It’s concerning that besides a couple of digital releases, the Wii U does not receive any support anymore. Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is one of the few games that make 2016 a worthwhile last year for Nintendo’s console, especially for a JRPG fans. I’ve now spent a couple of hours with the game and I can safely say it’s the best JRPG on the system and one of the best in the genre for this year. That’s saying something, seeing how many great JRPGs are being released this year.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE was initially announced as a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem. While the Shin Megami Tensei elements are clearly present (modern day setting, demons etc.) the Fire Emblem references are sparse. Only a couple of Mirages, which are your alter Egos, comparable to the Persona, are based on characters from the Fire Emblem series. It’s a bit disappointing, but once you get past that, you have a really fun JRPG on your hands.
What grabs my attention the most is the combat system. As it’s usual in the Persona games, you have to exploit the weaknesses of your enemies. While you get extra attacks in Persona if you do so, Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE features a different kind of combo system: If you exploit a weakness and one of your other characters has a follow-up attack, you can chain attacks together. This adds a huge tactical note when dealing with enemies, since you try to line your attacks up in such a way that you can finish them off before they can attack you. It makes combat quick and fun and it’s easily the strongest point of the game.
The story and setting are quite unique, as they focus on Japanese idol culture. The characters are well-rounded and likeable and I’m genuinely interested in their side-stories, which pop up every so often. They are nice additions and offer a break from the dungeon crawling. Since they unlock powerful skills, they are also well worth your time. I find it very impressive how the game manages to give its characters a certain depth during these side stories, without detracting from the main plot too much.
Initially, I feared that this game would be off to a slow start. Many SMT games, especially the Persona-Sub-Franchise, take their sweet time to get things going. Tokyo Mirage is different and lets you get into your first fight in 20 minutes. That was a pleasant surprise! Another poisitive point this game has is the dungeon design. Up until now, each dungeon has it’s own “gimmick”, like switch puzzles or traps, which keeps things fresh. The only thing I do not like so far is the high enemy encounter rate, though you can adjust that with a spell. However, you level up fairly quickly and as you get to know the weaknesses of your enemies, beating them gets easier with each encounter.
It’s really great to see what an HD-SMT title can look like. Even though the 3DS got its fair share of entries in the franchise, HD-consoles got nothing so far. But the game looks amazing and beats many other Wii U games in the visual department with its Anime-look and colours. The music is great too, even if you’re not into J-Pop, there’s something for everyone here. And really, I think this is the best thing you can say about a game that has such a niche appeal, thanks to its themes and the franchises involved here. If you’re a fan of the genre, you definitely need to pick up this late gem for the Wii U. I’ll keep you posted on my progress with the game.