Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Review: J-Pop Sing-A-Long Time
Japan is under attack by mirages seeking idol’s performa to conquer the real world and the world of Fire Emblem. If none of that makes sense, then strap on for a wacky absurd story involving a bunch of JRPG tropes with fun gameplay mechanics that will make you want more by the time the end credits finish rolling. Performa is the essence of power within certain individuals and in this case, idols. By sucking the performa out of idols, mirages gain strength. Dozens of mainstream idols have gone missing and it’s up to a group of young adults to save the world, by singing one pop-song at a time. To be frank, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE turned me off once the J-pop music came into play years prior to release, but by giving Atlus and Nintendo the benefit of the doubt I was rewarded by playing one of this year’s best games and potentially the best turn based RPG in a long time.
The game follows Itsuki and Tsubasa, two up and coming idols that are given the power of a Mirage Master. A Mirage Master is one who can fuse with a mirage, in this case, a well-known Fire Emblem hero. Itsuki gains Chrom’s power while Tsubasa gains Caeda’s (Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon respectively). By fusing with mirages, these idols get the power to use swords, lances, bows, and even magic to fend off evil-doers and save the world from certain doom.
With the classic Fire Emblem weapon triangle in place, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE brings fast passed turned based gameplay to this world. Just as any turn based game, you choose the attacks and abilities that will play out at the end of your turn. Figuring out enemy weaknesses plays a major role in combat though. If a weakness is taken advantage of, a Session will follow. Sessions are follow-up attacks that party member can use as long as skills are compatible with each other. These sessions are what make the game unique. Looking for weaknesses should be your priority when found in a new dungeon. Sessions not only make the gameplay fun, but it will be crucial to take down bosses with tons of health later in the game.
Despite having the opportunity to plan out sessions during mid-battle, you first require to have at least two party members with abilities and skills that are passive to one another. For example, if an enemy is weak to a sword you would need Itsuki to use an ability involving a sword. The ability is then tied to the skills you’ve taught each party member. Itsuki, a sword wielder, will learn skills involving “sword-element”. This element will be the linking connection to start a session. If the skill is “sword-wind” then the follow up party member must have a skill starting with wind. By doing so, a session is made. This in return could pay off with high damage later on in the game when you have a party of seven . The game’s combat can be ballistic at first, but it truly pays off.
These skills aren’t gain from experience, but from Carnage. Carnage is a fancy word for weapon. To learn new abilities and skills you constantly must switch and upgrade your carnage. At first, you’re limited to how many skills you can learn, but as the game progresses you can hold extra skills meaning you will need to find a fine balance of all your abilities between all party members to string even longer sessions.
The Wii U not being as powerful as a Xbox One or PlayStation 4 means that the game doesn’t look as current gen as it should, but Atlus impresses with beautiful graphics nonetheless. Character animations are jaw dropping during combat. In-game cutscenes are beautifully drawn out to look like modern day anime sometimes even highlighting the game’s best moments. Dungeon aesthetics can get dull at times, due to lots of backtracking, but they aren’t terrible because the puzzles within the dungeons are quite clever if not annoying at times. Limited locations can be a downfall to one looking for new experiences within the world of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE as only a handful of dungeons exists, but it’s not a deal breaker as the game’s story progression feels just right never making you question that something isn’t panning out when it should.
Looking beautifully on the Wii U is one thing, but how does the game’s sound come into play? Following a bunch of Japanese idols mean that you will find yourself listening to lots of J-pop, even during battles. As someone who doesn’t listen to this genre of music I was completely turned off, but the music is actually really good. I found myself looking for the next chance to get one of these performances to occur during mid-battle. Yes,a snippet of a J-pop song will randomly occur during a battle dealing tons of damage to enemies. I found myself occasionally reverting onto YouTube to listen to some of these songs. Tokyo Mirage Sessions has an exceptional soundtrack.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a game everyone with a Wii U should experience. It rivals Mario Kart 8 as the best Wii U game and it nearly made my game of the year for 2016. Lovable characters with Fire Emblem’s weapon triangle and an absurd storyline made me wanting for more. If you’re a fan of games like Chrono Trigger and classic Final Fantasy games, you should be looking to get a copy of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE as they rival the best that the JRPG genre can offer. Here’s hoping the game gets ported to the Nintendo Switch so others can experience what I call a near perfect game.