Five RPGs that Break the Rules: Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne

Title Five RPGs that Break the Rules: Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne
Author Josh Bycer
Posted in Game diaries
When January 5, 2012

Pictured above is the boss "Fiend Matador". While he isn't the most recognizable demon, or the most frightening, he made gamers scream in terror at his sight. He is a punch-in-the-face introduction to the world of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne..

Read the full article

What makes this game particularly cool is it is filled with all the features that should make a JRPG hateful -- linear structure (ok, there are some important choices to make, but mostly linear), random monster encounters, extremely tough boss monsters, sententious and/or pretentious writing, etc. etc. etc.
But SMT is great not only despite those elements, but because of them. Somehow, it all works in SMT, where it fails in many other games.Also, given the extreme PS2 graphics budget, what Kazuma Kaneko managed to do with those graphics is amazing. It's really beautiful, despite the low polys and simple textures.

I love western RPGs (Morrowind, Witcher, etc.), but cannot stand the sight of jRPGs. The two genres are so different they really shouldn't use the same moniker (I'll not try to argue which deserves "rpg" in it, that would be an ugly, pointless battle.)

Choice and consequence, story, a breathing world, immersion, those are what I come to rpgs for, and the Japanese sort have never given them to me. The only RPGs from Japan I've ever liked were Dark and Demon's Souls, and I liked those quite a lot, but those are really western RPGs done through a Japanese lens, and done right, too.

I like your writing style Josh. Especially the intro before the jump.

Thanks for the compliment, it's been relaxing writing these diaries compared to the design articles I've put up on Gamasutra.

Just thought I would point out that Nocturne is, in fact, the 3rd main series SMT game and the 5th main series Megami Tensei title. Also it was not the first English language release of this series being preceded by both the Persona series and "Devil children". Just thought I'd point this out because it doesn't make it clear in the article. For those of us lucky enough to know Japanese, the "Devil-summoner" Megami Tensei sub-series has a game called Soul Hackers that is one of my personal favourites and well worth checking out in my opinion.


Shin Megami Tensei has been around since the SNES, so it would be more accurate to say that Pokemon is like a cutie-fied SMT.

I personally disagree with your "breathing world" theory, as I get more immersed in a jrpg with a storyline like that of persona 3 than any Western rpg.

Totally agree lol

I love this game. I am a western rpg player. NOTHING beats games like BG2 or FO1 in my book. Still, this game is fun. I think I like it despite being a jrpg because it is dark, it subverts many jrpg tropes and it a demanding game that rewards skill. Anywho, great game for sure.

it was challenging, but certainly not as hard as you make it out to be. 20 hours on matador? that's laughable

It was his second time playing a JRPG. This surely does not make his experience typical for everyone.

Yeah. Atlus should have its motto be: "Subvert everything!"

Well, i HATE western RPGs, They are dull and boring, and don't have angels as a final bosses!
Play Tales of Symphonia. That is how RPG should be made! With sad, tearbreaking story with cute characters!

Well, to be honest, i just hate making CHOICES in RPGs.. i like to play a linear story with tearbreaking cutscenes and interesting character and monster designs.