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Shin Megami Tensi: Nocturne Review

Developer: Atlus | Publisher: Atlus
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/12/04 | Genre: RPG

Role-playing video games have been in our consoles (and computers) since the late 1980's. Through the years, role-playing video games have gotten longer, faster and even more enjoyable. Many companies in the late 1990's started making games 솵ll Activeideo games instead of the traditional ATB (Active Time Battle) and Turn-based games. Two big games Star Ocean: 2nd Story and Tales of Destiny 2 created a big shock in the video game community because most RPGs, such as the Final Fantasy, series had been in ATB, and these two games brought in Full Active gaming. To this day most companies are using the Full Active system and they are some of the best RPGs playable today. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is different because it has turned back to the older, turn based, battle system. Is this bad? Heaven's no! Shin Megami Tensei may be one of the most enjoyable systems in video game history.

The game begins when you (select a name) get off a train and are suppose to meet your friends and your professor. Your friends meet you in a creepy hospital where no one is around֠and all of a sudden֠*poof!* you look off the roof and Tokyo is being destroyed. You then see an old man and a mysterious woman over you and then you wake up in the hospital basement again֠Strangely you are half human and half demon with fists of steel. You awake with not only these strange physical changes, but you also awake to a whole new mission. Now, you must defeat the bad guy and save the world (or in this case Tokyo) like any other video game.

The best thing about Nocturne is the monsters; you are able to receive monsters you fight into your party. You can have ANY monster in the game on your team and even in some special instances you can acquire bosses. In order to convince an enemy to join your party, you must talk to them and give the monster what they desire. One caveat though, sometimes you have to think before you act. Most of the time you must give them money or items, or even drain your energy and answer a simple multiple choice answer. Depending on the monster, it is more or less difficult to guess if they are going to rip you off or not by taking your money and run or join your party. The monster now can be in your party, but even better than having one monster by itself is fusing two of them together. This can be done by going to a cathedral and joining them, making them stronger or weaker, really allowing you to customize the game to your own tastes. Unfortunately, you cannot get a high level monster when your character is at a low level because you can't control them. This is disappointing because, even at the beginning, you can combine different monsters to boost them to level 30. Fusion of monsters in the beginning does work to your advantage later in the game because you are able to resurrect those monsters that you fused or parted with. One thing to keep in mind as you improve monsters by fusing them, you will lose all their special abilities. I first saw this technique used in Monster Rancher and enjoyed it then. It adds a level of strategy to this already great RPG.

The level system is easy and very effective. You will receive a stat chart where every time you level up you will be able to upgrade your character with one status point. Instead of adding the traditional equipment selection, Shin Megami gives you various pills (Magatama) that you must ingest to become much stronger. There are over 30 Magatamas in the game that you can obtain, but most of them are not easy to receive. Some you can buy from local manikin stores, but the most powerful ones are the ones you find after strong boss battles. When you level up and have certain Magatamas equipped you can earn special abilities- both status and physical (depending on what stat you equip). Sometimes the Magatama will 맲ow violently' in you and it can heal your party fully, yet sometimes it will do bad and you become hurt both physically and mentally. There is tons of different ways to create your character: strong with magic, strong with power, very fast, and /or very lucky, this a good way to customize your character which I enjoyed a lot-- though I wish I could equip a shirt onto him.

Visually this game is֠confusing. It appears to be Cel-shaded graphics, though at some points you will question if it is three-dimensional. The graphics confused me and probably will you, but you won't mind because they are very well detailed. Every environment, monster and human (or manikin) you see is very well done. Kazuma Kaneko is the man behind the graphics in Shin Megami is also working with Capcom right now designing Dante's demon in Devil May Cry (which looks really good.) What else is there to say? Everything looks great.

Music and sound effects (and sometimes voice acting) have huge roles in a role-playing video game, and I must say that Nocturne didn't do as well as I thought they would do. Don't get me wrong, some of the music in the game is great- battles especially, but when it comes to sound effects they do a mediocre job. Every time you attack an enemy or vice-versa, you will hear the same thing, *smack.* It doesn't matter if it's a weapon or your fist, it's all the same. Though there are some exceptions such as gun shots and claws, but that is about it. Battle music is probably the best music in the game, really making it seem like an important fight. Outside in the open area the music is OK. Nothing special, but it is suited for the environments. It would also be nice to hear some voice acting, even though the characters are player-named. For example, you got to name Tidus in Final Fantasy X and they had some great voices.

Like I said before, the game plays at a turn-by-turn system which I found very enjoyable. Not everybody will like this type of gameplay. You can either use full-out attack or stay and find a good strategy to defeat your enemy. If you chose to use the full-out attack, you simply push the triangle button and everyone in your party goes psycho on the enemy. When fighting boss battles, you probably will need to use a bit more strategy but monsters are pretty easy to defeat by simply allowing the melee to ensue. This is the first time I've seen this technique used in a video game, which I found very unique and sometimes very useful. In battle you also have the ability to summon and restock monsters, use items (only your character) talk / beg and retreat. Animations in the game are very well done though it does get annoying watching your character going up a ladder. Attacks are short but sweet and special attacks and moves are done in perfect order.

You will travel to tons of cool looking run down locations and see characters that you have seen before.
When you are ready to engage in battle, watch the bottom of your screen. There is a diamond shaped visual that will display different colors for battles. Green means you're safe, orange means battles are around and red means that you are about to run into a battle. It is a new technique that Atlus designed which I believe is very easy to get use to. There are items and abilities to help this battle radar to have better detection, but as all things do, it will cost you.

Now to the part that we must discuss: Dante from the Devil May Cry series. Atlus has chosen to add him into this game in a cameo role. You can choose to have him join you in one of two ways, depending on how you answer some questions. If you choice the 첩ghtay, Dante will join your party. Understand that the game was initially supposed to include just one human (well mortal) in your party but you can add Dante as a special treat. If being good is not your bag, you can choose to fight Dante. You will fight him over and over and over again and then֠oh, wait. Can't spoil it. Despite what some ad campaigns would have you believe, Dante shouldn't be the reason you buy this game. There are two reasons why this is: 1) The game is great with and without Dante and, and 2) you get Dante so close to the end of the game, it really doesn't make that much of a difference. The time without Dante is far more important because you get to play with some kick-ass monsters.

Overall I found this game to be of the best role-playing games, almost on par with Valkyrie Profile and Tales of Destiny 2. There is great action, a great story, and amazing graphics. What else is there, right? Oh yeahִhe sound effects. Well that doesn't drag the game down a lot, I still found it to be very good with a 40-60 hour gameplay, not to mention three different endings. But just like any other Role-playing video game there isn't as much replay value as some other purely action games. I really enjoyed it; I think ALL role-playing game players will enjoy it.

By Adam Beck - 09/22/04
ESRB Details: Blood, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes
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