Atlus USA collected fan questions for the Shin Megami Tensei series in February for a Q&A article they would be creating for Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux.
This article has been released as of yesterday, featuring a variety of topics answered by Eiji Ishida (Series Designer, and Director of Strange Journey Redux), Tatsuya Watanabe (World Setting Investigator / Level Designer), and Masayuki Doi (New Demon Designer).
A small portion of the interview:
Q: Strange Journey was a great installment with an original story with an excellent sci-fi setting. Will you guys ever make a future title with the same sort of atmosphere? Maybe a story that takes place in space?
Eiji Ishida: If able, I would like to make a sequel to this game, but I currently don’t know if that can be made a reality. There is dialogue in the game suggesting the angel Mastema may have originated from somewhere beyond this Earth, so it wouldn’t be so strange if the stage was set in space as well!
Q: What was the coolest scrapped idea you guys had for SJR?
Eiji Ishida: Talking about scrapped ideas is a bittersweet thing that evokes a feeling of defeat, but it also doesn’t feel fair to only talk answer questions that are appropriate for promoting the game, so I’m going to be resolute here and come clean…
In this game we were planning on adding an additional element from the second run of the game, an in-game app called “New Megami Tensei”. It began as a joke that was implemented in the original version, and nothing would happen if you launched the app, but this time instead of a joke we were thinking of actually having the in-game app (a mini game) launch within the game.
The plan was when you launched this app it would start up a combat simulator, and the idea was that you would be able to continuously play a roguelike procedurally generated dungeon, but the actual costs were too great, and it couldn’t be implemented. I do regret that we weren’t able to implement it, but if I had forcefully had this implemented then we wouldn’t have been able to invest as much time into increasing the quality of the vital main story of the game, so I do think it was the right decision in the end. (And it was thanks to our prudent staff that I was finally convinced to give up on implementing it.)[This likely refers to Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue, which would be a sample of their original plan for an SMT roguelike.]
Q: Would you like to make another military-themed Shin Megami Tensei game?
Eiji Ishida: Yes, if it’s possible, I’d like to create a continuation of this game, but lately I’ve been wanting to try creating a story with a setting that is more like a slice of life. Perhaps something like a secret academy where demon tamer students gather would be interesting.
Q: Are there plans for a default female main character, or at least the option of a female MC for future titles?
Eiji Ishida: This would depend on each game’s director, but if I ever am given the chance to make another Shin Megami Tensei game, I’d like to consider such options. By the way, though it was never released in the US, “Shin Megami Tensei If…” for the Super Famicom [SNES] allowed you to choose the gender of the protagonist.
Q: Any plans expand the moral options to the game beside the classic chaos/neutral/law? Perhaps it could include something like we have seen in the Witcher, Mass Effect or Fallout New Vegas, to name a few.
Eiji Ishida: This would also depend on each game’s director, but if I ever am given the chance to make another Shin Megami Tensei game, I think I would like to expand on that aspect. However, I am also interested in working on a project with a storyline that does not branch off. I would like to write a story similar to “The Last of Us,” which follows the very personal journey of one man. I have been particularly interested in these types of works lately.
Q: What inspires you guys to keep writing the stories you create? And how do you come up with settings and area designs?
Eiji Ishida: I’ve only directed Strange Journey in the Shin Megami Tensei series, but I think that the story depicted in the SMT series isn’t as simple as a showdown between demon invaders and innocent humans. I believe that the series has continuously depicted the clashes between complex ideologies and the cooperation that forms between people. With that in mind, occurrences that can easily be used as themes in such stories constantly take place in the real world we live in, for better or for worse. I believe that there are many instances where we gain inspiration from such human actions.
As for the area design question, the first half of Strange Journey’s dungeons were designed as spaces that are the materialization of the negative karma that mankind has cast upon the Earth, such as environmental destruction. They can also be taken as direct messages from the Earth of how mankind must reflect on the actions they have taken.
Q: At any point, were there plans to have a Shin Megami Tensei game take place completely in the Western world (with the exception of SJR) or worldwide?
Eiji Ishida: I cannot answer concerning what we have lined up for the future, but as I answered earlier, I do daydream about different possibilities. Some of those include having one take place in space, or making one take place in Hell and the protagonist is a low-class demon who strives to become the commander of Hell’s army. Either way, these may be fun ideas to pursue.
The official English website for the game has been updated as of yesterday, as well.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan,on October 26, 2017. It will be released in North America on May 15, 2018, and in Europe on May 18, 2018.