Welp, the Nintendo Switch is coming out in less than 3 months. But we're not here to talk about the Switch. In fact, we'll time travel to Wii U era games to review what is without a doubt the most stylish game ever made...
"Wait a minute!" you ask. "What kind of name is Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE?". First thing to note, this is a RPG and RPG names rarely make sense. But this game's title makes a little bit of sense. Tokyo = The entire game takes place in Tokyo, Japan. Mirage = The heroes encounter ghostly beings known as Mirages throughout their adventure. Sessions = a very important gameplay mechanic I'll explain in depth later. # = While many assume it's supposed to be a hashtag, it's actually a sharp note. Fitting because this game revolves mostly around music. FE = Fire Emblem. Yes. The F.E. stands for Fire Emblem since this is (technically) a Fire Emblem game. Or rather, a hybridization of Fire Emblem, Shin Megami Tensei, and Persona. None of which I have actually played prior to this game. But I did do a small amount of research on them (Shin Megami Tensei is basically a M-rated Pokemon, one of the Persona games was basically a massive "Take That!" to pop culture, and Fire Emblem is a series of Tactical RPG's famous for having good stories, lovable character, and "rock-paper-scissors" style Weapon Triangle). Anyway, this game was made by Atlus, who worked on two of the three games I mentioned.
Basically, Tokyo Mirage Sessions rolls traits of these franchises together, while creating a story with an interesting, if somewhat audience-alienating, concept.
The story of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE stars a young girl named Tsubasa and her childhood friend Itsuki. Tsubasa wants to become an idol. Itsuki doesn't really have any plans for his own future, but is happy to help Tsubasa on her way to stardom. But everything changed when the Fire Nation- Er, Mirages attacked.
Five years before the events of the game, during a live play performance, hundreds of people, including Tsubasa's sister Ayaha, vanish without a trace. We learn shortly afterwards that this incident is the work of Mirages, otherworldly beings who just so happen to be Fire Emblem characters (Chrom, Tharja, Navarre, etc). And the Mirages try to do the exact same thing a second time, to drain humanity of a form of energy known as Performa (really creative name, Atlus), which is ability a psychical embodiment of the human soul to express itself through performance art (singing, acting, etc).
The plot mostly revolves around Tsubasa's rise to stardom with the help of Itsuki and several friends they meet along the way. It, of course, spirals into something much larger, like saving the world from a world destroying monster. But for the most part, the story shines it's spotlight (geddit?) on Tsubasa.
And this game's concept alone has, like I mentioned earlier, alienated some people who did originally plan on picking this game up. I for one wasn't alienated by the concept because 1) I've never played any of the games that Tokyo Mirage Sessions draws inspiration from. And 2) I really like weird concepts in video games. My only gripe with the story is fact that if you have played literally any RPG whose name doesn't start with "Under" and end with "tale" the story will feel familiar. We have the stoic loner who joins the team late into the adventure Sixth Power Ranger style, the ridiculously adorable precious cinnamon roll character, the plucky comic relief character, and the aforementioned world ending monster thing. Very common storytelling beats, at least in the RPG genre.
That's not to say it's bad. This games story was alright in my book. But given I am like the ABSOLUTE KING OF HYPER-GAMING, they could have at least thrown in a few surprises for me.
The characters themselves were alright too. The only characters I didn't like was Itsuki himself (he feels way too much like a blank slate for the player to project on). But my favorite characters would have to be Touma (pictured above), a stunt man who dreams of being the lead character in a super hero show that is a very obvious parody of Power Rangers (or Kamen Rider, take your pick). Touma is actually a cool character, he has some really memorable moments (his second side mission where he must learn how to flirt with girls so he can play the civilian identity of the lead of the aforementioned superhero show had me laughing from start to finish). and performs (geddit?) really well in actual combat.
But a close runner-up for favorite character would be Yashiro, who is the stoic loner that joins late into the adventure I mentioned earlier. Why? Because he is arguably the best tank in the game (Taunt + Counter is a surprisingly deadly combination!). His side missions also range from funny, to weirdly feels inducing. Also, Yashiro looks cool both is his regular and combat forms. Everyone else can only look cool in one or the other.
Something I will note, is that Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a very musical video game. And no, not just because the game has good music. I mean, considering the game takes it's pop idol theme and runs with it, expect the characters to actually sing songs. Like the easiest way to imagine Tokyo Mirage Sessions is as Fire Emblem/Persona: The Musical. Random fun fact! Every character that sings in the game is voiced by a real-life J-Pop singer. Now's a good time to mention that the voice acting in this game is exclusively in Japanese. Makes sense. I mean, the entire game takes place in Tokyo, JAPAN. There ARE English subtitles available if you don't know Japanese.
Now that covers it for story, but what about gameplay? Well, 70% of the game revolves around exploring increasingly difficult dungeons with mild puzzle solving. The puzzles aren't difficult in the slightest, but they do break up the repetitivity of exploring the dungeons and fighting enemies.
But how does combat work? Well, it's turn-based JRPG standard fare where you select an action from a menu, and then select a target. That is, until we get to the titular game mechanic of Sessions. The way Sessions work is say you hit an enemy with an attack the enemy is weak to. Assuming another party member has a Session skill that links up with your attack, that Party Member can also get a hit on the enemy before the first character's turn actually ends. And if ANOTHER party member has a Session Skill that links up with the first, you can keep the combo going, and once you get every party member and the appropriate abilities you can attack an enemy 7 times in one turn. Later on you unlock attacks known as Duo Arts where two party members unleash a teamwork based attack (normally singing a duet, but there are exceptions) and these attacks allow you to extend the combo even further! Although it's really rare (or I just have really bad luck) you can use TWO Duo Arts in one turn. So in other words, it's possible to attack an enemy 20+ times IN ONE TURN using Sessions! Duo Arts also have additional effects like auto-healing the entire team or instantly inflicting status conditions.
And now for the part where I explain why Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is the most stylish game ever made.
First, just look at the character designs. This game has, in my opinion, some of the best character designs in video game history. Special mention goes to Chrom. Now I know some people don't like Mirage!Chrom's design due to it not fitting his character well, but I personally love this design, as it looks both awesome, and slightly creepy, which is a good thing in my book.
The other Mirages designs vary from partially robotic (like Cain) to ghostly and ethereal (like Tharja). As for the human characters themselves, their designs are good as well. Something worth noting is later on you gain an item known as the Master Seal (which is a thing from Fire Emblem in case you were curious) which can be given to the ally Mirages to have transform into stronger and cooler-looking forms. But, the mirages themselves don't really fight directly. They just give their human friends some superpowers and call it a day.
But the MAIN reason this game gets the "Most Stylish Game" award from me is because of the battle animations. They vary from awesome moves like Yashiro summoning Navarre to slice up an enemy into a million pieces, to more endearing moves like Mamori (pictured above and to the left, the one in the yellow hat!) singing "Raindrop Memories" while her Mirage friend, Draug, sets up energy shields around the party, to just plain ridiculous like Kiria (aka the *Sinon clone) putting on a cat costume and causing a literal Cuteness Overload. But no matter what, Tokyo Mirage Sessions does literally EVERYTHING with flamboyance and style.
Hey look it's Sinon-oops I mean, Kiria!
Now onto the negative stuff... Oh boy... This is really difficult because I thoroughly enjoyed almost every part of the game. The only thing I think this game really missed out on as far as story goes is that Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a game that bases it's concept around idols. More specifically, teenage celebrities. The idol industry is infamous for corruption being a major issue. I was EXPECTING them to have some form of corruption in the game because that would make for a cool and interesting plot device, given the concept Atlus chose for this game (heck, when I first saw Yashiro, my first thought was he was a corrupt mega idol that only cares about himself). But NOPE! The closest we get to corruption is the fact the evil Mirages tend to possess people and make them evil, but I'm talking about legitimate corruption (Greed, Power, stuff like that!). You know how I said that one of the Persona games is a massive "Take That, idol industry!"? Well this game is the opposite, since it portrays the teen celebrity life in the most positive way imaginable (what makes it worse is that both games were made by the EXACT SAME development team!). Unless you count Tsubasa's sister mini-story arc that lasts for the entirety of one chapter, since Tsubasa's sister, Ayaha, is living proof of what happens when the idol life fails. And considering that Tsubasa looked up to Ayaha, I guess you could say she IDOLized her! (Way to ruin the moment, Spencer!)
Good job Itsuki, you got to shake Chrom's hand!
Speaking of Ayaha, the second thing I don't like about this game's story is how it handled Ayaha. They created this character that shows the hardships and soul-shattering nature of trying to be an idol, but she is only relevant to the plot in the very same chapter she debuts in. Like after she's saved, the story just forgets about her! It's infuriating to me that they handled a character that was without a doubt being set up to be arguably the most important supporting character, but be almost completely forgotten.
While the ally Mirages don't suffer to the extent that Ayaha does, they don't get much time in the spotlight (geddit!?) themselves. I mean, if you've already played the Fire Emblem games (or studied up on the lore) you kind of already know who more about the characters but say you have no idea who Chrom or Caeda are, and you want to learn about them as characters. But they never delve into them more than "they are the guardians of their human friends". The only exception to that rule is Virion, who has an admittedly hilarious "quest" to prepare his human counterpart, Elenora, for life as a noble. But to put it bluntly, I feel Ayaha was a wasted character, and i also feel that the Mirages could have been given more direct involvement rather than just being their to give our heroes enough power to kick tail and take names.
But those are the ONLY things I don't like about Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. The gameplay was great, the music was good (because like I said, this game is basically Fire Emblem/Persona: The Musical) and had a neat concept and will forever hold the title of Most Stylish game EVER MADE. Unless Atlus makes a game with even more glamour and flair than this game. So I give this game a 9/10.
*- Sinon is a character from Sword Art Online and Kiria bears an uncanny resemblance to her. That, or I am going insane. Probably the latter.