One of Fire Emblem: Three Houses most predominant aspects so far is the school setting. Early on, you spend time with your students, training them for battle, and building your relationships with them. While many fans likened the time mechanic to Persona‘s, two directors on Three Houses said this isn’t the case.
In an interview with RPG Site, Intelligent Systems director Toshiyuki Kusakihara revealed the inspiration for Three Houses‘ school concept. Surprisingly, it’s not what you’re thinking; the concept here dates back to the Super Famicom and Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War:
“In truth it’s not from Harry Potter, or Persona, or anything like that – it actually links back to an older Fire Emblem. Back a long time ago, we developed a game for the Super Famicom called Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. When you look at the story, the three characters were from a monastery – they were friends, they worked together – and then they have to go to battle against each other. That’s almost the same plot as that older game, if you look at that. So we had the image of this old game in mind before – that’s maybe our most significant influence on this project.”
I’m pretty surprised that this system came from Genealogy and not something like Persona or Final Fantasy Type-0. In a way, I’m more excited knowing that they’re reimagining an older Fire Emblem concept.
Characters and storytelling
Kusakihara and Nintendo director Genki Yokota discussed the school setting further, and how it affects storytelling and your bonds with the characters:
Kusakihara: There was a very great advantage of proceeding with this sort of story—when you look at the older games, you meet a lot of new characters one after one throughout the story. You get to know them in an uneven way, and you might know some better than others when you get to the last part. With our new system, all of the characters are here from the beginning of the game, so you have time to get closer to them, to build a good, deep relationship with them. That’s a very different approach for us concerning relationships between characters.
Yokota: In this game, you’ll enjoy time as a teacher, too. Becoming a teacher changes a lot – you have to take care of your students, you have to teach them a lot of things… so you can really have a different kind of relationship with them when you compare it to other games.
They make a really good point about the characters. I remember playing Awakening for the first time and marrying my avatar off early on. While happy with my choice, I missed out on some appealing romances later on with characters I hadn’t met yet. Given that the marriage feature returns in Three Houses, it’s certainly nice seeing all the options from the start. Despite that, I already know who I’m going with on my first playthrough.