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First Impression: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) ~ Festive Fighting

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Official site

So, today is a day of celebration. It’s Christmas. So, let’s celebrate that with some festive fighting! For those who don’t know yet, this game is a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, in some weird hybrid way. Now, I have played Fire Emblem games in the past, but I haven’t played a lot of Shin Megami games. But, let me tell you, that isn’t a problem when you want to play this game. But, is this game worth your time and money to invest in or this is a game you should avoid as a bad concert? Well, let’s find out in this article. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Mirage Masters

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The main character in this game is Itsuki Aoi. A young lad who was going to a concert with a friend of his. Actually, it was to see her perform.

His friend goes by the name of Tsubasa Oribe. She is in a competition and made it to one of the final rounds. When the winner gets announced, the presenter goes into a total crazy mode and starts attacking everybody together with weird creatures that came out of nowhere. When a portal appears in another dimension, where Tsubasa is sucked into, Itsuki gives chase and you find yourself in a strange world.

In there, you have to find your way through various labyrinths. It doesn’t take long before you meet a mirage. You start fighting alongside this mirage to conquer the strange world you are in now. After various things happened in the labyrinth, you find out that your friend, Touma Akagi, who wasn’t able to make it to the concert was in the same strange world as yourself. You rescue Tsubasa and escape. Now, Itsuki is a mirage master. Just like Tsubasa and Touma.

It doesn’t take long before you are picked up by a talent agency and Tsubasa’s dream of becoming an idol becomes true. Besides that, Itsuki has to undergo the same training as well. But, it doesn’t take long before even more portals to the strange other world appear and the gang must go inside to undo the world from harm of the strange force invading.

That’s everything I want to say about the story. So far, I’m at the final boss of the second chapter. And I have to admit, the story of this game has a real Saturday morning anime vibe over it. Each chapter is a story in itself while the overall story is progressed. This fits the game like a glove. It wraps up each chapter nicely while it progresses the main story just enough to have some more tension for the next chapter.

There is also a lot of voice acting in this game. Almost all of the dialogue during cutscenes is voice acted in Japanese. There is no English option. There are subtitles though and the Japanese voice acting is just amazing.

Since this game takes place in a more modern time, the characters talk a lot back and forth using their smartphones. The Wii U gamepad is the character’s smartphone. It’s impossible to play this game without the TV. This is somewhat of a bummer in my opinion. But, the Wii U gamepad screen has used a sort of a second screen like the Nintendo (3)DS to display the map or display more information on the screen.

Festive Fights

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Exploring the labyrinths reminds me a lot of the Etrain Odyssey series and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. This game is an RPG-Dungeon crawler.

The battle system has some unique surprised up its sleeve. At first, enemies can appear randomly during your exploration. You have a meter on the top left of your screen when an enemy is nearby. But, you don’t see the enemies itself roaming around, you see mirages roaming around.

These are different colored ghosts floating around that have a different color depending on what type of enemy they are. For example, red is your “normal” enemies and gold are the extremely rare enemies.

When you let them catch you, they get the first move. When you run into them, it’s a random chance who goes first. But, if you slash them and then run into them, you get the first move.

The battle themselves take place on a stage, with a crowd cheering you and the enemies on. If a weak spot can be hit, a session can be performed. This means that the allies can attack as well. Notice how I didn’t specify on how can do that in my previous sentence. Since both you and your enemies can do that.

So, that means, if you are facing off against a fire type enemy and one of your characters is weak to fire; well, prepare to defend that character and heal were needed since a session attack can hit pretty hard.

As a side note, this game doesn’t autosave. You get promoted here and there with the question if you want to save your game, but you can save anywhere and anytime outside of battles and cutscenes, by using the main menu.

So, session attacks. How do you know which enemy is weak against what? Well, as soon as you hit an enemy with a certain type of attack, the result will be noted down. On the gamepad, you can always see an overview of which enemy is weak for which attack.

Choose your fights wisely, since you can only enter three characters into combat. Something I really like is how every important character lays down on a grass field in the main menu.

Gimmicks and stuff

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So, each labyrinth has it’s own gimmick that fits the story perfectly. This adds a lot to the visual presentation of the game.

And I do have to say that I think this game looks amazing. The game is colorful and pleasing to the eyes and runs at a steady frame rate. I haven’t seen any slowdowns or notice any moments that the frames get dropped.

The animations are also nice to look at. While you can skip most of them, I don’t always skip them, since they are so pretty to look at. This game is just eye candy and I think that this is one of the game strong suits.

The soundtrack of this game is really great as well. Besides creating an amazing atmosphere, I also put the soundtrack in my playlist to listen to while I’m at my day job doing work. It’s that good to listen too. If this soundtrack comes out on CD, I would love to buy it. Since it would be amazing to have in my collection.

The sound design is pretty great as well. I love the sound references to Fire Emblem, when you level up, for example, that’s the sound effect used in Fire Emblem.

So far, I have mostly sung praises for this game. Is there something bad about this game? Well, there are a few things that I don’t like about this game. First of all, the difficulty curve can be a bit unforgiving.

I rarely skip fights while I’m playing an RPG, since I know if I do start skipping fights, my characters might not be strong enough to fight a final boss. But, sometimes a final boss has some extremely strong attack up its sleeve, that comes out of nowhere and destroys my party. There is grinding in this game and not the enjoyable type of grinding. In addition to that, I noticed that there isn’t a way to easily fully heal before a big boss fight happens. That’s a shame. So, stocking up on items is a good idea.

A second thing that I don’t like is how easy it is to get disoriented in the labyrinths. When I want to go somewhere, I’m not able to follow the map I can view on the Wii U gamepad. I wish it was a bit more clear which staircase led to where. An easy solution would have been, if you touch a stairway on the gamepad, you get taken to the stairway on the other floor.

A 3rd thing I highly dislike is how difficult it is to get the golden enemies to spawn, catch or defeat. While I know their locations, they are sometimes too quick to even have a chance of battling them and they tend to run away. I noticed that if they run away, you are unable to get them to spawn again while exploring that labyrinth. Exiting and entering back doesn’t always help.

A 4th thing I don’t like is nothing said in Japanese during the battles is subtitled. I feel like I’m missing out on interesting dialogue on puns because I can’t understand a word from what they are saying.

A 5th thing I dislike about this game is a nitpick actually. But, why is the main menu button “Y”? I had a few times I wanted to press “X” to attack and instead I pressed “Y” and opened the main menu. This could have been avoided when the main menu button was the “Start” button.

And the 6th and final thing that I dislike is how rare items are to heal your SP. You can’t even buy them in the shops for a crazy price. So, if you want to save your SP up for a boss fight, you will need to use the teleporters or save up those items.

In any case, besides those 6 issues I have with the game, I’m greatly enjoying my time with this game and I want to finish it. I can’t wait to see what the other chapters are going to throw at me and how the side quests will play out.

But for now, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

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Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

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Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

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This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

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Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.