wii rpgs

the 1 thing about... Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Platform: Wii U


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Like its extremely convoluted name, conceptually Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (#FE) is not a game that should exist on many counts. 

Given the task of blending elements from the Fire Emblem series with the Shin Megami Tensei (SMT) series - the design team definitely had their work cut out for them to create anything that would fit together somewhat coherent, and was faced with a great degree of skepticism over dev time. And yet, after the dust has settled, I personally feel that the team at Atlus managed to do all that and then some, and created one of the most enjoyable (and probably understated) games of 2016.

Adding the weapon triangle to the Press Turn / weakness system of the SMT games was an ingenious fit, and building on that with the sessions mechanic - in which exploited-weaknesses can be followed up with attacks from other team members who have the right follow skills (e.g. Fire -> Blizzard) - the battles of the game actually ended up being really enjoyable and makes efficient use of having over 10 different weakness types that makes good design sense. 

However, more so than making a battle system that really works with elements from both series, the ONE thing about Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is despite how ludicrous the setting is… it actually works.

In typical tradition of being based on an impending-apocalypse Tokyo setting, #FE follows suit, but wraps it in a glossy, saccharine layer of J-pop, where saving the world is almost directly tied to guiding a group of aspiring idols through their road to stardom, with a page borrowed from the Persona series to account for the Fire Emblem characters thrown in for good measure - the whole premise is as ludicrous as it sounds!

However, what was really impressive was how committed the team was in running with this almost-impossible premise. Not wanting to half-ass it at all, the dev team actually consulted with a J-pop industry expert to really understand the inner workings of the industry to better base their scenarios on, and they managed to pull this off with a great degree of conviction. Collaborating with Avex Trax on just made it all the more authentic, as the soundtrack in the game is something that you could believably imagine being churned out of the J-pop factory.    

Growing up with a J-pop phase, I personally felt that the scenarios through the different chapters of #FE really felt authentic in depicting the rise of a group of aspiring idols which was easy to invest in. Couple this with some awesome character work featuring multi-dimensional characters, the characters development reaches just a notch below that of the excellent Persona series, which I think primarily comes down to just having lesser (sub)plot points per character than in Persona. 

The theme carries through in almost all aspects of presentation for the game as well, with examples such as menu headers being renamed “Casting” and “Wardrobe” for the typical Party or Equip options, actor calling cards to depict character stats, and full-on anime song-and-dance concert cutscenes (that would not be too out of place in the world of J-pop, really) - #FE game really commits to the setting.

And even when game often wanders close enough to the 4th-wall in its own realization of how ludicrous it all is, it perhaps manages to get away all over-the-top ad-lib attacks based on cooking shows and Music concerts and whatnot, without even batting an eyelid perhaps precisely because the suspension of disbelief is moved so far up the curve that the whole premise still plays by its own rules but leaves enough space to also realize more heartfelt moments and the character development without compromise.

In the end, for me, the biggest takeaway of what #FE shows is how far you can sell a premise - no matter how absurd it sounds - as long as you put enough heart and soul into it.

‘Nintendo - ‘Hot Mario Brothers’’
[’Mario Kart DS’; ‘Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time’ ; ‘Mario Party 7′]

[WII / DS] [JAPAN] [BILLBOARD, SUBWAY] [2005]

  • Photographed by sanchome, via Flickr
  • In 2005, Nintendo employed the services Japanese owarai duo, Ninety-nine, to portray real-life versions of Mario and Luigi for their ‘Hot Mario Bros.’ campaign. The most famous example of this campaign was the Japanese commercial for Mario Kart DS, which depicted Luigi engaged in an online match with players from around the world. and losing in a most familiar matter…
Why too much "shenanigans" is something bad:
  • Ike on his games: interesting and complex character with an engaging story arc
  • Ike on the internet: I FIGHT FOR MY FRIENDS.
  • Shulk on his game: interesting and complex character with an engaging story arc
  • Shulk on the internet: IM REALLY FEELING IT
  • Sonic on his games: YOUR TOO SLOW
  • Sonic on the internet: YOUR TOO SLOW
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Open your eyes… wake up, Link…