Released in 2016, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a mashup between Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series with Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series. This is notable for being one of the incredibly few JRPG’s on the system.
The story begins with our protagonist, Itsuki, and his childhood friend Tsubasa. They attend a talent search event where Tsubasa is hoping to fulfill her dream of becoming an idol. The event kicks off, and the host turns into an evil being and begins stealing energy, known as Performa in this game, and escapes into an alternate realm. Itsuki and Tsubasa enter the alternate realm and are attacked by two hostile beings. They awaken their inner Performa abilities and defeat the two beings. The beings are cleansed of their evil and introduce themselves as Chrom and Caeda, beings from another world, and became beings known as Mirages. Their role is to stop the evil Mirage Garnef from resurrecting the evil Shadow Dragon that has ravaged their world, and join Itsuki and Tsubasa to prevent another world from the same fate as theirs.
After the initial battle, they get introduced by their friend Touma to the talent organization Fortuna Entertainment. They meet the eccentric owner Maika who wants to hire them for their organization in exchange for helping her discover who is behind the Mirages and to stop them from stealing more Performa. As the story goes on, your party increases with other idols within Fortuna Entertainment.
The story is broken up into multiple chapters, and it starts off with each chapter focusing on a new recruit, and the plot slowly unfolds until the final chapters where they all work together to defeat Garnef.
The gameplay is largely identical to your standard Shin Megami Tensei game, and much of the content from Fire Emblem is there for story purposes. In a way, the Fire Emblem characters replace the Personas or demons the SMT franchise is known for, and instead takes the approach of characters being based on the class of their Fire Emblem partner. Where all of this comes together is in the battle system. It largely plays off of SMT’s press turn system where you exploit enemy weaknesses. Enemy weaknesses are based off of same type of elemental weaknesses typical in the SMT franchise, but also incorporates the Weapon Triangle system in Fire Emblem with the different weapon/class weaknesses.
This system gets a further expansion where you can engage your party in sessions. When your character exploits an enemy’s weakness, they are able to start a session with the other two party members in the team. A session is where characters with aligning skills are able to subsequently attack the enemy, causing more damage. This way you can triple the damage from a single character’s turn, and can be activated in each playable character’s turn if you play your cards right. Though in typical SMT fashion, the enemies play by the same rules as the characters, meaning that the tables can easily be turned on you. If you have the wrong party combination, it is just as easy for the enemy to engage in their own sessions to decimate your party members.
The game has an altered version of equipment for your characters. Instead of equipping armor and weapons like traditional RPG’s, you are largely stuck with upgrading your weapons to increase your stats. Outside of giving your character better stats, upgrading your weapons is also how you gain new abilities. In similar fashion to Final Fantasy IX, weapons have ability points it earns, and maxing out those ability points let you learn new abilities, or can power up your pre-existing abilities. While it can seem tedious knowing you have to grind both your character levels, and your weapon levels, it’s actually incredibly easy to level up your weapons, and weapon upgrades are almost few and far between. Unless you run away from battles frequently, you will max out the ability before you get to the boss in each chapters’ dungeon. Similar to Fire Emblem, you can actually promote your character’s mirage to a much more powerful class. This bestows more weapons for your character to equip, meaning more powerful abilities to learn to decimate your enemies.
As many expect in a SMT game, there is a good bit of difficulty to the game. The game does start off a bit easy in the beginning, as sessions do incredible damage, but as the game goes on, it’s pretty much a requirement to engage in sessions to defeat your enemy, as it’s significantly difficult if you don’t. Luckily at that point in the game, it does feel like it’s almost impossible to not engage in a session with all three party members, as you learn enough skills to be able to always access it. The game does force you to start rotating party members around, as they start sending out enemies that can punish you if you stick to the same characters over and over. Luckily you can easily swap in characters to engage in sessions.
Visuals are pretty nice in the game, there isn’t really much that can really be improved on when it comes to anime graphics in video games nowadays. The game does start to colorswap enemies as the game goes along, but it’s not an uncommon practice, so it’s really not that big of a deal. Though minor detractor is that the story bits can sometimes look and feel like a visual novel.
The soundtrack is pretty good. Unlike many SMT games, it’s not guitar heavy, but more synth heavy and sometimes can sound like a deranged night club, which mages the whole idol theme of the game. The individual songs for characters in their idol singers can be a bit hit or miss, there are a few that are actually quite enjoyable.
This game is really good, especially for those looking for a challenging turn based RPG to add to their collection. It’s definitely something to recommend for any SMT fan, and FE fans who enjoy turn based RPG’s. If you have a Wii U, this is definitely a must have. The Japanese idol theme can be a bit silly at times, but it doesn’t detract from its great gameplay, and enjoyable cast.
Visuals (Or Graphics): 9/10.