Imagine, if you would, a JRPG. A JRPG that’s a crossover between Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei. All three of you capable of doing so are probably rather intrigued by such a concept. They all probably have that game as well, but that is not the point. Even if you’ve never touched either series (which, I’m ashamed to say, is a group of people including me), you’ll probably like this game.
We’ll begin with a summary of the game’s introduction, then move on to a list of pros and cons. So! Summary! The game begins in Daitama TV Station, where you (Itsuki Aoi) are waiting for the idol scouting competition “One of Millennium” to start. Why? Your friend, Tsubasa Oribe, is in it. Another friend of yours, Touma Akagi, is supposed to be there too… but he’s busy, which you see later. Anyway, the host, Gojuin, turns out to be possessed by a spooky thing called a Mirage, which saps Performa (the energy of performance, essentially) from humans. He leaves without noticing you (cool) through a gate. In standard story progression manner, you go through the gate and into the Idolasphere which is where all the Mirages live. Bumbling your way through Illusory Daitama, you reach where the Mirage took Tsubasa, along with two other beings. Thankfully, your innate Performa releases Tsubasa and the other characters. (Don’t ask me how.) So, in conjunction with those two characters (Chrom and Caeda), you and Tsubasa take down the Mirage. And then the rest of the story happens.
Now that that’s taken care of, we’ll go over the good and then go to the bad. And after that… something else.
- Good combat system: Standard attack/spell/item/guard system, but with a bit of a twist: party members can tack smaller attacks onto the end of the lead’s spells. For example:
- Tsubasa uses Zandyne (Mag/Force) – Effective, 300 damage
- Because the attack was effective, Sessions can occur
- Session 1: Itsuki uses Wind-Elthunder +1 – 130 damage
- Session 2: Touma uses Elec-Blaze – Resisted, 40 damage
- Session 3: Kiria uses Fire-Blizzard +2 – Blocked, 0 damage
- The Session chain ends due to a failed attack
- Well-designed dungeons: Designs vary from a shopping mall (based on the real Shibuya 109), a traditionally inspired Japanese pond and pagodas (located in… a TV station, for some reason), and floating cubes (the final dungeon).
- OK story: I can’t elaborate too much without giving anything away, but the plot isn’t contrived or dull. It’s not brilliant, but it works.
- Great dialogue: Now, I hate to self-promote, but I’ve got some of my favorite lines captured here: http://squishy3000.tumblr.com/tagged/tokyo-mirage-sessions
- Level grinding: Well, it’s a JRPG. What did you expect?
- Story progression weird sometimes: It’s exactly as it says on the tin, especially with mini quests. Often, they’re no more than “go find this thing in Shibuya somewhere.” Shibuya, of course, is enormous.
Something Else (or, The Ugly)
- Censorship for North American release: Well, this is the big one, isn’t it? If there’s only one thing you’ve heard about this game, it’s probably this. So what happened, exactly? Well, this being a game about Japanese idol culture, the female characters’ costumes’ are rather… ah, revealing, let’s say. Believing this to be a negative when selling to the NA audience, Treehouse (localization for NoA) censored these costumes. OK, so fine so far, they’re mostly similar. They change many ages up by 1 or 2 years. OK, sure, it’s a bit weird in the Americas to have a 16~17 year old in risque costumes, so that’s well and good. Really, there’s one huge change that no one’s happy about. It spoils a bit of Chapter 2, so if you don’t want to see it, skip the bolded paragraph. (tl;dr: entire costume and plot point completely scrapped; replaced with entirely new NA-exclusive assets) And finally, this one’s not so much of a change, but still fairly important. One set of DLC, the Hot Springs set, was never released. Of course, such DLC would have a very narrow group interest for most games; however, this game’s niche is essentially the same group.
What Happened In Chapter 2
- Removal of allusions to gravure modeling, that’s what happened. At the start of Chapter 2, you see Nobu Horinozawa, a photographer, in the midst of a major Mirage invasion of Shibuya. Before the events of the story, Horinozawa did a gravure photo shoot (called “My Complex”) with your idol agency’s manager. He takes a photo of her, and she vanishes into the new Idolasphere (Illusory Shibuya). When you first reach the boss, you must turn back because Tsubasa lacks the self-confidence to do a photo shoot (side story go). In the Japanese release, this is because she, too, will model for a gravure photo shoot. There’s a skimpy costume for this scene (as there kinda has to be). In the American version, this is replaced entirely with a generic photo shoot, with a completely new costume exclusive to the NoA release. In the same way, My Complex becomes a generic photo book as well. The original costumes don’t even exist in the NoA release; fan patches that seek to restore them add them back in.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a niche game that delivers on its promises of good combat, exploration of Japanese idol culture, and comedic dialogue; however, it’s hampered by the dreadful localization changes it received.