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

redwing42redwing42 Just MonikaFull 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • redwing42redwing42 Just Monika 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • smacdsmacd Full Members
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • redwing42redwing42 Just Monika 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • redwing42redwing42 Just Monika 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • redwing42redwing42 Just Monika 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 Just Monika 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
    edited March 16
    deleted.
  • redwing42redwing42 Just Monika 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.
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