[[caption-width-right:350:TheHero, his friends and TheLegionsOfHell.]]

->''199X, Tokyo\\
As the devil known as "desire" grows, anxiety born from uncertainty has brought forth the teachings of "Gaia", which espouses the birth of a new world from the ashes of the old; and the "Messiah", acting on behalf of God\\
What is it that people seek? To create a millennial kingdom of order ruled over by God as promised by the Messiah? Or the destruction of God's kingdom, and with it, the birth of a world of chaos?\\
...or perhaps...''
-->-- '''Opening narration from the Sega CD version'''

The first game in the ''ShinMegamiTensei'' JRPG series, and SpiritualSuccessor to ''Megami Tensei''. It was released in Japan in 1992 for the [[Creator/{{Nintendo}} Super Nintendo]] and later released for the PC Engine Super CD-Rom and Sega CD. Remakes for the Playstation and Gameboy Advance came out in 2002, which was eventually ported to {{iOS}} in 2012. It later got a direct sequel in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiII''.

It's a fairly average day for you in Tokyo, aside from the [[DreamingOfThingsToCome vaguely prophetic dream]] you had the night before. The dog needs to be walked, your mother wants you to run down to the cafe and pick up some coffee, and you received an email claiming that a portal to Hell has been opened and that demons are invading the world.

Wait, what?

Things quickly go from bad to worse as Tokyo is placed under martial law and you are thrown into jail accused of murder. Your only weapon against the ensuing chaos is a Demon Summoning Program: a mysterious piece of software that allows you to converse with and bind demons to your service. Soon you manage to meet up with the allies you saw in your dream and LaResistance, learning that not only is a Japanese general attempting to use the demons to commit a coup-d'etat, but [[{{Eagleland}} America]] is threatening to "solve" the demon crisis by dropping a dozen nukes on the city. However, all is not as it seems, and soon Tokyo has been destroyed as part of a greater scheme.

This is only the beginning.

The real meat of the game takes place thirty years AfterTheEnd in the ruins of Tokyo. Two factions are trying to create a new world in their image: first, the Messians, whose goal is to establish a Thousand Year Kingdom of God under the (rather unforgiving) guidance of [[CouncilOfAngels the angels]]. Opposing them are the Gaians, who wish to return the world to a primal state of anarchy with the demons. Having been thrown forward in time to escape the destruction of Tokyo, you must now become TheKingmaker and decide just what shape the world shall take.

The first four main characters have [[HelloInsertNameHere no default name]]; however, they were later given a number of "official" names:
* Hero - The [[HeroicMime silent]] main character. Possesses an innate talent for summoning, which allows him to use the Demon Summoning Program successfully.
* Heroine - Leader of LaResistance. ActionGirl. Has very strong magical abilities. AfterTheEnd she goes missing, but eventually becomes your main female companion and your only human companion.
* Law Hero - A young, idealistic man who you meet while he's looking for his missing girlfriend. Possesses a [[{{Determinator}} fierce willpower]]. AfterTheEnd, he gravitates towards the message of peace broadcast by the Messians.
* Chaos Hero - A young, arrogant punk. When you first meet him, he's getting the crap kicked out him by Ozawa and his gang. Despite his tough talk, he's a wimp on his own. AfterTheEnd, he fuses himself with a demon [[EvilMakeover to gain incredible power]] and dumps you for the Gaians.
* Stephen - A crippled genius in a wheelchair who created the Demon Summoning Program. Later gives you upgrades that allow you to store and summon more demons. [[{{NoCelebritiesWereHarmed}} Totally not Stephen Hawking]].
* Yuriko - A beautiful woman who appears in your dreams and pledges to be your "eternal partner". [[StalkerWithACrush Quickly shows her true colors]]. Doesn't mind [[MurderTheHypotenuse disposing of any romantic rivals]].
* Ozawa - A gang leader who is first shown kicking around Chaos Hero. Later shows himself to have some talent at Demon Summoning and joins up with the Gaians. AfterTheEnd, he's a cranky old man who struck a deal with the demons so he could rule over Shibuya.
* Pascal, the Hero's dog who fuses himself with a demon to aid the Hero.

''Shin Megami Tensei'' is a first-person dungeon crawler much in the same vein as the [=RPGs=] of its time, such as ''A Bard's Tale'' or ''Wizardry''[[note]]in fact, the early ''Megami Tensei'' games in general seem to take a lot of their design beats from ''Wizardry IV'', what with recruiting monsters, limited numbers of human heroes, and very complex dungeons[[/note]]. It uses a turn-based battle system, though you are given the option to talk to a demon before you battle to see if you can endear yourself to it. By winning the favour of a demon, you can ask it for money, items, healing or to join your party. However, demons do not gain experience points so the only way to strengthen your party is to fuse two or more demons together at the Jakyou Manor, creating vastly more powerful demons that can exceed your own level.

Your CharacterAlignment is a huge focus of the game. Depending on the choices you make, the demons you recruit and the missions you accept, the main character's alignment will change to Law, Balance or Chaos. This mainly affects the ending you receive, but also affects what demons you can recruit (Law demons will refuse to join you if you are Chaotic and vice versa), what items you can equip and what healing stations that you can use (each faction has its own healing station; using an opposing faction's healing station will cost you more). There's no "right" path to follow- in fact, the game strongly encourages the player to find their own philosophy and treats you as the hero no matter what side you follow, if any.

The graphics aren't that great and the game itself is NintendoHard. It also suffers from some baffling design choices, like having to go through three menu screens to access a sorely-needed minimap. But it was a revolutionary game for its time: in an age where seemingly every RPG was [[NoSidepathsNoExplorationNoFreedom linear]], had [[ExcusePlot little plot]] and was stuck in the [[MedievalStasis medieval]] [[HighFantasy high fantasy]] genre, ''Shin Megami Tensei'' had a wide, sprawling overworld where you could do what you wanted, delivered a truly outstanding plot for its time and was a radical post-apocalyptic UrbanFantasy.

The game [[NoExportForYou never got a release in the West]], but a group called Aeon Genesis has released a translation patch for the SNES ROM; a second patch by a modder called Orden was released, fixing some of the bugs in the Aeon Genesis patch and making some translation changes to get the script more in line with the official translations. [[AvertedTrope However]], Atlus has [[http://atlus.com/smti/ recently announced]] that the iOS port is finally being translated and released in the West. The English version was made available on the iOS app store on March 18, 2014. Although technically, the Japanese version was available worldwide on the iOS app store for a while until it was apparently region locked, [[{{Irony}} with the description reading that the game would never get an English translation]].
!This game contains the following tropes:
* AdamAndEvePlot: [[spoiler:By the end, there's only a handful of humans and demons left alive in Tokyo, and most of them are in the Cathedral. The Protagonist and the Heroine are thus left with the fate of Earth in their hands.]]
** Note that [[spoiler: Yuriko/Lillth actually ''believes'' the main character is Adam, suggesting the possibility the Protagonist and the Heroine are the {{Reincarnation}}s of Adam and Eve.]]
* AllThereInTheManual: [[http://dijeh.tumblr.com/post/100462781573/theres-a-really-nice-qa-section-in-a-shin-megami The official fanbook explains questions fans might have had when playing the game]]:
** The old man found in the prison who can fuse the Angel Ring for you was a former Imperial Japanese soldier who was executed for war crimes but was resurrected by the Cathedral of Shadows, which he is also a member of.
* ApatheticCitizens: While the coup forces are a big deal in Tokyo JustBeforeTheEnd, barely anybody mentions how there are demons running around in public malls and on the inhabited city streets.
* ATasteOfPower: Played with. Early in the game, you can fuse your dog with a demon to create Cerberus, a high-level demon that would, under normal circumstances, be impossible to attain without doing some major level grinding. With this Cerberus, you can easily make it through early parts of the game. It will leave your party before long, though, but it can rejoin you during the game's latter half.
* BlackAndGreyMorality: Neither the Law or Chaos sides are very nice, and [[spoiler: rejecting both [[OmnicidalNeutral leaves a lot of bodies lying on the floor.]]]] Borders on EvilVersusEvil; there really is no "good" choice here.
* BodyHorror: The Chaos hero does this ''to himself'' by pretty much [[LampshadeHanging going right for one of the obvious questions around "demon fusing"]]. Of course, when Pascal tries it, you get the useful Cerberus instead of any horrific creature.
* BonusBoss: This game has Beelzebub as the ultimate opponent...supposedly. He has far less HP than Final Bosses Michael and Asura, and while Beelzebub's Level 108, Asura's Level 110 and Michael's Level 116.
* {{Brainwashed}}: What happens to anyone who tries to stand up to the older Ozawa. This is done through a reluctant psychic man named the Psycho-diver, who he has imprisoned.
%% * ButThouMust
* CaptainErsatz: Commander Gotou was based off of real-life author [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukio_Mishima Yukio Mishima]], who also attempted a coup at Camp Ichigaya.
* ChurchMilitant: The Messians are the obvious one, at least AfterTheEnd (JustBeforeTheEnd they're not hostile or corrupt). The Gaians as well, though befitting [[SocialDarwinist their philosophy]], in practice they act more like an especially large street gang.
* ControllableHelplessness: After defeating Thor, [[spoiler:you have 30 seconds to move around before Tokyo is [[NukeEm nuked]]. There isn't anything you can do, other than wait for the on-screen timer to hit zero and have the Heroine teleport you out in time.]]
* CrapsackWorld: Tokyo JustBeforeTheEnd is already kind of bad, as the city is in a battle between the Americans, Gotou and his demons, and the rebels who want to stop them both. AfterTheEnd, demons are everywhere, the Messians and the Gaians are even more prominent and are now in an all-out war, [[spoiler:and eventually it all gets flooded by God, killing everybody not inside the giant Cathedral at the time.]]
* CrucifiedHeroShot: Our first glimpse of the Law Hero.
* CrutchCharacter: Cerberus, which you get by fusing ''your family dog'' with a demon. When you first get it will likely dish and take more damage than everything else you have ''COMBINED'', and will ignore the rules that a demon as powerful as it is should be uncontrollable for you at that point. Unfortunately you only get him briefly, and by the time you get him back, he's become average in true CrutchCharacter fashion.
** The Chaos Hero as well, after he fuses himself with a demon. But his time with you is even more brief than Cerberus's; once you walk down a hallway and fight a boss, he leaves you.
* CrystalDragonJesus: The Messians are Judeo-Christians in everything but name. Their members wear white and blue robes, and they also have hooded monks, priests, and bishops.
** ChurchMilitant: The Messians, AfterTheEnd, are portrayed as extreme [[KnightTemplar Knights Templar]]. They tend to demand you join their church and donate generously or they'll kill you. On the positive side, they're the closest thing to a social services network that exists in what's left of Tokyo, at least for those who believe (or say they do), and in the [[spoiler: Cathedral]] they're the only faction capable of protecting the survivors in their town from demons.
* TheCuckoolanderWasRight: Plenty of people at the beginning of the game are labelled as crazy or hallucinating when they ramble on about [[UsefulNotes/ConspiracyTheories demons appearing in the streets, the government kidnapping and experimenting on people, and the world coming to an end]]. That doesn't even ''begin'' to cover what happens AfterTheEnd.
** It's not just at the beginning of the game. If you're willing to sift between the [[CassandraTruth Cassandra Truths]] and the people who actually ''are'' crazy, you can learn some important plot points far earlier than you normally do. Some things you can learn early: [[spoiler:Everyone in Roppongi is a zombie, the Basilica is the Millennium Kingdom, and Thorman isn't human]].
* CuttingOffTheBranches - The canonical ending is [[spoiler: the Neutral path]], which sets up ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiII''.
* DarkMessiah: The Hero (in every path, including Law). The Chaos Hero isn't, incidentally.
** YHVH is the biggest example of this.
* DeathByIrony: [[spoiler:Chaos Hero in the Chaos Path, who spends the entire game greedily searching for ways to increase his own power and is destroyed after being overwhelmed by the raw power of the Devil Ring (which he stole from the Hero)]].
* DirtyCop: It is learned ''very'' early on that the police have aligned with the Demons, kidnapping innocents so a demon at the town hospital can experiment on them.
* DiscoDan: There's an undead enemy called a Bodyconian. It's speculated that their design is a joke based off of a subculture that pretty much died around the mid-80s.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Arioch's stomach mouth and Astaroth riding ass-naked on a snake.
** Not to mention the [[GagPenis dreaded Mara]].
** A man in the arcade complains about how the Antique shop owner refuses to sell him 'the good stuff'. [[spoiler: He's talking about guns.]]
** In the IOS translation, someone in Roppongi talks about the Red Count's 'Precious Pot.' [[spoiler: That's the Glancing Pot, which can seal away Belial.]]
* DominoRevelation: Once you learn demons are real, then you get angels, and God eventually.
* DungeonTown: Tokyo as a whole, along with almost every individual district also qualifying. By the end of the game, there's only one safe sector in existence (The Messian fort in the Cathedral.)
* {{Eagleland}}: The American soldiers are much friendlier than Gotou's coup forces, to the point that you never even fight them, and they're all amusing due to their broken, italicized way of speaking, representing their inability to speak Japanese very well. [[spoiler:However, the American Messians turn out to be heartless religious fanatics who are responsible for the destruction of the world and the corruption of the once friendly Messians in Tokyo.]]
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt: About not too long after the game begins, [[spoiler:Tokyo is destroyed and you are whisked to a future Tokyo that has undergone a [[ApocalypseHow/{{Class1}} Class 1 Apocalypse]].]]
* EndOfTheWorldSpecial: ''Of your choice'', no less, establishing a longtime SMT tradition.
* EveryoneHasStandards: Even after [[spoiler: Tokyo gets nuked and the whole world is overrun with demons]], bartenders will refuse to sell you drinks because you're underage.
* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: [[spoiler:You get to choose to side with Law or Chaos JustBeforeTheEnd. Working with Chaos causes Law to bring the apocalypse in revenge. Working with Law has you preparing the world for the apocalypse they were going to bring anyway. Working with neither makes Law bring the apocalypse anyways. It would be a waste of perfectly good missiles if they weren't used, y'know.]]
* FanDisservice: The boss of the JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind area. [[spoiler:Spider webs]] shouldn't come out of your ass.
* FinalBoss: [[spoiler:ArchangelMichael]] for Chaos, [[spoiler:Asura]] for Law. Neutral players fight both, and can choose either order.
* FlyingSeafoodSpecial: Demons such as Forneus.
* FromBadToWorse: This could probably sum up the game as a whole. You start the game just as demons have been summoned into the world and a coup has forced martial law to be put in effect in Tokyo, eventually climaxing with [[spoiler:the nuking of Tokyo]]. After that chaos you're thrust into an Apocalyptic wasteland that also happens to now be the war ground for the battle between the forces of Law and Chaos. Eventually you have to decide whether to follow one of the armies, or take a Neutral stance and [[spoiler:kill everyone]]. It's a pretty lose-lose situation all throughout.
* FusionDance: The Cathedral of Shadows, making its first appearance in the "rebooted" Shin series, [[note]]The Minister first appears as the enigmatic bearded old man n blue robes starting in ''VideoGame/MegamiTenseiII''[[/note]] performs these between two or three of your demons. The Chaos Hero and Pascal also do it, with the former becoming a cross between a Samurai and Spider-Man, and the latter becoming Cerberus.
%% * GatelessGhetto
* GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere: A few of the bosses, but especially Ladon, as there is no indication of him whatsoever in the plot or even the actual gameplay; he just sort of appears.
* GodIsEvil: [[spoiler:YHVH is directly responsible for flooding all of Tokyo, which of course, kills off most of the people who didn't die during the nuclear holocaust.]]
* GoodColorsEvilColors: Chaos characters are decked out in black and red, and Law characters don blue and white. Depending on which one you side with, this trope is either inverted or played straight.
* [[spoiler:TheGreatFlood: Happens near the end of the game.]]
* GuideDangIt: This is a prevalent problem for new players that will end in much ceaseless wandering before they find the next locale or individual that they need to find in order to progress.
** The first big one is finding a logbook to get into the rebel base, which you get by going to a specific bar in the very mall where the base is situated in and giving a bartender specific responses to give you the logbook.
** So you get rare items from certain locations during certain phases of the moon. Good luck finding out what phase is the right one, by the way.
* HellOnEarth: Tokyo AfterTheEnd. It's barren and decaying at the seems, with survivors mostly being situated underground.
* ImprobableAge: If you try to buy something for the Heroine in a bar [[spoiler: before she reincarnates]], the bartender will say that she's too young. She's the leader of LaResistance, by the way.
* InstrumentOfMurder: Implied. The three strongest 'sword' weapons are a violin, a trumpet, and a bell.
* ItsAllUpstairsFromHere: The final dungeon in particular. All the demons live downstairs and all the angels live upstairs, but regardless, if you're following the Chaos or Neutral Path, one of the final bosses will be waiting for you at the very top the the dungeon.
* JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind: You need to do this to save [[spoiler:Heroine]] from Arachne, a demon infesting her mind and devouring it from the inside out.
* JustBeforeTheEnd -> AfterTheEnd
* KillEmAll: [[spoiler:Your mother is killed and eaten by a demon. Tokyo is ruined in a nuclear strike from the USA, starting a catastrophic war that leaves the rest of the world in a similar state. You kill lots and lots of demons, and do the same to quite a few humans too. In the Neutral Path, you kill all your friends. You kill their demonic or godly leaders. Then, there's a ''second'' apocalypse where a great tectonic movement causes gargantuan amounts of water to flow into Tokyo, plunging pretty much the entire post-apocalyptic Japan underwater, killing pretty much everyone you haven't yet killed yourself. The only habitable area within the '''entire city''' is a small island holding a large 'cathedral' tower where the final confrontations take place. TakeAThirdOption by killing both bosses and there will be only three characters and a handful of nondescript demons and humans left alive ''in all of Japan'' at the end of the game. ]]
* KnightTemplar: The angels of the Messians, and the Messians themselves. Temple Knights are in fact elite Messian soldiers.
* LightIsNotGood: Sort of. LIGHT is more or less good (in that Light demons are ''usually'' friends of humanity, and do not bother humans), but Law most definitely is not good. [[spoiler:YHVH himself is the major exception to this, being the poster-boy for GodIsEvil.]]
* LouisCypher: [[TropeNamer The original!]] Also, the American ambassador's name is Thorman - and he eventually turns out to have a red beard and a [[NukeEm damn large hammer]].
** However, you never see Lucifer's true form in this game.
* MadScientist: The Police Station is ruled by an insane genius who sends out armies of reprogrammed government war machines to slaughter both demon and human alike. He is in charge of the MechaMooks you fight.
* MechaMook: The enemies within the Machine Clan. Oddly enough, the legendary [[BigfootSasquatchAndYeti Bigfoot]] is in the Machine Clan as well, though it doesn't appear to be mechanical.
* MetalSlime: The three Fiends (David, Pale Rider, and Daisoujou). Each one only has a 1/256 chance of appearing in certain areas and each one drops one of three ultimate weapons...with a drop rate of 1/256. Happy hunting!
* MoneySpider: Justified. Demons are fascinated with human culture and carry around yen coins like trinkets. [[spoiler:AfterTheEnd, all the currency changes to demon money anyway, so it still makes sense]].
* MonstersEverywhere: {{Exaggerated}}. You can be in a bar chatting with people, take a step, and be randomly attacked by a demon. And if you're in an area where you're not vulnerable to something like that, [[NothingIsScarier you're probably in even greater danger]].
* MultipleEndings: Three, depending on your alignment.
%% * NintendoHard
* NoCampaignForTheWicked: While protagonist's Law-Chaos alignment can be changed, his virtue is fixed to Light.
** This does make some sense: Dark demons are portrayed as uncontrollable, as they can never be recruited. And Lawful/Chaotic is not a way of measuring morality; although they are both evil, the Hero is good.
* NothingIsScarier: In this game, pretty quickly, you fight a lot of demons, everywhere, no exceptions. When for some reason there is an exception, something is going on.
** Averted by the Mesian town in the Cathedral. Despite the Mesians generally being dicks towards everyone everywhere else, the town is at peace and even Mesian fanatics won't pick on you inside.
* OmnicidalNeutral: [[spoiler: The Neutral path often consists of killing ''both'' the Law and Chaos leaders, including your own friends.]]
* OneSteveLimit: Averted. Both the heroine and the Law Hero's girlfriend share the same name. [[spoiler: That's what gets the girlfriend kidnapped early on by soldiers looking for the heroine.]]
* OrderVersusChaos: Law vs Chaos.
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: Demons need a steady supply of a metal called Magnetite in order to keep a physical body in the human world. Because of this, you lose some Magnetite every time you take a step and have a demon summoned. Once you run out of Magnetite, your demons will start losing health with every step instead.
* PinataEnemy: Human enemies like Bodyconians and the Messians and Gaeans always drop a lot more cash than demons.
* PoliceState: Ironically, run by the Chaos faction during the first part of the game after a demon-backed military coup, led by the temporary BigBad Gotou. AfterTheEnd, the Messians are trying to enforce one, but it's essentially ineffective and Tokyo's in complete anarchy.
* RandomEncounters: ''Almost everywhere''. It doesn't matter if it's the mall, the Tokyo Governmental Palace, another world completely, or a giant cathedral. You're going to get into a whole lot of fights. This can be rather grating in places where shops, save points/teleport points, and temples/inns can be found.
* RareRandomDrop: Each of the Fiends drops the most powerful alignment weapons in the game: David drops the Neutral weapon Stradivari, Daisoujou drops the Chaos weapon Reaper Bell, and the Pale Rider drops the Law weapon Angel's Trumpet. Each weapon has a 1/256 chance of dropping which, when combined with the fact that each Fiend has a 1/256 chance of showing up in certain areas, makes for quite a frustrating search.
* SaintlyChurch: Some of the Messians are actually pretty square guys. In 199X, they're just a hospitaller order that provides healing for your party (the Lawful nutcases being represented by the Americans) and in the Cathedral town, they provide food and safety for anyone who arrives, essentially no-questions-asked. (Outside of this, they tend to be [[{{Jerkass}} jerkasses]], of course.)
* StupidSacrifice: [[spoiler:The Law Hero]]'s sacrifice. Demons are readily expendable; at best they return to the comp, at worst you would have to spend some money on bribes to recruit a new one, and would have easily held off the enemies he blocks off.
** On the other hand, it ''was'' God's will...
* SuperSoldier: What Orias, posing as the hospital's head surgeon, is trying to create at the beginning of the game by PlayingWithSyringes.
* SuspiciousVideoGameGenerosity: Completely averted. You will almost never find a place to heal for free, and there are no save points before bosses... or ''any indication that a boss in the next room at all.''
%% * {{Synchronization}}
* TakeAThirdOption: Law, Chaos, or... [[spoiler:''[[OmnicidalNeutral murder everyone]]''.]]
* ToHellAndBack: The Diamond Realm is where the Heroine teleports you to save you from being killed in the nuclear attack from the USA. It is an ethereal universe where demons roam the plains among the illusions. Once you leave, you access the second part of the game.
* TookALevelInBadass: Chaos Hero. {{Deconstructed}}; [[spoiler:EvilIsNotAToy, as he found out after spending the entire game fighting to become the strongest of all]].
* UnwinnableByMistake: Due to the game's failure to "lock" the player into any alignment's endgame at any given point, players may find that they have accidentally "switched" alignments, rendering the game unbeatable. [[http://lparchive.org/Shin-Megami-Tensei-1/Update%2063/ For example!]]
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: The Thousand Year Kingdom.
* TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon: [[spoiler:The Cathedral/Basilica, which is divided into a Law and Chaos part.]]
* ZettaiRyouiki: The Heroine AfterTheEnd.
* ZombieApocalypse: Tokyo appears to be undergoing a zombie crisis during Gotou's coup, which worsens throughout the early game. The first zombies you encounter appear to be men in hospital gowns and middle-aged women, but eventially, zombie police and zombie soldiers are encountered as enemies, until finally, the only zombies you see are towering blobs of rotting green corpses.