Thanks to Nintendo of America for the review code
Title: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
System: Wii U
Release Date: 06/26/2016
Taking place in the modern era, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is an RPG adventure where you take control of Itsuki Aoi, who along with his friends Tsubasa and Touma must solve the mysteries of the dimension known as the Idolosphere. Along the way they’ll also have to help out Fortuna Entertainment, one of the biggest talent groups in Tokyo!
From a stylistic standpoint, the game looks and feels like a living anime, thanks to the animated cutscenes being created by Studio 4C and the music videos being composed by Avex Group. (of Inuyasha fame) Both the ordinary world of Tokyo and the fantasy realm of the Idolsphere has a lot of attention of detail, whether it’s the authenticity of shops around town compared to their real world counterparts or the surreal themes of the Idolosphere dungeons, which in design can range from a pretty standard JRPG dungeon to something more creative like a dungeon where you have to find a stealthy path to the exit while avoiding cameras that’ll warp you to the beginning of the section.
While all the action takes place on the top screen, the gamepad is put to clever use, being used to present text messages from other characters. During the course of the game, you’ll get topics from the other characters, which will either be something related to the main story (Known as an “Urgent Topic”) or just alerts to when you can upgrade your equipment or skills with Tiki. In battle, the gamepad can even be used as a handy way to look at the enemy’s weaknesses and stats!
The story is split up into six chapters, each of which progresses the plot a bit further. In the beginning the game feels like your basic RPG, with a focus on leveling up, equipping items and skills, and defeating dungeon bosses with little story development. Once you make it to Chapter 2 however, things begin to open up with the story becoming a lot better.
There are also some optional side quests that open up over the course of the story, which usually requires you to hunt down a specific enemy. It may seem rather difficult to complete these sidequests depending on what the focus of the current chapter is, which is where intermissions come in handy. Intermissions are basically grace periods set inbetween each chapter, where you’re free to wander around the world as you please and revisit every area you have access to without worrying about the story. This is also perfect for leveling up your characters for later dungeons, since the game can be quite tough with its battle system.
When in a dungeon, enemies can appear out of nowhere in the form of hooded red ghosts, and hitting the X button will cause Itsuki to use his sword to stun them. This can be used to easily avoid enemies if you just want to go through a dungeon as fast as possible but I don’t really recommend it as unless you’re on the easiest setting the game becomes surprisingly difficult if you don’t go out of your way to fight enemies. Coming in direct contact with one of these mirages will engage a battle, which are done in a turn-by-turn structure that you would expect from a typical JRPG, but two key elements help make the battle system stand out. The first of which are the weaknesses, as both the Weapon Triangle from Fire Emblem and the elemental system from Shin Megami Tensei are used in battle, and every enemy has their own weaknesses and resistances. Likewise your characters have their own weaknesses to look out for as well.
The second of these key elements is partially related to the first, and that is with the titular “sessions”. Sometimes depending on the type of enemy you encounter you’ll be able to trigger a session attack, which is where the other members of your party will use skills similar to the one you just used to deal multiple hits to the enemy. This is a skillful system that comes in handy in boss battles, (especially if you manage to combine it with SP Skills!) although just like with the weaknesses enemies can take advantage of this as well.
In conclusion, Tokyo Mirage Sessions ends up as the only retail RPG available on the Wii U, and it manages to be a well-crafted, memorable adventure despite this fact. It’s by no means a short game, and its easy to underestimate the difficulty and length of this title. Still, with a solid battle system and adjustable difficulty settings (A “Friendly” option becomes available if you die too much, which makes the game a lot easier but still retains some of the challenge in boss battles to prevent it from becoming a cakewalk) this was an RPG adventure I enjoyed playing, and despite the stupid limitation I put on myself, it was still fun in short bursts, even if this is an RPG adventure best suited for long play sessions. It may not be the simple Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei crossover hinted at back in 2013, but after spending a lot of hours with this game I feel the direction it went with using a unique cast made the game stand out more in the end. I give Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE an 8 out of 10, and recommend it to all RPG fans who longed for an original RPG adventure for the Wii U!
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