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I'm 30-something. I play games and sometimes type things. I summon deities and demons, shoot raiders and wish to settle down with another girl for turn-based battles on the beach, chocobo rides and torchlit dinners in ancient Nordic tombs or mysterious castles that appear at night.

When I'm not slaying dragons or saving the galaxy, I'm probably roaming the open world, rolling into a ball to access secret passages and seeing if my Paragon rating is high enough for discounts at the mall.



For other things and stuff about me you can read here, here and here. You will learn of my origins, my trials and tribulations, how I became a superpixie and what games I really, really like!

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Gather 'round, my friends, and lend this humble fae your ears as I tell you a tale of the land of Elenex. 'Tis  the story of a dread knight, a holy knight and a bard full of merry and mirth. Also dragons. Gotta have dragons to make up for the bard part. It was just over a year ago these three fellows met in the land of Elenex, but I have not forgotten what I have seen nor what transpired there recently. 



There is a prophesy that says each year these three guys shall return to Elenex to do battle and the result of the battle will decide the fate of the entire world - for at least the next year. Maybe. Some say that the blackest of Fridays also plays a pivotal role but there are no swords or dragons there - just merchants overwhelmed by a sea of excited customers.

Nay, the annual Battle for Elenex is by far more significant and exciting for last year, evil was afoot and primed to win. Before the Dread Knight's arrival  came an advanced warning - that he would ride upon the fell dragon, Ecks'bozwun, and oppress the people of Elenex for all time. And, verily, upon his arrival a darkness fell upon the land and demons simply known as Deeyar'm erupted from the hell we know as Hal'wazon to join Dread Knight. 



Some said, "There's naught we can do, 'tis the future and the way of things are to be. The Hal'wazon Deeyar'm are here to stay.'" However, some held on to hope that the Holy Knight or the Bard would come and drive the Dread Knight, Ecks'bozwun and the Deeyar'm of Hal'wazon away. 

And sure enough, the Holy Knight arrived his valiant steed, Pierresfore, with his humble squire Vinnie Vida dragged behind him on a tether. Squire Vida's dead weight mattered not to the Holy Knight and mighty Peirresfore, however, and they rode in ready for battle as the people of Elenex cheered them on. 

The knight's first feat was to slay all the Deeyar'm in a single go and then with a rightous chant he used his magic to seal the gate to Hal'wazon so they could theoretically never return. You know how magic seals are. Kinda flakey. It still holds for now.

Then the knights engaged each other in battle! Swords clashed and the ground trembled as they debated the merits of their service. When when the Holy Knight tried ot strike a blow from a special move he called "Subscription for Multiplayer" the Dread Knight batted his sword away for he knew that move, too, and had honed his skill with it for years and years. 

Then came the next blow.

"Pluuuuuuuussssss!" cried the Holy Knight as he slashed at Ecks'bozun, having instantly collected himself to cut the dragon deeply. The dragon roared and threw the Dread Knight off its back, then flew back from whence it came to heal. 

The Dread Knight recovered and took to his feet with his blade still in hand. The Holy Knight dismouted his steed, handed the reins to Squire Vida and said, "Take Pierresfore somewhere remote and play," then turned his attention back toward the Dread Knight.



It was then that the Bard arrived, but he was hardly noticed and simply provided a nostalgic tune on his highly-portable accordion while the battle unfolded. It lifted people's spirits a little but not much else. He was just kind of there and wore a catsuit with a tablet-shaped lute on his back

Over that music, however, as the knights clashed you could hear an ominous, wicked chant begin to build from the Dread Knight. I think it went something like this:

"Mooobbbbiesteeeeeeebiesspoorzzz, mooooooobiesteeeeeebiesspooorzzz"

Over and over and over. It sent shivers down by spine at first but also made my eyes glaze over and made me sleepy. I still get a little tired just thinking about it. That's how evil the chant was. Brrr.

But then the Holy Knight held his blade to the sky with a chant of his own. 

"Yooooookintraaaaaaaaayyooooooooourgaaaaaaaaaamez!"

For whatever reason, this chant inspired the spirit of all people and filled his blade a glorious light. With one mighty blow he decapitated the Dread Knight and that head, somehow still living, sprouted wings and flew off in the direction of the land of... what was it?

Oh right. Zynga. Never been, but I hear bad things about the place.

Upon the Dread Knight's defeat the people erupted with cheer and applause. The Dread Knight's body disintegrated, the skies cleared and light was returned to the land of Elenex. The Holy Knight returned to his steed and his squire but before he rode off into the sunset, a child managed to approach him with a question.

"Sir Knight, when are you bringing The Guardian? Will he arrive before next year?"

The knight patted the child on the head and chuckled lightly, replying "Soon, son, The Guardian is totally real. Just believe."

And that was the tale of last year's battle for Elenex - but what of this year?

Well, its kind of a switch, really. There wasn't really a fight. The Dread Knight was replaced by the Kind-of-Decent Knight, who had done away with last years evils and the dragon Ecks'bozun was now actually friendly, it played with the children and putt on a magic show. This knight told us he had been listening to our hopes, dreams and and learned how to retrain the dragon for our benefit.

When the Holy Knight arrived, I caught him talking to someone that wasn't there. It was kind of creepy. "Yes, Guardian, you are totally real and awesome, but I can't show you today" is what is what I think he said. Then when he saw the Kind-of-Decent Knight and his dragon doing well he was kinda caught off-guard by that.

But when the people saw him their eyes lit up... at least until they saw how battered and bloodied Squire Vida was from being tethered to Pierresfore for so long. Anticipating this might get him some criticism he pulled a very small, newborn pony from a sack on Pierresfore's side and introduced it as Pierresteevee.

People from further west thought Pierresteevee was adorable and wanted one of their own but everyone else wasn't so impressed, particularly when they saw the Holy Knight tether her behind Pierresfore just like Squire Vida. Vinnie Vida just remained curled in a fetal position and wept "Nooooooo" quietly as he knew the she would share his disappointing fate. 

The Holy Knight did have some other exciting news for his plans to help the land of Elenex for the coming year, except about halfway through it was actually pretty boring. I liked his idea for No Man's Sky, but then he uttered those terrifying words

That moobie-teebie stuff.  Moobies and teebies. Teebies and moobies. On and on.

It put people to sleep, but he went right on with it for almost twenty minutes. Had I not been sitting on some nice lady's shoulder i light of dropped of the air and hurt myself. Instead I fell into her cleavage. Had she not woken up by the sound of the arrival of the Bard I might of been trapped in there. 



The Bard had amassed an impressive troupe for himself. Mimes, jesters, other musicians, dancers, acrobats, musclemen, gorillas and more. I didn't know what kind of budget he was working with to pull this off, but apparently he had the time and money to hire and bring along a wide variety of animated women. Princeses, bounty hunters, heroic witches and squid girls were among them. One also had a giant steel golem that flew, but she was sometimes a guy, too. Basically that one was whatever people asked them to be. Wasn't much for talking, either.

Some of the performers spread out all through the land so more people could see them perform exhibition fights. Flags and buttons were distributed to the crowds. Some said it was smashing, others like a brawl or a melee. I met the bounty hunter and her rather pale friend who know the foreign art of yoga. The bounty hunter said she had two possible missions planned and would have to leave soon and her friend criticized my sense of balance.



That evening the Bard and his fellow musicians put on a concert. This time the Bard was seriously jamming on that lute he didn't use last year. The set list consisted of singing about wooly worlds, pocket monsters, Zelda's legend, something about Xenoblades and Bayonettas and they actually had more to play for two more days. I stuck around, so did the Decent Knight and his dragon.

I saw the Wholly Neglectful Knight leave soon with this tethered pony and squire in tow. No one seemed to care and i returned my attention to songs about fantasy lives and steam.

The Bard had won our hearts and the Decent Knight showed us even fell dragons can change. The Wholly Boring Knight simply didn't have anyone to kick around this year and had neglected his most trusted ally. Yesterday he was our hero, but with so much neglect and delusions of guardians people saw him for what he was - a jerk.

This year the battle for Elenex was won with a festival where the focus was not on being not as bad as the other guy, but celebrating who you are and what you do. It was won with the wonderment the people sign up for, not boring speeches and swiftly neglected ponies. Or that moobie-teebie stuff.

The End.








I talked about this in my last blog a little bit, but with E3 about to start I thought this might be my last chance to scratch my itch and speculate what Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem will be like. While its not like Atlus to make big reveals at E3 - and largely why I snicker when people hope for a big Persona 5 reveal (spoiler: it won't happen) - SMTxFE is partly Nintendo's baby and they really need to show Wii U games so I think it will be an exception. While I don't expect it to be Nintendo's biggest priority reveal, it is my most anticipated game. 



I guess I should start with my history with these two franchises, though.

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne was the first game in the SMT series and I originally played it back in 2004, but I never got around to beating it until 2008. I was kind of addicted to Final Fantasy XI at the time, but another part of it was I found the tutorial, menus and skill systems of Nocturne to be rather cryptic. 

That and Matador whipped my ass, but later I managed to make my way through Persona 3, Persona 4 and Devil Summoner and the latter two really taught me the series vocabulary very well. This allowed me to return to Nocturne, play it well and win. Then I followed it up with Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner 2 and I've pretty much been buying and playing anything SMT-related ever since. 

Right now, I'm on SMT: Strange Journey and having a blast.



My history with Fire Emblem is slightly longer, but more troubled. I'm one of those people that often tries to play strategy RPGs, but gets burnt out on them fast. I've never finished a single Advance Wars or Final Fantasy Tactics game, in fact, I can count the ones I've beaten and finished on one hand:

- Disgaea
- Onimusha Tactics
- SMT: Devil Survivor
- Fire Emblem: Awakening

Pretty much in that order, too. Onimusha Tactics was a pushover, though, so I'm not terribly proud of it. Jeanne D'arc eventually executed its ideas better but Level 5's games bore me to death for some reason.



Anyway, I started Fire Emblem series with the first western release (aka FE7: Rekka no Ken) on Game Boy Advance. I did complete Lyndis and Eliwood's acts, but quit in the middle of Hector's story. From there I bought, tried to play and shelved every FE game except for Radiant Dawn which I never tried. I left all of them incomplete. I liked them, but just couldn't stick with them. Something about Fire Emblem: Awakening clicked with me, though - probably the access to a world map to roam, the joint attacks and a revamped class system. I still played with permadeath on, though.

Now I'm looking to give much of the series another shot, I even have the fan translated games. I'm relatively familiar with the skills, systems and lore of the series now.

So how do I think these two franchises will mesh?

Which games it will focus on.

First off, I don't expect anything but main series MegaTen and Fire Emblem to be represented here. I know crossovers cause fans to wishlist the characters they're most familiar with, but I just don't see Persona, Devil Summoner, Digital Devil Saga or Devil Survivor being invited to this party. None of them are as compatible thematically as SMT and FE are.



When you play a Fire Emblem game, you're someone in a nation that's being pulled into war by the machinations of royals and power-hungry madmen from other nations. You see the whole affair from the view of the nation being pulled into conflict, whether the hero is royalty, a sellsword or an ambiguous tactician of your own creation. Each character you meet and ally with gives the nation, its allies and sometimes even your enemies a human face, which sometimes complicates things since even some enemy generals you face are honorable and good despite whom they fight for. That your vibrant allies and honorable foes can permanently die on the battlefield makes your choices and losses sting more than most games are typically capable of.

In Shin Megami Tensei, you meet a teenager and he and his friends are granted wearable computers and a demon-summoning program to protect them from a demon outbreak. They are eventually pulled into a post-apocalyptic Tokyo and gradually find themselves choosing sides in a war between Heaven and Hell. The other people you meet begin to give Tokyo a face and you get to see how they survive, cope with these supernatural forces and also gain insight to their relationship with technology. You see how the world influences and shapes the ideology of your friends and you can chose to side with one of them or oppose both, but one will certainly die by your hands. You know, feel good times.

Persona is more about interpersonal relationships and overcoming internal struggles. Its a series very interested in exploring the works of psychologist Carl Jung and concepts like dreams, archetypes, the collective unconscious, the tarot and shadow integration. Character death does happen, but its never based on player choices or errors. Death tends to serve as a plot device here.

FE and SMT aren't devoid of plot device death, but the blood is on your own hands more often and tinged with regrets.

So while I love Persona its hardly as aligned as SMT and FE are thematically. Additionally, I think Atlus and Nintendo want to avoid SMTxFE being the cacophony of fanservice Project X Zone was. If every SMT spin-off character was invited to the main story the characters of both SMT and Fire Emblem would be swiftly deemphasized. Best to keep the MegaTen side of things to just mainline SMT, I think.



That said, Persona's spiritual predecessor Shin Megami Tensei If... is a part of SMTxFE. Longtime Persona fans should recognize Tamaki Uchida from Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin and P2: Eternal Punishment, so there's her at least.

Plot setup

I think we're going to start SMTxFE adventure in an FE-themed, feudal eastern nation which one day will become Japan and where a post-apocalyptic modern Tokyo happens. This would fit the "story of a nation/city" motif both franchises have. Since both SMT and FE are somewhat aware a multiverse exists, its entirely possible to have and FE world that eventually becomes an SMT one - or just do some multiversal/time travel fuckery. Plus there's this mercurial fellow named Steven that seems to jump around the multiverse distributing demon summoning programs and he might also enlist the aid of leading knights, mages, demons and messiahs from various worlds to combat a potential threat.

And you, some amnesiac, slumbering Tactician he finds laying unconscious in a field will be the true hero/messiah of the story. He sticks a weird gauntlet with a demon summoning program in it on your arm and disappears. You have some dream about two or three friends, each of whom you will meet later and possibly ally with to the end. But first some Fire Emblem kids find you on that field and decide you should travel with them until you sort yourself out.

I'm sure SMT's Law/Chaos factions will team up or even clash with FE's evil/benevolent, omnipotent dragons to get the action rolling. People given into Law/Chaos extremes arr often the source of SMT conflict and in Fire Emblem some cult usually wants to resurrect an evil conflict and to do so nations must be manipulated into turmoil. FE's world seems ideal for the Order of Messiah and Cult of Gaea to set up shop.

Anyway, you can see Atlus and Intelligent Systems already have a ton of material they can work with there.

Gameplay

As for the gameplay format, I think that Fire Emblem's grid-based maps and tactical gameplay may take precedence rather than SMT's dungeon crawling leanings. With such a potentially large cast in play, this format is the best way to accommodate that. SMT is no stranger to the Tactics/SRPG genre anyway due to its Majin Tensei and Devil Survivor spin-offs.



Fire Emblem's weapon combat is consistent throughout the series and something SMT could likely conform to well. Persona 3 FES recognized blunt, slash and piercing damage types where much of the series just stuck to Slash/Peirce damage. Fire Emblem's weapon triangle has swords besting axes, axes beating lance and lances beating swords. The weapons could still play by those rules with swords also having slash properties, Axes doing blunt damage and lances doing piercing damage

Bows would also be piercing damage, but have dominion over flying units and enemies naturally weak to piercing rather than dominion over other weapons. That suits Fire Emblem anyway and this limitation on ranged weapons would offset the fact the SMT crowd comes loaded for bear with guns. 

If you ride a mythical flying beast, its sure to make your life hell but if FE's class evolution/reclassing is in play as much as demon fusion and evolutions might be, well, Peg Knights can become Dark Fliers and learn Galeforce (which allows you to move a second time after you kill an enemy, presumably to retreat or attack again). Going through that hell is ultimately worth it.

Magic triangles seem to fade in and out of relevance in FE, so I could see SMT's magic system fully replace it. Most of the elemental spells are the same in nature, but SMT's Hama and Mudo spells are light and dark magic that have a chance to insta-kill enemies and players. Kind of nasty considering Fire Emblem tends toward character permadeath. Various entries of SMT and Persona have let you collect items that served as dummies to absorb such attacks, though, so maybe Hama and Mudo are viable to implement.



If observing weaknesses from SMT and FE holds true here, and I think it will, then some of FE's stats might be better used in an SMT context. In FE, the speed stat determines whether you can perform additional attacks in the same turn. In SMT, you gain additional attack turns by nailing enemy weaknesses, so redefining the speed stat to an Agility stat to boost accuracy and evasion might be for the best.

How demons are implemented is a big question I have regarding this game. In SMT you negotiate, barter and ask questions to recruit demons to join you. SMT practically stuffs your pockets with money and items to make that negotiation possible. Fire Emblem differs in that gold, weapons and items are more limited and precious - not to mention weapons break after so many uses. The higher the damage, the quicker they break.

Will FE characters get cyberpunked up with wearable computers, demon summoning programs and barter away valuables to gain demon allies? Devil Survivor, DDS and Persona gave up the negotiation angle for other methods of obtaining demons like online auctions, collecting cards or just becoming a demon yourself.

Collecting cards to summon allies is something Fire Emblem: Awakening actually did. Otherworldly phantoms of heroes and villains known as Einherjar, in addition to other players' tacticians, poured out of a gate to FE's multiverse and could be challenged and collected for use in battles. Some of this came from streetpass tags, Spotpass DLC and also paid DLC, but it made every version of any character in Fire Emblem history a combatant to summon regardless of what world or alternate history they came from.

So maybe demons and Einherjar could be summoned and created via SMT's demon fusion in this game. This could actually serve to address some of the crossover's dicey issues. For one, Einherjar could come from FE and SMT alike to help appease character wishlists by offering some fanservice while not narratively encroaching on the relevance of main series SMT and Fire Emblem. This can be the backdoor that lets Persona, Devil Summoner and other past FE heroes in. They'd be there as phantoms, but not a real factor in the story.

Those Persons kids are getting four damn games between 2014 and 2015, anyway. They don't need to be relevant characters here.

Also, this would also allow SMTxFE to exclude some of SMT's roster of dick demons and vagina angels. I realize Mara is a bit of a series staple and has run wild on DS and 3DS in the past, but I just don't see that one making the cut even though all of Kazuma Kaneko's creations deserve their HD glory. This is a Nintendo game, after all. Then again, Majora's Mask had a ton of phallic statues in it.

The angels can simply revert from their contemporary bondage gear to robes. They did in Devil Survivor anyway.

Personalities, Marriage and kids.

If there's one thing that worries me a bit about this game, its the rather blatant Hero/Heroine pairings on the SMT side of this. Fire Emblem Awakening was partly popular for its relationship building, marriage and childrearing but outside of Persona, SMT games don't make romance and relationships a huge bullet point. 

I'm kinda hoping the game avoids being a romance sim but the potential is sitting right there. Maybe Lyndis falls in love with Demi-Fiend and they have a DemiKid. Marriage and kids FE-style would add an unusual dose of camp to SMT's darker tendencies. Not that SMT ever entirely goes without camp but its not as lighthearted as FE sometimes gets.

I also find some of the character choices of the female half of SMT curious. While strong female characters are common in both IPs, the Heroines in SMT usually serve as the Neutral alignment path in contrast to the Law and Chaos paths the male friends represent. In SMT II, there are two heroines, but one is replaced by the other so Beth is out and Hiroko is in. Nocturne deviated from franchise formula and gave Chiaki the chance to be a Chaos Heroine but she's represented here while the actual Neutral heroine of Nocturne, Yuko Takao, is not.

I'm guessing Ms. Takao didn't make the cut because she's the protagonist's and Chiaki's homeroom teacher, in addition to being the flimsiest Neutral Heroine in the series. Cultural differences and taboos are likely to blame, but in Nocturne Ms. Takao was arguably the Eve to Demi-Fiend's Adam. She helped return the world to the womb and he created a new one from it, in a metaphorical sense - so Yuko Takao's exclusion still feels weird.

Maybe Chiaki is there to add a snooty, Social-Darwinist to the mix. Time will tell.



Setting that aside, while I am interested to see how these characters hit it off, there's another issue.

All those Heroes aren't known to actually speak. The silent protagonist thing works in their favor in their own games, but FE characters and Heroines are often a bit more vocal. There are semi-canonized conclusions we can draw for the Heroes, though, so there's a huge risk to damage the idea of these characters to fans if the writers go a different way. It will need to be handled carefully due to the agency players had with those characters.

SMT's Hero is believed to be Neutral, Aleph is said to have chosen Chaos, Demi-Fiend is assumed to have eventually destroyed time itself and became Lucifer's top general and Flynn's choice is questionable until SMT V happens but most players assume it was Neutral.

Though maybe these characters were plucked out of time before they made those choices and could be entirely different people. Crossovers tend to dodge series canon, but SMT also sometimes likes to imply everything is canon.

Just as an example. Chiaki's alignment in SMT Nocturne desires a world where the strong and beautiful survive, might makes right and so on. The world of Digital Devil Saga lives by those rules and the Demi-Fiend does invade that world as its megaboss. Maybe he did chose Chiaki's path. Maybe all paths are real.

Still, I'd avoid deviating from fan interpretation too hard. I liked Yu Narukami until he started talking in Persona 4 Arena.

There's a ton more I could speculate on here, I just see loads of potential in SMTxFE and I'm eager to see where Intelligent Systemd and Atlus go with this. Even if I'm wrong about half of this, I'm still excited to see how FE characters cope with a post-apocalyptic Tokyo and how well SMT characters function in FE's feudal setting. Given how well-made Atlus and Intelligent Systems games are I have faith it will turn out well.








Well, with my weird E3 dreams written and posted now I can talk about what I really wish/hope to see - or at least things I'm just really looking forward to.

Zelda is an obvious one. I'm sure there will be lots of Zelda, really. The Wii U Zelda reveal is practically a given and we know Hyrule Warriors is in, but I think we're due a re-release of Majora's Mask. I've seen people who don't understand how remasters work hope for a Wii U version, but 3DS is more prasctical since Ocarina of Time 3D's assets are just begging to be used for another 3DS outing.



So I think they probably will have Majora's Mask 3D as well. It might seem like too much Zelda, but its not like the Wii U one would hit this year anyway.

As for Zelda Wii U, I'm hoping for a series departure, a game that takes place away from Hyrule like Majora's Mask, Link's Awakening and the Oracle games did. We just got several doses of "traditional" Zelda through Skyward Sword, Wind Waker HD, Ocarina of Time 3D and A Link Between Worlds these last few years, so I'd like to explore a new world and different ideas. Or have a Zelda game actually about Zelda, that would work, too.

Fallout 4 is something I hope is announced. It clearly has been in development for some time now. Hints come and go, from voice actors to staff sightings in Boston and more. Something's gotta be happening with this one. I'm hoping it plays and is written more like New Vegas, which felt more in line with other FO games. FO3 was good, just a bit too black and white with morality.



Its probably too soon for another main entry to The Elder Scrolls, so Bethesda has to be doing FO4. Arkane Studios announcing a new Dishonored game would work in the absence of those other two. I loved Dishonored to pieces.

Metroid is another one. Recent interviews with Yoshio Sakamoto suggest he's working on new projects and has no immediate plans to do a Metroid game - which is good, actually - but we don't know what Retro Studios is up to.



I know some people want more Metroid Prime and I wouldn't mind that, but I am curious to see Retro Studios tackle a 2D Metroid after their incredibly masterful takes on Donkey Kong Country. I would just hope they keep some Prime elements in their like lore and scanning.

Suda 51 and Grasshopper have been rather quiet of late. Its strange to think there have been six new IPs from them since No More Heroes 2. I enjoyed most of them, though I never got around to Killer is Dead and just rolled my eyes regarding the visual novel sequel to Liberation Maiden. 

Anyway, it feels like the right time for No More Heroes 3. Hopefully it will return with its rough art style intact and with Shinobu in the leading role this time. She's such a gentle soul, hacking people in half with that sword.



There have been rumors of Shenmue HD remasters and Shenmue III, but after a 12 year wait, social and MMO spinoffs, kart racers and no sequel, I'm inclined to feel those rumors are BS. It feels about as real as Metroid Dread or The Last Guardian right now. Shenmue and Metroid Dread rumors pop up each E3 and if The Last Guardian is a no-show again it really must be vaporware.

I know nothing Persona 5 will be shown, its just not like Atlus to debut much of anything in America before Japan. Persona 4 Arena 2 and Persona Q, however, are fair game. Thing is we probably won't learn much new about them since they just tell Famitsu everything

That said, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem is partly Nintendo's baby and was announced globally last year, which sort of breaks with Atlus' usual behavior. This is easily my most anticipated game and one I really want to see in action, just for all the potential it has. The game was a daydream I actually had several years ago, so I kinda freaked out when Nintendo announced it. Nearly threw my laptop into the ceiling when the teaser trailer came out last year.

SMT's cyberpunk post-apocalyptic, modern demon-infested worlds mixed with Fire Emblem's cast of pegasus knights, mercenaries, priests, cavaliers and paladins? Pairing up a game notorious for permadeath with a game known for instant death magic?  Fire Emblem is often the story of a nation pulled into war, SMT is often the story of Tokyo and its relationship with technology as it finds itself the stage for a war between Heaven and Hell.



So yeah, I want to know more NOW! I've been patient for like sixteen months!

There's also the tremendous potential to exploit the "strangers in a strange land" trope here. SMT IV's samurai were pretty amusing in this regard. They start out in a medieval kingdom and days later they're scavenging for smartphones in Shibuya and pawning off skateboards and vibrators for cash (I'm not kidding). It makes me wonder if Fire Emblem's cast will give up horses for motorcycles and if their archers will pick up submachine guns, but still maintain their "well mets!" and "miladys" to look like dorks.

Anyway, that about sums it up. I'm also hoping for GBA Virtual Console games on 3DS and a new Deus Ex game.








If you follow my blog at all, by now you likely know I have weird dreams largely comprised of gaming references and celebrity cameos. With E3 just around the corner, my dreams recently started to align with Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony themes, though that admittedly ebbed and flowed quite a bit.

I had a system set-up to divine which parts of these dreams were true, but rather than steal a page from someone else's book I'm just going to let my weird shit speak for itself and offer a mild interpretation.

So let's begin!

Dream #1: Nintendo, Dystopian Zelda and Slippy Toad saves the galaxy.

I dreamt I was once again working at GameStop. No, we were not on the  Big Shell from MGS2 throwing parties for Bill Cosby. This time we were just at our store preparing for an E3 sale like it was Black Friday. All the displays and promotional materials were rainbow-themed, featuring ponies and unicorns for whatever reason.

After a while our local Nintendo rep turned up and she was followed in by Shigeru Miyamoto, Satoru Iwata and Hironobu Sakaguchi. They were pleased to make a number of announcements and show us some new Wii U and 3DS games so long as we closed the store for a short bit because the Zombie Luigis were looking for them.



So we close up and go to the break room. Iwata's first announcement is that they have bought Mistwalker and that Mistwalker's first project will be a collaboration with Omega Force called Galactic Federation Warriors. It would be an action-RPG-railshooting-exploratory-racing brawler featuring Samus Aran, Team Star Fox, Captain Falcon and Kirby as they team up to take down the combined forces of the Space Pirates, Mother Brain, Andross, King Dedede, Team Star Wolf and the Metroids. 

Sakaguchi seemed pretty proud of it, stating it was his finest creation and that Slippy Toad was the protagonist of the game's story.



New Metroid and Star Fox games were also shown, on Wii U and 3DS respectively. When asked about an F-Zero game, Miyamoto said "No one gives a fuck about F-Zero" - at least, that was the translation our Nintendo rep gave. Iwata chimed in with a "Please understand" and bowed before digging into a bowl of Lucky Charms.

After that, they showed us The Last Story 2, which was a tiger ballet simulator. Miyamoto also revealed a musical third person shooter tentatively called "K.K. Slider's Last Stand in Mexico" which co-starred Salma Hayek.

The Legend of Zelda reveal was stunning. It was a cyberpunk adventure that took place in a futuristic, dystopian Hyrule composed entirely of voxels and fingerpaint. Link has to uncover government conspiracy upon corporate conspiracy to find out why, as the destined hero, he cannot obtain the Master Sword and will seek out cybernetic upgrades and the Fierce Deity mask to pound the shit out of everyone instead. Then he'll drink himself stupid at the  Milk Bar after learning no one can be trusted - not even Zelda or fairies.

Just as I was going to ask about Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem my boss slipped out for a smoke and the Zombie Luigis got in, pulled Sakaguchi outside and ate him him. Iwata kept eating his Lucky Charms. That's how it ended.

So that dream was pretty game-focused.  I would totally buy Galactic Federation Warriors if that were a thing, though. I've just been underwhelmed with the whole Hyrule Warriors thing, I guess. I'm more interested in Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem and things happening with Metroid again. I know real Zelda game is coming anyway and I do want a departure in the vein of Majora's Mask, but I think the whole cyberpunk Zelda thing is a bit much considering the kids in Fire Emblem might already be flirting with wearable computing that summons demons.

Zombie Luigi... I just don't know what to think about that one.

Dream #2 - A Microsoft dream. At least I think so.

It was a dark and stormy night in Gotham City and Batman was hot on the trail of a now-superpowered Catwoman and Maleficent. It was unknown how Catwoman had gained electric powers, but she could now had them and could clone herself to steal things from all over Gotham. There were more Catwomen than Blackgate and Arkham could possibly hold - and we all know how awesome security is in those places.



The Dark Knight had deduced Maleficent was responsible for all this. She and the Catwomen had overtaken Waynetech rival Lexcorp's skyscraper and were amassing all the PS4s and Wii Us they could, ensuing the rest of Gotham never got any of them and could only buy Xbox Ones. Maleficent seemed to shift from her cartoon version to her Angelina Jolie version. She and the Catwoman also used Lexcorp's funds to hire Halo's Spartans to defend the skyscraper.

Batman couldn't take this threat on alone, he needed cyborgs, so he asked Alfred to get in touch with Section 9 in Japan for help. Within days Motoko Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa and Saito arrived in Tachikomas (child-like chibi tanks that talk). Batman made them all swear not to use guns or at least use tranquilizer darts. Batou, Togusa and Saito weren't thrilled, but they agreed. Togusa actually cried because he couldn't use his Mateba.



By the time the siege on Lexcorp began, the Catwomen and Spartans had given up guns and whips to wear NBA, NFL, MLB, PGA and FIFA-branded gear and wielded sports equipment enchanted with green flame. They used HDTVs for shields.

It was a long battle, but eventually Batman found the real Catwoman and persuaded her to fight for good - or be pelted with the tennis balls the Tachikomas were collecting and firing. By this time, Motoko and Section 9 had hacked the Spartans and Lexcorp's defenses. 
Maleficent was surrounded as Batman, Section 9, the Spartans and all those Catwomen climbed to top Lexcorp's roof. She had nowhere to run, so she did the only thing she had left to do - she summoned two turntables, some records and became a dragon DJ. First up were mixes from Killer Instinct and Halo!



The Catwomen and Spartans returned the stolen Wii Us and PS4s. Batman, Catwoman and Section 9  went on a Hawaiian cruise and Maleficent became the greatest DJ ever!

There wasn't really much in the way of an E3 prediction in this one but I'm guessing MS may try to get some exclusive DLC from the next Batman game. They may also reach out for more Japanese appeal with anime-themed games, try to get a port of Kingdom Hearts III, have lots of Halo stuff and try to convince us they've changed and aren't as evil and stupid as they were last year. They'll still talk up the sports and TV stuff, though.

Dream #3 - Sony Vs. Giganta.

I was in New York City wherr I met Giganta, another villainess of DC comics fame but played by returning dream guest star Scarlett Johansson. She is Giganta now, but human-sized and not evil at the start of this.



Giganta and I became fast friends and she asked if I wanted to go to the U2 concert that night across town at Sony Stadium. I had never seen U2 live, so I agreed.

When we got there, however, tickets were sold out. Giganta was not pleased, I mean, there she was with her Achtung Baby T-shirt on and everything and crestfallen. This is Giganta we're talking about, though. She simply grew to a colossal size, set me on her shoulder and stepped inside the stadium, then sat down in the football field to get the best seat in the house. The concert began shortly after we sat down.

There were complaints from people behind us who said they could not see the stage. Since Giganta was again becoming annoyed and she was kinda hungry, she ate those that complained. Most of U2 seemed unphased by this and kept playing, though Larry Mullin Jr. was starting to look uncomfortable with the situation as Giganta had another few handfuls of their fans.

After playing a number of songs and "Elevation" the band took a break while Bono stayed on stage. Apparently he had something to say. He also sounded like Jim Sterling's version of Bono and said the following:

"Dear Sony,

This is Bono Vox out of the U2.

I bought a Playstation Tree years ago 'n hopes o' playin' The Last Guardian. Tree E-Trees 'ave come'n'gone an' thar still is no Last Guardian. 

Children in Africa, in America, in Ireland an' Antarctica are all waiting for this game! Barack Obama an' Queen Elizabeth, too! There are even people that refuse t' marry until the game releases!

Please, Sony, give us a sign this game is fer real. The fate o' future generations depends on it!

Sincerely yours,

Bono Vox out of the U2."



Then a man appeared from stage left. It was David Cage dressed as the Pope. He walked up to Bono, asked for the mic and it was handed over to him.

"My child, Bono Vox," he began, "Lord Sony and the Holy Goddess Ellen Page have chosen me, who has much emotion, to answer your question.

"The Last Guardian was delayed because it required more emotions and the power of Holy Goddess Ellen Page who makes all things PlayStation 4 and Remote Play possible. We also held the game back because we decided to celebrate Her wondrous emotions with a full year of games devoted to Her.

"Yes, my children, starting late 2014 and into 2015 - perhaps all eternity - it will be the Year of Ellen Page. Her Majesty will replace the griffon in The Last Guardian, Kat in Gravity Rush 2, Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4 and also everyone in The Last of Us: Remastered."



Bono fell to his knees in awe of this news but Giganta was furious, growing even larger and screaming "Why not me? I'm a goddess!" and went on a rampage. She stomped through New York, Chicago, Detroit, eventually Los Angeles and later waded across the Pacific until she arrived at Tokyo, Japan where she tore the roof off Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and bellowed "Where is she?

Then someone tapped on Giganta's shoulder. It was a gigantic Ellen Page in a baggy tuxedo, bathed in light. They battled across Tokyo, but I'm not sure who won. That's because I had grown my pixie wings and flew off in search of Pocky and Atlus' HQ.

So I think this particular dream is hoping for a reveal of The Last Guardian but I don't know what to make of it otherwise. Sony does seem to have a thing for Ellen Page, though. Or at least Quantic Dream and Naughty Dog do. Maybe they do have a cult where they worship her and are trying to pull Team Ico into it. Maybe they are replacing the griffon-dog thing with Ellen Page as we speak.

In closing, my dreams are weird and only two of them were directly related to E3. What I learned is going out for a smoke lets Zombie Luigi in, Maleficent can't beat Batman and Motoko Kusanagi and never complain about a giant Scarlett Johansson blocking your view of the band.

That and Ellen Page might have a cult.







Pixielated
8:13 PM on 05.22.2014

So far my gaming year has been this:



Lots of Metroidvania, some NES games and two RPGs. I just finished up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds last week and I'm now poking at a few unfinished things in there and Bravely Default as I work through the Chaos path and Fiend hunting  in Shin Megami Tensei IV. SMT IV replays are a recurring thing since the demon compendium is so vast, I still have lots of demons/costumes to collect and it has four endings.

I did get the worst ending today just to see it, but I reverted my save and I'm now locked into the Chaos path because I'd rather max the compendium than have the worst and abrubt ending flagged on my file. Still, after this I will have seen all the endings!

After I do all I care to do with those games, its on to other unfinished business, the priority games are pictured here:



Its unsurprisingly Atlus-focused and RPG-heavy. I've procrastinated on some of them for years, even as much as I like SMT and Etrian Odyssey. 

I'll have to mix in some other various titles to shake things up, I've got 100+ games between Nintendo eShop, PSN and Steam, though, so I'm sure I can find something. I have stuff like Bastion, Cave Story, Legend of Grimrock and Crimson Shroud I've also been holding back on. Just got 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure the other week as a Club Nintendo freebie, too.

The pictured games I'm giving priority simply because its time. Its a pretty dry year for RPGs so I may as well make do with what isn't done. As much as I love SMT, I've just never gotten around to the older main games and spin-offs. I've also been sitting on Strange Journey since I bought it at launch. Sometimes even my favorite franchises are put on hold. I did wait about three or four years after MGS4 and Metroid Prime 3 launched to play them. I didn't get around to SMT III: Nocturne until 2008 and Digital Devil Saga until 2009.

I won't allow myself to play Persona Q until I've finished Etrian Odyssey Untold. I've bought five EO games now and not finished one of them. Given PQ is based heavily upon EO, I'll feel like I'm cheating if I play PQ first. Plus I'm going to play on Classic Mode, because Story Mode feels like its just cheating the intended experience. I'll save the story for a replay.



The Zelda Oracle games i originally bought on Game Boy Color and for whatever reason I never got deep into them. Link's Awakening is one of my favorite Zeldas but maybe these two got lost in the mix - probably because I also was juggling a PS2, GameCube, Xbox, N64 and Dreamcast at the time. Those on top of my Pokemon and Phantasy Star Online obsession back then.

If I get those two done, though, the only Zelda game I'll have never finished is Phantom Hourglass - and really, fuck that game and its resetting hub dungeon. Spirit Tracks was way better - even with all that flute blowing bullshit in it. Zelda as a ghostly sidekick also made it more awesome.

I guess with all that said, its just a matter of deciding which game to do first! I'm open to suggestions, I suppose.








So Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has arrived on the US PSN store, which means PS3 can finally play one of the finest and unique RPGs ever made! It also gives me an excuse to talk about the game again!

I've written a bit on Nocturne in the past, but I don't really think I've offered much in the way of tips for series beginners. Given this game is a slight departure from other main series entries, players versed on SMT Strange Journey and SMT IV might feel a little lost here as well.

Nocturne is certainly to SMT what Majora's Mask is the The Legend of Zelda. Main series SMT has you start with two male friends, a gal pal and then the apocalypse happens. The world is changed, people have different ideas of how to proceed and clearly those two dudes are going to lock horns as time goes on and the girl is pretty neutral. You, the protagonist and prophesied Messiah will either choose between your friends or the girl and neutrality. 

Either way you cut it, though, you are not in for a feel-good, breezy Persona 4 happy fun time here. You will not kill time with your friends. Nope, in time you will kill your friends. Or at least the ones you don't agree with because, hey, politics and religion and all that good stuff.



So that's how SMT usually rolls, that's the three mystical doodads you collect to get its Master Sword. Nocturne comes in and is all "Screw saving princesses, fighting Ganon and saving Hyrule, I wanna be different!" And so, it tosses out the Law alignment, discards the cyberpunk aspect of the series and fucks over Tokyo in a new apocalyptic way called The Conception. Then it institutes a multiverse and you get to traverse a new hellscape called the Vortex World. 

One moment you were just talking to your homeroom teacher on the roof of the hospital and now the world is dead and demons are bickering over what's left. 

A blonde kid shows up to feed your delirious self a weird worm-bug thing. It makes you a demon. Also, some old man hired Dante, the Son of Sparda, to kill you - and you didn't even do anything to deserve that yet! To top it off some weird rock in the sky is telling you go collect some stuff called Magutsuchi and bring it to him so you can change the world. Well, it tells everyone that, but you're the protagonist and prophesied Demi-Fiend so you really have to do it. 



Later you run into your surviving classmates, your homeroom teacher and the guy that talked her into helping end the world. Yeah, your teacher did that shit. She thought ending the world was a good idea at the time, but now she's got regrets and stuff. Poor Teach.

Turns out everyone wants you dead but her, though.

What to do? Brave the Vortex World, unravel the mystery and collect some Magatsuhi to give that weird space rock after you've decided between your classmate's ideals of taking Darwinism too far or developing a really emo version of Mormon Cosmology. That other guy? He wants a "world of stillness" a world of harmony and order and he'll KILL ANYONE THAT STANDS IN HIS WAY. He's very Crusades/Al'Qaeda about it. Teach just wants the world back the way it was.

These alignments are called Reasons, by the way. You must have a Reason to change the world, it seems. That's what Kagutsuchi the space rock wants - Magatsuhi because of Reasons. 

Of course, then there's this old man and his nurse. He wants a piece of that action, too. He thinks you're his man and wants you to explore his labyrinth to see if you're up for the job he'd have for you. His nurse promises you knowledge and details of how this world came to be if you do so. Also some skeleton jerks known as Fiends have stolen all his candelabrum. He'd like those back. Small favors, right?

Do you go with your classmates? Teach? That guy that wants stillness? The old man? Maybe say to hell with it all? They're all valid options. You're gonna have to pal up with some demons to get there and that's where a pixie (and promised advice) comes in.

The Pixie, The Cathedral of Shadows and the Compendium

Pixie's going to be your first friend, you may want to keep her around, too. Don't dismiss this girl, she may not look like much now but later on she could be one of your best allies. Or really good sacrificial fusion fodder, at least. For now, she's your first comrade in arms - all three inches of her.



When the Cathedral of Shadows opens up its Fusion services, you will be able to create newer, stronger allies with more skills by fusing two older demons together. If you have played more contemporary SMT titles, this process is going to feel rough around the edges because won't let you pick what skills demons inherit like later entries did. You're going to see a lot of canceling out of the fusion process and restarting it until you see a preview of the desired results you want. Then you will confirm and pray there isn't a fusion accident.

If you choose to fuse away Pixie, know she's still there in your brand new, shiny demon. The demon that inherits her "DNA" will rise to the top of the fusion list every time you visit the Cathedral, so make a note of their name and don't dismiss them to make room for demons you invite to join you. Keep that demon. There's a reason for that tied to another tip I'll issue later.



Also, the Cathedral has a demon compendium from which you can record the kinds of demons you've had in your party and what level and skills they had at the time. If you feel like you want them around or need them again for fusion ingredients, you pay the man at the Cathedral to summon you a new one. But again, that pixie was one of a kind, any copies you call on won't replace her or earn the payoff for keeping tabs on her.

Negotiations and leveling up demons

In some games, you recruit new allies by throwing a ball at them or sucking them into a little tube. In Nocturne and most SMT games, you talk to demons. They're a fickle bunch, to be honest, but you have to take help where you can get it. 

Some want to know your opinions on things and others want money and items. They may disagree with your opinions and run away with what you gave them but that's life. You can't even expect one Jack Frost to think like the next Jack Frost you meet. One may say  "You're awesome, ho!" and the next might think you suck, ho.

Sometimes you'll have a demon that just wants to join up because they think you're awesome. Other demons may just be tired of you beating their face in and join because they want to live. Others that wanted stuff may give you other stuff in exchange - or just ask for something and give it back because they just wanted to look at it. They're weird like that at times.

But useful if they're on your side. I don't need to labor the obvious here, they learn skills as they level up - skills that can be passed on to other demons in fusion. They also have various strengths/weaknesses, active and passive skills that you should keep in mind.

Say a demon is weak to force attacks, but another has a learned skill that makes her impervious to force damage. It is possible to create a new demon no longer damaged by wind attacks. This is good because enemies that have their wind attacks nulled, absorbed or reflected back at them will lose combat turns. Fuse your demons wisely and they'll shine in battle.

Some demons may also have passive immunity to fire that's just innate and not a skill. Good info to know when building your party for a fight.

The Demi-Fiend and Magatama

Well, aren't you a special snowflake? Half human, half demon. Eatin' weird worm bugs to learn skills and magic. You're the prophesied Demi-Fiend!

You're almost like the other demons. You have eight slots for skills to fill them and once you forget them, they're gone forever (so don't go tossing skills all willy-nilly, silly}. I guess that makes you like a pokemon in that way, too. Go on, say your own name! That's what pokemon do, right?



Anyway, Magatama are the weird things Demi-Fiend swallows to learn demon skills and gain passive traits like, say, force resistance and stat boosts. There are lots of these Magatama all over the world and you'll collect them as you explore it. You're free to learn the skills the you want and keep the ones you like. I'll leave a link to all of them here (its also handy for knowing some of the things you'll get out of fusion).

The skills you're really going to want to look out for are Focus, Pierce and Frikugel. Focus to boost physical attacks, Pierce to ignore defense and Frikugel because its a special Almighty damage attack that can be buffed like a physical attack. I think you can see where this is going. Its good stuff. Not gonna tell you how to get any of it, but just keep your eyes peeled and keep those once you get them.

Scanning and The Press Turn System

Use Scan to learn the weaknesses of your enemies, be it by your default skill, a demon's skill if you chose to forget it (which is fine, actually) or the Spyglass item you find later on in the game. 

Knowing enemy weaknesses, covering the Demi-Fiend's weaknesses with passive traits granted by Magatama and your demon's weaknesses with good fusions (or just a good eye for demons) is going to help big here. Evasion buffs and debuffs like Sukukaja and Sukunda are also a big help, particularly for bosses,



When you strike an enemy weakness or land a critical hit, you get an extra turn. This means a party of four can gain up to eight turns if you play things really well, but if you have a party of three then it's up to six and so on. Same rules apply to your enemy, so yeah, cover those weaknesses and buff up when you have a nasty boss or Fiend in your way.

If you miss. You lose two turns. That is bad.

If your attack is absorbed or null, you lose all your turns. Also bad.

If your attack is reflected you lose all your turns, eat your own spell/fist and the enemy gets to pummel you. This is why we scan things we don't know about. Except bosses, they're scan-proof because of course they are.

Cover your ass, make them miss you and pound the bell out of them. That's the best way to play most of the time.

Stats don't matter much, skills and buffs matter more.

People that grind out levels for stats in SMT games are, quite frankly, doing it wrong. Its understandable, other RPGs taught them this way but if you're going to grind in Nocturne, grind for skills, not stats. 

Buffs like Sukukaja, Tarukaja and Makakaja boost evasion/accuracy, physical attack and magic attack respectively. Their "-unda" versions debuff enemies in the same manner. This game hands out those skills like free samples in a mall food court and they stack up to four times each - use them.

There are also higher tier versions of the debuffs that debuff everything at once - Evasion, attack, magic attack and defense. That nasty little bundle of joy is called Debilitate, it comes later and your higher level demons can learn it. It stacks four times, too. Very efficient.

This isn't to say stat allocation has zero importance, its just nothing to fret over. I will, however, state that BECAUSE REASONS you should get them all over 30. Reasons you will find out later. You will be glad you did it.

After that, just cram it all into Strength, Magic and Agility any way you wish. Don't worry about Vitality, you have buffs for defense and can learn a passive skill to boost HP (and by max level you'd get there anyway). Luck stats only cover item drops and how often you get critical hits. You're going to get more out of boosting Strength, Agility and Magic here.

All that said, its still better to grind out skills than stats, especially with your demons, whose skill points face diminishing returns as they level up. They get their real boosts from skills and better stat boots from sacrificial fusion.

Fiends and the Labyrinth of Amala

These are the skeleton assholes I was talking about before. Turns out Dante is the only non-skeletal one. Fiends are basically really, really ramped up midbosses and often nastier than the main bosses. They'll test your knowledge of the game and your observation skills to their limit, and then throw in some rules of their own.

Some of these fights are optional, most of them are not and all Fiends must be defeated if you want to fully explore the Labyrinth of Amala. You'll need to defeat these guys and take back the old man's candelabrum if you want to see everything that's down there, unlock every possible skill, fuse all the demons and obtain the True Demon ending. The dungeon is fully optional and you can complete the game to see the five other endings without it, but you'll never see the full potential of the game if you don't.

Matador is one of these Fiends standing in your way and your introductory Fiend fight. He's mandatory and a bastard of legend in the pantheon of game bosses, sending countless gamers running after a few sound defeats. He would love to give you a sound thrashing. However, if you've been learning the ropes of the game you should have no problem facing him. Defend against his force and trust your buffs, then head for the garden of madness!



Daisoujou is optional but he's also arguably one of the handiest demons you could have on your roster for much of the game. You can't fuse him without defeating him first so I would fight him anyway.

There's more, but I don't want to spoil too much here.

Oh, and those things I told you to do because of reasons? The payoff is down there in the labyrinth somewhere. That place is pretty nasty, the bosses are nasty, the dungeons are nasty and even the floor you walk on is pretty nasty and hates you. But there's also good things for sale, useful items and plenty of incentive to explore that hellhole.

Dante or Don'te?



Dante is the only Fiend you eventually get to recruit in a cutscene. The others are fused. He also can't be fused away, only dismissed - and why would you go to the trouble to recruit him if you were just going to send him away?

He's a strong ally with some good skills, but he's far from the most useful person to have on your team, particularly for endgame bosses. Shiva, Metatron, Beelzebub, Daisoujou and others have far more utility. Additionally, if you're still managing that Pixie DNA he's occupying one of the twelve slots in your demon roster.

For a first run through and 100% compendium completion, I'd take him. For future playthroughs, I'd turn him away.  His role in the story ends with you recruiting him or turning him away, he sadly doesn't get any sway in the ending.

Still, he's a better Dante than DmC and DMC2 Dante are and a decent fighter. He can also debuff enemy defense drastically and restore his own MP by taunting them, so there's that.

---

And that sums up everything I wanted to share. I left a lot out here for the sake of preserving some surprises. This was just to get the ball rolling and get people fighting like champs. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is a challenging game, no doubt, but not an impossible one.