Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore arrives on the Nintendo Switch on January 17, bringing the excellent Wii U role-playing game hardly anyone played to a much larger audience. While the Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover has more than enough style and charm to stand on its own, Atlus added a bit more story and a few additional features to sweeten the pot. It’s a very sweet pot now.
I loved Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE when it originally came out in 2016, but god I hated the Wii U. The bright and unapologetically upbeat turn-based RPG, steeped in Japanese pop culture, was exactly the game I wanted to play, trapped on a bulky, power-sucking, clumsy dual-screen console I’d grown to loathe. Though we posted extensive impressions of the original release, we never got around to writing a full review. Someone in the comments of that preview said, “I expected this to be a Fahey thing.” Now it is. All it took was a port to a console I did not despise.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is exactly that, the game I want to play on a console I want to play it on. The Switch version looks, feels, and plays like the original, but I don’t have to hold that bulky bastard of a Wii U controller in order to play. The Encore version includes all the downloadable content from the Wii U release, including the experience point- and skill-enhancing support dungeons.
This menu screen captures the game’s tone completely.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE tells the story of the young men and women of Fortuna Entertainment, a group of teenage singers, dancers, actors, and models. What bonds the young entertainers together is the power to bond with Mirages, powerful beings pulled from the Fire Emblem game universe. With no memory of their lives in Nintendo’s turn-based strategy series, Caeda, Chrom, Cain, Virion, and friends bond with the teenagers, aiding them in battle against mysterious creatures scheming to take over the world by absorbing its talent.
It’s an oddball story for a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The heroes travel through a series of themed dungeons, each with some sort of possessed human entertainer at its heart. A washed-up rock star, an obsessed fashion photographer, a popular singing idol who disappeared years ago – the mysterious enemy mirages use these humans’ talent to terrorise Tokyo. Our heroes are tasked with separating the mirages from their victims and destroying them.
This can involve a character learning to sing a song to break the victim free of the enemy’s thrall, or finding their confidence in order to remind a victim of why they got into fashion photography in the first place. Though glazed with a syrupy layer of Japanese pop culture cuteness, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE’s themes and messages are legitimate and wholesome.
What’s new? Several prominent characters in the game who couldn’t previously help in battle can now appear during special attacks. Session skill linking, the flashy mechanic that allows characters to automatically gang up on enemies during battles, now has a speed-up option to make fights go by faster. And to keep things fresh for returning players, there’s a handful of extra story quests that delve deeper into the backstories and motivations of some of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE’s cast of characters.
The art is sooooo good.
These story quests further explore the relationship between two of the game’s main characters, up-and-coming singer Tsubasa Oribe and her idol-turned-teammate, Kiria Kurono. The stories unfold in a special new dungeon rumoured to contain treasure chests capable of making a person’s dreams come true. I’ve played through the first episode. It took me around 15 minutes. I didn’t need the extra content, but it’s cute.
Players who missed the original Wii U release are in for a treat with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. With its focus on entertainment, random musical numbers, and goofy side stories, it feels like Persona: The Stage Production put on by a group of performers who had some extra Fire Emblem costumes lying around and recycled them. As for fans who played and enjoyed the Wii U release, this is a much better way to play a lovely game.