Okay, so the Illusory Revelations #FE (formerly known as Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem) trailer is a thing and everyone that was expecting a fanservice-y crossover event has been left a bit ... "wut." Don't worry, my initial reaction was excited, but puzzled. I was at work when the Nintendo Direct happened, so I only got to watch the trailer when I ran out on my break, then ran back. Then I thought about it as I pushed through the rest of my shift, came home and watched it again.
The feeling I'm getting overall is the idea of a two multiverses colliding is not happening and instead they had weird baby. HIgh school kids fight brand-new SMT-styled demons while cosplaying Fire Emblem characters or job classes in a Tokyo that's about to get weird. They also apparently go to the high school Flynn and his friends from SMT IV later get ther DLC school uniforms from.
Atlus and Intelligent Systems are taking the "cross" part of the original title seriously, at least more seriously than Street Fighter X Tekken did. We're multiplying SMT with FE here. This is also not the first time I've seen a crossover approached this way because I read Marvel Vs. DC in the 90s.
In the third issue, the protagonist of MvDC uses his universe-hopping powers to merge both the DC and Marvel universes into one world until he can find a way to stop those universes from conflicting and destroying each other, resulting in a wotld where Logan is living the life of Bruce Wayne as Dark Claw. Yes, he still has the adamantium skeleton and healing factor, he was still experimented on to make that happen, but his parents were also shot in an alleyway, he inherited their fortune and decided to be a man dressed as a bat to fight crime. With claws, Bub.
So this is kind of what SMTxFE is doing. Merging the worlds of Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem rather than have them clash with each other. This solves a few differences SMT and FE couldn't reconcile, too.
If we were to realistically to have fan-service-y game, we would have ended up with a Fire Emblem game that SMT characters just happen to be in. It is really the only way you could fit in most of the characters people would want to see and even then they'd whine you left a few out. Especially the Persona 3 and 4 kids that have had plenty of games, need to be a nice guest and finally leave.
So now we're getting none of the characters beyond references and getting an original cast of characters instead. Bonus: Persona fans can't whine they're not bring served now.
Also, there's the matter of Kaneko's demon roster. I love Kaneko's work to death, but you're going ot have a hard time allowing penis chariots and razor-toothed vagina angels into a game Nintendo is footing the bill for and including their IP in. Bayonetta just does a huge burlesque act for her ultimate attacks, but Mara is a blatant dick. Mara is the reason I can't share anything from Persona Q or SMT on the NA Miiverse right now.
Then there's Fire Emblem's permadeath along with SMT's fondness for punching player's in the throat early on - that's before the instant death spells, too. I think its safe to say we're losing the permadeath and just getting the throat punching. As a bonus, we're also trading top-down tactical strategy for dungeon crawling. As much as I like the Devil Survivor games, Atlus does the latter better.
Finally, I'm guessing this is also partly the result of Persona 5 being a Sony exclusive. Nintendo scored a lot of love from Persona 3 and 4 fans with Fire Emblem: Awakening. While romancing is nothing new to FE it is something that gets people excited. Nintendo wants more of that stuff, more of that audience and knows Atlus is good at delivering it. This clearly isn't just a crossover, its meant ot be a new IP Nintendo could carry on to future platforms.
Those are my thoughs and impressions on what we've seen. Its not as dark as i was expecting, but I'm not disappointed, either. Additionally, this choice in direction also makes the game a bit more accessible to newcomers to both IPs - they won't have to know the history of Fire Emblem's nations or the inner-workings of the SMT multiverse to make sense of this game.
One of the biggest problems with crossovers is a lack of coherent narrative. Sure. the Avengers movies are doing well now - but you've seen the list of Marvel properties coming to theaters through 2020, right? There's going to be a point where this becomes difficult to track and people aren't going to want ot watch Captain America, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor 3 to understand why some McGuffin stones are important and dangerous in The Avengers: Infinity War.
This is the sort of clusterfuck DC and Marvel comics are planning to get away from this year by rebooting their entire universes to focus on the sort of character-driven books Ms. Marvel, Thor, Batgirl, Captain America and Spider-Gwen have found success with. Needing to know all this history is fun for long-time fans and nerds, but makes these franchises unscalable for newcomers when they start colliding. Fire Emblem and SMT are pretty good about giving newcomers their own thing to enjoy, but not everyone is going to want to marathon both franchises to appreciate a new game fully.
I can understand why some longtime fans are disappointed they aren't getting what they hoped for or were admittedly teasted with two years ago, but this move is probably for the best and I don't think it means an SMT V will suddenly be more like Persona, SMT will always be there for us, under the radar of the mainstream and it will have its influence here, just not in the way we thought.