The Shin Megami Tensei series has gotten better with time by implementing new gameplay elements with each new game as opposed to re-using assets from previous games with a new coat of paint. This constant evolution has introduced new story telling techniques, different forms of gameplay, and even fresh UI’s. The only real downside about this coveted JRPG franchise is the arbitrary naming convention.
It wasn’t that long ago that almost every SMT title rightfully earned the moniker of being only for the hardest of the hardcore gamer. Over the last decade, the series has been slowly stepping away from that, and while some of the challenge remains in additional content or side story quests, most of the game is not much harder than many other classic JRPGs. With this newest addition there is even more of a modification as the game has introduced the ability to change the difficulty level if needed, allowing newer players to reduce the game to an easy mode. SMTIV is now allowing players to continue even after they are killed by buying their way out of Hell with either Macca (in game currency) or Play Coins from their 3DS, although seeing as how it is now possible to save anywhere in the game it seems like it would just make sense to revert to a recent save then shift through the process of losing money or pedometer points.
Mega Ten 4 is also rather well written with an interesting mechanic of fading in and out of focus whoever is talking. The style of the story telling works rather well on the 3DS, and most segments are fully or partially voiced in some way. While the story focuses on several new recruit Samurai, basically the local cops of the area, it quickly establishes the world around it as something that is living and breathing. If it wasn’t enough to follow the heroes as they stumble through the world, the game also introduces a weird dichotomy between haves and have nots in society, and even a world where people don’t know about literature.
The battle mechanics are relatively similar to what they have been in the past – turn based combat where the player’s goal is to hit the enemy’s elemental weakness to cause the most damage and gain an extra move. New to SMTIV, the player’s team fights first, then the foes have a turn, and back and forth until one side either dies or is recruited by the player. One of the larger differences this time is that the NPCs that will randomly escort the player through an area and will join in the battle although they only engage in random attacks. As a way to make the difficulty a little friendlier, the game will make “recommendations” regarding the merging of demons. For the most part, these suggestions are pretty helpful if players are willing to weed through a list of information.
Any fan of JRPGs with a 3DS will enjoy this game; it is console quality in a handheld.
Atlus is one of the reasons that the 3DS has become a centerpiece for RPGs; Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, and even Code of Princess make the 3DS a quality gaming machine . For a limited time, buyers of both SMTIV and Fire Emblem will receive a $30 eShop credit; this special offer is the first of its kind and unique to see Nintendo partner so strongly with Altus. And keep your eye on the upcoming Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl.