Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (previously titled Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem) is a colorful JRPG that mixes elements of developer Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem series into a surprisingly layered gameplay experience. You play as Itsuki, an aspiring idol with the Fortuna Entertainment Group. When mysterious entities known as Mirages begin stealing people’s creative energy, it’s up to you and Fortuna’s other aspiring idols to stop the threat. To do this, each member of the group must embrace their own creative energies to master Mirages in battle. They are joined by Fire Emblem characters, such as Chrom and Tharja as Mirages who become ‘linked’ to each cast member, similar to the demons you wield in battle in the Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor series or the Persona characters in the Persona series of games.

tokyo-mirage-sessions-fe-special-edition-471619.9As a huge fan of Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series of games, Tokyo Mirage has certainly helped fill the gap until Persona 5 releases next February. It does a commendable job delivering a fun, challenging JRPG experience even with an admittedly lackluster story that at times relies too heavily on the vivid world it inhabits. While it is fun to explore each area of Tokyo as it becomes available to you, by later chapters in the game, you find much of your time spent fast traveling from one place to another to complete meaningless side quests, seeing more loading screens than actual environment. This is a problem that seems inherent in the source titles as well, both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei relying heavily on fast travel mechanics and cross-stage quest requirements. Like the other Atlus titles, these load screens don’t detract heavily from the overall experience and are worth giving a pass, especially when entering sprawling dungeons called Idolaspheres.

The Idolaspheres are each unique to the first boss Mirage you fight there, lending an eclectic dungeon crawling experience when grinding for levels or loot, or simply exploring throughout  the story. My one complaint about these dungeons is that some of the puzzles require an excessive amount of backtracking and enemies will respawn regularly as you wander the area.  This can get rather tedious as most puzzles to progress through the Idolasphere do not have clear solutions and may require quite a bit of trial and error.  Thankfully, the combat is enjoyable enough to mitigate at least some of this frustration.

Tokyo Mirage’s combat is reminiscent of the Persona series of games, with a fast paced turn-based format, utilizing the character’s Mirage to unleash powerful attacks on foes. By combining this with Fire Emblem’s more tactical weapon and foe resistance and affinity charts, the combat becomes as simple or as complex as you want it to be. One of the most fun things for me was chaining together party attacks to trigger Session mode, a string of ultra-powerful attacks to debilitate and take down enemies. By leveling up your party and obtaining new skills you can potentially chain multiple sessions and special attacks together to take down entire enemy parties in one move, though you have to approach tactically, paying close attention to each enemy’s stats and planning accordingly. You can also unlock various skill and weapon upgrades, known as Radiant Skills and Carnage skills, through additional Performa (creative energy) gained in combat. This adds another strategy element as you sort through which equipment best suits your combat style.

Overall, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a fun, challenging JRPG experience. While it does suffer occasionally from an at times shallow story without significant character development and abundant load screens, it makes up for it with layered combat systems, intricate dungeon crawling mechanics and a vibrant world with a stellar soundtrack produced by Japan’s Avex Group.  If you are a fan of Atlus’ other titles, or just want a joyful JPop jaunt, Tokyo Mirage is your game.