Lessons in Team Building with Tokyo Mirage Session

Recently, I finished playing Tokyo Mirage Sessions (or TMS), the hybrid love child born from Nintendo’s Fire Emblem and Atlus’ Megami Tensei. Atlus is mostly known nowadays for its flagship series Shin Megami Tensei (or SMT, look familiar to anyone?) and it’s sister Persona. I had a very good time with TMS,  so it saddens me that it seems to be so overlooked, partly perhaps because of the Wii U’s lack of popularity. What stuck out while playing  TMS is its remarkable ability  at using the entire playable cast, something of an unfortunate rarity in RPGs. I will be breaking down what I feel are the major reasons for this success.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions is successful at creating a gameplay loop that encourages using all  party members evenly and in a balanced way, as well as making them all contribute meaningfully in battle even while not being directly controlled. This ability is mainly  a result of two elements: the session system and the character’s stage rank. The first is the session system, used in battle when exploiting enemy weaknesses to create attack chains. With the session system, a character can strike an enemy’s weakness and if an ally knows a session skill that can follow up on the original attack’s element or weapon, they will execute it immediately. Another ally can then start a third attack if they have a skill to trigger from the second attack. For example, if Tsubasa hits an enemy weak to lances, Itsuki can then utilize lance-slash, from which Touma can now use sword-blaze to finish the chain. Additionally this mechanic creates a sense that the group is fighting as a team and as friends, rather than alone in a group as most RPG battles often play out.

Nothing says teamwork like ganging up on others.

Building a Stairway…Off This Island

Coming up with things to discuss on this site, without dusting off the old chestnuts of RPGs, point-and-clicks, and late 90’s and early 2000’s FPS, is not easy. You write what you know. But as of last year, I have been really getting into resource management games (the internet seems to call these open world survival action-adventures, but that is too long), including Astroneer, Subnautica, and The Survivalists. Granted, calling them resource management games make them sound like factory simulators like Satisfactory, and the perfectly named Factorio. Whatever they are called, these games do provide distinct single and multiplayer experiences.

These types of resource management games, while similar on paper to farming sims, such as  Harvest Moons, Stardew  Valley, or Gleaner Heights, tend to share a different thematic start. Instead of inheriting a farm from a dead or dying relative, the player crash lands on a planet, a deserted island, or a deserted island planet. The Lost in Blue series (or Survival Kids for the five people on this planet who somehow own and played possibly the rarest GBC game) feel like the progenitor of this type of game. Lost In Blue follows different teenagers who find themselves trying to survive on a desolate tropical island. Food and water need to be consumed to keep the player alive, usually in the form of fresh coconuts and river water. Good news was that as  early DS games, Lost in Blue were not as long as the RPG-length sagas the average resource management game requires. Bad news was that as early DS games, Lost in Blue was controlled mostly through the stylus (a pain for those who wanted to do extra combat damage in Magical Starsign). Gameplay focused on constantly tracking vitals and building up a home base that lessens the strain of said vitals start here. But these teens cannot stay on the island forever, they will need to step out of their comfy cave and somehow leave the island. Finally leaving the base continues in later resource management games as a common end goal.

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Wouldn’t it be wild if punching alligators was just incorrectly calculated as being the most effective way to hurt them in Lost In Blue? Like how the butterfly net in some Zelda games works on bosses.

A Child Killer and Soccer Tournaments

I’m re-purposing this long post I put on Tumblr years ago, as the only thing anyone reads on Tumblr longer than three paragraphs involves a combination of “fan” and “fiction” and “not putting the rest of the mountain of text behind a ‘read further’ button”.

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This is a picture of Gilles de Rais, a 15th century French knight that fought along side Joan of Arc, but became truly infamous after he was executed after being convicted of murdering hundreds of children. Gilles de Rais was also almost certainly a child rapist, which makes this next fact all the more crazy.

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This is another picture of Gilles de Rais, but as he is portrayed in the soccer anime and DS and 3DS games, Inazuma Eleven. Rais is a playable character found in Inazuma Eleven GO 2: Chrono Stone.

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Giles is somehow present because for some random plot reason, Inazuma Eleven’s protagonist Tenma gets sent back via time-machine to what I guess Japan thinks qualifies as medieval France.

Before discovering this, I only recognized Inazuma Eleven as that kid’s hand held soccer RPG video game series that instills the “kid” part by pulling that stunt where two completely different versions are released, like with Megaman Battle Network, Pokemon, and Yokai Watch.

Case in point:

Neppuu Version

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Raimei Version

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Now I can only recognize Inazuma Eleven as that hand held soccer RPG where you can play as a 15th century child killer who not only competes against kids at inter-mural sports, but as a level 99 midfielder that uses the element of Earth.

Honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything more amazing if I tried.

Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume Review: Ganging Up On Others For Fun And Profit.

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Old Norse mythology told of the Valkyries, the chooser of the slain, who would fly over the battlefields and chose who died in battle, these slain warriors became einherjar, taken to Valhalla, where they prepared for Ragnarok (well, about half of them, we don’t care about the other half. But if you must know, they go to Freya’s garden Fólkvangr, Odin knows what they do there…) this was considered amongst the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a fighter. But things are never that simple, and while honor and praise are all well and good, they do not feed a family, and in a time when men where undoubtedly the breadwinners and soldiers of a household many families would be left destitute, even worse perhaps, was losing a good father, a loving son, or a dear friend. This anguish is the main source of the conflict in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume.

Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, was developed by tri-Ace for the Nintendo DS and published by Square Enix in 2008, then brought over to the U.S. in 2009, still published by Square Enix. Covenant of the Plume it is the third installment in the Valkyrie Profile series and a prequel to the first game, Valkyrie Profile.

Covenant of the Plume centers, not around any of the titular Valkyries, but in a mortal youth named Wylfred. Wylfred’s father, Thyodor, was slain in battle and welcomed as an einherjar by the Valkyrie Lenneth, This doesn’t go over too well with his family, who were left in poverty. It didn’t take long for Elsie, Wylfred’s little sister, to die of starvation. And because the rule of three exists for a reason, Wylfred’s mother went insane from grief and regressed to her days as a young maiden in love, as such she only recognizes Wylfred as her late-husband (though this isn’t elaborated upon).

Having his family torn apart by his father’s death, Wylfred swears revenge upon the Valkyrie, Lenneth, and what better way to find her than in the battlefield. Thus, Wylfred sets out with his best friend, Ancel to become a mercenary. However, a mission gone wrong puts Wylfred on the verge of death, outraged at his quest for revenge getting cut short, Hel, ruler of Niflheim (the underworld), offers Wylfred the power to carry out his revenge, in order to use it he will have to sacrifice everything he has, but does he have the malice to carry this through to the end?

Four on one? Sounds fair to me.

Four on one? Sounds fair to me.

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