What does a Megaten newbie think?
- It's long
- It's very 'hip'
- Interesting art style
- Large cast of characters
- Good blend of mature / innocent themes
- Story arcs don't mesh too well
- Main character is more style than substance
- Character designs can be uneven
- Very Japanese, more on that below
- Low pay-off to dating simulator, game concept wise it makes sense, but doesn't make sense in an emotionally rewarding way.
The Bottom Line
I loved Unicorn Lynx’s review of this game, because he comes into it with a perspective of being a Persona / Shin Megami Tensei fan. He’s got the insight into the progression of the series in various media and can comment on relative quality/improvement. I don’t. I didn’t even know what Shin Megami Tensei was about – I just like JRPG’s.First Impressions:
My first impression was that this is definitely something the Japanese made for themselves that later got popular enough to merit over-seas release. It follows the whole Japanese idea that people still go to class even though they are involved with weird and world saving activities. Just analyze that for a minute: Everybody but you and a small group freeze at night and you inhabit an in-between dimension where you fight shadow monsters. And you actually show up to math class the next day. I’d be out stock-piling weapons and talking to quantum physicists, personally, because that’s Ghostbusters levels of weird right there. But the Japanese, they keep calm and carry on like nobody’s business. And it’s true, in their culture you do your damn job regardless of what else is happening.
And there are a lot of quirks in Japanese games. Like the concept of ‘energy’ and its conservation. You need to conserve your energy by sleeping early, taking naps, and that kind of thing. If you don’t you’ll have to take several days off due to being sick, and that’s a problem because you’re on a schedule. They have ‘reasons’ in game for this, but it is a constant concern in Japanese games and I think it’s a real life thing for them. It’s bizarre, the Japanese seem to be on the cutting edge of healthy foods and supplements, and yet they seem to have really fragile constitutions. When I was in high school I stayed up most nights until like 3 a.m. (playing Ultima Online), and I wasn’t napping during the day. I guess the Japanese are just some stressed out people.
But I like Japanese stuff, so it was kind of fun at first. A simple start for my character and his friends here in wonderland. Go to school, decide whether to fall asleep during the lesson, make sure to keep my energy up, it’s like a little blue-haired tamogachi really. The music is a weird kind of poppy jam that I can dig.The Battling:
I’ve been exposed to several Megaten fans since I played it, like Noah Antwiler
and apparently this game is awesome because it rewards good tactical thinking. I don’t really feel that way. I agree that beating a boss using a certain tactic really changes the difficulty, but I don’t think it’s anything that trial and error can’t achieve. It’s just based on win/lose element combinations and status effects instead of deductive reasoning. It’s more like Pokemon than chess is what I’m saying here. It’s a fun battle system but I wouldn’t exactly create a huge series around the premise.Dating Simulator?:
Ever since I was an adolescent I’ve been pretty intrigued by the Japanese tendency to include dating simulators into JRPG’s. Not having a girlfriend, I maybe figured this would help me out. And I’ve got to tell you, Japanese Romance and Western Romantic ideals are some very different stuff. Every Japanese dating simulator comes with the same 3-8 stock Japanese women wearing different outfits. Are they fun to play? Yeah, they can be, but they are very limited in scope and if you don’t know the ‘types’ of women and what their preferred answer to a multiple choice question is you’re going to have stalled relationships. It’s the ‘gift’ system that always hangs me though, how am I supposed to know what they want? They barely have personalities (which is funny because the game is called Persona), just stock dispositions like: “Bad Past”, “Serious”, “The Under-age One”, “Robot-Girl”, “The Nerdy One”, “Sporty Girl”. Oh I know the answer to the question - it's all 'Blood Type' and 'Birth Date' divination related - which is just ridiculous to a western audience. I'm never going to get used to Japanese sexuality and dating, I've given up!
So while it’s entertaining to try to progress in a relationship (and rewarding because it opens Persona level strengths), it all feels a little alien to me. It also doesn't make practical sense - you don't 'complete' a relationship with someone and move on to the next in real life. You stay in the relationship you have created until it dissolves or blows up. This guy must be a freakin' Casanova because he just romances and tosses girls out while they're still swooning for him!Story Line
I fell off the plot rail-road because we kept switching tracks and honestly the battling wore me out. The game’s story kind of went in a bad direction in my opinion and it lost me. There were good moments, and I’m not sure why they tried to switch things up instead of working on one solid premise. And the worst part is that the settled on premises and twists were the same ones we’ve been seeing for about ten years now in anime.Bottom Line
I don’t know how the rest of the series is, but as a stand alone this is an okay game with a big budget and slick visuals. Maybe I’m just too old to go back to high-school.