We’ve all got that dream gaming crossover we’d love to see. For some, it might be a Resident Evil / Silent Hill hybrid. For others, it might be Banjo Kazooie buddying up with Yooka Laylee or maybe Halo meets Metroid Prime.
Merging games together is hard, though. Each game has been founded on its own unique merits and to try and fit those into another universe that has its own established rules is far from straightforward.
So, sometimes, it breeds unexpected results and these things come together in ways you wouldn’t expect. Like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, who’d have thought?
On paper, I wouldn’t expect a Fire Emblem and Persona crossover to look like Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Fire Emblem has a smart turn-based system set against a sprawling high fantasy world while Persona shines a spotlight on young school students who delve into a nightmare-like world, gradually learning about their extraordinary abilities.
The games don’t seem like an obvious, natural pairing. Maybe Final Fantasy or Advance Wars might have worked better with Fire Emblem and perhaps The World Ends With You or Parasite Eve could have merged with Persona. Sometimes, the crossover doesn’t seem quite right and unsurprisingly, this does impact on Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, mostly at the expense of Fire Emblem. In fact, you’d sometimes be forgiven for forgetting there’s even a crossover happening. The game is set in Shibuya, you’re following the daily lives of a group of enthusiastic students, you summon entities to fight with you and the combat certainly lends itself more to the Persona games.
The tactical nature of Fire Emblem – choosing your battlefield positioning, making use of different unit types, the way terrain can affect your competency in battle – is mostly forgotten about and lost. Even the unit types don’t much look like their counterparts from the mainline games. With TMS, it might appear to be all flashy musical numbers, intermissions, and trips to the office, and so I often forgot Fire Emblem was part of the game at all, a problem that was lobbied against the game when it first appeared on Wii U. That doesn’t mean I dislike what’s been done here.
On the contrary, I found Tokyo Mirage Sessions more enjoyable the longer I played because once it gets out of the shadows of two bigger named RPGs and is allowed to become its own entity, that’s when it truly shines. Sesssions, for instance, really add a nice dynamism and flow to the tried and tested nature of turn-based RPGs.
As I detached myself from what I thought the game would be, I was able to enjoy Tokyo Mirage Sessions for what it actually is. A game with stylish, fast-paced, challenging action, complete with a surprisingly compelling and interesting storyline.
Taking place in modern-day Tokyo, a group of friends within a talent agency known as Fortuna Entertainment, come together to fight Mirages which emerge from Idolaspheres. These Mirages have been afflicting Shibuya and Harajuku and are harvesting an energy known as Performa from all of humanity.
So, Mirages are the bad guys, right? Well, not all of them. See, to make things a bit more complicated, our talented cast also become friendly with some Mirages and actually need to call upon their strength to help them in battle.
Because, and here’s the twist, the talent agency they’ve been part of, hoping it’ll help them become the next big international superstar, is also a recruitment agency for ‘Mirage Masters’ – those who can form alliances with Mirages and harness their full potential.
And the Mirages our cast form alliances with? None other than the characters from Fire Emblem, like Chrom and Tharja.
The plot runs deeper still with Tsubasa, one of the talented cast, wanting to find her missing sister, Aya, who mysteriously disappeared five years prior during a theatrical production. There’s also many other side-stories which help you learn about the cast in more detail, and through your Topic device, you can also have conversations with each character, trading emojis and learning more about them.
With these characters coming from a talent agency, then it makes sense that its action needs to relate to that somehow. That’s how the game’s battle and unity systems have been formed, with the focus on you performing crowd pleasing techniques to deal the most damage.
You use ‘Sessions’ to effectively combo your enemies, so when you identify an enemy weakness, you can exploit it and this can trigger multiple attacks from other party members against that enemy. Likewise, though, the enemies can use that same strategy against you, so be wary.
This can help you build up a Special Meter as you’re using ‘crowd-pleasing techniques’ and when filled, enable you to deliver ‘Performance’ attacks, which see both the Mirage and Mirage Master attack together. There’s even an option for ‘ad-lib’ attacks, which often happen at random during battle.
This is all facilitated at Fortuna Entertainment’s secret hideaway, the Bloom Palace. Here you can strengthen party bonds, build new weapons which can also contribute to passive skills and command options, as well as boosts to health and other meters.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a surprising amount of fun and the Switch version does boast some additions over the Wii U original, including new side stories and costumes – like a Joker costume from Persona 5 for Itsuki.
I did find the text in handheld a bit hard on the eyes, though, and the lack of touchscreen to flick through your Topic is a bit disappointing. The game also has a pretty brutal difficulty curve and the amount of enemy encounters can be a little exhausting.
For the most part, though, I’m so glad that this game has been given a new lease of life on Switch. It’s not always perfect and it may not be what you expect, but it’s still another great RPG that definitely feels more at home in a portable world than on the big screen. If allowed, this one can be a real crowd-pleaser.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is now available on Nintendo Switch
Code provided by Nintendo