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Video Game / Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE

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According to an ancient legend...

There was a time when humans all spoke the same language. But one day, they attempted to build a tower that would reach the heavens and bring them closer to their Creator.

The Creator punished them for their impudence by taking away their common tongue and scattering them across the world.
Opening narration

The year is 203X. Humanity as we know it has been destroyed. All you have to protect yourself, is your trusty microphone, a stack of candy, and a contract with a god of death and destruction. The odds are against you.

Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE is the MMORPG adaptation of the increasingly popular Shin Megami Tensei franchise. Developed by Cave (yes, that Cave), who bought the rights, rather than Atlus, owners of the franchise as a whole. While originally exclusive to Japan, it was announced in 2008 that Aeria Games had licensed the game for an English release. The game officially entered open beta on December 30, 2008. The game is Free To Play, but uses the standard Asian cash shop model.

The game has several features that make it unique from other MMOs, including a rigid storyline, with well defined characters rather than several unrelated sidequests, a complex combat system that is frequently described as comparable to rock-paper-scissors with a healthy dose of Nintendo Hard, and the bizarre fact that the entire thing's happening in Tokyo.

In April 2012, Aeria, who ran the game's servers, handed control over to Atlus Online (now Marvelous USA). All North American servers were officially closed on February 28, 2014 due to the disbanding of the PC online division responsible for managing the servers. The Japanese-based servers, including the official site, remained up and running until May 24, 2016, due to the developers being too understaffed to handle player requests, officially making IMAGINE a Defunct Online Video Game. As with any popular shut-down MMORPG, there were attempts to create community-run private servers for it, but Atlus sent in their lawyers after them in September 2022, ensuring that the game remains but a memory.

This game provides examples of:

  • After the End: The game takes place decades after a divine war known as the Great Cataclysm, which left the world in ruins.
  • Allegedly Free Game: You can survive for free, but success is, as always, at a premium. A great part of the content doesn't need tons of cash shop gear, but not using it will get you flamed by the Stop Having Fun Guys. Certain things (such as Shiva&Vishnu, Daisoujou Eggs, Virtual Beach, etc) do require a good deal of cash shop gears to be successful, though. After the game's official closure, fan servers such as RE:Imagine made it so that cash shop items could be obtained for free, averting this trope.
  • A.K.A.-47: There are many weapons that are clearly real-life guns. For instance, the "Desert Rambus" looks suspiciously like a rather common (in media anyway) .50AE pistol.
  • Apocalypse How: The game is set after the first numbered Shin Megami Tensei game, though it probably won't catch up to the second.
  • Artificial Human: The Innocent are artificial people made to make up for the population destroyed by the Great Destruction. It seems they end up almost all the menial jobs, leaving all the normal people to either be Demon Busters, Shopkeepers, or Guardsmen.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Congrats, you just made a character who can dodge, block, and counter at any moment. Good luck winning any battles with more than one enemy. Also your use in battle is very low, only being slightly better than "The Load" because you have a small chance of dying. However, this is a good focus of non-combat characters, as it allows you to level by going into a party, but not a good focus for a fighter.
    • The Dimensional Incision skill. It's a gunner skill with an Almighty affinity, something a lot of people have wished for the Magic Bullet chain expertise to have. However, it costs a horrid 50 MP (all other gunner skills cost 5 MP at most), and since the only enemies weak to Almighty are Slime, Blob and Black Ooze, it's better to just use something else.
    • Same thing with the Dimensional Laceration skill, which is pretty much the same as the example above, but it's a melee skill, and costs 50% of your max HP to use.
  • Become a Real Boy: Some of the Innocents have gained sapience and built their own community in the hollows of one of the destroyed communes. This has since become the Neutral factions' home base.
  • Cast from Hit Points: As usual for the Shin Megami Tensei series, most physical skills cost a percentage of HP instead of MP.
  • Character Alignment:invoked The game has SMT's standard LAW/NEUTRAL/CHAOS alignments.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Law is blue, Chaos is red, Neutral is green.
  • Cool Old Guy: Snakeman. Usually.
  • Creative Sterility: Innocents. They are incapable of using magic and making contracts with demons because of this.
  • Critical Status Buff: A good amount of equipment and soulstones provide this. Some builds are even made to abuse this, and are aptly named "suicide builds".
  • Disk One Nuke: Having a character master counter/dodge/block, at least two usable skills of each, means you can solo any enemy, however that isn't the same for groups of enemies, as counter takes some time to prepare. Despite that, you can distract a boss, and possibly kill, at any level as long as they don't use any special statuses.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: This being a Shin Megami Tensei game, it couldn't be any different, but it's taken up to eleven, as there are 21 different affinities.
  • Empty Room Psych: Celu Tower.
  • Game Within a Game: The Golden Ark Casino in Ikebukuro Chinatown.
  • Glass Cannon: It's easy to hit 4 digits, and possible to hit 5 digits, but most players have 300 HP or lower. Mages and gunners in particular tend to die in 2 to 4 hits.
  • Hide Your Children: The only child in the game is Azura.
  • Human Resources: Plasma, lovely floating spheres of light, which Demon Busters can "communicate" with to scavenge materials are made out of the souls of people who died in the apocalyptic flood.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Improbable armor is even more common. Wearing a full Kimono and a blade made of glass to fight Yamato-No-Orochi, is just one of the epic things you can get done in this game.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Each hour in-game takes 2 minutes in real time. Also, each 12 hours in-game represent one phase of the moon. Some stores only sell specific items during a specific moon phase, and some enemies only spawn during a specific hour or moon phase.
  • Kill the Cutie: During one of the late the main acts currently available only in the Japanese server, Azura is torn in half. She comes back as Isis later, though.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: The Demon Busters come off as this (with elements of Heroes "R" Us), considering how many of their missions involve providing services/protection/vengeance in exchange for goods or money.
  • Level Grinding: It takes more experience to get from Level 96 to Level 97 than it does to get from Level 1 to Level 96. Mathematically, the amount of XP needed to get from 96 to 97 is TWICE the amount required from 1 to 96, and more than FOUR TIMES the amount required to go from 1 to 95.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Players also get increased movement speed and damage for 5 minutes.
  • Loading Screen: Originally, the game didn't have them, but after the channel unification, specific areas require one. While in the japanese server it usually has some advertising of new items or new content, the US server has drawings made by players. Aeria Games used to have one event to make new ones every 6 months, but apparently Atlus Online isn't going to follow this.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Old Ichigaya Camp (Gold), Protopia Hack, and pretty much every Hack Run are guilty of this. These dungeons dungeons are very short, and when they are ran through, most people go for at least 10 runs. You get a loading screen when entering and exiting each time.
  • Locked Door: Suginami Tunnels.
  • Lost in Translation: In the beginning of Law Act 1, you can tell DB Candidate Lin to "cut it out with the sir", but she didn't say "sir" even a single time. This is because she was supposed to call you [Player]-san.
  • Magikarp Power: The Rapid expertise. You start with a weak skill that shoots 3 times, then you get a skill that always deals 49 damage total (and for that reason it's used to grind the expertise), then you get a skill that shoots 4 times, but has so random a damage that one of the hits usually hits below 10 damage. Then you get 13 Shots to Hell, which shoots 14 times, each of which is more powerful in raw power than most non-spell attacks in the game.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In chapter 16, its heavily implied that the person responsible for Ogami's resurrection is a revived Gotou, the Starter Villain of the original Shin Megami Tensei.
  • Mega Neko: Cait Siths, especially the Rowdy Avatar versions.
  • Mons: One of the better Massively Multiplayer Online Games that features this as a central concept. Probably due to its roots.
  • Mini-Game: Plasmas.
  • Monsters Everywhere
  • No Ending: Ending? How about a middle? Unfortunately, the devs never actually got around to implementing a plotline.
  • Nintendo Hard: However, unlike Atlus-made games, there are a few instances of Fake Difficulty.
  • Obvious Beta: Most new contents are obviously not even tested. Special mention to version 1.605, which fixed one minor bug while introducing a crapton of others, some of which were pretty awful. In this particular case, it was impossible to revert the update, because it changed the entire game's build (the "update" actually had you download the whole game again).
    • Back in the first implementation of the Denshi Kairo dungeon, so many things were bugged that they had to take the server down the next day to revert the update.
    • Aeria Games's Game Masters (and even some Game Sages) would always claim that they tested content extensively before implementing. One would think "extensive testing" would make them notice that the most popular dungeon (Old Ichigaya Camp Gold) is lacking AI, or that the most rewarding cash run bosses (Shiva & Vishnu, which were being spammed to hell and back at the time) are lacking two thirds of their HP, or that the soulstones they just implemented are not working at all.
    • Atlus Online isn't much better. They apparently have no testers at all, and have to have the players test their contents. This was made rather obvious when they tried to fix the PvP bug twice, but players confirmed they failed half an hour after the maintenances. They also needed player confirmation when the bug was actually fixed on the third try.
  • Olympus Mons: Odin, Cerberus, Nyarlathotep, and Alice; to name a few.
  • Order Versus Chaos: In-story, they're currently in a period of relative peace.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The Pierce Shot skill.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Ichigaya Gold, Hacked Chip Alpha, New Moon and Egg Daisoujou runs, and Shiva/Vishnu runs.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Demi-Fiend appears in the game as a event boss.
  • Repeatable Quest: There is a small variety of these, including quests you can only repeat if you pick up uncommon loot.
  • Relationship Values: Contracted demons can range from "Wishes Death on-" to "Linked by Fate with-" towards the player controlling it. Demons receive attribute bonuses with high friendship and penalties with low friendship. High friendship demons also give you daily quests.
  • Run, Don't Walk: Players cannot walk at all. They do have a walking animation, but you can only see it by moving towards a wall and holding the move forward command.
  • Sacrificial Lion: DB Kuroe.
  • Scavenger World
  • Skybox
  • Shout-Out: Most of the items are based on outfits of other SMT heroes, allowing for easy cosplay of them.
    The latest handheld PC, finely tuned for the needs of Demon Busters. Works well with a wide range of hardware and software and is equipped with some forms of magic resistance.
  • Solo Sequence: Denshi Kairo.
  • Stat Grinding: Has both this and the standard Character Level.
  • Stripperiffic:
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Inugami will attack even level capped players without thinking twice.
  • Tick Tock Tune: The boss battle theme for Norn incorporates clock ticking, which is fitting considering what Norn looks like.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • While generally averted due to this being SMT, it's played hilariously straight with the Traesto spell; every character has it to start with, and it is, as always, your "return to saved spot" spell. But it takes so long to cast that you could probably just walk and get where you're going faster. Traesto Stones, the spell in item form, are instant.
    • Estoma: It makes enemies lose their aggressiveness towards you for a small time frame. However, its range is so short that it's unusable.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Heavily present in what storyline has been released.