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Genei Ibun Roku #FE Heading West as Japanese-Only Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Nintendo realizes they couldn't localize Genei Ibun Roku #FE, so they're working with what they got.

News by Mike Williams, .

During today's Nintendo Direct, the company announced that Genei Ibun Roku #FE would be coming to the United States as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE on June 24. The title won't be getting a full localization though; instead Nintendo of America will be releasing the game with Japanese audio and English subtitles. Honestly, I'm not surprised at all.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is the game that was originally announced as Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, a meeting of the two fan-favorite franchises. (Get it? TMS is SMT in reverse!) #FE does share some characters and concepts with Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, but it's really its own unique title. It doesn't directly cater to either side.

Instead, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE aims directly are Japanese pop idol culture. Many of the characters work for or are associated with entertainment agency Fortuna Entertainment, which employs idol singers and actors. The characters become Mirage Masters, able to former bonds with Mirages to fight creatures that threaten Tokyo and other nearby cities. All battles are treated as performances by entertainers. For the most part, the game goes off on its own story, without really addressing either Shin Megami Tensei or Fire Emblem.

The callbacks are many though. The Mirages are Personas in all but name, but they're all based on characters from the Fire Emblem franchise. Every character has a classes based on Fire Emblem and can be promoted using that series' Master Seals. Combat is turn-based and requires exploiting enemy weaknesses. Physical weakness are based on Fire Emblem's weapon triangle, while magical weaknesses are based on Shin Megami Tensei's magic system. The game plays more somewhat like a MegaTen game with a Fire Emblem skin.

#FE is quite Japanese, given its setting and focus. Unlike other Nintendo localization projects, I'm not sure you could find a version of this game that could reach out to a larger, more mainstream audience without significant changes. It would require extensive dubbing and songwriting as well, given the game's original soundtrack. (Japanese songs translated over to English directly rarely work, in my opinion.)

Even in its home region of Japan, Genei Ibun Roku #FE only sold 23,806 copies during its first week. That makes it one of the worse debuts for either franchise. It debuted at #14 on the Media Create charts and was completely gone from the chart's Top 50 a month later.

Nintendo of America had on its hands a very Japanese game that didn't do all that great in Japan. It's the kind of game I would've expected to be published by Atlus USA, XSEED, or the like. Given that material, I was expecting the company to go this route. They could dub the game, but that cost is probably not justified by what they see as the North American audience. That audience is likely anime and jpop fans, who are predisposed towards consuming their content in its original language with subtitles. And the likelihood of #FE making a dent beyond that audience is rather slim.

I doubt Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE will come over here 100 percent complete though. I've always felt localization is all about your intended audience, but I assume Nintendo will probably add more clothes to certain characters to hit ESRB ratings. In this case though, any of the likely costume edits that Nintendo will implement will probably anger and dismay the niche audience it's aimed at. In Japan, the game also included DLC for Fashion Show, Swimsuit, and Atlus character costumes. No clue if we'll get those at all.

The big remaining question is whether Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE will get a physical retail release. Given how Nintendo handled Devil's Third, with a very limited physical release, I wouldn't be surprised if NoA is expecting fans to buy Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE digitally.

Either way, the game is coming West and we finally have a release date! Please be excited.

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  • Avatar for Vaporeon #1 Vaporeon 2 years ago
    You're right that any censorship would agitate the already niche US fanbase. Why not just rate it M and leave it alone? Thanks for the detail on the battle system. I may pick this up to hold me over until Persona 5 - and because it's for Wii U.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #2 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    I don't give a damn if they censor the shit out of this game. I'll still buy it! Just give it to me now!

    Seriously though, I'm used to reading subtitles so I'll take it. English audio would undoubtedly reach a larger audience but Nintendo doesn't seem interested in expanding this series. It's going to be a one-off game. It's a once in a life time collaboration between Atlus and Nintendo. I shall savor it. Can't wait for June.
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #3 himuradrew 2 years ago
    I think it's a really good idea that Nintendo didn't attempt to localize this game. This game is just soooo Japanese in all it's aspects, they would've wound up with something lesser if they ever attempted to touch the setting, etc.

    Hmm.. actually this game looks really interesting and I'm thinking of picking up a WiiU just for this, but with the NX incoming... and then there's the small matter of MHX or MHGen coming to the 3DS to suck up all my free time...
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  • Avatar for jihon83 #4 jihon83 2 years ago
    No, my masturb-er, no, artistic expression and creativity are under attack!

    Seriously, this seems like the kind of release that should further strengthen bonds between Nintendo and its fans. I want to say it may also reflect an effort to squeeze a little more water out of this stone, but I imagine the localization costs will be high enough that the NA/EU releases come up as losses. Come on Nintendo fans, see what the house of Mario does for you? Now give up that S rank and cough out a baby!
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  • Avatar for victorehunter #5 victorehunter 2 years ago
    What really surprises me is that the marketing isn't leaning hard in either a Persona or Fire Emblem direction. I was expecting at the very least a name change that would make it seem familiar to North Americans who have played Awakening or Fates. They could have even made the title something that SMT or Persona fans would be able to recognize.

    I'm a little bit scared that the ambiguity of the name might not attract the attention of people who would otherwise know of the series that #FE came from.

    I hope it all works out though. I'd hate to see them get burned for taking an interesting chance like this.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #6 link6616 2 years ago
    @victorehunter to be honest. Having played about 25 hours of the Japanese version. I think that's the best plan.

    If you go into this and want any fe. :( if you want smt, you kind of get that, but it's also not really very smt either.

    However guys, this is a wonderful game. It'll be worth it when it comes out.
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  • Avatar for docexe #7 docexe 2 years ago
    Honestly, I think it was always destined to be a niche game here in the West, but it’s a shame that it failed in Japan. Given that at first glance looks like a more... “sunny” (I guess) version of Persona, I wonder if they should have marketed it more towards that audience.

    In any case, I’m really interested in the game and I’m glad it finally has an official English name and a release date in this continent. It’s probably going to be the only collaboration of this type between Nintendo and Atlus, but I’m going to cherish it when it comes.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #8 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @docexe The thing is, the market that would be into this kind of game doesn't exist on the Wii U. This is a PlayStation crowd kind of game. It was always destined to have rough shot at success.

    I think Nintendo knew this though and it was a worthy shot at trying to regain that RPG audience.
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  • Avatar for Daryoon #9 Daryoon 2 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Aye. I just demonstrates that Nintendo face a no-win situation when it comes to *cough* "core gamers". They moan about all the Mario games, but never engage with the alternatives, so Nintendo end up releasing more Mario games because those actually sell.
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  • Avatar for Ralek #10 Ralek 2 years ago
    Definitely going to pick this up Day1. I want to applaud Nintendo for sticking to their guns and bringing this over despite being utterly niche and having done so poorly in Japan. I hope this is a sign of things to come and that we will never ever have to face an ugly situation as Operation Rainfall again. The fact that is subbed and not dubbed seems to make sense fo a game so deeply stooped in Japanse idole culture, also the type of player who would normally go for a game like this in the west, is always the first one screaming out for dual-audio and thus the option for VO + subs ...
    Last but not least, since we've been waiting for this game for quite some time, with much of it spent in utter silence, I'm glad we finally have solid release date in the west. Again, kudos for Nintendo for seeing this through to the end, despite the rocky road this is on. They'll have my support with this one!
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  • Avatar for Jairo-MC #11 Jairo-MC 2 years ago
    I was already excited for this when it was first announced. Now I'm really happy that it won't take long to play it.
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  • Avatar for alexb #12 alexb 2 years ago
    @Daryoon Which core gamers, much less American core gamers, do you honestly think they were targeting with this title? It's a game with an infinitesimal market that was made precisely because they let the developers loose with too little direction and allowed them to entirely follow their own predilections and create an impenetrable cloud of otaku wank instead of meeting the expectations the vast majority of the fans of either of the brands the game leans so heavily on.

    They got everyone hyped for an FE/SMT crossover, both of which were serious, traditional series that mostly eschewed jpop cliches (remember this announcement predated Awakening), and then decided they wanted to make a Persona where every character was Rise Kujikawa. Of course there was backlash. The game going down like a lead balloon is not some moral failure of the playerbase.Edited 2 times. Last edited March 2016 by alexb
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  • Avatar for marcalan #13 marcalan 2 years ago
    Eh, so long as I can turn off the voice track, who cares? Yeah, I'm one of those weird dudes who prefers English dub to sub.
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  • Avatar for TernBird #14 TernBird 2 years ago
    Yeah, I agree with Mike: by all means, this game isn't worth the trouble to dub. It's too niche.

    The Torrential Downpour folks are gonna take this as a win, either way, but I frankly don't care what they think.
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  • Avatar for Daryoon #15 Daryoon 2 years ago
    @alexb If it's a good game, it's a good game. Why should people worry so much about the wallpaper? We don't care that Mario games are about an Italian plumber fighting giant turles!
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  • Avatar for docexe #16 docexe 2 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino You make a fair point that said audience is not really present on the Wii U (not in significant numbers anyway), although I would argue it not only exists among the PlayStation user base but also among the 3DS crowd. It makes me wonder if the game would have been more successful if it had been released on 3DS (of course, then the Wii U would be lacking another game -_-). In any case, I do agree with you in that this was very likely a calculated risk on Nintendo’s part, like Bayonetta 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles X.
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  • Avatar for CipherStone #17 CipherStone 2 years ago
    The fusion of the SMT elemntal weakness system and the Fire Emblem weapon triangle sounds good, but the whole Japanese pop idol thing turns me off. I'll see how it turns out but I just don't think it'll be my thing.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #18 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    It looks fantastic. I actually think there IS an audience for this game on Wii-U. Certainly in my case as someone who is a fan of Japanese games, Wii-U is a must own system.

    I think they made the right call in opting to just release this with the Japanese dialogue. Not only does it make sense financially, it's probably the version most people want to play anyway. And the important thing is just that we're getting it.

    I do STRONGLY hope that it's available in physical form. There's nothing worse than trying to cram big games onto my Wii U! I buy every game physical whenever possible, and I still have trouble fitting everything I need to buy digitially. I couldn't even install Fatal Frame 5 because my hard drive just doesn't have the room.
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  • Avatar for Ghopper101 #19 Ghopper101 2 years ago
    I can't believe this is even coming over. I can't wait to give it a go!
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  • Avatar for melbournecup2016 #20 melbournecup2016 2 years ago

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