New Fire Emblem isn't Fire Emblem
The most recent Iwata Asks involved the development team of Fire Emblem, who shared some startling news about their new DS game, Mystery of the Emblem out today (apparently) in Japan: you can toggle off perma-death. They also say that perma death is the soul of the game, the thing that makes it different and unique. In that sense, it’s like having the option to automatically resolve all conversations in Mass Effect 2, because you don’t want to deal with the plot.
Why? In the name of courting the casual player. The casual player, of course, is too dumb to realize they can restart to get their characters back, and Nintendo doesn’t want to force anyone to have to deal with anything as serious as character death in game about war between nations. That would not be tasteful. Removing character death in Fire Emblem is like making an alternate cut of Grave of the Fireflies where everything’s okay! No one died! Nothing challenging happens here, just some pretty pictures and people persevering even when they’ve given up all hope!
Fire Emblem was already pretty much a series without a point: it was fun, but it was pachinko machine fun. It was playing a game of chess fun. Character death gave the plot some extra weight, made you think, you know, this could be the last battle for any of these people. It made everything weighty and gave the game friction.
And now you can remove the friction, if you just want to fry your brain instead of actually doing anything worthwhile. Whoopee for Nintendo!