Category: Shin Megami Tensei Series

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

Firstly, can we all just collectively boggle at how the localizers decided translation is for chumps? Customers should not have to flock to translation sites to know what the title of the series means.

Anyway. Devil Survivor is a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series, and the first in the series I’ve played all the way through. (I tried the first game once and couldn’t get into it.) I’d say it’s very good for the most part, but in the end it kind of goes to Hell. It definitely tries really hard, but it fails to follow through on its ideas properly.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2

So, I decided to try out Devil Survivor 2. I reviewed the first game a while back; this one is a spiritual successor kind of sequel, with no direct relation to the first game’s events. I did not like it nearly as much. The characters are a pack of annoying anime cliches and the plot is virtually nonexistent outside of the final Big Choice, which is just more “the answer lies in the middle” propaganda. I couldn’t even be bothered to do a NG+ for this one.

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Shin Megami Tensei: SNES Trilogy

Time to spice up this Christmas with some good old-fashioned blasphemy! A while back I reviewed and mostly enjoyed the Devil Survivor games, which are a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series (or Resurrection of the Goddess if you’re not a weeb who thinks leaving things untranslated makes them cooler). The main series is also highly praised, so I decided to check it out, especially since as a Pokemon fan I’m interested in monster-catching games, and this one actually predates Pokemon by a significant margin! I chose to skip the NES Megami Tensei games and start with the SNES Shin Megami Tensei trilogy.

Sidenote: Every game starts with a standard “Any similarity between our characters and real people or organizations is purely coincidental” disclaimer, which, LOL. LOLOLOLOL.

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Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

This was the first main series title to get an international release, I guess because the moral guardians finally quieted down enough for Atlus to feel comfortable floating their screed about the many evils of Christianity to the rest of the world. But did you know it’s actually not the first entry in the overall franchise to get such a privilege? A few spinoff games got American releases earlier, where the series title was localized as Revelations. That’s genuinely such a great title. “Resurrection of the Goddess” may be literally accurate to the Japanese title, but it’s an artifact title with no meaning for most of the games. But “Revelations” so neatly encapsulates what the games are about both literally and symbolically on so many levels, and it’s a Bible reference!

So of course when it came time to finally bring a main series title international they decided to throw that in the garbage so they could not bother translating the title at all instead, because what is localization.

So it’s time to explore Revelations Untranslated Word Salad III: Nocturne, the third numbered entry which is actually the fourth entry, or sixth if you count the pre-reboot Megami Tensei games. The franchisening has truly begun.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers

The years preceding Localization Crimes III: Nocturne saw a large number of spinoff releases for the series. One of them was Persona, which Act reviewed way before this, but a lesser-known one was Devil Summoner, which is basically identical to the main series so I’m not entirely sure why it’s a spinoff.

The first Devil Summoner sounds interesting from the Wikipedia article, but it was never even fan-translated, so I instead started at Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. Ah, you know something’s a franchise when it contracts colon cancer!

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Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

This is the first SMT game I’ve reviewed that was made after Devil Survivor, so we’ve finally caught up to my first exposure to the series! Let’s see if the series improves or if DeSu proved to be the high point after all, shall we?

This game was originally planned to be SMT4, but was rebranded as a spinoff due to how different it ended up compared to the mainline games. Instead of an ordinary high school student, you play as an elite soldier tasked with investigating a portal to Hell that’s appeared in Antarctica and threatens to swallow the entire planet.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner

Ah, colon cancer.

Anyway, I found an SMT spinoff I didn’t hate! Remember how disappointed I was that, despite SMT3 making a big deal of the protagonist being part demon, he was still basically just a dude? Well, this game fixes that.

This lovely creature is the main character. Notice how he is an actual inhuman monster and not just a dude with tattoos!

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Shin Megami Tensei IV & Apocalypse

The series has officially disappeared up its own butthole. SMT4 is an empty, vapid game that only serves to demonstrate how utterly creatively bankrupt these writers are. I couldn’t even be bothered to watch a playthrough, the plot summary was so stupid my eyes glaze over at the thought. I may have disagreed — strongly — with the execution of previous entries’ ideas, but at least they had ideas. This game doesn’t. It is about nothing, it is nothing.

This game is a reboot AU again with the exact same trite moral choices again and the exact same set of cookie-cutter centrist propaganda endings again (now with bonus xenophobia and nationalism!) because the writers are physically incapable of doing anything else. Where the plot isn’t a shameless rehash of SMT2 it’s completely unhinged fantasy nonsense that has given up on anything approaching coherent real-world commentary. “If a city got caught in the crossfire between God and demons in a way that bears no resemblance to real-life holy wars would that be messed up or –” I DON’T CARE TELL A DIFFERENT STORY FOR ONCE YOU HACKS. The only new addition of any significance is a fourth ending where you decide the only way to end suffering is to destroy the universe because the war between God and demons is eternal, which sure is a hilariously meta response to this soulless husk of a cash-cow franchise. The setting’s problems are only intractable because you keep resetting it, writers, if you hate that so much let the franchise die already.

To add insult to injury, the series artist got shafted and replaced by idiots who think they can slap whatever design they feel like onto established mythological figures:

The left is by the previous artist, the right is by the new one. They are both meant to represent the same angel. Yes, really. All of the angels are similarly overdesigned messes with no relation to any real depictions. Also, Lucifer looks like a Roswell alien instead of his established design for some reason. The previous artist may have had his faults, but at least he was trying. (And in case you were hoping something good came out of this mess, no, they still use his softcore porn design for the regular angels.)

And minor aside, but it amused me: The standard and hilariously untrue “Any similarity to real people is coincidental” disclaimer has now been shortened to just “This is a work of fiction.” Methinks some legal consultation happened here.

The game was somehow so successful it spawned a sidequel, Apocalypse, which I was willing to actually play because I saw it had a gameplay feature I found interesting, and also supposedly it ends with you killing God (again), which sounded cathartic if nothing else.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Persona series over the years, so as part of my foray into the Shin Megami Tensei franchise I decided to try it out. I, of course, started with the first one. (To head off the inevitable question, it was the PSP version, since I heard the PSX localization was a disaster.) I had some hopeful expectations going in given the series’ popularity and my own positive feelings towards its predecessor If.

This was a mistake. Persona 1 is a grindy, tedious mess of a game with a plot that’s morally bankrupt when it’s not totally incoherent.

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Persona 3

Persona 3 is very different from the preceding games in the series, to the point it honestly feels like the start of a different series entirely. Instead of a standard jRPG, it’s a kind of blend between a dungeon-crawling roguelike and a dating sim: By day you live as an ordinary high school student, take classes, and bribe your friends to get Relationship Points™; by night you fight monsters.

Unfortunately, while it’s better than the preceding games (and actually playable), it feels very much like a rough draft. This makes sense, since it was their first attempt at a lot of radically new mechanics, but I don’t think it aged well. I’d say the story is decent, but either watch a playthrough or the anime adaptation instead of playing it yourself.

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Shin Megami Tensei V

I was planning to give up on the series after the disaster that was SMT4, but then I read some spoilers for this game that actually piqued my interest: The premise is that YHVH is actualfax, for-realsies, and-this-time-we-mean-it, no-take-backsies dead. Thus, no matter how bad the plot is, at the very least it has to be differently bad. The writers have voluntarily relinquished their ability to fall back on their standard plot with its standard cardboard villain. No hijacking by Ganon, no “Somehow, Palpatine returned.” I demanded these hacks write a different story for once and credit to them, they actually did.

Unfortunately, they did so by writing the absolute minimum. To give you an idea: The compilation of all story cutscenes for SMT4A is 18 hours. For SMT5, it’s 6, and that’s including a full recording of the final boss fight. Did they at least use what little time they had to tell a decent story? No, of course not, the plot is even more backloaded than usual and a shameless rehash of SMT3’s premise but now with the standard choice of “Which flavor of fascism do you prefer?” I deeply regret wasting my time on this garbage.

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Persona 4: April 11th – April 13th (Prologue)

Persona 4 is meaty enough that I can actually liveblog it. Be warned this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good, just that, unlike mainline SMT, it has content.

Fun fact: I initially planned to watch the anime adaptation instead after how disappointing P3’s gameplay was, but after comparing the first few episodes with YouTubed cutscenes I noticed the anime is a terrible adaptation that cuts out a lot of really important nuances. So don’t watch it. I was also promised by the fandom that the game does exactly what I said P3 should have done in regards to resource management, so I chose to play it instead of YouTubing it. Let us hope this was not a mistake.

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