I've had such a weird history with the Megami Tensei series. I know they're uber popular games - both in Japan as a whole, and in the USA in a more cultish way. But the way I've dipped my toe into the series over the past decade plus has been odd, I guess.
The first game I played was actually Demikids. This was a GBA spin-off game that took the demon fusing and made it into a kind of darker Pokemon. This was back when I was heavily into collecting GB/GBC/GBA games around 2009-2011. Around that same time I picked up Revelations: The Demon Slayer on GBC as well, though to be honest, I really don't even remember it much outside of being a kind of Dragon Quest knock-off.
Then I remember that not long after that we got some huge storm, and we lost power for a day or two, and for some reason I had downloaded a fan translation of Persona 2 (the half that wasn't localized) and played that on my PSP for a while. Then - and I know this isn't TECHNICALLY an SMT game - I got obsessed with Catherine, and played that one on 360. I was kind of all over the place back then.
And then finally, my totally real-deal introduction to SMT proper would have been the release of Shin Megami Tensei IV. I don't know what it was about this game, but I was so intrigued by it that it's what finally tipped me into buying a 3DS. I bought the game, along with the system right after we bought our first home. And I have some VERY fond memories of sitting on our new front porch, drinking coffee on the weekend, while playing SMT IV. I loved that game a lot. It's one of my top 3DS games.
Since then, I've gone thru many phases. Be it Sega stuff or PC gaming or Xbox... but for the past 3 years or so now I've kind of full-circled, and been in a place where every console I own is Nintendo. As such, I've missed out on stuff like the last few mainline Persona games. I guess that's why I thought it was so interesting when it was announced that Shin Megami Tensei III was being ported to Switch. This was a game last seen on PS2.
Oh, and SMT V is coming to Switch, too. Plus there was a hack-n-slash sequel to Persona 5. So I guess Atlas is seeing the virtues of the Switch platform.
Anyway, I'm just a couple hours into SMT III right now, but man, it's kind of great. In my short time playing I've seen a (predictable) apocalypse; had a giant demon manta ray tell me to F off; met a demon with what looked like a chili pepper for genitals; explored an underground shopping mall; recruited a demon that looks like a squid; and so on.
The PS2 (and GCN/XB) era can be kind of rough to revisit at times. My recent throwback to Super Mario Sunshine is a good example. But wow. SMT III is solid, still, all these years later. It's unique and kind of messed up and has great visuals and great music. More importantly, it shows that the tone of the SMT games has been a thing for a long time. Long before I was hooked on SMT IV.
So yeah. I'm having a good time here.
I'm several hours into SMT3 now, and my thoughts are a bit conflicted. They lean towards the good, for sure. But...
Look, the game is pretty awesome. As far as SMT games (that I've played go), this is certainly solid. I do think I enjoyed IV more, but it's close-ish. The tone, the setting, the visuals, the music - all of this draws me in. The talking to demons is cool. The fusion of demons is cool. The battle system is great. By all accounts, this is a top notch RPG.
My issue is MY issue. And it's one I've repeated numerous times over the past couple years. I'm a dad. My child is a toddler. My gaming time is not what it used to be. So an RPG that does SO LITTLE hand-holding is daunting to me. Which is to say, I keep thinking about Dragon Quest XI. That's a perfect RPG in my mind. It does a great job of mixing a story, a battle system, and a motivation. On the flip, SMT3 constantly has me wondering WHERE I'm supposed to go next.
I'm getting a little tired of cruising around an overwold map wondering where my step should be. A little tired of traversing the same cities because I'm not sure if I missed something important. It's all kind of frustrating. Like, the core elements of this game are so good, but the flow of the journey is at times baffling to me.
I guess I could use a walkthrough. Maybe I will. But I'm not sure I feel like it right now. I think maybe I'm gonna play something else. Something a little less intense. And then maybe circle back to this one. I do like it - I really do - it's just flawed in its game design, which - to be fair - is also a bit of a flaw of its time. But also, SMT games aren't really for the casual. And sadly, right now, I'm a bit casual.