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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor For the Nintendo DS
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor for the Nintendo DS comes from a long line of Shin Megami Tensei RPGs stretching all the way back to the SNES. This current one for the Nintendo DS is based on the popular Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, a mixture of demon summoning ala Pokemon and end of the world story lines. Sounds like one fun Nintendo DS game, huh? On the surface, it might sound like a great Nintendo DS game. However, once you get into it there are a lot of glaring flaws that keep it from every truly being as good as its PS2 counterparts.
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The Nintendo DS game version of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor has a decent story line. Three teens are given specially modified COMPS (Nintendo DS like devices) that can summon demons and control them. They'll come in handy since something big is happening in Tokyo. Demons keep appearing and killing people, and in 7 days the city, and maybe the world, are going to be destroyed. It is up to the main character (whom you name and control) to figure out what is going on before it's too late.
The storyline is really interesting and had me hooked from the beginning. The location is great, Tokyo, and has the same hip feel as The World Ends With You. I just wish the gameplay lived up to it.
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On first glance it is very much like any other Shin Megami Tensei Nintendo DS game. You can't really explore areas, but you can move from place to place within a list of the wards in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Shibuya and so on) similar to some of the other Nintendo DS games that are out there such as Pokemon. At each place there are a list of things you can do, and if a location has a clock next to it that means an important event happens there that takes up 30 minutes of time - and time is very important in the Nintendo DS game version of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. The Nintendo DS gameplay takes place over a series of days and events that happen at certain times must be paid attention to or tragedy may befall you. This part is actually pretty cool. It's sort of like an adventure game, which I dig.
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Then comes the battles in this Nintendo DS game. At first, it doesn't seem so bad. You get a demon to summon with your COMP (the Nintendo DS like device) and each demon has abilities assigned to it and strengths and weaknesses. They are all in Shin Megami Tensei speak, which, if your not familiar with may take some getting used to, bufu is ice, agi is fire and so on. The combat in this Nintendo DS version is turn-based strategy, but each time you engage an enemy (or an enemy engages you) it goes into a turn-based RPG style of fighting. The idea is interesting, especially for a Nintendo DS game, but it makes battles seem long and tedious as there really is not pattern to who gets the next turn.
But the combat in itself isn't terrible, its the level of difficulty that royally sucks. By the third battle, the enemies are so powered up and you are so weak you have to grind just to be able to beat them. Yeah. Grind. In a turn-based strategy RPG. What? Who thought that was a good idea in a Nintendo DS game? It's not! It's just annoying! I don't want to fight the same battle, over and over, just so I can get on with the story!
There is also a huge level of specialization that can go into your demons. You can fuse them together and buy new ones, which is nice, if you're into that. However, none of it is very intuitive and it takes a while to get the hang of.
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Graphics and Sound
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor for the Nintendo DS looks really good. The anime style characters look great, especially on the small Nintendo DS screens, the art work is amazing and the backgrounds are beautiful. Even the battles don't look bad. The characters are cute in their chibi sprite forms and move all right for this type of Nintendo DS game. The turn-based battle sequences aren't as good, looking stiff and sort of silly, like they just walked out of an SNES game.
Sound wise Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor for the Nintendo DS shines. The music is poppy and fun and keeps the mood well, even when this Nintendo DS game falters overall. There is no voice acting, but that's fine by me. The music makes the game feel modern and hip, which is what I wish it was.
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Ugh! I wish! I do love the storyline in this Nintendo DS game. It is so intriguing, but actually grinding through stupid battle after stupid battle, I just didn't care anymore. I'm not a Shin Megami Tensei novice either. I loved Persona 3. That's a really good game. I wish the Nintendo DS game debut of a Shin Megami Tensei was better, but it's not.
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Overall Rating For This Nintendo DS Game
If you are a huge fan of Shin Megami Tensei games, for the Nintendo DS or any other console game, or want a challenge and love being annoyed, this is the game for you. If not, don't bother. Go buy a Shin Megami Tensei game that is worth the money. Persona 4 is supposed to be good. Or get Knights in the Nightmare, an actually innovative tactical RPG.