Back in a 2013 Nintendo Direct, a fire was lit when the publisher announced that the popular RPG series Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem would be having a crossover title. Formerly known as Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is finally here, bringing elements of both franchises to a completely new RPG. But is this much anticipated crossover worth your while?
Tokyo Mirage Sessions: #FE
Developed by Atlus / Published by Nintendo
Available on the Wii U.
*Review copy provided by Nintendo
In Tokyo Mirage Sessions, platers take on the role of Itsuki Aoi, a young man who upon visiting a music idol audition, is forced to fend off against otherworldly creatures who are kidnapping humans. Using the power of his Performa – his performance soul – he manages to link up with the amnesiac Mirage of Chrom (of Fire Emblem: Awakening fame), and together alongside other Mirage Masters who are linked up with other popular Fire Emblem characters, must take on the invading forces with music and weapons to save the world.
As you can pretty much deduce from the plot, the story of Tokyo Mirage Sessions is pretty much an anime, and there are plenty of fantastic animated cutscenes to drive the point home. Itsuki and co’s adventures are full of crazy, flashy battles, youthful dialogue about finding your place in the world and being accepted, plenty of drama, a colorful and varied cast of characters, and a huge focus on the idol industry and its music. It seems like it would be a perfect anime show, and while it’s full of pretty silly stuff and the occasional nonsensical scene, it’s also quite charming and entertaining, and will have you glued to the screen to see what happens next.
It also helps that the game’s presentation is top-notch, keeping with Atlus’ signature flair for the cool, with stylish, colorful menus and UI, beautifully detailed and designed anime characters and enemy models, simple yet gorgeous dungeons and environments, and an excellent use of the Wii U gamepad as a cellphone. The latter is especially excellent and well thought out idea, as players can receive texts and images from other characters in the game, giving some background plot while humanizing the cast. It’s all very terrific, and despite the Wii U’s limitation is comparison to other current gen consoles, it’s one of the best looking RPGs right now.
The gameplay is also fantastic, and it’s mostly about crawling through a variety of dungeons known as Idolaspheres and taking on foes in turn-based battles. Fans should note that despite being based on Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, it doesn’t actually play like them, instead playing more like a straightforward, traditional RPG experience that borrows some elements from its inspirations. Players move about dungeons from a third-person view and get the jump on enemies by striking them and then approaching, and then engage in a turn-based affair where they’ll be able to attack, defend, and use a variety of abilities and spells to exploit enemy weaknesses. Drawing from the Shin Megami Tensei series, the abilities and spells here are taken straight from the source – with spells like Bufu, Agi, Zen and others making their return, so players familiar with them will be right at home. Combat also features exploitable elemental weaknesses, so using the correct element against an enemy will deal extra damage, while using the wrong one will lead to nullified damage.
The game also has some elements from the Fire Emblem series too. In addition to the guest star roles that various characters from the series have, such as Chrom, Caeda, Cain and more, these characters are actually the weapons that the main characters wield in-game. Tokyo Mirage Sessions also brings the weapon-type weaknesses of Fire Emblem, so some enemies are weaker or hold resistances to swords, lances, bows, and axes, as well as skills that target specific enemy types, like horses. Characters can also upgrade their jobs as well, using Master Seals, a feature from Fire Emblem. While these additions don’t really make the game feel exactly like either of the two franchises, these gameplay mechanics perfectly fit with the game’s crossover theme, and work very well.
That isn’t to say that Tokyo Mirage Sessions doesn’t have its own unique additions as well. In battle players can exploit weaknesses to combo attacks, gaining free hits as long as they targeting said weaknesses. Known as Sessions, these allow players to maximize damage per turn, while charging a special meter that can be used for extremely powerful attacks, and rewarding players with additional loot. Players can also switch out team members at any time during battle, so players can easily adapt to enemies on the fly, or switch out wounded warriors so that you can survive the encounter. Sessions can be a little tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an excellent game mechanic.
Then there’s the typical equipment and leveling up options, which work a little bit differently here, as players must acquire the Performa of enemies, and use them to create new, powerful weapons and abilities. That means that players have to constantly be hunting down specific enemies (the game nicely tells you what Idolasphere they belong to) and gain specific items from them, rather than just purchase them at a shop, which is cool. Each weapon also levels up, giving players new abilities, session skills, and spells until it is mastered, which makes getting new weapons a priority. It’s a system that works nicely, though it occasionally gets a bit annoying when players have to leave dungeons in order to get a new weapon so they can level it up instead of gaining experience on an already mastered one, since these creations can only be done at the in-game headquarters. It’s a very minor complaint, however, and it doesn’t take away anything from the game whatsoever.
At the end of the day, while Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE might not be what fans were expecting when they thought of a Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover, it’s a superb JRPG that will please fans of the series and the genre with its excellent combat, fantastic visuals, and engaging plot. While some more elements from both series would be welcomed with open arms, it’s a great game that you definitively shouldn’t miss.