Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shin Megami Tensei: an artwork retrospective

I've been playing a lot of Strange Journey lately, the newest DS version of SMT, which is full of all kinds of new demons. Many of them are brand new to US audiences, leading many to thinking they were completely new to the series.

In doing some research on some of the more interesting newcomers, I learned that wasn't the case.

Grendel, Siegfried, and Dionysys, among others, as seen in a Kazuma Kaneko art book. Grendel makes his first US appearance in Strange Journey. Siegfried and Dionysys had theirs in Persona 3.

The additions to the demonary mostly come from some of the more obscure games in the series, notably ones that never came out in the US.

The Hare of Inaba for instance, a rare demon detected through scanning, comes from Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers.

This brutal little beast is a physical monster, leading some to believe it was an homage to the legendary killer rabbit from Monty Python & The Holy Grail.

I also happened to play some of the Megami Tensei fantranslation for the NES, which is still in the works(and likely will be for quite some time).

Some of the demons there even seem familiar.

It's quite interesting to see how the demon art has progressed along the way.

The character designs have had their fair share of changes, too.

Some early designs from Shin Megami Tensei: IF shown above, and below, a comparison between the Main characters of SMT II: SNES to PS1.

The SNES designs, as seen below, have more of a hand-drawn look:

And, the higher resolution art in the PS1 remake:

While the new design is certainly crisper, something about the original design just seems more detailed to me.


  1. Been playing Strange Journey, and sometimes it's pretty visible how artwork changed along the way (in this case, since Devil Survivor you could see some new artwork here and there for the demons). Compare, for instance, the old and the new Pictures of Louis Cypher/Lucifer from SMT I & II with the most recent ones (pretty much since P3).
    Love the blog, keep up the good work!

  2. Correction police: Dionysus was actually in Nocturne, and Siegfried first appeared in the US in Raidou 1 (I want to say he was in one of the DDS games but I don't think that's true).

    I was fortunate to have been able to look through Kaneko's Pandemonium books before playing SJ, and was simply amazed how many came from the 32-bit games. No complaints though, as that might have been his most creative era.

  3. I REALLY want one of the Pandemonium books, but sadly, they sell for $texas if ebay is any indication.

  4. Over on the Atlus USA forum, I believe I brought up the re-use of older designs when some of the first shots and magazine scans of SMT SJ were making the rounds.

    I am personally most fond of KK's designs from the 32-bit era. Can't wait for the Soul Hackers patch.

  5. I'd like to ask which book is in the second picture. The illustrations look decent enough, and I'd like to recommend it to friends if it's still in print.

    (I have the Pandaemonium books, but they're rare, and don't look good scanned anyway.)

  6. The scan is from Digital Devil Apocalypse, primarily a collection of Kaneko character and concept artwork.