What is Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore?

After yesterday's Fire Emblem news, some of you may be surprised to hear it actually isn't over yet. Today marks the release of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, a Wii U game that is finally seeing the light of day on the Switch. It was one of the last few Wii U games yet to be brought over to the system, so it's understandable why many would be excited by this. However, there are just as many who are still upset. Why? Well that goes back to what the original Wii U game was, and what happened to it.

What is TMS:

When TMS was first announced, we didn't know what it was going to be for sure. All we had was a small teaser showing characters from both Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei as they flew by on a slide show. The video ended confirming that it would be a crossover between the two series, but that's all that was ever said. In fact we didn't even hear about the full title until MANY years later! Up until this point many fans were expecting either a Fire Emblem game with SMT gameplay, or possibly a SMT game with Fire Emblem gameplay (which has technically been done in the Devil Survivor side series). Of course every fan had their own ideas of what this title might be, but no one expected what it would really turn out to be.

Instead of being a standard crossover game, Tokyo Mirage Sessions was announced as a completely new JRPG set in modern day Tokyo with Fire Emblem elements. Rather than taking a page out of the mainline SMT games, TMS (see what they did there?) had more similarities to the Persona series instead. Focusing on high school students living in Tokyo, who suddenly come across a strange dimension and make a pact with beings from another world. (These beings being Fire Emblem characters.) Similar as to what Persona 5 would eventually be, the characters in this world sorta "fuse" with their new friends which not only changes their outfits, but also grants them the power of said Fire Emblem character to call upon. While the game doesn't have the social elements of Persona, the modern day world focuses on the character's every day life, while diving into the other world is where you get to experience the game's dungeons and fight monsters with these new found powers. It's a very familiar setup to anyone who has played Persona, but it's also not exactly the same.

As for combat, it too is somewhat of a modified version of Persona, but in some ways is closer to what you see in SMT. Enemies have weaknesses you want to hit so you can pull off special moves and gain the advantage in battle, and weaknesses are based on the Fire Emblem weapon triangle. This means (like in both games) you need to set your parties up in a way that you always have the advantage over the enemy, and you failing to do so will result in your death. Overall the battle system is a lot of fun, and the two series' styles fit together perfectly. The story though is where the game may falter for some.

Rather than being a dark series story or war torn story like most would expect out of SMT or FE, this game focuses on music and the whole Japanese Idol craze. There's a lot of music in this game, and the main characters are all a part of a preforming arts group. This is what leads them to encounter a lot of the game's strange events, but outside of these events the story is pretty light hearted. In fact the main character exists only to help others and guide them to completing their dreams. He doesn't have many of his own, and despite having a speaking role, he actually has less personality and story than the Persona protagonists (who are typically completely silent). Overall this doesn't matter too much as the other characters make up for it, but it might turn some off. Even so, this game is more for the gameplay than the story, so it should be bought and played for that. Although there are some pretty nice moments in it.

So what's wrong with it, and why will some people be upset with this release? Well... Censorship. That's why.

The Censored Release is now World Wide:

When TMS first came out on the Wii U it contained quite a lot of non kid friendly content to say the least. But that's to be expected really. Fire Emblem games are typically rated T, and SMT games are mostly rated M. Fire Emblem focuses on war and features death, while SMT is easily one of the darkest stories you'll ever experience in video gaming -- complete with strong sexual content, violence, and just flat out disturbing themes and elements. So why wouldn't TMS have at least some of the same content? Well it does, but nowhere near the extent one might expect. Even so, the Japanese release of the game had some "questionable" content, and even had a full story arc revolving around such things. This however was completely altered in the West.

The western release of TMS had multiple costumes modified, character's bodies were photoshopped during cutscenes, and the story mentioned above was altered to remove as many sexual elements as possible. Swim suits were taken out of the game and replaced with hipster looking outfits that fully covered character's bodies (which makes the obvious swim suit scenes odd), smoke was added to cover up the chest of a monster (yet the in game fight remained uncut for some reason), and even a full DLC story was taken out of the game. While this doesn't amount to too much of the content being cut, it was still enough to tick off fans. And now they've angered Japan as well. You see this new version of TMS on Switch is actually based off of this censored version, so now even Japan is getting to experience the version we did a few years back. And there are no plans to undo this.

What is Encore:

Putting aside what was taken out of the game, Encore does add some new features. New players won't realize these features, but those of you who played the Wii U version will notice a few things right off the bat. Just a few non spoiler things to note:

  • Much faster loading times (battles now start instantly!)
  • New costumes have been added to the game (including Persona 5's Joker)
  • There's an extra area you can access which has new side stories.
  • Extra non party characters can now tag into battles for extra attacks.
  • The original DLC is included.
  • Some new songs have been added.
  • When you start the game you can take off a character's glasses (this can be changed in the options too.)
  • And parts of the game have been reworked to use a single screen rather than the Wii U's game pad. This also means the game can now be played in handheld mode.
Overall it's not that big of a difference really, but that's perfectly fine. This is a game a lot of people didn't get to play because it was Wii U exclusive, and now it's on the Switch.
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