My birthday happened and not surprisingly I got a bunch of new games. And a thing happened:
Now I’ve played both Persona 3 and 4 in a few different formats and they are easily among my favorite games. However, I hadn’t played any titles in the broader Megami Tensei1 series. Partly this was because there are so many games and I wasn’t quite sure where to begin, but mostly I was intimidated by the reputation that the other games are much harder. To be fair, Atlus is notorious for making hard games in general and the reputation of the SMT series is that they are rather difficult as a whole.
So, I find it quite an accomplishment that I not only beat Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (SMT3) but did so with the True Demon Ending (TDE), collecting all 25 magatama and completing the compendium. SMT3 is generally considered to be the most difficult of the MegaTen series.
So, why, you ask, why would I bother to get the most difficult ending and do all this other optional stuff? Because I can’t imagine ever playing this again and this way I won’t have any regrets about missing out on something I could have done.2 Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic game. It has a truly amazing story and it is incredibly fun. However, it also shows its age and because of this the game is arbitrarily more difficult than it would be if it were released more recently. Dungeons are long and almost entirely lack a means to heal your party, which only emphasizes the absolutely absurd random encounter rate. Save points are sprinkled quite liberally around, but using them is often incredibly inconvenient. And while there is a fast travel system, the specific locations almost always require a long journey to activate and even still are not entirely in the most opportune places.
That isn’t to say it’s not a legitimate challenge in its own right. The Press Turn Battle system was introduced in this game and has become somewhat of a hallmark of MegaTen games.3 It’s a rewarding system when you can make it work for yourself and incredibly punishing when the opposite occurs.
I didn’t find the game to be as difficult as I expected and I personally don’t think the reputation it has is quite fair given the arbitrary challenges it presents. More than anything I found it tedious. I had to grind a lot to complete things. Not only do you need to reach level 95 to fuse the highest level demon to fill out the compendium in its entirety, but it takes a lot of money to do so. Not to mention the ending I went for includes an additional five dungeons and eleven bosses to fight. The bosses are collectively difficult, though, only a few really present a challenge. The extra dungeons, however, utterly suck. Oh, and all that doesn’t take into account the optional bosses needed to get all the magatama, which is absolutely necessary in order to beat the ultimate boss fight to get TDE.
I feel very accomplished to have done all that, but overwhelmingly exhausted.
So, of course, right after this I started playing Digital Devil Saga. . . .
- Often (technically incorrectly) called Shin Megami Tensei because these games make up the “main” MegaTen series. Additionally, until recently most releases outside of Japan had the SMT title added regardless of which sub-series they belonged to. ↩
- Like fighting Lucifer. ↩
- Albeit with some tweaks, such as the One More! system in Persona games. ↩