Chasing a Mirage

When a game is exclusively on a particular games console and you don’t have one, perhaps experiencing it through a streamer is a good option?

The cast of Tokyo Mirage Sesions #FE at Fortuna Office

Some games, I’ll never get to play for myself. I’m primarily a PC gamer, so when a title launches exclusively for console, it pretty much means that I won’t be able to experience it. Such is the case with Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, a game exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U.

It’s a Japanese anime style roleplaying game set in real locations in Tokyo, where citizens are under attack from evil beings called Mirages seeking to harvest their energy. Their only hope is a group of teenagers who fuse with characters crossing over from Fire Emblem and become superheroes known as Mirage Masters in order to defeat the evil Mirages by becoming pop idols.

One day, while surfing Twitch on my HDTV, a streamer I follow called HeathHimself went live and started playing Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, a game I’d never heard of before then. I became enthralled by the game’s story and Heath’s reactions to it. I’ll never be able to play the game myself, but perhaps I could experience it vicariously…

A new awakening

I think I stumbled upon this streaming series somewhere around episode 5, and I remember being totally intrigued and confused by all of the strangeness of the game. For starters, it’s a western localisation of a Japanese game, so it’s full of different cultural references as well as the fantasy terms specific to the game universe, such as what a “Mirage” is.

After my interest had been piqued, I went back and found the recording of episode 1 of HeathHimself’s “Let’s Play Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE” and watched them all in the correct order.

What Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE does well is give you the sense that you’re watching/playing an interactive anime series, blending gameplay with cinematic conversations and at various points full-animation anime cutscenes. The story centres around a teenager named Itsuki Aoi, who is just a regular guy until he sees his friend Tsubasa being kidnapped by supernatural beings (Mirages) and being taken into a strange pocket dimension known as an Idolasphere.

While within the Idolasphere, Itsuki and Tsubasa discover that they have power within themselves known as Performa, and they merge with a pair of benevolent Mirages called Crom and Caeda to become Mirage Masters. They defeat the evil Mirages and then emerge from the Idolasphere confused about what just happened.

Their mutual friend Touma also reveals himself to be a Mirage Master and knows a little bit more about what’s going on. Touma introduces Itsuki and Tsubasa to his boss, Ms. Maiko, who runs a talent agency called Fortuna Entertainment, which is actually a cover for the headquarters of the Mirage Masters. They then begin their training to become pop idols, as the power of their Performa (and how well they fight as Mirage Masters) is related to how good they perform as entertainers.

They battle Mirages within the Idolasphere through turn-based arena combat, performing different types of attack and trying to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses. When they find a weakness, the Mirage Masters can perform chains of attacks together, known as Sessions.

It sounds crazy, but it strangely all makes perfect sense the more you learn about it. Even the bizarre title of the game, “Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE” starts to make sense when you understand what Mirages and Sessions are.

Radiant Unity

The other half of the equation which makes “Let’s Play Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE” compelling viewing is watching HeathHimself play it. His reactions to the strange situations in the game can be quite funny. When characters gain new abilities through a process called “Radiant Unity”, Heath refers to it as “butt bumping” because during the cutscene they leap into the air and look like they’re bumping their butts together.

Heath also often chimes in with a few epithets about Japanese gravure modelling, background about Fire Emblem characters and other things like harem anime. What can be frustrating to watch though, is that Heath tends to get lost in Idolaspheres – he spent almost an entire episode in the wrong Idolasphere climbing up the dresses of giant dolls and going in circles.

The frequency of streams has also been an issue, with several weeks going by between play sessions. We could all benefit from having a more regular schedule, and knowing when to tune in. One of my fears is that this could turn into another “Let’s Play Dead Island” series, where he stopped playing and I never found out if Xian Mei made it off the island…

In absence of episodes, I tried seeking out other streamers playing Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, but was disappointed because none of them had the same charm as Heath did, or they weren’t serious during the story conversations, skipped cutscenes or didn’t read out the content of text messages being received on their Wii U gamepads.

Mirage Master

Perhaps some day, I’ll finally see the rest of the story in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. I’ll just have to keep hoping for new episodes. Or maybe after the Nintendo Switch comes out, Wii Us will become really cheap…

Comment on this