Unfortunately, the Wii U wasn’t exactly the most successful of games consoles. We describe it as such because it did actually spawn some high quality titles, of which Tokyo Mirage Sessions is one. Like many others, this game eventually made the jump over to the Switch, allowing what must be said is a much, much larger user base to access it. New players being able to experience this esoteric but tremendously fun title is a great thing for sure, but what about those that own the original, dual-screened affair? Is it worth it for the dozens of us that owned the Wii U and TMS#FE?
Oh, and we’re still waiting for that port of Xenoblade Chronicles X, Nintendo…
Possibly the weakest area of a pro-purchase argument is the graphical performance of both the original and Encore versions. Granted, this has little to do with the games themselves and more to do with the consoles on which they’re based. The Switch, which is a fantastic console we might add, isn’t that much more powerful than the Wii U. You could argue that it’s actually the realisation of the original console dream, played out over two generations of hardware. Either way however, the graphical power housed in each isn’t what we’d call a generational leap.
If we squint, the game does look a bit better, but where the remastering of Xenoblade Chronicles took the leap from the original Wii and 3DS, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is more of a step. Neither version aims for high fidelity textures, opting rather for a stylised anime approach, and the result of this is that either version works just fine. We’re not about to call them identical, because the docked Switch version is categorically the best, but considered alone this isn’t a selling point. They didn’t need to make a great deal of changes here, so they didn’t.
As you might imagine, given that the Encore version is positioned as a new version rather than a remaster, new content has been added, and quite a bit of it. There is a new dungeon that has been added, which features brand new enemies and it can be progressed to unlock a variety of items and new costumes. Speaking of which, plenty of equipment and clothing has been added, including the now legendary Joker costume from Persona 5!
By far the biggest addition however, is that new story sections have been added, and you can even unlock new cast members, allowing them to take up places in the session queue. They cannot function in the main battle team, but having someone like Barry jumping in to deal damage in every session is great fun. This particular change feels like it rounds out the entire experience of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, after all these characters tend to get heavily involved in a variety of dungeons, so it’s nice to have them get involved. Regarding content, and this final point in particular, the upgrade to Encore is certainly worthwhile.
Were you to consider that the Switch is effectively a better version of the Wii U, you would be forgetting one key piece of information: Both of the Wii U screens can be used at once; the TV and the Gamepad. Granted, the latter often feels like it needs to be within 4 feet of the actual console in order to function effectively, but this feature did mean that developers had the opportunity to play with two screens, much like the DS.
Regarding Tokyo Mirage Sessions, this meant giving the player a great deal of useful information whilst they play the game, like menus, maps and even a novel SMS system. This is certainly a game that got the Gamepad right, giving the player a reason to use it, and saving them from traversing menu screens. Switch users in Encore on the other hand, will have to push through more menus and deal with a bit more clutter on screen. This isn’t exactly game breaking, after all the developers did a great job minimising said clutter with the upgrade, but there’s no denying that the Gamepad was the best way to experience the game. Having an SMS system and dungeon maps right there is reason enough to love it, never mind the super comfy physical pad itself.
It pains us to say this, because we absolutely love a lot about these games, but it’s probably not worth grabbing the Encore version if you have the original. Yes, the additional story and session-involvement of extra characters is nice, and the new outfits are fun to play with, but the real meat of the game remains the same. The battle system, which is an absolute joy and the main reason we often return, is intact no matter which version you choose. In fact, we’d argue that the sheer hand-feel comfort of the Gamepad makes it a more enjoyable experience, though we do accept that this is subjective.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a fantastic game in its own right, but not transformative enough to warrant a second purchase, at least in our opinion. If you’ve yet to experience the game then you absolutely should, even if it’s just to experience the fantastic battle system. It’s a strange, J-pop influenced, Persona-esque, Fire Emblem tinged gem of a game that you should experience once at least, no matter the platform.
Categories: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore