|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 12, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One JRPG at a Time
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
March 4, 2009 - Atlus has really made a name for itself on the PlayStation 2, primarily because of the success of the Persona series in recent years. However, in 2006 a little known title was released: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Souless Army as part of the Shin Megami Tensei meta-series. Although the game was received fairly well by critics, it did not achieve the popularity that Persona has enjoyed in recent years. However, the Devil Summoner series is coming back to the PlayStation 2 later this year, and this iteration may be the one to finally break through to the American market.
Although Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abbadon is the second offering in of the "Raihou" sub-series on the PlayStation 2, it is actually the fourth for the series at-large. The Devil Summoner series first appeared almost 15 years ago on the Sega Saturn, and it garnered fans in Japan for its monster-based gameplay. The core elements of the series' battle system works like a hybrid between the Persona series and Pokémon. The different characters are able to collect different demons, which will have their own stats and can be upgraded. As the series evolved, the different creatures gained new abilities, like fusion, which allow them to be combined with other demons to make a hybrid creature.
Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abbadon will continue this trend of creature-based combat, but with a few interesting upgrades. The most notable will involve the number of demons you will be able to use in battle. While past titles have only allowed you to have a single demon in play, Devil Summoner 2 will let you manage two demons at the same time and use tactical options to utilize each monster's unique powers together to perform a strategic attacks. There will also be more alternatives to straight battle actions in Devil Summoner 2, including new "hide" and "dodge" commands.
One thing that will remain intact for this title, however, will be the demon negotiation system. This part of the game involves going after various demons "in the field" and capturing them for use in battle. Think of it as a demon-focused version of Pokémon. However, in Devil Summoner 2, there will be more than twice the number of demons, which will add considerable options to those who enjoy combining demons and making hybrids. The extra demons should also add some depth for completionists who want to try out all the different demons in combat.
As for the story, this time around Devil Summoner 2 picks up where the last game left off. Raidou Kuzunoha is still working as a demon-utilizing private investigator, when he is called to Tokyo to work on a missing persons' case. Although this small-time case seems an ill fit for Raidou's unique characteristic, we soon find that there is more to this case than meets the eye. When some mysterious insects and ninjas begin appearing, the trail leads to the evil King Abbadon.
As far as the visuals are concerned, Devil Summoner looks to follow Persona 4 as one of the best-looking games ever made for the PlayStation 2. Devil Summoner does have a little bit of a darker visual style than the Persona series, despite their common occult-based themes. However, one thing that looks very promising in this new title is the character design. The game is set in 1920's Japan, which is a historical period that is very rarely explored in video games. The characters all sport very era-appropriate looks, complete with period outfits and weaponry. The different environments also look very typical of the time, complete with old-fashioned buildings and vehicles.
Although the original Devil Summoner was not the most popular title when it was released, the blockbuster success of Shin Megami Tensei sister series Persona may be enough to warrant some genuine interest in this title. Although this game will be released on the PlayStation 2, it looks to provide some really interesting gameplay that will both please fans of the first PS2 title as well as be accessible to those who are new to the series.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor