Shin Megami Tense, eh?

As I write this, sweat pours down my face, gathers in my eyebrows, and annoys me to no end.

On one hand, my perspiration could be caused by the unusually warm weather coupled with my warehouse surroundings.

Or it’s the fact that Shin Megami Tensei IV has me thinking 15 moves ahead, hording healing waters like a mother.

Yeah, it’s been a pretty hairy day.

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Back in my Crossing to Bare post, I spoke on how the Animal Crossing franchise existed on the opposite end of the spectrum when it came to games I enjoy. Yet, in spite of my own grumpy ways, I fell in love with it. Same goes for Shin Megami IV, except its obstacle isn’t as easy to overcome. It makes me address the issue I have with game difficulty.

As many can attest, SMTIV comes at you hard, unleashing a whirlwind of hurt I haven’t felt in a long time. As a rule, when the opportunity rises I take the baby’s way out at the difficulty selection screen. Whether its easy, casual, or Ninja Dog Mode, it doesn’t matter, it’s what I’m doing. SMTIV doesn’t provide that option (that is, until you die twice, see the update at the end of the post!). Instead, as I die early in a tutorial mission, a pair of sunglasses slowly drop from above, and drape the game’s face as it whispers “Deal with it.”

The 28-year-old, father of two in me says, “Pull out, pull out! You’re in over your head! This isn’t easy enough for you!”, while the battle hardened, NES lovin’, child of the 80’s screams at me to persevere.

The quality of this thing is causing that inner child to win out. I’m understanding that Dark Souls crowd a bit better thanks to SMTIV. While the on-field enemies jump at me as soon as I open the door, I still have the means to pull off a victory. It keeps me on my toes, I don’t think I’ve ever tried to balance out my team as carefully as I am now.

I’m also getting Xenoblade vibes, but don’t get ahead of yourself, fellow Xeno lovers. What inspires these feelings is how evolved everything feels. Instead of a JRPG lost in that late-90’s explosion (or worse, the 2000’s implosion), SMTIV plays like a natural evolution. In battle, if an elemental attack is an enemy’s weakness, an exclamation mark takes place of the cursor, same goes for neutral attacks. There’s no guesswork, and really helps speed things along. As well, item gathering quests don’t need to be ‘taken on’, instead they are always active, and the game will notify you when a necessary item has been gathered. Whether you turn them in is up to you, so you’re never beholden to turn over sweet loots.

So, as I trudge forward, resurrecting my fallen warriors with my bounty of Play Coins, I’m actually enjoying these constant beatings. While I keep that sort of masochism out of the bedroom, it’s nice to be reminded how short sighted I can be in a game sometimes. Not everything in life is easy, and Shin Megami Tensei IV reminds you every chance it gets.

UPDATE: The wise Neal Ronaghan (friend and site director of Nintendo World Report) informed me that if I die twice, I’m offered an easy difficulty! This changes everything! Well, not entirely. While I’m likely to switch over, I think I’m still in for a hard time.

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