During the Wii U era, I missed out on a ton of games made for the console. I never saw the appeal of owning a Wii U, and the system soon lost its way. I missed out on some good games, like Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, two JRPGs that I kick myself for not playing. Luckily, things have changed with the Nintendo Switch, which is hugely successful and eager to offer a massive library of titles to owners. We’ve also seen several ports of Wii U title make their way to the Switch, each game being offered a second chance at success in a better environment, including the newest port, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore.
So, what is Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encoreabout? For those unfamiliar with the title, it’s a crossover of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem it’s one of the most colourful games I’ve seen in a long time. Playing as Itsuki Aoi, a young man obsessed with Japanese idol culture, who in a turn of events is whisked away to another dimension called the Idolasphere. It is here that Itsuki unlocks his Performa power, allowing him and his party members to unlock their innate abilities. Joining Fortuna Entertainment, the pair use their Mirages (who end up being familiar faces from the Fire Emblem series) to stop corrupted Mirages who are bent on ruining our world.
Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore is a silly game with a silly premise but the way it’s set up works well. Joining the Fortuna Entertainment organization as an idol, the real mission is to face off against the incoming Mirages. You’ll learn how to balance being an idol as well as diving into dungeons and I can’t express how much fun it all is, if not a bit silly. More so, time is spent in the Bloom Palace, a place in the real world where your Mirage is free to hang out, and you’ll upgrade weapons here, pick up additional quests and more.
As it were, combat is based on Shin Megami Tensei and wholly turn-based and uses the naming scheme for spells (Zio, Dia, Agi) and you’ll utilize weapon-based attacks as well. Battles occur on a stage with a crowd watching your every move. Everyone’s turn is also shown at the top of the screen, and the Session system is a crucial proponent of the game. Sessions use character skills to exploit a Mirage’s weakness. If this sounds familiar, you’ll have seen the mechanic in both Shin Megami Tenseiand Fire Emblem through its Weapon Triangle (Rock, Paper, Scissors).
Sessions allow multiple characters the opportunity to jump in and combine attacks against enemies. If a weakness is exploited, the combo begins and your party will work together to dole out damage, all on a single turn. It’s a neat way to keep things interested when in battle and paired with the Duo Attack system, this feature offers two characters to join together and attack enemies in flashy, dramatic fashion.
All of this occurs in dungeons spread out around Tokyo. These dungeons are great to look and feel right at home in a Persona game, but the puzzles are little more a necessary nuisance to progress. In some cases, you’ll leave an Idolasphere to witness a cutscene, then return to the dungeon to progress. Backtracking is a mechanic I would enjoy never dealing with again and here it is laborious.
And while I enjoyed my time battling Mirages and chaining Sessions Attacks, the story left much to be desired. I understand the content is necessarily award-winning or thought-to provoke, but everything about the story comes across as generic, bland and trite. If you’re a fan of anime, you’ve encountered every trope, personality, and resolutions each character offers in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. For a game that has access to two of the hottest franchises available, the lack of utilizing them for better story-telling is disappointing.
If you’ve already played Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, there is new content for you to enjoy. Included in Encore is a new dungeon called the Area of Aspiration, songs, and costumes to use. Also, previously unplayable characters will now participate during Sessions Attacks. Most importantly, the EX Story chapters now provide backstory for some of the characters, so if that’s of interest, you may want to consider double-dipping on the Nintendo Switch. In particular, the new dungeon is meant to expand each character and you’re able to learn more about the party, and becoming better idols.
Performance-wise, I wasn’t aware of how rough the game was on the Wii U but after seeing this video from GameXplain comparing the two versions, I’m happy I waited. From the looks of it, loading is 2-3x faster now, and the video confirms how much more optimized the game is now.
Graphically, the game shines in both handheld and docked mode. I spent half my time playing on the Nintendo Switch Lite, then transferring my save to my launch Nintendo Switch. The game runs exceptionally well and looks great playing in handheld, but when displayed on my TV, the game is not 1080p resolution. Docked gameplay felt blurry and soft, but the colourful nature of the Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore does an excellent job at masking the inadequacies of the graphics.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encoregains a second life with its arrival on the Nintendo Switch. Through dozens of hours of gameplay, you’ll explore the Idol industry in a way that’s wacky, colourful and charming. Being on a newer console includes bringing quality of life changes to the experience, with better load times being an improvement. If you’re curious about whether or not Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a game for you, it likely is. Don’t miss out on one of the best JRPGs in years.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]