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Hands to yourselves, 3DS gamers!

Last week it was confirmed that Nintendo would be removing a scene that could be interpreted as supporting gay conversion therapy from the North American version of upcoming 3DS strategy title Fire Emblem Fates (titled Fire Emblem if in Japan). But in keeping with the company’s regular policy of heavily localizing its games rather than just translating them, the North American arm of the video game giant isn’t quite done picking and choosing which parts of the original Japanese version’s content it will provide for players of the English-language Fire Emblem Fates.

The newest Fire Emblem installment allows the player’s character to form personal connections with his or her brothers or sisters-in-arms. This can lead to romance, and in the Japanese Fire Emblem if, one way to advance the relationship is through physical contact.

This being Nintendo, it’s not like the game includes scenes of its armored knights jumping into bed and knocking greaves. Instead, it’s on the level of what Japan refers to as “skinship,” which covers things such as hugs, holding hands, or a stroke of the cheek. At points throughout Fire Emblem if, the player can choose to engage in skinship with another character. The view switches to a first-person perspective, and by tapping or stroking the touchscreen in agreeable places, the characters’ bond will strengthen.

The concept’s execution isn’t quite as suggestive as it might seem, as the touchable area looks to be only from the shoulders up. In other words, there’s no boob-grabbing or below-the-belt action going on. The available skinship techniques include patting the forehead of your object of affection, brushing his or her hair, or a quick caress of the collarbone.

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It’ s also worth noting that the roster of potential skinship partners isn’t made up of defenseless young maidens, as shown by this video starring the mature, male Gunther, who’s getting some skinship from a female player character.

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And since Fire Emblem if (like the North American Fire Emblem Fates) has options for same-sex pairings, the Japanese game also has same-sex skinship.

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But while the gameplay feature caused no controversy in Japan, Nintendo has stated that the skinship scenes are being removed entirely from the North American Fire Emblem Fates.

Given the company’s family-friendly image, the decision isn’t a complete shock, and some might assert that such dating simulator-style gimmicks have no place in a classy Nintendo-developed game in the first place. Still, others can make the argument that it’s an exceptionally conservative move to clamp down on such tame expressions of physical affection, especially given that the player can choose to get married in the game. In the topmost video, for example, the hero and featured character Anna have already exchanged their vows, and nothing they do seems all that bold for a married couple.

For purists after the original version, the situation is particularly frustrating. Unlike with other titles deemed to have elements too steamy for English-speaking territories, Nintendo’s 3DS is region-locked, meaning that if you’re interested in importing and playing Fire Emblem if, you’ll need a Japanese 3DS as well. So unless you’ve got a Japan-spec system, if you want to romance characters in the North American Fire Emblem Fates, evidentially you’re going to have to do it with your words alone.

Sources: Dual Shockers via Hachima Kiko, Kotaku USA
Top image: YouTube/HiMyNameIsMaurice
Insert images: YouTube/HiMyNameIsMaurice (1, 2, 3)