Best Game Ever: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon

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Commenter DeuxHero is our choice to kick off what might become a weekly staple of Speak Up on Kotaku, Best Game Ever, in which our readers share their thoughts on their greatest games of all time.


*deep breath* Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon is one of the greatest games you haven't played.

Coming out as a PS2 exclusive in 2009 (2008 for Japan), it's not hard to see why this went unnoticed, being on a long dead console, but the game behaves quite solidly.

The game is set in the mid 1930s Japan and stars a young adult with a bitchin hat called Raidou Kuzunoha. His job is to protect Tokyo from supernatural threats, and to this end, he is apprenticed to a detective as a cover ID.

The plot is quite well done and while it ultimately results in ending a threat on a global scale, most of the game is spent with Raidou investigating a missing man on behalf of the daughter of the minister of finance. Along the way Raidou encounters a mysterious imbalance of luck affecting the capital, with people either being very lucky, or disastrously unlucky. The plot has some fairly interesting themes of independence vs. tradition (which are very fitting in the Taisho era Japan setting, having just come out of the Meiji era and its radical changes) and manages to gauge the player's attitude to the two forces and react to it (it's no Way of the Samurai, but it still beats the pants off BioWare's attempts). The game also milks the atmosphere of the Taisho era quite well, and it's a very nice change from almost every game out there.

The combat system is quite smooth, if a little easy on normal (but that's by MegaTen standards of difficulty), with Raidou controlled in real time and assisted by up to two summoned demons. Because Raidou himself, with his sword and gun, is only an average fighter, using the demons to create openings for Raidou to exploit is quite important. While the underling system is quite basic, it works rather well and will carry itself for the 70 hours the game will last. Your demons never really feel like a pain to control with some practice, easily being able to hit what you want them to hit, not hit what you don't want them to hit, and get out of the way of enemy attacks.

The demons are highly customizable thanks to MegaTen's signature "fusion" system, where two demons (acquired either from previous fusions, negotiating with enemy demons to join you during combat or rarely an enemy demon begging for mercy) are fused into a new one that can inherit the skills of the old one (It may sound familiar to Dragon Quest Monsters or FF-13-2 players, but they took it from earlier Shin Megami Tensei titles). Depending on a demon's "order" (class) it can be used to help Raidou in various ways in his investigation work (such as reading minds and transform into people), giving solutions for quests.


(And I wrote all this because I saw a Raidou cosplayer in the background of a video from Kami-Con 4)

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Great. So the formula for a hit game among JRPG fans isn't even that hard.

The rules appear to be:

1) MUST be set in Japan or in a fictional place and/or time.

2) MUST contain an element of Pokemon, no matter how small that element.

3) MUST play and, in some cases, look like previous entries to the series thereby relieving the developers of too much "real" work.

4) MUST retain a shamefully outdated combat system. Preferably turn-based unless you're playing anything akin to Monster Hunter. After all, we'd hate for our games to catch up to the technology they're played on.

5)THE KICKER: If you've not made it necessary to grind for weeks on end... then your game has no depth.

And since when is fusing 2 monsters considered to be making demons "highly customizable?!"

You put 2 together. You get what comes out (with differing stats/skills). End of customization.