The Switch is home to many JRPGs with even more on the way in 2020. Fire Emblem Three Houses has achieved a massive amount of success, increasing interest in the franchise. On the other hand, Atlus is developing Shin Megami Tensei V and Persona 5 Scramble, bringing two of their renown franchises to Switch. Before Three Houses and Persona 5’s success, a project for Wii U had released in 2015 called Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a collaboration RPG by Nintendo and Atlus, bringing Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei together into one game. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well at all on the Wii U. Luckily, players have the opportunity to play the game on Nintendo’s latest record breaking platform. What makes Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE Encore an enticing game to play on Switch? Its time to dive into a title’s second chance to shine.
The story of Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE Encore begins with 18 year old high school student Itsuki Aoi. He sets out to the Daitama Observatory to find his childhood friend, Tsubasa Oribe. The two meet up and Tsubasa tries to hide the fact that she came to Daitama for an idol tryout. Itsuki soon finds out as it’s her turn to have an interview on stage with Gojuin, the host of the tryout.
However, things go south rather quickly as otherworldly beings start kidnapping people and draining their energy. Gojuin turns out to be a wicked mastermind who planned this attack by hosting the tryout. He then takes Tsubasa into another realm called the Idolasphere, home to beings called Mirages. These Mirages seek energy called Performa, which are found in abundance within idols and people of talent. This very situation replicates one of Tsubasa’s past and its up to Itsuki to save her. Within the Idolsphere, Itsuki discovers his potential to unleash his own Mirage. He saves Tsubasa with the help of his friend Touma Akagi, defeat Gojiun and free him of the Mirage possessing him. The trio return to the real world and Touma introduces them to Fortuna, home to Idols and Mirage Masters. The prologue has ended and the real journey has just begun!
Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE Encore brings Atlus’ signature turn based combat into the Japanese Idol industry. With Fire Emblem elements being thrown into the mix, its unlike any game currently out in the market. Just like Shin Megami Tensei or Persona, the game features skills from the series such as Bufu, Agi, and many others as well as skills from Fire Emblem. In addition, the weapon triangle is active so certain enemies and weapons will add a spin to encounters. Targeting enemy weaknesses starts up a Session, which is similar to additional attacks in the Press Turn system from SMT. Quick Session adds speed to engagements, a new feature to the Encore version that speeds up combat
Each party member wields a Carnage, which is their Mirage turned into a weapon. The Mirage may exit their weapon form when engaging in SP Skills or in Bloom Palace. Carnages are crafted at the Bloom Palace run by Tiki, a very beloved character from the Fire Emblem series. Radiant Skills may be crafted here as well, which are special player skills that are passive in combat. More features become available as the story progresses and in-game text messages notify players of Carnages and Radiant Skills that are ready to be created. Overall, the combat system of Tokyo Mirage Sessions is fun and fluid with more potential as more skills are unlocked.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions also features city segments and hubs to explore, very similar to Persona. The setting does take place in Tokyo, which is a standard setting within Atlus JRPGs. Within the city, Itsuki may shop for items and clothing or accept requests/side stories. Fans of Persona will feel right at home in this colorful depiction of Japan. Dungeons called Idolaspheres are scattered around Tokyo and serve as points of progression in each chapter. Each Idolasphere comes with different Mirages, items to obtain and even requests. Feel free to return to them later in the playthrough as well. Different areas may open up when certain criteria is met in the story.
Helping out people and party members in the city will help Itsuki and gang earn more Performa. Increasing bonds through side stories and gameplay will help each character reach their turn potential. The best time to engage these activities are in Intermission, which takes place between chapters. In Intermission, players may explore Tokyo and available side content to their heart’s content.
Completing side stories and request allows players to learn more about characters and bring even more life to the world of idol culture. Along with XP gains and items, its a very satisfying way to progress and become stronger against Mirages. New Game+ makes its return from previous Atlus games so those who want to re-experience the game after completion may do so.
Lastly in the Features department, the Encore version of Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE Encore adds the following:
- More collaboration costumes (check out a few below)
- EX Story
- Faster load times
- Previously mentioned Quick Session option
Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE Encore’s theme of the idol pop culture might not resonate with everyone. However, those invested in Japanese entertainment and culture or JRPGs will most likely have a good time. The game is fully dubbed in Japanese with English subtitles so fans of English dubbed content may be disappointed here. For a decade and a half, many Atlus games have had stellar English voice casts so its a missing feature in this regard. Lastly, autosaving is not present in the game so having to keep track of saves is very important. It’s no problem for those who play their fair share of JRPGs, but the inclusion of autosaving would have been a good quality of life feature.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions # FE Encore is an excellent JRPG that combines signature Shin Megami Tensei gameplay with elements of Fire Emblem. Overall, its a very enjoyable experience with characters that players may become attached to. The world and characters bring the charm of Japanese idol pop culture to people who never experienced it. Fans of Shin Megami Tensei, Persona and Fire Emblem should give it a try!
Disclaimer: This product was not provided by Nintendo or Atlus to the reviewer.