Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE does quite a bit to honor Fire Emblem. There are plenty of references to characters and elements from that series. When it comes to this mashup, it heavily favors one series over the other. People who adore Shin Megami Tensei titles are going to find so many traditional elements from those tales in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.
The gameplay is a fantastic place to start. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE’s pacing is very similar to what we’ve seen in the main Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games. The characters are going through their daily life, in this case balancing school and the efforts expended to become an idol. When a conflict appears, a dungeon accompanies it. The party then must head into this dungeon, which takes place in an Idolasphere alternate space, for some third-person exploration and battles against enemies. You can make Itsuki slash an enemy, for a chance at a first strike. Enemy variants can appear, with golden ones offering greater rewards and dark ones being feral and stronger than usual.
Battles are turn-based affairs, like the ones found in Shin Megami Tensei and Persona. You pick every person’s attacks as their turns come up. Each ally and opponent has strengths and weaknesses. Capitalizing on weaknesses allows for extra actions. Where in Persona, this would knock an enemy down and allow for a follow-up attack, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE has sessions where using a specific attack against an enemy that’s weak against it could cause a chain reaction of attacks from allies, with a monetary or physical reward for a Session with three hits.
Granted, the enemies are quite different. Instead of demons or shadows, we’re fighting Mirages. But, these still bear quite a similarity to the enemies we’ve seen in Atlus’ series. Not all Mirages are bad. Itsuki, Tsubasa, Touma, Kiria, Eleonora, Mamori, and Yashiro have all formed bonds with Chrom, Caeda, Cain, Tharja, Virion, Draug, and Navarre. They’re attracted to something within each character, perhaps even acting as a representation of their personality like Persona’s Personas do. They offer our heroes a means of fighting back against the corruption. Some Mirages are indifferent NPCs who’ll offer sidequests for our characters. Bringing them the items they need offer rewards. More often than not, they are foes and a source of materials needed to give our characters new carnage weapons.
The fusion elements are quite similar to the various combinations people are able to perform in the Shin Megami Tensei series. The door to Tiki’s Bloom Palace is even blue, perhaps as a nod to the blue door that leads to the Velvet Room in each Persona game. It’s there that Tiki performs Unity actions that combine Performas earned from leveling up or Forces gained from defeating certain enemies with items acquired in battles, giving people new weapons, skills, or an improved Mirage class.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE’s skill acquisition is near identical to the manner in which people get new abilities in Shin Megami Tensei. Each Mirage can only hold a certain number of skills. Mastering a Carnage weapon gives new abilities, which can be assigned to these slots. Eventually, people need to pick and choose which ones remain, determining the sort of situations that character will be best suited for. It’s the same sort of strategy someone would use in a game like Persona, as they picked and chose which abilities their Persona had. They’re even the same skills from the established series, with spells like Agi, Bufu, Zan, Zio, and Dia showing up.
There’s even a way to bond with characters, though it isn’t an appearance of the Social Links we’ve come to expect from Persona. As a party member battles, their Battle Rank will increase. This will give players a chance to learn more about that character in specific sidequests that can really liven up intermission periods. While it isn’t as one-on-one and traditional as Social Links, it’s still offering a means of connecting with allies.
Then, there are the little aesthetic touches. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is bright and colorful, just like more recent Persona installments. They’re filled with popular music. Vending machines with snappy drinks like Amrita Shower and H-True-O Water can be found in the Fortuna offices and the city. You even stop by a Hee Ho Mart, with Jack Frost imagery and color schemes. All of these, combined with the blue door heading to the Bloom Palace, are the game’s form of wink-nodding at the player. Did you catch that? Of course you did.
Atlus absolutely left its mark on Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Perhaps that’s what will help it reach and appeal to such a large audience. It’s a JRPG that takes so many cues from an established series we love, learning lessons from past Shin Megami Tensei games and working in plenty of entertaining references. It doesn’t even take an hour to catch on. It’s very well executed and makes for quite an enjoyable experience.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is immediately available for the Nintendo Wii U.