Round-Table Discussion on Shin Megami Tensei if...
Jul 3rd, 2014
- Discussion of Shin Megami Tensei: if... (1995)
- Is Comic Beam still around?
- In a 1994 issue of Weekly Famitsu, a manga by the name of "Shin Megami Tensei if... - High School Demon-Users" was published.
- This manga was later compiled into a Tankōbon, and contained inside was a special discussion of the subject by Kazuma Kaneko, Cozy Okada, and Kazuaki Yanagisawa. It did not just involve the story of if... but also Devil Summoner (which was then under development), and other games in the MegaTen series. It has been written up here again, free of typos. So read, and enjoy.
- Participants Profile
- Kouji Okada The director of the SMT series. Perhaps he is the angel who governs over knowledge.
- Kazuma Kaneko The character/monster designer of the SMT series. The angel who governs over beauty.
- Kazuaki Yanagisawa The author behind the original if... manga. Perhaps he is the angel who governs over creation.
- ■Prologue - The Angels' Closing Feelings (?)
- Could it have been an inevitable fate? No, it was not. From the moment SMT if... was published in FamiComi (Famitsu Comics) in 1994, the Seraphim (plural of Seraph) put their plan into motion.
- It is now 1995, Tokyo.
- The angels descended, finally put the history to rest, and began unveiling a revelation of the future. Their plan has now entered its final stage. There can be no going back.
- ■Section 1 - Fear and Awe
- Yanagisawa: In SMT if's World of Sloth, there was that hole-digging part. That was pretty painful.(It takes one full cycle of New->New in order to advance one stage in the digging, and there are 6 stages, so you have to wander the dungeon during this time) [TL: This bit in parentheses is confusing since I haven't played if... myself, so if anyone has a better translation or knows what this is referring to please let me know.]
- Kaneko: That was pretty rough.
- Okada: From the design side, what should we do if you say that? ...Or well, actually during development it was originally much harder. It used to take 12 cycles [that is, 12 stages instead of 6] before you could reach the boss. And the person controlling the flags (event chances) you had to clear wasn't just for the World of Sloth, but the others as well.
- Yanagisawa: Were there any hints at all?
- Okada: None whatsoever.
- Everyone: ...That's horrifying...
- Okada: Hmm...Well, there were quite a few Neutral demons that showed up in the World of Sloth. While the other student was digging [whichever companion you chose], the player could recruit some more demons and fuse them and such. You were able to do that in that stage. It was tough if you tried stopping in the middle, but thinking back on it, I believe we made something successful.
- Yanagisawa: When you say it like that, it certainly leaves an impression.
- Kaneko: If you can do things quickly and skillfully up until that point [The World of Sloth], it sort of lends a meaning of variety to it. [Since it forces you to take your time, presumably]
- Yanagisawa: I see.
- ■Section 2 - Training and Discipline
- Kaneko: For me, I tend to grind out a lot of levels in the beginning, abuse the stone bridge [a healing point?], and play it that way. I didn't realize this when I was playing the original Megami Tensei and got up to the Minotaur (got game over a lot). That and Megami Tensei II used kind of an odd system.
- Okada: It's because of Kaneko's kind of play-style that we changed the way you gained experience in Megami Tensei II.
- Kaneko: Even to this day I really dislike that system. You lose the reward for what you're willing to do, don't you? It's terrible. [i.e. you can't get meaningful experience even if you're willing to spend a long time] But if you go back to the previous one [referring to MT1's system], then you can get levels...I would say.
- Okada: If you explain it like that, we'll be in trouble. I'll have to quit making video games, and we won't be able to sell anything anymore, you know.
- Yanagisawa: Huh!?
- Okada: Of course there's a way to play Debug Mode as well. If you play it with the Debug ROM, then just by pressing one button you can get all the levels you want.
- Kaneko: That's just dirty. Even while I was just leveling up bit by bit! Well, it's true that even if the SMT series ever ended, I'd still be able to enjoy some demon fusion.
- Yanagisawa: For me, I just keep going and going until I die, reset, and then reflect on what happened.
- ■Section 3 - Demon Fusion
- Yanagisawa: In the SMT series, you level up so you can create your favorite demons, right? Like Shiva or whoever.
- Kaneko: Didn't Shiva go past level 100?
- Okada: There's no way it could have!
- Kaneko: I could've sworn the boss Shiva was like that...
- Okada: True, sometimes boss characters can do that, but the regular Shiva wouldn't.
- Kaneko: But when I'm leveling up I don't kill any Neutral demons, there's no need to. I only kill the Dark ones.
- Yanagisawa: But if you don't kill Neutral demons, you'll miss out on some unique items. But, if you do kill them, then negotiating gets a bit harder...it's a worrisome point to be sure.
- Kaneko: I'm a pretty patient fellow, though.
- Yanagisawa: You'll still end up killing them sometimes.
- Kaneko: Well, there are moments where you get pissed off. Especially when Flight demons jump into the conversation, it's like "That's enough, damnit!"...Even though you're trying to talk to the other demons as hard as you can, they do this. Doing nothing but getting in the way!
- Okada: 'Flight', huh. It's because SMT is the kind of series where you're supposed to kill demons if they show up, wouldn't you say? [perhaps in reference to early SMT games where negotiation was more luck-based and less workable] But still, there's that issue you mention before of not killing any Neutral demons. I think we'll have to adjust for that next time.
- ■Revelations from the Future
- Kaneko: So we've talked a little about the SMT series, I think this is a good time for a follow-up.
- Yanagisawa: So in the if... manga, the protagonist Nobu and the companion Yumi return to the real world from Hazama's created illusion. But, of course after that would be the Coup de'tat and the ICBM Crisis, right? With that going on, how would Nobu and Yumi survive? Again with these two characters (as well as others), I think I'd like to make a kind of human drama.
- Kaneko: It's a similar kind of setting to the game going on sale at the end of this year, SMT: Devil Summoner. Of course you play as a different protagonist, but there are other summoners around too. How's he going to be involved? What are the others planinng?
- Okada: The summoner in this case is a detective. There are strange things that go on in the world, and in actuality the cause of these things are demons.
- Kaneko: A group rather different from an organization like the Messians [just as example of organized groups, since only SMT1/2/if have yet been released] appears, and the protagonist gets involved...
- Okada: Different from what we've had up till now [Law Group v. Chaos Group], a kind of Orthodox School/Opposing School situation.
- Kaneko: Since it's a parallel world [to SMT1], the connections may be a little weaker [compared to SMT2].
- Yanagisawa: What would you think of linking Devil Summoner to my new work? [the story following the ending of if...]
- Kaneko: Let's do it, absolutely!
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