Revelations: The Demon Slayer - Staff Retroview  

Nearly Forgotten Incarnation of the Goddess
by Cassandra "Strawberry Eggs" Ramos

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Game Boy Color
Less than 20 Hours
+ Surprisngly catchy music
+ Interesting setting
- Slightly slippery movement
- Little variety in combat
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   Back in the late 1990s, Atlus USA seemed to want to release its flagship franchise, the Megami Tensei metaseries, under the name Revelations in North America. Two games came of this: Revelations: Persona and Revelations: The Demon Slayer. While the former became somewhat infamous for its localization, the latter was largely forgotten. Though Megami Tensei has since become a much bigger name in RPGs released in the west, Demon Slayer would probably still be considered an oddity and feel unfamiliar to players of the franchise. While it is an interesting game, I would hesitate to call it a good one. Demon Slayer may have stood out somewhat in 1999, as there were few decent Game Boy Color RPGs in North America at the time, but its simplified mechanics and mostly non-distinct characteristics make it an underwhelming game.

   This may not come as a surprise, but Demon Slayer's story is rather bare bones. Your character has recently become a full-fledged Gaia Master, a sort of magic user, but there is no time to celebrate as strange monsters have started terrorizing the land and the hero must stop them. It also comes to light that the monsters are somehow linked to a group of evil Gaia Masters. The plot somehow manages to be both simple and confusing, as there are few reasons given for the evil Gaia Masters' motives and little else is explained. The game also ends rather abruptly. As it is a Game Boy RPG from 1992 (the game first came out for the original system, then got a color version in 1999), this is understandable. Atlus USA may not have had the experience and skill in localizing they possess now, but the script is serviceable and its simplicity may be more due to the original script than Atlus' translating ability. Even so, Demon Slayer's tale is little more than an excuse plot. The setting is fairly original, as while the game is fantasy rather than being modern, futuristic, or post-apocalyptic; it isn't a typical medieval world. The game's locations seem to be based on ancient Mesopotamian civilizations, as the cities contain large ziggurat-like buildings and names that coincide with Bronze Age locations.

One of the Ssu-Ling and the Greek father of all monsters fuse to become a generic dragon, it seems. One of the Ssu-Ling and the father of all monsters fuse to become a generic dragon, it seems.

   Demon Slayer's battle system is a simple turn-based one, quite similar to Dragon Quest. Oddly, despite the variety of magic spells available, many don't seem to do any damage save for the most powerful ones. This works both ways, as many enemy spells are also useless. Due to this, the auto battle function may be used often as many random encounters and even several bosses can be physically pounded upon. Even with over 100 monsters to battle with, since physical moves are the most common means of attack, there is little strategy in combat. At least auto battle makes the fights go by quickly.

   Being a MegaTen game, Demon Slayer sports the quintessential demon/monster negotiation system. During battle, the main character can pick the option to talk to one of the monsters. The creature chosen will then ask a series of questions. If the player answers them to the monster's liking, it will join the party, otherwise, it will attack. Though every monster has a set preference for each of the questions asked, guessing it is difficult, making the responses seem random. There is also no way to bribe the monsters and the same set of four or so conversations are repeated ad nauseam. It is also possible for the other two human characters to negotiate with monsters, the success of which appears to be random. These provide some amusement, as the characters will grumble at the hero for not doing the negotiating himself.

   Though the monsters' designs are simpler, or at least very different from other games in the metaseries, a number of staple demons can still be found such as Hequet, Garuda, Cerberus, and Loki. These demons cannot level up, so they will have to be constantly switched out or fused together with the Combine spell in order to keep up with enemies. Though fusing does make it possible to obtain a monster before it is encountered in the wild, there are almost no monsters unique to fusing, so it isn't necessary. Rare monsters can be obtained through special means, such as tracking down bones to bring to a priest to resurrect the creature or finding a special monster on the overworld. While there is no benefit to catching every monster, collectors and fans of monster-catching may get some enjoyment out of recruiting and fusing new demons in order to see what types exist in the game, even if they offer little in the way of battle variety.

Chatting with a monster. Chatting with a monster.

   Movement controls are unusually slippery. If a player turns while moving in a straight line, the character will usually "miss" the turn and continue walking or bump into whatever was next to the space, passage, or door. This doesn't interfere with the game too much, but it is a little irksome at times. There is also very little space for items in the inventory. While excess items and money can be stored at a bank, not every town has one, and items cannot automatically be sent there if every character is holding the maximum amount of items. Fortunately, if an item from a chest is collected, it will simply go back into the chest should the inventory be full. Also, Demon Slayer is not as hard as other MegaTen games and the only penalty for getting a party wipe is to lose half of the party's current money and be sent back to the last inn visited. All progress is otherwise kept.

   The graphics are serviceable, as the overworld sprites are not exceptional even by Game Boy Color standards, though monster sprites in battle are large and fairly well detailed. Some of the color choices seems a bit questionable, though. There are some decent effects for spells and when fusing monsters. The music is surprisingly catchy and is pretty decent even coming out of Game Boy Color/Advance speakers. The battle themes and the opening music are especially noteworthy. There is sufficient variety and the game is short enough that none of the music gets repetitive.

   Revelations: The Demon Slayer is perhaps best enjoyed as more of a historical curiosity than anything else. It is, after all, the third game in the metaseries to come out in North America and is also one of the more obscure Megami Tensei titles. This novelty, however, does not make up for the game's weaknesses. It does not possess the dark themes or involving story of many other Megami Tensei games. It also lacks the ability to raise the levels of the monsters and customize their attacks and other abilities like in Pokémon or later MegaTen games, which makes it all the stranger that the game sports a Vs. mode. In short, Demon Slayer doesn't really excel in any area and the sum of its parts make for an less-than-stellar game. It is perhaps not surprising that the game has been mostly forgotten.

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