Shin Megami Tensei II
Several decades after the great destruction... While cultivating the wilderness, fighting off packs of demons, and through countless deaths, humanity survived... but people were not strong enough to survive without someone or something to cling to or to rely on... The Mesian religion preached the advent of a savior, gathered together believers and built a city on the site of the old cathedral...
The city came to be known as Tokyo Millenium.
—Shin Megami Tensei II intro, Aeon Genesis English version.
The second game in the Shin Megami Tensei JRPG series and direct sequel to Shin Megami Tensei I. It was released in Japan in 1994 for the Super Nintendo, with remakes coming out for the Playstation and Game Boy Advance in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
At the end of Shin Megami Tensei, the protagonist decided to create a world where the forces of Law and Chaos could exist freely, and people would have the freedom to make their own choices. Well, one hundred years later, and something has clearly gone wrong with that initial plan. Demons run freely throughout the wastelands of the world, the air is unbreathable, and the only place where humans can live is an encapsulated city called Tokyo Millennium, run by the Messians.
The main character is Hawk, a amnesiac gladiator living in the Valhalla district of Tokyo Millennium. The citizens of Valhalla regularly fight in a tournament for the prize of being allowed to live in the Center district, a place of luxury which is completely free of demons. Hawk wins one such tournament and gains his citizenship in the Center, only to find out from the leader of the Messian religion that his true identity is Aleph, the prophesied Saviour of the human race who will bring about a paradise called the Thousand Year Kingdom.
Aleph is set to work by the Center eradicating demons in preparation for the Thousand Year Kingdom, but as he fights, he bears witness to the various tragedies brought about by the Center's rule, eventually learning that the Thousand Year Kingdom necessitates the complete genocide of everyone outside of the Center. But then again, the alternative is allowing the last bastion of human life to be over-run by demons. Should Aleph fulfil his destiny and become the Thousand Year Kingdom's champion, or should he turn to the other side and bring down Tokyo Millennium?
- Hawk/Aleph: The silent protagonist. The Designated Hero of the Messians. Using the Demon Summoning Program, he can converse with and recruit demons into his party.
- Hiroko: A Temple Knight of the Messians. She meets Aleph whilst searching for a missing scientist and shares a immediate rapport with him. Eventually becomes your main female companion. Appears to have forgotten her pants.
- Beth: A Temple Knight of the Messians assigned to aid Aleph in establishing the Thousand Year Kingdom. She tells Aleph that she will be his "eternal partner"... and the last time someone called you that in a MegaTen game, things didn't work out so well.
- Zayin: A Temple Knight of the Messians. He is completely devoted to the Center at the beginning of the game, but after witnessing some of the less moral acts that they commit, he begins to reconsider his allegiance.
- Gimel: A quirky young man with a harp who rules over the beautiful forest of Arcadia. He seems to be unusually knowledgeable on Aleph and the Center, so can you trust him?
- Daleth: An arrogant man who shows up and proclaims himself to be the true Saviour. Clearly, you're going to have to kick his ass.
Yes, the game is chock-full of religious symbolism, but this was before it became popular to oversaturate your work with it. It uses the same system as Shin Megami Tensei, but refines several aspects, such as the fact that you can now access your minimap with a single button press rather than having to go through three menu screens. The graphics and environments have been improved, though the difficulty is still as high as ever. Also, several features that would go on to be mainstays in the Shin Megami Tensei series were added, such as fusion accidents and skill inheritance from "parent" demons.
Though the game was never released in the West, a group called Aeon Genesis has released a translation patch for the ROM.
- After the End: After two, technically, if you take into account the events of the last game that killed off a lot of people the first end didn't.
- Artificial Human: All of the main characters listed above, with the exception of Hiroko.
- As Long as There Is Evil: YHVH. As long as at least one person continues to desire a Higher Power to believe in and rely upon, he can never truly be destroyed.
- But Thou Must!: For the first part of the game. Eventually, you get the freedom to make your own choices.
- Character Alignment: Measured by two axes: Law-Neutral-Chaos and Light-Neutral-Dark. Your alignment affects what demons you can recruit (Lawful demons will not contract with a Chaotic protagonist and vice versa) and if you can use certain pieces of equipment.
- Church Militant: The Messians are back, and are now even stronger and more genocidal than ever. However, they are the rulers of Tokyo Millennium, one of the last stable human civilizations left in the entire world. The Gaian Church also appears but is significantly less important this time around.
- Clone Jesus: Aleph, an artificial Messiah created by the Messians after they got bored waiting for the real Second Coming. Needless to say, YHVH is pretty pissed at this.
- Crapsack World: Earth a.k.a. Malkuth. The environment is permanently polluted from a catastrophic nuclear war that happened decades ago, demons are everywhere, what might be the last human civilization on Earth is run by a bunch of sadistic, genocidal Church Militants, and depending on your actions, most of humanity eventually dies.
- Corrupt Church: While there are sincere believers, most of the hierarchy is some flavor of corrupt. And the rot is so bad even YHVH is not immune.
- Dark Messiah: Daleth. You can choose to make Aleph one of these too.
- Designer Babies
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: More of Did you just punch out God?
- Disc One Nuke/Game Breaker: There are 2 races of demons that correspond to both Gaians and Templars which are composed entirely of trained humans, and, since they aren't demons in the strict sense, they don't follow the same rules regular demons do and give random demons of a certain alignment depending on the fused human and demon; this by itself is not very impressive, but rather, that the result of the fusions can be of a higher level than Aleph, it's theoretically possible, if one has enough patience to summon Metatron a lot earlier to what its intended, and what's worse, it's possible to do this on Valhalla, the first area on the game, since the weakest Gaian that appears there has a random encounter, and it's only level 8, which means it's entirely possible to have a full team of end-game demons fused before even the second dungeon is finished.
- End of the World Special
- Fake Memories
- Fan Disservice: Satan's true form has what are clearly six women's breasts on his chest.
- Fate Worse Than Death: The Updated Rerelease of Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne implies this happens to the main character. What do you expect when you commit deicide?
- It helps that Aleph looks like Hijiri, minus the mustache.
- God: Actually identified as "YHVH". Your first encounter with YHVH is actually just a false illusion made from the belief the Archangels had in Him. At the end of the game, you fight the various names He has, which all take up their own image, personality, and powers.
- God Is Evil: And how. However, Word of God says that His bizarre behavior is not the root cause of evil, but rather a symptom of something greater going wrong with the universe.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Beth.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Aleister Crowley now has real magic powers, is keen on performing demon "rituals", and sports a One-Winged Angel form named Master Therion, who has a big dick in his concept art [dead link], paying homage to Crowley's own drawings of demons. He's also horny and completely batshit insane. It's difficult to tell if he's the real Crowley, and it's also left a mystery to the ages if he is actually killed when you defeat him in battle.
- Hot Shounen Mom: Hiroko... kinda.
- Inside a Computer System: Arcadia.
- The VR Battle training areas tend to have this as a motif.
- Karma Meter: The Law/Neutral/Chaos alignments. Law is associated with kind actions and generally maintaining order and rules, Chaos is associated with being cruel and being free, and Neutral is based on keeping a balance between Chaos and Law and refusing to ally with members associated with any alignment.
- Kill'Em All: YHVH's solution to everything, regardless of your alignment.
- Knight Templar: The elite Messians of the Center, including the Temple Knights, and the Angels.
- Lotus Eater Machine: All of Arcadia.
- Louis Cypher: Two of them, actually. Louis Cypher is Lucifer, who is a rebel angel who fights against the forces of YHVH, and Zayin is Satan, who is God's lapdog.
- Multiple Endings
- Mutants: There is a small mutant population living in the ruins of Old Tokyo. Apart from blue skin, and a few with deformities, they seem relatively healthy. This didn't stop the Centre from oppressing them and preventing them from leaving the Underworld.
- Nintendo Hard: Somewhat less so if you take advantage of some game bugs and some Sequence Breaking compared to the last game, but this oen can still be quite hard otherwise.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Just like the previous game, Aleph's Law-Chaos alignment can be changed, but his virtue is fixed to Light.
- Nonstandard Game Over: Due to the game mechanics, if Aleph should be in a dying state in the second fight with Daleth after you beat him, then you'll get a game over in the middle of the next cutscene because Beth sacrifices herself to defend you. A bit of a Tear Jerker when you realize that this means that both Aleph and Beth crossover to Nirvana together in what is literally a better fate than what'll happen to Aleph when he kills God.
- No Ontological Inertia: Satan/Zayin crumbles to dust after helping you defeat YHVH in the Law path, as he cannot survive having destroyed his creator. This also happens to Lucifer if he's in the party during the Chaos path; if he isn't around for the kill shot, he shows up in the ending just fine, but if he helps you, he gets dusted too.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Averted. You can get punched in the face by demons, even those much weaker than you, and get hurt. But get thrown out of Eden for refusing to ally with the Messians, and you fall hundreds of feet to the surface without so much as a single hit point lost.
- One-Hit Kill: "Satan points his finger!" "YHVH let out its voice!"
- One-Winged Angel: Zayin, upon discovering his true nature as Satan.
- Order Versus Chaos
- Pietà Plagiarism: See the page image.
- Plot-Relevant Age-Up
- Rage Against the Heavens: Chaos has this in spades, and Neutral applies because you have to reject both sides to maintain that alignment. But Law also counts, since you are asked to put down God since even the Law factions think He has gone too far.
- Satan: A.k.a. God's Dragon.
- Stripperiffic: Almost all of the women seen in the dance clubs dress this way.
- Gets downright ridiculous when you see Bodycondians and Man-Eaters more interested in busting a move on the dance floor as opposed to being enemies of peoples.
- That's No Moon: Mountains seen in Makai and the Underground are actually the spines of the giant dragon Kuzuryu. They actually move. The top of Tokyo Millennium is, in fact, a space station.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Megiddo Arc.
- Younger Than They Look