Review by Anorexicfatman

"One of the defining games of the RPG genre"

I still remember when Soul Hackers was originally released on the Sega Saturn. It was back in 1997. At the time, I had just moved to Japan with my family around three years ago. While attending school there, I always talked to my friends about games. A topic that was frequently brought up was our disappointment in the Saturn. Frequently, we would compare the Saturn to the Super Nintendo and Genesis. Saying that it didn't have nearly as many good games. Especially, in the RPG department. The original Devil Summoner had been released on the Saturn. It was a great game, but not a absolute must buy. A few weeks before the game was released a friend of mine had a magazine that talked about upcoming games for the latest systems. In the magazine was a article about Soul Hackers. My friend told me that it seemed like Soul Hackers would be an extremely good game. I read the article and became interested in the game. Still, I was skeptical. Shin Megami Tensei had always been a good RPG series to me. The first for the Super Famicom was good and the second was an amazing game. Yet, I still felt like I couldn't be certain Soul Hackers would live up to how much my friend was hyping it. A few weeks later and the game finally released. I purchased it and immediately played it after getting home. Little did I know what an incredible experience I was in for. What started out as skepticism over a game one of my friends was hyping turned into excitement. I hadn't played such a great RPG in a long time. Needless to say, before I knew it Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Soul Hackers became one of my all time favorite RPG's to this day. It was such a great game to me that I would later buy the PS1 port and now the 3DS port. Now we come to the 3DS port of Soul Hackers. Does this amazing game still hold up to this day? What makes this game so amazing? Read on to find out.

Graphics:
Soul Hackers has a great graphical style. All of the areas in the game look incredibly cool and believable. The characters all have very cool character designs and are unique from each other. Not only are the out of battle graphics great, but so are the in battle graphics. In battles you get awesome psychedelic backgrounds, The attack animations are a lot better then the original Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner and are fun to watch. There's really only one shortcoming to the graphics of Soul Hackers. Which would be the sprites. They aren't bad by any means, but they can look very pixelated and the in battle sprites for enemies are mostly static. Still, the graphics are great in this game.

Gameplay:
Soul Hackers is a RPG. Essentially, a Role Playing Game. It is about exploring, fighting monsters and proceeding through a linear story. The game is very similar to most RPG's in the sense that out of battle you explore areas. Throughout this game you'll either be going through a area such as a dungeon where you're fighting enemies or you will be at the town. In the town you travel to different areas through the world map. Traveling using the world map is easily done and you can get to anywhere you want in a only a matter of seconds. It is also important to note that like other Shin Megami Tensei games from the time Soul Hackers has a first person perspective. Even despite the first person perspective, the game still manages to completely immerse you into it's world. I normally don't care for games that use a first person perspective, but it's done very well in Soul Hackers. Back to the world map though.

On the world map you do all your shopping. You also visit certain areas to progress through the story or do different random tasks. Eventually, you will probably have to go to a area that is a dungeon. At a dungeon, you can encounter enemies and get into battles. Like most RPG's, Soul Hackers has random battles. You take a few steps and then you get into an encounter. A great part of Soul Hackers though is you can tell how close you are to getting into an encounter and whether or not in the current area you can encounter enemies. Either way, at some point while traveling through a dangerous area you'll get into a battle. Battles in the game are also done from a first person perspective.

During battles, you can have up to six party members. Which allows for a lot of strategy, customization and micromanagement. The battles in the game are turn based and consist of having both sides give commands until one side or the other wins. In Soul Hackers, the battles are a lot of fun, very fast paced and can be challenging. A great addition in the 3DS port of Soul Hackers is that the auto battle command now speeds the pace of battles. So choosing auto battle can allow you to get through easier battles much quicker. A unique part of the Shin Megami Tensei series is that you don't always just have to defeat enemies or escape to get through a battle. instead, you can choose to negotiate with enemies. For example, if you're battling a random group of demons you can try to talk with them. If you negotiate favorably with them then they might give you a reward or even end up joining your party. A major part of the game and the series in general are demons.

Throughout the game, you fight many demons. However, you can speak to them and try to get them to help you out. Once you get one to join you then you have another party member. Each demon has different strengths, weaknesses, stats and skills. Beyond that, you also can fuse demons. You can combine multiple demons together to form new and sometimes more powerful demons. This aspect adds a crazy amount of customization to the game. Not only can you fuse demons together, but you can fuse a demon with a weapon to create new weapons. Later in the game, you can combine demons with equipment to get more powerful equipment. If you really experiment with this feature you can get some extremely good weapons.

Story:
Soul Hackers takes place in Amami City. Which is a futuristic city. Technology is rapidly advancing and the government provides internet to the citizens of Amami City for free. Due to this, computers are very frequently used. The heavy usage of computers has lead to hacking becoming a popular activity especially among youths. In Soul Hackers, you play as one of those youths. You're an amateur hacker who belongs to a group called the Spookies. A group of hackers who hack into computers to gain various kinds of information. During the prologue of the game, you hack into a lottery. You delete one of the winner's names and enter yourself into the lottery. Afterward, you win a chance to try out the beta of a new virtual reality game. In the middle of the game something starts messing up. Before you know it, you're suddenly attacked by demons.

A person named Redman saves you. He explains what's going on and from there things start getting interesting. It turns out there's more to the virtual reality game then what it seems. The virtual reality game is part of a plan that's going on by a mysterious corporation named Algon Software. The whole story from that point on becomes about the Spookies trying to figure out Algon Software's true motives. There is more then just the main plot though of course. For starters, the characters. Who are very important to the story as well. All of the characters in Soul Hackers who are critical to the story are interesting.

They have their own individual pasts and problems they struggle with. You learn a lot about each member of the Spookies and the game has several plot twists that revolve around the main characters. Anyone who likes a great story will appreciate the story in Soul Hackers. The story is well written and the characters are entertaining and memorable. This is one of the more memorable video game stories and I think it definitely has a spot in my memory. Whenever I think back on great video games with stories with characters I'm able to relate to I think back to Soul Hackers. Soul Hackers just has a excellent story with an exceptional cast of characters.

Music:
Without a doubt one of the best game soundtracks out there. Soul Hackers has an incredibly good soundtrack. The musical style of the game is eclectic. Sometimes you might hear jazz or techno. If not one of those two maybe headbanging metal or very relaxing ambient music. No matter what style of music the songs are in the game though, you won't be let down. The composer of the soundtrack of Soul Hackers did an exceptional job. I rarely listen to video game music, but this is just one soundtrack that I can't help but listen to every once in a while. A lot of the music in the game works incredibly well and enhances your experience with the game. Beyond that, the new voice acting in the 3DS version is well done and you will recognize many of the Japanese voice actors of the game. Last, the sound effects are as they should be. Sword slashes sound like sword slashes, gun shots sound like gun shots and etc.

Overall:
Graphics: 9.8/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Story: 10/10
Music: 10/10

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Soul Hackers is one of the best games to this day. It was an amazing game back when it was originally released on the Sega Saturn and it still holds up incredibly well to this day on the brand new 3DS port. The 3DS port adds a lot of new great features that make the game even better then it once was. This game is a absolute must play for fans of the RPG genre. If you are a fan of RPG's and pass this game then you're doing yourself a great disservice. Overall, one of my favorite games of all time and a must play for any 3DS owner/RPG fan.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/04/13

Game Release: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (JP, 08/30/12)


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