Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. Fatman and Little Boy - Reader Review  

Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. Fatman and Little Boy
by Robin Crew

Click here for game information
60-80 Hours
+ Action slicker than a cobra in Crisco.
+ Cinema quality visuals and sound without the little kids kicking your seat.
+ Deep, dark, doozy of a story.
+ Multiple alignments and difficulties make it a great value, but I had to quit my job and play full time to see everything the game had to offer.
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   A few years back, I remember slavering over brief gameplay videos of the original Devil Summoner and preaching the good word about it on every street corner. Most people ignored me, but a few spit in my eye, insulted me, or even assaulted me. But the firestorm of sales (almost two hundred copies) on the game's initial American release earned me a reputation as a local soothsayer, prognosticator and village idiot. Raidou's first adventure was no disappointment. The complexities of traditional Megami Tensei demon fusion met with a true detective game, where Raidou had to sneak, spy, and use his demons' special powers to overcome obstacles. River in your way? Freeze it. Some tough guy doesn't want to spill the beans about the baddies? Rough 'em up or read their mind. All in all, a fantastic experience.

   So when I heard last fall that a sequel was in the works, ready for an October release in Japan, I was skeptical. How could they ever outdo 1920s Japanese naval vessels turning into giant robots and tromping through Tokyo at the whim of a Devil Summoner from the future inhabiting the body of a teenage girl? How could anyone top that? The game featured a robotic copy of Rasputin, for goodness sake! I was ready to swear that besting the original Devil Summoner was an impossible task.

   That is, until I got my hands on a copy of Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. Fatman and Little Boy.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, my faithful friend. Parting is such sweet sorrow, my faithful friend.

   The game takes place nearly twenty years after the previous installment concludes. Backed by his old boss Narumi, his wise cracking cat Gouto, and Tae, ace newspaper reporter, Raidou reprises his roll as the Guardian of Japan in his greatest adventure yet, looking for a way to end the second world war, and reverse the flow of "evil air" which has escalated Japan's militarism to dangerous levels. A task of this magnitude would have been beyond the old Raidou, but he's come back wiser and stronger than ever.

   For starters, he can now control up to two demons in battle at once, making the battles much more hectic; good planning and party balance are now even more important. In addition, he's become far more dangerous in his own right. Now fusing demons into his sword doesn't just change the parameters or add effects, it actually changes the sword, giving him multiple styles, such as long sword, short sword and the two sword style, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. As an example, the two sword style is quick and powerful, but the attack range is small. In addition, each style has unique special moves which can be activated by holding the L1 or R1 buttons while performing regular attacks. Raidou can now block and strafe, making the combat as exciting and deep as almost any action game.

   The loyalty system from the previous game returns, and its functions have changed a bit. Pulling a page from the successful playbooks of Persona 3 and 4, your demons' abilities and AI are strengthened based on their emotional connection to Raidou. Each demon can have up to two of five dispositions towards you- hate, fear, respect, friendship or love. Each disposition is associated with its own active or passive skill, as well as influencing their combat AI. If you want your demons to serve you effectively, you'll have to take them on dates, chat them up and buy them presents. But you'd better be careful. Just because they're monsters doesn't mean they don't have feelings. Suffice to say when my Nekomata got into a catfight with my Moh Shuvuu and almost clawed her face off, I learned quickly to be careful about which demons were safe for simultaneous summons. Careless combinations may change their disposition towards you and each other. One false pairing on hard mode could be the end of you when your allies start attacking each other!

Bad touch, bad touch! Bad touch, bad touch!

   The story is an enormous upgrade from the previous game too. For starters, it returns to an old school Shin Megami Tensei style alignment system of Good, Evil, and Neutral, which drastically effects the later portion of the game as well as the ending. Combined with the new game plus function, the game's replay value goes straight into the realm of the astonishing. What's more, each time you start a new cycle, you can switch the difficulty level between easy, normal, hard, and the unlockable very hard modes. With a deeper mystery and a larger, more fleshed out main cast, Devil Summoner 2 can compete with the greatest pieces of literature for depth and power, and thanks to prettied up graphics, could easily compete with the greatest cinematic masterpieces of our time. The heartwarming side story of how he trains his potential successor nearly made me cry; far more powerful than the training of a new Zorro in the 1998 hit The Mask of Zorro. Raidou's mid-air battle with the titular bombs, Fatman and Little Boy (which are in the forms of a giant bald eagle and a snake, respectively) far outshines anything you might have seen last summer in Iron Man. The love triangle between Raidou, Tae and the backwards-aging clone of General Douglas MacArthur was a thing of beauty. I can't even talk about it without sullying its grandeur. Just trust me. No matter how much you think you hate sappy romances, you will be bawling by the time you see how this one plays out. With sweeping themes about love, war, the environment, and our responsibilities as individuals and as a society towards each of those things, Raidou's latest adventure is as intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving as it is fun to play.

   Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. Fatman and Little Boy is a game for all seasons, offering something to any kind of player. Combining the best of its old school roots such as multiple story paths based on alignment, with some of the latest, greatest features such as the dating sim aspects, and a complex battle system, Devil Summoner creates something wholly new and wholly awesome. I appeal to whatever goodness there is in you to buy this game. In fact, you should probably buy two. One copy to play, and one to hold at night in order to remind yourself that no matter how bad things may seem, there's still a shred of goodness and a helping of awe and wonder left in this world for those who know where to look.

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