Finally a game made just for me – though you can play it too, I guess…
As I experience life as the being known as Henry Gilbert, host of the Cape Crisis podcast, I’ve long searched for the perfect game. One that matches my love of Nintendo, strategy RPGs, rainbows, Persona, JPOP, vacationing in Tokyo, Shin Megami Tensei, anime silliness, Fire Emblem, and convenience store food. I never thought such a game could be made, even when a Shin Megami X Fire Emblem title was revealed years ago. But, after seeing a slow trickle of news in the lead up to E3 that was capped off by a lengthy demo, I think Genei Ibun Roku #FE (not the final English name), might actually make all my dreams a reality. Check out the E3 trailer and tell me that this doesn’t look like the greatest thing of all time:
Not to sound too harsh, but if you don’t like that, then I don’t like you. Instead of a simple crossover, SMTXFE appears imbued with the spirit of both series to make something new and unique. In its own special way, it reminds me of Kingdom Hearts, and not just because of the anime tropes. Here are 5 reasons why I’m looking forward to this more than any other game out of E3 2015…
1. It’s from some of my favorite developers at Atlus
One of the best ways to get third parties on the Wii U is through cooperation, and Genbei Ibun Roku #FE is another in Nintendo’s growing list of collaborative releases. As reported by the nice folks at Siliconera, it brings together Mitsuru Hirata (Shin Megami Tensei IV, SMT Strange Journey) and Eiji Ishida (Strange Journey, Radiant Historia) as the game’s co-directors. That means SMTXFE is coming from the people behind some of the best DS and 3DS games of the last decade, and now they have way more tools at their disposal. All their previous games are brilliant on a handheld scale, so just imagine what they can do with HD visuals, a bigger budget, and Nintendo’s support.
2. It’s secretly a Persona game
Watch that above gameplay demo carefully, because those 44 minutes are packed with so much wonderful information. But even if you mute the commentary team, you can see that, while there are massive doses of SMT and FE style all over, it’s SMT spin-off Persona that seems to offer the most inspiration. The battle summons, dating sim aspects, character designs, and flashy use of color all scream out influence from Persona 3 and 4 in particular – and if you don’t know, P3 and P4 are among some of the best games ever. Just look at the dungeon exploration in the last 20 minutes. The battles, puzzles, the bosses, and more all pull from the modern Persona titles. You even perform gloriously animated duo attacks that show off characterization just as much as the flashy combat. Hell, your special abilities come from a “Performa” – need I say more?
3. It draws on Fire Emblem history in clever ways
Those summons I was just describing aren’t any random jerk either. They pull from the vast catalog of Fire Emblem history to bring folks like Chrom, Elena, and more to assist in battle. While the spunky Japanese youth at the center of the story seem to be original characters, they appear to be assisted throughout by Fire Emblem stars who’ve been pulled into modern day Tokyo. And if the bosses are as tough as Persona’s can be, you’ll likely need to use them often. Which is fine with me, because their character animations have so much personality that I want to unlock every single one of them. And while on the subject of Japan’s capital…
4. Modern day Japan looks beautiful
Fire Emblem has always taken place in pseudo-Tolkien settings, but Shin Megami most often drops players into some variation of modern day Japan. Genbei Ibun Roku #FE is siding with SMT when it comes to setting, as you can see in the many vibrant shots of a digital Tokyo. The world is full of so much color, and seeing characters walk down the realistic streets of Shibuya takes me back to an area of the city I love exploring whenever I get the chance to visit it. It’s such a specific locale, even down to the prevalence of street musicians, the world’s busiest intersection, and the 109 building (renamed to the 106). You rarely see this type of thing in a Nintendo published game, so the anime stylings and J-Pop music feel refreshing on the Wii U.
5. Possibly the best idol-RPG since Final Fantasy X-2
Remember all the singing and dancing of Final Fantasy X-2, or the large number of virtual idol games that fill up Japanese game stores? SMTXFE is getting in on that action by making pop songs central to the gameplay. Characters unlock their Performa and find strength through singing original tunes with some impressive lip syncing. Those are some catchy songs in the footage above, even if their idol costumes can be a bit much (or too little, if you follow). However, the importance of Japanese songs and dialogue makes me wonder if the game will have a Japanese language option. Nintendo doesn’t traditionally offer that up, but it seems essential for this game. Basically, this is the JRPG musical crossover Tokyo travelogue that I never knew I needed so badly.
Phew… Boy, it feels so good to have gushed about how great this game looks. I can’t wait to play more, so here’s hoping that the 2016 release window means before the next E3. I’m sure this will be a real pain to localize, but I’m not sure I could wait more than a year to play this. Maybe I’ll just import a Wii U and commit to Japanese fluency in the next 7 months… Also, if you’re looking for more things I enjoy, head to the Laser Time Bandcamp page to check out our premium movie commentaries, including The Avengers and Iron Man 3!