The more things change, the more they stay the same, especially when it comes to Japanese games getting U.S. releases. On the one hand, publisher like Atlus USA have nurtured large, devoted audiences by bringing Japanese games like Persona 4 to the West with lavish limited edition releases and spectacularly written localizations. On the other hand, the audience for these games is still relatively small, so it’s never a guarantee that a publisher will bother to bring these games across the Pacific. It’s an eminently pleasant surprise then, that Atlus USA is bringing Shin Megami Tensei IV to US Nintendo 3DS owners this summer, just months after its release in Japan.
Shin Megami Tensei is actually the core role-playing game series at the heart of Atlus’ work. The Persona series, the Nintendo DS/3DS Devil Survivor series, and many others are actually spin-offs of the Shin Megami Tensei series that began all the way back on the NES.
Shin Megami Tensei IV will be the first main line sequel to make it to the US with its original title intact, and only the second game in the series to make the jump at all. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne for PS2 came to the US in 2003 without the number in its name.
In sticking with the series motif of humans fighting against and alongside demons, the new game follows a group of samurai who must choose to side with the demons or god in an all out brawl for the fate of existence. These low stakes will be accompanied by the series’ other trademark, player choice.
What’s most remarkable about Atlus’ announcement is the speed with which the game is coming to the U.S. In the past, Atlus’ RPGs have been localized over long periods. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey for Nintendo DS was considered a quick turnaround, taking five months between its October 2009 release in Japan and its US release the following March. While Atlus USA has only announced a release window of summer, that still means the game will arrive within three months of its May release in Japan.