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!

Quick Announcement – Busy Times

Just a quick heads up that NekoJonez and me know there hasn’t been an update in a while. Things have been busy for both of us. We’ve been talking about a few things regarding the blog too, so keep an eye out for that in the future. No promises, but I’m going to try to post something by the weekend.

Cheers!

EDIT: Some content! I wrote you guys a little something for the weekend: a little review of a game I love!

Rant #005: Modern gaming never grew up.

Thanks to my girlfriend for making this for me.
Thanks to my friend for making this for me.

Let’s face it. The modern games makes the current gaming market a totally different market. You can’t deny it, it’s simply a fact that games lately are getting easier and easier and that you can’t go without a tutorial, even for an easy game. People always go nuts about the graphics and some things no longer matter for them. Is this current gaming market still as good as the old gaming market? Are retro games truly better or is it something else? Let’s rant!

Retro games are better!

Many claim that the original Mario is still better.
Many claim that the original Mario is still better.

Many gamers that are around the age of 20 or older will tell you that games of their childhood where better then the current games. Some will even stick with those good old games and play them even to this day, they are the so called retro gamers.

But if you ask younger gamers, they are going to look to games from 10 years ago and go bashing on the graphics or other things. Saying that they are old and actually saying they suck.

To make a long rant short, you can easily say that it’s a generation thing. Older people grew up with the old Mario and since it holds so many childhood memories, they say it’s the better game. Newer games don’t give that feeling of nostalgia that makes them prefer the newer games above the older games.

Yet, there are also gamers who always think the newer games are better. Graphics, gameplay, story telling… everything gets improved.  But what’s a better game? Surely, it’s personal preference. If I like to play older games, I’ll say that the older games are better. But it can work the other way around too. In addition to that, you need to look to the “quality” of the games too. Are the games actually good for that time period? Or are they garbage?

Flaws of the modern games.

Yearly we get a new Call Of Duty. Yup.
Yearly we get a new Call Of Duty. Yup.

Modern games aren’t perfect. Not at all. The biggest issue I have with them is that they are mostly focusing on the graphical aspect rather then the gameplay. Also, in one of my previous rants, I talked about how many modern games actually hold your hand and tell you what to do. There is no exploration in a game.

Straight or a limit amount of paths are the norm. Games with an open world like for example Zelda always have a certain way to stop you from progressing without an item. This way they manage to make the game extremely linear without you even realizing.

A big example for ranters to talk about is how the Call Of Duty campaign gets shorter each year. The game is a multiplayer game without a doubt. You basically buy it for being able to go online. One of my best friends was a fan of the series but got annoyed by it’s latest entries where his hand was hold for him to finish.

It would be stupid if we didn’t mention the fact that most gaming companies go milking the cash cow. If something sells, they make more of the same to get even more money from our pockets. Let’s take the cheap example of how many Mario games are sold. It’s an easy mascot that kids recognize and buy.

What mostly makes me worry is the lack of creativity in the current gaming world. Outside of the indy developers we barely see new creative work. It’s always the same thing and it the sequel the work out the flaws of the original, but it’s mostly the same idea. Or they cut out on things like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity.

Let’s talk about the systems for a second. Give me one system that can’t run DVD’s or play your favorite music. The Wii & DS couldn’t do that, unless you illegally modified them. Modern gaming platforms are more aimed to the general multimedia lover instead of a gamer. This makes that games need to be aimed for a wider group so they can’t be too difficult.

Flaws of retro games.

Good old Metroid.
Good old Metroid.

One major issue is that some games are way too difficult. The infamous 1 hit death is a welcome example here. Also the fact that there wasn’t an internet to look for walkthroughs or cheats, makes games more difficult. Like some gamers say, when you couldn’t finish a game back then, that’s though luck for you.

In addition to that, there were many games that had cryptic area’s to make the game more difficult. In Zelda II – Adventure of Link for example you need to pass through a wall to finish one dungeon. Or Death Mountain, it’s a maze beyond belief.

Also, games were pretty fragile. Saving worked with an internal battery in the cartridge and when that one ran out, it’s no saving for you. Also when there was dust in the game’s connector pins, you had to carefully blow in the cartridge to make it work again. When the connector pins broken, your game was broken too.

Also the games where more flawed back then. The games where more buggy like the famous cartridge titling glitch. But I can’t count on one hand anymore how much internet memes are created because of the faulty translation of games. “All your base are belong to us.” is a very popular example.

The internet, a knife that cuts both ways.

A generic picture to fancy up the article.
A generic picture to fancy up the article.

If I had to point out something that is good and bad for the gaming community it’s the internet for sure.

The good thing is that indy developers now have more tools to release their work. If they make a website and do some promotion on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for example; they are set. Another good thing is that (big) companies can now easier support their costumers. They can make FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on their website so that their Q&A (Question and Answer) staff doesn’t have to answer the same question over and over again.

Yet the internet is such a bad influence to games as well. Walkthroughs are such a welcome invention. But I can’t deny that I have finished some games with a walkthrough at hand. Above that, the internet is filled with spoilers. If you are tired of the game and you want to know the ending, you can simply look it up. This defeats the purpose of finishing a game.

Oh, and don’t worry, I’m going to talk about it. The amount of hacks and cheats in a game that you can download on the internet. An aimbot for shooters or a X-Ray for Minecraft. It all exists. And people enjoy using it online. And it ruins the experience for gamers that want to play the game legit. Abusing bugs, I can live with that. But using wall hacks or other things makes my blood boil.

I have to admit that after finishing a game, I messed around with programs a lot that made my character jump higher or that I had unlimited ammo. It’s fun to do once to see how the game is made and how things work. But if you try to finish it for the first time, a lot of the fun is taken away.

Spoilers are also everywhere. If you play a game alongside with one of your favorite YouTubers, the comments are filled with things that will happen in the game. Bye bye thrilling game.

Modern games never grew up.

It’s nearly “pick your poison”. Both games have flaws that make me go nuts. Old games can be too difficult and new games can be too easy or unpolished.

Thankfully there are exceptions to the rule. Some games actually aren’t that bad. Some old games can also be extremely easy. But in my eyes, modern games never grew up to a new gaming level. Many improvements are made to the graphics but does that make for better games? I truly don’t know and I will surely touch upon this subject again. But for now I’m going to leave it here. Thanks for reading and until next time.

Rant #002: Broken Menus

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Don’t you just love it? You are playing a game and the menus are all glitched up? Like in this screenshot, where the “Done” button is too stubborn to move. This is a curse that many modders have in Minecraft. But in my current playthrough of certain games, I have encountered some issues with menus for me to talk about in this rant. But before I continue, what problems did you guys have had with menus before? Let me know in the comments. Maybe I’ll add them in a follow-up article if I ever write one. So let’s dive into the menu and my rant about them. 

Standard menu’s?

I often ask myself, why do developers not have some rules about the menu’s? I recently tried out Call Of Duty and the options to change the controls are separate. Great, I looked over it since I expected them to be under an options tab.

All the menu’s in the games are different. I have no big issue with that. The might try to fit the style of the game. But, the issue is mainly that all options have a different spot in each game. What really makes me nervous is when developers don’t give you a chance to play a game in a windowed mode or in full screen. Some games stay full screen anyways. Or when you can’t change the screen sizes to the screen size of your monitor.

A big example of a bad menu design is Overlord. Yes, for the options there are two menus. Awesome! But the most useful options like screen size and the changing of buttons is in the launcher and you can’t access that in-game. This made me close and restart the game often to try to really fit the controls to my likeness.

To accept or not to accept?

Why do so many games have menus where you need to click on “accept” before the changes happen? For older games, I can forgive that, but in more recent games I have seen so many examples where the game changes the settings as soon as you change the setting. Even a preview button would be sweet.

This extremely confuses me, to the extent where I look in every game for an accept button or I get mad went the changes didn’t happen because I missed the “accept” button.

Another annoying example is how messy the Devil May Cry menus are. The buttons to accept options are, well displayed if they would be on a controller. What is the holy name of flying cows? Not everybody has an XBOX guy so, not everybody has a controller to attach to their computer.

This actually gives me the opportunity to do a small additional rant. Who plays with a controller on a computer? For emulators, yes, but for PC games? Oh heck no, this just silly. That shows to me that you rather have the console version. It’s so silly to sit there with a controller when you have a whole array of buttons to press on your keyboard.

Tooltips

Tooltips are a great way of letting the player know what option does what. But oh so many games don’t have this. They just throw the option in your face and you have to guess what it is.

What I really like is how some sound menus have a sample that plays when you lower or raise the volume. All those games need to have that, it’s great to just tweak it to your heart’s content.

But truth to be told, you have games where the menus are so extreme, that it’s a game in itself to navigate them. Most sandbox games like SimCity have this. Where you are actually playing with the menu most of the time.

RollerCoaster Tycoon, the first game, has a big issue with menu’s as well. Each option is a menu. You can open a menu by almost clicking anywhere in-game. It’s extremely difficult to keep track of them all and I find the screen get easily cluttered with menus. And there is no real way of closing them all at once.

I can agree that some games are lacking options. But I will mention that in my reviews then. I think I’m going to leave it here for this rant. Actually with my conclusion.

Menus can be messy, different and not easy to navigate. There is a lot of improvement in this part of gaming. But once you see some touches in other games, you get annoyed that some games don’t have them. I realize that I haven’t talked about how bad the menus can be on Kinect games, and that’s simply because I don’t own one.

So, that’s all for this rant. Happy gaming and NekoJonez signing out!