Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Atlus
Medium: Cartridge/Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

When you think of Wii U games that people would like to see ported to the Nintendo Switch, I?m not sure that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was necessarily at the top of a lot of lists, but I?m pretty happy that we got one anyway. I remember enjoying the original release well enough, and this release of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore has just enough in the way of improvements and additions that it?s worth a revisit.

For those unfamiliar with the original release, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a collaboration of sorts between Nintendo and Atlus, specifically with their Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei series of games. Mechanically it?s more in line with SMT, but features a lot of Fire Emblem references and characters.

The majority of the game takes place in a stylized version of real-world Tokyo, where a group of young adult entertainers band together to take on malicious otherworldly invaders. In order to do so, they become Mirage Masters, able to wield ghostly apparitions that are comprised of notable Fire Emblem characters like Chrom and Virion, who take on the form of special weapons and armors that the Mirage Masters can yield. It?s sort of a goofy set-up for the story overall, but I appreciate that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore leans into the overly ridiculous nature of pop idols battling it out against monsters in-between musical numbers and photo shoots.

Gameplay is comprised of non-combat moments where you?ll explore a few limited areas within Tokyo, interacting with NPC?s, visiting shops, and taking on side quests. However, the gut of the game comes from taking on the various dungeons, dubbed Idolasphere?s, where you?ll battle it out against wildly designed enemies and bosses. Dungeons also vary from one theme to the next, each one featuring various puzzles or obstacles to overcome in addition to the fights. However, I?d say the combat is the best aspect of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, and it?s likely the reason you?ll stick with it for 40 or more hours to the end.

Like the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series of games from Atlus, the combat in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is focused on weakness exploitation. Basically most enemies are weak to either specific elements or specific weapon types, and once you hit an enemy with an attack or skill they?re weak to, other members of your party can perform follow-up attacks. These attacks are called Sessions, and over time you can create some pretty large chains as you outfit your characters with new skills. Sessions are basically the key to everything when it comes to combat and serve not only as an effective damage dealing device but also become a significant tool when looting monsters for money and crafting items.

Those items are in turn used to create weapons for your characters, which is where the robust skill system of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore comes into play. Every character can earn experience and level up in the traditional RPG sense of the word. Increasing character level will increase base stats, health, magic, etc. However, the weapons you can craft also gain experience, and with each level gained a weapon will grant your character a new active or passive skill. There are dozens upon dozens of skills in the game, and each weapon has its own set, which in turn means you can customize just about every character however you want. Characters do tend to follow certain RPG archetypes like defender, attacker, healer and so on. But the skill system lets you break out of those roles if you want, which is a nice option to have. As you reach the later sections of the game you?ll start to level up existing skills, improving base damage or magic cost, and as your skill slots start to fill up, you?ll also need to make some hard decisions on which skills to keep or lose.

As far as improvements and differences go with this release, one of the more notable changes for me was the improved load times in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. For whatever reason, I remember the Wii U version of the game to be sort of an agonizing experience in this regard, but on the Switch the load times are virtually non-existent now. There is other small quality of life changes, like the ability to turn off the extended animations for Session attacks, which helps decrease the overall time spent in battle.

For additions, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore introduces a new optional EX dungeon, which primarily serves as a way to get a little more side story for characters, new costumes (which are pretty wild really), and a few rare items. There are also some challenging boss fights in the later stages of the EX dungeon that I thought was pretty great overall. Also, the DLC content from the original game, which consisted of dungeons used to easily level up both your characters and your weapons, are available from the beginning. I wouldn?t necessarily suggest focusing on those early on, but they?re nice alternatives to traditional grinding if you find yourself underpowered at any point.

If you have any affinity for Atlus RPG?s in the vein of Shin Megami Tensei or Persona, then I think you?ll get some enjoyment out of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore. You can argue that it?s not quite as ?mature? as those titles, but it is a fun, light-hearted take on that formula that can still present a sizable challenge throughout. The Fire Emblem nods are cool too, but you don?t really need any working knowledge of Fire Emblem to appreciate the game overall. So while you still might be nursing your disappointment in the lack of a Switch port for Persona 5, I think Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore will be a pretty good way to pass the time until that (probably?) happens.

Note: Nintendo provided us with a Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-