Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a Win for JRPG Fans

While the Wii U wasn’t all that great of a console, it did have several gems in its library. Some, like Super Mario 3D World or The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker HD, went on to achieve critical and commercial acclaim. Others weren’t so lucky and were seemingly doomed to exist in obscurity as unfortunate casualties of the Wii U’s general unpopularity. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was one such case. As a collaborative effort between Fire Emblem’s Intelligent Systems and Shin Megami Tensei’s Atlus, this is a unique case in the RPG genre and a worthy experience for any JRPG fan. It was a shame that so many had to miss it the first time around, but it’s been revealed that it’ll soon begin a new life on the Switch as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore. This is a major win for JRPG fans, as many will finally have a real opportunity to experience this game’s unique scenario and combat system for themselves.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE puts players into the shoes of Itsuki Aoi, a high-school student who basically gets roped into show business after an encounter with a spirit-like entity called a “mirage.” This turns out to be Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening, who’s been displaced from his homeland of Ylisse along with a few of his comrades. His group and Itsuki’s join forces and from there set out to save the real world from the Idolasphere’s dark forces by…mastering the performing arts and making their mark on show business. No, really.

It’s a goofy scenario, but the developers use it to the fullest. Each new incursion centers around different sectors of show business such as: Film, Music, Modeling and Television, enabling some rather interesting takes on otherwise mundane settings. Health potions are replaced with energy drinks; smoke bombs are replaced by fog machines, and alternate costumes are all sourced from acting gigs and concert performances. Even the groups’ special attacks are showbiz-centric; by improving a character’s performing skills, players can bring powerful techniques like pop-song duets and soda commercials into the midst of combat. It’s all kinds of ridiculous, but in the best way possible.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore - Combat
Speaking of combat, it’s also a little bit ridiculous. Combat in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE starts with a combination of elements from Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei. From the former comes the weapon triangle and from the latter comes magic. Every unit in the game, including party members, has a weapon affiliation as well as magical strengths and resistances. On top of that the game introduces “sessions,” which are basically chain attacks.

Sessions are the bread and butter of combat here, with enemies just as capable of launching them as players are. As such, success depends entirely on how well one can balance launching sessions while defending against the enemy’s. Sloppiness in threat management and character building can open one up to harsh punishment, something that’s particularly true at higher difficulty levels. It’s not the deepest system out there to be sure, but it’s entertaining enough to keep one’s attention, especially once those soda commercials cut-in and extend session counts.

All told, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was a highly entertaining (albeit imperfect) experiment that never got a true chance thanks to being stuck on the Wii U. Now that it’s coming to Switch though, that can finally change. Its silly scenario, colorful cast, absurd attacks and surprisingly-addictive combat will all be available for the wider JRPG fandom to dig into and enjoy.

Considering that the game only moved around 100,000 units during its launch windows, it’s actually rather incredible that this is happening at all. JRPG fans should not let this opportunity pass them by a second time, both for themselves and for the slim possibility of justifying a sequel. Seriously, something this different deserves the chance at a follow-up.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is set to launch for Nintendo Switch on January 17, 2020.

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