversations, more than two decades old, are especially interesting to read when you consider the influence the Fire Emblem games have had on a generation of game developers. You can read both interviews in full over on Shmuplations.

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