Roundtable Discussion – I Want to Ask Shouzou Kaga-san About This!
Taken from: Fire Emblem Genealogy of the Holy War Fan Special
*This interview contains spoilers for the entirety of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Please take note before reading on!
Three passionate fans of ‘Fire Emblem’ who have been playing since the start of the series, and have also been active in doujin circles creating fan content for the series, have been gathered for a roundtable discussion. They have already completed their first playthrough, not long after the release of the game; here, they discuss their shocked and confused reactions towards the new game, as well as bring up many burning questions from a fan’s perspective. The contents of the roundtable discussion was then sent to Shouzou Kaga, the creator of the series, who then provided his passionate comments as he reacted with understanding, and sometimes with wry laughter.
Hijiku Tsukamoto (塚本ひじく):
The admin of the fan circle ‘Edisons’ (えぢそんず), which revolves around Fire Emblem and other games, as well as a series veteran with many loyal fans, who has helped in organising Fire Emblem-only fan events.
Ken Heuga (へうがけん) and Mamoru Satonaka (里中守):
They operate mainly in the Kansai Region, under the fan circle named ‘Navarre Kouta¹‘ (ナバール小唄). They have also done various design-related work, as well as manga that have been serialised in the Kirara 16 magazine.
Shouzou Kaga (加賀昭三): A game designer from Intelligent Systems who birthed and directed the Fire Emblem series.
–The roundtable discussion starts off with a sense of bewilderment going into the new game!
Heuga: At any rate, the game was chaotic right from the start. The battles just never end, and you barely even have any breathing room.
*This game is one step crazier than the previous entries
Kaga’s comment: The game mechanics and story being difficult to decipher is a result of my own preferences, since I’ve always liked things like board games and war simulators. From the very start of the series, I had zero intention of creating a game that would be easy to play. This game is one step crazier than the previous entries, so the difficulty curve might be steep for players. However, it wasn’t my intention to make it purposely confusing.
I had originally intended for this game to be separate from the ‘Fire Emblem’ series thus far…kind of like a different game, while still belonging to the same overall group; however, it ended up as a ‘Fire Emblem’ title due to various factors, which might explain how the game turned out. Fire Emblem, as a game series, has a large number of female fans, but I wanted to consider that factor separately from the strategy component of the game.
The ‘Emblem’ games up till now have featured stories centered on the legends of heroes, but in this game, the history and the world take center stage. In other words, you can think of it as a Taiga drama; we get to view the game’s events from a different perspective as opposed to the previous games.
Satonaka: Yeah, and things get even more frantic once the bandits start burning the villages down.
Tsukamoto: Like you get all “GOOO! HURRY!”, I guess? (laughs)
Satonaka: But I find it interesting when the ‘Talk’ command pops up. The other characters help to explain what’s going on.
Heuga: That was great, it really helps in organising the points in your head.
Tsukamoto: But I have to say, playing this game really takes up a lot of time.
Satonaka: Yeah, especially since you can’t really do it leisurely, you have to be serious while playing this (laughs).
Kaga’s comment: Since the aim of this game is to showcase its history and world, the maps were made larger as a result, to illustrate its larger scale.
However, it doesn’t mean that the ‘Fire Emblem’ series as a whole will be continuing in this direction, and I don’t think it’s necessarily the most fitting direction in the eyes of the fans as well. I would like to give this further thought as I work on the series in the future.
Heuga: You can spend an entire day playing and finish maybe one chapter, or even less than that.
Satonaka: It’s hard to just save and leave when you’re halfway through a chapter.
Tsukamoto: Yeah, since you might forget what you were supposed to do when you come back to it later. If I take a day to sit down and play for 12 hours, I might feel like I did make progress, but if you played it bit by bit…
Satonaka: If you played just 2 hours a day, even if you did it every day, it’d still take you close to 3 months to complete (laughs).
Tsukamoto: There are lots of people out there who hope to achieve a perfect clear of the game right from the start.
Heuga: It’s the kind of game where, even if I received advice to just “play as you go along for your first playthrough”, I’d still insist on clearing the game perfectly no matter what (laughs).
Heuga: Does this game have a ‘true ending’?
Kaga’s comment: If you’re talking about the way the story concludes, then no, there’s no ‘true ending’, though the details of what happens to whom are another story.
The ending does change a little if you get an A in overall ranking, but it’s not something I’d count as a separate ending.
Satonaka: If there is, I’d guess things like forgetting to recruit certain characters or leaving characters dead might factor into whether you get the ending?
Tsukamoto: Also, I wonder if clearing the game but with another save file would count as ‘clearing the game twice’?
*Who is the heroine of the game?
Kaga’s comment: There isn’t really any one ‘heroine’ of the game, generally speaking. Everyone has their strengths and flaws, and no character is perfect; through this, I wanted to illustrate the precarious nature of humans.
Tsukamoto: There weren’t really any maps where I thought, ‘Oh, this map was easy’.
Satonaka: I thought it got easier Chapter 6 onwards, but Chapters 4 and 5 were hell.
Tsukamoto: I wouldn’t say Chapter 10 and the Final Chapter were particularly hard strategy-wise, but they were time-consuming. The maps didn’t have defining features that really popped out, and instead there were just lots of castles.
*Look at it from a macro-level
Kaga’s comment: Having similar-looking maps that stretch on is nothing new in strategy games, but I realise it might have been hard on ‘Fire Emblem’ fans.
Archanea, the setting in which ‘Mystery of the Emblem’ took place, is a world with a large variety of maps. However, because of the large region acting as the stage for this game, it wouldn’t do for the maps to differ from each other too heavily in colouration.
I had things that I absolutely wanted to portray and do with this game, so…before everything else, I made this game with it being a strategy simulation game in mind.
In the previous game, we saw the world on a micro-level through Marth’s eyes, but in this game, I wanted to portray a large world which contains the thoughts and perspectives of many people.
Heuga: The last two chapters had about the same number of castles each, not to mention a huge swarm of enemies.
Tsukamoto: Having four castles in the same map forces you to change your strategy to adapt, but also creates extra work for the player.
Satonaka: I love how the drama unfolds in those chapters, but the maps… (laughs)
Tsukamoto: It’s hard for units with low movement to gain levels as well.
Heuga: The maps in the previous game featured locales like hills or courtyards where mages could move forward steadily, which made up for their handicap in movement, but which are absent in this game. Units with high movement are always ahead, while those with low movement are always behind. It would’ve been great to be able to change each unit’s movement, or at least allow them to exchange equipment with each other, so that we only have to move the horses to and fro if we wanted to switch our units’ equipment.
Kaga’s comment: Although the game did turn out to be quite cavalry-centric, I don’t think it absolutely has to be the case while playing. It’s still up to the player how they want to play the game.
Tsukamoto: In the previous game, cavalry units were significantly weaker while fighting inside of castles.
Heuga: That was nicely balanced.
Satonaka: Since the maps are so huge, there have been times where I left units behind and forgot where I placed them (laughs). But it’s awesome that dancers can refresh units in all four directions.
Heuga: You’re right. It does help units with lower movement to catch up, but you can only do it once per turn.
Tsukamoto: On the other hand, I think that the sheer amount of castles on each map can also be considered one of the strong points of this game’s maps. I wish the maps were more elaborate in detail to bring that out.
Kaga’s comment: It might have become less fun this way, but this game is a little lighter on RPG elements due to the theme of the game.
The focus of this game is its large world and employing tactics on a large scale, that’s why I didn’t pay as much attention to detail in the smaller, individual parts. However, this is just for this game, and if I were to create continuations of previous entries, I would go back to the style I had used for them.
Trying to portray the feeling of a large world, while paying attention to and adding little details on a smaller scale…it’s hard to do both at the same time, since you’ll end up compromising on your main focus if you work too much on the other.
Tsukamoto: The battle animations have improved a lot. When you’re battling in a forest, the background changes to reflect that.
Kaga’s comment: Up till now, there weren’t really any ‘continuous’ fights in ‘Fire Emblem’. Even in the arena, each fight would take place individually instead of all together at once.
For this game, since we had to think about the effects of skills, the battle animations were redone in order to showcase continuity and change. However, I do not think that this was the best that we could have done…maybe just 50 or 60 points out of 100. It didn’t come close to the ideal I had imagined at all, but we just have to continue working on it.
In the future, I hope to be able to showcase animations that are constantly changing and fun to watch, such that you’d feel that you can’t take your eyes off the animation up to the very last second…
For me, the ideal animation would be one that would be different every time you view it, or one that exhibits each character’s uniqueness.
Heuga: It feels like their actions even change according to what kind of sword they’re wielding.
Tsukamoto: And it even differs from character to character.
Heuga: I kind of want to ask which animations you’d recommend people to watch the most.
Kaga’s comment: The pegasus knights’ critical animations include this slipping-through action, which I thought was nice. It’s a favourite of mine.
Tsukamoto: The horses have really cool movements, and even have different patterns of evading attacks. Even when a unit is just using a Heal staff, their horse’s legs would shift and stand in place…that left a strong impression on me.
Satonaka: Even though those animations don’t usually take up a lot of time…I remember there being some magic spells whose animations were oddly long.
Kaga’s comment: Smaller magic like Fire have quicker animations, while larger, riskier magic have longer animations.
In any case, I hope to be able to polish in-battle animations further in this direction in the future.
Tsukamoto: I wonder if there’s any pattern to how the enemies attack in this game?
Heuga: True, there were times where the enemies just seem to come at you randomly from all over the place.
Satonaka: On the other hand, I’ve also had instances where the enemies seemed to focus their attacks more. I wonder if their patterns are random?
Tsukamoto: I can’t tell if the enemy AI is smart or stupid in this case (laughs).
Kaga’s comment: That’s the enemy AI being made to be stupid on purpose.
If the enemy leader has less leadership stars, then their subordinates will act stupidly as well. Since Eldigan for example is a skilled commander, his troops were also made strong to match.
Satonaka: In this game, the enemies don’t necessarily aim for injured units. Maybe it has to do with the units’ defense?
Tsukamoto: Accuracy might play a part as well.
Tsukamoto: Looks like we have to pay even more attention to the game’s world and setting from now on (laughs).
Heuga: I managed to figure out the power relations between the characters at least.
Tsukamoto: It gave me the sense that someone behind this game was insanely into creating this game’s worldbuilding.
Kaga’s comment: That was all me, so it’s not the others who were insane about it.
Heuga: Maybe there was someone in the team who was really into the naming as well.
Tsukamoto: Even though the game is named ‘Fire Emblem’, the Fire Emblem itself didn’t appear much in this game. Does this game have completely no relation to the previous titles, even through ancestors of characters and such?
Kaga’s comment: Since this game wasn’t intended to be part of the Fire Emblem series at first, the Fire Emblem was only included later so as to give significance to the title; that’s why it doesn’t really have much meaning in this game. After all, the Fire Emblem was originally the emblem of Archanea. You can think of this game as a sort of side-story to the other games.
Kaga’s comment: This game is set in the same world as Archanea from ‘Mystery of the Emblem’. This continent exists in the same world as Archanea, but the two do not interact. Think of it as how Asia and Europe were 1000 years ago.
Bishop Galle travelling to Archanea and attaining Loptyr’s power is one of the only interactions between the two continents; he probably visited Archanea as part of his travels. Archanea was where dragonkind prospered.
Heuga: The ‘Genealogy’ part of the title is definitely there, though. Come to think of it, you know the scene in the opening where Arvis goes, “All units, close in!”? Where was that scene set?
*It is, in fact, that tragic scene
Kaga’s comment: It’s a scene taken from the final moments of Chapter 5; I guess it might’ve been hard for players to tell, since Arvis’s portrayal in that scene did not appear directly linked to that tragic event. Fans of Arvis might not want to imagine that scene to be the same as that unfortunate event, so we thought to leave it up to interpretation.
Tsukamoto: Right, when you clear the game, scenes such as Alec and Naoise sparring get added to the opening.
Satonaka: Does that mean more new scenes will show up each time we clear the game?
Heuga: I wish the game mechanics would improve or something upon clearing the game as well (laughs). Like being able to select the ‘Give’ command between two men, for example?
Satonaka: Speaking of the ‘Give’ command, it would’ve been great if we could select how much gold we wanted to give.
*The theme is ‘the bonds between people’
Kaga’s comment: The theme behind this mechanic is human relationships; I wanted to portray the significance of inheritance, as well as how family members and lovers help one another. The inconvenience of this mechanic was precisely because I wanted players to share the joy of the characters when they receive something. However, taking into consideration the relationships between close friends we see throughout, I think it would’ve been better if we could incorporate a mechanic for ‘close friends’ as well.
The inability to select the exact amount of funds to give was a problem we were aware of during development, but it was ultimately left out because we thought it might be too troublesome for players to input the amounts. But I do find myself sometimes thinking that it might’ve been better if we had included it.
Heuga: The maximum amount of gold you can carry being 50000 seems a bit small, since you hit that limit so easily…I guess it’s because this is the first time money is being introduced as a resource belonging to individual units.
Satonaka: On the topic of characters, I feel as if the portraits of the characters in the Leonster family have a neater look to them (laughs).
Heuga: You do get the feeling that the outfits worn within each country have some unifying elements to them.
Kaga’s comment: I did take that into consideration.
Grannvale was based on Germany, Agustria on France, Thracia on Romance countries like Spain, and Silesse on Scandinavian countries like Sweden. Isaach was based on Central Asia, while Verdane was based on barbarian nations, such as Persia².
Thracia was modeled after Spain, while Leonster, in the north, was modeled after Italy. That’s why Leonster appears more highly-civilised and polished in comparison.
Tsukamoto: I’ve heard people say that they can’t unsee the outfit that Lewyn wears in the second generation being a kappougi…it’s amusing to think of stories behind these too.
Kaga’s comment: Let’s just leave it as ‘that’s probably how the dragons traditionally dress’ (laughs).
Tsukamoto: Regarding Sigurd, the first protagonist we play as in the game…
Heuga: At first, I thought, “Do we not have to raise and level him up?”, but as a unit he actually remained a big help throughout.
Satonaka: He’s also completely the kind of person who falls for looks (laughs).
Heuga: He and Deirdre were unusually smitten with each other from the moment they met. Is there any explanation for that?
Kaga’s comment: There were more stages leading to the deepening of their love during the planning stages, but we had no choice but to cut it down to the way it is due to balance and other factors.
Although Sigurd is the protagonist, he is also heavily flawed, his aforementioned love included. He is also extremely naïve, even compared to Seliph. The tragedy would not have happened were he a more competent person.
Tsukamoto: It seems like love at first sight.
Satonaka: Forget Arvis, Sigurd’s case felt more as if he was under the effects of some strange spell…Deirdre, what a fearsome woman.
Heuga: Sigurd was bulky, powerful, and had great movement; using him made you feel safe.
Tsukamoto: Even though from the start I knew we’d have to say goodbye to him at some point…to see the characters meet their end while being unable to do anything about their fate…
When we say that we want to bring this character to the final chapter, it’s because we’re emotionally attached to them, so I found it slightly harder to form emotional attachments to characters I knew we wouldn’t be able to bring to the final battle.
Kaga’s comment: Sigurd’s chapter was meant simply to be foreshadowing, leading up to Seliph’s chapter.
None of the characters are perfect; all of them have flaws because it is human nature, and it is precisely because of their flaws that they meet the fates that they do. The enemies are by no means the only ones with evil in their hearts.
The previous entries were based on Greek and Roman mythology, and had a lighter tone to them. Conversely, this game takes inspiration from Norse and Celtic mythology.
For example, Deirdre is actually the name of a woeful woman from Celtic mythology who was subjected to the whims of fate. Those who are familiar with her tale should be able to see the connections. Other names taken from mythology include Tailtiu and Erinys, as well as Naoise, Alec, and Arden³. I took inspiration from Norse and Celtic mythology while crafting the characters’ backgrounds and appearances as well; I wanted to create a sort of modernised retelling of old legends and myths.
Grannvale, as a country, takes inspiration from Germany and Scandinavia, in other words Germanic countries and culture. Which makes the name ‘Sigurd’ a fitting name for the protagonist (laughs).
Sigurd was named after Siegfried.
Kaga’s comment: I personally believe that forming emotional attachments isn’t the be-all-end-all of playing a game, that’s why.
I wanted to illustrate as vividly as I could the weight of losing even one human life.
Satonaka: I found myself liking Quan and Ethlyn a lot.
Heuga: The way they died just hurts even more after you grow to like them.
Satonaka: Especially when you have to bid farewell to them after raising them for three chapters. Did the game go into detail regarding the legend about the Tragedy of the Gáe Bolg? I wonder what kind of legend that was.
Kaga’s comment: The Gáe Bolg and Gungnir are counterparts to one another. The legend has to do with the history of the Thracian Peninsula, and goes that the siblings who once worked together to establish the country ended up in conflict with each other.
By including the existence of legends like these, I wanted to reinforce the extent of this world’s scale. Not only that, this legend was put in to help hint at the history of Thracia as well, somewhat like Artemis’s Curse in the previous entries.
Tsukamoto: Maybe it’s something like Artemis’s Curse in the previous games?
Satonaka: Not to mention Ethlyn receiving gifts from other girls…she’s like a ladykiller.
Heuga: So she’s like a Takarazuka actress in a male role⁴? She has a gentle personality, but also a tomboyish side.
Kaga’s comment: Ethlyn being tomboyish comes from anecdotes of her as a child. Since she is a woman of noble birth, I would think she would’ve changed after marrying Quan, so it’s not as if she necessarily retains her tomboyish qualities.
Deirdre isn’t the most sophisticated woman, so Ethlyn might be closer to a traditional heroine instead; at least, that’s how I had planned it. Actually, in Chapter 5, it’s possible to have Ethlyn be killed after Quan, depending on their stats at that point. You might achieve it if you, say, trained Ethlyn up a whole lot while not training Quan at all…
Tsukamoto: Maybe the intent was to make her similar to Caeda from the previous games?
Heuga: By the way, I’ve been wondering, why did Quan bring Finn with him when Finn’s still just a knight-in-training?
Kaga’s comment: Finn was orphaned after his parents passed away; basically, he and Oifey are in similar situations. He’s like a page in terms of ranking. The reason Finn is brought to battle may also partly be due to his own wishes to join in.
The size of the troops in reality would be larger than what is shown in-game; there’s no way Sigurd’s army consists only of the characters you control. Similarly, Finn would be but one of the hundreds of subordinates led by Quan.
Heuga: I liked Eldigan too. He scores really high on looks (laughs).
Kaga’s comment: The position he’s in resembles Camus’s from the previous games.
Each person has flaws of their own, and while Eldigan is great as a person, his over-conscientiousness was his flaw. Basically, he’s just too straight-laced. Seeing this, I thought the players might go, “Why don’t we get to recruit him?”, and that’s exactly why Ares was created, especially since Sigurd’s chapter is just foreshadowing for Seliph’s chapter. This might also be the reason behind Ares’s popularity.
There are a lot of fixed events in the first generation that players don’t get a say in, so Seliph’s chapter was also made to dispel those dissatisfactions from the first generation.
Satonaka: He’s a character that really sticks in your head. I was looking forward to when we could recruit him…
Heuga: And then he dies just like that.
Satonaka: It was a shock (laughs).
Tsukamoto: And the scene where Chagall goes, “Parade his shame before the world!”, I bet he’d actually go through with it.
Satonaka: I wouldn’t be surprised, Eldigan seems like the kind of person people would be jealous of.
Tsukamoto: Edain seems pretty popular with the guys too.
*Edain’s the type of person who’s indifferent about romance
Kaga’s comment: Edain is a ‘heroine-type’ character.
While I won’t say I intended for Sigurd to feel the same way, Edain feels friendship for Sigurd due to the time they spent together as childhood friends. Her courters are only interested in her romantically, so Sigurd may be one of the only ones she holds respect for. Edain is Edain, and she’s not really the type to be head-over-heels in love, not to mention that she also has her own goal of searching for her elder sister.
Satonaka: She’s gorgeous.
Heuga: When I started playing, I thought she was pretty, but then Brigid showed up and she got upstaged (laughs). Maybe that’s why Edain isn’t so popular.
Kaga’s comment: Brigid is a personal favourite, actually. I love the powerful lines she has in her battle conversation with her younger brother Andorey as well.
Tsukamoto: Especially since Brigid is stronger in battle too.
Tsukamoto: Naoise didn’t end up with anyone in my game.
Kaga’s comment: Right, he’s barely in any events. He’s like Cain from the previous games, a character who walks the righteous path of a knight. In a way, he kind of reeks of masculinity. Naoise, Alec, and Arden are like ‘transparent’ characters who don’t carry any special bloodlines or outstanding stats, like Cain, Abel, and Draug from the previous games. They weren’t given any backstory either.
Heuga: He didn’t really have any conversations with the female characters, I think. Maybe he was put there for the fans? (laughs)
Tsukamoto: He does look quite dashing.
Heuga: But he’s so weak (laughs).
Satonaka: I didn’t want to sell off the Iron Sword Alec comes with at the start to someone else, so I kept it with him…in my heart I always called him the “fine-tune man”, because he does like 4 damage (laughs).
Satonaka: Oh, and there’s Arden, too.
Tsukamoto: He has a great-looking face. And a nice haircut too (laughs).
Heuga: Finn seems like a popular character.
Kaga’s comment: Finn’s a weak character combat-wise, so it’s very possible for him to end up dying quickly if the player doesn’t use him carefully enough. He also comes with the Miracle skill.
Finn has an earnest character. He is fiercely loyal to Quan, as well as to Ethlyn albeit in a different sense, even if he doesn’t really put it into words. You can tell from how he treats Leif as well. While he’d be about 34-35 years old in Seliph’s chapter, I didn’t want to age his appearance like I did for Oifey.
Tsukamoto: I liked him too.
Satonaka: ‘Miracle’ is a wonderful skill.
Heuga: It’s hard to pair him up…or should I say, he doesn’t really have any love interests in particular (laughs).
Satonaka: Even in Chapter 2, he wasn’t attracted to anyone.
Heuga: Finn’s the only character that’s playable as a unit in both Sigurd’s and Seliph’s chapters, right?
Satonaka: He’s an unlucky guy…for some reason I can never forget the instance when he got his money stolen by thieves (laughs).
*Altena and Finn’s reunion
Kaga’s comment: Altena resembles Ethlyn, after all…Finn has a strong sense of admiration for Ethlyn. Not in a romantic way, more of looking up to her as an elder sister figure.
Tsukamoto: Azelle was my strongest unit in Sigurd’s chapter.
Kaga’s comment: This is just my personal opinion, but I feel that Azelle loves Arvis a lot. However, because Arvis is such a distant figure who’s so far beyond his reach, it pains Azelle when he is with Arvis. It doesn’t help that there’s a large age gap, about 7 years, between them.
Arvis is a highly capable person, and is to Azelle not only an elder brother but also a father figure. Although Azelle harbours great respect and love for his brother, he also feels suffocated by him…possibly because of Arvis’s Loptyr blood…which is probably why he ran away from home. However, I still believe Azelle’s love for Arvis remained unchanged.
Sigurd is a highly flawed person, so when Azelle says “He’s nothing like Arvis” when he meets Sigurd, it was because Arvis was closer to a ‘perfect being’ than Sigurd was.
Heuga: It was awesome that he turned into a mounted mage upon promotion.
Satonaka: His initial 5 Movement was painful to deal with though…I wished it was 6 at least.
Heuga: No matter how much you try to rush him forward, he’d always be just 1 tile short…but he did a complete 180 once he got his horse (laughs).
Satonaka: It’s great being able to hit and run.
Heuga: Promoting him was really worth the effort. A certain someone else, on the other hand… (laughs)
Tsukamoto: Are you referring to Lex? Even though I promoted him, I had so many units that I barely used him in the end.
Kaga’s comment: His father isn’t a very likeable person, and his elder brother is similar to his father in this regard. He might’ve found it difficult to live in the Dozel family as a result. Azelle and Lex were both outcasts in the noble families they came from, which might’ve allowed them to relate to each other better. However, I think Lex is even more of a misfit in his family, and he continues to change over the course of the battles.
Heuga: By the way, Lester and Lex resemble each other a lot for some reason.
Kaga’s comment: Although the children are determined by their mothers in the final game, the initial plan was to decide each pairing’s children based on both the father and mother. However, we couldn’t implement that no matter how hard we tried due to capacity limitations, and so it ended up the way it is right now. Since some of the children were taken from those we had originally created before having to cut them down, you might find that some children actually resemble someone else. Of course, some of the current children characters were recreated from scratch as well.
Tsukamoto: Now that you mention it, are Claud and Silvia siblings? I didn’t really pay it much attention while playing.
Kaga’s comment: There are people who consider Claud and Silvia siblings, as well as people who don’t. However, I intended for them not to be siblings. There aren’t any consanguineous marriages in this game⁵; the only exception is Deirdre and Arvis, but that’s why their marriage was painted in a negative light.
Heuga: Edain has a very gentle personality, even among the female cast…
Satonaka: While the rest of them are all on the other end of the spectrum. Like Ayra and Brigid…
Tsukamoto: Also, there are a lot of older brother/younger sister combinations. You don’t really see siblings who are all female or all male much in this game.
Satonaka: Like the three Pegasus Knight sisters.
Tsukamoto: Another thing that caught me by surprise this time round was the presence of women in the enemy ranks. I think this was the most refreshing part of the game to me, actually. Till now, any female enemies you saw were usually recruitable units, but women that stay as antagonists throughout is a first.
Kaga’s comment: I didn’t do that on purpose, I just didn’t like the idea of completely irredeemable women…but I guess no one does (laughs). I didn’t want to make a female character that was completely evil, but then I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that women like Hilda exist in this world. But it feels so overly unpleasant that I don’t really like doing it. Among the enemies in this game, many of whom have their own circumstances and some of whom even have their likeable points, Hilda is the very definition of villainous. She’s like an evil witch; you’d want to kill her if she were your enemy. I like real world history, which is why I base my works on it, but the killing of women is something that doesn’t happen so much even in real life. That’s why I don’t really like to include it.
Tsukamoto: We never really hear of Ayra at all in Seliph’s chapter, so what happened to her in the end? I mean, we even got news about Lachesis, who was said to have gone to the desert and never returned. Don’t tell me it’s like the previous game where the women were abducted to become sacrifices?
Kaga’s comment: Her children did mention that they believe she is still alive and wanted to set out to look for her. Pretty much, we have no idea; we have no confirmation that she died. The only mother confirmed to have died is Erinys⁶, and the only mother confirmed to be alive is Edain.
Heuga: I don’t really get Arvis‘s family tree either.
Kaga’s comment: This game’s theme is not only the denouncing of war, but also the questioning of discrimination. Although the world might seem at peace on the surface, there are people being oppressed solely because they are descended from a ruler who brought about the dark ages in the past.
Arvis was similarly discriminated against even though he had done no wrong, and he later learnt from Manfroy that there were many others out there who face the same oppression as him. As a result, Arvis felt strongly that he had to do something about this state of affairs. Sigurd, on the other hand, was clueless about what Arvis was going through. While Manfroy and the dark cult he leads aim to exact vengeance upon the world, Arvis doesn’t share their goal; all he wants is to shape the world according to his ideals.
He was truly in love with Deirdre, not knowing of his blood relation with her at first. Arvis constantly feared that Deirdre might’ve had some sort of relationship with Sigurd, and so he used her to gain an unfair advantage over Sigurd because he felt that was the only way he could win against Sigurd.
You could say Arvis is a protagonist from another perspective. Sigurd and Arvis are both protagonists in their own right, even though they are on opposing sides. If anything, Arvis is definitely not a ‘villain’; that’s why tragedy befalls him in Seliph’s chapter, caused by his own weakness.
Satonaka: Deirdre and Arvis are half-siblings with different fathers, right? Did Cigyun remarry?
Tsukamoto: Deirdre is the child of Kurth and Cigyun, born out of wedlock.
Kaga’s comment: Kurth doesn’t appear in the game because he’s just a character made to pull the story along. No doubt he’s an important character, but his role is mainly for the backstory.
Heuga: So Arvis was the child he had with his previous wife⁷, right?
Satonaka: That was someone else (laughs). Kurth’s father, the king, also passed away, didn’t he? I think he was bedridden from sickness or something. I have a lot of other trivial questions too; for example, it was said that Naga took the form of a girl, right? Would that girl be Tiki?
Kaga’s comment: He was coughing in his dialogue in Chapter 5 (laughs). His days were already numbered by that point.
Kaga’s comment: Naga is one of the commonalities between the world shown in this game and the world shown in the previous games. I’ll leave that up to interpretation.
Heuga: I’m curious about Julia being the only character made to be overpowered against the final boss. You’d think that the legendary weapons and the protagonist would be even a little stronger against it.
Kaga’s comment: Julia is a human of course, but her role is similar to that of the Falchion in the previous games. It is still possible to defeat the final boss even without Julia, it’s just more troublesome (laughs). To tell the truth, Seliph’s arc reached its climax with the defeat of Arvis, so the Final Chapter is more like an extra addition.
Julia defeating Julius is not meant to come off as her defeating her brother, but more of her driving Loptyr out of her brother’s body. So, no matter how you look at it, it’s not wrong to say that Julia saved Julius. That’s why Julia is the one with the power to defeat Julius, and not anyone else.
Satonaka: Popular villains? Hmm…Travant has a lot of drama surrounding him, but I can’t say I got particularly attached to him over that.
Kaga’s comment: While Arvis’s hand was forced by fate to some extent, that isn’t the case for Travant; he was well aware of what he was doing. It’s up to one to decide whether Travant and his circumstances are worthy of pity. As Lewyn has said in Seliph’s chapter, there is more than one true ‘justice’; Travant’s misguided actions were a result of him following his own sense of justice. He was still a crass person, and there was no way out for him but to be killed…but he has a redeeming quality in that he realised the error of his ways in his final moments.
However, I do think he genuinely came to love Altena as a daughter. It’s absolutely not the case that he only saw her as a tool and nothing else.
Tsukamoto: I remember I actually fought Eldigan.
Satonaka: You’re saying that it’s possible there are players out there who actually killed Eldigan?
Heuga: Regarding Ayra, I didn’t think I’d like her when I first heard that there’d be a female swordsman, but once I got a good look at her she became my favourite (laughs).
Kaga’s comment: I thought Mercenary-type units would be popular since they’re all-rounders with no big weakness.
Tsukamoto: I’ve been hoping for a female Mercenary unit for a long time, so I was really looking forward to Ayra.
Kaga’s comment: Female characters would have to have different battle animations from male characters, wouldn’t you agree? But those are actually quite a hassle to make, not to mention having to be careful not to go over capacity. Units such as Dracoknights and cavalry are easier to do differing male and female animations for as compared to units like Myrmidons, since you don’t have to change their actions as much.
Since we had decided on making both male and female battle animations from the beginning, we were able to introduce female Myrmidon characters as well.
Satonaka: She ended up being really manly anyway, though.
Tsukamoto: I was running about in a huge frenzy trying to recruit her.
Heuga: Yeah, that was pretty time-consuming. You had to use Sigurd to seize the castle, then send him back once more to talk to Ayra.
Heuga: By the way, Lewyn was referred to as ‘Forseti of the Wind’ and had a strange air to him; so is he related to the dragons?
Kaga’s comment: This is actually one of my favourite themes, and I won’t give a definite answer. You can put the pieces you learn together in different ways depending on how you play the game. It might be that, in Seliph’s chapter, the dragonkind borrowed Lewyn’s consciousness for the moment; or, if Lewyn was killed in Sigurd’s chapter, the Lewyn that appears in Seliph’s chapter could be an actual dragon acting as his substitute.
Satonaka: Yeah, and not only that, even if you got Lewyn killed in Sigurd’s chapter and his name appears on the list of units who have fallen, he still appears in Seliph’s chapter as if nothing had happened…I wonder why?
Satonaka: Jamke and Edain is a popular pairing, but from what I heard most people didn’t actually pair them together…is it because it’s hard to get them to pair up?
*There is no fixed ‘best’ couple
Kaga’s comment: I think Edain starts off with the highest love points for Jamke, since Jamke doesn’t have an initial conversation with Edain.
Azelle and Midir will gain love points for Edain if they converse with her, putting them on equal footing with Jamke. However, while it’s easy for Azelle’s interest to lean towards Tailtiu and Brigid as well, Jamke doesn’t lean towards other characters as easily. Jamke might seem really plain compared to the others, but he’s an honest person; that’s how he was designed to be.
Since substitute characters exist, there is no one ‘best’ partner for each character. Though, each female character usually has around three ‘candidates’, or characters she can use the ‘Talk’ command with.
Heuga: Maybe Jamke forgot about the girls because he’s always fighting in the frontlines? (laughs)
Satonaka: Lachesis is like a completely different person after promotion. She’s really strong.
Kaga’s comment: This game’s story is one of growth. Of course, the characters grow in terms of their stats, but the youths also grow and develop over the course of the story.
Lachesis, for example, grows out of being a pampered princess; you can see a bit of that in Tailtiu as well.
On the other hand, it is more difficult for characters like Ayra who are highly determined and have already overcome various hardships to change.
Lachesis is quite popular among the men.
Also, since Eldigan is a popular character, some people might feel strongly against the idea of pairing Lachesis with Beowulf. However, quite a number of male players have taken a liking to Beowulf actually, maybe because they like characters like that who are less refined and more down-to-earth.
Heuga: She gives off a very princess-y air up till that point.
Satonaka: Yeah, she had the feel of a prideful, if persistent, princess.
*Regarding my favourite types of female characters
Kaga’s comment: I like strong women, but not just in the romantic sense; I like determined women with a clear goal in mind. For the ‘Fire Emblem’ series, that might include characters like Minerva, Ayra, and Altena…reliable women, basically.
However, even though gentle, graceful characters like Edain may seem delicate, they are in no way weak.
That’s true for every character as well. Although I wrote each character differently to distinguish them from each other, I also wrote them with my own view of women in mind.
I don’t see any appeal in the Kogals you see around in recent times⁸. Although Silvia starts off as that type of person, she gradually changes over the story. As the environment she’s in changes, I wanted her to change along with it as well.
Heuga: Dew seems to be a unit catered more towards advanced players. I wonder if there’s anyone out there who’d want to invest heavily in these types of characters and make them super powerful. I also wonder, on the other hand, which characters would be the easiest for beginners to raise?
Kaga’s comment: In terms of the series as a whole, I’d say Mercenary-type characters are easy to use, especially for beginners. Examples from this game would include Ayra and Chulainn. Myrmidon-type characters are all-rounders without any glaring weaknesses.
Satonaka: Lewyn grows to become pretty strong. Also, remember that area in Chapter 4 where brown horses can’t traverse? I promoted four units just so that they could get past that area…and then I realised it’s meant to be impassable. So I thought, how do I clear this thing?
Heuga: Wait, the horses change colour when the units promote?
Kaga’s comment: As the characters progress through the story, they’d naturally change their horses after some time as well. Not only do the characters get to purchase weapons and equipment that’s more to their liking now that they’ve earned more money, their armour’s colours also change to symbolise their affluence.
Tsukamoto: Yeah, they turn white.
Heuga: That’s kinda cute! They become more recognisable, in a way.
Tsukamoto: Hmm, I wonder what kind of characters we’ll get to see in the next game.
Heuga: More rugged-looking characters would be nice (laughs).
Satonaka: Maybe they could add more fun characters as well.
Kaga’s comment: I also hope to try my hand at creating fun characters for the series in the future. I’ve been wanting to try making a character with a split personality…for example, maybe a girl who’s usually meek and gentle, but gets really heated on the battlefield, or something.
Tsukamoto: I hope we get maps that take place within castles in the next game.
Satonaka: They’d be good as breathers, or even bonus stages. Though villages might sound more fitting for a bonus stage, I guess.
Tsukamoto: But it feels good to be able to open treasure chests! Since you never know if a village will give you items or not.
Heuga: Villages are so bad for my heart…having to go “Ah, another 500 gold gone” every time (laughs).
Satonaka: It’s like having constant near-death experiences (laughs). It doesn’t feel like a ‘breather’ when you’re rushing to save the villagers and children, since the villagers presumably are killed if you don’t.
Tsukamoto: I guess calling it a bonus stage is more appropriate, then.
Satonaka: Yeah, I’d like to see bonus stages added.
Kaga’s comment: While they’re not exactly ‘bonus stages’, I remember adding little hidden events in all the chapters, excluding the Prologue and Final Chapter (laughs). They’re mostly added just for fun though, so there’s no need to worry about being forced to go out of your way for them.
Heuga: I guess the inclusion of bonus characters would give players some incentive to train up their weaker units.
Tsukamoto: The Arena can be pretty unforgiving too.
Heuga: Once you lose you can’t really get back and win again, so I’d like a map that’s slightly more fun and relaxed.
Satonaka: Yeah, the Arena in this game is tougher than in the previous games. Previously, you could continue battling and leveling up as long as you picked your fights well, but in this game, there isn’t much you can do about the units who can’t win.
*Nazarre =/= Navarre?
Kaga’s comment: I didn’t really intend for them to be the same person or to be related at all…it’s just a little something that was put in for fun.
Heuga: For the previous game, I would do subsequent playthroughs where I imposed rules on myself such as only using either male or female units, or only using flying units…but I’d end up clearing the game with just three units (laughs).
Tsukamoto: I had thought of replaying this game to see the conversations between characters, but this game might be a little too long for that…
Satonaka: I wonder how this game’s replayability is?
Tsukamoto: There are some units you have to use no matter what, so we have to take that into account…speaking of which, what happens if you get your Thief killed? Does the game become unclearable?
*Is the game clearable even if your Thief is dead?
Kaga’s comment: It’s clearable. With regard to the bridge in Chapter 4, you can traverse the mountains instead, though it’ll be much more time-consuming. The bridge should be lowered after seizing the castle.
Heuga: I want to talk about the inventory system in this game.
Tsukamoto: I wanted to let my weaker characters wield stronger weapons, but they couldn’t because they didn’t have enough money…I wish allies could exchange inventory items.
Satonaka: Even letting them trade items away one-way would be nice.
Heuga: It feels like they’re going, “Even though I can’t use this item, I’d rather sell it than give it to you for free”.
Satonaka: Also, in the case where your weapons don’t get passed down to the second generation, is there a fixed timing for when those weapons used by the parent generation will appear in the shops?
Kaga’s comment: All of the weapons in this game’s world are unique.
The timing of their appearance in shops is all predetermined in the game’s data.
Heuga: Also, it’d be nice if we could give auto-battle commands, such as the “Gather” command from Gaiden, or select a tile for units to head towards.
Kaga’s comment: That mechanic wasn’t very well-received, actually; it was easy for players to get stuck in a bad spot by overusing those commands.
But now that you mention it, they sound like they could’ve been useful mechanics in this game.
Tsukamoto: I do like this game’s mechanics and structure, so I’d love to see a sequel of it. Also, I heard that there’s currently a side-story based on the characters from the previous games being worked on…one that possibly takes place before the War of Shadows…that’s something I’d love to see.
Satonaka: I’d love that too, even if it’s just another game set in the same continent. I want to learn more about this world’s secrets.
Heuga: The setting seems really well thought out, which makes you want to learn more about it.
Tsukamoto: But I also appreciate how ‘Genealogy of the Holy War’ doesn’t go out of its way just to try and appeal to fans.
*I want to shape this game according to my desires, instead of trying to appeal to the fanbase
Kaga’s comment: I’ve always liked niche game genres like tabletop simulators. That said, I also like to watch some popular anime series, such as ‘Gundam’ and ‘Legend of the Galactic Heroes’, which feature complicated human relationships.
Even so, as the game’s creator, I tried my best not to push my own trivial interests onto the player too much; while they’re still present, I tried to keep them to a minimum (laughs).
I think I took a huge risk with this game with regard to the emotional attachment to the characters fans would gain while playing the game, but even then, I wanted to shape this game according to my own desires. I didn’t want to sacrifice that for the sake of appealing to the fanbase.
I feel that this is a game you can get really invested in, especially after two or three playthroughs, though that indeed takes up a lot of time.
However, I don’t think games are something you necessarily need to speed through, and you don’t have to replay it immediately after clearing it the first time round.
The biggest issue I take with this game is how time-consuming it was, as opposed to the previous games which could be done bit by bit.
Heuga: I agree.
Tsukamoto: The game’s length isn’t a bad thing if playing it feels enjoyable and worth your time. However, I can’t shake the feeling that some portions of the game feel more like time-wasters than others; I’ve even heard opinions that the maps in this game were made larger as a cheap way to increase difficulty…
Heuga: When games get too hard for fans to clear, the number of fans will also go down, which is sad to see.
*Will the next game be on the Nintendo 64?
Kaga’s comment: I’ve actually been thinking that it might not be a bad idea to have the next game be on the SNES as well.
Though, if we do end up releasing a game for the N64, we might have to create the battle scenes in 3D as well.
(Written June 8, 1996 – Editorial Department)
The notes below are added by me to clarify certain points brought up in the interview.
¹Note: Kouta (小唄) is a type of Japanese ballad sung with shamisen accompaniment. The fan circle ‘Navarre Kouta’ currently operates under the name ‘Ojiroh Resort’.
²Note: While the country Verdane in-game does takes inspiration from typical barbarian stereotypes, Kaga’s use of the term ‘barbarian’ here to refer to Persia may instead be referencing how the Greeks often used the term to refer to the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars.
³Note: Tailtiu is a goddess from Celtic mythology; Erinys/Fury is named after the Erinyes/Furies, goddesses of vengeance from Greek mythology (although the text seems to suggest it, I can’t find any possible Celtic mythology origin for this name).
Naoise is Deirdre’s lover in Celtic mythology, and his brothers are named Ainle and Ardan, whom Alec and Arden were named after.
⁴Note: The Takarazuka Revue is a Japanese all-female musical theater troupe. Here, Ethlyn is being likened to a “Takarazuka actress playing a male role” (宝塚の男役), used to describe her boyishness/manliness despite being female.
⁵Note: Despite Kaga saying this, first cousin marriages are allowed in-game; under Japanese family law, marriages between relatives outside third degree of kinship are allowed, which might be why first cousin marriage isn’t considered under Kaga’s definition of ‘consanguineous marriage’.
⁶Note: Tailtiu’s death is actually also confirmed by Tine/Arthur’s dialogues with Blume/Hilda.
⁷Note: Heuga is mistaken; Arvis is the child of Cigyun and Victor, and is unrelated to Kurth by blood.
⁸Note: Kogal is a Japanese subculture involving a particular style of high school girl fashion; although it has more or less phased out, it hit its peak in the 90s, when this article was written. Kogals attract a lot of criticism in general for their ‘improperness’, but the movement started precisely to challenge existing gender norms in Japan that women must always be ‘proper’.