If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the Forum Rules. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.
Welcome to RPGamer's new forums running under Vanilla Forums! If you're run into any odd or strange issues after our software migration please see this thread for details

2016 - A Year of Themes - Aug/Sept - Shin Megami Tensei games

redwing42redwing42 Classic Console JunkieFull Members
The combined factors of getting a late start this month, the lack of notable releases, and the general length of games in the SMT series has led me to combine August and September for the SMT theme. The Megami Tensei (Rebirth of the Goddess) series is developed and mostly published by ATLUS games. The "Shin" was later added for the third game. The original game was released on the Famicom in 1987 and the sequel in 1990 (both published by Namco). These games established the basics that have carried through the mainline games in the series: first person dungeon crawling, demon catching, negotiation, and fusing, and a cyberpunk theme. There have been 11 games in the mainline SMT series, though not all have been released outside of Japan. There have also been a large number of spin-off games that share at least some of the themes, including the Digital Devil Saga duology, the Devil Summoner games, and the Devil Survivor games. The most well known spin-off is the Persona series, which grew so popular that it has produced its own side games.

Generally, the games are all stand alone properties, though the Persona games have some connections (especially Persona 3 and 4, as the characters have interacted in several of the spin-off games). The two Devil Summoner games are direct sequels as well, and the Digital Devil Saga games are a self contained story to themselves. There are often multiple endings available in the SMT games, depending on choices the player makes during the game. Many times these choices are more complicated than just good or evil, and involve law, chaos, or varying philosophies. Generally speaking, the SMT games are also known for their difficulty and specific planning is often needed for bosses due to the fusion system, which does not reward mindless grinding. Directed grinding is usually very important, though.

The combat system can change some between the games, but they all use similar terminology and basic strategies. While they have created their own methodology for spell names (e.g. bufu=ice), they are consistent from game to game with them, so you generally only have to learn them once. In combat, there is a particular system used in which weaknesses and turn order are very important. It is handled differently from game to game, but generally it is critical to learn what the weaknesses of your opponent are (elemental or otherwise), and just as important to protect your own weaknesses.

Some of my favorite RPGs of all time are included in this series, and I hope everyone gets a chance to explore this franchise at some point. Enjoy!

Comments

  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I guess its time to finally take the plunge. I've played exactly zero SMT games, despite amassing a decent sized collection of them so far.

    This might be a good time for me to pick up Persona 1 PSP on my Vita and get started on that series. After doing a little research, I'll probably just play through on easy on the regular SEBEC path. I'll probably just watch the SQQ path on youtube.

    Since this is a 2-monther, I might squeeze in a second game depending on time available.
  • redwing42redwing42 Classic Console Junkie Full Members
    edited August 2016
    I've never played Persona 1 either, but I don't have access to the Vita remake and I've heard that the PSX version is middling at best. Ideally, I'd like to go back to a very old save of DDS2 that I didn't get that far on, but my play schedule hasn't been ideal for that lately.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I started in on Persona PSP. Turns out that the timer keeps running even when the Vita is in sleep mode.. ugh. The other issue I'm having is absolutely no subtitles anywhere, which is frustrating for a person who generally plays with the sound off

    I just got past the hospital and am headed back to the school. Game isn't bad so far. I haven't really done anything in battle except for "attack" so I'm not really sure how this persona thing works yet. I've seen one time where I could have some sort of discussion with one but I have no idea how that works either, I made it angry and ended up fighting. Also not really sure how I should be allocating skill points but I've mostly been focusing on AGI an DEX.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I spent a couple more hours in it tonight. I've switched from attacking to pretty much auto-battling with my Persona skills, which I noticed would level up the Persona's and get more skills. I dabbled with the Converse options, but so far all I've seen happen is things like being surprise attacked, they demand/give me items, or they flee. Am I supposed to be able to like, recruit them or something, or is that a thing from later games, or am I just misunderstanding the entire concept?

    I've unlocked the Velvet room but it doesn't seem like I can do anything there. I chose Elly as my 5th, I didn't really like Brown or Ayase (especially after seeing how she reacted when I had Elly already). I started in on the abandoned factory when I called it a night.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    As I recall, Persona the original has a weird variant version of the conversation system, where each individual character has a set of possible conversation topics and tricks that can have different effects. Specific demon types respond to different tricks and topics, adding into one of four colored emotions. Max one of those out, and you get a reaction from the demon. Unfortunately for a game that has mutually exclusive party choices, your choice of characters can really affect which demons you can get good reactions out of. And I know there are a few that can only be effectively dealt with if you have a special extra character who's only available in New Game + mode.

    Basically, you really need to consult an FAQ for this one. Either that, or skip ahead to the PS2-era Persona games, which are so different in style and format that they might as well be a completely separate series.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    Yeah, I went to the wikidot page people tend to recommend and I have been using the conversation table to get the Eager results for the cards as much as possible, which works pretty well.

    I've spent more time grinding for levels, and fused a couple of new personas, but playing on easy hasn't really made more than the starter ones really necessary yet. I've gotten faster, more predictable results out of just spending time to get money for new equipment. I feel like I'm playing "wrong", especially as I think I need to spend more time getting familiar with the mechanics before moving on through the series though. I just find the entire persona card catching and fusing thing exhausting to think about.

    Plot-wise, I just got to the 'harem queen' in that 10 floor dungeon after wandering through it for a couple hours last night. Apparently I need to go back to her, but at least this time I have it mapped out. I also understand that I'm getting pretty close to where the good/bad ending decision is made.

    I know that the later games are generally well liked and have a different feel from the first two, but I prefer playing series in order (to see the development of the series, to appreciate later games roots, going backwards is harder than forwards, etc etc). But also because I think that I'm going to be more of a fan of Person 1&2 than I will be of 3&4. The whole high school dating sim aspects of the newer games is completely unappealing to me, and both of them sound like they have some potentially offensive aspects to them that I don't think I will appreciate as much as others. Though maybe all the SMT series contain those to one level or another.
  • PimpaliciousPimpalicious Member Full Members
    I bought a New 3DS XL and have both SMTIV and Devil Survivor 2 on their way to me. Since this is going through September I will play one of those.
  • PimpaliciousPimpalicious Member Full Members
    I have been playing Shin Megami Tensei IV since it got here first and enjoying it so far. I don't remember if I was able to save and fuse demons from any location in Nocturne but it's a handy feature here. Some of the battles have been kinda tough near the beginning, I have already died twice and have been given an easier difficulty as an option in the settings.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I just finished the Mana Castle in Persona 1. This has been a pretty rough week, my kid's not been sleeping as well as he had been, so I've been too tired to play more than about 30-45 minutes during my gaming time before I'd rather just go to sleep. The Mana Castle took me about 3 days to actually get through. Next up appears to be the Haunted House.

    I'm having some issue with the Persona fusion and level thing. I'm finding that when I go to new dungeons, I'm often below the average level to actually get cards, and when I do get them, the resulting fusions require such high persona levels to use that 3 of my characters are still using just their stock personas, which are finally becoming too weak to actually be of much value. Apparently I need to sit down and grind persona levels, but I don't really want to waste time if its not actually necessary. My patience for grinding is nearly gone these days.

    The story is alright, but I'm not sure if I'm really following what's happening. There is some sort of alternate world I'm in right now, but I'm not sure why.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited August 2016
    I finally got a few more powerful persona's attached to Mark and Nanjo, I still need to get Elly up a few more levels for the one I have for her.

    I'm a little ways into the Haunted Mansion. The battles here are feeling much easier now that I have some more powerful Personas on my team.

    The battle music is starting to drive me insane. Its not just that its awful and repetitive, but it feels like it never stops. I realized long ago that lyrics do not belong in RPG battle music after the otherwise good Blue Dragon, but this one takes the problem and jacks it to 11. And I don't even have the sound up very loud since I'm usually listening to podcasts in one earbud. This music is so bad that its making me hope the game ends sooner rather than later. This is literally the worst JRPG music I've ever heard.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    Looks like I made it to the final dungeon, so I might be finishing off this game in the next day or two. Also looks like I correctly did not trigger the bad ending. I also have lost track of exactly what is supposed to be going on with the plot, so I'm probably going to have to read a summary explanation to make sense of it.

    The previous dungeon, the Alaya Shrine one, was such a pain. Only having two party members is ridiculous, and I survived mostly by running away when certain battles would show up. There just isn't enough wiggle room when you have two party members against 5 enemies that can all OHKO with specific moves. I'm still figuring that I'm playing one of the easier SMT games, and on easy, so I'm sure as I explore other SMT games I will find this issue trite though.
  • PimpaliciousPimpalicious Member Full Members
    Now I'm in an entirely new location in SMT IV on my quest to capture the Black Samurai. I seem to have missed something because I've circled back to the beginning of the dungeon/town area and am not sure where to go.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I finished Persona last night. That final battle was just BS. After finally finding the boss in those mazes full of battles where all the enemies had different weaknesses (thwarting my auto-battle strategies), I get to the boss and she one hits my entire party with paralysis in the first round. On my second attempt, she did the same thing but over two rounds. I got lucky the third time but still.

    My first experience with SMT has shown me one thing- the series has challenge, but its the exact opposite from Dark Souls challenge. In Souls, losing is entirely your fault and serves as a learning experience. In SMT, its intentional bad design to create artificial "difficulty" that is mostly / completely out of your hands.

    I need to go read a synopsis of the story. I'm still not quite sure what happened.
  • redwing42redwing42 Classic Console Junkie Full Members
    smacd wrote: »

    My first experience with SMT has shown me one thing- the series has challenge, but its the exact opposite from Dark Souls challenge. In Souls, losing is entirely your fault and serves as a learning experience. In SMT, its intentional bad design to create artificial "difficulty" that is mostly / completely out of your hands.

    Now, I haven't played the original Persona, but I disagree with this statement. Dark Souls is often about trial and error, though I disagree that it is always your fault when you die. There are certainly times when there is an enemy hidden around a blind corner or you unknowingly wander into an area you should be in. SMT games are usually similar in that regard. Generally, enemies of a certain type are in the same area, so once you figure that out, you can adjust your party accordingly. Sometimes you need to go for a trial run against a boss to see what its strengths and weaknesses are, much like Dark Souls. Yeah, sometimes it sucks when you get in a battle and get insta-killed by a Hama spell, but there are usually ways around that, via items or skills, once you know it is an issue. Dark Souls may be more directly about your own ability, since it is an action game, but the systems of the SMT games are fair if you dig into them enough. Persona 1 may just be broken, I'm not sure, but don't proscribe that to the rest of the series. Games like Nocturne are very tough but fair, and can be greatly rewarding with the proper planning.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I'm sure there are plenty of tactics and strategies that SMT veterans have learned that would mitigate the issues, but my perspective as an SMT noob is what I said. I still believe that the Souls difficulty is hard but fair, whereas my impression of SMT difficulty is hard and intentionally unfair. And like I said, I barely had any real issues outside of the final areas of the last dungeon and the final boss- so I'm partially basing that on that experience as well as what I hear people say about other SMT games.

    And I'll fully admit that a big part of it is me. As I get older, I find myself having less interest in complexity and difficulty in most games.
  • redwing42redwing42 Classic Console Junkie Full Members
    Finally got back to my DDS2 save from many years ago. Turns out I was only about 3 hours into the game. Didn't take long for me to get back in the swing of things, but the encounter rate is already way too high for my liking. Helps to grind out some mantras, since it isn't very challenging at this point, but it is tough to get anywhere when you are getting attacked every 10 steps.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    The MegaTen series has its share of faults and foibles, but as someone who's played a good selection of the games, I can say that the original Persona takes a lot of those issues and magnifies them out of proportion to the rest of the experience.

    I'd definitely recommend trying out the more recent MegaTen titles, since those have definitely benefited from decades of Atlus development history. Even the 3DS version of Soul Hackers (which was published in the same period as Persona, originally) would be a better one for you, probably.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    I definitely do plan to try more of the games. I have a pretty large library of them already built up between the PS2 classics, Vita and 3DS. My experience definitely wasn't soured, just pointing out my observation based on what I did play so far. Thanks for the tip about Soul Hackers, actually that one has been the most interesting non-Persona game of the series to me.
  • redwing42redwing42 Classic Console Junkie Full Members
    I wish that I didn't have such a gap between the two DDS games, as I am struggling to remember some of the plot points as they come up. Definitely enjoying it, but it would be much better if I had played it as one continuous story.
  • redwing42redwing42 Classic Console Junkie Full Members
    Also, looks like October may be Dragon Quest games, between the re-release of DQ7 this month and DQ Builders coming out in October.
  • NimNim _ Full Members
    I'm in some watery tunnels in Digital Devil Saga. I really like the game, but sometimes the dialog is a bit strange. There is also the rare occurrences when you gt back attacked 6 times in a row and you want to punch the TV.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    We never had that October theme, did we? And we're already a week in to November. I'd actually forgotten about the month-ofs until Nim bumped this thread.
  • redwing42redwing42 Classic Console Junkie Full Members
    smacd wrote: »
    We never had that October theme, did we? And we're already a week in to November. I'd actually forgotten about the month-ofs until Nim bumped this thread.

    Yeah... that has been the problem. A lot of people seemed to forget about or ignore the threads. And I've been busy with other stuff and didn't bother to put in the time for the series.
Sign In or Register to comment.