Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. (Try saying that three times fast) is a roleplaying game that was first introduced to the world as Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem. A collaboration project between the genius minds of Atlus and the legendary Nintendo. And for a long while fans of these two titans and their respective IP’s, were left itching with anticipation as to what was to come of this dream alliance.
Well…I’m here to tell your curious self, that the end result is definitely worth the 60+ hours you’ll be playing it. Especially if you’re a fan of Atlus’s famed Persona series. As from the exuberantly colourful, yet minimalistic user-interface, right on through to the addictive battle system and social growth centric side-stories. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is delivered to the player in a very ‘Persona-esk’ package. An encompassing wealth of similarities to which throughout my play-through, are the main reason I kept coming back. You see, the biggest drawback of TMS#FE is its story and ironic lack of Fire Emblem’s integration. The latter amounting to little more than character cameos and borrowed sound effects. With the most prevalent Fire Emblem inclusion acting as a crutch-like plot device for the game’s more, Japan focused narrative.
A Tokyo adventure that sees protagonist Itsuki Aoi and his friends through the colourful journey of becoming Japan’s next top Idols. An anime inspired, over dramatized interpretation of course, but never the less a very real subculture which many westerners might consider…alien. Let alone an appropriate focus for a ‘Save the world’ RPG that’s somehow meant integrate the high-fantasy stylings of the Fire Emblem series. And for the most part such scepticism would fit the resulting execution. However the story’s camp eccentricity, engaging characters and plethora of side quests, does make for a somewhat entertaining excursion. If not solely for its self-aware humour.
Though if the story is so lacklustre, why would I at first promote the game with such positivity? That my dear gamers is because TMS#FE is one of those very few JRPGs, which are worth playing through to completion for the gameplay alone.
Rich in visually pleasing and differentiated dungeon exploration. The player, when not traversing the streets of Tokyo, will find themselves navigating enemy filled labyrinths. It is within these evenly paced, puzzle sporting realms that the bulk of the game takes place. And indeed where the expertly crafted turn based combat system reigns supreme. Easy to grasp and joy to master this tactical system presents each fight upon a stage. For in-keeping with the story, this idol aspiring cast of characters must slay their enemies in the form of a stylish performance. The more weaknesses exploited, the flashier the feud becomes, swiftly tallying up combos known as Sessions. Not only do these look awesome when executed, but they’re a thrill to pull off and indeed the crux at which this system is centred. Actually encouraging the player to use and develop them into even stronger, enemy eviscerating onslaughts. Epic, anime type brawls that utilize the combined efforts of far more than the standard party of three.
Mix this with each character’s uniquely customisable weapon and skill sets, which themselves see growth both inside and out of battle. And you have a truly addictive, refreshingly unique, yet indisputably Atlus JRPG. One that any fan of the genera just won’t be able to put down. That being said however, should the player wish to max out their characters and get the absolute most of this thrilling combat experience. The game’s extremely cheap DLC is a must buy, to avoid what would otherwise require a hellish amount of grinding. Thankfully the Nintendo eShop provides a bundle of the most necessary DLC packs (bonus dungeons) at a reduced price to help ease this process.
Thus overall…sure Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE falls flat in the narrative department. Delivering only the best scenes during its quirky side missions and occasional attempt at humour. And the lack of an English dub will likely be off-putting for some. Especially given that the subtitles, to any frequent anime viewer, may come across as somewhat subpar. Though despite these issues and the occasional bit of loading. (You can blame the Wii U for that one) Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE’s vibrant aesthetics, joyful and brilliant animations, which include but are not limited to; beautifully rendered cinematics. As well as it’s professionally produced and more than fitting J-Pop sound track, all help to bring the game back on its feet. The masterfully designed and truly fun combat system being the reason to stick around and see it through to the end. Oh! And for once the Wii U gamepad is actually utilised in a unique an inventive way, but I’ll leave that one as a surprise.
I give Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE a 7.5/10. A must own for any JRPG fan, and a delightful bonus if you’re into anime.
By Louie Chudley for Respawning