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.