Shin Megami Tensei IV’s Battle System Detailed, New Screens Of Ruined Tokyo

By Spencer . November 30, 2012 . 2:10am


Shin Megami Tensei IV gets rid of random battles. The Symbol Encounter system puts demons on the field. Strike an enemy and you’ll get a first strike when the battle begins.


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Like other Shin Megami Tensei titles you can talk to demons and invite them to your party. Shin Megami Tensei IV uses the press turn system from Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne that rewards players that exploit enemy weaknesses with extra turns.


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Demon fusing is back too. You can combine demons to make more powerful ones.

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Tokyo is overrun by demons in Shin Megami Tensei IV. The protagonist and Samurai from East Mikado are sent here to protect the city. Atlus specifically mentions a battles between "law and chaos" and "god and demons" will take place here.


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East Mikado… year 1492. When people become 18 years old they go through the Gauntlet Ritual to become samurai. Samurai are armed with a demon summoning program and hunt demons in secret. Only a few people know that demons exist in the world.


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How do these two worlds connect?

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  • komiko12

    Wahh! This is very great!
    I can almost think that this a console game because of how good this is so far.

  • Redichi24

    they better release the European version at the same time as the ‘ntsc u’ not wait a whole year just to get a ‘Pal’ copy

    • Kirbysuperstar2

      I wouldn’t hold your breath.

      • Göran Isacson

        What this guy said. Even if it makes me weep… what this guy said.

    • $36598391

      UK will get it soon after NA and JPN do, Ghostlight will definatly be the one to release it since they brought over all of the other SMT games in UK

  • Niyari

    Finally! Death to random encounters! As much as I loved DDS and Nocturne, the random encounter rate in those games drove me insane (especially Nocturne)

  • Herok♞

    Lets see this game is turning out really nicely, does anyone know when the Japanese release is or is it still unknown 2013?

    • LightZero

      It just still 2013. I’m thinking it will be release by Spring 2013 or Summer 2013 in Japan at the latest since we are getting information from the game. We will likely get it late 2013.

  • brian

    So only a few samurai exist and most fail to become samurai?
    It looks like a neat combination of two settings, but it gives me a strong 7th Dragon vibe and makes me wish we’d gotten that game.

  • Elvick

    I’ve yet to venture out of Persona. This will probably be my first SMT outside of it.

    Do I need to play the others though? Or is it like Persona? In that I can play whichever without worrying about story.

    • Like persona. Just expect a higher difficulty compared to the easier (recent)Persona series of games.

      • Elvick

        Thanks for the heads up.

        • Jason Ryer

          persona uses a battle system similar basically you explot a type weakness and you can attack again.

    • Crok425

      It’s like Persona, but there may be a reference of the previous game or the previous protagonist (in this case would be the protagonist of Nocturne) but aside from that, you can play it in any order. And the main series are a little more difficult than Persona (the current ones at least).

      • Elvick

        Alright, thanks. :D

    • LightZero

      The stories are much darker especially in SMT1 and SMT2. P2 is pretty dark but it doesn’t even come close to those games. If you played P1 it’s somewhat like that. You spend most of your time dungeon crawling with some story scenes in between. Of course the dungeon crawling in this game is in third person and the battles are better but in first person.

      There will likely be some references here and there. Like for instance Steven he appeared in the first two games. The dream sequences for the SMT4 MC is like a throwback to Kazuya in SMT1. Over all you don’t need to play the other three to understand this. Although I would still encourage you to check out Nocturne and SJ to get a feel for this game. You can watch a Let’s play video for SMT1 and SMT2 unless you don’t mind the archaic battle system.

  • Crok425

    I’m getting more interested in the game now :). I hope this really gets localized as soon as it gets out.

  • Another reason to get 3ds if this get localized… EO4, FE13, RF4, SH, and some more that I forgot…

    • I gotta be honest here, I had to google most of these acronyms to realise what games you were actually talking about XD

    • LightZero

      If more like when it’s localized. Same for Soul Hackers. Atlus always bring their games to the states nowadays. Although the jury is still out on EP (PSP).

    • Detrimont

      EO4 is already being localised, since a trailer came out in english around a week ago

  • Junko Enoshima

    I dunno….I kind of love random encounters a little. Whatever, this game will rock xD

  • Göran Isacson

    Have to admit that I’m intrigued by this setting. It seems like Tokyo of the future isn’t a complete wasteland (even if that art of the guy in helmet and spiked shoulderpads for some reason makes me think of Fallout 2) but still inhabited, just not as densely as the country of Mikado… at first I thought this game would be a sharp divide between Tokyo as the “dungeon” and Mikado as the “hub”, but now I’m no longer so certain things will be that clear-cut.

    • Budgiecat

      Is there time traveling involved or something? Why is there a European setting in 1492 Japan?

      • DyLaN

        They did mention alternate timeline in one of the article…

      • Göran Isacson

        Yeah, time travel is the only thing I can think of that would let them bridge those two periods. Either that, or it’s as Dylan says and it’s a “alternate universe” sort of deal.

        Which makes me curious as to how that’s going to play out in-game. Will one universe perhaps represent “chaos” and one “order”? Will we stay within the rigid confines of Mikado, or risk our luck in the wilder, less controlled but perhaps freeer Tokyo? It could go that way…

    • The general consensus among our staff is that Mikado and Tokyo will turn out to be the same place, just in different time periods. The kanji reference in the names, the summoning gauntlets being technology not native to Mikado, the Samurai connection etc.

      • Göran Isacson

        Ah, that’s definitely another possibility I had overlooked. Only thing I’m wondering in that case is why Mikado looks like it’s in the Middle East, but I guess they could spin some kind of explanation for that…

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Oh man I really want to play this

  • amagidyne

    “Shin Megami Tensei IV uses the press turn system from Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne”
    yes yes yesyesyes yes

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    This game keep looking better and better.^_^

  • EX_FanboY

    Modern vs Medieval?

    AT LAST!!!!!

  • riceisnice

    I wonder if you can just keep the same Demons throughout the game this time. I guess that would defeat the purpose of the entire fusion thing but I’ve always wanted an army of fairies.

    • Morricane


  • Wake

    That’s post-apocalyptic beauty right there.

  • “Atlus specifically mentions a battles between “law and chaos” and “god and demons” will take place here.”

    It wouldn’t be a SMT game without that :D Yup, super ready for this.

    • K Mantle

      Correct me if I am mistaken, but isn’t every (or almost every) game in the franchise about law vs. chaos? (even the spin-offs)

      • LightZero

        The main games and some of the spin-off deal with law vs chaos vs neutral. Not all of the spin-off deal with that though.

        • K Mantle

          Thanks for the heads-up, I really need to play more SMT games

          Non-FF RPG games are extremelly rare where I live (but stores are flooded with CoD, Halo, and Fifa), so I felt very lucky when I found an used copy of Strange Journey (the only one I’ve played… yet)

          • Same problem. What I do is buying them through Amazon

          • Well, I’m glad someone adressed your question already. As others said, whatever you do, do yourself a favor and play as many SMT games as you can. They’re all amazing.

            And yeah, these games are kinda rare where I live myself, we’re all about the FPSs and the Football games as well :D Ordering games online is the way to go. Not only do you have much more games to choose from, it’s much cheaper!

  • doubletaco

    Thank god they ditched random encounters. In Nocturne I’d frequently get into a new battle before the previous one’s theme had finished fading out.

    Gave Skies of Arcadia a run for its money, that’s for sure.

  • Shane Guidaboni

    Field exploration looks gorgeous.

  • Kawens

    Ok, I love the series. SMT games are always great titles to play (right now, I’m playing Persona 4 Golden and it’s one of the best games I’ve played). If there’s one game that would me make to buy a 3DS, is this one.
    But: WHY NOT 3D battles? This cardboard battle style was ok in Strange Journey/Devil Survivor, but this 3DS for Loki’s sake!
    Two. WHAT ARE THOSE FREAKING BACON new demons design? They stink!

    • JMaster3000

      Maybe cause 2D battles would be faster and they could use the 3D effect better?
      I don’t have problems with that.

      • Jason Ryer

        its the processor more then likely cards are easier on the 3ds to render as much as is being displayed.

        • Jason Ryer

          a 3d battle would crash the games engine because of the way the hardware is designed.

          • Budgiecat

            I don’t believe that

          • Suicunesol

            Heh, no. 3DS is capable of displaying multiple moving 3D models on screen at once. Even the DS can do that.
            I suspect something else–maybe something that can only be apparent after playing the game. Atlus could definltely have gone with 3D models, even if it was a watered down version of the way Nocturne did it. But they went this route instead. Tradition, and money perhaps.

  • Nitraion

    Looks epic…:O
    but i still wish this was 3D battle ><

  • Jose Deckard Narváez


  • O yeah, this is a definite buy. If I didn’t want the game already this article has totally convinced me that it will be very good game. Bring it on ATLUS, I’m ready. =^_^=

  • YourAshyAss_Elbows

    Finally. good game news

  • $36598391

    meh…. another rpg getting rid of random battles..
    Is it really so bad for games to stay the same like they were during the 80s and 90s….

    • Random battles are good an’ all but they become tedious especially when you just want to explore and/or conserve mp/items; when you want to face a particular enemy or procure a particular drop item.

      • Elvick

        Pretty much every game with random battles I’ve played, has either equipment or items that reduce or completely prevent random battles.

        I’ve never understood this argument against them.

      • $36598391

        There are some games where i wouldn’t mind if they lost random battles, i just hope Atlus adds an option to play the game in First Person View like moving through dungeons on the first two SMT games like a maze

    • Radom battles are a relic from the past, when technical limitations kept games from rendering monsters on the field screen. They’re annoying, illogical and there’s absolutely NO gameplay advantage to using them.

      I can understand how some people might have grown fond of them throughout the years, but some things are meant to be left in the past.

      • $36598391

        somethings are meant to be left in the past, but it’s been years since any games came out i enjoyed playing
        If a Shin Megami Tensei game came out that was similar to the Elder Scrolls Series and let you explore and allow you to make choices that would change the world’s appearance that would be fun to play

        Also thanks for being polite with your response and not flaming me for my dislike of random battles being thrown out like so many other people have

    • LightZero

      You are definitely a rare breed. I’m glad they are dying. I’ve always hated them. It should had died the moment Chrono Trigger was released. Besides technology has improved. Back then developers can justify random encounters. Now that technology has improved developers have more room to do what they want.

      • $36598391

        well as long as any more remakes of the older Final Fantasy games keep random battles I’ll be happy

    • kaimonorukia

      Did you not like Chrono Trigger?

      • $36598391

        Yes I did

    • I like random encounters too, esp in SMT or anything else that’s a real challenge; they give me the same excitable dread I get from playing older (proper) survival horror games. Or, more recently, Dark Souls (which incidentally is, as far as I’m concerned, closer in spirit to early Resident Evil etc than the new Resident Evils are, which I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone else mention.) There’s nothing quite like being in a bad spot health and item-wise and trying to beat it back to a savespot or whathaveyou. Enemies onscreen almost removes that tension of if – or WHEN – I’m gonna be attacked (and by what!)

  • $24431191

    This game is going to be awesome. They better localize it.

  • Budgiecat

    Why aren’t the enemies fully animated in 3D to take advantage of the 3DS like DQ VII is doing

    • Blesmi

      Because this isn’t Persona and Index doesn’t want to invest too much money into this title. Hence the lower budget, hence not being able to make the battles use 3D models. Which is a huge shame, but either way I’m going to love the hell out of this game.

      • I wouldn’t say it has to do with budget concerns. 3D models are actually cheaper to work with than sprites because they’re far easier to animate. It’s more of a creative decision.

      • LightZero

        No it’s more to do with design choice. Using a 2.5D model allows them to hold more demons on the screen and make the battle go more fast paced. Not to mention it’s a good throwback for SMT1, SMT2, and SJ fans.

      • kaimonorukia

        They’ve been using the same models with the same animations since 2003, so i dunno if the budget explanation works. As a design choice it’s questionable, what with the field exploration in full 3D with a better looking render better than in any past Megaten game.

    • SetzerGabbiani

      If Index had the budget likely being used for DQVII it might be a different story. Remember that Index/Atlus is still considered a small niche studio compared to SquareEnix.

  • Those screens are gorgeous. The game is looking very good and I cannot wait for the (hopeful) localization announcement. This game looks to definitely make up for some earlier disappointments with the 3DS and, if SMTIV is superior to P4 (I so hope it is), will push it to a place above my Sony handhelds (which are Japanese RPG magnets…)

    Other than that, I’m pleased to hear some more about the gameplay. The trailers showed off a great amount, but more info/clarification is always good. I really like the P3/P4 style ability to strike enemies out on the field. I’ve adored that gameplay mechanic since KH:CoM for the GBA (My second favorite game in the franchise) and love seeing it elsewhere.

  • Jirin

    Awesome to see press turn and demon fusion.

    The genre in general is moving away from random encounters to field encounters, so I guess I can’t complain about that too much, although I’m not a fan of the ‘monsters standing on the field’ system of encounters. I just don’t like the hassle of constantly trying to time my strikes to get preemptive attacks, and I think it’s an interruption of fluid dungeon exploration to have to walk around enemies when you don’t feel like fighting them. It’s a pain in Persona 3 and not part of the fun of the genre for me. Also most games that do encounters like that have prohibitively annoying respawn rates that make them even more obtrusive than random encounters.

    • I think it’s an interruption of fluid dungeon exploration to have to walk around enemies when you don’t feel like fighting them.

      Not to nitpick or anything, but aren’t random encounters even more of a hurdle during exploration, since you can never tell when one might pop up, and that they often feel like they happen at the most inopportune or annoying moments? That’s why people dislike them. :P

      • Jirin

        Only if the encounter rate is too high. Otherwise, they interrupt your dungeon exploration equally often as field encounters, but don’t force you to divide your attention between exploration/puzzle solving and enemy position/twitch reactions.

        I really, really hate it when games do what Persona 3/4 do and force you to do twitch reactions to avoid being ambushed.

        Also there are some cases like many Tales games and Star Ocean 4 where the enemies all respawn every time you leave the screen, and then they have dungeons that force you to walk back and forth hitting swtiches. That’s far, far worse than random encounters, IMO. You’re forced into way more unwanted encounters in Star Ocean 4 and Tales of Vesperia than you are in any 16 bit game.

        Now, a Lufia 2-like system where they only move when you move and don’t sporatically dart toward you like in Person 3, that would be fine.

        • Mmm. I have to admit, I still don’t quite understand. Even with low encounter rates, you’re still forced into battle, regardless of whether you want to fight or not. You have absolutely no choice in the matter and no sign as to when your next encounter will happen.

          At least in the case of enemies being placed on the field, you can move around them. Given a choice between the two, I think most people would gladly take the option to simply run around an enemy than be forced into a battle with an invisible enemy. At least you have a choice in the latter case.

          • Jirin

            You don’t really have a choice though. In some games, enemies move so fast you can’t avoid them. In others, all the corridors are so narrow it’s hard to get around them. And in any event, if you don’t fight any of them you fall behind in level.

            The idea that field encounters prevent you from having to do fights when you don’t want to is incorrect, and a majority of games with field encounters make sure of that. The only one I can name where that’s not the case is Lufia 2.

            It all has to do, for me, with the way I prefer to explore dungeons. All I want to think about is getting through the dungeon, enjoying it, solving the puzzle. I don’t want to think about dodging enemies, I don’t want to take the time to clear all the enemies out of a room just to have to dodge them because I went to a different screen and came back. I don’t want to have to focus on making a twitch reaction when an enemy darts at me just to avoid getting ambushed. I just want a dungeon to figure my way through and puzzles to solve, and random encounters don’t interfere with your ability to walk in a straight line to where you want to be.

            In random encounter games not named FF1, Lufia or Tales of Destiny, you end up in encounters far less often than you’re forced to choose between either doing an encounter you don’t want to do or plot a long inconvenient way around it maybe to end up forced into it anyway, in a game with field encounters.

          • The idea that field encounters prevent you from having to do fights when you don’t want to is incorrect, and a majority of games with field encounters make sure of that.

            Honestly, I have to admit, I’ve never ever had that problem. Persona 3, Persona 4, Final Fantasy XII, Xenoblade, Dragon Quest IX, Hexyz Force are all relatively recent games with enemies on the map and there were very few instances where I couldn’t avoid a battle if I wanted to. That’s the whole point of field encounters.

            All I want to think about is getting through the dungeon, enjoying it, solving the puzzle. I don’t want to think about dodging enemies, I don’t want to take the time to clear all the enemies out of a room just to have to dodge them because I went to a different screen and came back.

            And I want the same thing. Except, I also don’t want to constantly have to wonder whether or not I’m going to be forced into a battle every few steps I take, which is the case with random battles.

            I’m not coming down on you or anything, but this feels like such a strange argument. You’re effectively saying that having options is a bad thing, and ignoring that the option exists. I just don’t get it.

            …and random encounters don’t interfere with your ability to walk in a straight line to where you want to be.

            I really don’t get this part. So, being pulled into a battle against your will while you’re walking from point A to point B, multiple times, doesn’t count as interference? I’m afraid I really don’t see the logic here.

  • $39420547

    3ds is building a nice library if this keeps up i may love it even more than the original ds

  • AweOfShe

    This is looking so damn good. I can’t wait~!

  • I shall name MC Jack. For he shall be Samurai Jack.

  • Jonattas F.


  • benhofb

    Hmmm. I dig the whole placing enemies on a grid and being able to avoid them thing. Personas 3 and 4 had this and I must say, it made the games a whole lot better IMO. I find it easier to grind when I can see my enemy beforehand. I know what is coming at me and when and that helps me prepare for battles and whatnot. Random battles work for some games, but I often feel annoyed when you I am making a great deal of progress in a dungeon only to be wiped out by some random enemy I didn’t see coming aside from a little color meter at the bottom corner of the screen. It works, I just don’t like the concept. Nonetheless, PRESS TURNS! Woot! This game looks insanely promising. It has got awesome concepts from all of the best SMT games. I just hope it gets picked up for a US release soon!

  • ragingmerifes

    And there goes another 200 hours of my life.

  • venomz09

    battle system shot not be in first person damnit….

    why are these japanese devs so hell bent on making rpgs in first person again ?

    pisses me off, part of the reason smt 3 and dds along with persona games were so good for me…is the fact they wern’t first person.

  • sweet :)

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