Shin Megami Tensei II
|Shin Megami Tensei II|
Cover art for the Super Famicom release, featuring the archangels and several of the main characters.
Shin Megami Tensei II (Japanese: 真・女神転生II?, literally "True Goddess Reincarnation II") is a post-apocalyptic role-playing video game developed and published by Atlus. It was originally released for the Super Famicom in 1994 in Japan, and has since been ported to multiple platforms. It is the second game in the Shin Megami Tensei series, which is a subset of the larger Megami Tensei franchise.
In Shin Megami Tensei II, players take the role of the gladiator Hawk, who is able to communicate with demons. The gameplay is similar to that of the first Shin Megami Tensei: the game is controlled from a first-person view, and has players exploring dungeons and battle against demons. Players are also able to speak to demons instead of fighting them, and can try to form an alliance with them. They can fuse multiple allied demons together into a single stronger demon; the new demon can "inherit" abilities, including ones it would normally be unable to have, from the demons that were used when fusing it. Players are also able to fuse demons with weapons.
Depending on the choices players make throughout the game, the protagonist's alignment changes; the different alignments in the game are "law", "chaos", and "neutrality". This affects the way the plot progresses.
At the end of Shin Megami Tensei, the protagonist decided to create a world where both Law and Chaos would exist equally, and people would have the freedom to choose and believe whatever they wished. Fifty years later, the world was plagued by disasters and over time, the air became unbreathable. Because of this, people flocked to an encapsulated city built by those who preach the Messian religion. That city was called Tokyo Millennium.
This game follows the story of Hawk, a battler in the Valhalla district of Tokyo Millennium. The citizens of Valhalla compete in a tournament in hopes of gaining citizenship in the Center district, which is out of the reach of demons. Hawk fights in the tournament and wins. He gains citizenship in the Center district and has a personal meeting with the Bishop of the Messian religion. During the meeting, he is told that he is actually the Messiah, who will one day save mankind from the current bleak world and bring about a paradise called the "Thousand Year Kingdom". Hawk, whose true name is revealed to be Aleph, is sent on missions from the Center to eradicate demons and prepare the world for the Thousand Year Kingdom. Yet while he travels across Tokyo Millennium, he witnesses first-hand the atrocities the Center inflicts on the people and must decide whether to follow his pre-determined destiny or fight against it in the hope of creating something better.
The creation of the Thousand Year Kingdom is the focal point of the game's storyline. According to the Center, it would be a paradise of God that would exist for a thousand years, created by a chosen one called the Messiah. However, during the course of the game it is revealed that only the chosen few whom the Center deemed worthy would be allowed to live in the Thousand Year Kingdom; everyone else would be abandoned and left to die. The Center was designed as a prototype of what the Thousand Year Kingdom would be like: those who survive in the grueling Colosseum battles are allowed to live in the luxurious safety of the Center, while everyone else must live in the demon-infested slums surrounding it. The luxury of the Center comes at the cost of freedom, as those who live inside must adhere to the strict laws of the Center while those outside can do whatever they desire.
If the player follows the Law alignment of the game by recruiting Lawful-aligned demons, making decisions consistent with a Lawful outlook on life and completing the objectives of the Center, then Aleph succeeds in becoming the True Messiah and creates the Thousand Year Kingdom by using Eden—a vast spaceship hidden inside Tokyo Millennium—to destroy all remaining life on Earth and start life anew with those specially chosen. If the player follows the Neutral or Chaos alignments, then Aleph is dubbed a false Messiah and commits the "ultimate sin" by destroying YHVH, who had created everything in such a way that the world would be subjugated under him forever.
Writers for the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu appreciated the amount of freedom players have. In their reviews of the PlayStation and the Game Boy Advance versions, they said that the gameplay still holds up. They found the demon fusion system to be excellent and fun, and did not think it felt outdated. Kurt Kalata and Cristopher J. Snelgrove of Hardcore Gaming 101 appreciated the game's lowered difficulty compared to that of the first Shin Megami Tensei.
Kalata and Snelgrove did not think the game's story started "with the same pizzaz" as Shin Megami Tensei; they thought that "the amnesiac savior" is a "lame cliche", and that the idea that Western religion is evil has been worn out. They did however also say that Shin Megami Tensei II came out before these elements were overused, and that they "undoubtedly" were fresh at the time. In his book Game Magic: A Designer's Guide to Magic Systems in Theory and Practice, Jeff Howard used Shin Megami Tensei II as an example of a video game with allusions to Kabbalah, with its use of Hebrew letters as character names; he said that this contributes to the atmosphere, and gives a feeling of depth or mystery. Famitsu 's writers appreciated the game's theme, which they called grand and unique, and the dark worldview and scenario, which they called profound.
Chris at Square Enix Music Online disliked the game's music: he called it the worst in the whole series, and said that the music pieces tend to be monotone and based on repetition of nothingness. He said that slowly building ambient pieces such as "Title Demo", "Title", and "Memory Recovery" are effective in context, but that they are too simple and repetitive to be enjoyable as stand-alone music. He did however find the pieces "Disco" and "Casino" both humorous and catchy. Kyle Miller and Damian Thomas, both writing for RPGFan, were more positive to the music. Miller found the soundtrack well made, but worse than that of the first Shin Megami Tensei. The pieces he liked the most were "Heretic Mansion" and some battle themes. He also liked "Casino", which he found catchy and thought worked as an effective contrast to the dread of the other pieces. Thomas found the soundtrack to be excellent, and said that while several pieces are short, they have solid melodies. Kalata och Snelgrove uppskattade musiken som spelas under striderna. Famitsu's writers thought the PlayStation version's graphics looked cheap.
By the end of 2002, the PlayStation version was the 267th best selling video game of the year in Japan, with 36,341 copies sold. The Game Boy Advance version did on the other hand not enter the yearly top 300 list of best selling video games in Japan at all during its debut year, 2003.
- "Series History; An Interview By You". Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne: The Official Strategy Guide. DoubleJump Publishing. 2004. pp. 384–387. ISBN 978-0974170046.
- Kalata, Kurt; Snelgrove, Christopher J. "Shin Megami Tensei I & II". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Kalata, Kurt (2008-03-19). "A Japanese RPG Primer: The Essential 20". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
- "真・女神転生II［iPhone］". 4Gamer.net. Archived from the original on 2015-04-06. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
- "真・女神転生II [PS]". Famitsu (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
- "真・女神転生II [GBA]". Famitsu (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
- Howard, Jeff (2014). "6 - Game Design Lessons from Occult Magic". Game Magic: A Designer's Guide to Magic Systems in Theory and Practice. CRC Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-1466567856.
- Chris. "Shin Megami Tensei II Sound Relation :: Review by Chris". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2015-08-24.
- Miller, Kyle. "Shin Megami Tensei Sound Collection". RPGFan. Archived from the original on 2014-08-02. Retrieved 2015-09-06.
- Thomas, Damian. "Shin Megami Tensei II Sound Relation". RPGFan. Archived from the original on 2014-08-02. Retrieved 2015-09-06.
- "GEIMIN.NET／2002年テレビゲームソフト売り上げTOP300". Geimin.net (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- "GEIMIN.NET／2003年テレビゲームソフト売り上げTOP300". Geimin.net (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- Official PlayStation website at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2001) (Japanese)
- Official Game Boy Advance website at the Wayback Machine (archived December 16, 2003) (Japanese)
- Official iOS and Android website (Japanese)