“Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Interview”. Digital Devil Database, n.d. <http://www.digitaldevildb.com/archived.php?url=/tony/games/shin_megami_tensei_devil_summoner/devil_summoner_interview.php>
D3: Could you tell us a little bit about Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner?
Tomm [Hulett, the Assistant QA Manager / Editor at Atlus USA. He is responsible for the localized text and helped direct voice acting for DDS and DDS2. Currently he is writing the text for Devil Summoner as well]: Devil Summoner takes place in Japan during the 1920’s. You play as Raidou Kuzunoha, a detective who also happens to come from a long line of “Devil Summoners” who watch over Japan. Your assignment is Tokyo (called “The Capital” during the time of the game). Because of your occupation, each Chapter is a different case, and they all end up tying together into the overall plot. A lot of your time is spent gathering clues or interrogating people, so it has a really neat kind of period-piece detective-story thing going on. And of course, what’s more noir than demons?
D3: What differentiates this title from the other Shin Megami Tensei titles released in the US so far?
Tomm: Well despite the setting, it’s also a little more lighthearted than previous SMT games we’ve released, which are primarily end-of-the-world doom and gloom. Which isn’t to say Devil Summoner is a comedy or anything, but it definitely has a more playful vibe. I’d say that if the backstories of Nocturne or DDS turned anyone off, they might want to give Devil Summoner a try. Also, there’s the battle system…
D3: The battles are more action based than other titles released so far in this franchise. What are the main features of the combat system in this case?
Tomm: Combat is more action based this time around, and you control Raidou directly; swinging his sword, firing his gun, etc. You still have to summon demons, of course, and you can have one join you in battle at a time (but as long as you have magicite reserved, you can keep switching demons in and out of battle at will). Each demon has a specialty, such as healing, fire attack, ice attack, etc. So the idea is to exploit your enemies weakness with your demon’s power and then move in for the kill. Attacking a “weakened” enemy with your sword will give you critical hits for higher damage.
But, the demon use doesn’t stop when the battle does! Your demons have powers on the map screen as well. For example, I mentioned interrogation earlier. What if your mark doesn’t want to spill the beans? Well, you whip out your psychic demon and you just read the info you need right out of his mind.
D3: Graphically, the game is going for a much more realistic style compared to DDS and Nocturne. Is there a specific reason for this?
Tomm: I’m not sure if it’s necessarily more realistic–the characters still adhere to character designer Kazuma Kaneko’s signature style. However, the backgrounds are pre-rendered this time instead of cell-shaded polygons. I believe this was done to enhance the look of 1920’s Japan with locations based off actual places and the like. It really goes a long way in making you feel like you’re in that time period.
D3: In terms of sound, is the music in the vein of Nocturne and DDS? In addition, does the game feature English voice overs, and if so, how is that being handled?
Tomm: The music is still being handled by Shoji Meguro, the SMT composer. However, Devil Summoner has lighter jazzier tunes to fit with its tone and setting. Still, when the battles get serious I’m sure fans of Nocturne and DDS‘s music won’t be disappointed. There actually isn’t any voice acting, so redubbing dialogue isn’t a concern.
D3: The screens released thus far all still contain Japanese text. How far along would you say the localization is and when would you estimate its release? Are there any potential obstacles for meeting this date?
Tomm: We’re currently immersed in the localization process. What is interesting about this project is that, because of the setting, I compiled a large list of 1920’s slang to sprinkle into the dialogue. This way (hopefully) the American localization will lend itself to feeling like you’re actually back in that time period. We’re aiming for release this fall, but like always, the world could end before then and throw our schedule out the window. You never know in the game industry.
D3: Was this a game you planned to release all along or a decision made after the Japanese version was completed?
Tomm: We’d always intended to release SMT: Devil Summoner, we just wanted to watch our fans sweat it out for a bit.
D3: Ghostlight Interactive has helped bring DDS and Nocturne to Europe. Are there currently any plans to do the same with this title?
Tomm: I don’t know anything about that at this time, but I do hope our European friends will get to play the game as well. It’s a lot of fun.
D3: Any thoughts on possible special editions like with the previous Shin Megami Tensei titles released here?
Tomm: To my knowledge, we won’t be doing any special editions with Devil Summoner.
D3: Noticably, all recent Megaten related titles have been released in the US under the heading of “Shin Megami Tensei”. Do you feel this has proven to form a strong brand for Atlus USA?
Tomm: I do believe it’s working to sort of get the brand out there, which makes sense since we’re still using it. 🙂 You might remember Atlus tried several different names for the series, such as “Revelations” back when the Persona games were coming out on PS1. There has been some fan confusion that we are “sticking SMT where it doesn’t belong,” but like you said, in Japan it’s understood that Devil Summoner, Persona, etc are part of the “MegaTen” series. I’m glad the name we’re using is part of the core series (Shin Megami Tensei) instead of some word we just thought fit and tacked on (Revelations). We consider this our flagship series, and are committed to giving them the quality localizations they deserve.
D3: Now that this is announced, are there any possible thoughts on the Devil Summoner PSP port coming to the US, or is that still a no?
Tomm: Unfortunately, there are a number of top-secret reasons Devil Summoner PSP cannot be released in the US. So, sorry to say, it won’t be happening. However, I assure you none of those reasons are censorship or content related.
D3: Is there anything else you’d like to note about Devil Summoner?
Tomm: Devil Summoner is a lot of fun to work on and it’s a unique entry into the SMTseries. If you enjoyed the previous SMT games we’ve released you’re sure to love Devil Summoner because of its deep gameplay and gothic overtones, but if you shied away from the earlier games I would recommend you give this one a try. Like I said, it’s a bit lighter in tone and you might find it easier to get into. Since you play a detective and have to talk to a lot of people, the NPCs in the game have a lot of personality–you follow a number of them through the game and watch them change and/or experience various life situations. So, if you like characterization or just exploring towns and seeing what you find–Devil Summoner is an SMT game you won’t forget.