Last time in Part 2 we took a look at how the world and overall presentation was made. Today, we’ll take a final look at the other half of any RPG, the gameplay. Today we reach the last stop in our journey to the release of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE.
Before we can take a look at battles, it’s important to talk about how the game will progress. Similar to titles in many key Shin-Megami Tensei titles, players will control a main protagonist, in this case, Itsuki Aoi and navigate around a recreation of Tokyo, Japan. Players are able to advance the main story through main quests. Also they will be able to do side quests that help further develop the relationships between main party members, earning powerful skills that can help swing the tide of battle called Duo Arts, which act out little skits before the attack, further enhancing the entertainment theme the game has. There is also an in game social media app that allows players to interact with NPC’s and your party members, which also fits with it’s modern setting.
Dungeons as previously mentioned in Part 2 are based on real life locations, each dungeon utilizing set landscapes with the puzzles based on the gimmick that the dungeon setting provides (EX. a clothing store using different mannequin poses to reach new locations using a giant mannequin.). Enemies will also appear on the map like the Persona games, and like those games, players will be able to attack them with an on map attack that will allow them to gain the initiative going into battle, get ambushed if they touch the player from behind, or avoid encounters altogether.
So what happens when you enter a battle? Battles are fought in a turn based format, where turn order is displayed on the top of the UI. Players are able to Attack, Guard, Use Items, Use Skills, Change Party Members (all party members can be swapped freely except for Itsuki) and Escape. The game follows examples from both Fire Emblem and Shin-Megami Tensei in it’s weapon and magic attribute system. Similar to the FE games, physical attacks include Sword, Axe, Lance and Bow type attacks, while magic follows the conventions used in the SMT games (so Fire magic is called Agi, Ice is Bufu and so on) with Fire, Ice, Force, Electric, Expel and Death. Allies and enemies alike are able to use these various attributes in their attacks and skills, and even take additional damage from attributes they are weak to. Additionally, if a weakness is struck, allies can jump in and use a free attack to pile on the hurt (but beware, so can enemies so be careful).
Winning battles earns you traditional RPG prizes such as experience for more levels and money, but also materials and Perfoma, which can be used for Carnage Unity (which is essentially how you make new weapons for your characters to use) and Radiant Unity which helps characters learn new skills and even new Session Attack follow ups. It of course would not be Fire Emblem without the ability to promote your Mirages class so they can become more powerful and offer new perks in battle with the use of a Master Seal (all three mechanics mentioned in this paragraph are done with the help of Fire Emblem series alumni Tiki on that note). Chief Director Wataru Hirata mentions:
“We believed Fire Emblem and RPG battles could be fused together if only the weapon triangle and class characteristics were included, so we finished it into the form it’s now.” (courtesy of Nintendo Everything)
So what can fans expect from Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE? A lot of people, myself included, initially looked at this as a disservice to the original idea proposed back all those years, but after all my research, after all the videos, I think it’s clear to say that this title is taking so many great things that make the Fire Emblem series and the Shin-Megami Tensei mothership series so great. This isn’t just a cheap crossover made as cheap fanservice, but instead a new exciting IP that can engage gamers that isn’t limited by its creative licenses but is enhanced by them.
Will the game be successful? That’s hard to say, especially with the Wii U on its death bed and it being released rather late right before the NX, but if you own a Wii U, and you love either series, or RPGs in general, then maybe give the game a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised. Thanks for joining me on our month long look leading up to release and keep tuned to Source Gaming.