A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is one of the rare Mature-rated games for the Nintendo DS. This is a dark role-playing game filled with gloom and depression that pervades the Earth, and it's hard not to be affected by that. The game has sex and violence, but it is tempered by the lower-technology of the DS. You don't see animated blood and guts when people die. Instead, you see a frame or two of the character bending over and falling. Then, there's a pool of blood, again, not animated. You'll see characters that look like human sexual organs and there are sexual themes, especially when you read about some of the proclivities of the demons.
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What's it about?
In SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: STRANGE JOURNEY, you enter a dark futuristic world that's one hundred years in the future. It's a world full of complex issues that are sometimes often depressing, chaotic, violent and sexual. Within 10 minutes, you find that there's something very wrong at the South Pole, something mysterious and evil called a Schwarzwelt. You and a crew are asked to travel to the frozen tundra and enter this the ever-expanding hole. It's a new dimenson where you deal with as many as 300 demons of varying creepiness. If you do things right, you just might save the world. If you don't, you'll die.
Is it any good?
Here's a game that will probably provide you with 100 hours of gameplay. It can be annoyingly slow-moving as you press the 'A' button through thousands of lines of science fiction-based dialog. Yes, there is violence with pools of blood. And yes, some of the demons resemble sexual organs. And, yes, you eventually enter the gates of hell. But much of this is presented in still frames and in text, not with animation and audio. Somehow, that lessens the severity of the mature themes.
As you kill demons and level up, your and your Demonica space suit grow stronger. What's really cool here is that you can communicate with the demons and try to convince them to help you out in your journey. If a demon agrees to your request, you then have all the powers of the demon to help you through the strange world. Also included in the package is a bonus CD with the game's orchestral soundtrack. Despite the slow-moving story, if you stick with Strange Journey, you'll be rewarded with some very innovative gameplay in a science fiction offering that's well worth the price of admission.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families should only talk about this game when the over-17 members of the clan are around. Are any of the demons scary or are they just cool to look at?
Do you think there is too much blood when characters die or is it tastefully done?
Do you think the hole in the South Pole is a veiled reference to global warming?
Do you think the game spends too much time or not enough time on tutorials?