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RPGamer Feature - Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers Interview
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers
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Publisher: Atlus USA
Developer: Atlus
Release Date: 04.16.2013










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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is soon making its way to North America for the first time, as the prior two versions of this game were not localized. Here to talk with us about this upcoming 3DS RPG is a host of Atlus USA staff. Let's dig in and see what this soul hacking business is all about.


Michael A. Cunningham (RPGamer, Editor-in-Chief): First off, thank you for taking time to chat with us about Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. For those who are unfamiliar with Soul Hackers, could you give us a quick rundown of what kind of RPG it is?
Mike Meeker (Atlus USA, Editor/All-Around Awesome Guy): Soul Hackers is a first-person dungeon explorer that relies on negotiating with demons in order to build up a party capable of navigating the various areas of the game, fighting enemies and the occasional boss. If you want a recent game to compare it to, I'd say that SMT: Strange Journey is pretty close, though Soul Hackers has a bit more plot and less straight-up exploration.

MAC: What about the gameplay, what will we be doing here?
MM: The main character (MC) and Nemissa are constantly in the party (the MC deals physical damage while Nemissa does magical damage), but the other slots in the party are all going to be demons that you've persuaded to join you or fused yourself. You'll be going through dungeons in various places across Amami City as well as virtual dungeons within Amami's own MMO, "Paradigm X."

MAC: Hacking plays a large part here, but what are some examples of different things hacking will unlock for you?
MM: Hacking plays a large part of the story, but the player doesn't do any himself within the context of the gameplay. Instead, a new set of hidden options called "Hacking" allows you to modify game parameters to make things easier (or more challenging!) for you, with corresponding rewards.

MAC: Many other Atlus remakes have added new difficulty settings. What difficulty modes does Soul Hackers offer?
Clayton S. Chan (Atlus USA, Soul Hackers Wordsmith): There are three. Easy, Normal, and Rai-diculous...wait, that doesn't sound right at all. Let me get the QA guy in here to answer this.
Rob Stone (Atlus USA, Soul Hackers QA Lead): There are three difficulties: Easy, Normal, and Hard. You can even modify the difficulty at any point in the game.

MAC: Story is also a big part of SMT games, so what's going down plot-wise in Soul Hackers? Good vs. Evil? Law vs. Chaos? How does Soul Hackers dive into the moral gray areas as far as player choice?
CSC: Basically, the path you're walking is kind of a moral gray area from the beginning. I mean, you pretty much start the game as a gray-hat hacker.
MM: The player character isn't quite out to save the world this time, and his actions don't leave a lot of room for interpretation.

MAC: Since this is the third version of Soul Hackers, though the first in English, what are the key changes between the 3DS version and the prior two? Other than being in English, that is.
Sammy Matsushima (Atlus USA, Project Lead): That's a good question. Since US players will not have seen the original releases in English, it may be hard to tell what's been changed. For one, the overall playability has been re-tuned and optimized for the 3DS. Load times are minimized and is very responsive. The user interface is modernized and uses the 3D screen well. Second, full character voices were added for further story emersion (original game was unvoiced) along with a brand new opening anime sequence with a new theme song. Of course, the original OP movie is left in for authenticity. Thirdly, to help players enjoy demon and sword fusions more casually, the Demon Compendium and Sword Compendium were added so that you can repurchase demons that you've consumed in other fusions, without having to go back and re-collecting them in battle. It's very handy if you're a collector. I could go on and on about how cool these features are, but I'll stop here!

MAC: There was talk that Atlus attempted to localize the PlayStation version of Soul Hackers long ago but it didn't pan out. Any light you could shed on that?
CSC: I can, but I don't know if I'm safe here. Meet me at these coor-

*whump*

MAC: What were some of the more difficult or interesting challenges you had to overcome during the localization of this title?
CSC: Did someone hit me in the back of my head? It kinda feels like someone hit me in the back of my head. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, localization challenges.

I think Mike and I were struggling with how we should address the quaint notions of "future" technology that they had, seeing as how we're living in their future. Despite the protestations of our inner technophiles yelling, "NO, THAT'S TOTALLY NOT HOW IT WORKS!" pretty much every time someone in game discusses this "new" tech, we drowned out those voices, and left the game as it was. It ends up being a similar experience to finding one of those "World of Tomorrow" filmreels that someone left in a time capsule.
MM: I want everybody who plays this to look long and hard at all the tiny little text areas in the battle pop-ups and menus. What a pain!
CSC: As far as "interesting" goes, I was writing the take notes for the voice actors to use during the game. One line requires a computer going haywire that rapidly repeats a name, like an annoying error message. Being the inveterate wiseacre that I am, I wrote in the take notes "14 (name X)". We get to the studio, and the actor doing the part is on point, nailing everything on his first take. He gets to that line, and before I can tell him to ignore the direction, he says, "14? Ok. Go." and launches straight into rattling off the name 14 times, without taking a breath, first take. It turns out it was I whom the joke was upon!

MAC: Anything else you'd like to share with us about SMT Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers or maybe any teases of future SMT localizations?
CSC: The SMT series is something near and dear to our hearts and we always look forward to working on these titles. We look forward to additional opportunities with the series so stay tuned for further announcements.


RPGamer would like to thank the staff of Atlus USA for talking with us about Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers. If this interview has sparked your interest, Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers will be available on April 16 in North America on the Nintendo 3DS.



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