Release Date: 2/19/1995
System: Super Famicom
This is Atlus' second attempt at a strategy RPG based on the Megami Tensei franchise. As with the other games in the series, the highlight of the game is the ability to recruit monsters to your side and fuse them to make different (hopefully stronger) monsters. It also features the alignment system from the other games.
The major differences from the first game are:
- The story is much more developed. The game takes place mostly in Tokyo (although in different time periods).
- Some monsters can equip things. The monsters have a fixed level but you can raise their rank; unlike MT1 they can raise up many ranks (at least 50) and they improve their stats in addition to gaining new abilities.
- You can turn off battle animations.
- Recruiting monsters is much easier; rather than going through a random dialogue tree you can just give them MAG or gems and they'll join up. You can also combine monsters by just moving them into each other; I don't remember if this was possible in MT1.
- Movement is more restricted, with more walls and terrain that slows the characters. This can be very annoying at times, but it fixes one of the big problems I had with MT1, where monsters could swarm your weak monsters by just going around all your other characters.
- If one unit's speed exceeds another unit's by 6 or more, that unit will get a second attack.
- Before attacking, you get a much more detailed analysis of what will happen, showing the attacker and defender's stats and compatibility, as well as if they will get a second attack.
The game is divided into six "scenes" (although the game itself doesn't seem to recognize them; it's six separate overworld maps). I'll cover the first two in this post.
Scene 1 - 1996 Tokyo
The backstory for the game is that someone has used demons and monsters to suddenly take over Tokyo. In response, people have formed a resistance group called Partizan. The main character Naoki joins Partizan and meets Tomoharu and Kaoru. Their first task is to free Shibuya.
The goal is to reach the red square on the left. Right now we cannot summon or talk to the demons yet, so we just have to kill everything. I used this chance to move the main character up levels. As usual in the MT series, you can't talk to a demon that is higher level than you. Because of this, you don't want to spread out the XP too much among your human characters.
By the way, the place immediately below the main characters is a train line. These are constant annoyances in the game, reducing your movement rate to near zero unless you cross at the station (where you still need to go slowly).
Initially I was dividing points between Strength, Vitality, and Speed. But I realized that Speed is much more important than Strength because you can get a second attack. So eventually I was putting most of the points into speed.
We learn that Naoki's parents are scientists, but the same day that all the demons came into Tokyo, there was an accident at the lab that blew it up, apparently killing both his parents..although he thinks they might have survived.
Next up is Meguro, where we get into a research lab.
In the lab, Naoki meets a mysterious woman named Karen who seems to know who he is, and gives him something important. They then head back to the Partizan HQ. It's been attacked, and Ogiwara, who is the leader of the enemies, has appeared himself. Naoki is able to get away, but the rest of the companions are left behind.
He ends up in Ikebukuro, where he meets Aya, and also figures out that Karen gave him a computer called DIO. Now we can recruit monsters. As I said above, it's much easier to recruit monsters in this game than in MT1. Although at least at the moment we can't recruit Light or Dark enemies, just Neutral. (Light and Dark enemies can still be fused, just not recruited.) Now there's a "world" map.
The green dots are places I've cleared, and the coin is a shop. The shop interface is inexcusable! You can't see what the power of weapons/armor are, or who can equip them. This is 1995! We're not in the NES era anymore; designers really need to be taking responsibility for making a usable interface.
Anyway, the goal is to get to the enemy HQ over at the right. Once there, Ogiwara is gone, and we easily free Tokyo from the demons. But a mysterious machine in the base transports them somewhere. It seems to be Ueno, but it turns out to be Ueno from thirty years in the future.
Scene 2 - 2040 Slum Tokyo
Scene 2 introduces two types of places -- the Remix shop on the left, where you can combine monsters in an easier to use interface than doing it on the battle screen. The purple area on the right can be repeated and lets you recruit monsters you might want. You can't win the battle so the only way to get out of it is to use a smoke bomb or Escape (which loses money). I did need a Pixie for an optional event in Scene 3.
Tokyo in 2040 is a ruin, and there are a lot of damage areas. I continued to recruit new monsters in this area as well as get better equipment for them, and focus the XP on Naoki. Eventually Tomoharu and Kaoru rejoined, and both Kaoru and Aya develop magical ability so they can start using spells.
At the end of this scene, Karen appears again and reveals more of the back story that involves time travel and such -- since this game has a translation I won't give away too much in the first post. My goal usually for the first post is to introduce the gameplay and give some intro for the story, but the rest of the posts may have spoilers. I'm going to take more detailed notes for Scene 3 and beyond, but this is where I will stop for now.