Shin Megami Tensei IV Final Developer Interview: Older Main Character Considered and Design Elements

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Header pixel illustration by Kurashima Kazuyuki via Dengeki Nintendo April 2016 issue, via estipse (Tumblr).

Alongside the release of Shin Megami Tensei IV Final in Japan on February 10, Weekly Famitsu magazine issue #1419 featured a developer roundtable interview with Kazuyuki Yamai (producer), Masayuki Doi (character designer) and Ryota Kozuka (composer).

Left to Right: Masayuki Doi (character designer), Kazuyuki Yamai (producer), Ryota Kozuka (composer)

Left to Right: Masayuki Doi (character designer), Kazuyuki Yamai (producer), Ryota Kozuka (composer)

Nintendo Everything has translated this Famitsu interview, which talks about the developers’ history with the Shin Megami Tensei series, their thoughts on what defines Megaten, and certain creative elements of Shin Megami Tensei IV Final.

Developers’ History with SMT

  • Yamai and Doi first became interested in the Shin Megami Tensei series with Megami Tensei for the Nintendo Famicom. Kozuka learned of Shin Megami Tensei on the SNES, and truly became interested after playing Devil Summoner.
  • Doi and Kozuka joined Atlus because of their memorable Atlus game experiences. For Yamai:
    • “[…] the motive behind joining Atlus was because I saw in a game magazine that the creators in Atlus were all posing with sunglasses, like it had a punk spirit unlike ordinary companies. Both the company and its games are ‘different from others’ and it suits me.”

Shin Megami Tensei IV Final Themes

  • Doi’s Famitsu cover illustration for the magazine launch feature was designed to depict the peaceful atmosphere aspect of Shin Megami Tensei IV Final with the underlying theme of “bonds or massacre.” The latter had been shown in previous images, but it was the first time the “bonds” element had been emphasized instead.
  • Yamai: The Megaten series has been always about choosing between going together with everyone or destroying everything, along with the conflicts and immoralities that accompany it, but those essences are being enhanced in SMT4F.”
  • No one story route among the game’s multiple endings is considered canon.

Shin Megami Tensei IV Final Character Design

  • Because the game takes place more in Tokyo and the average age of the main characters in Shin Megami Tensei IV Final was intentionally lowered, the game is designed to be more pop-like, with the characters having a more youthful look.
  • During the early planning phases, the main character was planned to be older than Flynn from Shin Megami Tensei IV. With Megaten games being designed around current sensibilities, it makes more sense for the main character of a modern Megaten game to be a youth with an incomplete sense of self, rather than an experienced adult.
  • As inexperienced children, the design for the main character Nanashi and his childhood friend Asahi were such that they received plenty of love from their caretakers.
    • Asahi’s father named her that (“Asahi” is “Morning Sun” in Japanese) and she wears pilot-like clothing because of the father’s desire for a bright future in Tokyo where citizens could fly freely. Asahi’s father adopted the main character, and the text of “NO WAR” on the MC’s clothes also come from their father’s desire.

SMT IV Final Famitsu Cover

Defining Elements of Megaten

Famitsu: What do each of you think really defines Megaten?

Yamai: I’d call it ‘Sharp Life Simulator’. Because for example when faced against such a conflict, the game asks the player ‘What would you do?’ and gives choices for the player to take. There’s also an immoral selection that doesn’t normally show up in other games, so it’s an RPG that can unleash the player’s hidden greed.

Doi: For me it’s freely playing inside the several [provided] paths. The world has contrasting realities like ‘good’, ‘evil’ and ‘neutral’, but it’s up to the player how they will set the world’s fate, and they can also raise demons as they want.

Kozuka: I think it’s where we deliberately conceal features that would be easy to understand. Like making this a very occultish world, but when speaking to demons they have funky dialects. But things like having pungent events where players least expect it would also make it more interesting so I think it can also be a characteristic.

Read the full interview on Nintendo Everything.

Shin Megami Tensei IV Final was released for the Nintendo 3DS on February 10, 2016 in Japan.

Nintendo Everything

  • マーク ☠

    Fuck yeah, punk rock spirit! Long Live Rock N’ Roll!!!!!!!!!

  • GoldSaint Luis

    Kinda wish they had gone with the other design for Nanashi. The final (heh) design is pretty bad imo, I would’ve rather had something less…overdesigned and strange looking.