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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Review

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore

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9.0 - Gameplay
          
 
9.0 - Video
          
 
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The worlds of the Fire Emblem™ series and Atlus games have crossed paths again and the result is coming to the Nintendo Switch™ system. An inter dimensional evil has invaded modern-day Tokyo, resulting in this fantastical barrage of music, style, and yes, danger. So, fight back! Battle through dungeons to pump up your strategy and creatively decimate your foes…before all hope fades to black. It’s time to look at Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore!

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You and the rising stars you call friends will need to call on your own creative power—manifested as iconic Fire Emblem characters (with a possible bondage fetish if you look at their outfits)—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 Atlus RPGs into one brutal harmony. Fuse items to craft weapons; 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 musical performances.

So with that being said, I am going to kick off this review with a bit of a confession. When this game first came out on the Wii U back in 2016, I made fun of it, like A LOT. From the trailers to heavily focusing on fashion and J-Pop, it didn’t seem like the kind of game for an OG gamer like me. But now having gotten the chance to play this game, I can say, I think I made a mistake…

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The game on the surface may seem like an odd concept, as these kids are possessed (for lack of a better term) by the spirits of some of our favorite Fire Emblem characters. And they use them much like the trainer uses a Pokemon in combat, just a lot flashier. For those that don’t know, instead of Fire Emblem type combat, this game plays out combat just like an older Final Fantasy game, turn based once you are in the battle, but you move freely around the environments until you enter a battle.  But let’s break this down piece by piece.

Visually, this game is very impressive. I had zero performance issues playing in either handheld or docked on my TV, no lag, no freezing, nada. This game is one of the best looking and performing games I’ve seen on the switch outside of Luigi’s Mansion 3. The cut scenes are some of the absolute best I’ve seen on the switch, and they play like a legit anime show. Combat obviously doesn’t look quite as good, but the animations while in combat, especially for the special moves, are still very good, although they get a bit repetitive after awhile, especially during long term gaming sessions. I couldn’t find anyway to disable or skip some of the longer ones, unfortunately. Sure, they might be cool to see a few times, but I don’t really want to sit through a 30 second animation to watch my character hit the enemy once.

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The music in this game, while not my cup of tea being J-pop, still produced some pretty catchy tunes, and I didn’t find them to be too repetitive or annoying during my game play. For those of you without teenage daughters or an unhealthy Japanese obsession, J-Pop is a style of pop music that has become its own ecosphere. Not to be confused with K-Pop which is often more RnB in style, J-Pop typically is high-pitched, auto-tuned and sickeningly sweet and kawaii. The style in the game isn’t as super authentic as that, but it’ll give you an idea of what I mean. The music is tied directly into the Japanese culture of idols, which is a reoccurring theme here as well.

The Story Behind the Game

I will stay spoiler-free here for folks because personally, I hate it when things are spoiled. The story is good, but not great. I get what they are doing and going for, but this is clearly targeted to more of an eastern audience here for sure, and a lot can be lost on the average gamer. One thing I will say thought, is the Fire Emblem characters for me were far more interesting than the actual cast of folks the story revolves more around. While there are side-quests and such to fill in time between main story beats, they don’t do nearly enough of what they should to flesh out the characters more.

Long story short, Fire Emblem saves this games story for me, but there also isn’t nearly enough Fire Emblem content embedded in the game. In Tokyo Mirage, you have the human and the mirage (Fire Emblem character), that when combined, give the person “super powers” and transform their appearance in the process. They will be enhanced throughout the game with new weapons and skills as they level up, a process which can sometimes be tedious having to go to a certain place on the map to craft new weapons and enhance your characters. I personally would rather have had an injection of more FE characters and swap them out to learn new abilities and looks vs the weapons doing that role.

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The menu system is also a lot to take in, and there isn’t any hand holding for teaching you how to equip items and weapons, when you should switch items and weapons, and so on and so forth. There are very few healing spots to regenerate your characters so you will need to rely on healing spells and items throughout the game. The combat is fun as there are TONS of things to take into consideration, including the enemies weaknesses or resistance to weapons and spells, and doing combo attacks or Sessions. Sessions are where you pick one move for a character, but it triggers the others to keep the chain going for maximum damage. Once again, a very cool touch with some fun animations.

The combat is satisfying with these grand, dramatic attacks. But for me the biggest benefit is also its biggest drawback, and that is the Fire Emblem characters themselves. I find them to be the better characters of the game, which kept me interested throughout. Unfortunately, the inclusion of Fire Emblem characters made it harder to find a connection with the games original characters. In the end, I really just wanted more Fire Emblem in this crossover than the kids from Tokyo Mirage Sessions.

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In the end this is a great pick up for fans of JRPGs; anyone interested in games like Persona would also appreciate this experience. But for folks who are not into that game play style should maybe pass on this one. It’s not likely to win you over or change your perspective. You really need a strong appreciation for Japanese culture as well. The Japanese music, fashion, and voice overs, if you aren’t into it, could be a major turn off. For myself, however, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time with the game.

About the Author: Kevin Austin

Husband, Father of three girls, and lifelong gamer. Embedded in the Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft Ecosphere. Known for an appreciation of the odd and the occasional “Hot Take”. He is also Co-founder of the Play Some Video Games (PSVG) podcast network as well as Host of the PSVG Prime show. To find out more visit psvg.blog!

 

 

 

 

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blank Adam Roffel has only been writing about video games for a short time, but has honed his skills completing a Master's Degree. He loves Nintendo, and almost anything they have released...even Tomodachi Life.

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Twitter: @AdamRoffel