JRPGs are, traditionally, massive time sinks. These grandiose adventures with their 50+ hour storylines, constant dialogue and endless grinding of enemy encounters assume, expect, that we sit at our screen of choice for hours at a time. In my youth, that was fine. I had time, so much of it! Now though, as an “adult”, things are different. I don’t have infinite time. I’m hyper-aware of the fact that I inch closer to my death every day. Which means the easier I can fit a game into my adult life, the more likely I am to devote my precious time to it.
Enter Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, a game that is just as long-winded as its title. Originally released on the Nintendo Wii U, it’s a Shin Megami Tensei/Persona-style game with a little bit of Fire Emblem fanservice thrown in, and it absolutely does all those series’ justice in the amount of time it asks from its players. Thankfully, like so many of those titles, it actually does a fairly great job of respecting players’ time. Quickfire character stories, friendly exploration with lots of fast travel and speedy battles mean that it’s perfectly suited for playing in short bursts. On the Wii U that was a nice thing to have, but on the Switch it feels absolutely essential.
Not since Breath of the Wild have I felt so confident about whipping my Switch out on my morning commute for a quick bash at huge RPG. It rarely works out. Sure, the console can go in and out of standby without the need to quit the game, but there’s just something about playing tiny chunks of a lengthy sequence or dungeon that just doesn’t feel right. Tokyo Mirage Sessions avoids this by compartmentalising its various scenarios into quickly-consumable pieces. Dungeons, for example, have handy fast-travel portals that activate as you explore deeper and deeper. These portals are placed in such a way that it actually makes more sense in the context of the game to use them as an opportunity to exit the dungeon regroup, upgrade your characters and either jump back in or switch off and come back later. Character side quests are always nice and quick too, and main character Itsuki’s mobile device is a constant source of updates and backlogs of information should you ever take a break and forget what was happening.
Things go even further in this new port of Tokyo Mirage Sessions for the Switch as well, with the inclusion of the extra dungeons that were originally added as DLC on the Wii U. These dungeons are meant for one thing and one thing only – good ol’ fashioned grinding. Before these were a thing, having to go back and slog through old dungeons just to catch your party members up or increase their Stage Ranks enough to continue their side stories was kind of a chore. Now, no matter where you are in the story, there’s a reliable (and seriously fast) way to boost your EXP, skills and more. Again, it gives players a decent reason to get the Switch out for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, even if just to boost their party up a little before continuing on proper at home.
I have a lot more thoughts to share about Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore on the Switch, but those will have to wait for my full review when the embargo lifts closer to the game’s release. For now, I can definitely say that this is exactly the kind of Wii U game that makes for a worthy port to the Switch.