6 April 2004: x_x
I haven't touched this site for about a year. I think I may as well just leave it this way for the time being.
This site does what it was made for well enough without being regularly updated; it gives a general introduction to the series, so it doesn't really need to be at the bleeding edge of MegaTen news.
At any rate, I've gone through this page and made a couple of edits, changed a few things and such so it's not quite as out-of-date as it was before, and now there are less things that make me cringe on this page.
Format(s): NES Year: 1987
The first Megami Tensei game ever. This is the grandaddy of 'em all. This game was produced by Namco rather than Atlus, though it's possible members of Atlus R&D1 worked on it.
Format(s): NES Year: 1990
The follow-up to Megami Tensei, set many years in the future. Interestingly enough, the beginning of the game has you playing a cut-down version of Megami Tensei called "Devil Buster". :) Again, this game is by Namco, but if you load the game ROM in a hex editor, you can see where programmer Koji "Cozy" Okada (who later went on to do SMT) has left his mark.
Format(s): SNES Year: 1995
This is actually a remake of the two original Megami Tensei games under the Atlus banner. It also features a particularly cool intro depicting the fall of a certain group of angels, which always makes a game's intro that much cooler. Aside from that extra bit of coolness, it's a straightfoward port of the two original NES games, with all the lovely SNES enhancements you'd expect.
Format(s): SNES, PC Engine, Mega CD, PSX, GBA Year: SNES: 1992, PCE: 1993, MCD: 1994, PSX remake: 2001, GBA remake: 2003
The first chapter of the Shin Megami Tensei sees a boy from Kichijoji, Tokyo suddenly swept out his quiet summer vacation right into the middle of a great conflict between the forces of LAW and CHAOS. Which will he side with? Or will he try to find his own way?
A true RPG classic, unusual for its time due to its somewhat "non-linear" (in the CRPG sense) and off-beat story. While the interface can be a bit slow and clumsy sometimes, and the demon animations are kind of lame the game is still a great experience, and the choice you make truly do influence the path you take and test your morals. The conflict isn't between good and evil, it's between LAW and CHAOS - two equally appealing ideologies.
Format(s): SNES, PSX Year: 1994, PSX remake 2002
The second chapter of the Shin Megami Tensei II is the story of a man named Aleph, an amnesiac gladiator fighting under the name Hawk. The game is set decades after Shin Megami Tensei ends, in a Tokyo where the forces of LAW have managed to get the upper hand. There are those who have high expectations for Aleph, but only you can decide what path he takes and what role he plays in mankind's future.
This game is what all good sequels should be like. The gameplay is improved and tweaked, the graphics have been improved and the story makes a logical continuation from the first game. Also, the discos are cooler than in the first SMT.
Format(s): SNES, with PSX remake on the way Year: 1994
Shin Megami Tensei if... is a gaiden set a month before Shin Megami Tensei. There is also some confusion as to where in the world of
Megaten it fits into, because Tamaki from the Persona series is supposed to be the heroine of this game, yet the Shin Megami Tensei
timeline is totally incompatible with the Persona timeline.
Karukozaka High School is a perfectly ordinary high school in Japan. However, one day, it is transported to the Makai by a student called Hazama... As Tamaki (or Some Guy if you make the main character male), you and a partner must uncover Hazama's motives and find a way back to the human world.
Format(s): PS2 Year: 2003
Shin Megami Tensei's debut on the Playstation 2. Like SMT NINE, this game is in 3D, but rather than being done in a realistic style, the graphics are in a cel-shaded style and the models have a very distinctive style. The demons particularly resemble Kaneko's art more than in previous games. The game also makes a significant departure from the series in that your character becomes a demon, so the gameplay changes a little. Instead of equipment, you get items called Magatama which enhance your character's abilities. Magnetite has been also done away with, and the alignment axis is no longer present -- although you'll be torn between different factions just like in the game's predecessors.
For more details, please see this writeup I wrote for Everything2..
Format(s): XBOX Year: 2002, Network version yet to be released
Atlus' foray into the console online RPG genre started by Phantasy Star Online. Note that NINE isn't the number of the game; it refers to the nine possible alignments in the SMT series based on the Law, Neutral, Chaos x Light, Neutral, Dark matrix.
It comes in both standalone and network flavours, though the network version has yet to come out.
There are quite a few games occupying the Megaten multiverse that aren't a part of Shin Megami Tensei per se. Majin Tensei is an SNES strategy RPG game with Megaten elements. The whole concept of demons, demon races, and so on is imported into the game, and the hero can summon demons. Even the Jakyo guy's the same. :)
Screenshots: 12345 Majin Tensei 2: Spiral Nemesis is a sequel to Majin Tensei that greaty improves upon it in every way. It also features multiple paths and endings and the one of the best intros for an SNES game ever.
Screenshots: 123456 Majin Tensei: RONDE is a Sega Saturn Majin Tensei that apparently everyone hates. Oops. Maybe this is why Atlus was reluctant to make third games for their series for a while.
Devil Summoner is dungeon crawler like SMT that appeared on the Saturn. The gameplay is quite similiar to that of SMT's as well, except that it introduces the demon loyalty system which from what I've heard, drives gamers insane. Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is the inevitable sequel, and the one that everyone actually knows about because Sony nixed its possible US release or something like that. This one came out on both the PlayStation and Saturn, and made the loyalty system less ferociously evil. Aeon Genesis is currently working on a translation of the PSX version.
Megami Ibunroku Persona is a Playstation dungeon crawler which differs from SMT more than the other series do. Rather than controlling one or two characters and summoning a party of demons, you instead have a party of upto 5 characters who summon beings called Personae that give them strength and magic. This title was released in the US as Revelations: Persona and is rather famously missing the extra story you can get after completing the game. Whoops. It also rather infamously suffers from an evil localisation, but that's neither here nor there. Persona 2: Innocent Sin is one of the rare games in the Megaten multiverse that isn't a dungeon crawler or a strategy RPG. Aside from that, it is similiar to the original Persona as far as gameplay goes. There's a fan translation of the game's script available here. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is the sequel to Innocent Sin, kind of. Kind of like how Sonic and Knuckles is the sequel to Sonic 3 but not really. Anyway, back to the point. This title was released in America as well, this time with a less dire translation and not missing chunks. If you live in America and didn't buy it when it came out, shame on you.
Naturally, a series as well-known (in Japan :P) as Shin Megami Tensei is bound to have a few spin-offs. By spin-off, I mean games that actually carry the Shin Megami Tensei title rather than games which don't, which as far as I'm concerned are different series. At any rate, let's begin, shall we? Shin Megami Tensei: Trading Card Summoner is a Gameboy Color game based on the Shin Megami Tensei card game. This game is completely unlike Shin Megami Tensei in all fields: atmosphere, graphics style, characters, music, etc... The only thing that remains the same are the demons. Best left alone unless you're a real trading card game fiend... Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children is a spin-off series that started on the Gameboy Color. This is basically Atlus' stab at the Pokémon genre, with cuted up characters and demons as well as cut-down, friendlier gameplay. It's also in the traditional RPG format rather than the dungeon crawler format. There's a Devil Children anime out as well. As far as I know, four Devil Children games exist: White Book, Red Book and Black Book, all for the GBC, and Red and Black Book for the PSX. More recently, the series has seen yet more versions on the GBA, some of which were officially translated by ATLUS USA. Shin Megami Tensei J is a Java-based game for mobile phones.
The Shin Megami Tensei series frequently has the name "Digital Devil Story" attached to it. As a result, you get misnamings such as "Digital Devil Story if..." and "Digital Devil Children".
The source of this problem are the original Megami Tensei games on the NES, which were made by Namco. These games were based on the Digital Devil Monogatari books, and the full name of the game was Digital Devil Monogatari: Megami Tensei. Digital Devil Monogatari translates to Digital Devil Story, in case you're wondering what the link is.
While Shin Megami Tensei does draw from the Digital Devil Story games, it is not based on Digital Devil Story itself. The game does, however, make a reference to Digital Devil Story in the intro, where the computer prints Digital Devil Story and changes it to the kanji for Megami Tensei. Call it a cameo. (Note: This doesn't exist in the AGTP translation, because Gideon Zhi changed it to print Shin Megami Tensei instead. Hooray!)
With all that said, "Digital Devil Story" is still a very popular way of addressing the series in Japan, and is often used as an English alternative to saying "Megami Tensei" or "Shin Megami Tensei".
This is a little Shin Megami Tensei site I cooked up one day, to give various bits of information about the Shin Megami Tensei series. What it doesn't focus on are the Persona, Devil Summoner and Last Bible series. However, slightly hypocritically, the title image was ripped from the Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers game.
You can use this button to link here. Extra special thanks to Brand
for making it!
Devil Busters since 11 Aug '02
ATLUS R&D #1: The division of Atlus largely responsible for Megaten. COMP: Short for computer, always written in caps. Used to hold and summon demons,
by means of STEVEN's Devil Summoning Programme. Going by Shin Megami Tensei II and if...,
COMPs are terminals that are mounted on the arm and have a display unit attached to
the head. Demon: Catch-all term for the supernatural creatures found throughout Megaten.
Covers everything from Thor to Jack Frost. Used interchangably with 'Devil', which
seems to be more popular in Japan. Dr. Takeuchi: STEVEN's counterpart in Majin Tensei. Grand Unified Theory of Megaten: I think Re-miel made this one up. :P The theory
that attempts to put all the Megaten games into a logical timeline. Only exists as a joke. GUMP: Short for Gun-type COMP. Basically, a kind of COMP that looks a bit like a
gun, hence the name. Comes from the Devil Summoner series. Karukozaka High School: The school that is transported to the Makai in Shin Megami
Tensei if... Magnetite: A material that demons depend upon to maintain their physical forms
outside of the Makai. Makai: Japanese. Translates to "Demon World". ("Ma" demon + "Kai" world). This is the
plane of existance where all demons live and return to when they die. Makka: The unit of currency used by demons and adopted by the future world. Written with
a symbol that looks a bit like an ampersand (&). Megaten: The entire body of games that started with Megami Tensei; covers
Shin Megami Tensei, Last Bible, Devil Summoner and Megami Ibunroku Persona series. Abbreviation of Megami Tensei. Megatenist: A strange word meaning "Megaten Fan". SMT: Short for Shin Megami Tensei. It's a lot to type out, you know. STEVEN: A mysterious man in a wheelchair, seen in Shin Megami Tensei I and II. He
accidentally opened a portal to the Makai when working on a terminal-based teleportation
system, and was attacked by a demon. He managed to kill it, but he was seriously wounded
and wheelchair-bound after the incident. This experience prompted him to create the Demon
Summoning Programme, so that men could communicate with and control demons.
The following are the largest Megami Tensei-related forums on the 'net. Your mileage may vary.