Well, I did claim that I would not be writing any more about the Shin Megami Tensei series since I lack any knowledge about the franchise unless I met someone who does know just what they’re talking about. Well guess what, I found someone who does! Aayai knows a bunch about the franchise, so this is your chance, especially those who’ve been playing Fire Emblem but know nothing about SMT like me, to know just what this series is all about. Feel free to also ask any more questions about the series that Aayai just might be able to answer below. I got things started by asking her some questions about the franchise.
1) What is Shin Megami Tensei?
To start off with, in Japan, the two most popular series over there are Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. Third is Megami Tensei, or Shin Megami Tensei. The series then added on the “shin”, which, depending on who you talk to, translates either to “new” or “true”, a play on the Japanese word. It was a pun, the full title meaning “Reincarnation of the True Goddess”, from the original “Reincarnation of the Goddess, showing a new and improved vision, so to speak. In all technicality, the Shin Megami Tensei series is a branch under the Megami Tensei Franchise. All games after Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne all bear the title Shin Megami Tensei, even if certain characteristics of each game follow the original Megami Tensei series. The first game (Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei) was based on a novel, of the same name, by Aya Nishitani. All games have one main element in common: they deal with demons, and mythology/legends.
Depending on which Sub-Series (at least, that’s what I call it) you choose to play, the gameplay differs, along with a few other things. In the Devil Summoner sub-series (the main one) you can summon demons to your aid, recruiting them through either fusion, auction, or allying. You summon them through electronic devices. In the Persona sub-series, you summon your Persona (your friends may only wield one – you, however, have to option to have more than one) through an Evoker (Persona 3) or by spiritual means, through a card (Persona 4). To attack enemies in this game series, you attack a shadow that can be seen dragging itself across the dungeon floor. This particular sub-series is less like the Fire Emblem series, but still similar, in that once you are engaged in battle, it’s a turn-based system. All games follow either one of the sub-series. The series is well known for its likability, and a player doesn’t have to do much to be fully assimilated into the series, making it quite accessible. The series also tends to have amazing music, their storylines also are top-notch, making you really feel for the characters, and see them as real people rather than just game characters. The art style also tends to be a trademark of the series, which has evolved since the series began. Most people can tell a SMT series just by looking at the cover art. It is also well known that the choices you make in the series affect the outcome of the story (making the story customizable and unique to each player). One can get good/bad/neutral endings depending on the choices they choose.
2) How much of the franchise have you played?
Well, I do know for sure that my older brother owns at least Persona 2, and maybe the original Persona. He also owns Persona 3 and Persona 4, both of which I’ve played. I don’t know much about the first two, but Persona 3 is for the Playstation 2. There was also a remake, called Persona 3 Portable FES that is for the PSP. The original Persona 4 is also for the Playstation 2, but the recent remake (Persona 4: The Golden) is for the PS Vita (which has some different stuff from the original, including an extra dungeon!). I am currently playing the new release (For America at least) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, which is for the 3DS. In addition, I’ve played Devil Survivor 2, for the DS, which has a remake for the 3DS coming out sometime soon. Although I have not played Devil Survivor, my twin brother owns the game, and is on my to-play list. It is for the DS as well, with a recent remake also that came out recently for the 3DS. The Overclocked version of Devil Survivor includes the extra 8th day, in case people were wondering out there.
3) What should a Fire Emblem fan should keep in mind when it comes to Shin Megami Tensei?
- Be open to new things. Don’t stick too hard to the Fire Emblem series, even though it’s great. Some of these games might surprise you on how well done they are. It is different from the Fire Emblem series; but not all change is bad, right? People like different things.
- Don’t chuck your system or your game at the wall. Devil Survivor and Devil Survivor 2 are both really hard. Even more so for the first game. For those of you who love a good challenge who play Fire Emblem, be prepared to use your whole brain, or at least the part that deals with Fire Emblem. The game WILL abuse you, so be ready to beat the crap out of it.
4) Is there a game that Fire Emblem fans should take a look at — aside from Shin Megami Tensei IV?
If you’re looking to go into the series and still unsure, try the Devil Survivor ones first. They’re closer to Fire Emblem than the Persona series is. If you’re feeling ambitious, or want to try something new with some similar game mechanics, then go ahead – try the Persona series. I won’t stop you. It’s up to you to find what fits you most (the Devil Survivor series, in particular the first one, tend to be really hard, for those of you who love a challenge).
So what do you guys want to know about Shin Megami Tensei? Ask them below, or if you’ve played SMT before, feel free to share your experiences as well.