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Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Nintendo Switch review – Persona X Fire Emblem

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – one of gaming’s oddest crossovers (pic: Nintendo)
The latest Wii U port to arrive on Nintendo Switch is the surprisingly successful crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem.
We’re not sure what anyone was expecting when a crossover between Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei was announced for the Wii U back in 2013, but we’re pretty certain nobody envisioned something like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. But as strange as the game’s concept is, it turned out to be one of the best role-playing games on the Wii U and the closest thing to a modern Persona game on a Nintendo format.
Shin Megami Tensei is the parent franchise from which the now much more famous Persona is derived (Shin Megami Tensei 5 was announced as a Switch exclusive during the console’s unveiling but has never been heard about again since). The games are normally – but not always – set during the modern day and involve some manner of demonic apocalypse, but Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a little more laidback than that, with a story revolving around interdimensional beings called Mirages who suck out the ‘Performa’ energy from pop stars. Really.
If you’re wondering where Fire Emblem comes into that the answer is that it doesn’t very much and the various character cameos are little more than that, with certainly nothing in terms of gameplay that is in anyway similar to the likes of Fire Emblem: Three Houses . Other elements are more familiar though and if you happen to be a fan of both franchises then there’s a lot of fun references and fan service to be had.

As you might gather, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is, in the best traditions of Japanese role-players and anime, a very odd game. And while the main characters are a little bland the story as a whole has an earnest energy that draws you in and protects you from the duller – and sillier – moments. There isn’t the thematic depth or characterisation of a regular Persona game, but the attempt to celebrate the creative spirit is done in a charmingly forthright and unpretentious manner.
The combat works much like any standard Japanese role-player, except with Fire Emblem characters transforming themselves into weapons or being used as summonses. The rock, paper, scissors style relationship between different weapons is pure Fire Emblem though, and the strategy series has also influenced the importance of attacking from different directions. But otherwise it’s largely the same style of turn-based combat as any other Shin Megami Tensei game, including elemental weaknesses and trying to set up combos with other characters.
To be honest though, the combat was always the least interesting element of Persona and it’s still not enough to carry a whole game, especially the wearyingly difficult boss battles and dungeon crawling missions that involve a lot of backtracking and not being sure where you’re supposed to be going. In that sense it’s much closer to Persona 3 than the more modern games, although some interesting puzzle elements prevent it from being too one-note.
Persona works because there’s a lot more going on beyond just the fighting, but here there’s no demon fusion and the social link elements, where improving your relationship with characters outside of battle helps when you get into a fight, is greatly simplified. There’s not even much meaningful exploration or side quests, although this new Encore edition does address that somewhat with some new story segments that weren’t present before, that include new dungeons.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – Persona feat. Fire Emblem (pic: Nintendo)
The Encore edition isn’t very different from the Wii U original but it does add a new song, and some new covers, and several new outfits and costumes that include nods to the likes of Persona 5’s Joker, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey , and Etrian Odyssey Nexus . A wider range of characters can now be brought in as party characters and there’s also all the DLC released for the Wii U, including more new costumes and support dungeons for when you just want to grind up a few levels of experience.
They’re minor but welcome additions and also include a few quality of life improvements, such as noticeably quicker load times, a mini-map, and the ability to skip battle animations. We’re not sure that that’s going to tempt many people to double dip, but it’s at least good to see this isn’t just a straight port.
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All the voice-acting is still only in Japanese, but we definitely see that as positive given the setting and how bad a Western voice track would likely be on a low budget release like this.
To be honest, we were always surprised that Tokyo Mirage Sessions was released in the West at all, given how to the casual observer it’s not obvious it even is a crossover. But now it’s made the trip twice and while it only skims the surface of what both franchises can do at their best it’s still an enjoyably bizarre experience that isn’t like anything else on the Switch.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review summary
In Short: It doesn’t have the depth of standalone Persona and Fire Emblem games, but this is a fun crossover that will please followers of both, and Japanese role-playing fans in general.
Pros: Fun story and characters with great graphics and presentation. Combat and customisation systems have some interesting influences from both games. Not just a straight port of the original.
Cons: The dungeon crawling, and particularly the boss battles, can be frustratingly difficult. Simplistic characterisation and storytelling, and a limited number of non-player characters and side quests.
Score: 7/10

Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Atlus
Release Date: 17th January 2020
Age Rating: 12

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