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Video Game / Soul Hackers

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Hardcore hacker hack you!!
Motto of the Spookies.

Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers is the second game in the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff series Devil Summoner, taking place after the original Devil Summoner.

Amami City is a modern Cyberpunk metropolis where every home has a networked computer and the Internet is tightly controlled by the government. When the Algon Software Mega-Corp announces that a new virtual city called Paradigm-X will be hosted on the network, you and your Playful Hacker friends poke into it and discover that something is seriously wrong... as in "there's something that lives in there that will attempt to suck out your soul" wrong. Fortunately, you are saved from the impending de-soulification by a mysterious figure called Kinap, who tells you that you have several souls trapped inside of you, and that if you wish to solve the mystery of Paradigm-X you must experience the last moments of those souls' mortal lives.

The usual Shin Megami Tensei components are here: demon fusion, elemental weaknesses/strengths, conversing with monsters to convince them to join your cause and an incredibly dark storyline. An important part of Devil Summoner is Loyalty. Demons gain Loyalty if you command them to use moves that their personality type prefers (eg: physical, magic, etc.) and lose Loyalty if you tell them to use a move that they hate. A Demon with high Loyalty is more likely to obey you and even make a Diving Save. A Demon with low Loyalty will routinely ignore your commands and may even leave the party. (Yes, it's as annoying as it sounds.) The only Demon that isn't subject to this is the Zoma (default name Zeed), an artificial demon who will always have complete loyalty to you and grows not by traditional fusion, but by "stealing" the stats and abilities of demons that you sacrifice to it.

The original version of Soul Hackers was never released outside of Japan, though a fan translation is in the works from the same people who translated Persona 2: Innocent Sin. However, an enhanced 3DS port was released in Japan in 2012 and North America in 2013, which included full voice acting, updated art, and other extra features.

Apart from the 3DS remake, Soul Hackers consists of the original 1997 Sega Saturn game, a 1999 Playstation Updated Re-release, and a cellphone sequel released in 2007 with two novel adaptations known as Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers: Nightmare of the Butterfly and Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers: Shito Kourin and a manga adaptation of the same name.

On February 17, 2022, Atlus released a mysterious website with a countdown set to end on February 21, followed by a set of bizarre broadcasts on the following days. On February 21, a sequel, Soul Hackers 2 was announced for PC via Steam, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

Soul Hackers provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: Madame Ginko describes the Phantom Society as something above morality and justice. With their goal being control.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Phantom Society has controlled much of the world after its creation.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different
  • Another Man's Terror: The Vision Quests.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The 3DS version lets you hack your COMP to lower (or raise) the battle difficulty, automatically map out the entire dungeon you're in, automatically give you the full Analyze data on enemies you encounter, or recruit any demon you want regardless of alignment restrictions.
  • Artificial Human: Artificial demon made via fusion known as Zoma Fusion.
    • Nemissa is eventually revealed to be an artificial demon too.
    • There exists a entire race of artificial demons called Zoma. Though unlike the first Devil Summoner game only a couple appear.
    • It's suggested that Victor's maid Mary is an artificial human as well.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI is not particularly good at video poker, to say the least, regularly trading in only one or two cards when their hand is completely dead, rather than taking the logical move of discarding all their hand but one card or even dropping their entire hand.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite the fact that the Spookies were able to defeat The Society and save all the residents of Amami City, Spooky is killed in the battle against Phantom Societynote  and based on the story of Soul Hackers: Intruder, Amami City has been made expendable by the Japanese government due to the chaos of the Manitou Incident, forcing all the residents to completely desert the city, leaving it to rot. Intruder also confirms that Nemissa apparently survived her Heroic Sacrifice, having escaped into the Amami Network
  • Big First Choice: The first (and only) noteworthy choice you get determines what skill set Nemissa is given.
  • Blatant Lies: Snappy: "I love magic *squeak*"
    • It could be argued that he meant it, since he did use the absorb animation, and talking to a Garrote or Puts in the Ghost Waterfall painting may have him bring up a story about someone who died by eating so much of his favorite food that he burst. Though the other hint before entering the picture Aqua Dolphin from the student says otherwise in turn.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Some affinities were translated incorrectly. For example, Greyman and Rakshasa are not immune to Expel. Rather, they are weak to it. Note that this is referring to their stats page and the 'Analyze" screen; the Judgemental Eyes software gives this away by not showing the immunity markers over them when targeting them with an Expel skill, meaning the coding is still truthful to the player.
  • Bonus Boss: Heaploads, most of whom are cameos from Shin Megami Tensei II.
    • Three new ones for the 3DS are Raidou, Raido, and the Soulless God.
    • The 3DS remake requires the player to beat a bonus dungeon for the reward of a New Game Plus. Trick maps, high-level mooks, no saving or healing on the way to the boss... Atlus knows its audience.
  • Boss Rush: The final Bonus Boss battle in the Extra Dungeon. First up is Kyouji Kuzunoha, who is a pushover himself but comes with a stable of hard-hitting demons packing the strongest elemental attacks, full heals, and Almighty moves. Next up are Gashadokuro, Mishaguji, and Yoshitsune, who are rather less difficult but still have some painful attacks, including Yoshitsune's infamous Hassou Tobi. Following them are Raidou and Raido Kuzunoha with their "canon" demon team (Moh Shuvuu, Mokoi, Ippon-Datara, and Azumi) who are Glass Cannons sporting status ailments, instant kills, HP to One moves, and other painful techniques. Finally, there's the Soulless God Oumagatsu, who while somewhat less annoying that the Kuzunohas is a giant wall of HP and has the ability to inflict Bomb.
  • Brainwashed: What happens to people caught by Paradigm-X. Including Six. Yuichi is also brainwashed, albeit in a different manner.
  • Brick Joke: In the introduction, Hitomi goads the protagonist into hacking into the winning entries and overwriting a random entry with the protagonist's information. When you get control in the overworld, you can meet a Student who is not getting a license that he was supposed to get and was dumped by his girlfriend because he could not meet him in Paradigm X. The Student even wonders if he got hacked.
  • Call-Back: The presence of Madam Ginko, Rei Reiho, Kinap and Kyouji Kuzunoha from the original Devil Summoner game in order to help the player take on the bad guys.
  • Canon Immigrant: Dormarth first debuted in the novel Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou tai Shibito Ekishi as an ally for Raidou Kuzunoha the XIV. She became an official member of the overall compendium come the 3DS remake of this game, and then proceeded to appear in both Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse.
  • Cave Behind The Waterfall: The cave in the waterfall painting.
  • Chain of Deals: The earliest you can get Lugh is through trades in the pet shop.note 
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Nishi and Kadokura.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The UMA Hare of Inaba is basically a death god during full moons. At any other lunar phase, it is essentially dead weight.
  • Crutch Character: Any particularly strong demon tends to be this, due to demons not gaining experience.
  • Cyberpunk: The creation of Amami City (and the integration of technology) is played up here, while the story centers around the presence of a hacker group that tries to stop a plot concocted by the bad guys from stealing people's souls via a virtual reality game.
  • Defiant to the End: Azazel as he tells them the Phantom Society is everlasting and that his death is just the beginning before dying.
  • Demonic Possession: Hitomi by Nemissa, in the opening scenes. Luckily, they wind up getting along. Moowis does this to Carol J briefly and attempted it on Hitomi after his defeat. It's later done to Spooky by Satanael, with all the horror that's absent in Nemissa and Hitomi's relationship.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Casino Blizzardon is accessible early in the game. The most expensive prizes there are some of the best swords and armor in the game, and unlike the other shops it is all available as soon as the casino is unlocked — you just have to be persistent enough to play the minigames until you have enough coins. With that equipment, you are basically a demigod for most of the game; you can very easily blaze through without even having to summon any demons. The only things you need to watch out for are demons with Charm or immunity to swords.
    • The Copernicus program is obtainable by trading a Fortuna (level 30) in the Pet Shop. Fusion Accidents ignore your level to an extent, which allows you to take advantage of accidents to fuse demons with much higher levels than the MC. With the right guide or savvy, a player can fuse Salamander and Ara Mitama much earlier, allowing them to boost the stats of other demons by a considerable amount.
    • The Pet Shop Demons can be used regardless of your level. If you can complete a request when you are relatively low levelled, you can get a demon that is 10+ higher than your level.
      • A good example of this is the Pet Shop Lugh. In order to get Lugh, you need to complete an order that asks for a demon with at least 10 Int (ex. Bifrons), which gives you a Scathach; this will unlock a second request, which asks for a demon with 20 or more strength and rewards you with Lugh. Normally, a 20 STR demon is pretty hard to acquire, but you can either manipulate fusion accidents or simply use a Nemechi demon like Setanta (which can be acquired via play coins or streetpass). Fulfill the request, receive the level-51 Lugh, and watch as you annihilate bosses and random encounters alike with a demon that is more than ten levels higher than your main character.
  • Dub Name Change: Redman was changed to Kinap.
    • Onryo is translated as Ghost.
  • Encounter Bait: Attract Water temporarily increases the frequency of random encounters.
  • Encounter Repellant: Repel Water prevents battles against weak demons. There's also the CAPS LOCKnote  app that completely negates encounters that are significantly weaker than you. It also shows when you would normally get an encounter when you have it installed.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Nemissa takes Hitomi to a clothes shop and buys a whole new wardrobe of black leather. Hitomi is not pleased.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dark Summoners, demon summoners who work for the Phantom Society.
  • Evolutionary Levels: The Zoma and Nemechi can evolve. The Zoma evolves by being fused with demons of certain species, taking him down a certain evolutionary path. Nemechi does it using D-Souls, and can be devolved back to its original form, though it has less of a chance of evolving down a path it's already gone down.
  • Expy: Want to know what Fox Mulder's nickname was in The X-Files? "Spooky" Mulder.
    • Captain Paradigm looks like Captain Falcon.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Especially visible here (contains spoilers), where a mouse cursor is shown moving in three dimensions and poking at a prism in order to access a file. After the file is hacked, the view flies through a bunch of purple lights and machine parts before reaching a big tower with SYSTEM written on it, in which a group of more prisms arranged in yet another large prism shape is found. The top prism unfolds, and one of the faces extends into a green line from which an old Macintosh-style drop-down menu appears.
  • Fallen Angel: Satanael, Azazel, Shemyaza all play a role in the story. Specifically the Grigori as a whole are a part of the Phantom Society.
  • A God Am I: Kadokura.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Carol J attempts to summon the Great Angel Kokabel only to end up summoning Moowis, who hijacks his body.
    • Phantom Society and their attempt to bring control using Manitou and the Manitou Net.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: One has to evolve the Zoma down his different evolutionary paths by fusing him with demons and must unlock the demons gotten through evolving Nemechi, then buying them using D-Souls. And how do you get D-Souls? Play Coins.
  • Grand Theft Me: Nemissa and Moowis must do this to others in order to exist outside of cyberspace. Moowis gets around this later by making a soulless body out of metal.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Subverted. The Protagonist and Nemissa use guns as weapons alongside swords. The former's use is greatly increased if you use specific kinds of ammo or use them against demons that have a weakness to them, but their damage output is otherwise worse than a sword made from Sword Fusion or Nemissa's magic.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Onryo, a race of vengeful ghost demons that appeared in the original Devil Summoner return in this game. Six's sister is brought back as one thanks to Paradigm X. Inui and Butaihei, bosses fought in the original game, return as optional bosses.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Said word-for-word by Lunch, and immediately subverted. The Spookies originally intended for this to happen to the Phantom Society and Algon by spreading the info about their Soul Harvesting operation. Instead, they got outed to the public as net terrorists.
  • The Illuminati: The Phantom Society. It's been controlled by the Fallen Angels of the Grigori since ancient times.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Apparently, you can stick a demon-summoning computer on anything. COMP variations include guns, guitars, saxophones and brass knuckles.
  • Inside a Computer System: Cyber spirits like Nemissa or Moowis, along with demons are able to enter virtual reality. Nemissa can take the protagonist inside and eventually human souls start getting sucked in by the demons.
  • Lighter and Softer: Like it's immediate predecessor, while this game deals with murderous conspiracies and demonic invasion, unlike mainline Shin Megami Tensei, no apocalypse occurs and your human allies remain on your side through the whole game.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Nemissa's incursion causes Hitomi's hair to turn white. Onlookers just assume it's a dye job. When Hitomi speaks for herself, her dialog portrait is brunette again, but this is just take make it easier to tell who's speaking.
  • Mirror Boss: Finnegan will summon the same demons the Protagonist has in their fight, with the only exceptions being the Zoma and the demons you get by fusing the Zoma.
  • Multiple Endings: In the 3DS version, it is possible in New Game Plus to unlock a second ending where Spooky survives his Demonic Possession, as in the Playstation version.
  • Mythology Gag: Dr. Thrill declaring vengeance on the Protagonist for being a summoner. All his creations were defeated by the Protagonist of the original Devil Summoner.
  • New Game Plus: You won't be able to get this until after clearing the game and facing the five original bonus bosses in the cleared save file. Good luck.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Amami City is inspired from the commercial/residential districts of Kaihin-Makurai, Chiba City.
  • No Man of Woman Born: Nemissa tries this in the waterfall painting. It fails.
  • Oblivious to Love: When negotiating with some demons, they may wish to talk about girls. Choosing the option to talk about current girlfriends if it comes up will cause Hitomi to butt in and ask if you were talking about her, with Nemissa commenting that you probably were.
    Hitomi: [Name], you're not talking about... me, are you?!
    Nemissa: Haha, I'm pretty sure he is.
  • One-Winged Angel: Kadokura becomes Great Kadokura.
    • Before that, Nishi becomes Azazel when the party finally corners him.
  • Our Souls Are Different
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Nobody bothers trying to hide who they are in versus poker. While it makes sense that Thrillionare wouldn't expect anyone to know who Dr. Thrill is, Frost Girl is the receptionist of the casino.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Nemissa was created to aid the Phantom Society. Unfortunately for them, her program was stolen by Urabe before they could put her to use. Therefore, she has no memories and thus no loyalty to the Phantom Society, and by the time they catch up to her she's found more than enough reasons not to go along with them.
    • She was actually created from Manitou in order to be a backup plan to destroy it should it ever be freed.
  • Powers That Be: The Phantom Society.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: You can battle the protagonist from the first Devil Summoner game, and the 3DS port also throws in Raidou Kuzunoha XIV from the Playstation 2 entries of the Devil Summoner games.
  • Puzzle Boss: Snappy is resistant to physical damage and absorbs all spells. The trick is to keep casting spells on him until he "overloads". Or you can just put insulated suits on the PC and Nemissa and attack until the boss dies, puzzle be damned.
  • Sharing a Body: Hitomi and Nemissa, though the latter has more control since she has the more forceful personality. Eventually the two start sharing the body all the time when they're not in battle, with Nemissa being the one in control then.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skippable Boss: During Naomi's Vision Quest, she's tasked with destroying the demons Apsu and Tiamat. You only fight one of them though, as Naomi is asphyxiated before she can fight the second demon. This does come back to haunt the Hero proper in the Final Boss, as the choice determines the weakness of the enemy.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: During Judah's vision quest, an NPC claims that some of his friends are indian after offending Judah by asking if his saxophone COMP summons snakes.
  • Space Whale: Snappy is a parody of this trope's visual style, being depicted as an angel dolphin flying through space. He's actually a malevolent, deceitful painting that came to life as an angel.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: An accidental example: Nemissa spends a little too long in Hitomi's body, causing the original's soul to start to fade away.
  • Spoiler Opening: The 3DS opening features a lot of them, namely Six staring at a ghost of his dead older sister, the Spookies' hideout blowing up, Vice Minister Nishi turning into Azazel, and Spooky mysteriously missing in the last group shot with Manitou in the background.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Compared to the Voice Grunting in Devil Survivor and the canned phrases in Nocturne, the 3DS remake is the first time in the franchise the demons have had actual voice work. This goes for the Raidou, Gouto, and their alternate counterparts in the Extra Game as well; Raidou is a special case in that this is the first time he speaks at all, being a mime in both of his games and the second Nocturne remake.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: The COMP. Its versatility only increases as you find new expansion cards for it.
  • Sword and Gun: Standard weapon setup for human characters. Hope you didn't put your points in Magic at the start!
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Two of the demons that aid Erika Sako in her boss fight are boogeyman type demons.
  • Unusual User Interface: The COMPs. The MC's is shaped like a pistol and folds out into an LCD screen and runic keyboard combo when the hammers cocked. Then there's the guitar, the saxophone, the knuckle-dusters, the parasol, and the few folks still using the Kuzunoha-style tubes. Guess just using a regular laptop would have been too simple, huh?
  • Urban Fantasy: Of the fantasy variant mixed with cyberpunk.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Death-element spells like Mudo tend to be resisted by the vast majority of demons. You'll occasionally find a use for them, but they're practically worthless compared to ailment and Expel spells.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: It's an SMT game. Demons who die in battle aren't useable until revived and are removed from the party, while if Nemissa dies, she remains in the party and can be revived in combat. The MC's death is a game over, which is why most players use his stat points to turn him into a Stone Wall.
  • Wham Episode: About halfway through the game, the Spookies' hideout is blown up, Spooky himself appears to have betrayed the team, and the Phantom Society uses its connections to have the team declared as terrorists.
  • Where Are They Now: A few months after Phantom Society is defeated, the remaining members decide to part ways since they don't have a purpose anymore in Amami City since the city's expansion and support was not backed by Tokyo anymore. Six decides to be with his family and move on from the death of his older sister. Lunch said that he'd be with his father and try to be a journalist. Yuichi made the decision to be a solo underground hackers. Hitomi tells the Protagonist that she'll fly to the United States and see her father in order to learn about Nemissa's history.
  • Your Mom: One of the many insults used against you by Romero
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: The purpose of Paradigm X is to drag the souls of those who play it inside the cyber city and have them eventually be absorbed by Manitou. Demons souls are also fed to Manitou

Alternative Title(s): Devil Summoner Soul Hackers