Nintendo kinda, sorta kept its big gay promise


It helped me find my Soul Miiate

TomodachiLifeis one of the strangest games to come out of Nintendo and, when it launched, it became a lightning rod for stupid controversy over the supposed removal of same-sex relationships from the game. A misunderstanding as to what was actually happening led to plenty of misinformed commentators, this thing from Ellen, this thing from John Oliver, and a truly heartfelt petition from one fan simply asking for equality.

Nintendo’s response to the petition was well received, and the company said if it were to create another entry in the TomodachiLifefranchise, it would “strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players.” Last year, we got our first big Nintendo game to include gay characters and gay relationship options in Fire Emblem Fates, though it was limited in who you could fall in love with and which version of the game they would be available in. Also, Niles sucked.

Going through Miitopiaover the last three weeks, I had this controversy in mind. If you’ve played the demo, you know it has a relationship aspect where you can level up bonds between Miis. It all starts out innocent enough, with relationship labels like “acquainted” and “likes a little bit,” but as they grow closer, the wording becomes more intimate. I wondered how far and how deep these relationships would get, finding my answer on YouTube.

If you watch that ad, halfway through you’ll see that totally awesome teenager coveting his brother’s girlfriend. As his way of getting back at his big brother for probably doing the awful crap big brothers do, he’s put her in the game and as you can see, the two are total soul mates with a relationship level of 50. “Huh,” I said out loud to myself like the mentally ill person I am, “I wonder if it’s the same if it’s two dudes.”

Now, when I saw that ad, I had two male characters in my game with a relationship level of 35. At this point, the two had hearts in theireyes for each other but the game still referred to them as friends. I must commend the localization team for pulling every word from the thesaurus and any idiom available to keep from calling these two a couple. As I leveled up their relationship, they became “thick as thieves,” “two peas in a pod,” “kindred spirits,” “committed,” “friendsplosion,” “together forever,” and “joined at the hip,” which could actually be pretty gay depending on what part of the hip we’re talking about.

As I inched closer to that level 50 goalpost, the game threw obstacles my way. One of the guys would get sick, which prohibits relationship growth. After he got better, the two got in a fight that just seemed to get worse as I tried to make it better.

I pressed forward and right before I was about to turn in for the night, I caught a break. In a mini-game available at the various inns you come across, I won three straight trips to an island getaway for two. This is one of the most powerful ways to build a bond so I sent my boys out to finally hit that level 50 mark.

JJ and CJ sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n — okay, so there is no actual kissing in this game and nobody gets married and shares a bed or anything like that. Relationships are quite entertaining to watch but less involved than in TomodachiLife.

Nonetheless, this is pretty much exactly what Nintendo said it would do. This isn’t officially a Tomodachigame, but it is one that, as they promised, is more inclusive and better represents all players. If they’re choosing not to include a marriage option, that’s their prerogative. But this game is built around forming deep and meaningful relationships, and no matter if it’s same-sex or opposite sex, every relationship is treated equally. And isn’t that what the whole kerfuffle three years ago was about?