[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/smt_if_new_727.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Right from the get-go, you know this'll be something different.]]

->''...A peaceful everyday life...''\\
''...A boring day after boring day''\\
''...Our days of youth slowly passes by...''

->''What IF...''\\
''that life was shattered to pieces?''

->''What IF...''\\
''the school thrown into another world?''

->''This is...''\\
''...a story of children who were stranded in the Demon World...''
-->-- '''''Shin Megami Tensei if...'' intro'''

''Shin Megami Tensei: if...'' was the third GaidenGame to be spun off from the ''ShinMegamiTensei'' franchise (the first being ''Majin Tensei'', and the second being ''Last Bible'', which came to America as ''Revelations: The Demon Slayer''). The title refers to two things: first is the concept of the game, which is a WhatIf scenario in the SMT universe, namely "what if a school was suddenly thrown into the Demon Realm?" The title and logo are also references to the arthouse British film ''Film/{{If}}'', where the developers seem to have gotten the school concept from (although all similarities really stop there, with one possible [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer exception]]). Sadly, this game will [[NoExportForYou never be released outside of Japan]] due to this, but Aeon Genesis has announced a fan translation of this game is ongoing, [[http://agtp.romhack.net/project.php?id=smtif currently at eighty percent completion]]. [[IncrediblyLamePun If you]] can find an English patch available, sound off!

Mechanically, the game is built on the engine of ''ShinMegamiTenseiII'', and even recycles a large number of art and musical assets from that title. Dungeons are navigated in a first-person view; demons are negotiated with, and fused in the Cathedral of Shadows. Perhaps the biggest change mechanically is the introduction of the idea of "guardian spirits": souls of demons that will save you from death and upon entering your body, strengthen it and even give you and your compatriots magical powers.

If this sounds [[VideoGame/{{Persona}} just a bit familiar]], it should; many of the concepts introduced in ''if...'' would eventually be expanded upon in ''Persona 1'', and the formerly anonymous main character of ''if...'' even became a character in the early Persona games, putting Persona in the same continuity as ''if...'' and the ''Devil Summoner'' games (which detail what'd happen if people knew about demons ''before'' a certain event in SMT 1, thanks to the events of ''if...''). In other words, what started as one GaidenGame ended up dovetailing into a huge AlternateContinuity that has ''eclipsed'' the original Shin Megami Tensei games in popularity.

The game begins with your main character (who you can choose the name and gender of, although canonically the Protagonist is a girl named Tamaki) as an OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent at Karukozaka High School who is just about to go home for the day... and then, suddenly, things go ''very wrong''. Your school doesn't seem to be on Earth anymore, demons roam the hallways, and a student named Hazama has gone missing... except he seems to be appearing to you as a kind of astral projection, taunting you. It'll be up to you and a partner of your choosing to get to the bottom of what is going on - and what Hazama may have planned for the school and the world.

The game has a cell phone prequel called ''Shin Megami Tensei: if... Hazama's Chapter'', which details Hazama's past and [[spoiler:his rise as the Emperor until it eventually splits into its own take on ''if...'''s story.]]
----
!!This game provides examples of:
* AGodAmI: Hazama.
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer: [[spoiler: This is a large part of the root cause of Hazama's psychotic ''hatred'' for everyone around him and why he torments his schoolmates upon becoming the Demon Emperor.]]
* AlternateContinuity: Infamous for spawning [[VideoGame/{{Persona}} a continuity]] that would end up ''eclipsing'' its "mother" franchise in popularity and profitability.
* BigBad: The Demon God Emperor. [[spoiler: Whose true identity is the Zoroastrian Deity Zurvan, as revealed in ''Hazama's Chapter''.]]
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: Reiko's ending in particular. The school is saved and almost everyone makes it out alive, but Reiko and Hazama are never seen again after Reiko thanks Tamaki for helping to save Hazama from himself...]]
* BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind [[spoiler: The final boss in Reiko's Path]]
* CanonName[=/=]DivergentCharacterEvolution: In ''if...'', you are given the option of naming your character, selecting their gender, and more or less defining their personality through gameplay. The ''Persona'' series, however, defines the Protagonist as a fairly upbeat girl named Tamaki Uchida. She retains the name and gender in ''Hazama's Chapter''.
* CyberneticsEatYourSoul: [[spoiler: Professor Otsuki, in increasing levels of hilarity and tragedy.]]
* DealWithTheDevil: [[spoiler: Hazama is revealed to have made one with Zurvan. Though he's nothing more than Zurvan's UnwittingPawn.]]
* DeathIsASlapOnTheWrist[=/=]ContinuingIsPainful: Dying simply gets you a new Guardian and bounces you back to the start of the current dungeon, which can be good or bad depending on how high your Guardian gauge was and how far in you were.
* DiscOneNuke: Surprisingly, Reiko's starting Guardian has Agilao of all things. Despite the high MP cost, it's extremely useful and will save your ass many times.
* EverythingsDeaderWithZombies: Undead students and school faculty appear in the game as enemies. You may also encounter undead dogs outside the school gym.
* EvilLaugh: Even at the very start of the game, Hazama appears before you and does this a ''lot'', cluing you in to the fact that he's got something to do with the weirdness going on. [[spoiler: The fact that he ''tries'' to draw out his overdone evil laugh at the start of the game is a hint that he's just putting on a front to try and hide his deep-seated emotional disturbance and is just acting the way he ''thinks'' a Demon Emperor should act.]]
* EvilOverlordList: [[spoiler: Hazama runs into a whole bunch of these over the course of the game; this all springs, naturally, from the fact that he's a high-school kid who ''thinks'' he should be a Demon Emperor and doesn't really have the first clue how such a being should ''actually act''. (Contrast against [[LouisCypher a certain other well-known king of the Abyss in the same franchise]].)]]
* FiveManBand: Although you only ever get to take one human partner with you, your options do form something like this.
** TheHero: Tamaki/The Protagonist
** TheLancer: Charlie
** TheChick: Yumi
** TheSmartGuy: Reiko
** SixthRanger: Akira (getting him to join you is... difficult)
*** TheBigGuy: Atlus ''loves'' using [[SecretCharacter these]] [[TheBigGuy three]] [[SixthRanger tropes in conjunction.]]
** TeamPet: [[MascotMook Heeho-kun]], sort of.
* FortuneTeller: NOVA, a computerized one, gives the PlayerPersonalityQuiz.
* FreudianExcuse: [[spoiler:Hazama's is detailed in Reiko's path.]]
* FromBadToWorse: Whoever is in control of the Demon World seems to be doing this deliberately to the poor students of Karukozaka High. [[spoiler:Turns out Hazama is attempting to punish them for what he perceives as each of their sins against both him and society.]]
* GaidenGame: Naturally.
* GodIsEvil: [[spoiler: Zurvan, the creator God in the Zoroastrian sect known as Zurvanism, where he created Angra Mainyu and Ahura Mazda, is the villain and TheManBehindTheMan to Hazama, all so he can take over Makai. He's also part of the Godly clan, which YHVH and his avatars from ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiII'' belong to.]]
* HelloNurse: Hellooooooo, Miss Kayama!
** HospitalHottie: She's actually a nurse, to boot!
** Of course, this isn't just played for laughs: [[spoiler:in Reiko's ending it's revealed that Hazama fell desperately in love with her, but she rejected him as she felt a relationship with him would be wildly inappropriate; this is suggested to be the snapping point at which he decided to open the portal to the Demon World. It's also the reason that she's around to heal you even when bad things happen to all the other students and faculty, though; hurt and emotionally crippled as he is, Hazama can't bring himself to harm Kayama in any way.]]
* {{Jerkass}}: Charlie. He's perfectly happy to screw the whole school over if it means getting home. [[spoiler:Which is ''exactly'' what the two of you do in his ending.]]
* JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind: [[spoiler:The Final dungeon in Reiko's Path. There is also SoundtrackDissonance as the Law theme from ShinMegamiTensei 1 and 2 play while you trod through Hazama's mind.]]
* KickTheDog: [[spoiler:Akiko rejected Hazama's love letter and tore it up, badmouthing him to her friends.]]
* [[LawyerFriendlyCameo Lawyer (Un?)Friendly Logo Cameo]]: Potentially a reason the game has never gotten a Western release; the lettering of the "if" in the game logo is lifted ''directly'' from the [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/If_movieposter.jpg movie of the same name]], and parts of the game concept also seem to borrow heavily from the movie as well (such as the school setting itself and [[spoiler: a major character rebelling and bringing down punishment on the school after [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer constant abuse]] - Malcolm [=McDowell's=] character in ''if....'', and Hazama in ''SMT if...'']]).
* LouisCypher: [[spoiler:Conspicuous only in his near total absence. He never shows up to talk, you don't fight him, he isn't TheChessmaster, and you can only even fuse him at level 99; making ''If'' one of the tiny handful of SMT games where he doesn't have any kind of story impact. [[EpilepticTrees Guesses]] about this aspect of the game abound.]]
** [[spoiler:Lucifer is a key character in ''Hazama's Chapter'', where it is revealed that the Demon God Emperor Zurvan is actually an underling of his trying to usurp him using Hazama, and offers to give Tamaki an item that will free Hazama from Zurvan's control.]]
* {{Meganekko}}: Reiko.
* MultipleEndings: Each partner has their own route and ending.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: In the World of Wrath, [[spoiler:after finding Ryuuichi and Akiko were turned to stone, the villain claims that smashing the stone ''might'' free them. If you don't take the bait, your partner [[ButThouMust does it instead]] -- killing the pair instead of freeing them. Cue {{Evil Laugh}}ter from Hazama and MyGodWhatHaveIDone from your partner.]]
* NintendoHard: Not quite as bastard hard as the previous two games, although certain dungeons could still kick you around, and the final boss is no slouch.
* NoExportForYou: This is one of the few SNES-era SMT games still lacking a FanTranslation, to boot. Interestingly, due to the somewhat less "controversial" nature of the game's content compared to the rest of the series (that is, [[spoiler: you only fight a student who wants to ''be'' God instead of ''[[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu actually fighting]]'' God]]), there were [[EpilepticTrees whispers]] that the game was considered for a Western release, but this obviously never bore fruit.
** Aeon Genesis has announced that their fan translation is "roughly halfway done", however. We may see this in English after all!
* OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent: Everyone begins as this. Then bad stuff happens.
* PlayerPersonalityQuiz: At the start of the game, a computer FortuneTeller named Nova asks you questions what sort of sports and subjects you like, what sort of school club you belong to, whether or not you like video games, and if you have/use a cellphone. Once you finish, she summarizes your strengths and weaknesses, giving you a good idea what your starting stats will look like.
* RecurringBoss: [[spoiler:Professor Otsuki, who keeps rebuilding his body in order to defeat you.]]
* SamusIsAGirl: After a fashion. Not only was ''If'' the first game in the SMT franchise to offer the option of a female protagonist, the ''Persona'' series retroactively made Tamaki the first ''canon'' female protagonist of an SMT game.
* SecretCharacter: [[spoiler:Akira]], whose path becomes available after beating the game.
* SevenDeadlySins: Sort of. The dungeons are based on a major sin ([[spoiler:these being the punishments Hazama wishes to deal out to those who have "wronged" him]]), but there are only six sins represented. [[spoiler:One could make an argument for the "empty school" being symbolic of Pride and Hazama's mind being Wrath given how pissed he is at everything, but this isn't stated outright.]]
** The worlds, in order: [[spoiler:Pride, Gluttony, Sloth, Envy OR Wrath (depending on your partner) and Greed.]] The absent sin, [[spoiler:Lust]], could potentially be represented by [[spoiler:Hazama himself, as his feelings towards both Akiko and Miss Kayama being rejected helped drive him into unleashing the Demon World.]]
* ShaggyDogStory: [[spoiler:Practically everything that happens in Sloth turns out to be pointless, beyond giving you access to the next area.]]
* ShoutOut: [[spoiler:Akira gets possessed by the demon Amon. [[Manga/{{Devilman}} Now where have I seen this before...]] ]]
* SuspiciousVideoGameGenerosity: Played with in the Greed world, where there are about dozen or so chests outside the boss room: [[spoiler:opening none of them gets you a fight with an underleveled fox, taking all of them will force you to fight an overleveled god-like [[MultipleTailedBeast nine-tailed]] {{Kitsune}}, with various forms in-between.]]
* TakenForGranite: [[spoiler:Ryuuichi and Akiko. If you take the 'Wrath' path, It Gets Worse.]]
* TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon: [[spoiler:The last dungeon in Reiko's path is Hazama's ''mind''.]]
* VillainousBreakdown: [[spoiler:Both Otsuka and Hazama suffer from this in the end, Otsuka welding ever wilder cybernetics to his flesh while Hazama can't believe that he isn't omnipotent in the Demon World. If you have Reiko with you, you get to see all the steps of his breakdown that ''led'' to this whole mess.]]
* WhatIf: The entire concept of the game. Atlus probably didn't anticipate [[CashCowFranchise what this would all]] [[VideoGame/{{Persona}} lead to]] when first making the game.
* WhereItAllBegan: If you take the three SuperNintendo-based SMT titles (SMT 1, SMT 2, and ''If'') as a kind of "trilogy" this applies after a fashion. SMT 1 begins in the dreams of the Protagonist of that game; [[spoiler:the VeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon of ''If'' is the Mindscape of Hazama, using the same "dream" graphical effect from SMT 1]].
* WombLevel: Guttony has this as the real boss in the world is a demon within the stomach of the headmaster who is now Orcus, who is a giant pig.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: [[spoiler:Hazama, as you discover in the last dungeon of Reiko's path.]]
* [[YankTheDogsChain Yank The Dog's Chain]]: Cruelly used in [[spoiler:Sloth, when Hazama declares [[ILied he lied]] about setting free whoever found the ring hidden there.]]
----