That's right System Warriors, you 'dun goofed this year. Hundreds, thousands, millions of you may have flocked to the 3DS to eat up the next meaty installment of GameFreak's long running monster-collecting series. Some of you did so because you thought Pokemon X and Y weren't going to be disappointments; some of you did so because you needed another fix of the wonderful monsters in 3D; some of you did so because you're finalstar in which case I'm sorry you're finalstar.
But looking outside the vacuum of GameFreak's "one step forwards, five steps backwards" developing strategy that took a forefront in Pokemon X and Y, the 3DS had an illustrious year of games which many of you ignored. One of them was in fact, another monster-collecting game with its own overworlds, place to explore, and monsters to
What's that? Recruiting monsters? Insulting Pokemon X and Y? Footsteps?
I'll break it down for you guys in bullet points. Feel free to dispute any points:
1) Shin Megami Tensei IV's characters and story are infinitely more interesting than Pokemon X and Y's.
- Sure, the Pokemon series was never known for its story nor were its characters going to last a place in our hearts other than their existence being a wonderful way for us to grind out some experience points. But Pokemon X and Y regressed further than any Pokemon title before it. The fifth generation of Pokemon attempted to bring a story that had moral sides and even brought upon a sequel to wrap up some loose ends and bring more story points. X and Y, however, flop in their rushed attempts to bring upon any interesting story points at the end of the journey and have an overall awful, annoying cast of main characters. Pokemon Red and Blue, in their wonderful simplicity, were more focused and less atrocious than X and Y.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV, however, has a wonderfully interesting story. Its unconventional twists, murky characters, and three separate endings that aren't just based upon an end choice, but decided on based on collective choices made along the journey. It's extremely thematic, has a strange media res beginning, and has characters that, while not the strongest ever in a game, are interesting and bring up different sides to arguments all throughout the tale. In that, the story itself brings a replayability factor to SMT IV.
Winner: SMT IV
2) Shin Megami Tensei is realized more fully outside of its battle system than X and Y.
- Pokemon X and Y finally made the long-anticipated full jump to the third dimension on handhelds, introducing the Kalos region. I was highly excited for this leap forward; imagine all the different camera angles now from Black and White now fully realized, the different weather patterns of Diamond and Pearl and Ruby and Sapphire affecting gameplay more than ever, and more. But let's be serious, outside of a few locations, the 3D jump barely affected the overworld. The overhead camera angle was once again utilized for a majority of the game and was disappointing. We got a glimpse of what could be in Castelia City in Pokemon Black and White and even the GameCube titles. X and Y, barring a few cool caves and one large city, did not deliver on that promise in its overworld. For some reason, the tile system was still in place and the running shoes were replaced by the polarizing roller skates. It all comes together to provide a solid, but inconsistent overworld that didn't even utilize the 3DS' unique effect: 3D.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV and 3D go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not only does the game allow the 3D effect of the system to be used, but the main character can be controlled from a traditional third-person perspective (imagine Uncharted) or over-the-shoulder. Choices! The overworld is vast, easily bigger than what's on display in X and Y. A large overworld map connects smaller locations where you can see enemies on the map. WHAT? NO RANDOMLY GENERATED BATTLES? THE ABILTY TO SEE (and avoid) ENEMIES BEFORE BATTLE? It's different, and it works. Shin Megami Tensei IV also employs verticality better than Pokemon ever has: Ladders and gaps in cave floors and cityscapes combined with the camera angles of SMT IV lead to a better experience.
Winner: SMT IV
3) The battle system and monster-collecting system of Shin Megami Tensei is the natural evolution Pokemon never has had.
- You won't find me complaining about the depth in Pokemon's intricate battle system. It's extremely varied, full of statistics for those who care yet engaging for those who don't. X and Y add the best looking Pokemon yet to the one-on-one fray of the series, although I wouldn't have minded more being there. The third dimension also allows for some favorite battles from the past to be recreated with a whole new sense of imagination. In other words, you won't find too many complaints from me here...
- because I didn't know that Shin Megami Tensei IV existed, like many of you today. The battle system here is great. Aside from having the aforementioned ability to see the enemies before battles, you can also convert these demons into your enemies without the use of any balls. Instead, you talk with them. You can ask them to join your team and then begin a negotiating process. Do you pander to the demon's wants? Do you answer their random questions in a menacing fashion? It's your choice, and sometimes it can lead to your misfortune, while others, it can lead to a different demon joining you altogether. Fusion from these demons can lead to stronger demons as well as evolution, proving a variety of ways to extract demons. Even the main characters can be customized to have better armor and weapons like a traditional RPG. Not only that, but Shin Megami Tensei utilizes the series' famous Press-Turn System, where you can link weaknesses (similar to Pokemon's rock-paper-scissors gameplay) together for extra turns. Combine that with more items, more party members, having four party members at once, more boss fights, the ability to fight hordes of monsters at once, more side quests, and applications to buy in-game for you to extract money from demons for extra fun (and much, much more), and you have a system you didn't even know you wanted.
Winner: SMT IV... but we'll give Pokemon props. It does have, well, Pokemon and multiplayer
So what say you to my TL;DR post System Wars? Are you going to join the demon-slaying cause of the Mikado Kingdom? Or are you going to pander to a disappointing title in Pokemon X and Y?