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  1. #1

    [WiiU] Genei Ibun Roku #FE

    A.k.a. the Shing Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover.
    I'm not much for crossovers and I wasn't exactly hyped when it was first announced, but SMT has demon summoning, varied setups, and dark storylines; Fire Emblem has dragon gods, wars, and a proven combat/levelling system; so it could turn out to be very interesting, right? When Nintendo and Atlus revealed the first trailer we got...idols.

    Oh boy.

    I don't care for idols one bit, and I actively avoid animes with too many idols in them. I get that Japan really likes their idols and people want to capitalize on this craze, but in a SMT x FE crossover can we keep them as support units, pretty pretty please?
    Instead idols and the whole idol world is the center of the game. The story starts with Tsubasa, the female lead, attending to a competition to become an idol. Suddendly the anchor asks Tsubasa about her sister and how she mysteriously disappeared along with an entire theatre five years ago. The anchor reveals himself to be some sort of dark creature here to steal some kind of life essence from good performers. Tsubasa is captured, but Aoi (male childhood friend) comes to the rescue! Only to be ambushed by the anchor's servants.
    As tradition wants, both Tsubasa and Aoi manifest some kind of power and summon the powers of Fire Emblem characters to fight the monsters. Aoi summons Chrom (Awakening), Tsubasa summons Shiida (FE1 and its many remakes). Later in the game they meet with a third guy ("using" Cain from FE1) and a colourful cast of characters that I really can't seem to enjoy. Tiki's there too, as a Uta-Loid; game-wise she's there to manage class changes for the Fire Emblem avatars the playable characters use.
    This world (the game is set in Tokyo, with many real-world locations such as Shibuya) came under attack by dark beings seeking to acquire all the Performa from humans. Perform is what allows Aoi and Tsubasa to summon their FE avatars, and so everyone is recruited by (I think) military agency masquerading as a talent agency to fight these creatures.

    I don't downright hate the setup, but considering the two source games I would have expected something completely different. So far the story has progressed at a rather fast pace, hopefully there will be some twists to increase my interest in characters. To me characters are the weak point of the story, they seem out of any SOL/RomCom anime you can find; Aoi, the male lead and the character you play as, is particularly bland. I really hope the story picks up and delivers, but among the games with RPG elements I'm playing at the moment (Xenoblade X, Summon Night 5, Exist-Archive...heck, even Grand Kingdom), Genei Ibun Roku #FE has the weakest cast.

    The game plays like...Persona. Mhmm. The interface, dungeon setup, available choices during dialogues, are much more reminiscent of a Persona game rather than SMT.
    Combat is standard turn-based RPG fare, with up to three active characters. Turns are based on character speed and are indicated on a progression bar on the top of the screen. Characters have a standard attack and a number of skills, divided into active, session, and passive skills. As per Fire Emblem tradition, characters come with different weapons (swords, lances, axes) as well as magic; even simple swordmen like Chrom have access to basic elemental magic, though the game already teased mages. There's no weapon triangle, replaced with simple weaknesses to a certain weapon or magic type. Session skills allow characters to continue attacks started by someone else.
    Combat brings experience to characters and their FE avatars; when FE avatars level up they might gain a skill, and once they hit level 5, they can change class; class change is only possible if prerequisites, usually number and type of enemies slain, are met.

    You might be wondering where is Fire Emblem in this SMT x FE crossover. Well, it's...in the level up jingle? From the first two or so hours of play I haven't seen much Fire Emblem here. The whole system takes elements of Fire Emblem and flattens them to standard RPG mechanics, which is quite disappointing; there is a skill that lets you move characters around, and there's always the chance that the system will open up as the game goes on, but if you're here for Fire Emblem (I am), you'll constantly wonder how underused it is.
    I'm not saying that GIR#FE is a bad game, so far it has checked all tickboxes for a decent RPG, but as a crossover it doesn't make use of its source material.

    On the plus side, facial expressions in this game are the most hilarious things I've seen in quite some time. Tsubasa is particularly prone for funny expressions, though a couple of named enemies shown some great stuff too. Overall the game looks good, with a very stylish interface, very clean and fairly detailed 3D world. No comment on the soundtrack for now.

    Will Genei Ibun Roke #FE be good, or at least decent? I think so, everything seems in place. However it would have been better for it to drop the SMT and FE roots and be its own game, right now I don't feel that developers made a good use of these licenses.


  2. #2
    The adventure of Itsuki and company continues, with a larger party.
    Kiria and Eleonara joined the party along Tarja and Virion as their Fire Emblem avatars, a mage and an archer respectively; Virion was kind of a surprise as he's not exactly my favourite archer and character in all of FE, but he fits his companion very well.
    The story continues to be lighthearted, with Tsubasa receiving the bulk of character development; the rest of the cast seems to be on a "if you want" basis and hidden behind side quests. Only one side quest can be tackled at any time, undertaking a second will reset the first from the beginning; due to this I've decided to go with Kiria, she seems the most grounded character of the all cast and she also has the coolest costumes...but her Etrian Odyssey dress might be skewing my decisions.
    Anyway, I did warm up to the characters and I've come up to appreciate the work gone into the various music videos, especially the animations. They are motion captured for sure, but animations, especially battle animations, are the real highlight of the game, along with dynamic camera angles. Small touches, like characters waving if ready for a combo attack, the various sentences and expressions when a character is taking his/her turn, really give GIRFE and overall nice presentation. Unfortunately dungeons and locations didn't receive the same amount of attention, and come out as basic.

    Dungeons are relatively simple in nature, with very light puzzle elements. All of them revolve around one gimmick, like avoiding entering a photocamera's line of sight that will otherwise warp you back to the beginning.
    Combat is fun, centered around exploiting weaknesses to start combo attacks. Things from Fire Emblem have started to crop up more frequently, like Pegasus Riders being susceptible to arrows and wind magic. During encounters there are only three characters available, and Itsuki/Chrom can't be switched out, even when his sword is next to useless. All characters have access to singe-use weapons and spells to overcme some of their inherent weaknesses, but those items are very expensive and so far I've used them very sparingly, usually against bosses or stronger-than-normal encounters that sometimes pop up while exploring dungeons.
    Difficulty isn't perfectly tweaked: bosses are often 10 or so levels stronger than normal enemies, resulting in almost unwinnable battles if the party didn't spend some time grinding a dungeon...and I find grinding a very boring task even when combat is fun, there's only a finite amount of enemy types per dungeon and they come in the same formation; characters get skills at almost every level and getting out a dungeon to swap weapons to get even more skills is easily done, but I'd wish boss battles were more in line with the strongest enemies: boss battles have to be tough, but not unwinnable when you can roll over any standard enemy.

    From what I've played, Genei Ibun Roku #FE is a competent game but lacks that "quid" to make is special.

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