Is the Shin Megami Tensei Mainline Series Destined to Fail?

I don’t know how to feel about Shin Megami Tensei V

            I fear speculating anything at this point, as speculation usually proves fruitless and the cast of characters end-up being used somewhat differently than I expect. But also, the character alignments end-up being the blandest expectations. At this point, given how bland and boring the alignments of most of this series are, people are already making a coin toss on whether the blond-haired boy, Ichiro Dazai or the male boy with glasses, Yuzuru Atsuta, will be the Chaos representative. Assuming Yuzuru lives and his sister, Miyazu Atsuta, ends-up dead in the beginning, people expect him to be the Chaos representative. If the Chaos representative is Ichiro Dazai, then I already dislike the story because I have no interest in anything involving someone who livestreams their lives for others. He looks like a duller version of Ryuji of Persona 5 from his physical appearance. The rest of the game already seems like a bad parody of itself. Instead of the usual post-apocalyptic setting where you have to go it alone and face dangers, it’s now like Persona where one world is filled with demons and the other is your high school. Now, I understand that demons attack your regular world, but I really don’t like how the post-apocalyptic angle is now being sidelined or reduced in this way. To be clear and frank: I absolutely hate the emphasis on a high school setting. Apart from SMT IF, which was a precursor to Persona, this hasn’t been used since then. Within SMT IF’s context, it was a high school teleported into a demon hellhole. This feels more like a Persona setting with Persona stakes similar to Persona 5 prior to its final dungeon, but set-up in the beginning of the game. It’s such a moodkiller to me. The mature tone of the series seems to be slipping away to become a shell of its former self. For all the complaints on SMT IV: Apocalypse’s character dynamics, they weren’t reduced to shitty high schoolers or a boring high school setting. This is especially boring since Monark and Caligula Effect 2 will also be set in high schools. Judging from previous trailers, I currently speculate that there’ll probably be some time travel shenanigans with Hayao Koshimizu being an obvious scrub boss and mid-level evil dude who was experimenting with demons to create Hayataro and Aogami. I hope I’m wrong.

Please take any speculation with a grain of salt; I suppose I just can’t help but wonder about this story and the direction of the franchise. Each new installment of this series is getting lower and lower ratings, it seems like they’ve chosen a direction or are proceeding with a direction that isn’t meant for the older fanbase. I enjoyed Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse because it contained so much of what I wanted from the series from its Anarchy route and ending and I wonder if the series would have been better served to just end there. I’m sick of the Day 1 DLCs – something which they said they were “happy” to announce regarding level-up and macca maps for SMTV already – I’m sick of people even mentioning anything related to Persona that I’ve sworn off buying any future Persona games forever. I just fucking hate the Persona series now and I don’t ever wish to contribute any future monetary value to it again. I hate Persona 4 and it was my introduction into the Megami Tensei franchise, I can’t stand playing Persona 5: Royal for longer than ten minutes nowadays, and I can’t find it in me to play any of the earlier games. The entire Persona series is a mess of bad game design and I can’t stand them anymore. And now, SMTV looks like its using Persona tropes more than any other Mainline game, even more than Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. What were they thinking? Even the specific characters look like they took Persona 5’s story template and character design and put them into SMT. Tao looks like Shiho from Persona 5, Miyazu is already being called a gender swapped Persona 5 MC by Megami Tensei fans, Hayao Koshimizu has the same rank that a certain someone in Persona 5 has, and even Sahori looks like an evil version of the P5 Royal exclusive character. I wouldn’t normally make these comparisons myself, but the high school setting is telling. It seems like they’re running out of ideas.

I’m sure this speculation will be disproven just as my assumptions about SJR were. It’ll probably be something totally different – and blander – than what I’d hoped with a neutral route depicted as the “true” ending and then a re-release on the same console approximately 1 – 3 years later with a “super duper true neutral” ending. Honestly, the previous games have made me hate the Neutral routes of these newer games nowadays. If, however, I was to make more positive guesses among my baseless assumptions, then I’d like to think that each of the human characters shown will be either a Light or Dark version of the Alignments. If it were to really try to pleasantly surprise at least me, then I’d like for Tao Isonokami and Hayao Koshimizu to be Light and Dark versions of the Law alignment, Yuzuru Atsuta and Ichiro Dazai to be Light and Dark versions of Neutral alignment, and Miyazu Atsuta and Sahori Kijima to be Light and Dark versions of Chaos alignment. Unfortunately, given my experience with SMTIV and its speculation regarding Tayama and Kaga being totally off from what happened to them, I speculate one of these characters is a throwaway dead character and another is a mid-game villain. Most people speculate Yuzuru will go Chaos because his sister Miyazu is expected to be the throwaway dead character and I suspect Hayao Koshimizu will be a mid-game villain due to some plot twist involving Aogami. I actually expect Sahori Kijima to have a “surprise” greater role in the story though, which is why her image involving the tentacles is there. She has a surname unlike Tayama and Kaga, I can’t imagine why they would even bother putting that much effort or why Lynn is voice acting her in the Japanese version unless she’s at least a surprise mid-game villain. Either that, or she’s Lucifer or becomes a minion of Lucifer after either possession or her own volition. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if the world of Da’at is Tokyo in the future and they’re screwing it up with Lucifer’s appearance from the second trailer being a mid-game plot twist of the event mentioned by NPCs approximately “18 years ago” in the Nintendo Tree stream being your world of Tokyo that will eventually become Da’at. To repeat: all of this is just meaningless speculation on my part and 99% of it will probably be wrong.


Is Shin Megami Tensei Mainline Destined to Die?

            To this day, Atlus West clearly doesn’t care to bring over Shin Megami Tensei I, Shin Megami Tensei II, or Shin Megami Tensei IF, even on Android which shouldn’t really take much effort. The small attempt to bring SMT1 on IOS was dropped simply because they didn’t want to pay for an update when Apple issued such a requirement on all software a few years back. People in the West don’t even know that the Megami Tensei series existed prior to the Pokemon series and created the monster-catching video game genre, yet a deviation to kiddify the system with Pokemon yielded billions in revenue for another company whereas it is only now that Atlus games really have any fame and it is only through the Persona series because of the slice-of-life and visual novel aspects. These aspects are now given more presence in Mainline because the Mainline games have failed in terms of sales. It seems clear that even Atlus Japan has given-up on the Mainline series. One of their major talking points in the new info being released was planned level-up and macca DLC. They even had a trailer specifically about such DLC content for Nocturne HD… weeks after the game had already released. I’ve been sending messages about glitches and crashes I encountered in Nocturne HD to its report page on the Atlus West website and while the responses were positive, they’ve since stopped replying to my latest complaints regarding bugs and issues I have. Nocturne HD, I’m sorry to say, was very lazily done what with them not even having improved music for the songs that don’t use 7 different cycle tracks and the weak DLC music options. Never mind the lobotomy that is Merciful mode and the awful level-up and macca DLCs. Meanwhile, Game Freak keeps shoveling the same crap with Pokemon and makes billions each year. It seems like this series is destined to die like the Devil Summoner subseries. Good, challenging games are no longer what people want; they want easy, terribly designed, and boring visual novel-styled slice-of-life Japanese high school garbage. Monark, Caligula Effect, Persona 5’s popularity skyrocketing across the world, FE 3 Houses largely borrowing the school setting style from Persona 5, and now this game having half of it set in a Japanese high school. . . this oversaturation is so disappointing and dull. The fact I also have to clarify Shin Megami Tensei Mainline for people to understand I’m mainly discussing the Mainline series says a lot too.

There’s no longer any of the charm like with Nocturne and Strange Journey. Just adults or young adults living with and persevering through post-apocalyptic worlds without any guides, perfect solutions, or easy issues. I feel as if the Power of Friendship and Power of Humanity tropes have really become a crutch and I would hate to see any more of it in Mainline. I’m tired of them and I’m tired of Japanese high school themed games. They just feel forced and meaningless at this point. They worked in Strange Journey because Neutral wasn’t over-emphasized and didn’t have any perfect solutions in the original. While SMTIV – IVA established “all endings are canon” the stories actively prioritized Neutral endings and it just feels like a joke add-on in their Notes to say that all endings are canon. If SMTV has a Law focus, I’m up for it because I can’t stand the Neutral focus or its garbage tropes of power of friendship and power of humanity. I understand Nocturne broke a lot of the norms and may have caused an opposite problem, but even it had a Neutral bias problem. The only way I see this issue fixed is if Neutral is made into early bad endings for the next few games or they just replace the L / N / C system with something similar to Reason endings exclusively but with more details somewhat similar to Devil Survivor 2’s endings without the “true neutral” ending of that game. Perhaps I’m just outgrowing the series. One person’s complaints seem to hardly make much of a difference and it feels to me like Atlus Japan and especially Atlus West seem to disdain their own fanbase unless its their Persona fans. Atlus Japan and Atlus West’s minds are clearly on the money and that is the Persona series which is why the Persona-style is being put more strongly into the Mainline series for more sales. If that’s the future of the series, I don’t know if it’s for me anymore and I doubt this oversaturation of Japanese high-school themed games by their competitors will generate more interest in the next 5 – 7 years. I hope I’m wrong, I hope I enjoy the game as the only mainline I’ve hated was Strange Journey Redux thus far, but I’ll only know once its out and I can start playing it. I have my preorder for the Limited edition already set, so I’ll try to hold back on any further lamentations until then, but no promises.

3 thoughts on “Is the Shin Megami Tensei Mainline Series Destined to Fail?

  1. Slogging through this nonsensical tantrum that you decided to call an article was a pain. However I decided to read it all anyway. Reading it felt like someone who has never played any SMT games whatsoever decided to step in and tell fans that everything is bad. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions you threw this tantrum trying to shove your opinion down everyone else’s throat and basically told them that if they don’t think the same way as you then they’re wrong. Honestly there is a right way and a wrong way to voice your opinion on games. Actually play the games amd then give an honest review without trying to shove garbage on people. To call yourself am author of any kind is laughable at best with this kind of article.

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