Mythology, demon and H.P Lovecraft combine in Nintendo’s Shin Megami Tensei game
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 22:10
Back in Pokémon’s heyday, you may remember that a smattering of fundamentalist Christian groups claimed the series of games had demonic undertones.
Of course, we all knew Pikachu’s adorable face said otherwise.
What these failed critics didn’t realize was there really was a series of videogames involving the taming and fighting of demons: “Shin Megami Tensei,” or SMT for short. A franchise spanning its roots to 1987, it began when Japanese developer Atlus made a videogame adaption of “Digital Devil Story,” a novel by Aya Nishitani.
Since then, the franchise has incorporated numerous mythologies by including figures like Ganesh, Thor, Atropos and Amaterasu. And what SMT game is complete without the franchise mascot, Jack Frost? Some of the monster origins can deviate quite far from being purely biblical; for only too few titles, the franchise even borrowed from H.P. Lovecraft’s work, and in other installments, has included the moth-man of urban lore, as well as Alice from “Alice in Wonderland.” Most of the SMT games also allow you to bargain with various demons to allow them to join your party and fight alongside you. Some will try to flirt with you, others will ask what you think of the human race.
The SMT franchise has encompassed numerous genres, from strategic RPG to MMORPG. Ironically, once Pokémon’s fame set in, the SMT franchise attempted to take a share of Pokémon’s younger demographic, bringing Beezlebub and all, in a sub-franchise aptly called “Devil Children.” As one of the biggest RPG franchises of all-time, the franchise is still going strong, with “Shin Megami Tensei IV” being released for the Nintendo 3DS this past summer. Most notable is the “Persona” sub-series, in which each character is associated with a type of tarot card, such as The Magician, The Lovers, The Heirophant and so on. The characters of the sub-series, such as the caring android Aegis and the athletic Chie, are the likely cause for a sizable increase in fans of the general SMT franchise upon the releases of “Persona 3” and “Persona 4” on the PlayStation 2 in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
If you were to express interest in playing this mammoth franchise, don’t be intimidated by the dozens upon dozens of titles to SMT’s name. Beginning with either of the more recent “Persona” games is a good way to start, especially since “Persona 4” had an updated re-release on the PlayStation Vita, dubbed “Persona 4 Golden.” As for “Persona 3,” there was an updated portable re-release for this game on the PlayStation Portable, appropriately named Persona 3 Portable.
If you end up enjoying the Persona games on either the PlayStation 2 or on a portable system, you then should gear things up a bit by playing “Shin Megami Tensei IV” on the Nintendo 3DS, or alternatively, “Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne” for Playstation 2. If you continue to yearn for more SMT, there’s “Digital Devil Saga” as well as “Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzonoha vs. the Souless Army,” both for Playstation 2.