When Tokyo Mirage Session #FE came out there were two reasons I didn’t play it.
The first is that I wasn’t the Fire Emblem fanboy I am today, and the second is it came out on the Wii U, so nearly nobody got the chance to play it. Like many of the other excellent games that were released on the Wii U, Nintendo has now ported this gem to Switch so that more people, including myself, can finally see what we missed on Wii U. Let me tell you, we missed.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a mashup of Fire Emblem and Atlus games i.e. Persona. As someone with no Persona experience, I was definitely coming in expecting a lot more Fire Emblem than I got. The game itself definitely leans more towards the Persona angle from gameplay and flare (based on some Googling and YouTube watching form myself) and the Fire Emblem is more a sprinkling of references and characters, which I actually wound up liking a lot more than I expected.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore follows a young group who are thrust into the world of mirages. These are gates that appear around the world which take you to mazes in a world where the mirages (monsters) appear and try to steal performa. Performa is basically people energy to act and as such without it they wind up becoming these drained unmotivated shells of their former selves. In this world, the people who have the most performa are people who have extreme amounts of energy and personality, namely, idols.
If you don’t know what Japanese idols are, without you having to fall down a Googling hole that will offend your western sensibilities, they are basically the stars that people idolise. They are the musical megastars in Japan which have some creepiness in reality, but for the purposes of the game they are acting, singing, and modelling megastars. Some of these people because of this amount of performa can connect themselves to certain mirages which are less mindless monsters and are characters themselves. This is the most obvious Fire Emblem influence as all the mirages that connect to the main characters are Fire Emblem heroes like Chrom.
The story follows Itsuki and Tsubasa after Tsubasa is pulled into an idolsphere, which are the gateways to the Mirage’s world. Itsuki follows her and this is where they get their Mirages Chrom and Caeda, and discover the way that the hidden world of mirage fighters. The plot doesn’t get too much deeper than that, but it does continue to be interesting as Tsubasa goes through the challenges of becoming an Idol in the real world, and the team discovers more cohorts to fight with in the idolspheres. I won’t spoil the story too much but a lot of the characters are interesting and full of life, the main protagonist Itsuki, well not so much.
The battles use a classic turn based battle system, with the three fighters surrounding the targets on a performance stage. The biggest change to the system is the use of session attacks, which are where you can have other characters get an extra attack in. Basically you have to hit enemies with an attack they are weak to, and then your allies with a similar style attack will also hit the enemy in that turn. It’s an interesting system that kept me engaged throughout the entire game. You can also switch your characters mid battle with any of the others you unlock throughout the game, with an animation that switches their profile picture on the screen behind them as the character runs in. This fluency makes trying to find your enemies weaknesses such an important and engaging part of the combat.
The thing that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore does best is its use of colour. The most obvious clever move is that most of the people in the world are portrayed as brightly coloured silhouettes which allows the world to seem populated without being too busy with a lot of detailed NPCs. The stages, shops, and signs in the world are so colourful and bright, that even in the darker dungeons the game is so bubbly and full of personality that made me genuinely happy to jump back in for more playtime.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is an excellent JRPG, even for people unfamiliar with either or both of the source games. It is lively, colourful and full of JRPG tropes, that should bring joy to most JRPG fans. Interesting dungeons designs, an interesting supporting cast, and a strange story makes it well worth a dabble.