After the news of Persona 1 coming to PSP as well as a Shin Megami Tensei game for the DS, I started thinking about the Shin Megami Tensei games. Persona 3 and 4 really helped introduce players new to the SMT name to the mechanics of these games. What would you like to see in the next new SMT game? It can be a true SMT game, like Nocturne, or a spin-off like Digital Devil Saga and Persona.
Jenni: Personally, my favorite Shin Megami Tensei games are the Persona spin-offs, though Devil Survivor is looking pretty intriguing as well.
I’d like to see the next SMT game be another Persona title. It’d be great if it could follow along the lines of Persona 3 and 4, keeping the aspects that were great from both entries. (That means no sick party members!) A nice “extra” would be the ability to choose a male or female lead would be incredible, adding a whole new level of depth and Social Link interaction options. It’d also be great to see some of the original Persona concepts, like the ability to bargain and talk to the demons, appear in the next Persona.
Louise: While I loved Persona 4 and it made me an even bigger fan of the series, like Spencer, I’m ready to return to the pure dungeon crawling of Shin Megami Tensei games like Nocturne. I’d love to see a SMT game which makes use of all the battle tweaks of Persona 4: rush, mudo/hama skills hitting for 100% on those with weaknesses, and smart auto-battle.
What I’d also like to see, and this is my main complaint about SMT games, is logical weaknesses and strengths for demons or persona. For example, if I have a persona that looks like a giant flame, I’d expect it to be strong to fire and weak to ice. That’s a simplified version, but I’m sure through clever naming it would be easy to remember what persona has what attributes. This may go against the whole nature of SMT games, especially when you get to higher fusions, but I’d be happy just for the lower-rung demons or persona to follow that convention. I can’t even count how many times I have to use some sort of analysis skill in one game session because I couldn’t remember things about persona. I’d even settle for small icons next to the persona’s name.
Spencer: I like how the PlayStation 2 Persona games cleverly integrated side stories with the Social Link system. Shin Megami Tensei as a series really expanded here after Persona 3. However, after two games of making virtual friends I’m ready to parlay with demons and return to the core series. If Atlus is working on Shin Megami Tensei 4 (and really why wouldn’t they be?) they should tweak the combat system. Press turns were a great innovation. They made players think instead of mashing fight and were something new to master in Nocturne.
After a series of PS2 games using modified versions of the press turn system it’s time for something new. Maybe enemies can switch sides during battle depending on the player’s alignment and how negotiations go? Or Atlus could introduce an ideological leveling up system where story decisions affect what abilities you get. This way some parts of the game will be harder and others easier depending on the path you pick. A key element of Shin Megami Tensei games is players have choices on who to side with, what is right and wrong, and so forth. In a future game I would like to see Atlus expand on this by making more branching paths. Also some new monster designs by Kazuma Kaneko would be great too!
Ishaan: That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I can go back to classic MegaTen after experiencing Persona 3 and its social links and plethora of side activities to pursue. In my opinion, Persona 3 fixed every potential problem that could arise from a turn-based RPG. The battle commentary kept battles from getting boring even after you’d been through them hundreds of times; the personae themselves added a great amount of variety to the battle system; and the party members being controlled by the AI made them seem more human and allowed you to focus more on tactics and manage your personae effectively.
Here’s a thought: how about going back to the old first-person perspective for the next MegaTen and making it a real-time exploration RPG? Ditch equipment and weapons. Retain social links, retain demon summoning and put a heavy focus on the plot, exploration and emphasize the mystery elements. The thought of something like Oblivion or Fallout set in a mysterious MegaTen-inspired world sounds very cool. Or better yet, develop a different MegaTen experience for every console and see what works best. I like it when Atlus experiments.