It’s Inauguration Day here in the States. What better day to escape in to the world of video games, right?
How will you be spending your weekend?
I’m sitting at the 45-hour mark in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE on Wii U, having spent the last few mopping up side-quests, grinding out Stage Ranks, and unlocking new weapon skills. Itsuki and company are currently stationed inside of the Illusory Daiba Studio where a plethora of puzzles stand between them and the end of chapter 5 (of 6).
Thus far, I’m thoroughly enjoying this melodramatic mash-up between Persona and Fire Emblem. It’s vibrant and over-the-top in a way that doesn’t feel forced, and the writing has been genuinely entertaining throughout the adventure. The characters all have their own unique personalities and writing quirks, like Barry, a former American death metal guitarist who moved to Japan, became obsessed with anime, and now acts as the group’s dance instructor.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE# also features brilliant use of the Wii U’s underutilized GamePad screen, by way of an off-screen Twitter-like app called Topic. Party members will frequently message Itsuki to exchange witty banter, provide hints on his current objective, or open up side quests… but sometimes they just like to complain and reply with emoji stickers of drunk rabbits and anime characters. Needless to say, this feature has made me chuckle on various occasions.
Here’s a painfully narrated trailer that’ll give you a better idea of the game’s inner workings.
I’m really digging on the game’s combat system, which plays in to Tokyo Mirage’s J-Pop idol, vocaloid, and entertainment media core. In typical Persona fashion, it’s all about exploiting enemy weaknesses. Doing so allows other party members to immediately follow-up with their own attacks, dubbed sessions, which can then trigger other castmates to follow suit.
For instance, if Itsuki exploits an enemy’s weakness using his lightning magic, anyone that’s learned a session attack that triggers from lightning will jump in and deliver an additional blow. Pretending that session attack triggers a blow from Mamori’s axe, anyone with an axe-triggered session will follow up her attack with one of their own. Basically, one simple attack can rain blows from your entire cast.
Random encounters also jack up the absurdity to eleven by taking place inside of a dimly lit arena, packed with fans frantically waving their glow sticks while laser lights zap across the stage and bursts of confetti flutter down from the sky. This visual aesthetic, combined with the elaborately choreographed session combos and special attacks (shown below), is unlike anything I’ve ever played before. It’s equal parts Persona 4, Final Fantasy X-2, Hatsune Miku, and Kamen Rider, and assaults the senses in some truly imaginative ways.
With any luck I’ll have Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE finished this weekend, and barring any sort of major fumbles within the last two chapters, it’d easily end up in my top 5 favorite games from last year.
I just received the new cyber-punk adventure game 2064: Read Only Memories to review on PS4, which I’ll jump on as soon as I finish up Tokyo Mirage. Review titles typically move to the head of the pack, but with 45 hours invested in Tokyo Mirage (and the finish line in sight) I don’t want to jeopardize my progress.
After 2064: ROM, I plan on starting Paper Mario: Color Splash. I’ve been eager to jump (no pun intended) in to this one since picking it up for Christmas, but knew I had enough free time to tackle a meatier RPG the first two weeks of my spring semester. It just made sense.
I’ve been on a Nintendo kick lately, despite my issues with the Switch’s reveal, so chances are I’ll continue working my way through the Wii U’s backlog until the Switch launches in March. I still need to finish Xenoblade Chronicles X, both Legend of Zelda remasters, and grab copies of Yoshi’s Woolly World and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. I’m sure there’s a few more things to accomplish in Super Mario 3D World as well.
Today I bought my first game of 2017 (if you recall, my resolution this year is to avoid buying games at launch in favor of directing my focus at the backlog–unless it’s on a good sale), snagging MegaTagmension Blanc + Neptune vs Zombies on Vita for less than $4. I love me some NepNep and it seems like a decent mindless hack-n-slash game to unwind with before bed.
Outside of gaming, I just finished volume six of Saga (which continues to be an incredible read) and began reading volume one of Marjorie Liu’s mystical fantasy series Monstress. It’s a leading lady-driven tale of dehuminzation in an alternate reality Asia where two groups of people, sorceresses and arcanics, fail to coexist. Mostly due to the Cumea, the sorceresses, relying on the arcanics as a food source. Woops.
If you’re interested in these types of non-superhero comics, Image is celebrating its 25th anniversary over on Humble Bundle. You can snag a ludicrous collection of digital comics, like Saga, Outcast, Bitch Planet, Lazarus, and Birthright for around $20.
I’m not really known as an anime guy, but one day I was browsing Hulu for something new to watch and spotted Himouto! Umaru-Chan. I had never heard of it before, but I’d seen tons of images and GIFs of Umaru on Twitter; a chibi girl wrapped in an orange hamster cloak, typically eating junk food, having tantrums, and playing games on her PSP.
I usually have the TV on in the background while I write or complete mundane tasks in handheld games (yay, XP grinds!), but Himouto! Umaru-chan is only available in Japanese with English subs. It’s taken me almost a week to finish 5 episodes, but I’m pretty much in love with it.
The show focuses on Umaru, a beautiful and perfect high school student that lives with her brother, Taihei. While she’s at school she’s the envy of her classmates, acing tests and catching the eye of every boy in the hallway, but once she arrives at home Umaru is depicted as a chibi with a childlike temper. She’s no longer a model student, but a lazy layabout that survives on junkfood, commands an army of hamsters, reads manga, and plays more video games than you or I ever dreamed of. It’s hilarious.
So between finishing up Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and unwinding with a few episodes of Himouto! Umaru-chan, I’m sure homework will keep me busy.
What about you folks? What are you getting in to this weekend?