In RPGs, there can be a tendency to try and rank who the best characters to use are. Factors could be how likable or well designed they are or how useful they can be in a fight. It’s tempting to play favorites. Especially with a game like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, where our party members are celebrities and you’d expect them to have different fanbases. But what’s great about the game is the execution means that each person, in different situations, can be great and they all have character designs and personality traits that can make them lovable.
The character designs can help people find favorites, and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore has a notable artist behind its human characters. Every person you see who isn’t a Mirage was made by Toi8. He also designed characters for anime projects like .hack//The Movie and Maoyu and for games like I am Setsuna and Chain Chronicle. These are people who are bright and colorful. Their outfits stand out and give a distinct impression of who they are, from Tsubasa’s pastels and Mamori’s more traditional kimonos. At a glance, you know who someone is, even with Itsuki. For a character who is supposed to be the most ordinary of the crew and not stand out in a crowd, he may stand out even more among his allies because he’s the most normal.
Each of the Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore characters also excel because of their actions and attitudes. They can be relatable, while still being cool people who we might just want to be. Mamori is absolutely precious, and every time I have played this game I have wanted to protect her and ensure she gets to pursue her dreams. Touma can be over the top and goofy sometimes, but he can still be a real role model and inspire people who might initially look at him as a goofy adult. With Yashiro, we have someone who is so cool… until you realize he hasn’t eaten in who knows how long and ends up performing on Microwavin’ with Mamorin.
The way Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore handles its battles also helps keep everyone in the spotlight. Once you have more than three characters, which happens after the end of the first chapter, you gain the ability to swap allies in and out of battle. This doesn’t waste a turn. As long as a character is alive, you can swap them in or out. It lets you exploit weaknesses and trigger more Sessions by swapping in characters who have the abilities you need or might be compatible with other characters’ attacks to help them trigger. So if Itsuki has Wind-Slash, there’ll be Session opportunities when a Force skill, say from someone like Tsubasa, hits a weak point. Or if you have Yashiro know Bow-Slash, then when he’s in a party with Eleonora and she hits a weakness with something like Grand Tack, he’ll follow up. It isn’t just about if they are a good character, but if they are a good character with others or in that moment.
It is also impossible to understate how valuable the Area of Aspiration and the EX Dungeons can be to help continue to make characters feel important to players. The Area of Aspiration is wonderful for how quickly it can make Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore party members viable. If you get someone and see they aren’t exactly what you want just yet, due to their low levels or not having mastered weapons just yet, walk through for a while. You can quickly over-level yourself. As for the EX Dungeons, they are fantastic for those previously-DLC and entirely new outfits. For example, you can get the Devil Survivor 2 Survivor’s Tale or Persona 5 Rebellious Joker from EX Dungeon 1 chests, and having those special outfits could make the ever-present Itsuki a little more endearing.
There’s a versatility here. The way the characters are written, their capabilities in battle, and the ability to effortlessly adjust the party keep you from having situations where someone gets left behind or excluded because of when they joined or what skill set they possess. Combine that with the Area of Aspiration to build people up, and everyone has the opportunity to matter. There’s the potential for each person to be the best.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is available for the Nintendo Switch. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is available for the Nintendo Wii U.