I didn’t play Tokyo Mirage Sessions until this year, in large part because I never owned a Wii U and the Switch port was exactly the opportunity I was waiting for. I was hesitant at the pastel rainbow of a game cover and the promise of a soundtrack loaded with J-Pop, but the positive critical reviews and word of mouth from my friends over the past four years were enough to maintain my interest. I’m glad I listened to them, because TMS is excellent.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions was developed by Atlus with all the hallmarks of their RPGs, featuring Fire Emblem references and traditions, and awash in Japanese idols and pop music. Those are the three pillars of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (that’s “sharp FE” and not “hashtag FE”), and, well, I found those first two much more appealing than the third. Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a weird cocktail of an RPG, but it’s held together with rock-solid RPG mechanics, great production values, and appealing characters and dialog. I found the combo-driven combat satisfying and fast-moving, the game looks colorful and beautiful, and load times were streamlined for the new Switch version. I quickly grew attached to Fortuna Talent Agency’s collection of aspiring stars, especially the wannabe superhero Touma and the preteen cooking show hostess Mamori.
I wish there had been less idol worship and more Fire Emblem characters (there are a lot, but this game is 80% SMT/Persona and 20% Fire Emblem), but overall TMS is a satisfying RPG that easily held my attention over 50 hours. I enjoy a lot of Japanese media (unsurprisingly, given this is RPGFan) but don’t include J-Pop or idols among my interests. But if you can at least tolerate watching a few anime music videos between dungeons and working at a Tokyo talent agency between defeating legions of shadow monsters, then don’t write this one off. After finishing Touma’s side quests, I was ready to watch a full season of Masqueraider.
Unless you want to count the few hours I put into Shin Megami Tensei IV, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was my very first Atlus game. Hearing about the pedigree of the developer caused me to head into this game not understanding why everyone was so turned off by the aesthetic and theme of the game. This is still the mentality I carry to this day since, after playing it, I maintain TMS is a very good game that really doesn’t deserve all of the hate that it gets.
The entire development story of Tokyo Mirage Sessions leading up to its release from the hype that both SMT and FE fans generated in its reveal trailer, to the bewilderment and anger that followed when the game was officially shown off, probably is what caused my whole mindset of this game to shift. I went from being intrigued, to surprised, to hyped for its Western release. After I played it and realized everyone who was bad-mouthing this game was wrong for thinking it was going to be bad, I turned into the fanboy I am today for this game.
So if this is the last opportunity I have to promote Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE for a while, I would seriously recommend more people play this game. It’s delightful, charming, and still has great gameplay to back everything up. This is a much better game than you probably think it is if you believe the internet comments [Ed. Note: But why would you do such a thing?]. If you own a Switch and are waiting for Shin Megami Tensei V or praying for a port of a mainline Persona game, this is not a bad alternative. Maybe SMTV will be better than TMS, and Persona being on Switch would be amazing, but TMS has a lively heart at its core that is ready to entertain those who dive in.
It doesn’t matter when
I want you to feel this intense emotion
My wings carry me through the sky
To make my song last forever, and ever, for you
– Tsubasa Oribe (VA: Inori Minase) “Feel”