Examples: This section is for universal tropes related to the series as a whole. Please place tropes related to specific games in their own article, if it exists.
Absurdly Spacious Sewer - The series has a habit of featuring Sewers big enough to house entire cities. Particular offenders include the Great Underpass of Ginza in Nocturne and the Anahata Waterways in Digital Devil Saga.
Alternate Continuity - The franchise has multiple conflicting continuities running through its numerous games.
The "main" SMT continuity, which involves an ongoing war between the forces of Lucifer and God being waged across The Multiverse. SMT I, NINE, Imagine, SMT II, Nocturne, Strange Journey, and SMT IV, occur in various Alternate Universes in this continuity, and the first four are explicitly stated to take place in the same world (and in that order.)
The first two Raidou Kuzunoha and its manga all take place in the past, which then splits off into different timelines at some point that leads to Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, and Devil Summoner. Devil Summoner and Soul Hackers take place in their own timeline, though similar events do appear to happen in the Persona one.
Ambadassador - Most characters become this once they get the hang of demonic contracts and negotiation.
American Kirby Is Hardcore - The first SMT game to come to the US, Jack Bros., had realistic versions of the titular characters on the cover, rather then the cartoon ones seen in-game and on the Japanese cover.
Amnesiac Dissonance - Zain in Shin Megami Tensei II and Serph in Digital Devil Saga 2 find out they're much worse people than they thought they were after regaining their lost memories.
Apocalypse How: As a franchise based around The End of the World as We Know It, it's covered many different levels of the Apocalypse, including a Planetary Societal Collapse in SMT I and Persona 3, near Planetary Total Extinction in SMT II, Planetary Physical Annihilation in some of the Persona games, and Omniversal Metaphysical Annihilation in one ending of Nocturne.
Likewise Loki, whose early appearance as a blue (or purple) scaly giant with fangs and a massive head of hair harks back to the OVA adaptation of the original novel. More recent games merely smoothed him out to purple skin instead of scales.
Artifact Title - Only a few games in the "Goddess Reincarnation" series actually involve a reincarnated goddess: Izanami in Megami Tensei, Sophia in Shin Megami Tensei: NINE, Mem Aleph in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, and maybe Eve in Shin Megami Tensei I.
And now Shin Megami Tensei IV has no less than four revived Goddesses. Lady Danu will be reborn through Nozomi in Rebirth of the Lady, Amaterasu is revived in Resurrection of the Koushoushin, Ishtar is revived in Ishtar, Goddess of Harvest, and the "goddess of Tokyo" being resurrected on the Neutral path.
Artificial Human - Many characters in the Shin Megami Tensei II setting were genetically engineered in test tubes, and the Digital Devil Saga games feature biological "digital clones".
As Long as There Is Evil - Many antagonists in series can never be truly destroyed as long as some negative aspect of the universe exists.
YHVH - As long as at least one person believes in God as a savior to be obeyed.
The White - As long as humans despair about being prisoners of God's schemes and goals.
Asskicking Equals Authority: The various Chaos factions generally strive to build a world where strength leads to freedom and being in charge. Opponents of Chaos argue that this effectively pegs the weak as Acceptable Targets.
Atlus Hard - Even modern MegaTen games use classic RPG tropes that can make a player want to cry.
Befriending The Enemy: A mechanic in the main games. The player character can befriend demons and make them his allies to summon. Demon's are very fickle though. What works to befriend one demon won't work the same way each time, and if they aren't loyal enough to you they won't do what you say. The games follow Grey and Gray Morality so while a demon's alignment might technically be considered "good"... it's really in a Knight Templarsort ofway. Demons are always initially antagonistic towards you before they join you, and after you befriend a species of demon the rest of that species will go out of their way to give you gifts and avoid fights with you while telling you to "take care of their friend".
Big Bad Ensemble: More recent games have shown that this glitch is really messing everything up and changing both YHVH and his Chaos counterpart, Lucifer's, personalities at a whim. Sometime after Nocturne, both have become much more ambiguous.
Biodata - A key plot point in Digital Devil Saga and Devil Survivor 2. In the former, it's explained all matter ultimately boils down to data, which can be recycled and modified (through the Sea of Milk in the Junkyard and the Sun in the real world), and the latter explains, along with the Akashic Records, how Polaris is deleting the world, how can he be stopped and how everything can be restored.
Bittersweet Ending - Even though most MegaTen games end with you defeating the Big Bad, you've usually been forced to sacrifice yourself or kill your friends after they suffered an Evil Makeover.
Later games will give you a warning if you approach a door with a boss behind it, though earlier games tend to not grant this mercy.
Traditionally, encounters with Fiends will be heralded by the game asking you if you "want to stay here". If you answer "yes", the game asks if you really want to stay. Say "yes" again and the battle will begin.
Bottomless Bladder - The games rarely address every day needs like eating, sleeping or using the bathroom while you're fighting gods and demons. Persona 3 and Persona 4 are notable exceptions however, with "typical day" gameplay like sleeping, eating meals with friends and taking an extra bathroom break.
Bragging Rights Reward - Beating the toughest enemy in a MegaTen game will often net you abilities / equipment / party members you're already too powerful to need.
Beating the Bonus Boss in Persona 3 or Persona 4 will net you a Nigh-Invulnerability accessory, even though you'll already have nigh invulnerable Persona.
Butt Monkey: Slimes. They're essential the products of failed summonings/fusions and are usually among the first demons fought. It gets worse in the fourth game, where they're weak to physical attacks.
Cast from Hit Points: Physical attacks cost HP to use, except in Strange Journey and Shin Megami Tensei IV.
Celestial Paragons and Archangels: The highest-ranking angels under YHVH are members of the Herald and Seraph races, like the Four Archangels, Metatron, the Face of God, Satan the Accuser and Mastema the Flatterer.
While the demons generally remain the same, the original Shin Megami Tensei series always features a new main cast with each sequel.
Similarly, each new numbered entry in the Persona series puts you in control of a new group of protagonists, with Spirit Advisor Igor the only constant.
Character Alignment - This plays a huge role in the Shin Megami Tensei series. Each monster is classed on the Law-Neutral-Chaos axis and the Light-Neutral-Dark axis. The former is the important one: monsters that are Chaotic will refuse to join you if the main character is Lawful and vice-versa. The alignment of the main character is determined by the type of monsters he summons (e.g. Lawful creatures will move your alignment towards Law), by his responses to philosophical questions asked at key points of the game and by whose dirty work (The Messians or the Gaians) he carries out. The ending of the game is determined by the final alignment of the main character. Interestingly, Neutrality is presented neither as the uncaring or balancing alignment, but rather one that focuses on individual choice and inner strength, as opposed to relying on outside power.
This works a bit differently in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. You can recruit demons of other alignments regardless of your character's alignment, but you'll have a harder time recruiting demons of the opposite alignment as yours (for instance, trying to recruit a Law-aligned demon when you're Chaos-aligned). However, the Light-Neutral-Dark axis plays a part in which demons you encounter and which you can recruit; Light-aligned demons are never encountered on the field, except through enemy searches and boss battles, and they cannot be recruited; Dark-aligned demons will refuse to talk to you at all times, regardless of your Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment, unless you have an App that lets you talk to demons during a Full Moon, and even then it's a coin flip (whether they like the answer you give them—the correct answer being different every time—and after that, whether they give you items, Macca, or—even rarer—join you).
Megami Tensei I & II for the Famicom feature alignments along the axis of Good-Neutral-Evil.
Shin Megami Tensei I features an alignment system along the axis of both Light-Neutral-Dark and Law-Neutral-Chaos. It is the earliest known videogame to have an alignment system that directly affects the direction of the storyline and which of the Multiple Endings the player is given, through the choices and actions the player makes that alter the player character's alignment. Shin Megami Tensei II uses the same kind of alignment system.
In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne the previous system of alignment is discarded in favor of three specific philosophies: Shijima (which is closest to Law but without the Knight Templar tendencies), Musubi (Neutral, focusing on individuality and freedom of choice) and Yosuga (Chaos with a heavy dose of the elitism that Law was previously known for).
However, Light-Neutral-Dark axis still exists in the form of Magatamas. The main character's title/family is defined by how many Magatamas of each alignment you have learned all skills from. Although it's mostly just a cosmetic change, there are three doors (one for each alignment) in the Labyrinth of Amala that will only open if you are on a specific alignment.
The Social Darwinist Chaos Ending from SMTI is originally seen as a valid enough choice, given the Black and Grey Morality of the series, but as the world in general becomes slightly less crapsack, it gets called out as evil far more explicitly; the supporter of its expy in Nocturne (though Reasons aren't based on alignments and actually follow God's plan) is the only person explicitly called evil and in Devil Survivor, it's virtually an It's a Wonderful Failure montage.
The original Neutral ending was a pro-human path that led to the destruction of both God and Lucifer (or their chief agents) and most of humanity in exchange for freeing the survivors from the meddling of higher powers (at least for a while). Later games, however, the series has softpedaled the omnicidal aspects and played up the humanist part, so "neutral" endings sometimes involve the restoration of the pre-apocalyptic state (so far as that's possible).
Character Magnetic Team - Many demons may approach you and outright offer to join you with no more than a few questions asked.
Colon Cancer - A number of titles have more than one subtitle in their Western releases, such as the various "Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner X: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. _____" installments. An instance of Atlus' newsletter even provides the page quote.
Played With in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: strike team has red on their uniforms (except the protagonist) and science has blue. Zelenin is science, Jimenez is strike team. Take a wild guess what factions they each support in the end. Oddly enough, the protagonist wears white (but won't necessarily be law) - and no one else does.
Which actually makes sense, because in this particular game, white corresponds to Neutral.
Extending on that, they also color-code Joint Project vs. Jack's Squad: your the Joint Project use the standard gold-ish Demonicas, and Jack's Squad use black ones. See above for what black tends to support. Also played with in that the Demons of Chaos hate the Squad for the way they treated them.
And physical skills, which are Cast From HP when you use them, but enemies can use them willy-nilly.
It's worth noting that these are not universal; it depends on the game. And, significantly, the computer does not cheat dice rolls, significant because almost every spell has a chance of inflicting a status effect.
Continuity Nod: Quite a few major characters in one game will show up as a Bonus Boss or Optional Party Member in a later title. Alice for instance, who served as an antagonist who wanted to kill you in Shin Megami Tensei, still regularly shows up complete with a skill called "Die For Me!" in newer games.
A character from the Tokyo Revelation manga/OVA appears in a cameo as an older character in Giten Megami Tensei, suggesting that the two are related. (And the world sadly still fell to demons).
Council of Angels - Notable in that, from SMT 2 onward, they practically become the cosmic Butt Monkeys of the franchise; in SMT 2 they're basically abandoned by God and are running Tokyo Millennium in a hilariously inept fashion and orchestrated the creation of the Messiah and crew in the first place, which blew up in their faces when Aleph carved their shit in; then, in Digital Devil Saga 2, they show up as bonus bosses - talking about the events of SMT 2, no less - except that now they've been put into mutated human bodies and hunger for the blood and flesh of man just like any other demon. You'd think they'd give the Big Man the finger after all that.
This is, of course, played straight in SMT 1, where they become quite powerful allies if you're on the Law path, and attempt to stop you if you're on any other path; Seraph Michael serves as the game's penultimate, hardest boss in that case. Also played perfectly straight in Devil Survivor, where Remiel who serves Metatron and the Big Man himself are far less assholish than franchise standard and will help you out unless you're on on the blatantly chaotic routes.
In IV, they are the mysterious new rulers of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, who as the Law authorities of the game, plan to throw Tokyo into a black hole so it can never taint their shiny paradise. Eventually they fuse with Jonathan to summon Merkabah, an embodiment of God's will.
Crossover: Dante shows up in Nocturne... and promptly attempts to kick your ass. Later on, though, you can talk him into signing on with you. In the second Updated Re-release of Nocturne, Raidou Kuzunoha appears instead, for all kinds of continuity wackiness.
Crossover Cosmology: Sure, you can summon Joan of Arc, Kali, Amaterasu, and Quetzalcoatl to beat the crap out of Lucifer, Loki, a Vampire, and Ra.
In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, bring an Asura into battle against a Mahakala. They'll have an interesting discussion about the fact that they're the same god, just from two different eras, then agree to fight it out to determine which is more deserving.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Typical after Nocturne, the press turn system makes almost every battle this for both sides, either you crush the enemies without even allowing them to attack you once, or they kill half your characters in a single turn.
Cute and Psycho: Many demons, like Pixie, Jack Frost or Alice, look extremely cute, but are also somewhat mentally unstable.
Cute Monster Girl - Majority of the female demons (aka the Succubi). Not all of them, though.
Devil Survivor does this the most, showing what would really happen in your typical Mons series when random bystanders (including children) suddenly gain the ability to command powerful demons. The answer: VERY BAD THINGS.
Degraded Boss - Former bosses may return as Elite Mooks. This may cost them their best moves, but occasionally they also wind up being recruitable.
Determinator - You ain't gonna last long without some serious spine.
And Nemissa did it before either in Soul Hackers. Kinda subverted in that she leaves when she realizes it's necessary. And the possessee still has pretty much control over herself, limiting how much damage Nemissa can do. Later, Spooky is taken over by Satanael, who later decides to take on the party... by blowing his way out of the victim's body. And he doesn't make it all the way out.
Before Devil Survivor but after Nocturne, the Four Seraphs and Metatron joined in, converting five poor saps into their physical bodies through the Demon Virus and obliterating their memories and personalities, making it a horrific combo between Type 1 and 2.
The Heroine in Shin Megami Tensei I is possessed by a whole lot of demons when you find her the second time, as you have to enter her psyche and clear out the ringleader (the spider Arachne) in order to save her. Naturally you burst in on Arachne just as she's about to take full control of the girl.
Demon Lords and Archdevils - A fair bit of less than nice guys from mythology (Surt, Loki, Beelzebub, Mara, Arioch) have made their niche.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything - What makes the Bonus Bosses so difficult is this. Each Bonus Boss has some kind of anti-cheese feature built into them so you have to fight them in a "fair" fight. Otherwise, expect them to either give unavoidable 9999 damage to you or, in some battle systems such as the Press Turn system, spam powerful (and by powerful, we mean Megidolaon is the weakest possible) Almighty moves each turn.
Disc One Nuke - Exploiting random demon or skill mutations or even just knowing which demon to level up to cover certain weaknesses in many of the games' fusion and level-up systems can net you high level skills or fairly powerful demons extremely early in a playthrough.
Dragon-in-Chief: YHVH loves having these. YHVH might be the leader of the forces of Law, but He only shows up to fight in His true form in Megami Tensei II and Shin Megami Tensei II.
Megami Tensei II: Satan/Mr. Suzuki
Shin Megami Tensei: Michael
Shin Megami Tensei II: Satan/Zayin again. Michael thinks he's remained this, but not this time.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne: Kagutsuchi for the main game, Metatron for the Labyrinth of Amala.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: The Three Wise Men. Maybe.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Either Gabriel, who later becomes a part of Merkabah, or Mastema, though if it is Mastema, then YHVH is actually good this time and Gabriel/Merkabah is the Big Bad for Law. In Blasted Tokyo, it's Pluto and, later, the Ancient of Days.
Dolled-Up Installment - Minor example in the US releases: the Persona / Devil Survivor / Digital Devil Saga / Devil Summoner / etc games, while technically not part of the Shin Megami Tensei series proper, were all released overseas under that title anyway, presumably because the series needs whatever name recognition it can get on this side of the pond.
Eventually averted with Catherine, Persona 4 Arena and Persona 4: Golden. Despite having similar themes/characters/gameplay elements/staff/etc as previously dolled-up spinoff games, they were all released outside Japan without the Shin Megami Tensei moniker tacked on.
In Persona 2, you can do this by attempting to run. The camera will then FOCUS ON THE REAL ONE as she taunts you. Oops...
Double Entendre: Maralives to make subtle and not-so-subtle dick jokes. Even his stats are a double entendre in some games (Persona 3 Mara, for example, belongs to the Tower arcana, is weak to ice, and has the strongest pierce-type attack in the game.)
Dueling Messiahs: You are always free to choose which faction you wish to support.
Dungeon Crawler: The early games are classic examples of dungeon crawlers from the first-person perspective. Later games have elements that would be used in the third-person perspective.
Enemy Within: In Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, the timid Hitomi gets possessed by demonic Dark Action Girl Nemissa, and they immediately go on a shopping spree for black leather. In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, Kaya is cursed to be possessed by a demon, but actually gets taken over by a future Raidou Kuzunoha from the SMT timeline. Happens somewhat more literally in Persona 3 with the members of Strega; if they don't take inhibitor drugs, they'll lose control of their Personas. What this would entail is demonstrated by Chidori about halfway through the game, wherein her Persona attempts to strangle her during withdrawal.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played straight and averted. Usually, basic elemental types (ie one's that specialize in only one element) usually have a weakness to the opposing element (ice vs. fire, electricity vs. wind, light vs. dark). However, at higher levels, demons usually have a variety of weaknesses and strengths (ex. Black Frost, despite being a Jack Frost, has strengths against both ice AND fire). This results in bosses having a bit of trial-and-error as you have to test out each type to see what works and what doesn't.
Some games (Devil Survivor in particular) outright show you how the enemies are affected by every element, usually as if to say "This is my hand, try and beat it." And every game shows you how your own demons' element tables, which are the same for every demon of that type.
Elemental Tiers: Sometimes there are the 'Element' race. They always have Erthys as the weakest, then Aeros, then Aquans, and Flaemis with the highest level. Sometimes they are followed by Paracelsus' elementals, but the element order stays the same, with Gnome as the weakest, followed by Syplh, Undine, and Salamander. Not that their levels matter much, since they're usually fusion fodder.
Element Number Five - Almighty. It's an unavoidable, ultimate element that ignores defensive measures. Final bosses, late-game allies, bonus bosses, and the like all use this. Violating rules with bonus bosses results in the game giving you 9999 damage or a nonstop barrage of attacks with this element.
Elite Tweak - No demon is perfect. But every demon can be perfected.
The End of the World as We Know It - If the world hasn't already ended before the game started, then it's about to. Nocturne starts off with everyone being destroyed. There are only five humans left alive (not including yourself!) after the first 30 minutes of the game.
Expy: The Djinn enemy is a carbon copy of Genie from Aladdin.
The Fair Folk - Many demons have their designs based on these, as well as their personalities. Shin Megami Tensei games like to remind you every so often that you are definitely not dealing with human beings.
Titania, Hua Po, and Sylph deserve mention as well.
Fallen Angel - Many. Lucifer, the entire Ars Goetia, Grigori, Mithras and others are this to a greater or lesser degree. Kazfiel is unique in that he still is law and part of the Seraph/Divine races while Samael switches between Law and Chaos since his true alignment is a mystery.
Full-Circle Revolution - Shin Megami Tensei IV sadly notes that it really doesn't matter whether you choose Law or Chaos; eventually, a new guy who longs for whatever it is that you gave up will turn up, dethrone you, and kick back everything you made back into nothing. It's pretty much the reason Order Versus Chaos can never end.
Functional Magic - Comes in various flavors, depending on each game's mechanics and the demon involved.
Fusion Dance - Demons/Personas as a rule either level exceedingly slowly or simply do not have the necessary gumption to last for long given the brutal form of Sorting Algorithm of Evil the games tend to favor. So the series has, as noted above, a fusion system in which two or more participant demons are merged into a single one, allowing the resulting demon to inherit better stats and moves they would not have otherwise learned from their "parents". Most of the time, these take place in specialized places (the Cathedral of Shadows (a classic mainstay of the series), theGouma-Den, the Velvet Room). However, there are a number of occasions in which a Demon Fusion Program has been used with compatible portable technology to fuse demons in the field (with the Demonica battlesuit, as a cellphone app, and with the COMP).
Persona games until 3 have a Fusion System based on collecting base Persona cards from random battles and using those to create stronger Personas. Of note, too; both demons in the main series and Personas occasionally demonstrate an interest borne out of curiosity or powerlust in fusion. The imagery used in Shin Megami Tensei Imagine suggests the fused demons are outright killed in fusion, but in other media it looks more like they unravel and the pieces fuse together.
Mitama Fusions are used solely to power up a demon by increasing its stats or to impart specific moves to it, and do not change the demon.
Elemental Fusions move a demon up or down the ranks of its race. Stronger Elements can move a demon up to two ranks above.
Sacrificial Fusions in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne involve two demons and a sacrifice. The resulting demons inherit even better stats than if fused normally and can receive moves from all three participants. There are also some demons that can only be created this way.
Triangle, Cross, Pentacle and Hexagram Spread Fusions are also present in the latter Persona games. Persona 4 even has an example of DodecagonFusion.
Aside from inter-demon fusion, the trope can also be applied in certain games when demons can be fused into various forms of weaponry, sich as the first two games of the main franchise. Persona 3 has the Weapon Fusion system, in which new armaments can be created by fusing Personas into Nihil weapons. Both Raidou games feature demon forging, though only the first involves actually fusing the demon with the blade.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey deconstructs this - the Evil Counterpart of the Investigation Project, Jack's Squad, never got the transmission of the series' signature fusion program or demon summoning program. So they just made do with what they had - instead of keeping their demons in their Demonicas, they just locked and trussed them in cells, and for fusion, they tore them to pieces and started checking what clicked with what. It's little surprise their results mostly involve Body Horror abominations.
Global Currency - Macca in most of them, usually games not set in modern day Japan.
Global Currency Exception - Gemstones. Special traders pop every now and then and sell rare items in exchange for gems you may be given as gifts or as battle spoils, and there is no way to just pay regular money for it. Persona 3 has the antique shop owner, who offers Persona-boosting items and Social Links-related paraphernalia, and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has the Gem Trader, who sells a wide selection of items and even stat-boosting demons. Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon has Case Files requesting gems, and they can be used in fusion to power up the resulting demon.
Brahman is God in Digital Devil Saga, Polaris and the administrators that come before or after him have a similar role God's in Devil Survivor 2, and Hoshigami/Starhair is the God of the Stars in the Devil Children series who created that universe.
God And SatanAnd SquidAre Jerks - God is the embodiment of Law and Tyranny. Lucifer embodies Anarchy and Rebellion. Neither is a particularly nice guy. More interestingly, though, neither Nyarlathotep nor Philemon are quite nice themselves.
God Is Evil - Though the creators have said that he's not the "ultimate source of evil", having him as the final boss in more than one game tends to raise a few eyebrows.
Indeed, many of the game seem to indicate that Lucifer / Chaos is the best choice to make, since almost always YHVH and the angels have the policy of Kill 'em All and start over whenever things look like they're getting out of hand. Even when you kill God, he usually gives a speech along the lines of "As long as humanity is too weak to look for their own answers, their weakness will create a belief in me that brings me back to life again and again and again! MWAHAHAAH!"
At least in the games for SNES (in which the Law-Neutral-Chaos system possibly plays the most prominent role) Chaos is not shown as the best choice. For example, in the original Shin Megami Tensei many traditionally heroic choices (choosing to give money to the beggar, choosing to spare the life of local dictator after defeating him and his demon in battle, choosing to save the female protagonist in the dream despite the apparent risks posed by armed guards) tend to be considered Lawful decisions. Also, one of the downsides of pure Chaos is the possibility of sufficiently strong and ruthless individual/party becoming an oppressor (as shown in the case of Ozawa in the world After the End). Ironically, the whole "might makes right" issue may be one of the main reasons behind YHVH's position in the continuity of Shin Megami Tensei I-II and Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE. Also, the depiction of Lucifer in Nocturne/Lucifer's Call may be too ambiguous to be considered either the best or the worst possible choice. One of several games in the series where Lucifer is shown clearly in the positive light is the second game in the series, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II note (while in the direct romanization of the Japanese title "Story" would be replaced with "Monogatari", it seems that "Story" is the official choice of word when writing the title in the Latin/Roman alphabet) for Famicom/NES.
It's also worth noting that ever since the franchise started picking up lots of steam in America (to the point that Persona games sell nearly as well in the States as they do in Japan), this has been dialed back significantly with every successive game since Nocturne, to the point that in the recent Devil Survivor, God and his top angels are actually decidedly in the protagonist's camp (unless he decides to become a demon lord himself or just tries to run away from his responsibilities). The rest of the angels are still massive asshats, but Remiel and Metatron (and by extension, their boss) are far more supportive of the player and genuinely want what's best for humanity. This is all presumably to better match up with the Western view of God not being a ceaseless jerk.
Not quite. While God is a much better person in Devil Survivor, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey discreetly returned to this with the Demiurge sidequest. Not naming him God or YHVH made this fly over many's heads, but compare the Gnostic conception of the Demiurge (obsessive desire for worship, insistence in being the sole true deity, meddling with mortals to ensure its continued dominance) with YHVH's behavior... without mentioning the fact the Updated Re-release of Devil Survivor cast Him into a much more ambiguous light by revealing he set the pieces to the Cain and Abel scenario with the express purpose of creating the world's first martyr... and the first murderer.
More recent games have also begun to imply that the fact YHVH is such a dick is a symptom of something going terribly wrong with the universe, not a cause.
And with Shin Megami Tensei IV outright stating that the series occurs over multiple alternate universes, all of these interpretations of God are true. This is because YHVH (and Nocturne's Kagutsuchi, and Strange Journey's Demiurge) are aspects of The Creator, spread throughout all the alternate dimensions.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: The demons, angels, monsters, and spirits only exist in many of the games because people remember and believe in them. Oddly, if the supernatural creatures believe hard enough, they create fake duplicates of other supernatural entities. This is more clearly seen in Shin Megami Tensei II, with the False YHVH fought after the death of the Archangels.
This has some interesting bearing in the game. In general, the more people in Real Life that believe in a particular god/demon/angel/etc., the stronger they are in game. God, Lucifer, and the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are obvious examples, but Shiva and Vishnu, both primary gods in Hindu (which remains one of the oldest active religions in the world) are also among the strongest. Exceptions do exist though, like Metatron (less than one quarter of one percent of the world's population are Jewish) being among the strongest.
The Persona games use this to explain why various incarnations of death and madness are ready to end the world... they're doing it because humanity (or sometimes a few select individuals) secretly want them to. If not for that, those Eldritch Abominations would be completely harmless.
Guide Dang It - If you want to get certain skills on certain demons, you WILL need to consult several fusion charts and skill charts (doing it the old fashioned way of chart-making is practically a Self-Imposed Challenge).
Happiness in Slavery - No. You can order demons whatever you want, but they will hate you if you cross certain lines. Loyalty in Soul Hackers works alongside the same lines; demons have an affinity for certain attacks; allowing them to use it will increase their loyalty, telling them to use moves they hate will reduce it. The National Defense Divinities loathe both the Ashura-Kai and the Ring of Gaea, and are overjoyed at their own destruction, so the damn fools won't get to use them any more as their mooks.
Heroic Mime - The main protagonists are almost always one of these. Which made Persona 2 quite entertaining considering that the protagonists of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment only have dialogue in the game they're not starring in.
Some games work skillfully around this. In Digital Devil Saga, Serph is a Heroic Mime because he's based on the understanding Sera had on the real Serph. That is to say, she knew nothing about the real Serph. In Persona 3 and 4, the protagonists' arcanas are The Fool. One aspect of The Fool is chaos and creativity; in short, this means they are free to choose any personality they want.
Hurricane of Puns - Mara. Good god, Mara.note mara is a slang term for "penis" in Japanese. Mara is a demon from Buddhism that used various temptations on the Buddha to prevent him from achieving enlightenment. Since sex is a common temptation... yeah... or the part where Mara has PIERCE. And is fire attribute.
Digital Devil Saga - Amala Ring - beat one of the hardest Bonus Bosses in RPG history.
Shin Megami Tensei II - Hinakoguzuchi, the best sword in the game, obtainable through fusion only. Requires a total of sixty-seven demons and several fusable swords to walk through each step. As the sword can also be fused with various demons to produce the best gun and the best armor for Hiroko, you need EIGHT of them for a full equipment list.
Jesus Taboo - For it's use of nearly every mythological character, the closest the series gets to Jesus is in Persona 3 as a representation of the Messianic Archetype as a whole. Admittedly YHVH and his dragon lean closer to the view Judaism has on the two (except for the "evil" bit), though they employ catholic arch-angels.
Lyrics in Nocturne's boss theme mention a sacrificing the son of God.
The demon Agony represents a long-haired, visibly wounded man bound by barbed wire to a large wooden cross. However, comprehensively, it only appeared in the first Devil Summoner game, which has never been translated or even gotten out of Japan.
Karma Meter - "Your mother has been possessed by a demon and pleads with you to end her suffering. Do you kill her?" If "yes", you respect her wishes, you go Chaos. If "no", you respect societal taboos of not killing, you go Law.
Kick Them While They Are Down - The mechanics of each game tend to give out various bonuses for hitting enemy weaknesses or landing Critical Hits, such as Extra Press Turns or a free Almighty attack.
In the first 2 Shin Megami Tensei games, you're given the Demon Summoning Program by a wheelchair-bound man with glasses and gray hair. He calls himself "Steven". Any resemblance to a famous scientist is surely coincidental.
The Legions of Hell: They apparently have been waiting for their chance to rise again for a very long time. Almost every game depicts the seal being broken.
Les Collaborateurs: Some of The Old Gods were spared the relentless demonization campaign the Great Will enacted to gather as many worshippers as he could. Unsurprisingly, many of these were added to the Law faction.
Light is Good/Dark Is Evil - Played with: The light-dark alignment axis refers to a given demon's typical depiction in its originating myths, not necessarily how they actually are.
The Devil Children series, where the demons, gods and spirits are redesigned as more kid-friendly cute versions. For instance, Scylla goes from a dog-headed sea monster to a cute little girl walking a bunch of puppies.
Limited Move Arsenal - Most MegaTen games give your party members a limited number of skill slots, and force them to permanently forget old skills to make room for new ones. Digital Devil Saga and humans in Devil Survivor do have the option to re-equip old abilities from a skill pool though.
Lotus-Eater Machine: The residents of Arcadiathink they live in a cozy paradise, but they're all hooked up to machines.
Arcadia was a prototype for the Thousand Year Kingdom, if YHVH had his way, all the humans worshiping him would share the same fate as those in Arcadia. It is even worse on the Law route as the Megiddo Arc kills off all life on earth, even those in Arcadia.
Lunacy - The waxing and waning of the moon is a key gameplay feature in every game. The fuller the moon is, the more damage your attacks do, the more likely an accident is to occur during fusion, and the crazier the monsters act. During a full moon they're practically drunk off those moonbeams, which makes for entertaining conversation. There are also some abilities that are more or less effective depending on the phase of the moon. Certain games have their own quirks:
Persona 3 has important storyline events (the attack of the Greater Shadows) occur during a full moon.
There's a period of time in the game Shin Megami Tensei where the main character would take damage during a full moon. This is because of his psychic link to the Heroine, whose reincarnated self is currently undergoing torture from a demon that has invaded her mind. The full moon makes him feel her pain. This is solved by rescuing her.
In Digital Devil Saga, there's a 50% chance during every new moon- excuse us, MIN Solar Noise that your characters will be cured of any ailments that they are suffering from. Also, the selling price of Cells is at its highest during MAX Solar Noise. In the sequel, Digital Devil Saga 2, there is a chance during 7/8 or MAX Solar Noise- sorry, Solar Data that you will enter battle in Berserk Form.
You can guarantee that you get the best items from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne's Mystical Chests by opening them during a full Kagutsuchi phase. The drop rate of Gems is also highest at this point. The moon does not appear in Nocturne because, along with the rest of the world, it has been destroyed. What the game tracks, instead, is the brightening and darkening of Kagutsuchi. Hence, Nocturne is one of the few games with a good reason for why the "moon"'s phase changes every few steps you take, as opposed to taking days to change phase.
One Sub App in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey lets you speak to demons during the Full Moon (something otherwise impossible). Because they're drunk on the moonlight, they don't really know what they're saying, and will ask bizarre questions. You have a 50/50 chance of impressing them or pissing them off; impressing them can earn you rewards up to and including instantly recruiting them - this is the only way to recruit Dark demons.
Market-Based Title - In the West, from Nocturne onwards the games have been branded under the Shin Megami Tensei label. In Japan, though every game is considered a MegaTen title they aren't marketed as such.
Mark of the Beast - Tatsuya's brand in Persona 2 and the Demi-Fiend's tattoos in Nocturne.
Mascot Mook - Jack Frost. He's even the official mascot of Atlus itself, making this a literal example of the trope.
Mercy Rewarded - In some games, if you have almost wiped out an enemy team, with only one enemy remaining, he can throw in the towel and beg for mercy. Grant it, and he can either leave with no more fuss, demonstrate his thanks with some trinket or cash, decide you're cool enough to sign up with, or invoke I Surrender, Suckers and go for a last stab.
Merged Reality - Persona 2: Innocent Sin (though it doesn't exactly work, setting up the sequel).
Monster Compendium - The Demonic Compendium is a very important part in almost all of these games, allowing you not only to view the stats of all the demons you've ever registered in it, but also serves as a repository of information, with tons of lore for each demon (all of it perfectly valid and backed by a lot of literature in the artbooks) and the ability to resummon those you've fused away for a fee. The Persona Compendium from Persona 3 and beyond serves the same purpose.
The Multiverse - Nocturne mentions in the bonus dungeon that the current game's world is just one out of billions of possibilities due to the world constantly being destroyed and remade. These other worlds may be the various sub series.
There are other hints at this as well, such as the seraphs showing up in Digital Devil Saga 2... and explicitly talking about the events of SMT 2 (granted, this went over the heads of many new fans of the franchise) or Raidou Kuzunoha being referenced directly in Persona 4 (It's a product of the translation though). Never mind Hiriji in general in Nocturne - they never come out and say it directly but there's a lot of implication that he's SMT 2's deicide-riffic hero.
Naturally, this all leads to lots of Epileptic Trees about just how the multiverse fits together and what could be coming next. The Persona universe, for example, is rather overdue for seraphs and Messian/Law asshats at this point, since they've already conquered Chaos and the two negative sides of Neutrality in Nihil-As-Death and Nihil-As-Ignorance.
Then, of course, there's the chance that all this craziness may be occurring in the same universe as Devil May Cry, courtesy of Nocturne. With Dante's replacement by Raidou in the newest re-release of Nocturne, though, the canonicity of Dante's appearance is somewhat questionable.
My Rules Are Not Your Rules - No matter which game it is: if an enemy uses physical attacks which normally would cost it HP, he won't have to pay the price.
Not true in the Devil Survivor series, since enemy stats are displayed "face-up" to the player.
Also not true in IMAGINE, where only demons with a specific feature null HP costs (some of which, such as Hecatoncheires, can be used by players). Most, if not all, bosses have this feature, though. This also turns some boss-like enemies such as Hell Biker (from the 39th floor of the Denshi Kairo special dungeon) rather funny to fight when it starts spending more HP than the player is actually causing him.
The only way to deny enemy demons the ability to abuse this is getting their HP lower than the cost of the attack: even though they don't pay the cost, they still have to have enough to pay it for it to work.
Mythology Gag - Cerberus is usually portrayed in the series with one head because that's how he was described in the original Digital Devil Story novel. Boomerangs back to accuracy in Persona 3, doubling as a series in-joke.
Named Weapons - Very often you will have the chance to collect some legendary weaponry.
Persona 3FES takes it further with Weapon Fusion. You can find "Void," "Nihil," or "Origin" weapons which you can slap a Persona on to in order to create swords or spears with very good stats and additional effects. But if you use a Persona whose weapon is well-known by itself, then whatever base weapon you use, regardless of type (knives, bows, etc.) will become this legendary weapon. For instance, fusing Odin and obtaining Gungnir, Thor and Mjolnir, Shiva and Pinaka, Cú Chulainn and Gae Bolg, Siegfried and Balmung...
New Game+ - Most of the recent games include extra content only available on a second run.
No Damage Run: The introduction of "Maniac" mode in the Persona series requires the player to accomplish all goals in one shot, with no data carried over to a new game.
Non-Elemental - Almighty. One of the reasons why it's impossible to defend oneself against any attacks of this attribute.
No Sell - Many enemies will have immunities stacked up to ungodly levels. Save up enough money, experience and level up the right demons to Elite Tweak your own, though rarely to enemy levels. Demons have very wide resistance variations, so some demons may come off as counters for other, more troublesome demons. Though the games permit enough skill customization so that enough effort can effectively render any glaring weakness moot, the games being Nintendo Hard means that, of course, some bosses will still make your life hell unless you completely and utterly overpower them, and sometimes even that is not enough. A prime example is the final boss of Persona 3, who has an action that will completely No Sellliterallyeverything you can throw at it until it decides it has had enough fun staring at you with that Slasher Smile.
The scripted fight that ends the game, however, has our voiceless protagonist gain enough power to No Selldeath itself.
Even worse with this, however, is Beldr from Devil Survivor. Even on a New Game+, everything you throw at him will fail, all the time, except his loneWeaksauce Weakness, getting punched in the face with a cellphone strap. This essentially makes every single spell and every single character in your entire team useless, except for the "Devil's Fuge" attack which replaces the main character's physical attack. Good luck. A lesser example from the same game is the Battle Aura auto skill, which nullifies all attacks that deal less than 50 damage.
Persona 3 has the Omnipotent Orb, an accessory that has that very same effect.
Persona 4 has it too, but it's much easier to just fuse a Helel that's immune to every element instead.
Pretty much every game in the series has Tetrakarn and Makarakarn, skills that are a one turn No Sell for physical and magical attacks, respectively.
As a rule of thumb, though, several types of Boss In Mooks Clothing in the series have a very nasty tendency to No Sell most conventional attacks. At best, they will be nulled. At worst, they will be repelled. Of course, given enough investment, you can have your private team of Olympus Mons capable of No Selling most enemy attacks as well.
Nocturne also gives an example of overcoming No Sells - in the True Demon Ending, you can get a rare skill named Pierce. This skill, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, allows your physical attacks to slice past an enemy's defenses, hitting them full on instead of being lessened, nulled, or absorbed. Doesn't work when the enemy Repels Phys, though. Devil Survivor also has this skill, though it's much easier to get.
Shin Megami Tensei IV now has eight moves (four are passives) that can be used to punch past Strong, Null and Absorb each element: Lightning of God (learned by Uriel), Tornado of God (learned by Raphael), Hailstorm of God (learned by Gabriel), and Inferno of God (learned by Michael). The four passives allowing you to punch past elemental resistances, however, are all learned only by Aeshma. Aside from that, Sanat learsn Phys Pierce and Masakado's Shadow learns Pierce Gun, meaning all Pierce moves are exclusive to the DLC.
Nuke 'em: Almighty, again. In the cases where it is not shown as an attack made of pure light, the symbol for it is the standard Nuke symbol. This is not inaccurate.
In the early Persona games, Nuclear was another element, separate from Almighty, albeit one more powerful than Fire, Ice, Lightning.
Once an Episode - Uptil the fourth game, once per Persona series game, there would be a massive in-story retcon that made it so that the amount of people who actually remembered/knew about the events of the game are minimal, if not completely gone.
Persona 2 initially averted this (somewhat) in the U.S. in that the only one that originally came westside was the second one, Eternal Punishment.
While Innocent Sin has now been released in the U.S. via the PSP port, Atlus still has yet to announce Eternal Punishment's PSP port for U.S. release. So the trope is both straight and averted, since you need two systems that are of different generations to play both games. And that's only if you can find Eternal Punishment.note As of 25 Feb. 2013, Eternal Punishment is available as a "PS One Classic" through PlayStation Network, compatible with the PSP.
One-Hit KO - Light and Darkness spells. They come in two orders each, one more likely to connect than the other. It is possible to find variations of them all which are capable of hitting all enemy targets, setting up for a Total Party Kill on either side.
Point of No Return - Annoyingly done in the first few games; more modern games tend to be more forgiving.
While annoying, it's done with styletwice in SMT1: the first time is when Ambassador Thorman nukes the hell out of Tokyo and your hero is sent to a corner of the Abyss to survive until he can return; the second time is when the Mesians flood the ruins of Tokyo to wash away all sin and coincidentally trap you in the massive final dungeon. Sadly, none of the other games that feature a Point of No Return managed to pull it off with quite the same panache.
Powers as Programs - Fused demons or Personas may inherit skills the "parent" demons had. Learning to exploit this can lead to Disc One Nukes and Game Breakers. This is also a vital part in fusing for its ability to impart priceless immunities and strengths to new demons. Devil Survivor games amp this by literally allowing you to slap any powers you want on anyone, only restricting you with the spell's stat point requirement.
Power-Upgrading Deformation - Whenever you choose to blend demon and human in any way, expect this to be a likely result. Note that this doesn't happen to everyone though.
Practical Taunt - Most of the games have a "Taunt" spell, which increases enemy attack power while lowering their defense.
The Playstation port of Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers includes a battle against the protagonist from the very first Devil Summoner game. The enhanced 3DS port also includes Raidou Kuzunoha the XIV, Raido Kuzunoha the XIV, and the freaking Soulless God from the Playstation 2 DevilSummoner games.
All but two of the playable characters in the original Persona make at least a brief appearance in Persona 2, and several party members from both games show up in the "Who's Who" TV show in Persona 3.
The female protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei If appears in the first two Persona games as "Tamaki Uchida". Additionally, Kyouji Kuzunoha from the original Devil Summoner is implied to be the one possessing Daisuke Todoroki in Persona 2.
Psychotic Smirk - Tatsuya Sudou, a.k.a. King Leo in Persona 2: Innocent Sin and JOKER in the sequel Eternal Punishment.
Rage Against the Heavens - Frequent. Lucifer is usually the one that spearheads this movement. In Nocturne the Demi-fiend is now the one that leads it, if the True Demon ending is canon.
Rainbow Speak: Chronologically, Persona 2 was the first Persona game to use Rainbow Speak, only using it for rumors. Persona 3 has a variation: Words that show up as terms in the game's Dictionary are in blue, while otherwise-important words or phrases are red. P4 uses it sparingly, and it's been introduced to the PSP remake of the first Persona too, even though it was unnecessary.
Rare Candy: Incenses. They come for all stats, though, befitting the Nintendo Hard nature of the games, they are quite rare.
In both Persona 2 games, you can get All Incenses from Fenrirs, which increase all stats.
In Nocturne you can save-scum them by getting nine Lucky Tickets at the shop by buying stuff at 1000 macca intervals, save, and then buy at a tenth interval at the store. The owner will give you three boxes to choose from; sometimes they may have an incense inside, depending if you open it on a certain Kagutsuchi phase. You can also get Incenses from golden chests, also depending on Kagutsuchi phase.
Reforged into a Minion: Almost every boss and miniboss can be subject to this. Once you've killed them once, you have the right to summon them at an adequate level.
Refusing Paradise - It is possible to reject Law's paradise en lieu of working towards creating one.
Ridiculously Human Robots: Machines that develop human thoughts and feelings are often featured in MegaTen games. This includes Aigis and Labrys in the Persona series, Rasputin from the Devil Summoner games, and the Innocents in IMAGINE.
The Sacred Darkness: The Lady race features Black Maria, who is based off an interpretation of the Virgin Mary with black skin, and is stated to be a holy mother of the dark. Likewise, the demon Alciel, the "Black Sun", or "King of Gehenna" has added commentary in the Compendium saying darkness is a part of rebirth.
Sacrificial Revival Spell: In some entries in the series, the Recarmdra spell will revive all fallen party members at the cost of killing the caster.
Satan - Different forms of the Devil regularly show up over the series
The Book of Job Old Testament Satan serves as God's Dragon in Shin Megami Tensei II and Digital Devil Saga 2, and as a Judgement-class Persona in the Persona games.
The separate Lucifer serves leader of the forces of CHAOS in the SMT continuity, in direct opposition to God, and two different Persona in the Persona games.
Schmuck Bait - Atlus likes to bait you into taking silly risks. A notable example is before the Daisoujou fight in Nocturne. The boss uses powerful light and dark type (One-Hit Kill) attacks, but directly before the fight, the player has access to a magatama that boosts strength by 10, while making the player weak to light and dark attacks. With a stat cap of 40, naturally it seems like a good idea, but then you're promptly punished.
One of the most notable comes in Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga in the form of two moves (Beast Eye and Dragon Eye) that gives the enemy free actions for a puny mana cost. For the most part, only bosses have it, and you can't learn it.
Not without cheating back anyways, Digital Devil Saga 1 has a cheat that allows you select any skill written in the code (whether it's in the game or not). Wanna bitchslap Hito-Shura? Break out Hunger Wave and pound away.
Shown Their Work - The Demonic Compendium for every single game in the series, including spinoffs, contains an accurate overview of each demon's background and origin, and the sources pulled from are diverse to say the least. If you don't have a degree in mythological studies, playing through a bunch of the games and reading the entire Compendium for each would give you one hell of a head start.
Signature Move: Many. Notable in that they are only very rarely passable to other monsters / Personas through fusion inheritance, limiting you to using that specific demon if you really want to use the move.
Alice has the destructive "Die For Me!" attack - the deadliest Curse/Mudo-type One-Hit Kill move.
The equivalent Hama move ("Die For Me!" counts as Mudo) is "Samsara", traditionally possessed by Daisoujou.
From Persona 2, we have these gems: Tatsuya/Apollo's Nova Kaiser, Eikichi/Hades' Bloody Honeymoon, Jun/Chronos' Cross Fortune, Lisa/Venus' Foamy Lover, Maya/Maia's Crescent Mirror, Baofu/Prometheus' Wiseman Snap, Katsuya/Hyperion's Justice Shot, and Ulala/Asteria's Twinkle Nebula.
On a different angle, many of the Hito-Shura's exclusive attacks can be seen like this. Highlights include Freikugel, Magma Axis and Deadly Fury.
Many bosses have signature moves that are pretty relevant to the mythology behind them. Harihara has Chaturbuja, Vaikunta and Three Worlds (changed to Reincarnate in english), Brahman has Brahma Sutra and Izanami has Thousand Curses. For the Law and Chaos heroes, Jimenez and Zelenin have Left Hand and Right Hand respectively. Belial has Sodom's Fire/Fire of Gomorrah, and Nebiros has Necromancy, while Lilith has Temptation.
The Digital Devil Saga bosses have some of these. For instance, Hayagriva has Fire Storm and Skewer, Camazotz has the Guard ability and later on, Zotzilaha Bane, Usas has Seraph Lore, Rahu has Dragon Quake and Dragon Thrash, Cerberus has Pyriphlegethon, Varin Omega has Hunger Wave.
Soundtrack Dissonance - Averted as far as genre goes. Whereas most RPG's use orchestral and symphonic music for their soundtracks, MegaTen uses rock and more modern sounds for its. Turns out to work pretty well considering MegaTen is usually in a modern setting or, at its worst, Cyberpunk.
Spell Levels: The series uses a basic form of suffixes and prefixes, but early games do not have an in-game manual for these. Learning to use them correctly is critical.
The main attack spells in the series are a slew of elements, commonly Ice (Bufu), Fire (Agi), Electricity (Zio) and Wind (Garu). There's also Force (Zan), Psychological (Psy), Nuclear (Frei), Earth (Magna/Tera), Gravity (Gry) and Water (Aqua). These basic elements have three tiers, basic (no suffix), medium (a variety of suffixes), and powerful (-dyne). Most of these can also have the Ma- prefix, which denotes that it hits the entire enemy party. Depending on the game's mechanics and the enemies at hand, this may or may not be desirable.
The basic One-Hit Kill spells, Hama (Light) and Mudo (Darkness) can also have the Ma- prefix, with or without the -on suffix, which denotes a better chance of hitting the enemy.
The basic healing spell, Dia, comes with two possible suffixes: -rama, more heal, and -rahan, full heal. The Ma- prefix comes back as Me-.
The basic buff and debuff spells are only suffixes and prefixes: Taru- is physical attacks, Maka- is magical attacks, Raku- is defense, Sama- is magical defense, Suku- is speed, and De- removes stat changes. -kaja stands for buffs, -unda or -nda are debuffs. Depending on the mechanics of the game, they may or may not affect the entire party. If the latter is true, however, they also make use of the Ma- prefix.
The basic Almighty attack is Megido, and it comes with two suffixes: -la (run for your life) and -laon (prepare for complete obliteration). Still, there are even deadlier Almighty spells, such as Black Viper or Morning Star. However, the only one that retains the naming convention, the most obscenely overpowered of them all, is Lucifer's exclusive Megidoladyne.
-karn are one-time Reflect moves, Tetra- being any physical, and Makara- being any magical excluding Almighty and Standard Status Effects. Whether used as an item or as a move, it may affect only the user or the entire party depending on the game's mechanics. Both the demons with the move and the items are few and far between, and very expensive all around.
Beyond this, there are a number of special attacks with other names. Still, those are the basics.
Spiritual Successor: There's a Konami-made smartphone game in Japan called "Dragon Collection" that's immensely popular. Its stable of monster cards is, shall we say suspiciously similar to the Shin Megami Tensei cast, and the old Devil Children spinoffs in particular.
Standard Status Effects - Almost all standard effects are present, as normal spells or physical attacks capable of additionally inflicting these. Chains of these are possible, leading to easy Game Breakers.
Story Branching: A number of Shin Megami Tensei games have branching paths where you choose between Law, Chaos, or Neutral allegiance. Some, like Nocturne and the Devil Survivor series, have more choices beyond these classic three paths.
Summoning Ritual - Shown occasionally. Mekata's ruined ritual in Shin Megami Tensei II and Mara's summoning in Nocturne are some examples. Taken into a broader context, the series' summoning and fusion technology is this ever since the first Digital Devil Story, as you are tributing lesser demons in exchange for a more powerful one turning up to serve you. When viewed like this, it's little surprise hexagrams (traditional summoning emblems) have been used as the series' brand logos.
Supernaturally Delicious and Nutritious: Again, Red, Magatsuhi, Magnetite. All of them are largely the same. Digital Devil Saga put its own spin on this concerning Magnetite and mentions all things have the substance in them and that living creatures eat each other to obtain Magnetite and survive. Humans and Demons require the most Magnetite to survive, so they have to eat far more, which is why Demons eat other demons/humans since they have the most Magnetite.
A warped version of Tokyo was the entire game world in Nocturne.
Devil Survivor begins with Tokyo being locked down, and you never get the chance to escape.
Transhuman Treachery: The vast amount of demon-human hybrids created by Fusion Dance present in the series are so blinded by their new powers they start allowing their ego and fanaticism to taint their judgment very quickly. There is very little if any mental deterioration, they just get drunk on power and proceed to jump off the slippery slope. After a while, their best answer to any problem is to blast the hell out of it.
Trauma Inn - Present in most games. But incredibly likely to make you bleed Macca (or Yen, depending on the game) at an accelerated pace, in any form.
Traumatic Superpower Awakening - A much-forgotten lesson from Persona games - you need to be broken to have a Persona in the first place. It's not a random superpower you can get, it's a shield to protect you. It's more clearly seen in the Persona 2 duology, where two Personas are forcefully awoken by the Araya Shrine incident. Arguably, it comes back with a vengeance in Persona 3 — as one character notes, you'd have to be a little messed up to fire a gun-like object at your own head. Repeatedly.
Unified Naming System: It is very common to see the recruitable monsters referred to as "demons". Why? In the earlier games, they were referred to as "demons" collectively despite this including angels, gods, and what else was in the games. The name stuck since it is easier to refer to them as demons rather than their individual classification, which is at least ten.
Urban Legend - A core concept of Persona 2 and the beginning of Persona 4. Some enemy demons in the former are urban legends in Japan.
Useless Useful Spell - Completely and utterly averted. Debuff/buff abilities can determine whether you win or lose a fight and the instant death spells are actually damn useful.
In fact, if your enemy happens to be weak to death/expel, the various death spells are pretty much a guaranteed kill (and are in fact the easiest way to kill certain otherwise-nigh-invincible mooks). Otherwise you still get a 1-in-3 hit rate that you can boost.
Verbal Tic - A number of demons exhibit distinct speech characteristics: some are intelligent and eloquent, others are thuggish and direct, some SPEAK IN ALL CAPS and some in ToRGosPEeCh. And then there's the ver-hee recognizable speech pattern of Jack Frost and his fell-ho Jacks and Frosts, hee-ho!
We Cannot Go On Without You - A frustratingly high number of these games will give you a game over if your main character gets knocked out, regardless of whether this should make sense in all of them or not. Mudo and Hama spells are particularly devastating in that respect as some of the games give the player almost no recourse against them early on.
In most games that feature moon phases, the moon goes through sixteen different phases, and advances through each phase every few steps you take.
Persona 3 plays the moon phases more realistically, using actual moon phase data for 2009 and 2010 rather than the traditional mechanic of going through the entire cycle in a matter of a few minutes. However, it has its own lunar oddities: during the Dark Hour, the moon is Nyx, the Big Bad of the game.
With Us or Against Us - Most of the time, you will be forced against Law or Chaos factions if you choose their opposite, or both if you go Neutral. Given almost all of these games literally have the fate of the world hinging on choices made, it's logical they are not going to change their minds without some damn convincing gab.
What If? - Literally embodied a game called Shin Megami Tensei If. Beyond that, the Devil Summoner series is also based around a What If? - one which ties into the aforementioned game, which represents the branching point that leads to either the Devil Summoner/Persona continuity or main-series Shin Megami Tensei. If presents a what-if question... and Devil Summoner is the answer to it. On top of all this, the Raidou Kuzunoha prequel games in the Devil Summoner line provide a historical What If scenario, hinging, at least in part, on the Taisho period lasting longer than it did in our world.
World of Ham - Every demon tries to out-ham each other. One could almost say power levels in this universe directly correlate to the demon's hamminess.
World of Silence - Traditional goal of Law. In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Hikawa (who caused the world to get so screwed up and become the Vortex World in the first place according to Lucifer) and his Reason of Shijima takes this role. In Persona 4this is the kind of world Izanami thinks the apathetic humans want.
Yet Another Stupid Death: Many a gamer have been humbled after moments of hubris. Common ways of dying: getting back attacked and having your weaknesses exploited endlessly, getting hit by a Hama or Mudo spell, using the wrong skill at a crucial moment because you weren't paying enough attention, being able to always counter with a physical attack for ludicrous damage and then being glanced by a lowly demon that repels physical attacks.
Daisoujou in Nocturne loves using Mahamaon/Mamudoon for instant game overs if you don't have some kind of protection. He also already starts with both Mahamaon and Mamudoon when you fuse him.
Persona 3 FES gives us Messiah, an explicit reference to, well, Jesus. Thanks to the personas required for the fusion and the inheritance rules, Messiah will inherit Die For Me!, which will actually be his most useful skill, despite an inherent weakness to darkness. Thanatos, the top Death-arcana persona, is weak to light but learns Mahamaon — presumably so the player can later have Messiah inherit it, but most delete it... and many plot twists later, the irony is delicious.
Youkai: Some of the demons in the series come from here.
alternative title(s): Mega Ten; Shin Megami Tensei; Shin Megami Tensei; Digital Devil Story Megami Tensei; Majin Tensei; Majin Tensei II Spiral Nemesis; Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner; Ronde; Demi Kids Book Of Ligh Andt Book Of Darkness