Shin Megami Tensei Is "The Antithesis of JRPGS"

Shin Megami Tensei Is "The Antithesis of JRPGS"

Shin Megami Tensei IV screenshot 01

"Punk production" is what sets Shin Megami Tensei apart from its competitors, says director, Kazuyuki Yamai.

With the exception of Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, I've never seen a JRPG series appeal to non-JRPG fans quite as much as the Shin Megami Tensei series and its spinoffs. While JRPGs tend to be about rather predictable fantasy lands, SMT has, at its core, always been about people and the ethical challenges they face, and perhaps it's that authenticity that draws in players not heavily invested in the genre. That and the games do tend to be almost supernaturally addictive.

Kazuyuki Yamai, who directed SMT III: Nocturne, the two Raidou Kuzunoha spin-offs, SMT: Strange Journey and now Shin Megami Tensei IV, credits the series success to its "punk production." Essentially, SMT succeeds because it does what other JRPGs don't.

Talking to Famitsu, Yamai laid out his plans for the upcoming fourth numbered installment in the series.

"I definitely something simple, yet distinct," he said. "I wanted to make something with a 'punk production'. 20 years ago, fantasy-style RPGs were the standard of the genre. Shin Megami Tensei on the Super Famicom was something like an antithesis when you compared it. That's what I call 'punk-minded'. There are many games these days that focus on being enjoyable while relaxing. We'd like to have people enjoy the game and maybe even a shocking feeling towards their views on life and values."

While JRPGs can be exciting, they do tend to be quite morally simplistic, with clearly defined heroes who, almost inevitably, triumph over the equally obvious villains. SMT has never been quite as straight cut. Nocturne, in particular, is one of the most challenging games I've played, and not just from a gameplay perspective (though it is hard as nails too).

The desire to unsettle the player also extends to the SMT IV's art and sound direction.

"I told him [Doi] to draw something with a punk mindset. Kozuka, too," he said, referring to Trauma Center artist, Masayki Doi and Persona 4 composer, Routa Kozuka. "I told them, "When players get to see and hear the game, I'd like to have elements that will bring out a feeling of curiosity, rather than relaxation."

Shin Megami Tensei IV will be released on 3DS this July 16th in North America. A European release is apparently going to happen at some point, but there's no concrete date yet. In your face, France.

Source: Famitsu via Siliconera

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SMT IV couldn't be coming out any sooner. It's the only game coming out during the drought that I am looking forward to... WHY ISN'T IT JULY YET!?!

Actually, a lot of JRPGs do invoke a "feeling of curiosity."

Grey Carter:

Nocturne, in particular, is one of the most challenging games I've played, and not just from a gameplay perspective (though it is hard as nails too).

yeah? what ending did you get the first time? Cause I kinda followed my own moral compass .... and ended up destroying the world ^^;; (getting the 'true demon' ending was a bit of a shock)

Lunar Templar:

Grey Carter:

Nocturne, in particular, is one of the most challenging games I've played, and not just from a gameplay perspective (though it is hard as nails too).

yeah? what ending did you get the first time? Cause I kinda followed my own moral compass .... and ended up destroying the world ^^;; (getting the 'true demon' ending was a bit of a shock)

I got the "Strongest rules the world" ending.

OT: can't wait for SMT4. Comes out right after my birthday.

I bought an American 3DS for games like this (that and games are cheaper and I can pick them up off the eShop or on holiday)

I agree with this, I have always seen SMT as a different type of beast than Final Fantasy or Tales Of Whatever, they definitely appeal to gamers looking for a stiff challenge, as most of the games are tough as nails (Digital Devil Saga was very merciful in comparison to Nocturne or Strange Journey) There is also Devil Survivor 2: Break Record coming out too! Those who generally dislike typical JRPG tropes will find a lot to like in the mainstream Shin Megami Tensei games, some of the spin offs too.

I love Persona and Devil Survivor, but SMT IV has me very excited, just have to keep playing the recently released Soul Hackers 3D.

so, the wang chariots were part of this philosophy?

i guess that makes sense sort of

I'm curious about the main series afert only clocking in about five to ten hours in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. I wanted a breath of fresh air and my gosh did these guys deliver.

Grey Carter:

While JRPGs can be exciting, they do tend to be quite morally simplistic, with clearly defined heroes who, almost inevitably, triumph over the equally obvious villains.

Hey now, that's not quite true. Some of the most famous and influential JRPGs are the ones where the heroes and villains weren't clearly defined.

I'm sure there are plenty of others, but generally I see more "Evil darklords/demons who must be stopped!" in WRPGs than I do JRPGs. I mean, Dragon Age: Origins, Skyrim, Mass Effect (c'mon, the Reapers are basically just Space Cthulhu)...

Anyways... even with that all in mind, SMT has always been a nice counter to throw out to people who assume that JRPGs are all uber-linear one-ending-only non-rpgs. I think in many ways the series has handled moral choice better than western roleplaying games. It would be nice to see it get greater sales with all the added hype it's getting this year.

Also, still cannot fucking wait for SMT x Fire Emblem. *Squeeee!*

Man, maybe should try one of these games.

Best place to start?

I haven't played a SMT game or Persona game. (Even though I know a lot about Persona)

So yeah, this will be awesome!
Well only if they grant Australia a release date, that would be good.

But year I hear that both the SMT series is great.
Once more ... please bring it to Aus. :D

piinyouri:
Man, maybe should try one of these games.

Best place to start?

I'd reccommend playing the PSP Remakes first. Particually the Innocent Sin Remake.

GamerMage:

piinyouri:
Man, maybe should try one of these games.

Best place to start?

I'd reccommend playing the PSP Remakes first. Particually the Innocent Sin Remake.

No go for PSP. I don't own one.

piinyouri:

GamerMage:

piinyouri:
Man, maybe should try one of these games.

Best place to start?

I'd reccommend playing the PSP Remakes first. Particually the Innocent Sin Remake.

No go for PSP. I don't own one.

Vita? It's available via PSN.

GamerMage:

piinyouri:

GamerMage:
I'd reccommend playing the PSP Remakes first. Particually the Innocent Sin Remake.

No go for PSP. I don't own one.

Vita? It's available via PSN.

I don't own any handhelds.

piinyouri:

GamerMage:

piinyouri:

No go for PSP. I don't own one.

Vita? It's available via PSN.

I don't own any handhelds.

There's always the PS2.

The PS2 has SMT 3: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga 1 + 2, and Persona 3 + 4.,

Persona 3 was actually my starting game in the franchise. I found it to be a great entry point.
EDIT: Heck, you can even buy Persona 3 on the PS3's PSN for $10. If that's not a steal, I don't know what is.

neonsword13-ops:

piinyouri:

GamerMage:
Vita? It's available via PSN.

I don't own any handhelds.

There's always the PS2.

The PS2 has SMT 3: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga 1 + 2, and Persona 3 + 4.,

Persona 3 was actually my starting game in the franchise. I found it to be a great entry point.
EDIT: Heck, you can even buy Persona 3 on the PS3's PSN for $10. If that's not a steal, I don't know what is.

Okay, PS2 I can do.
Are all those games apart of one overarching story, or do they just tell different stories at different times in the same universe?

piinyouri:

neonsword13-ops:
There's always the PS2.

The PS2 has SMT 3: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga 1 + 2, and Persona 3 + 4.,

Persona 3 was actually my starting game in the franchise. I found it to be a great entry point.
EDIT: Heck, you can even buy Persona 3 on the PS3's PSN for $10. If that's not a steal, I don't know what is.

Okay, PS2 I can do.
Are all those games apart of one overarching story, or do they just tell different stories at different times in the same universe?

Nocturne is self-contained, the Digital Devil Saga series has an overarching story I believe, and Persona 3 and 4 take place in the same universe but are self-contained stories on their own.

But if you plan on playing the Persona games, be sure to start and finish Persona 3 first. Because once you start playing P4, you won't want to go back to P3.

...But if you plan on playing the Persona games, be sure to start and finish Persona 3 first. Because once you start playing P4, you won't want to go back to P3.

I wish someone told me this before I started playing P4 in the middle of my first(and current) P3:FES run. The concept is still pretty thin as a plot device, but I'll be damned if it isn't still much better than P3's reason for going into dungeons and murdering their indigenous population.

Man, I have got to get a 3DS. This is one of "those games" that you say you're waiting for before you pull the trigger. Now I just need some money...

DerpHerpilous:

...But if you plan on playing the Persona games, be sure to start and finish Persona 3 first. Because once you start playing P4, you won't want to go back to P3.

I wish someone told me this before I started playing P4 in the middle of my first(and current) P3:FES run. The concept is still pretty thin as a plot device, but I'll be damned if it isn't still much better than P3's reason for going into dungeons and murdering their indigenous population.

Keep playing. You'll get a reason to keep killing Shadows on the second "proper" full moon boss. That's also when you get the 'Knock Down'[1] command.

OT: Interesting way of thinking about it. Though, a lot of the complaints I hear about JRPGs are to do with their art direction - namely, younger and slightly androgynous characters. And when they get a JRPG with older main characters, they find some other way to dismiss it. Then again, some people are just impossible to please.

[1] Does exactly what it says on the tin. But if they can't knock anything down, they'll do nothing. So if you might need healing, let them decide for themselves.

Funny, I would've called SMT games the definition of what RPGs should aspire to follow, especially if it's a Persona game. Nocturne is hard as hell, but I still loved it. Seems like it has what people need in RPGs, this style of games.

I only came into the Persona series this year and it was the best gaming move I ever made. Persona 4 is the best RPG I've ever played, hands down. It's just disappointing that none of my friends have even heard of it (even a guy who claims to be big on JRPGs) so I'm trying my damndest to get at least one of them to play one of them.

Can't say much about the main SMT series, but I vaguely remember Dante being in one of them(?)

Playing Nocturne right now on a emulator (own the game).
Its still one of my favorite JRPG'S.
SMT 4 sounds great. I just wish it had a console release.
Or does it???

AgentLampshade:
I only came into the Persona series this year and it was the best gaming move I ever made. Persona 4 is the best RPG I've ever played, hands down. It's just disappointing that none of my friends have even heard of it (even a guy who claims to be big on JRPGs) so I'm trying my damndest to get at least one of them to play one of them.

Can't say much about the main SMT series, but I vaguely remember Dante being in one of them(?)

Dante was in the normal American version of Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne (known as the updated Maniax version in Japan).

He didn't make too many appearances, but the ones he did make solidified that he was a badass, even if he appears to be his DMC2 incarnation. Used him in my party as soon as I got him until the end of the game.

If you do get a chance to find Nocturne, it's worth it to play it. Probably one of my favorites if not my favorite RPG of all time.

Already got SMTIV on preorder and fully paid off. All dem special edition goodies will be mine!

Grey Carter:
Shin Megami Tensei IV will be released on 3DS this July 16th in North America. A European release is apparently going to happen at some point, but there's no concrete date yet. In your face, France.

That's alright. We Europeans just get to enjoy the Marvel films before the US >:D

OT: I am interested in this but also confused as what the game's supposed to be set in. I've seen stuff about Warring States Japan and Modern Day Tokyo so I'm sure what I'm getting in to.

neonsword13-ops:

piinyouri:

neonsword13-ops:
There's always the PS2.

The PS2 has SMT 3: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga 1 + 2, and Persona 3 + 4.,

Persona 3 was actually my starting game in the franchise. I found it to be a great entry point.
EDIT: Heck, you can even buy Persona 3 on the PS3's PSN for $10. If that's not a steal, I don't know what is.

Okay, PS2 I can do.
Are all those games apart of one overarching story, or do they just tell different stories at different times in the same universe?

Nocturne is self-contained, the Digital Devil Saga series has an overarching story I believe, and Persona 3 and 4 take place in the same universe but are self-contained stories on their own.

But if you plan on playing the Persona games, be sure to start and finish Persona 3 first. Because once you start playing P4, you won't want to go back to P3.

Hmmm, Aigis or Naoto? Aigis or Naoto?

My nerd world got a helluva lot more convoluted when I had to make a choice between that.

Then Marie showed up. (~.-)

Seriously, I consider the Persona series to be some of the most well thought out stories in the history of gaming. Not only that, but their characters are extremely memorable and life-like. They also manage to take on some great social issues within their story-telling and make it work.

Now, if you don't mind, all of this nostalgia is getting me hungry, so I'm going to be an un-subtle sub-buttle and go enjoy some Fsteak.

While JRPGs can be exciting, they do tend to be quite morally simplistic, with clearly defined heroes who, almost inevitably, triumph over the equally obvious villains

BAM. Hit the nail on the head, explaining my love for SMT

Couldn't put it into words, but you've done it for me :D

Ehh...not entirely.
They still occasionally whip out tropes I positively despise ("Lets stop Death herself with the POWAR OF FRIENDSHIP GAIS!"), but I'll give them credit in that they do a damn sight better in providing interesting characters and avoiding the usual trappings of JRPGs that have become so tiring and overdone.

SMT as a series is good, great even, but I'm thinking it's a tad over praised.
Perhaps it looks so much better than it actually is just because most of its competition plain sucks and amounts to little more than a chunky-cluster of regurgitated tropes.

Yeah, as much as I respect Shin Megami Tensei, they aren't that special.

If anything, jRPGs are very characterized, especially in recent year, for moving away from the Fantasy formula. Fantasy settings are far more prevalent in wRPGs than jRPGs.

There's also a lot of other by the books things about Shin Megami Tensei games like turn based combat. And games like Persona 4 are basically just a Visual Novel and a Japanese RPG fused right together. While it is a fun and interesting idea, there is nothing particularly "punk" about it.

Sorry, again, as much as I respect Shin Megami Tensei and Atlus, they aren't nearly as special as they make themselves out to be.
Though definitely the original Megami Tensei was unusual in theme for its time. At least thematically and setting-wise. That being said, it basically was an exact copy of the Wizard first person RPG system.

At least games such as the original Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Tales of Phantasia, and the Ys games, made significant combat innovations early on in the genre.

They do a lot of things JRPGs don't even bother to do anymore, namely not afraid to have themes about religion, teenage sex and avoiding cheap fanservice (too late now though with the Megami Ibunroku series which is as pandering as it gets)

 

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