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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore for Switch is an upgraded re-release of a Wii U Japanese role-playing game called Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. It sees a group of Japanese teens fighting off an evil force invading Tokyo, and includes turn-based combat against fantastical monsters using both magic and bladed weapons. Flashes of light accompany successful strikes, and enemies stagger before disappearing, but there's no blood or gore. The heroes are good kids who trust each other, come to one another's aid, and take their responsibilities seriously, though several of them exhibit what might be considered an unhealthy level of pop star adoration and celebrity worship. Note that several female characters wear revealing or too-tight clothing that highlights deep cleavage, and their breasts sometimes jiggle in exaggerated fashion. Also be aware that the text dialogue contains occasional profanity -- including the word "s--t" -- and that one of the main characters is shown recovering from a night of heavy drinking.
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What's it about?
TOKYO MIRAGE SESSIONS #FE: ENCORE is a lightly upgraded rerelease of an acclaimed but little-played role-playing game originally released for Nintendo Wii U. It tells the story of a group of Tokyo kids with pop star aspirations who are embroiled in a battle against interdimensional monsters called mirages. These creatures come from a place called the idolasphere, a nightmarish parallel realm similar to our world but built like a maze filled with puzzle-like obstacles that need to be solved and monsters that need to be defeated. Whenever the heroes encounter an enemy, they're transported to a stage ringed by legions of fans who cheer them on. They do turn-based battle against the mirages, carefully selecting weapons and elemental attacks with an aim to discover and exploit enemy weaknesses. The combat, storytelling, and visual presentation all take cues from Atlus' popular Persona series of Japanese role-playing games, while specific elements of the game -- such as the good mirages the heroes align themselves with -- are drawn from Fire Emblem (as intimated by the #FE hashtag in the game's title), a different series of games focused on strategic combat. This re-release includes not just the main game but also all of the paid DLC, a new dungeon to explore that lets players earn new costumes for the heroes while gleaning additional character background information, and technical improvements such as much faster loading times.
Is it any good?
If you're one of the few people who played the original, there's no need to pick up this game for its smattering of quality-of-life improvements and extra content. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore is very much the same game with just a few added bells and whistles. But Japanese role-playing game fans who never experienced the Wii U cult classic would do well to seek out this game. It plays like a condensed Persona game (it takes 50 hours to finish, compared to the 100-hour long Persona 5), complete with loads of text dialogue, several high quality anime movies, and plenty of teen melodrama. All of this is mixed with just a hint of classic Fire Emblem, thanks to popular FE characters such as Caeda and Chrom and familiar sound cues. The combat's both challenging and rewarding, requiring planning to chain together attacks based on enemy weaknesses, and the characters are likeable -- even obsessive fangirl Tsubasa, who tends to lose her mind when in close proximity to her favorite pop stars.
Keep in mind, though, that this game isn't quite as slick or polished as the two franchises it draws its inspiration from. The dungeons are fun and imaginatively designed, but can be confusing to navigate. It's easy to forget where you are or what you were doing to clear puzzles when you're interrupted by frequent battles. And players should go in knowing that they'll be doing lots of reading. With no option for English audio, anyone who doesn't speak Japanese will be forced to read the game's thousands of lines of translated text dialogue. Some players who like to experience Japanese role-playing games as they were originally designed will likely see this as a plus, but more casual players may eventually grow frustrated by not being unable to understand short, untranslated comments made by characters in the heat of combat. It's great that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore makes this little diamond in the rough available to a new group of players, but, like the original, it remains a faintly flawed gem.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. It's easy to get lost in a big game like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore and suddenly realize you've been playing for hours rather than minutes, so how do you make sure your play sessions are healthy and manageable?
How do you feel about celebrities? Do you envy their lifestyles? Why do you think fame leads some pop idols to make poor life choices?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: January 17, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
- Last updated: January 29, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.