[This Review is Spoiler Free]
It is about time an awesome J-RPG came to the Wii U! Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is the J-RPG the Wii U has needed for some time. Published by Nintendo and developed by Atlus, the game opens with a young girl, Tsubasa, watching her older sister’s opera performance at a posh theater. Suddenly, everyone begins to disappear one by one except for Tsubasa. Five years later, her friend, Itsuki Aoi, is at the One of Millennium talent audition and finds Tsubasa auditioning to become an idol. Out of no where hostile ghostly apparitions, called Mirages, appear and attack the people at the audition center. These Mirages try stealing the energy from the humans, an energy that is known in the game as Performa. Tsubasa is captured and dragged off into a strange world called Idolosphere. Itsuki, the main character, rushes off into the Idolosphere and awakens his own Performa to work with the once-possessed Mirage, Chrom. Tsubasa’s awakened Performa lets her become the Mirage Master of Caeda. Both are hired by Fortuna Entertainment to become idols and to strengthen their techniques to battle the hostile Mirages.
Inside the Fortuna Entertainment building is a magical dimension called the Bloom Palace, where a special and cute Mirage named Tiki lives. It’s important to visit with Tiki often because she is able to transform the materials collected from various battles into weapons. Plus, Tiki can perform Carnage Unity and Radiant Unity to strengthen the characters in your party. There is no need to fret over when a Unity can be accomplished because you will receive a special alert (much like a text message) on the Wii U gamepad. The gamepad is utilized to a great extent in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. The developers of Atlus created a social media program that is used by characters within the game. Text messages range from helpful hints, to adorable little stickers, to lots of inspirational messages. The map is viewable at any time on the gamepad which is especially helpful in the Idolosphere dungeons the player will travel through.
These dungeons are idol-themed and look almost like a mall inside with colorful lights and geometric patterns. Sometimes these floor and wall patterns can look similar, and I’ve found myself on more than a couple of occasions getting lost basing my navigation on the near-identical rooms. Often, Itsuki will need to backtrack through floors to gain accesses to new areas. Thankfully, the backtracking doesn’t happen too often. The battles players will encounter within the dungeons are turn-based and extremely fun.
A large circular stage arena with a cheering audience appears for the battles. Each member of the party has several choices: basic attack, skill (which may lead to a Session that uses up EP), Defense (which also restores slight EP), and an escape option. I loved the battle system and, next to the costume designs, it is my favorite aspect of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. The Session, or string of combos, was a bit difficult to figure out early on in the game, yet it becomes much easier once more similar skills are learned by party members, which makes the Sessions easier to pull off.
The bright lights, cheers, and costumes all make the battles appear more like an idol concert than a fight between good and evil. Thankfully, Atlus made it so the various costumes in the game do NOT have specific skills or abilities attached to them. You can use any unlocked costume without the fear of the change affecting a character’s battle performance. The variety of weapons Tiki forges for you, after collecting the necessary materials, do have distinct looks to them. These weapons posses their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as skills.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a game created for lovers of Japanese pop-culture, and this shines through beautifully. References to vocaloids, anime Magical Girls, and idols are spread throughout the game. Although the game has a story completely within it’s own sphere, it is still a cross-over of the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei series. Fire Emblem characters are not the focus of the story, but are rather in the background compared to the main cast. This may be a disappointment for some FE die-hard fans, yet I see it as refreshing. Here is a game that offers a new story while it still borrows elements from previous ones.
Atlus decided to make the Japanese pop-culture theme paramount by keeping the Japanese voice track and only adding in the English subtitles. Most likely, those purchasing and playing the game are lovers of anime, manga, and J-RPGs so it’s hardly a problem for them. Personally, I prefer having the original voice track in every game to fully experience the director’s vision and intention. It is a thoughtful aspect that gives Tokyo Mirage a wonderful sense of completeness.
The characters each have their own personality, strengths, and even doubts which make them relatable to the gamer living outside of the story. They are reflections of those who want to use their performances as singers to extend their feelings to those who can’t always express themselves. On the surface, Tokyo Mirage Sessions may seem shallow with the theatrical costumes, bright stages and pop references. And yet the main and supporting casts proclaim how idols and performing are important to people. Kiria is an idol that many admire in the story — she is beautiful, talented, and extremely popular. She explains the purpose of an idol is to convey feelings in a unique way through song and dance. Kiria goes so far as to say that idols are able to spread happiness by expressing their own through singing that normally can not reach people’s hearts by plain words alone.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a sweet treat for Wii U owners to experience a world of fantastic battles, heartfelt performances, and great Japanese pop culture. With the use of anime and idol otaku references, along with the amazing battle mechanics, Tokyo Mirage is a dazzling addition to J-RPG fans’ collections.
Do you dare to stand up and sing?