What I'm Playing - No. 135
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Spoiler-warning, I spoil a number of things from the second half of Shin Megami Tensei to the end. If you want to remain unspoiled, you should skip this post!
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Shin Megami Tensei (SNES)
After a long journey, I finished Shin Megami Tensei this week, getting the Law ending.
One of the first big steps on this path was defeating the goddess Echidna, one of the leaders of the followers of Chaos. The sprite for her in-game was a little weird, she’s just a big head. I think it’s supposed to imply that she’s much larger than can fit on-screen but…she’s just a head. She was another easy boss. With Echidna dead, you gain the favor of the forces of God, including the Law Hero and the angel Haniel.
Shortly after that, there was another stretch where I needed to refer to a guide. Even after reading the guide, I found myself having to Google something more specific when I got stuck at one point. Since I hadn’t been following the guide every step of the way, apparently I hadn’t explored an earlier dungeon enough, and hadn’t fought a mini-boss there to get a required key item, the Four-Door Gem. I used a guide a few times after that too, especially during the final dungeon when some of the floors were both dark (which means you can’t see the walls on the mini-map) and maze-like, a nasty combination. But the requirement to get the Four-Door Gem was by far the least obvious thing in the game, I definitely recommend using a guide for that, it’s really easy to overlook otherwise.
Eventually, you finally reach the Great Cathedral the Messians have built, which you’ve been hearing about from various NPCs pretty much since merging into post-apocalyptic Tokyo. Soon after that, God summons a Great Flood, drowning pretty much everyone who wasn’t at the Great Cathedral. Pretty intense. But after that you get the ability to surf around the world map on the back of an octopus, so that’s cool.
The Great Cathedral is the final dungeon in the game, and the way it’s structured is pretty interesting. It has 8 floors to explore above ground, and 8 floors below ground. The above ground floors are controlled by the forces of Law, and the below ground floors have been taken over by the forces of Chaos. You have to explore the Cathedral in both directions, but depending on your alignment you’ll explore 1 before the other. Since I was Law aligned, I had to make my way to the top of the Cathedral first in order to recruit several archangels and forge the Angel Ring, which I would need to explore the depths of the Cathedral. Had I been Chaos aligned, this would have been reversed. And if you’re Neutral aligned, I think you can do them in either order. I thought that was an interesting way to structure the dungeon.
The final dungeon was long though, and chock full of random encounters, even when exploring the higher levels of Cathedral where the demons and I were both Law aligned. I used a lot of the emulator’s turbo function to auto-battle my way through the random encounters faster. There were several mini-boss battles on the way down to the lowest floor. These were really easy, but still pretty thematically cool. Taking down these “powerful” demons was fun, even if the battles themselves could be auto-battled through without any trouble.
Before I reached the very bottom of the Great Cathedral, I had to fight my way through the Chaos Hero, who killed the Law Hero pretty effortlessly it seems. I’m not sure how he managed that, because as a boss battle he was a complete joke. After that, it was final boss time: we took on the leader of the Chaos forces, Asura Lord. Now this boss was capable of actually dealing some damage. It was still easy, but I actually had to use healing spells a few times to keep my demons alive. The hardest thing about this fight was how much HP the boss had, which made the fight take a while. Still, I auto-battled through a lot of rounds. This boss is vulnerable to status effects like all the others, so I could make him lose turns by charming or binding him with the bullets loaded into Worm and Isabeau’s guns, and then he was just target practice. With the Asura Lord defeated, the forces of Law finally won.
That was the end of Shin Megami Tensei in a nutshell. Isabeau remarks at the end how many died in order for Law to win, but it would have turned out pretty much the same way had I sided with Chaos. I’m not sure if the Neutral route results in more or less death, but I know you pretty much defeat both Law and Chaos in that route, which sounds pretty awesome. I really enjoyed this game. It wasn’t very balanced, the status ailment bullets you could get even early on in the game pretty much make most encounters a walk in the park. It’s not hard to defeat enemies when you can put them all to sleep with a machine gun loaded with Nerve Bullets, and then pummel them to death with auto-battle. The encounter rate was pretty high at times, but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Since you can auto-battle through encounters, this was probably one of the most relaxed SMT games I’ve played. I’ll probably look into playing another of the SNES SMT games eventually. Those are Shin Megami Tensei II, the next mainline game in the series, and Shin Megami Tensei if…, a spin-off that’s the spiritual predecessor of the Persona series. My final playtime for this one was 40:48.