Shin Megami Tensei IV

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Shin Megami Tensei IV Game Poster Image
Darker, sexualized mature take on "catch 'em all" craze.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

"Good vs. evil" theme; player tries to save his homeland from invading demons. That said, players build forces by negotiating with, recruiting, controlling many of those demons. Players also presented with a number of moral choices that affect the story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Protagonist starts as an honorable fighter defending his home from invading demons. Other characters he encounters, teams up with vary from good, pure to evil, corrupt. Many feel justified in their actions for various reasons. Through game, player must make difficult moral choices, altering character interactions, events.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but map navigation can be a bit of a pain; training/fusing various demons can be complex.

Violence

Combat central to game, with players pitting teams of demonic creatures against enemies. Damage appears as flashes of light, sound, with occasional blood splatter. Some scenes show a bit more blood, corpses littering background.

Sex

Some female demonic creatures feature risqué outfits that spotlight their cleavage, occasionally show their bare breasts, buttocks. Occasional sexual references in descriptions of demons.

Language

Offensive language peppered throughout dialogue, including "s--t," "a--hole."

Consumerism

Part of popular Shin Megami Tensei series, which has spawned multiple games, numerous spin-off titles. Also includes anime, manga titles, various merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shin Megami Tensei IV is a role-playing adventure game for the Nintendo 3DS. Characters battle each other using a number of magic abilities and skills by fighting, negotiating with, and combining various demonic creatures; damage in these battles is shown through flashes of light and occasional blood splashes. Some of these creatures are presented in a sexualized manner, while others run the gamut from cute to downright frightening. Dialogue includes profanity such as "s--t" and "a--hole."

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What's it about?

The world of SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV exists in a seemingly distant future where the kingdom of Mikado has thrived in a sort of feudal renaissance. Helping to keep the peace are the Samurai, warriors responsible for fighting the demons that still make their way to the real world. After a confrontation with a mysterious figure called the "Black Samurai," Flynn, the newest Samurai recruit, is ordered to pursue the villain to the source of the demonic outbreak, a land sealed away beneath Mikado, an ancient place called Tokyo. Over the course of his journey, Flynn will recruit many odd demons to fight by his side, some by force and some by skillful negotiation. Through Flynn's eyes, players will learn of a great battle between angels and demons, with all of humanity caught in the middle.

Is it any good?

This mature role-playing game is clearly for older audiences. Its addictive gameplay mechanics will keep players hooked as they build their supernatural team of fighters. Believe it or not, Nintendo's Pokémon was not the first video game franchise in which players captured and trained strange creatures to battle alongside them. In fact, the first Shin Megami Tensei game beat those pocket monsters to the punch by four years in Japan. But make no mistake about it: With its postapocalyptic settings, demonic creatures, and horror-esque genre, this has never been a series for young kids. Now, after numerous spin-offs and side stories, Atlus has returned to the main franchise with Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS.

You can't talk about an SMT game without talking about the demons you encounter, and Shin Megami Tensei IV has a variety of twisted creatures that range from cute and cuddly to disturbingly sensual to downright bizarre and frightening. You'll have to find just the right words or give just the right gift to convince them to join your army. This also means that there's a lot of grinding involved in the game. If you try to just move from one part of the story to the next, it won't take long before you and your minions are seriously outmatched. That can make the game start to feel a bit repetitive, but that fades a bit once you start experimenting with things such as fusion in the Cathedral of Shadows app. As far as the story goes, the game has a deep plot with plenty of twists and turns, and your choices play out in some intriguing ways. Unfortunately, some of the other characters' development seems to get lost along the way, which is understandable given the scope of the plot but is still a shame since there always seems to something more lying just under the surface. Even so, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a strangely engrossing experience that's hard to put down.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mature content in games. What are some examples of content in games that would not be appropriate for children? What are some of the effects this content can have on younger kids?

  • Talk about choices in gaming. In games where the player has more control over the decisions his character makes, especially moral choices, are you more likely to play a character closer to your own beliefs or one outside of your normal "comfort zone"? Why?

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