Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

Recently, a friend of mine asked me what the attraction was with RPGs, because as a devotee of Call of Duty and FIFA, all he could see was grinding drudgery. After half-heartedly conveying the usual arguments about tactical battles and general escapism and quickly deciding this was just another case of "each to their own", I got sidetracked, discussing the importance of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest in Japan. What I didn't expect was his follow-up question: "what's the third most popular RPG series?"

Instinctively I said Pokemon, which in terms of sales figures could even be first, but straight afterwards my thoughts turned to Megami Tensei, a.k.a. MegaTen. Highly successful in Japan but not as popular in the West, this series slightly predates Final Fantasy and includes a staggering number of spin-offs, including Shin Megami Tensei, Devil Summoner, Digital Devil Saga, and Persona. A quick look at my inappropriately named "bookshelves" turns up seven English-language MegaTen games on the PlayStation 2 alone, which incidentally is the same number of incorrectly spelt Armored Core games.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is the second MegaTen game on the DS after last year's Devil Survivor, but rather than being a tactical RPG set on an isometric 3D plane or an action-orientated RPG, Strange Journey harks back to the series' roots of first-person dungeon crawling. The story is also a substantial departure from the anime high-school shenanigans of Persona 3; rather than building relationships and attending class in between Dark Hour combat, you'll find a more mature and grittier experience in Strange Journey.

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