Nintendo did it again with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The latest entry in the strategy RPG series managed to deliver on what makes the series great while also introducing welcome changes. It's a hard balance to strike, but the development team pulled it off and shipped a seriously polished product in the end. Except for one thing: the text is too dang small.
I can already feel the comments digging their pointy nails of judgement into me from the future as I type this. Clinging to me so they can yell into my ear: "It's not THAT small!" "So-and-so game had smaller text!" "Suck it up, stop whining, and post some real content!" Sure, okay, get that out of your system. But take a look at the picture above. Can you honestly say that they used the space of the text box to its full worth?
This becomes an even bigger issue when you remember that Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a Nintendo Switch game. It's made to be played both on television and handheld. The text issue is bad enough on a non-giant television, but frankly unbearable on the Switch's tiny tablet screen. To give an example of text done right, look at Three Houses sitting under its predecessor, Fire Emblem Awakening on 3DSXL.
There has been discussion about this all over social media, which brought two interesting points to the table. For one, while the issue is a simple inconvenience to many, it's torture for the visually-impaired. And it's apparently way more common than you'd think. Another example is Dragon Quest Builders 2, which also has too-tiny text in handled mode. TV-bound consoles don't escape, either, with Monster Hunter World and Final Fantasy XV being two examples from prominent game publishers.
The other aspect of the issue was brought up by those in the industry. They commented that the localization team might have actively chosen a font that made the text smaller and stylized it in such a way that it became harder to read within the chosen text boxes. One Twitter user did a direct comparison to the Japanese version of the game to show that the localizers did indeed shrink the text.
So what does this all mean? Not much, sadly. The Nintendo localization team probably doesn't have some secret conspiracy to spite visually-impaired customers. It's more likely that they just don't consider the needs of these gamers. Many companies don't, if the trend of small text in games is any indication.
All we can do is bring attention to these issues and hope that enough of a commotion is raised to get companies to change. It might be too late to change Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but maybe the next game in the series can be, you know, actually readable.