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Translated as True Goddess Reincarnation (and also known as simply MegaTen), the twenty-five-year-old Shin Megami Tensei series by Atlus is one of the oldest JRPG franchises around today, and in Japan its popularity and fame is right up there with Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. It remained unreleased in the West until Jack Bros for the Virtual Boy. The first major title released in the US was the first Persona game (and the first major game to come out in a recognizable form being the second half of Persona 2); the series did not achieve real Western popularity until Persona 3, however.

Originally based on a novel series called Digital Devil Story, the games tend to involve the use of computers (or similar cyberpunk elements) to summon and control demons that are plucked from practically every mythology on the planet. Post-apocalyptic ruins, engaging and heartbreaking storylines and far-out monster designs are cornerstones of the series.

The main character is usually unable to use magic. To make up for this, he has the ability to talk to demons and recruit them into his own party. The games usually have only a couple human characters in your party, so amassing a small army of demons who can use magic is essential for progress. These demons either don't earn experience points or earn them at an incredibly slow rate, so to create stronger demons in a practical timeframe you have to fuse two or more of your demon allies together, creating a brand new demon.

A huge part of the series is the emphasis on following your own beliefs: "You are the only one who knows what is right." The games generally involve factions based on the alignments of Law and Chaos battling it out for supremacy, and the game gives you complete freedom in deciding which side is "right". If neither side takes your fancy, you can even kick both their butts and declare yourself as supreme ruler. The Law factions usually include the Christian worldview with a heavy dose of Knight Templar and God Is Evil, while the Chaos side views itself as The Unfettered and Social Darwinist. Neutrality would seem a safe bet, being the "island of stability" where humans thrive, except for one or two teensy flaws we happen to be lugging around.

The games also tend to be Nintendo Hard. Elemental affinities, buffing and debuffing are much more important here than in regular JRPGs: they can make or break battles. Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne introduced the Press Turn battle system to the series, where hitting an enemy's elemental weakness would reward you with more actions while hitting their elemental strengths would cost you actions. In an aversion of Useless Useful Spell, buffing, instant death and ailment attacks are both effective and encouraged. Press Turn would go on to be adopted in various forms in the Shin Megami Tensei games that followed, such as the "One More!" system in Persona 3 and Persona 4.

The Shin Megami Tensei series has multiple spinoffs: the Persona series, the Devil Summoner series and Digital Devil Saga are the best-known in the US. Others include Majin Tensei, Last Bible, and Devil Children/Demi Kids. It also has an MMORPG called Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE. Despite being spinoffs, many include references to other Megaten games or feature character cameos. The games have been released outside Japan under the Shin Megami Tensei label since Nocturne, while in Japan only a handful of the games bear that name; the rest are unofficially known as MegaTen titles.

A very extensive article about the games in the series can be found here. There's also a comprehensive database of all the games in French here.

2 games are in development for the 3DS, a new Persona and Shin Megami Tensei IV. A 3DS remake of Soul Hackers has been announced, if it's the unnamed title or not remains to be seen.

List of games Edit

The massive character sheet is under construction here.

Examples: This section is for universal tropes related to the series as a whole. Please place tropes related to specific games in their own article, if it exists.
  • Academy of Adventure: High school is Hell. Literally.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: A crowning example of how to avert this trope: make every boss (on average) five levels higher than the best Mook in the dungeon, and force the player to gather higher-level Mons. In a normal playthrough, you'll end up in the mid-seventies by the end of the game, mid-ninties for ultimate summons, and max level for Bonus Bosses.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer - The series has a bit of a bad habit with these. Particular offenders include the Great Underpass of Ginza in Nocturne and the Anahata Waterways in Digital Devil Saga.
  • Alice Allusion - Alice, the recurring Cute Ghost Girl who has appeared since Shin Megami Tensei. Has many Shout Outs to Alice in Wonderland but doesn't seem to have any connection.
    • Though the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit known as Clock Rabbit have shown up in the Devil Children games. With Clock Rabbit and Alice even being in Devil Children White Book.
  • All Myths Are True - All mythical creatures from various folklore and religions are real. Up to and including God, represented as YHVH, and Satan. There's often twists on the representations, since they're usually demons, but they're still real.
  • Alternate Continuity - No less than three major continuities currently running:
    • First is the "main" SMT continuity, going SMT 1- Imagine - SMT 2 - Nocturne, and Strange Journey may hook into that (as it's one of the few titles in Japan to have the actual SMT name attached to it, see Market-Based Title below), although it's not yet totally clear if that's true.
    • Then, thanks to the What If in Shin Megami Tensei If, you get the Devil Summoner/Persona branch, which absolutely includes the aforementioned If, all four Devil Summoner games (original DS, Soul Hackers, and both Raidou games), has a 98% chance of including Persona and Persona 2 (If's main character makes a direct appearance in both, working for the detective agency from the Devil Summoner games), and a somewhat muddier chance of including Persona 3 and Persona 4 (and the nearly-inevitable Persona 5 direct sequel). If the latter Personas are not in the Devil Summoner continuity, they form their own universe (arguably the most successful one thus far).
    • Digital Devil Saga stands more or less on its own (although there are some hints that it's in the same universe as the main SMT series). Devil Survivor also seems to be intended as a seed for another offshoot continuity.
    • Then there's a couple of "dead" continuities (that Westerners don't need to worry about for the most part): the original Megami Tensei continuity, which was the novels and the games adapted from them; the Majin Tensei strategy games; the Devil Children/DemiKids continuity of Pokémon-like kid-friendly Mons games; and the Last Bible series of Dragon Quest-esque games, only one of which ever came to America (as they are all of somewhat debatable quality). Most of these sub-franchises haven't seen a title released in over a decade (Devil Survivor, in fact, seems intended as a Spiritual Successor to Majin Tensei, using the lessons learned from the later Persona games); the last Devil Children game, Messiah Riser, was released in 2004 and Atlus dropped the franchise like a hot potato afterward. Very few of these games were really that good (aside from maybe Majin Tensei) and their continuities don't really cross over into the "big" SMT/Persona continuities, so new fans don't need to pay them much mind. (Given how tangled things are already, this is a bit of a mercy.)
      • There's also a few one-shots like Shin Megami Tensei NINE (not actually the ninth game of the franchise) and Giten Megami Tensei.
      • Then there's references to the main SMT games when you go time-hopping in the Raidou Kuzunoha games, except we know that something is different about its history since the Taisho era went at least five years longer than it was supposed to. Rasputin was sent to fix that, but apparently decided not to.
        • There is actually a theory about the continuities. The only reasons the continuities exist is because of said time hopping in the Kuzunoha series; this creates multiple timelines. One is where the events of Shin Megami Tensei 1, 2, & Imagine occur, another is that the events of Shin Megami Tensei 1 did not happen which is the Timeline where If... occurred which leads to the Persona series. And the time split may be in just one universe. Nocturne reveals that the entirety of the series is set in Amala, where there are multiple universes. Majin Tensei and Majin Tensei 2 each have their own universe as the story is not connected. Strange Journey/Devil Survivor are unknown. Digital Devil Saga is clearly in it's own universe. The appearance of Demi-fiend in Digital Devil Saga 1 as the bonus boss clearly reinforces the whole multiple universe theory.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance - Zain in Shin Megami Tensei II, Serph in Digital Devil Saga 2.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: Manhandled to the degree it runs away screaming.
  • Anti-Grinding: The most common example, you start gaining less EXP from the same enemies as your level gets higher, may or may not have existed before Megaten, but it most certainly is the Trope Codifier, and any RPG that uses the same system will inevitably be compared to the series.
    • To be more specific, SMT uses the "diminishing returns" principle found in most Modern JRP Gs.
  • Apocalypse How: My, lessee, we have a Class 1 apocalypse in SMTI and SMTII, a Class 3A in Persona 3's Bad Ending, Class 6 to X-4 (how widespread the annihilation went is left unclear) in the ending of Persona 2, a class X at the beginning of Nocturne, and a Class Z in the True Demon Ending of the same.
  • Archangels Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael: Loyal, devout followers of YHVH. That doesn't stop Gabriel from being the Only Sane Man in the group and being the only one to decide, along with Satan, that YHVH has finally crossed the Moral Event Horizon and needs to be stopped.
  • Armless Biped - The recurring demon Take-Minakata.
  • Ars Goetia - Mined extensively as a source of demons ever since Shin Megami Tensei I at the very least.
  • Artifact Title - The only game that has any involvement of a reincarnated goddess is the first one on Famicon.
  • Artificial Human - Every single main character but Hiroko in Shin Megami Tensei II, everyone in Digital Devil Saga. Aigis in Persona 3 is also said to have some sort of human consciousness, which is necessary to summon a Persona. Naturally this spawns shaking sproutlings about just how that was accomplished, since she was built during the tenure of Mitsuru's grandpa, who is not exactly noted for being a humanitarian . The Devil Summoner games have Rasputin, who's some kind of android or cyborg. Either way, he can summon demons as well as any human.
    • The Innocents in IMAGINE are also entirely artificial. However, exposure to the Obelisks is warping their programming, making them think more like humans.
  • As Long as There Is Evil - Try as you might, as long as at least one person believes in him as a god, YHVH can never be destroyed.
    • Nor can you truly destroy Nyarlathotep, Nyx, Erebus, Izanami, or Shinato; their existence come from weakness in the human heart. Sort of like YHVH, really, except applied to Eldritch Abominations instead.
      • In a minor subversion of the trope, Izanami (and her offshot, Ame-no-Sagiri) say they'll be able to recorporate but concede the philosophical point to the heroes and agree to stop their plans for the time being after getting their asses kicked in royal fashion. And then there's Shinato, who basically decides he's underestimated humanity after you give him a sound thrashing, and changes his mind about punishing the world for its lack of faith. Shin Megami Tensei: you can't destroy evil, but you can apparently punch it into submission!
    • The implication is that the Schwartzwelt is actually Earth's defense mechanism and has appeared before. So did destroying it or changing Earth to a chaotic/lawful state really change anything?
  • Atlus Hard - These games have been known to make players cry.
    • Example: In most RPG's, getting back attacked will only result in losing some HP before returning the favor. Here, you can (at higher difficulties, very likely) get killed off before you can get a turn.
    • The laconic entry for this series, for a long time, redirected to Nintendo Hard. You can't say we didn't warn you.
    • And, as one of their company spokespeople proudly admitted: We get off on your tears!
  • Autobots Rock Out: Most of the soundtracks composed by Shoji Meguro during and after the Play Station 2 era, where pretty much every final boss fight ends up being scored to an electric guitar jamming as hard as it can. The exception would be Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey, where he went for a symphonic approach instead.
  • Belts and Zippers - Izanagi and Izanami in Persona 4. Izanagi has a belt buckle jacket and belts hanging off his helmet, Izanami's first form appears to be restrained almost entirely by belts.
  • Big Bad: YHVH, aka God. A Law-aligned Knight Templar who shows up in most games, or oversees the results of his work. Controls the Angels, and has fun with the world.
  • Bittersweet Ending - A lot of the games have your best friends undergo Evil Makeovers, forcing you to kill them. Actually, most games in the franchise have one of these, to the point where people were genuinely surprised that Persona 4 had a completely happy ending.
  • Bonus Boss - Many of the games have an insanely difficult one, but most notable is The Demi Fiend from Digital Devil Saga for regularly being awarded the crown of not just the most difficult boss in a Megaten game but the most difficult boss i ALL OF RPG HISTORY!
  • Bonus Level of Hell - Sometimes literally, sometimes because of the AI.
  • Boss Banter - As stated in World of Ham below, it seems demons use hamminess to express power levels.
  • Bottomless Bladder - Even the few games where you can use the restroom are not mandatory - you could play the entirety of, say, Persona 3 without ever going once. Poor Minato.
    • Which makes Persona 4's resident Butt Monkey, Yosuke, having to use the bathroom in high-stress situations even funnier.
    • Persona 3 and 4 are notable in deftly working around this trope, as well; while things like eating or bathroom usage are never mandatory per se, the "segments of a typical day" style of gameplay, with visual transitions between parts of the day, leave room for things like eating, waste excretion, etc., and you even go to bed at home (almost) every night. A lot of Social Links and plot segments have scenes over meals and the like, too, giving the world of both games a very realistic feel.
      • Also, while you don't need to go to the bathroom, it does improve the protagonist's condition (though this may or may not be useful).
  • Bragging Rights Reward - The Pierce skill in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, the Amala Ring in Digital Devil Saga, the Magatama Ammo in Digital Devil Saga 2, the ultimate Persona in Persona 4. The Demi-Fiend especially has infamously been called the most difficult JRPG hidden boss ever by many seasoned gamers.
  • Call Back - Quite a few demons in later games were major characters in earlier ones. A major example is Alice, who shows up in the Persona series. Complete with a skill called "Die For Me!"
    • The reason why Cerberus is usually portrayed with one head is not because of graphical limitations (somewhat) but because that's how he was portrayed in the novel.
      • Also might explain why Loki doesn't wear any pants...
  • Cast From Hit Points - Physical attacks cost HP to use, except in Strange Journey.
  • City of Adventure: A staple of the series! Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe, literally, but there's enough magic for everyone!
  • Changing of the Guard: While the demons generally remain the same, the original Shin Megami Tensei series always features a new main cast with each sequel.
    • Similarly, in the Persona series Igor is the only true consistent between numbered iterations; while Philemon appears from time to time he doesn't play a crucial role outside of Persona and Persona 2.
  • Character Alignment - This plays a huge role in the Shin Megami Tensei series. Each monster is classed on the Law-Neutral-Chaos axis and the Light-Neutral-Dark axis. The former is the important one: monsters that are Chaotic will refuse to join you if the main character is Lawful and vice-versa. The alignment of the main character is determined by the type of monsters he summons (e.g. Lawful creatures will move your alignment towards Law), by his responses to philosophical questions asked at key points of the game and by whose dirty work (The Messians or the Gaians) he carries out. The ending of the game is determined by the final alignment of the main character. Interestingly, Neutrality is presented neither as the uncaring or balancing alignment, but rather one that focuses on individual choice and inner strength, as opposed to relying on outside power.
    • Megami Tensei I & II for the Famicom feature alignments along the axis of Good-Neutral-Evil.
    • Shin Megami Tensei I features an alignment system along the axis of both Light-Neutral-Dark and Law-Neutral-Chaos. It is the earliest known videogame to have an alignment system that directly affects the direction of the storyline and which of the Multiple Endings the player is given, through the choices and actions the player makes that alter the player character's alignment. Shin Megami Tensei II uses the same kind of alignment system.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne the previous system of alignment is discarded in favour of three specific philosophies: Shijima (which is closest to Law but without the Knight Templar tendencies), Musabi (Neutral, focusing on individuality and freedom of choice) and Yosuga (Chaos with a heavy dose of the elitism that Law was previously known for).
  • Characterization Marches On - The Social Darwinist Chaos Ending from SMTI is originally seen as a valid enough choice, given the Black and Grey Morality of the series, but as the world in general becomes slightly less crapsack, it gets called out as evil far more explicitly; the supporter of its expy in Nocturne is the only person explicitly called evil and in Devil Survivor, it's virtually an It's a Wonderful Failure montage.
  • Character-Magnetic Team - Many demons may approach you and outright offer to join you with no more than a few questions asked.
  • Character Portrait - More clearly seen in conversations in Persona games.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe - In Persona 2, rumors become reality.
  • Colon Cancer - A number of titles have more than one subtitle, such as the various "Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner X: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. _____" installments.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience - Law is blue and white; Chaos is red and black.
    • Played With in Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey: strike team has red on their uniforms (except the protagonist) and science has blue. Zelenin is science, Jimenez is strike team. Take a wild guess what factions they each support in the end. Oddly enough, the protagonist wears white (but won't necessarily be law) - and no one else does.
      • Extending on that, they also color-code Joint Project vs. Jack's Crew: your buddy's have the standard gold-ish Demonicas, and Jack's Crew get black ones. See above for what black tends to support.
  • Combination Attack - In Digital Devil Saga 2, Persona 2, Persona 3, and Persona 4.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard - And how! Generally shows up in two ways:
    • The Dragon Eye move, which gives all enemies extra turns, and demons you control never have the chance to learn it.
    • And physical skills, which are Cast From HP when you use them, but enemies can use them willy-nilly.
    • It's worth noting that these are not universal; it depends on the game. And, significantly, the computer does not cheat dice rolls, significant because almost every spell has a chance of inflicting a status effect.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Angels vs. Demons is an understatement for the series. Since All Myths Are True, think of the possibilities.
  • Council of Angels - Notable in that, from SMT 2 onward, they practically become the cosmic Butt Monkeys of the franchise; in SMT 2 they're basically abandoned by God and are running Tokyo Millennium in a hilariously inept fashion and orchestrated the creation of the Messiah and crew in the first place, which blew up in their faces when Aleph carved their shit in; then, in Digital Devil Saga 2, they show up as bonus bosses - talking about the events of SMT 2, no less - except that now they've been put into mutated human bodies and hunger for the blood and flesh of man just like any other demon. You'd think they'd give the Big Man the finger after all that.
    • This is, of course, played straight in SMT 1, where they become quite powerful allies if you're on the Law path, and attempt to stop you if you're on any other path; Seraph Michael serves as the game's penultimate, hardest boss in that case. Also played perfectly straight in Devil Survivor, where Remiel who serves Metatron and the Big Man himself are far less assholish than franchise standard and will help you out unless you're on on the blatantly chaotic routes.
  • Crapsack World: Shin Megami Tensei I starts out a mild version of this, and gets a lot worse. Shin Megami Tensei II has this as the default state since it follows the Neutral Path of the first game, though it can either get worse or better. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne goes the route of the first game, but can be reversed, or made even worse. Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey has the potential to become this, but can be averted, although the gameplay setting is basically this. The Persona games are set in Crap Saccharine World setting that can be made a Crapsack World, and in the first half of the second game duology this actually does happen briefly in the ending, though the second half reverses this somewhat (though the fourth game lets you totally avert this in the true ending and actually improve the world setting from the game world default). Devil Survivor can turn into this or be averted, depending on your choices.
  • Creepy Child - Louis Cypher in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, and Pharos in Persona 3.
    • Alice.

 "Won't you please die for me?"

  • Crossover: Dante shows up in Nocturne... and promptly attempts to kick your ass. Later on, though, you can talk him into signing on with you. In the Updated Rerelease of Nocturne, Raidou Kuzunoha appears instead, for all kinds of continuity wackiness.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Sure, you can summon Joan of Arc, Kali, Amaterasu, and Quetzalcoatl to beat the crap out of Lucifer, Loki, a Vampire, and Ra.
    • In Raidou Kuzunoha VS King Abaddon, bring an Asura into battle against a Mahakala. They'll have an interesting discussion about the fact that they're the same god, just from two different eras, then agree to fight it out to determine which is more deserving.
  • Cute Monster Girl - Majority of the female demons (aka the Succubi). Not all of them, though.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A major offender of this trope. To counter the Crapsack World, you have the option to ally with The Dark Side in order to produce a peaceful world. Devil Survivor stands out for one of it's endings running on this trope.
  • Deconstructor Fleet - A very odd case, in that they tear apart every trope related to Mons... while still being the Trope Maker.
  • Degraded Boss - Former bosses may return as Elite Mooks. This may cost them their best moves, but occasionally they also wind up being recruitable.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything - What makes the Bonus Bosses so difficult is this. Each Bonus Boss has some kind of anti-cheese feature built into them so you have to fight them in a "fair" fight. Otherwise, expect them to give unavoidable 9999 damage to you each turn.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? - Played straight in some, subverted in others.
    • Hell, Cthulhu itself is usually a Random Encounter, so you get to punch it out repeatedly!
  • Disc One Nuke - Clever combinations of skills can make this. Very powerful combinations can take it to Game Breaker levels.
  • Dolled-Up Installment - Minor example in the US releases: the Persona / Devil Survivor / Digital Devil Saga / Devil Summoner / etc games, while technically not part of the Shin Megami Tensei series proper, were all released overseas under that title anyway, presumably because the series needs whatever name recognition it can get on this side of the pond.
    • Finally averted with Catherine, which despite having similar themes/characters/gameplay elements/staff/etc (much like the previously dolled-up games) was released outside Japan without the Shin Megami Tensei moniker tacked on, and managed to have the best international sales of an Atlus developed game to date.
  • Doppelganger, a Dark-Chaos Demon that can be fused in Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey. It appears as a shadowy, grinning version of The Protagonist.
    • Doppelganger Spin - Used in both Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne (where you can use the shadow cast by a full moon to suss out the real one and Digital Devil Saga (which you can suss out the real one with the help of your Waif Prophet).
      • In Persona 2, you can do this by attempting to run. The camera will then FOCUS ON THE REAL ONE as she taunts you. Oops...
  • Enemy Within - In Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, the timid Hitomi gets possessed by demonic Dark Action Girl Nemissa, and they immediately go on a shopping spree for black leather. In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army, Kaya is cursed to be possessed by a demon, but actually gets taken over by a future Raidou Kuzunoha from the SMT timeline. Happens somewhat more literally in Persona 3 with the members of Strega; if they don't take inhibitor drugs, they'll lose control of their Personas. What this would entail is demonstrated by Chidori about halfway through the game, wherein her Persona attempts to strangle her during withdrawl.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending - The good endings with no horrific effects on humanity and life itself are always the hardest to get. Assuming there is one.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played straight and averted. Usually, basic elemental types (ie one's that specialize in only one element) usually have a weakness to the opposing element (ice vs. fire, electricity vs. wind, light vs. dark). However, at higher levels, demons usually have a variety of weaknesses and strengths (ex. Black Frost, despite being a Jack Frost, has strengths against both ice AND fire). This results in bosses having a bit of trial-and-error as you have to test out each type to see what works and what doesn't.
    • Some games (Devil Survivor in particular) outright show you how the enemies are affected by every element, usually as if to say "This is my hand, try and beat it." And every game shows you how your own demons' element tables, which are the same for every demon of that type.
  • Element Number Five - Almighty. It's an unavoidable, ultimate element that ignores defensive measures. Final bosses, late-game allies, bonus bosses, and the like all use this. Violating rules with bonus bosses results in the game giving you 9999 damage with this element.
  • End of the World Special - Power and how you choose to use it is one of the big themes of the series.
  • Every Man Has His Price - Mostly. Most demons will very willingly sell themselves with some crafty negotiation. Some races, though, will never see this as an option.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You - Everything. We're not joking here, people.
  • Eviler Than Thou - All three "main" Shin Megami Tensei games have everyone trying to one-up each other.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy - Learn the lesson or suffer. It's perfectly possible to gain immense power at little or no effort. On the other hand, the price makes it an iffy choice at best.
  • Evil Makeover - Word of advice: don't get too attached to anyone.
  • Excited Episode Title: In Persona 3, the Show Within a Show Phoenix Ranger Featherman R sports these kinds of titles, probably to increase the cheesiness factor. It has been around since Persona 2, after all.
  • Expy: The Djinn enemy is a carbon copy of Genie from Aladdin... yet his design came first.
  • Fairy Sexy - Pixie.
    • Titania, Hua Po, and Sylph deserve mention as well.
  • Fate Worse Than Death - These are not happy games. And the suffering is not restricted to the bad guys. Or bad endings.
  • Fan Nickname - The protagonists of Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army, Nocturne, Persona, Persona 3, and Persona 4 are nameless in the game, but fans often use the names given to the characters in various manga and drama CD's based off the games.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink - Mor enotably explored in Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II, with the various factions and alliances everyone pulls in the road to ultimate power, though Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey is also a very good example with the Mothers and the demon lords.
  • Fiction as Cover Up: Many Mega Ten fans take Persona 4's mention of a Raidou Kuzunoha movie as this. It would make it the only indication of any games in the series (beyond the direct sequels and Persona sub-series) to take place in the same (exact) universe.
  • Gag Penis - Used frequently in many of the demons. Witness the Mara, Pendragon and, of all things, Cthulhu.
    • Mishaguji's head.
    • The Incubus, who seems to find every woman and female demon in the game sexy. It's his job, after all.
    • Just look at Ym.
  • Gaiden Game - Titles outside of Shin Megami Tensei I, Shin Megami Tensei II, Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey (which is a lot). The Japanese super title for the Persona games (and Devil Survivor) "Megami Ibunroku" even means "Alternate Tale of the Goddess".
  • Gateless Ghetto -
  • Global Currency - Macca in most of them, usually games not set in modern day Japan.
  • God - Shows up in Megami Tensei II as the True Final Boss, Shin Megami Tensei II as the final boss, and (arguably) again in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne as the final boss. See directly below.
  • God Is Evil - Though the creators have said that he's not the "ultimate source of evil", having him as the final boss in more than one game tends to raise a few eyebrows.
    • Indeed, many of the game seem to indicate that Lucifer / Chaos is the best choice to make, since almost always YHWH and the angels have the policy of Kill'Em All and start over whenever things look like they're getting out of hand. Even when you kill God, he usually gives a speech along the lines of "As long as humanity is too weak to look for their own answers, their weakness will create a belief in me that brings me back to life again and again and again! MWAHAHAAH!"
      • At least in the games for SNES (in which the Law-Neutral-Chaos system possibly plays the most prominent role) Chaos is not shown as the best choice. For example, in the original Shin Megami Tensei many traditionally heroic choices (choosing to give money to the beggar, choosing to spare the life of local dictator after defeating him and his demon in battle, choosing to save the female protagonist in the dream despite the apparent risks posed by armed guards) tend to be considered Lawful decisions. Also, one of the downsides of pure Chaos is the possibility of sufficiently strong and ruthless individual/party becoming an oppressor (as shown in the case of Ozawa in the world After the End). Ironically, the whole "might makes right" issue may be one of the main reasons behind YHVH's position in the continuity of Shin Megami Tensei I-II and Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE. Also, the depiction of Lucifer in Nocturne/Lucifer's Call may be too ambiguous to be considered either the best or the worst possible choice. It may be that the only game in the series where Lucifer is shown clearly in the positive light is the second game in the series, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II [6] for Famicom/NES.
      • Another way to put it, God is the guy who wants to create a world where only those who worship him can live, but Lucifer is the guy who wants to create a world where you are free to kill anyone who you wish. The only security would be being able to kill people yourself. Lucifer is also the guy all the demons you randomly encounter killing people report to, so there's a bit of Fridge Logic in the Chaos path.
    • It's also worth noting that ever since the franchise started picking up lots of steam in America (to the point that Persona games sell nearly as well in the States as they do in Japan), this has been dialed back significantly with every successive game since Nocturne, to the point that in the recent Devil Survivor, God and his top angels are actually decidedly in the protagonist's camp (unless he decides to become a demon lord himself or just tries to run away from his responsibilities). The rest of the angels are still massive asshats, but Remiel and Metatron (and by extension, their boss) are far more supportive of the player and genuinely want what's best for humanity. This is all presumably to better match up with the Western view of God not being a ceaseless jerk.
      • Not quite. While God is a much better person in Devil Survivor, Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey discreetly returned to this with the Demiurge sidequest. Not naming him God or YHVH made this fly over many's heads, but compare the Gnostic conception of the Demiurge with YHVH's behavior... without mentioning the fact the Updated Rerelease of Devil Survivor cast Him into a much more ambiguous light by revealing he set the pieces to the Cain and Abel scenario with the express purpose of creating the world's first martyr... and the first murderer.
    • More recent games have also begun to imply that the fact YHVH is such a dick is a symptom of something going terribly wrong with the universe, not a cause.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The demons, angels, monsters, and spirits only exist in many of the games because people remember and believe in them. Oddly, if the supernatural creatures believe hard enough, they create fake duplicates of other supernatural entities.
    • This has some interesting bearing in the game. In general, the more people in Real Life that believe in a particular god/demon/angel/etc., the stronger they are in game. God, Lucifer, and the Arch Angels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are obvious examples, but Shiva and Vishnu, both primary gods in Hindu (which remains one of the oldest active religions in the world) are also among the strongest. Exceptions do exist though, like Metatron (less than one quarter of one percent of the world's population are Jewish) being among the strongest.
    • The Persona games use this to explain why various incarnations of death and madness are ready to end the world... they're doing it because humanity (or sometimes a few select individual** The Persona games use this to explain why various incarnations of death and madness are ready to end the world... they're doing it because humanity (or sometimes a few select individuals) secretly wants them to. If not for that, those Eldritch Abominations would be completely harmless.
    • Sometimes, even demons' beliefs can produce greater entities to manifest. This is more clearly seen in Shin Megami Tensei II, with the False YHVH fought after the death of the Archangels.
  • Good Is Boring - Often played relatively straight in the earlier games - things got interesting if you went hard for one side or another. Later games played with the idea somewhat, though.
  • Guide Dang It - If you want to get certain skills on certain demons, you WILL need to consult several fusion charts and skill charts (doing it the old fashioned way of chart-making is practically a Self-Imposed Challenge).
  • Half-Human Hybrid - Possible with compatible Merging Machine protocols. Still, very much not recommended.
  • Harder Than Hard - Maniacs mode in the modern games. It's the subtitle of the Updated Rerelease of Nocturne.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here - Most of the protagonists in the series are nameless until you name them.
  • Hell on Earth - Nocturne and Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey.
  • Heroic Mime - The main protagonists are almost always one of these. Which made Persona 2 quite entertaining considering that the protagonists of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment only have dialogue in the game they're not starring in.
    • Some games work skillfully around this. In Digital Devil Saga, Serph is a Heroic Mime because he's based on the understanding Sera had on the real Serph. That is to say, she knew nothing about the real Serph. In Persona 3 and 4, the protagonists' arcanas are The Fool. One aspect of The Fool is chaos and creativity; in short, this means they are free to choose any personality they want.
  • Hobbes Was Right: The neutral path essentially states this in the ending.
  • Holy Hand Grenade - "Hama" type spells; typically One-Hit Kill type spells.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse - In Raidou Kuzunoha VS King Abaddon, you help unseal them, then beat them, then can summon them yourself. In Nocturne, they're optional bosses and later, special fusions. It's justified fairly well in the case of Nocturne - after all, you are in the midst of the actual Apocalypse. They are also optional in Strange Journey after you get the Enemy Search
  • Hot Skitty-On-Wailord Action - Though it's technically fusion.
    • In a much more horrifying way, too: In the main series of games alone, you're essentially murdering the selected demons, mixing the remains together, and making a new demon out of it (sometimes that fails, and you just get a Slime). It's not the only way it's been done (Persona 3 and 4 just mix the Tarot cards together), but it is the most common. And this is almost necessary to progress in any of the games. Have fun fusing, now!
      • This must be an SMT thing - in the original Persona, you talk demons into handing over portions of their energy ("Spell Cards") and make Personae out of that. The demons never mind (they usually tell you "Make a strong Persona out of me!" or the like), and if contacted while you still own their Spell Card, they'll leave the fight (and sometimes give you stuff).
      • Quite a few demons are quite eager to try it and (if the Chaos Hero of SMT1 is anything to go by) keep at least some fraction of their existence.
      • A lot more explicit in Imagine when they show you the demons fall over... but it's rather odd when using a Mitama (see below).
      • Kind of odd to think about when fusing a monster with a Mitama, which just increases stats.
      • The sacrificial fusions in Nocturne would look redundant if you think about it.
  • Hurricane of Puns - Mara. Good god, Mara.[7]
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place - But you will wind up going there anyway. Even if it's the stuff of your darkest nightmares.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun - Ja-aku Frost (Woolseyed but Lost in Translation as Black Frost), the Super-Powered Evil Side of resident Mascot Mook Jack Frost. "Ja-aku" (邪悪) means "evil" and also a transliteration of Jack.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals - Though some games at least have the decency to at least put some color variations.
  • Infallible Babble - Becomes an actual plot point in Persona 2, where spreading rumors actually causes those rumors to become reality.
  • Infinity+1 Sword - If it exists, it usually comes in the form of an item that nulls any and all attacks except for Almighty. The bonus bosses instantly kill you if you use it or use only Almighty. Everything else other than the bonus bosses? Can't do jack crap to you.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover - Quite a few games have overtly featured characters from a different continuity in a major role.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here - In almost every single game.
  • Jesus Taboo - For it's use of nearly every mythological character, the closest the series gets to Jesus is in Persona 3 as a representation of the Messianic Archetype as a whole. Admittedly YHVH and his dragon lean closer to the view Judaism has on the two (except for the "evil" bit), though they employ catholic arch-angels.
    • Aleph from Shin Megami Tensei II was made to be the Expy of Jesus, and they even made sure he had a virgin mother.
    • Lyrics in Nocturne's boss theme mention a sacrificing the son of God
  • Karma Meter - "Your mother has been possessed by a demon and pleads with you to end her suffering. Do you kill her?"
  • Knight Templar - Pretty much everyone aligned with Law, Remiel and Amane from Devil Survivor being the exception.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo - Jack Frost in other series. In SMT 2, "Mr. Thriller" aka Michael Jackson can be met dancing in a disco and talking about how much he loves toys and children. You can also fight and recruit Captain Ersatz versions of Beetlejuice (Betelgeuse) and Christine (Chris The Car).
    • In the first 2 Shin Megami Tensei games, you're given the Demon Summoning Program by a wheelchair-bound man with glasses and gray hair. He calls himself "Steven". Any resemblance to a famous scientist is surely coincidental.
  • Lighter and Softer - The Devil Children spinoff franchise. Most demons, gods, and spirits are redesigned to be more Kawaii and marketable to kids. For instance, Scylla is, instead of a sea monster with the heads of dogs attatched, a cute little girl walking a bunch of puppies.
    • It does not make them any easier.
  • Limited Move Arsenal - Of the second type, with the exception of Digital Devil Saga and humans in Devil Survivor, which use the first.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Magic attacks are generally much more useful than Physical attacks in the newer SMT games, due to the Press Turn system, which awards extra turns to the attacker if the attack exploits an elemental weakness. Few enemies are weak to Physical damage.
    • This is balanced out by the fact that physical attacks tend to do more base damage (or hit multiple times, depending on the attack), cost HP rather than MP meaning that you can use them and still have plenty left over for healing and buffing, and critical hits work on people even with a resistance to physical. Deadly Fury and Divine Shot from Nocturne, Vorpal Blade and Pralaya from Persona 3, and God's Hand and Pralaya from Persona 4 are quite nasty examples of what physical attacks can do.
    • Of note, too: the extra Press Turns are still awarded when Critical Hits are dealt, and there are several games, most notably Nocturne, in which it is wizards who draw the short stick, as the damage they deal is lessened with the levels they gain due to the damage formula involved. Conversely, physical attacks such as Freikugel, Deadly Fury and Hades Blast, are all powered up with the extra levels, and the True Final Boss of Nocturne can only be reliably damaged with potent physical attacks.
    • In other games, magic is extremely useful at lower levels to hit weaknesses. However, when the enemies start getting tougher and less likely to have exploitable weaknesses, it's passive abilities that can break through their defenses and leave them vulnerable to very vicious counterattacks. As always, though, remember - Atlus has a well-deserved reputation for The Dev Team Thinks of Everything...
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Just check the Characters page.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Nocturne believes so. Both resident loners wind up as poster kids for Body Horror. A natural offshoot of Persona's The Power of Friendship beliefs.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: The residents of Arcadia think they live in a cozy paradise, but they're all hooked up to machines.
    • Arcadia was a prototype for the Thousand Year Kingdom, if YHVH had his way, all the humans worshiping him would share the same fate as those in Arcadia. It is even worse on the Law route as the Megiddo Arc kills off all life on earth, even those in Arcadia.
  • Louis Cypher - Shows up in all three "main" Shin Megami Tensei games, and Raidou Kuzunoha VS King Abaddon.
  • Mad Scientist - STEVEN, Dr. Mekata and Dr. Victor all qualify.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory - Every single incarnation of the Gouma-Den.
  • Magic From Technology - Devil Summoners throughout the franchise usually carry around a device --arm-mounted COMPs in the original games, GUMPs in the Devil Summoner subseries, Nintendo DS-shaped COMPs in Devil Survivor, the Demonica in Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey-- that runs the Demon Summoning Program and allows the user to summon and control his or her Mons. And in Devil Survivor, it outright gives the user access to magic spells of his/her own.
  • Market-Based Title - In the West, from Nocturne onwards the games have been branded under the Shin Megami Tensei label. In Japan, though every game is considered a MegaTen title they aren't marketed as such.
  • Mascot Mook - Jack Frost. He's even the official mascot of Atlus itself, making this a literal example of the trope.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms - The hardiest and most powerful Angels. Being obsessive creatures of Law, this makes it a case of Fridge Brilliance.
  • Merged Reality - Persona 2: Innocent Sin (though it doesn't exactly work, setting up the sequel).
  • Merging Machine - Jakyou Manors/The Velvet Room
  • Metal Slime - The Omoikane in Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2. The Golden Shadows in Personas 3 and 4.
  • Mons - Trope Maker. A Darker and Edgier occult take on Mons. Devil Survivor in particular. The series predates the Trope Codifier Pokemon by ten years.
  • Monster Lord - The Maoh, or Tyrant, demon race.
  • Multiple Endings - Many of the games change the ending based on factors such as your alignment or other choices you made in the plot. Ironically, the happier ones are harder to get.
  • The Multiverse - Nocturne mentions in the bonus dungeon that the current game's world is just one out of billions of possibilities due to the world constantly being destroyed and remade. These other worlds may be the various sub series.
    • There are other hints at this as well, such as the seraphs showing up in Digital Devil Saga 2... and explicitly talking about the events of SMT 2 (granted, this went over the heads of many new fans of the franchise) or Raidou Kuzunoha being referenced directly in Persona 4 (It's a product of the translation though). Never mind Hiriji in general in Nocturne - they never come out and say it directly but there's a lot of implication that he's SMT 2's deicide-riffic hero.
      • Naturally, this all leads to lots of Epileptic Trees about just how the multiverse fits together and what could be coming next. The Persona universe, for example, is rather overdue for seraphs and Messian/Law asshats at this point, since they've already conquered Chaos and the two negative sides of Neutrality in Nihil-As-Death and Nihil-As-Ignorance.
    • Then, of course, there's the chance that all this craziness may be occurring in the same universe as Devil May Cry, courtesy of Nocturne. With Dante's replacement by Raidou in the newest re-release of Nocturne, though, the canonicity of Dante's appearance is somewhat questionable.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules - No matter which game it is; if an enemy uses physical attacks which normally would cost it HP, he won't have to pay the price.
  • Nakama - "We're comrades"
    • This trope becomes a major plot point and gameplay element for the third and fourth Persona games. Making friends gives you actual power.
  • New Game+ - Most of the recent games include extra content only available on a second run.
  • No Export for You - Several of the games have this issue. Considering the massive issues some of these deal with, it's fair to say it is quite justified.
  • Non-Elemental - Almighty. One of the reasons why it's impossible to defend oneself against any attacks of this attribute.
  • Numbered Sequels - With the Devil Summoner franchise being the only exception.
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo - Though usually they explain what it's all about.
  • Olympus Mons - Several extremely powerful demons are able to be recruited or fused throughout the series, including top members of the Norse, Egyptian, Japanese pantheons and Outer Gods. And then there's the case of recruiting the Olympians themselves.
  • Once an Episode - Uptil the fourth game, once per Persona series game, there would be a massive in-story retcon that made it so that the amount of people who actually remembered/knew about the events of the game are minimal, if not completely gone.
  • One Game for the Price of Two - The Devil Children (Demi Kids for the two that came to the US) games. Also, Digital Devil Saga comes in two parts. Same with Persona 2.
    • Persona 2 initially averted this (somewhat) in the U.S. in that the only one that originally came westside was the second one, Eternal Punishment.
      • While Innocent Sin has now been released in the U.S. via the PSP port, Atlus still has yet to announce Eternal Punishment's PSP port for U.S. release. So the trope is both straight and averted, since you need two systems that are of different generations to play both games. And that's only if you can find Eternal Punishment.
  • One Hit KO - Light and Darkness spells. They come in two orders each, one more likely to connect than the other. It is possible to find variations of them all which are capable of hitting all enemy targets, setting up for a Total Party Kill on either side.
  • One Steve Limit - You cannot have more than one of any given demon in your team. In Devil Survivor this only applies to certain demons, genereally unique individuals over species e.g. Thor and Odin.
  • Order Versus Chaos - A recurring theme. Law tends to be well-meaning but very Knight Templar about the whole thing. Chaos strongly emphasises freedom but in the form of a brutal Might Makes Right anarchy. Neutrality focuses on self-empowerment and the potential of humanity, as opposed to reliance on a greater force for guidance.
  • Orochi - Usually a major boss in some of the games and is possible to fuse after beating him.
    • Though they refer to him by the full mythological version of his name "Yamata-No-Orochi".
  • Original Generation - There are a handful of demons not directly taken from mythology. The most prominent examples are the Jack Frost variants, Black Frost, Raiho, Frost Ace and Demonee-Ho. Other examples include Alice, Hell Biker (based on the Hells Angels) and the titular Soulless Army of Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army (which reappear in the sequel).
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Where can we even start with this one?
    • Mara wins this, hands down.
  • Panthera Awesome: Ose.
    • And Flauros.
  • Pinball Spinoff: Oddly enough, a cell phone game only released in Japan.
  • Planet Eris: Certain games almost manage to avoid this. Others dive in and never look back.
  • Point of No Return - Annoyingly done in the first few games; more modern games tend to be more forgiving.
    • While annoying, it's done with style twice in SMT 1: the first time is when "Ambassador Thorman" nukes the hell out of Tokyo and your hero is sent to a corner of the Abyss to survive until he can return; the second time is when the Mesians flood the ruins of Tokyo to wash away all sin and coincidentally trap you in the massive final dungeon. Sadly, none of the other games that feature a Point of No Return managed to pull it off with quite the same panache.
    • Done in Devil Survivor on the Last Day and Majin Tensei II in each Time Period/Dimension
  • Powers as Programs - Fused demons or Personae may inherit skills the "parent" demons had. Learning to exploit this can lead to Disc One Nukes and Game Breakers. This is also a vital part in fusing for its ability to impart priceless immunities and strengths to new demons.
  • Practical Taunt - Most of the games have a "Taunt" spell, which increases enemy attack power while lowering their defense.
  • Psychotic Smirk - Tatsuya Sudou, a.k.a. King Leo in Persona 2: Innocent Sin and JOKER in the sequel Eternal Punishment.
  • Rage Against the Heavens - Frequent. Lucifer is usually the one that spearheads this movement. In Nocturne the Demi-fiend is now the one that leads it, if the True Demon ending is canon.
  • Rainbow Speak: Chronologically, Persona 2 was the first Persona game to use Rainbow Speak, only using it for rumors. Persona 3 has a variation: Words that show up as terms in the game's Dictionary are in blue, while otherwise-important words or phrases are red. P4 uses it sparingly, and it's been introduced to the PSP remake of the first Persona too, even though it was unnecessary.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: There is absolutely no explanation why Steven from SMT I is alive in the sequel, which is set a hundred years later, so this is the only probable explanation, given he reveals he's just an ordinary mortal who created the Demon Summoning program.
  • Recurring Element: Jack Frost and his relatives.
  • Refuge in Audacity - With Mara being one of the more blatant examples.
    • Much more than that too; despite the fact the series features actual demons and monsters (up to an including Lucifer and Satan), the series has gotten relatively less controversy and outrage with Everyone Is Satan in Hell (compared to, say, Pokémon).
  • Refusing Paradise - It is possible to reject Law's paradise en lieu of working towards creating one.
  • Rule of Symbolism
  • Satan - Shows up in Shin Megami Tensei II and Digital Devil Saga 2, and as the most powerful Judgement-class Persona in the Persona series. There are often several different forms of the same character represented as well, either as a single shifting boss or as multiple demons.
    • Satan plays his Jewish role as God's Dragon. Lucifer is a separate entity, and he's the one who opposes God.
  • Satan Is Good - Second game, if you pick the Law path.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black
  • Secret AI Moves - Many. Part of The Dev Team Thinks of Everything.
  • Sequel First - Jack Bros. an obscure Virtual Boy Gauntlet clone spin off, was the first game in the series to be come to the US.
  • Sex Sells - Aeria recently started advertising the MMORPG with this using demons. To be fair, a few of the demons are attractive but others...
  • Shout-Out - The games often make sly references to other parts of the meta-series. There are a couple of summonable monsters that are directly taken other works as well, namely Audrey, Betelgeuse, Chris the Car, and the Old One, Chthulu, and Nyarlathotep. As well as some more obscure ones, like a reference to "Thomas the Tank" as a hero in the second game.
    • YHVH looks like the bastard child of Mr. Clean and the Wizard's false form from The Wizard of Oz. More the latter than the former though.
  • Shown Their Work - The Demonic Compendium for every single game in the series, including spinoffs, contains an accurate overview of each demon's background and origin, and the sources pulled from are diverse to say the least. If you don't have a degree in mythological studies, playing through a bunch of the games and reading the entire Compendium for each would give you one hell of a head start.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - Mostly set on the further ends of Cynical. God is usually an evil bastard, everyone sane is trying to use you to further their personal goals (which you will inevitably fall for, whether you like it or not) and everything else is trying to kill you. The more idealistic settings (like Persona games) are usually A World Half Full, however. The series has gradually gotten more and more idealistic as time has gone by; in newer games, you really can Earn Your Happy Ending if you don't lose hope.
  • Spiritual Successor: There's a Konami-made smartphone game in Japan called "Dragon Collection" that's immensely popular. Its stable of monster cards is, shall we say suspiciously similar to the Shin Megami Tensei cast, and the old Devil Children spinoffs in particular.
  • Soaperizing - Persona 3 and its sequel Persona 4, while still RPG's, add Dating Sim elements. This games are INSANELY popular, and Persona 3 was the mainstream english market introduction to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - Averted as far as genre goes. Whereas most RPG's use orchestral and symphonic music for their soundtracks, Mega Ten uses rock and more modern sounds for its. Turns out to work pretty well considering Mega Ten is usually in a modern setting or, at it's worst, Cyberpunk.
  • Standard Status Effects - Almost all standard effects are present, as normal spells or physical attacks capable of additionally inflicting these. Chains of these are possible, leading to easy Game Breakers.
  • Stripperiffic - Many female demons are outright Ms. Fanservice.
  • Summon Magic - The Personas in the Persona series, Naomi's spells in Soul Hackers.
  • Summoning Ritual - Shown occasionally. Mekata's ruined ritual in Shin Megami Tensei II and Mara's summoning in Nocturne are some examples.
  • Talking the Monster to Death - The standard method of recruitment in MegaTen games, though bribery, flattery and sometimes even dancing can play a part.
  • Tarot Motifs - The Persona series, where every Persona is linked to one of the Major Arcana, which dictates how well each character can use its abilities.
    • In Persona and Persona 2, there are even a handful associated with the minor arcana.
  • Theme Naming - For the lack of a better term. The series uses a basic form of suffixes and prefixes. Learning to use them correctly is critical.
    • The main attack spells in the series are a slew of elements, commonly Ice (Bufu), Fire (Agi), Electricity (Zio) and Wind (Garu). There's also Force (Zan), Psychological (Psy), Nuclear (Frei), Earth (Magna/Tera), Gravity (Gry) and Water (Aqua). These basic elements have three tiers, basic (no suffix), medium (a variety of suffixes), and powerful (-dyne). Most of these can also have the Ma- prefix, which denotes that it hits the entire enemy party. Depending on the game's mechanics and the enemies at hand, this may or may not be desirable.
    • The basic One-Hit Kill spells, Hama (Light) and Mudo (Darkness) can also have the Ma- prefix, with or without the -on suffix, which denotes a better chance of hitting the enemy.
    • The basic healing spell, Dia, comes with two possible suffixes: -rama, more heal, and -rahan, full heal. The Ma- prefix comes back as Me-.
    • The basic buff and debuff spells are only suffixes and prefixes: Taru- is physical attacks, Maka- is magical attacks, Raku- is defense, Sama- is magical defense, Suku- is speed, and De- removes stat changes. Buff -kaja, -nda is debuff. Depending on the mechanics of the game, they may or may not affect the entire party. If the latter is true, however, they also make use of the Ma- prefix.
    • The basic Almighty attack is Megido, and it comes with two suffixes: -la (run for your life) and -laon (prepare for complete obliteration).
    • Beyond this, there are a number of special attacks with other names. Still, those are the basics.
  • There Are No Therapists - One of the main reasons of why The Power of Friendship is so necessary.
  • There Can Be Only One - The others are still not gonna let you steal "their" thunder, though.
  • The End of the World as We Know It - If the world hasn't already ended before the game started, then it's about to. Nocturne starts off with everyone being destroyed. There are only five humans left alive (not including yourself!) after the first 30 minutes of the game.
  • The Fair Folk - Many demons have their designs based on these, as well as their personalities. Shin Megami Tensei games like to remind you every so often that you are definitely not dealing with human beings.
  • The Magic Comes Back - Every game of the main series has this in some capacity. Explained in Shin Megami Tensei I by Mother Echidna as a result of the demons returning from the banishment imposed by YHVH. They're not leaving again without a fight.
  • The Power of Friendship - Especially prevalent in the later Persona games.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech To YHVH in 2 and Mastema in Strange Journey
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon - The best example of this: the final dungeon of Digital Devil Saga 2 takes place in The Sun.
  • Timed Mission - Two of the three Towers in Persona 's Snow Queen Quest.
  • Trauma Inn - Present in most games. But incredibly likely to make you bleed Macca (or Yen, depending on the game) at an accelerated pace, in any form.
  • Turns Red - Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga have this in the form of a move (Dragon Eye) that gives the enemy four additional half-actions. For the most part, only bosses have it, and you can't learn it.
    • Not without cheating back anyways, Digital Devil Saga 1 has a cheat that allows you select any skill written in the code (whether it's in the game or not). Wanna bitchslap Hito-Shura? Break out Hunger Wave and pound away.
  • The Unfettered - The Gaians, and Lucifer by extension.
  • Useless Useful Spell - Completely and utterly averted. Debuff/buff abilities can determine whether you win or lose a fight and the instant death spells are actually damn useful.
    • In fact, if your enemy happens to be weak to death/expel, the various death spells are pretty much a guaranteed kill (and are in fact the easiest way to kill certain otherwise-nigh-invincible mooks). Otherwise you still get a 1-in-3 hit rate that you can boost.
    • And debuff success rates are affected by Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors (where applicable), which is useful at early levels.
    • And Standard Status Effects are a perfectly valid and abusable tactic, being capable of turning a wave of Demonic Spiders into a guaranteed Epic Fail.
  • Unicorn: Appears as a recruitable demon/Persona.
  • Ur Example: First series with recruitable monsters.
  • Verbal Tic - A number of demons exhibit distinct speech characteristics: some are intelligent and eloquent, others are thuggish and direct, some SPEAK IN ALL CAPS and some in ToRGo sPEeCh. And then there's the ver-hee recognizable speech pattern of Jack Frost and his fell-ho Jacks and Frosts, hee-ho!
  • Visual Pun - Many of the demons and monsters in this series have designs in this manner.
    • The most infamous one is Mara.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: In the early SMT games, later to be revived as a story device in the Persona series.
  • We Cannot Go on Without You - A frustratingly high number of these games will give you a game over if your main character gets knocked out, regardless of whether this should make sense in all of them or not. Mudo and Hama spells are particularly devastating in that respect as some of the games give the player almost no recourse against them early on.
  • Wind Is Green
  • What If - Literally embodied a game called Shin Megami Tensei If. Beyond that, the Devil Summoner series is also based around a What If - one which ties into the aforementioned game, which represents the branching point that leads to either the Devil Summoner/Persona continuity or main-series Shin Megami Tensei. If presents a what-if question... and Devil Summoner is the answer to it. On top of all this, the Raidou Kuzunoha prequel games in the Devil Summoner line provide a historical What If scenario, hinging, at least in part, on the Taisho period lasting longer than it did in our world.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love? - Digital Devil Saga
  • World of Badass - Three options here. You start as a Badass. You become a Badass. You die. Choose.
  • World of Ham - Every demon tries to out-ham each other. One could almost say power levels in this universe directly correlate to the demon's hamminess.
  • World of Silence - Traditional goal of Law. In Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne Hikawa (who caused the world to get so screwed up and become the Vortex World in the first place according to Lucifer) and his Reason of Shijima takes this role. In Persona 4 this is the kind of world Izanami thinks the apathetic humans want.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Many a gamer have been humbled after moments of hubris. Common ways of dying: getting back attacked and having your weaknesses exploited endlessly, getting hit by a Hama or Mudo spell, and using the wrong skill at a crucial moment because you weren't paying enough attention.
    • Even better, being able to always counter with a physical attack for ludicrous damage, and being glanced by a lowly demon that repels physical attacks. Oh crap indeed. with a physical attack for ludicrous damage, and being glanced by a lowly demon that repels physical attacks. Oh crap indeed.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb (The entire point of Devil Children: Book of Light and Book of Dark for the GBA)
  • Youkai: Some of the demons in the series come from here.

Good night. Take care not to let any demons possess your body while you sleep...

Notes

  1. "Old Testament"
  2. originally Megami Ibunroku: Persona: Be Your True Mind
  3. was Japan-only, thanks to Hitl--I mean, the Christmas sales season, until its PSP re-release in 2011.
  4. originally Megami Ibunroku: Devil Survivor
  5. Not exactly an RPG, but does borrow quite a few of the RPG Elements, Order Versus Chaos themes, Urban Fantasy settings, characters, creative team and so on from the main SMT series and the other SpinOffs.
  6. (while in the direct romanization of the Japanese title "Story" would be replaced with "Monogatari", it seems that "Story" is the official choice of word when writing the title in the Latin/Roman alphabet)
  7. mara is a slang term for "penis" in Japanese. Mara is a demon from Buddhism that used various temptations on the Buddha to prevent him from achieving enlightenment. Since sex is a common temptation... yeah... or the part where Mara has PIERCE. And is fire attribute.

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