Commence Soul Hacker program in Europe

  • JinTypeNoir 26 Apr 2013 11:20:27 4,392 posts
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    So with the news that Soul Hackers is coming to Europe, I think we need a topic talk about it and celebrate.

    Why makes this news to celebrate?

    Soul Hackers is one of many RPGs that almost got translated back in the day, but for one reason or another, never did. If you were to ask me to rank my favorite MegaTen games in order, it would be like this:

    1. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne
    2. Soul Hackers
    3. Shin Megami Tensei II
    4. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
    5. Persona 4

    And I'm not the only one. It is very highly regarded as a classic and a masterpiece.

    Why is it regarded as a masterpiece?

    The storyline is sensational. Better yet, it is even better today than it was back then, because it is the very definition of a game that was ahead of its time. It concerns a company that has designated a city in Japan as a testing spot for a virtual playground to be accessed by a new form of internet technology and the hackers that find out there's something strange about the virtual city. If you're rolling your eyes and you think you can predict what happens next, you will be delighted to be proven wrong again and again by a storyline that goes through more weird shit than you can imagine.

    The way the story plays out can also differ quit a bit from play to play, like most MegaTen games. And in my opinion they've never managed to achieve the same level of perfect symbiosis between storyline and gameplay again in the series (at least not thus far). The battle system is challenging and typical of MegaTen; it has many quirks and depths that revolve around the ability of the hackers to modify reality with their computers.

    Because you are hackers, in a cool reversal of 4th wall breaking, you can hack the game the way you want. This lets you, to an extent, set what kind of game you want to play in terms of letting you design how the game works for your preferences for RPGs in terms of exploration, battle, leveling up and so on.

    With a setting and characters that are unusual even for MegaTen, the overall game still, to this day, is one strange, but delicious food for thought. Virtual cities, cyber crime, American Indian-inspired tribal hallucinations, possession by digital AI, conspiracy, ghost stories and hacking all combine to create a truly fascinating game.

    Yeah, but it's 14 years old!

    And that's why Atlus gave it quite a face lift, with full voice acting, new stuff and many modern conveniences when they ported it to the 3DS. It won't feel much like a game of 14 years ago, because the original was so ahead of its time and whatever was still stuck in that time period has been excised and improved upon in the 3DS port/remake.

    I think I should check it out!

    Good idea! Any other questions?

    Edited by JinTypeNoir at 11:29:50 26-04-2013
  • mal 26 Apr 2013 12:59:04 29,326 posts
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    Interesting. I think P4 is still sitting in my PS2. I should give it another go, but I didn't gel with the combat system first time round (and by the time I got it I'd already got a 360, which kind of distracted me).

    So, this is out already in JP and US territories. Any first hand reports on the rework?
  • santashi 26 Apr 2013 13:20:59 5,167 posts
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    Still waiting for my copy to turn up! :o

    Also, nice to see you rate Strange Journey so highly-it is one of my favourites as well. Cracking game.
  • redcrayon 26 Apr 2013 13:23:06 4,649 posts
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    The only SMT game I've played is Strange Journey, and I really enjoyed that. Does

    A) Soul hackers or
    B) SMTIV

    Share similar gameplay elements, monsters etc?

    I thought Strange Journey had more in common with Etrian Odyssey, or is it just that they share the same game engine for exploration?
  • JinTypeNoir 26 Apr 2013 14:01:25 4,392 posts
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    I've of course played both the original version and the remake, and I liked them both quite a lot. There are no real bad things introduced that make the game worse. There's only improvements. Some people don't like that the main character is shown in the intro now because its apparently against their wishes for playing in the guise of anybody they want to be, but other than the intro the game treats the main character the same as the original. Some people also didn't like that the new demon pet you can breed called Nemechi is hard to evolve because of coins and streetpasses, but its 100% optional and not a big optional thing at that, so I'm afraid I can't agree with their whining. The 3D is subtle and not used to terribly good effect; its more of a small bonus.

    The graphics have gotten something of a facelift in certain areas though. I really enjoyed the bonus dungeons they put in the remake (Soul Hackers has a lot of side stuff and a great deal of your choices reflect on the game, so it already had a lot of content, but the nice about Soul Hackers is that bare game is probably 20-25 hours or so, but all the optional stuff bumps it up to around 60 or above, I bought it used and the guy's save file had it at 110 hours) and the voice acting they added throughout really brings up the game another notch for me.

    Just the same engine for Strange Journey, otherwise it is not all that similar to Etrian Odyssey.

    Strange Journey and Soul Hackers have a lot of things in common. Just like Strange Journey, you gain improvements that you can put inside something to change the mechanics or give you new abilities. In Strange Journey, it's the Demonica Suit, in Soul Hackers its a COMP to hack things with. Both games have explorations into virtual worlds that differ from the real world. Both games have multiple endings and law, neutral, chaos alignments that affect various things. Both games have demon negotiation as a central tenet of gameplay. They can be roughly the same in difficulty (Soul Hackers is more modifiable). Both have something you might call a hub where you access dungeons and talk to NPCs in, though Soul Hackers is more involved than Strange Journey. Both have lots of side content, though Soul Hackers' side quests and distractions are more unique than Strange Journey's and can potentially take a much longer time to complete.

    Soul Hackers is both stranger and more light hearted, though not significantly so (not to the extent of Persona), than Strange Journey. Also, Soul Hackers is somewhat less linear than Strange Journey and has a very different emphasis in its dungeon design. Whereas Strange Journey's dungeons are meant to be punishing and give you all sorts of trouble, Soul Hackers often uses the design to further the plot and atmosphere instead. (This is not to say that Soul Hackers has simple dungeons, but they are generally easier to figure out than other MegaTen games.)

    Shin Megami Tensei IV isn't out until May 23rd in Japan, so I can't tell you how much they have in common yet.

    Edited by JinTypeNoir at 14:04:04 26-04-2013
  • redcrayon 26 Apr 2013 14:33:48 4,649 posts
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    Hmm. Okay, thanks for that.
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