Devil Summoner was the first major spin-off game of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, released by Atlus in December 1995 for the Saturn in Japan. In 1996, a Special Box edition of the game was released. In 2005, ten years after the original release, the game was ported to the PSP; this version was considered for American localization by Atlus USA, but was denied by Sony due to the port not having any significant new content compared to the original.
The game is comprised of Wizardry-like dungeon crawling, with travel between dungeons taking place on an over-world (like the one found in Nocturne). Because of the player's role as a detective - in addition to being a Devil Summoner - they will be asked to investigate various paranormal occurrences throughout the city; some of these will advance the story, while other are simply means to gain money and experience. Money - separate from Macca which is used to barter with demons - is important because the player will be using it to buy gear such as armour and weapons throughout the game.
Nakama (Demon Friends)
A core mechanic of many of the Shin Megami Tensei games, the ability to converse with demons during combat and recruit them to your purpose. There are multiple facets to the recruitment system, simply asking a demon to join your side will not always end in success; every demon species has it's own personality, and it can be an exercise in trial and error to get a positive reaction. What follows are the different mechanics that factor into the conversation system.
- Stance -The first Shin Megami Tensei game to feature this system (found in newer titles such as Strange Journey), stances are an alignment system similar to that found in the Dungeons and Dragons series. There are the primary alignments of Dark, Light, Neutral; within those are Chaos, Law, and again Neutral. Having an opposing stance to the demon you are trying to recruit can have severely negative consequences; unlike in the original Shin Megami Tensei however it does not completely lock you out of being able to recruit them. The Stance extends to any demons you have in your party as well - as in, if you have a demon of the Dark Chaos type in your party, it will make recruiting a Light Law demon very difficult.
- Full Moon - During a full moon, demons lose themselves in their emotions. Certain demons will simply refuse to speak with you, while others will be impossible to converse with and recruit unless it is a full moon.
Comprised of many useful shops, dealing in abnormal goods and services, this area acts as the primary hub for the game. In addition to the various shops, it is also the location of the Kuzunoha Detective Agency, which contains the sole save spot in the entire game (this was changed in the PSP version, allowing the player to save wherever they want).
|Kuzunoha Detective Agency|
- Kyouji's home. The only save save point in the game. There is also a computer from which the player can contact "Red Man", a contact on DDS.net who will give hints on how to progress.
|Mansion of Prophecy|
- Mary appears to be a normal fortune teller, but her uncanny accuracy reveals her true nature as one connected to the demonic realm. Supplies Kyouji, and the player, with Demon Summoner contracts, keeping a large cut of the fee for herself.
|Maruse Real Estate|
- The real estate business is just a front for Mr. Maruse's real trade, guns and swords. The player can buy vital weaponry and ammunition here, and will gain access to new stock as the story progresses.
- Fabulous Daffy deals in the most fashionable of attire. His stock ranges from magically imbued robes to good old fashioned kevlar vests.
- An antique dealer who also happens to sell items helpful in fighting demons. He sells items that can used in combat, such as one use reflective shields, as well as convenience items such as a map revealer and a back-upper; the back-upper is the only means for saving the game outside of the detective agency, but only one can be carried at a time.
- A drug store dealing in more than just over the counter meds. The selection includes medicine that cure the player of harmful effects, or simply healing them.
- Behind a locked door in the Clover Gym is an operating room; when you're dealing with fire breathing demons you don't have time to worry about ethics and sanitation. The Player can revive fallen allies and be cured of all ailments here.
|Body Energy Chapel|
- Home to a mysterious cult which deals in spiritual energies. Macca can be exchanged for cash, and vice versa.
- Beneath the Gouma-Dono Hotel is a massive research chamber, used by the hotel owner Victor for his experiments in demonology. Eager for research data, Victor allows the player to fuse demons free of charge.
Full Plot Summary
The player takes on the role of a nameless (named by the player) young man, living in Hirasaki City with his mother and father. He is asked out for coffee one day, by his friend Kumiko, who, upon meeting up with the protagonist, tells him that she has been studying the works of a Professor Azuma, a professor at the local university who specializes in the supposedly mystical past of Japan.
Kumiko has decided to visit the library to look for a book written by Prof. Azuma, his most thorough examination of the dark arts practised in Japan's past; upon finding the book however, she discovers she has left her library card at home, but luckily the protagonist has his and allows her to check the book out with it. Satisfied with the find, she then asks the protagonist to tag along with her to the University, where she hopes to speak with Prof. Azuma.
But, after arriving at the University she remembers she had reserved some concert tickets for tonight; protagonist to the rescue again, he agrees to pick up the tickets on the other side of town, then meet back up with Kumiko at the coffee shop.
Arriving at the building where the tickets are held, the protagonist finds himself trapped inside upon entering, and suddenly there's a shitload of demons abound; luckily Kuzunoha Kyouji jumps out of nowhere and blows them all away, then tells the protagonist to stick with him if he wants to stay alive. At the top of the building Kyouji has a showdown with Takashi, an amateur demon summoner and vampire, and mops the floor with him. Kyouji is hesitant to leave the protagonist alive, thinking he may squeal, but before he makes up his mind Rei Reiho appears - telling Kyouji to chill out and shooing the protagonist off.
Ticket-less, but life intact, the protagonist heads back to the coffee shop, where he's told by the owner that Kumiko decided to head to the park; before leaving the shop and heading to the park though, the protagonist happens to catch a glimpse of Kuzunoha Kyouji - or at least a picture of him, accompanied by the news that his corpse was found not far from the building you just came from. On his way to the park, the protagonist gets pulled aside by Sid Davis, a creepy looking dude with a star tattooed on his head. Sid's got some questions for the protagonist, and wants to discuss them in an abandoned building nearby; naturally the protagonist agrees. What Sid wants to discuss is the book Kumiko checked out of the library, and Sid thinks the protagonist has it since it was checked out under his name. He's not too happy to learn the protagonist doesn't have it, and decides to murder him. But being the gentlemen that he is, he gives the protagonist the chance to make it out of the building with a head start - except he forgets to mention that he magically got rid of every exit. So, trapped in some corner of a dusty building, the protagonist gets his ticket punched.
So the protagonist ends up in limbo, with a ticket across the river Styx in his hand. Even death isn't is so simple as it turns out, because the boat master Charon says there's a bit of a problem, namely that the protagonist isn't meant to be dead, at least not at this moment; a lucky break, the protagonist gets to return to the world of the living, except Charon can't find his original body, so he decides to send his soul into the body of someone who died near him, at around the same time.
That body happens to belong to Kyouji - who scares the shit out of a doctor when he rises up off an operating table. Rei happened to be waiting outside, and she and the new Kyouji get out of the hospital and head to the Kuzunoho Detective Agency to get their bearings. Rei doesn't seem to notice that Kyouji is not who he appears to be, though she senses something is off. Considering the news report that stated Kyouji is dead, Rei thinks it would be a good idea for Kyouji head out and show his face to his friends in the neighbourhood; some are surprised, others aren't, but it's obvious that this isn't the first time Kyouji's stirred up trouble.
When Kyouji shows up at Mary the fortune teller's, she insists on giving him a reading - which draws out the spirit of Kyouji, the real one. Kyouji is surprisingly calm given the situation, and basically tells the protagonist not to get his body beaten up too badly, and to stay alive until he can find a way to get back into it. For the time being however, the protagonist is Kyouji, and Mary decides to give you work in the same way she did Kyouji.
The first assignment involves investigating a demon incursion at the library you visited earlier; someone is desperate to find that book Kumiko checked out. Opposition is relatively weak, made up some of the familiarly low tier demons such as Poltergeists and Obariyons. The boss of the area is Fuguruma, who states that humans are fooling around with a book that deals with knowledge far beyond their understanding.
- Detective/ Female/ Blood Type: O/ Height: 5' 5"/ Weight: 101lbs/ Birthday: September 20th 1971/ Favourite Food: Nikuman
Kyouji's partner in the demon hunting and crime solving business. She's adept with magic and can utilize most any weapon - though she prefers long range rifles and whips. Considering their often on-edge relationship, it's a mystery as to how they came to be working together.
- Devil Summoner Detective/ Male/ Blood Type: B/ Height: 6' 0''/ 159lbs/ Birthday: August 28th 1968/ Favourite Food: Yarai Confectionist's Manju
A Devil Summoner of the Kuzunoha bloodline, Kyouji operates as a private detective in Tokyo; hunting and befriending demons on the side. He spends most of the game trapped in soul form, outside of his own body, and needless to say he is not happy about it.
- Student/ Female/ Blood Type: B/ Height: 5’ 4”/ Weight: 108lbs/ Birthday: December 5th 1975/ Favourite Food: Ramen
A student at Kitayama University, Kumiko lives in a prestigious district of Tokyo. She is good friends with the main character despite her pampered upbringing.
- Priest/ Male/ Height: 6’ 0”/ Weight: 165lbs/ Blood Type: A/ Birthday: August 13 1966/ Favourite Food: Sushi
A Dark Summoner, and one of the primary antagonists of the game; though considerably powerful, he is also quite sadistic and enjoys killing those far weaker than him. Like Kyouji, he uses a COMP to assist in his Devil Summoning – his is disguised as a bible rather than a gun.
- Hotel Manager/ Male/ Height: 6’ 4”/ Weight: 183lbs/ Blood Type: B/ Birthday: December 25 1826/ Favorite Food/ Dutch Wine
Manager of the Gouma-dono Hotel – though in truth he merely uses it as a front for his research in demonology. He assists the main character by allowing use of his demon fusing apparatus, and is happy to do so since it gives him valuable data. It is unclear whether or not he is related to the legendary Victor Frankenstein.
The ability to converse with demons during battle, and possibly recruit them to your party, makes a return in Devil Summoner, but with some changes. Namely the Vice System, which measures the loyalty of any demons you recruit. The Loyalty grades go from 1 - 10, and at 1 it is likely that the demon will not listen to a word you say, choosing to "Boycott" during your turn (which means they just Guard), or casting spells you didn't tell them to.
For different types of demons there are different ways to raise their loyalty - these cant separated into three categories: Level Difference, Item Hungry, Partnership.
Level Difference - Common amongst the Dark type Demons, demons with this nature will change their loyalty depending on the level of Kyouji. Unlike in the later SMT games, in Devil Summoner your demons do not level with you, so the greater the level difference between Kyouji and a demon with the Level Difference affinity, the greater their loyalty would be. The equation for determining loyalty through level difference is: (Kyouji's Level - Demon's Level) / 4 + 1. So with a difference of 36 levels your Demon's loyalty would be at 10. For combat purposes this nature is not very helpful, because, obviously, having a very low level demons in your party is not helpful regardless of their loyalty.
Item Hungry - Common amongst the Neutral type Demons, demons with this nature are eager for valuable items, and loyal to anyone who gives them out. The type of item heavily affects how much loyalty will be gained, with the paltry Maseki giving not even enough for 1 level (Using only Maseki it would take 100 of them to get the demon to loyalty 10) whereas the beautiful Diamond will rocket the Demons loyalty up (taking only three to reach loyalty 10). Not every item in the game can be given to a Demon, they are only interested in items from their realm (Maseki, Chakra Drops) and not in any store bought human junk. The most effective items however are Gems, which can be gained by speaking with Demons during battle.
Partnership - Common amongst the Light type Demons, demons with this nature strengthen their bond with Kyouji by travelling and fighting with him. Their loyalty is raised during by combat, if Kyouji is successful in getting them to perform the moves he wants them to (Ask them to cast Dia, and they cast Dia, that's a success). The range of required successful orders ranges from 10 - 30, in order to raise their loyalty 1 level.
The Proto-Demon is a bio-engineered approximation of a supernatural demon, programmed to be loyal to its creator. The creature is able to absorb the power of true demons through fusion, becoming increasingly powerful the more demons it consumes. Unlike ordinary demons it does not have any “Vices”, and thus has a loyalty level of 10 from the moment the player obtains it.
Proto-Demons can be obtained by defeating a Gargantua – a type of Proto-Demon controlled by the scientist Dr. Thrill; the player will fight Dr. Thrill multiple times throughout the game, but all the encounters are optional and can be skipped entirely (though if you do that you never get a Proto-Demon). Only one Proto-Demon may be controlled at a time, so encountering Dr. Thrill while you have a Proto-Demon in your party will mean you do not end up with another Proto-Demon. In addition to that, the Proto-Demon you acquire depends on which incarnation of Gargantua you destroy – if you destroy the first available incarnation, you end up with the first and weakest form of the Proto-Demon, and if you destroy the final Gargantua you will be given the most powerful Proto-Demon.
Heroic Demons are the demonic embodiments (or possibly literal reincarnations) of great historical warriors:%2ors%h as the lady-knight Jeanne d'Arc or the legendary Japanese general Yoshitsune of Minamoto. They are created by fusing a Proto-Demon of a certain strength with a specific Demon.
The PSP port had some slight modifications and additions made in order to make the game more user-friendly, and to adhere to new censorship rules. Hint giving NPCs were added to certain areas to help with the more obtuse puzzles: for example in the demon infested police station, an NPC was added explaining that entering a teleporter from opposite directions will alter the exit location.
The sprites for the Angel and Waxwork were altered to give them less revealing clothing; the sprite for Rahu was given a more severe change.
Quick List of Minor Changes
- The auto-map functions on the 5th level of all underground water-way dungeons.
- Improved translations of demon names.
- Addition of [Normal] and [Hard] difficulty settings. The original featured neither.
- Balance changes to combat (most notably the accuracy of all magic is far improved).
- In the Saturn version the player was able to have get every Hero (see list below) by turning their Proto-Demon into a Hero before encountering a Gargantua. This is not possible in the PSP verison, as the player will not receive a new Proto-Demon if they have a Hero in their party.
Races are ordered by demons' levels, from highest to lowest.