Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review preview hands-on

A lot of times, when crossover video games happen, they tend to follow a pretty established formula. Fan-favorite characters from iconic franchises come together and use their catchphrases and unforgettable skills to either fight each other or take down some original, interdimensional threat conveniently invented for the sake of the crossover experience. When Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem was announced during a Nintendo Direct way back in 2013, people expected this crossover between two iconic Japanese RPG series to follow that same formula. Instead, Atlus and Intelligent Systems came together to craft an original story about the power of song and performance and ended up releasing one of the most charming JRPGs in recent years — on a console few people owned. Now, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore comes to Switch to introduce the game to a much larger audience.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore continues to be the incredible and addictive JRPG experience it was in 2015. The game takes place in an entirely original world that pays homage to Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem through various sights, sounds, and gameplay mechanics. Rather than controlling any popular existing characters from those series, you play as Itsuki Aoi, a young man who gets recruited by Fortuna Entertainment alongside his childhood friend, Tsubasa Oribe. While the company operates as a successful talent agency, the members of the agency secretly moonlight as Mirage Masters who enter the world of the Idolasphere in order to use their Performa abilities to fight evil shades alongside their magical companion Mirages. You know, RPG stuff.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review for Nintendo Switch

While the overall focus of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is on this original world of idol singers and stage actors, various little bits of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem slip into the world to create an aesthetic mashup that is sure to please fans of both series. The spiritual Mirage warriors you team up with, for example, are amnesiac versions of Fire Emblem characters like Chrom, Caede, and Tharja. You visit the Hee-Ho Mart to buy items from Anna, you explore dungeons as you would in any modern Persona game, and when you level up those unforgettable Fire Emblem sounds chime off as your characters’ stats grow. The fun, light-hearted, anime-as-hell tone of the world is already charming enough, but the way Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore comes together with endless nods and callbacks to the two iconic series that it draws inspiration from ensures that there’s something here for everyone.

The game is also carried by incredibly addictive gameplay that puts a streamlined spin on the classic Shin Megami Tensei and Persona experience. Battles are turn-based affairs, but the tempo of battle can change completely if you attack enemy weak points. By doing this, you can automatically trigger combo attacks that chain together bonus abilities from your party members in order to get a slew of extra hits in. As you progress through the game, you’re able to craft new weapons and unlock new Skill buffs that give you even more combo abilities, combat bonuses, and devastating skills to work with.

It’s an addictive experience, but it’s also a long one. While I never quite felt like the game was dragging on or needlessly lengthy, it’s still nearly 60 hours long, and the lack of an auto-save means you might be replaying huge chunks of the game if you aren’t careful. In other words, make sure you don’t die.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review for Nintendo Switch

New content mostly comes in the form of bonus dungeons, new costumes, and unlockable assist attacks that you can obtain as you progress through the game. On top of this, all of the DLC from the original release is packed in for free. There isn’t a massive new chunk of story content or rebalanced gameplay to experience, so if you already played Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE back on Wii U there might not be enough here to warrant a double-dip. For first-time players, though, the improved performance of the game is a transformative experience. Battles and area transitions load almost instantly on Switch, compared to the constant load times of the original release that would quickly add up.

With quick loading and Nintendo Switch portability, it’s easy to call this the definitive version of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. It’s a fun, silly, and engaging experience that excels at paying homage to two iconic game franchises while also crafting its own memorable, endearing world. Fans of the addictive RPG gameplay of Persona 5 or the charming characters of Fire Emblem: Three Houses will be right at home with this game, as long as you’re prepared for yet another lengthy RPG experience to absorb your life for a while.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review for Nintendo Switch

Release Date: Jan. 17, 2020
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: Role-Playing
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Atlus, Intelligent Systems

A review code was provided by the publisher.

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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore

9

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore brings improved load times, new content, and incredible charm to Nintendo Switch, resulting in a must-play JRPG experience for anyone who owns the latest Nintendo console.

Pros
  • Charming cast of characters
  • Addictive, rewarding RPG mechanics
  • Instant load times
Cons
  • Lack of auto-save
  • Maybe not enough extra content to incentivize those who played the Wii U original
Miguel Moran
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.

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