System: Wii U
Release date: June 24, 2016
At the dawn of the new year in 2013, Nintendo fans looked forward to another Nintendo Direct, giving us tons of announcements and games to anticipate in the coming months, as well as future development projects. One of the mystery titles revealed shocked many enthusiasts of the RPG genre. Of course, that was the surprise crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem – two very different franchises at heart, but ones that share a connection with their deep character development, in-depth gameplay, and memorable experiences. All we had at the time was some character art shown between the long running entries of both series, but other than that and a confirmation of Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem in the works, fans were left in the dark for well over a year afterwards. By that point, most assumed the game had been cancelled. Now in 2016, not only is the crossover nearly here, but Shin Megami Tensei mixing with Fire Emblem is a match made in heaven.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE starts out with a beautiful emphasis on the color spectrum, inviting a wonderful array that complement each other on screen while looking stunning in HD. Players are put in the shoes of main protagonist Itsuki who is set to meet up with a close friend. However, while at a venue for Idol auditions, a dark corruption takes over the place and smoke starts to manifest across the place, causing people to collapse, go crazy, or become severely ill.
It’s from here you’re that immediately brought into your first dungeon to save your friend Tsubasa, who will accompany you throughout the game. While you move through the dungeon, you’ll be given a multitude of tutorials to provide a better understanding of the mechanics of the RPG and how to make the most of your battles, weapons, and characters as you level up. The tutorials certainly are a lot more frequent that the average player would like them to be, but they’re mostly short and to the point. Even with the abundance of popups, they do nothing but help you in the end, and there are a lot of unique mechanics and terms involved in this game that benefit the player.
The battle system in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is unique and refreshing while remaining a bit familiar to RPG players. You have your basic attack and skill sets that you would see in Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem (as well as an abundance of RPGs), but laid out in a wonderful user interface that, oddly enough, is one of my favorite parts of the game due to how well it’s designed without being cumbersome or overwhelming.
Each character you have in your party is a Mirage Master, which are accompanied by Mirages – Tokyo Mirage Sessions’ equivalent to Personas. Each Mirage takes character inspiration from Fire Emblem, tweaking them slightly to look even more awesome and fit the game’s setting. The Mirages aid you in battle by embodying a weapon which you use to execute your skills in battle.
Leveling up your weapons and characters are separate from each other. By leveling up your weapons, you gain even more skills your Mirages can use in battle, lots of which should be familiar to the Shin Megami Tensei fans such as “Dia”, “Zio”, and much more. After leveling up and battling a fair amount, you can attain new forms for your Mirages and Mirage Masters, known as Carnages. It is absolutely imperative that you do this consistently as you progress through the game as you will have a hard time in battle otherwise. The tutorials touch on this much more, which is extremely useful. The great thing about upgrading, aside from the weapons, is that you’ll occasionally get new outfits to wear. They are purely cosmetic, so if you find one you like, you don’t have to worry about any reduction in stats if it happens to be one of those flashy yet weak kinds. It really gives the player tons to choose from in all spectrums that helps bring out the character’s personality (and subsequently the player’s) a bit more.
Personality is a big theme of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (and the Idol world). Not only does the mainline story give plenty of it with optional responses for you to choose from, but side stories are highly recommended – though not mandatory – to complete as they will help give deeper background on characters and reward you with move sets specifically gained through these side quests. With new moves on these quests comes new names for some of the moves, as well as new and stylish Performas – your special attacks. These special attacks range from character to character, some having an AOE, while others having Sessions, which are essentially chained attacks that you can link other characters with. The game’s battles and attacks can be customized so much that even chained attacks have their own style per character depending on what you have equipped and learned. Performas are flashy and a sight for the eyes and tons of fun, as well as easy, to execute. Taking on side quests are only beneficial and really not all that time consuming, allowing for stronger characters, deeper bonds, and just overall more affluent party members in the long run. These tend to be rather lighthearted and will more often than not put a smile on your face while playing through them due to their goofiness.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is just overall so incredibly well put together from the music to the characters, to the well-made anime cut-scenes and art style, and the fact that there is so much to explore and have fun with. The characters are likable, the story is straightforward and semi-dramatic while choosing opportune times for humor (which work surprisingly well), and it also doesn’t hurt to have a bit of fan-service for both the ladies and guys; it’s still there despite the controversy with all the censorship as of late surrounding the game, and it’s done in a way that’s not over the top or would deter from the experience by any means in comparison to something like Senran Kagura, where there’s a bigger emphasis on it.
Shin Megami Tensei combined with Fire Emblem is a surprising match made in heaven no one expected or even had any idea would work, but it does, and it does very well. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE has an incredible original soundtrack that brings out the idols personalities through their performances and gives JRPG fans yet another game to enjoy that will please the tastes of die hards for both games, and even remain fresh and exciting for those unfamiliar with Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem. With an incredible art style and gameplay that honors both series, Atlus has brought two titans together to create a unique title that not only deserves to be experienced by every Wii U owner and RPG fan, but will go down as one of the best RPGs the Nintendo’s console has to offer once it’s all over.