Which game should I try next?
Well, I've finally decided that the next SMT game I will play following this one is going to be DSO! Now to just get it on the eShop before the sale ends! I realized that I couldn't download both DSO and Soul Hackers onto my SD card, so some pressure to decide on Soul Hackers is relieved and I have more time to think over that one. If I do get Soul Hackers, it would be after I beat Overclocked (or even after I finish Break Record, depending on when that comes out), but I will most likely be trying that out in the near future. I do have some concerns about it after reading some reviews, though. A couple reviews said that Soul Hackers freezes up sometimes, and that there were some things wrong with the translation. Did any of you experience these problems while playing, and if so, how much of a hindrance were they?
To be honest, buying a used copy of DSO off Amazon is about as cheap as it gets for a new-ish SMT game. If you're insistent on a digital download, then that's that, but I don't have the first clue when DSO will go on sale in the eShop again. My understanding is that DSO is still doing well, despite being an older release.
As for the games: I have a physical copy of DSO. It glitches enough to become rage-inducing -- if a map has a bonus data card, then you have to make it to said card without killing all enemies first. (This becomes harder as the game goes on, which is when the bonus cards are worth a decent chunk of free Macca.) Nine out of ten times, you reach the card and the game quits. This is ungodly annoying during the endgame, when you only have one grind battle on a very annoying stage.
Soul Hackers was translated by fans prior to its actual release in the west. (Since it seemed like it would never be released in the west. See also: Persona 2.) I'm guessing the comments you read have to do with the differences between the fan translation and the official Atlus text. One character was renamed under the "oh, crap, this translates into a racial slur" clause, which means Atlus ruined the game, because nothing is allowed to change, ever. The skill translation errors, however, are found in DSO, not SH, and you'll want to check the MegaTen wiki or another guide, because those errors are much more annoying.
DSO and SH are both short games. You should clear DSO in under 20 hours. It's the NG+/endings that pile on the playtime, particularly if you're going for total completion. Assuming you don't go a-questing and stick to the main story, Soul Hackers is around 40 hours, not counting the bonus dungeons.
Frankly, while I love SH, I would suggest you reconsider one of the console titles. There's nothing like Soul Hackers out there -- for better or for worse -- but it wouldn't be my first pick for a new SMT fan. Soul Hackers doesn't let you exploit weaknesses for extra turns, so unless you're looking at playing titles from the pre-Press Turn era, Soul Hackers is the game that's not like the others. There's also a lot to keep track of, what with weapon fusion, the moon's effect on your party (suddenly, half your demons are useless), demon personalities, the seemingly endless fusion types, that godd*** addicting casino... I got distracted by Vs. Poker again -- where was I? I love Soul Hackers, but it's not for everyone.
If you're drawn to DSO because of the characters, I'd go to the source: Persona 3 FES. (DSO's initial three amigos are patterned off of the starting set in FES.) Nocturne is less character-driven, but has the best God vs. Satan narrative. And, as has been mentioned, you can buy it cheap. This is a good time to pick up console titles, as SMT games seem to be trendy again -- DDS was pretty rare not that long ago, but now it's possible to buy both halves in the same store.
Just as a note, if you're talking about AGTP's translation of Soul Hackers, then that's not complete. I don't know whether Gid intends to works on it now that there's been an official release, but I wouldn't presume to speak on such matters, AGTP's had a lot of releases recently.
If you're talking about the other translation attempt, then I can't say. The person who began it seems to be at a roadblock, and it hasn't had a mention that I know of since late July (not that this is a very long time in terms of fan translation) but to the best of my knowledge, said person was looking for assistance. Outside of Gemini aiding in the initial process of getting started I don't know if he ever received the help he needed.
I stopped caring about Club Nintendo coins (or my Club Nintendo account at all, really; I haven't been on there in at least six months, probably more like a year or more) after I realized that it's pretty much only first or second-party Nintendo games which actually give coins, and most of the rewards (as of the last time I was on, at least) were dinky little tchotchkes like DS cases and Nintendo-themed playing card decks.
I'd tend to agree with the post above mine, in that going straight from SMT IV, with all of its fusion streamlining and more complex combat system, back to Soul Hackers, one of the earliest chronological SMT releases, would be extremely jarring. I'd go with Strange Journey (DS, my personal recommendation, as it's the closest in look and feel to Soul Hackers) or Nocturne (PS2) as an intermediary step before stepping into the DeLorean (or TARDIS, if you'd prefer) for Soul Hackers. I guess if you're really tight-fisted (DSO isn't really that expensive; I got it full-price back when it was first released), absolutely must have a digital release, and really must play all of the 3DS versions first, then Soul Hackers is your only option, but it should really be last on your list, not because it's a bad game, but because playing most of the more modern SMT games right before it really stresses the differences in design aesthetic between modern RPGs and old-school.
Strange Journey is a recent release designed to be old-school, so you'll become accustomed to the first-person viewpoint and old-school fusion restrictions naturally through the game. Exploiting weaknesses also isn't as critically important in SJ's battle system as it is in Press Turn games, as it doesn't give you a huge advantage.
Nocturne was released back in 2003 (IIRC) so it really is a sort of intermediary step. It doesn't have the first-person view (at least until New Game Plus) and still uses the Press Turn battle system found in IV (in fact, it pioneered it), but fusions can only be performed in the Cathedral of Shadows, and it uses an old-school fusion system much closer to the one found in Soul Hackers than SMT IV does.
Now Playing: Persona 4 Golden, Dragon Quest VIII, Soul Hackers
Well, I do want to play the PS2 titles, but I still want DSO to be the next SMT game I play (even if it doesn't play like SMTIV) simply because I like the idea of playing an SMT SRPG. I'm going to wait until ATLUS has another sale to download it, so between now and then, I'll probably just go back to playing different games, or maybe I'll go through SMTIV for the second time. I could always just buy the PS2 titles and store them until I'm ready to play them so I won't have to seek them later. Nocturne will be the first PS2 game I try, but I don't even know when I'm going to get around to that. Persona games (even FES) will probably take longer for me to start playing since there are too many PS2 titles out there. If Soul Hackers isn't for someone new to the SMT franchise, how many games should I play before I play it?
I'd say playing through Strange Journey would be a good indicator of whether you'll find Soul Hackers to be fun.
Now Playing: Persona 4 Golden, Dragon Quest VIII, Soul Hackers
Well, I do want to play the PS2 titles, but I still want DSO to be the next SMT game I play (even if it doesn't play like SMTIV) simply because I like the idea of playing an SMT SRPG. [...] If Soul Hackers isn't for someone new to the SMT franchise, how many games should I play before I play it?
The thing about DSO is that it's very light on the "strategy" elements. Aside from one mission late in the game (which you'll need to look up the answer to) and maybe a few escort ones, the grid is largely irrelevant. It's more about which skills you give the MC and the two demons in his party (both of which you can change before any battle, as you can scan the enemies beforehand to determine whether Agi or Bufu is better). The Fire Emblem crossover has been confirmed to be modern-day, so I expect that to be much closer to a SMT SRPG.
It's not like you have to clear "x" number of games before Soul Hackers so much as what you like. As said above, Nocturne introduced the Press Turn system, which every subsequent game has used in some form. FES traded demon negotiation for character negotiation (social links), so games that have a character development/route component are going to share similarities with FES.
The Devil Survivor games are heavy on characters and social link elements (what you say and do, when, will have consequences, so choosing the right answers nets you potential power-ups, fusions, and party members). Devil Survivor 2 added a more obvious version of social links, so I'd put the Devil Survivor games closer to the Persona group than, say, Soul Hackers, which has no social elements. Devil Survivor also allows you to change the MC's skills as best fit the situation, which is a FES move. (Persona 2 was more limited and doesn't use the Press Turn system.)
I played FES first, then went back to Nocturne and I love both. Both of those games, in any order, will not spoil you for Devil Survivor, since the Devil Survivor games have unique elements due to the grid system (demons have "race skills," so Beast demons will always have Animal Leg, e.g.) and a totally different plot -- obviously, being caught in a lockdown will make the world much less open than it is in FES and Nocturne. In FES and Nocturne (and Soul Hackers), there's a limit to party size, whereas in DS, you're always fighting in units of one human and two demons (max), usually against another group of three, with a maximum of four units on the field, so DS gives you 12 active combatants compared to the usual four.
So if you're waiting for Devil Survivor, then it's about "what draws you to it" when making recs. I think the strategy elements of FES are harder than those in DS, since you can't directly command your allies and you can see the order of attack for enemies and allies; unlike in IV and Nocturne, where one side attacks until its done, FES will put you in situations where turns switch between your side and the enemy's each round, so you'll have to consider how much risk you can take when setting your persona (basically, the demon is you) and which party members are vulnerable (do we need a healer or are we going to be okay, etc.). Nocturne's combat is the same as IV and similar to Devil Survivor's -- hitting an enemy weakness nets you an extra turn, etc.
FES deals with major themes in the New Testament but God himself doesn't put in an appearance (kinda mostly), Nocturne is all about God, and Soul Hackers has nothing to do with Christianity. Sometimes I want a break from God and Satan both being jerks, and for other people, that's their thing. Some people feel social links broke the Persona series, but they've been reincorporated into DS, so whether or not you find the social aspect tedious is also a factor. (Personally, I bounce to dungeon grinding when I'm bored with social and vice-versa, and it's not like you're starved for plot.)
Soul Hackers is a DS title but it's also the game that's not like the others in a lot of ways. This is a game that has two bonus dungeons, one of which must be cleared just to get a NG+, and that makes 100% completion of the Compendium insanely difficult. (I find completion for completion's sake dull, but with SH, I'm just amazed that I've hit the 50% mark. If you're in the 40s, good game.)
The games that have been recommended won't spoil or ruin your DS experience, since DS has a unique scenario and gameplay elements. Some games complement each other better than others. Some people hate a specific type of game (e.g., Persona). Based on what you've said so far, I don't think you're going to fall in love with Soul Hackers, as it can be a very complex game (even if you like it). On the other hand, I think you will like Nocturne, and given your interest in the DS games and strategy elements, I think you will like FES.
FES is ten dollars on the PSN or about the same used, and Nocturne is going for 15 bucks when it had gone up to 60 or more not long ago. Even if you still play DS before the console games, I'd scout for used copies of the console titles, as the price has really dropped -- I'm relatively new to this fandom and even I've noticed it.
Well, it looks like ATLUS is having another sale on the Nintendo eShop! Too bad it's only Soul Hackers that's on sale, and not Overclocked. Anyway, I'm going to follow the advice above me and not try Soul Hackers until I've played Strange Journey, so I'll let this sale pass me by. Hopefully the next one will have Overclocked on sale, and that's when I'll pounce! I'm sure the Devil Survivor games will tell me whether or not I'd like the social elements that are prevalent in the Persona games. That being said, I'm better off getting Nocturne before I buy FES or anything else, as far as the PS2 titles are concerned.
Just play Nocturne. Easily one of the best games/rpgs ever.
Reading this thread really makes me want to pull out my PS2 again. I still have Nocturne and DDS to play. I played FES and loved it, but life intervened, and I never got around to Noc or DDS. They're still just sitting in a box full of old games :/
Since then I've played DS (which ud definitely recommend), bought hut never played DS2 because of other games I was more interested in, and now I'm starting SMT4 because Pokemon X got boring.
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