… And It Turns Out, That’s A Good Thing. Normally, when you buy a game, you typically know what you are getting yourself into ….or at least we assume we do…In the case of Tokyo Mirage Session #FE however, I was thrown for a loop…..and it ended up being one I was pretty happy with being thrown on.
I must not have paid enough attention to the trailers for this game before it came out because I definitely thought I was about to jump into some Japanese Pop Music Star fantasy game where the whole goal would be to rise up through Pop culture and become the most famous singer of all time. To a certain extent, I wasn’t wrong but boy is there so much more to this game. Like fighting evil ghost monsters.
The main premise of the game is actually not necessarily about becoming a pop star. Like I mentioned previously, It’s actually about combating these ghosts that are stealing the Performa of people and figuring out who exactly is behind all of these mysterious attacks. What is Performa you ask? Well…It’s basically this…..
So yeah, that might sound cheesy but it actually plays out in a number of cool ways that we will get to shortly. But as I was previously saying, the story of the game is entirely not what some may be thinking it is and is far more intriguing than just some Pop Music game. All of the characters are great and unique and genuinely keep you interested and do more to add to the story than take away from it and help you really feel immersed in the Pop culture that the game takes place in. In fact, because the game is so immersed in a Pop culture setting it actually helps make the game a lot more fun and counterbalances some of the more dark and depressing parts of the story quite well. The side stories in the game are also a lot of fun as well because they not only give you a much more in depth look at the various characters of the game (who you WILL want to know more about once you meet them,) but also because completing these stories gives you some incredibly helpful skills for your team of Pop stars in battle.
Pop stars battling?!?!?!?
Yup, your Pop stars are what the game refers to as “Artists” and each Artist ends up fusing with a Mirage and gains the power to battle the various other evil mirages in the game. These mirages are the ghosts I was referring to earlier. Luckily, the mirages you team up with happen to be various Fire Emblem characters such as Chrom and Caeda and they are on your side when it comes to protecting humanity. The combat system takes place on a sort of stage in front of a crowd of sorts and is a turn based battle system that actually gets really interesting if you start to combo your attacks using sessions. What is a session you ask? Well, its basically the attack chaining system in which you collaborate with other artists, (see what I did there?) and link various attacks together in one turn based on what your initial type of attack was and whether or not the foe was weak to it. So take Itsuki in the photo above. As you can see, he has used a sword based attack that the enemy is weak to. When you hit that enemy with an attack that they are weak to, you can trigger a session in which other allies will attack with whatever links to the attack the foe was weak to. For example say a foe is weak to fire, you can chain a something that looks like fire —> sword—> ice, so long as you have the skills for that. This proves to be one of the most useful aspects of the combat system and sometimes will even allow you to wipe a whole mob with one move. The pop star element of the game also plays an interesting role as well. As you go through the game and play through the side stories your characters will have different scenarios that occur where they may be moved to write a new song about something they experienced or get a job modeling where they learn about presenting themselves in photos or even pickup an acting job as a character in a TV show or something. This allows them to obtain a new type of Performa which allows them to learn special skills where they actually may use that song in combat or use a skill as their TV character. These skills and songs play out as special moves that are quite powerful and can help out a lot in a dire situation.
Music and…well…artistic setting!
Like I said previously, there is a huge pop star element to the game and it plays out a lot in music the music of the game. Personally, I enjoyed the soundtrack of the game a lot and loved it when my characters would write a new song to add to the J-pop style of the game. That being said, my wife did not enjoy this aspect of the game very much because she is not into J-Pop music and it added nothing to the experience for her so if you also are not into that kind of music, you might also not be thrilled with some of those aspects of the game. With that disclaimer however, I must say that for anyone who enjoys JRPG’s in general, this game is incredible and tons of fun. The visuals of the music culture of the game and the vivid coloring of everything just add to the experience and make what would be a very dark story actually that much more interesting due to the color contrasts that occur during various dramatic events in the game. The bright colorful art and designs of the world before a mirage attack articulate how much of an effect the dark mirages cause when they show up and the drastic changes in music and coloration during those attacks do nothing but complement this contrast as well. One could say that this game is a great testament to how much things like color variation and soundtracks can augment a game and help tell the story that much better and all around, create a better gameplay experience. All in all, this game is a drastically surprising winner for me and I had far more fun than I ever thought I might playing the game. What may have turned the game off originally actually showed to be some of what makes the game stand out from the typical JRPG settings and help make it that much more of a memorable entry in the genre. With a killer soundtrack that is continually improved upon by the very characters themselves, an intriguing cast where each character is unique and intriguing in their own way, and a combat system that is crazy fun to use once you get used to it, I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who is a JRPG player and even anyone who doesn’t mind a game that pushes the boundaries of RPG’s in a good way. Leave it to Nintendo to try something completely out of the ordinary and knock it out of the park right?
(Necessary note: The audio of the game is entirely in Japanese but all text is in English for the U.S. version, unless you change it. But it actually didn’t detract from the experience for me at all surprisingly so I vote, give it a shot!)