SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI II / Atlus / Super NES
Shin Megami II is substantially easier than its rather rough prequel
, almost to the point of feeling like a cakewalk most of the time as compared to the heavy grinding previously needed. That and the addition of a convenient one-button automap from the start (available by pressing the L button) makes it feel a lot more smooth to play, but it's still not very exciting and likely to only really appeal to big fans of dungeon crawlers and marks for the previous games in the series.
It's really almost a straight recycle of the previous game's plot, just with a few tweaks to the setting. Instead of a mute Japanese schoolkid with no personality, you're a mute gladiator with no personality. The game is set in the rubble of the world after the events of the previous game, where there are only a handful of semi-safe outposts of civilization left in a world otherwise destroyed and overrun with demons. Your character begins with no memory, fighting in the arena only to win citizenship in the fortified tower-city of the followers of Yahweh, the most demon-free place in the world and apparently the only one that still has janitorial service.
As with the previous game, Stephen Hawking quickly shows up to give you demon summoning software because you have "potential," and you'll go on to gradually collect a similar passel of allies who you rarely see or hear from.
You're also encountering wild demons en route, who you can attempt to recruit through conversation. Even more so than the previous game, however, these conversations feel like you're trying to communicate with a schizophrenic homeless man on meth. You really just have to guess the correct options to get a demon to follow you through trial and error, and even on the "right" path there's a random chance of failure at certain points that is totally beyond your control.
Also returning from the previous games are the mazes full of identical textures, giving the world a sense of generally being flat and indistinct (especially when paired with the low-detail story and almost complete lack of character development or dialogue).
The soundtrack is also similarly disappointing. It consists mostly of very short ambient loops that don't sound like much effort or thought were put into them.
The end result of all this is a game that is less grindy than the prequel, but otherwise just as flat and prone to long stretches of being completely uninteresting. It's a well-made little dungeon crawl just from a mechanical standpoint, but doesn't deviate from the stock dungeon crawl formula nearly as much as the unique setting would indicate. Said setting is also kinda wasted on this somewhat primitive game engine; feel how you will about the J-Poppy direction the later Persona spinoff games took, they had a very distinct identity and charm that these earlier games are just completely bereft of.
As stated previously, this is really only good for huge series fans or huge fans of old-school first-person dungeon crawls. I don't mean to suggest it's bad, but for everyone else it's going to quickly become boring.
* List Of Items
(very helpful as the game doesn't describe what a lot of stuff does)