Shin Megami Tensei II (Japan) [En by Aeon Genesis v1.0] ROM
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) ROMsGenre: Role-Playing
Rating: CERO: All Ages
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Game Description & Reviews:
It would be a tall order to merely match, let alone surpass, the first Shin Megami Tensei - yet ATLUS has done so with Shin Megami Tensei II (hereafter SMT2). Combining all the finest features of the original with a number of improvements and innovations, this is a worthy successor to one of the greatest RPGs of all time.
The game is set decades after the events of its precursor, in the city the Messians (one of the two main religious movements in the game, the other being the Gaians) have built on the ruins of the old cathedral, (the final area of the first game) - Tokyo Millennium. The protagonist is a young man who finds himself in one of its outlying areas, with only vague memories of his past - and goes on to discover and determine an extraordinary destiny, that will ultimately involve YHWH, Lucifer and Satan. Like the first Shin Megami Tensei, the storyline is exceptional and, for the sake of the reader, I will refrain from revealing any more here.
All the essential elements of the gripping gameplay of the original have been retained by its successor - demon summoning, negotiation and fusion, turn-based combat, first-person view, etc... with some, (such as sword fusion) being expanded. One key difference is magnetite which is not so easy to acquire now: indeed, I often visited particular areas solely in order to fight foes who provided a substantial amount of this precious resource. Another change is that the map can now be displayed with a single button, which I found most convenient. In addition, the inventory system has been greatly improved with quest items now stocked separately from ordinary ones, while a Fortune Teller has been added to help players move ahead in the storyline. Finally, there are a number of entertaining mini-games which provide a pleasant diversion from the main quest.
The visuals struck me as the area which has seen maximum enhancement. The top-down town view has been replaced by an isometric one, the combat interface is less text based, all the demons have new portraits, and there is more animation in general. Like its predecessor, SMT2 also boasts of a wide variety of environments, ranging from subterranean corridors, secluded shrines and trapdoor-filled towers to the reddened innards of a gigantic demon. In short, it provides quality and quantity in abundance, though it seems to me that it has many more empty rooms than the first game.
This title is by no means lacking in the audio department, although I preferred the soundtrack of the first game. Different musical scores, (some of which are certainly memorable), are aptly used to distinguish between various regions of the game. However, in order to hear them, one of the more sophisticated emulators (such as SNES9X) may be required, along with some modification of their settings. Sound effects, as usual, are excellent.
To make the most of one's experience, a few pointers are in order. As previously noted, magnetite is scarce and needs to be managed carefully: one way of doing this is by moving around with fewer minions. There are also junctures in the game when a creature will automatically join your team: it is therefore wise to have at least one vacancy in your roster of demons. SMT2 is vast, as are a number of its areas, making the Toraport and Toraest spells almost essential. Fortunately, at least one creature with both spells (Heket) can be formed quite early on in the game: it is highly recommended to keep him on hand. Last, but not least, whilst it is not necessary to play the first game in order to thoroughly enjoy this one, having done so made me appreciate it all the more.
A lasting monument to cultural creativity fused with technical proficiency, this epic RPG is an unforgettable adventure.
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