Shin Megami Tensei Nine

   After a long hiatus and focus on side stories, the main Shin Megami Tensei series is ready for a comback with Shin Megami Tensei Nine. And in keeping with its modern-day setting, the latest game will embrace both next-generation systems and technology by moving to Microsoft's Xbox and incorporating large online components.

Care and feeding of your lion

   Though designer Cozy Okada has stated that SMT Nine will be playable in single-player mode as well as online, the bulk of the gameplay revolves around its network capabilities. The online component will allow players to trade items and presumably captured monsters, as well as support voice communication between players, but very little else is known at the moment. The battle system has also been changed into some sort of real-time setup, but some things will remain the same: players will still be able to interact with monsters to a much greater degree than most other RPGs, and the series' trademark negotiation, capturing, and monster "fusing" will remain intact.

   The graphics have been updated to full 3D, and the cityscapes seen so far in screenshots are highly detailed with the same mixture of realism and fantasy that made the previous games so unique. It's unclear whether series designer Kazuma Kaneko has returned, but three characters so far have been revealed: Emi, a school-age girl; Mieko, an older woman; and Baraki, an adolescent boy with spiky red hair.

   Though historically, Shin Megami Tensei games haven't had the best of luck finding their way to the States, there's always hope: supporting such a game would lend Microsoft some credibility as they continue their push for the Xbox, and if the online elements aren't prohibitively complex, there may be a possibility that it could end up in the US after all. For now, though, fans will have to wait for more details on the series' biggest incarnation yet.

Preview by Nich Maragos, GIA.
Shin Megami Tensei Nine
Developer R&D1
Publisher Atlus
Genre Nine RPG
Medium DVD (?)
Platform Xbox
Release Date  Unknown
TGS: Cozy Okada talks Shin Megami Tensei Online
14 screenshots
Character designs