Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei are two long-running Japanese Role-Playing Game series’ that I never thought would meet each other in this capacity, and yet I’m overjoyed that such a conglomeration has taken place. I remember, in the May of 2014, it was announced that these two beloved series’ would come together to form a singular video game for the Nintendo Wii U. Simply called Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei, my mind raced in anticipation of what this game would be. Alas, none of my assumptions lead me down the road of what we in the West now know to be a video game called “Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE“.
It has been a long two years since the announcement of Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei but, like all of us, it is a video game that has come quite a long way. Now released worldwide, fans of both franchises are able to explore the combined wonder of both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei as they do battle with creatures who’ve come to this world only to feast on the imaginative intensity of us human beings. We at SnapThirty must extend a special thanks to the kind people of Nintendo Australia who have provided us with a copy of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE; a game that I, personally, have been waiting on for, seemingly, an eternity. Now, if you will, follow me into a world of singing, dancing, and impending doom the likes of which only Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE could conceive.
You and the rising stars you call friends will need to call on your own creative power—manifested as iconic Fire Emblem™ characters—to wage a secret war on rogue spirits that feed on creativity. Each encounter will immerse you in deep, turn-based battles that blend the combat of the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei series into one brutal harmony. Fuse items to craft new weaponry; then play to your strengths and crush your foes. Around every corner you’ll find fun nods to multiple fandoms, including Fire Emblem references, dungeons themed to the entertainment industry, and stunning music performances. – Nintendo
As per Nintendo’s wishes, I will not be going into any great detail regarding the depth of Tokyo Mirage Session #FE’s story, so rest assured that it shall not be ruined throughout this review.
Tokyo Mirage Session’s story is quite a departure from anything we’ve seen from the long lineage from Fire Emblem games, making it far more similar to that of a Persona title (Persona 4, to be specific) which too is set in contemporary times accompanied by more extravagant themes of friendship, hopefulness, and all around enjoyment of ones life whilst also fighting for it. At first, the idea of this game revolving around the developing of skills not only as a Mirage Master but also as a pop idol seemed somewhat odd, but Tokyo Mirage Sessions delivers this tale in a way that, in context of the story’s setting, is entirely believable. It does not seem out of place when another member of the Fortuna Agency (your employer) appears and details their life as both an actress and a fighter, for example, and that is due entirely to the charismatic way in which this story unfolds. I have played a game similar to Tokyo Mirage Sessions that based itself around pop idols fighting hideous creatures, and it was nowhere near as charming and self-understanding as Tokyo Mirage Sessions.
Often, in RPGs of this kind, the main character tends to be lacking in personality, which is to allow the player to fill the role of said protagonist. To a certain degree we see this in Itsuki Aoi, but he has been written in a way that allows the player to not only assume his role seamlessly but to also appreciate his character as it stands on it’s own. It is an incredibly dangerous line to walk, but it seems as though Tokyo Mirage Sessions walks it with style and finesse. Itsuki does not overreact to a situation, nor does he under-react. Responses to most, if not all, story developments are perfectly tempered, giving the audience the impression that he’s relaxed enough so that he refrains from loosing his composure, but that he also understands the situation that he may be currently in. Arguably, Itsuki Aoi is exactly what you would want from a protagonist of a game such as this.
What I found great about Tokyo Mirage Sessions is the depth that has been put into each member of the character cast alongside that of Itsuki Aoi. Through special side story missions that one can unlock through continued play with a certain character in their party, players can experience the depth of their in-game friends by accompanying them in their daily life. It is a gameplay mechanic similar to the Social Link system of the Persona series that allows you to actively discover sides to other characters you had no idea existed, much like how it is in reality. If there’s one thing both ATLUS and Intelligent Systems know how to pull off, it’s depth in characters and the ways in which you can explore it. Both Fire Emblem and Persona feature similar mechanics, and the same can now be said about Tokyo Mirage Sessions. To say the very least; it is well worth your time playing through character’s side story missions, there is much to be gained both for one’s enjoyment of the story and certain in-battle developments that allow characters to unleash devastating techniques learned only through said side story missions.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions plays almost exactly how one would imagine a game of it’s type to be played. It is quite similar to Persona in the way that it is experienced on two distinct levels: The first being your daily life as you interact with other characters and build relationships, and the second is your exploration of dungeons, searching for boss monsters, and clearing the area. In-battle, one must string together effective combos by attacking enemy’s weak spots which, in turn, executes a team-attack-like system of extra moves that demolish all enemies in your way. Through use of the Carnage system – which allows you to change the aesthetic and attributes of your Mirages Carnage Form (weapon) after defeating certain enemies and obtaining certain items – one can teach individuals specific abilities both passive or otherwise. These abilities are then used to build characters that can collaborate with one another so as to achieve the greatest result. This is, arguably, the most interesting and in-depth aspect of Tokyo Mirage Sessions’ gameplay mechanics simply because one mistake when overriding an ability for another could mean that you lose intractability between two characters. I found this to be a highly-engaging system that has players think more about how they’re going to build a character rather than just upgrading them with techniques that allow for greater singular damage. Having any experience with a Shin Megami Tensei title will immediately put you at an advantage when playing through Tokyo Mirage Sessions simply considering the way in which the game is played, but that does not mean singular fans of Fire Emblem will find it hard to tackle and enjoy.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions features wonderful dungeon-crawling mechanics that do not change the experience too much, but subtly makes your time within a dungeon much easier. Dungeons, like any good Dungeon-Crawling title, are still hard to traverse; there are traps around every corner, and the maps are made with the specific intent of confusing and tricking any who enter, but what I found great about the dungeons featured in Tokyo Mirage Sessions is that they placed warp points in several key locations so that, if your team is in need of healing, one can escape the dungeon, rejuvenate the party’s health, then continue from where they left off. One can also use these warps gates to return to the real world to partake in other tasks like side missions which, I feel, is a great way to alleviate the stress of being stuck in a difficult dungeon for too long.
Unlike that of Persona, your time outside of dungeons is not put on a tight time-limit. In between story chapters the game places you in a period called Intermission wherein which you’re urged to go about your business in whichever way you please. If your idea is to level grind so that the next chapter is easier than this time allows for that, though it also allows for you to take the opportunity to complete any requests – which are inconsequential side missions that allow you to obtain extra items – or side story mission before moving on to the next chapter and focusing wholeheartedly on the story at hand. This is not a must though as everything mentioned can also be done whilst also in a story chapter, I feel as though it is Tokyo Mirage Sessions’ attempt at breaking up gameplay while not being too demanding of their audience. I, for one, take the opportunity to complete non-story mission during intermission periods as suggested by the game, I feel as though it indeed allows for a more digestible pace.
Visually, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is perhaps the most beautiful-looking Wii U title to date. Not only is it a game that features an incredibly vibrant colour palette, but it also happens to play host to some wonderful next-generation graphics that are polished masterfully. The game has a certain elegance that may come across as such thanks to Fantasy-inspired character designs, but something within me is trying to express that it was much more than that. Speaking of which; every single character present in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE has their own incredibly unique style that sets them apart, greatly, from the rest of the character cast. Not only that, but their Carnage forms are wondrously detailed and, in fact, so well-designed that I chose to keep them equipped to my team of characters instead of swapping them out for some of the crossover download content costumes. I feel as though that, above all else, speaks volumes for how well they were designed.
Set in modern day Tokyo, the environments are absolutely breathtaking. The game truly captures not only the visual presence of Shibuya and surrounding areas but the feelings of being lost within it’s many huge structures and countless people. Simply because of how well the game’s environments looked, when full immersed in the game I truly felt as though I was taking an afternoon stroll with friends in the big city, that is…until we had to go and defeat some grotesque but yet also interestingly-designed creature. Every Boss Monster is based off of a character from past Fire Emblem games, each of which was constructed to look enough like the character it was based upon without coming across as too obvious; something I felt they design team pulled off flawlessly.
Now, while the game’s visuals made for an incredible experience in and of themselves, it was Tokyo Mirage Sessions’ soundtrack that, once experienced simultaneously, truly made this game one that I will come to remember for the rest of my life. I have always put a lot of pressure on the soundtrack of a video game, I feel as though a multi-sense experience should stimulate an individual on however many senses it can, and sight is not powerful enough alone to make for a near-perfect experience. Tokyo Mirage Sessions has an exceptionally catchy soundtrack with an array of different tracks that mostly stick to the pop genre, seeing as this is a story that revolves around the J-Pop industry, it only makes sense that most, if not all, tracks would be as such. Backed up by terrific performances by the Japanese voice cast, this game’s auditory experience is quite the force to be reckoned with.
A video game like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is one that I find hard to review. Why? Several reasons, but the grandest of them all is that, simply, I could talk about this game for an eternity and yet that still would not be any where near enough time to properly explain why I love this game so. Unfortunately I have to temper myself, cut down my opinion into an easy-to-digest article that will keep readers engaged, but I think this point alone is a testament to just how well-developed of a game this is. Intelligent Systems and ATLUS have come together and created a game that, while resembling past titles, is in an entire league of it’s own. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is one of those games that attracts hype, and it did so for two full years until it’s eventual release, and yet it does not disappoint, in fact, it exceeded all of my expectations. It is a game that feels like Persona and yet isn’t, it is a game that features characters from Fire Emblem and yet they feel brand-new, it is a game that brings together two worlds we all know well and yet what it delivers is something unlike anything you could conceive.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is NOT for fans of Fire Emblem, nor is it for fans of Shin Megami Tensei. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a video game for those of you out there that have a deep appreciation for music, pop culture, fashion, trends, and well-made Role-Playing Games. So, essentially…everyone. This is a game that will captivate you in ways you wouldn’t even think. It will make you appreciate what you have in your own life, like friends and the interactions you share. It will make you want to explore your own city, finding trendy cafes, and hot spots to catch up with said friends. It will also show you what a great dungeon-crawling RPG is truly like. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is more than just the combination of two long-running series’: it’s a project that brings together some of the greatest minds from the Japanese video game industry and allows their imagination to run wild. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is simply a fantastic game that I feel should be enjoyed by all. It’s an experience that feels familiar, and yet unlike anything you’ve ever come across before.
Experience Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for yourself courtesy of Nintendo: Click Here