Shin Megami Tensei

   North American players likely know the Megami Tensei series best for its Persona off-shoot. The original series, however, appeared in Japan on the Famicom (as Megami Tensei) and Super Famicom (as Shin Megami Tensei), only to disappear into a long hiatus. While the long-awaited Shin Megami Tensei 3 is still a year off, Atlus has resurrected three of the Super Famicom releases and is remaking them on the PlayStation. None too surprisingly, Shin Megami Tensei I is the first up.

First-person perspective
Choose your weapon

   No matter what games you know the MegaTen series for, one of its defining characteristics remains its unique modern setting. Set in present-day Tokyo, Shin Megami Tensei begins when your nameless protagonist is e-mailed a copy of the Devil Summoning Program, which allows him to summon monsters from the comfort of his own PC. Soon afterwards, he finds himself facing an apocalyptic struggle and must decide whether to eradicate the amassing demon army at any cost or spare the city of Tokyo.

   Shin Megami Tensei is one of the few RPGs that can truly claim to have several alternate paths. Depending on your actions in the game, you'll end up either siding with the forces of heaven or hell -- or taking a neutral route. None of the paths are really "better" than the other; they are all equally valid routes through the game. For once it's up to the player to make the moral decisions.

   In the Persona games, party members could only fuse monster spell cards together to form guardian Personas. In Shin Megami Tensei, however, the monsters take a much more active role, actively fighting alongside your party. Before you can add them to your team, however, you must convince roving monsters to ally with you through conversation trees much the same as Persona's. Collected monsters can be stored in your computer and later merged in the fusion chamber to form stronger ones.

Fusion chamber

   Not a whole lot has changed since the game's Super Famicom debut; the gameplay and storyline remain unchaged. The game's visuals have been given a slight upgrade, however, and the game now boasts a true 3-D perspective instead of the scaled step-by-step graphics of the original. The music and sound will be similarly enhanced. Also new are an extra, more challenging difficulty setting and a simplified saving system.

   At this point, chances of a North American release of the remake are virtually non-existant. Not only is the title arriving very late in the PlayStation's life span, its extremely archaic visuals and old-school gameplay would make it a poor introduction to the series for North American gamers. The best bet for series fans will probably be to import once again; the Japanese version is available now.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story
Developer Atlus
Publisher Atlus
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium CD-ROM (1)
Platform Sony PlayStation
Release Date  05.31.01
Shin Megami Tensei PSX delayed
40 new screenshots
6 devil designs
Assorted merchandise