First there was "Megami Tensei"; it was a 1980s game based on a novel, and I've got (and seen) an OVA related to it - demons come out of computers... btw that OVA wasn't very good.
But based on that idea, some other folks created "Shin Megami Tensei" on the SNES, and it eventually SMT started spawning spin-off series (e.g. Persona) and the franchise became massive.
The key features of the overall series are:
- Someone will manage to connect to the demon realm by writing computer software
- There's an epic battle between demons and god, and you represent the humans caught between, and can join one side or the other; or do your own thing.
- It does branching storyline right. The choices are fairly clear, and the outcome really affects the story in a meaningful way, with really different endings possible.
- It's set in contemporary Japan turned to chaos, rather than some fantasy world.
- You can recruit your enemies and have them fight alongside you (they were doing this before Pokemon!)
- The world will probably end, but shopping mall buildings and underground rail stations will probably remain intact (how depressing, humankind's legacy!)
This iOS version is actually based on the later enhanced Gameboy Advance release of SMT, so it's got little extra features above what's in the SNES English fan-translation. So I get to watch bonus cutscenes... actually, in this first clip, you get to see how a loved one died; is that really such a reward?
Considering how many games there are in the extended series with spin-offs and such, I haven't really played that many of them. I've played quite a long way into SMT III on PS2 (that was a long time ago!), a spin-off called "Demikids" on GBC (that was even longer ago!), I started Persona 3 but never got along with it enough to continue... started an MMORPG called SMT: Imagine (but not for long), and recently played through Devil Survivor Overclocked on 3DS, which seemed to take me about a year - mainly because I took myself down a route that made it a really really tough game. However, Devil Survivor Overclocked is my favourite RPG on 3DS (sorry Pokemon). It's really good!
I'm really enjoying SMT. Every time I play one, it seems so fresh and atmospheric. I love the fact you can have little conversations with the demons to try and recruit them; the way you get a feeling for their personalities, and the way they are so inhuman in their responses and behaviour. Demons are psychologically interesting! I like the way that it's set in Tokyo so the recognisable world is warped - somehow the world of 1990s Japan overrun with demons and full of cults, bars, and fierce weaponry... is more believable than a fantasy world of "normal people".
I also really like the way the hero characters have swords and guns and magic, where swords and guns are different weapon slots with different use, rather than just having "attack" and magic.
I really wish this wasn't on iOS though. For one thing, I'm borrowing an iPad again, then on-screen controls emulating a joypad make my hands feel weird after a while. I wish this had been ported to 3DS (with in-game maps on the lower screen) or on Vita (because the storage capacity on the device is better and there's a better user accounts system on PSN).
Still, I hope this does well enough that they decide to localise the iOS version of SMT II into English.
I just bought myself an American 3DS XL on import (it's a gold Legend of Zelda special edition I found 2nd hand on Amazon.com) so I can eventually play SMT IV - because it seems like it's never coming out in Europe. I already have the special edition of the game which comes in a nice box with strategy guide and CD. It's not set in a contemporary period, but I expect it to be great.
One thing I do worry about a little; as well as playing SMT, I've been playing Disgaea 3, watching Highschool DxD, watched another OVA based on SMT (called Tokyo Revelations) and just got a copy of Tecmo's Deception IV for Vita in the post... perhaps I am spending too much time with demons, I'm tending slightly towards the chaotic...