As a Fire Emblem super fan, the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover was always going to be a day one purchase for me. I'd actually played a fair bit of the game, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE released on Wii U in Japan in 2015 and elsewhere a little later, but I recently sat down and finished the rest of the chapter I was on (Chapter 3) and have decided to put the game on indefinite hold for now.

The most recent SMT game I had played was Shin Megami Tensei III, but Tokyo Mirage Sessions has more in common with the Persona series, a SMT spin-off series. Like in the Persona series, in TMS you have a group of high school students in contemporary Japan drawn into a mysterious battle involving demons, but TMS trades in the mythological Persona for "Performa", characters drawn from two entries in the Fire Emblem series (the first game and Fire Emblem Awakening, released on 3DS). One of my complaints about the SMT games is that I'm not a big fan of the dark, gothic aesthetic, and TMS replaces the usual doom and gloom for a bright candy-colored world full of aspiring pop idols and actresses. The stories and side stories all focus on the individual stories within the talent agency, and for me this unique setup was one of the most entertaining parts of the game. Although it's nice to see the Fire Emblem characters in this new scenario, they don't really do much other than provide the game's weapon and skill progressions. NintendoLife described the game as being about "85% Shin Megami Tensei, 15% Fire Emblem", and that seems pretty accurate to me.

One of the things that I didn't care much for with the Persona series was the repetitive routines after every school day, but in TMS things are more self-contained and you can dip into the sidequests however much or little you want. The battle system is a variation of the usual "Press Turn" system of the SMT games whereby attacks get chained together automatically if you attack with a type advantage and your current team members have learned the appropriate linking skills. Dungeons have a decent amount of variety but get a bit repetitive, but new characters are introduced at a good pace.

As a fan of Japanese media, I enjoyed the anime cutscenes and J-pop music and anime music videos, and I didn't mind that the game features only Japanese voice acting with English subtitles. The game wasn't quite what I (or anyone) was expecting or hoping for with a Fire Emblem crossover, but it was a fun surprise and the setting was something different and unique for both series and JRPGs in general. Overall I enjoyed my time with Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and I can see myself coming back to it at some point. I'm glad more people got a chance to play it via its release on Switch, although I'm not sure many people would be clamoring for a sequel.

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