As with both Shin Megami Tensei games, like the Persona spin-offs, and Fire Emblem installments, with their support conversations, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is the sort of game where building connections matter. You can get to know people via regular story segments and side stories, better understanding who they are and what they go through. While this provides more tangible bonuses, it also offers insights into who they are and the struggles people constantly in the limelight might face.
When Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was first released, I went over how much the game embraces the idea of stardom. For example, I touched on how it goes over nomunication where business people drink together as a networking opportunity or how gravure modeling is connected to the industry. Now that spoilers aren’t so much of an issue, it’s easier to go into the other ways Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore looks at life in the spotlight.
As the “wildcard” of the team, Itsuki is in a unique position. When he joins Fortuna, he says he wants to support his allies. Which means he trains in everything and basically becomes an outlet for the player to experience everything as he connects to everyone. Initially, this can mean conversations in Topic, the instant messenger that is relegated to a menu and no longer a distracting force that’s constantly on-screen. We’ll see Tsubasa fret over things or have allies asking for meetings or assistance.
Once you get to a point where side stories unlock, which is after Kiria joins your team and you’ve made it through your first full Idolasphere, you get even more chances to talk and understand people. Fighting alongside party members in battle and leveling them up unlocks side stories. These can be pursued during intermissions between normal chapters and dungeons. Each one offers the critical insights into what people really deal with.
For example, Kiria’s side story involves a take on the idea that idols are created with specific images in mind. Management cultivates a look and ideal for them, and they need to maintain that specific appearance. With her, she’s popular with guides and has a cool, mature air. However, her side story quickly establishes that she’s also feminine and loves cute things. As she starts to embrace that side of herself, her story shows how that influences her career and daily life.
Mamori, on the other hand, shows what little control an idol could have over their own life. She would love nothing more to be a singer performing enka songs, more traditional sorts of ballads. Except her debut album tanked. She’s currently host of the Microwave Idol Mamorin show, which isn’t what she wants. But her age and role means we see her going back and forth with few people paying attention to her dreams, with the exception of Barry. Her side story helps us understand that even though a job can seem glamorous, it can be the exact opposite.
But what’s also nice is how, at least in this fantasy world, the effort all of the Tokyo Mirage Sessions characters put into their jobs ends up being worth it. We see definite growth for all of the characters as they connect with Itsuki and mature. They come to understand themselves better, and so do we. In turn, we are rewarded with special Duo Arts attacks that can make a Session even longer or more powerful. We see extra performances and animated scenes fleshing out their personalities.
The Tokyo Mirage Sessions characters are going through a lot in their game. Dealing with the Mirages is only part of their trouble. Each person has issues in their personal and professional lives that can keep them from reaching the heights we know they can hit. Through the main and side stories, we get to see them be their best selves and connect with Itsuki, knowing our support is helping them and rewarding us.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is available for the Nintendo Switch. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is available for the Nintendo Wii U.