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Nintendo 3DS Review: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked

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When I wrote up my review of the 3DS release of The Legend of Zelda:  The Ocarina of Time, I noted that no matter how great the original game was, and how much fun it may have been to play it once more, it was not going to be the title that saved the Nintendo 3DS (a platform in desperate search of a must-have title).  The basic point was that while it was great to revisit this particular incarnation of Link and his pals, no updated graphics or slightly changed doodads were going to make people go out and buy a system that could be great but hasn’t yet found a game to give it that greatness.  Shin Megami Tensei:  Devil Survivor Overclocked is not that game either.

In fact, if we’re being honest, Devil Survivor Overclocked is less likely to make people buy a 3DS than Ocarina of Time.  There are those out there who would suggest that the game may in fact hurt the 3DS as a system, but I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far.  What I will do, is explain the logic that leads to the potential conclusion.

Ocarina of Time was originally released in November of 1998 and consequently was more than 12 years old when it came to the 3DS.  That make Ocarina a retro title which, due to its brilliance, still plays like a great game today.  It is also a title that, 12 years later, is worth revisiting (even if it has been released more than once).  Shin Megami Tensei:  Devil Survivor was originally released in June of 2009, making it just over two years for this 3DS release and still pretty fresh in people’s minds.  Additionally, the original Ocarina isn’t playable on a 3DS because it was released on the N64 and even the GameCube update won’t work on a 3DS.  Devil Survivor, however, was initially released for the Nintendo DS, meaning that anyone wanting to play it on a 3DS can just go out and get a used DS copy and because the game is only two years old, used copies ought to be plentiful.  So, the argument against it could run (and again, I don’t subscribe to it but it is a pretty powerful argument) that the game is not just cannibalizing the franchise, but proving that there’s no real need for a 3DS because the games being released for it are games you can play already on other systems – the anti-3D crowd is correct, it is a gimmick and nothing more.

There are, unquestionably, some advantages to playing the new version.  There is full voice-acting  now, which is great except for the fact that you choose the name of the main character and the voices usually just go silent when it comes time to speak the name you choose (sometimes they say “dude” or something similar).  There is also more content—in the form of an epilogue chapter—available.  But, that’s really it.  So, why should you buy the game?  Well, it is a pretty good game. 

This is not the first Shin Megami Tensei game, but you really don’t need a grounding in the franchise in order to appreciate it.  It isn’t a traditional RPG title, with action that varies far more than that.  The overall story deals with a group of kids trapped in Tokyo, trying to escape before everything really falls apart even though things have already begun to do so.  You get some demons to go with you and collect more.  There is a ton of customization/upgrades available for you and your demon buds, and the game is huge. 

If you like games full of depth and strategy and choices which are RPG-based but extend beyond those confines, Devil Survivor (and Overclocked) is a(/are) game(s) well worth your time.  But, even with a sequel on the way next year, I’m not sure why we’ve been given a semi-‘suped up version of this title for the 3DS.  Yes, it expands the choices available “exclusively” on the platform, but with the original game only two years old and playable on a 3DS, I don’t see a major market for the title.

In short, I would never say you shouldn’t play the game – huge fans of the original who feel the need to do everything will want it and, as stated, it’s worth looking at if you’re a fan of the genre.  But, if you fall into the latter group and are on a budget, I’d probably suggest you try to save money and pick up the DS release which will play on your 3DS.

And so, we continue to wait for the game that forces people to go out and buy a Nintendo 3DS.

Shin Megami Tensei:  Devil Survivor Overclocked is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Blood, Partial Nudity .

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • zay

    thank you Josh Lasser. Very nice post.