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YMMV / Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

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  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": If you've never played this game, but have heard of it, chances are you only know about the Labyrinth of Amala and the True Demon Ending, with barely any other part of the story being well-known. Even among the game's fanbase, the endings besides True Demon are largely forgotten, with the possible exception of Freedom.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Chiaki and Isamu eventually come to form reasons; but are their reasons what they believe is best for the world or just them reacting to the hurt they endured (Isamu withdraws and Chiaki just tries to muscle others out).
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    • Given the chance, would Hijiri really have crucified Isamu or the Demi Fiend like Isamu did to him? Isamu claims that he would have, and Hijiri claims that denying anything wouldn't get him anywhere.
    • Did Hijiri really turn evil when he said he wanted a hand at the Conception, or is he aware of his Fate Worse than Death situation and he wanted to try breaking free of it? Note that his breakdown only comes after he's mentioned that he can see and know everything through the Amala Network. It's possible that some of that "knowledge" was his fate, and if so, then it'd explain why he suddenly took such an interest in forming a Reason.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Kagutsuchi. If you Buff and Debuff to maximum, he's mostly a joke, especially compared to the rather brutal battle that precedes him.
    • Sakahagi. While you fight him right after taking down Girimekhala (the first boss to reflect physical attacks) and given no chance to heal, he only knows second-tier elemental spells and can be easily taken out in one turn. Not helping that you keep all the buffs you have against the preceding demon and Sakahagi doesn't have a lot of MP. While he does pose a mild threat in that he can easily finish you off if you're weak enough from the preceding boss fight, if you survive his first attack, you're more than likely going to be fine.
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    • In a weird way, the True Final Boss, Lucifer. Which he's more challenging than Kagutsuchi, getting to him requires going through the Brutal Bonus Level and multiple sadistic Bonus Boss fights, so he can't help but feel easy by comparison. You're also likely to have Pierce on the main character by then.
  • Awesome Art: The 3D-rendered locales and animated demon models are gorgeous, demonstrating that Atlus was able to pull off the Video Game 3D Leap on the first try and seamlessly translate Kaneko's unique style to the third dimension.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Dante. Some fans find him and his scenes badass, and love his inclusion in the game as both a boss and a recruitable character. Others, however, argue that he doesn't fit in with the game's overall tone and that his actions are immersion-breaking.
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  • Best Level Ever: The Labyrinth of Amala and the Diet Building are often cited as the most memorable dungeons in the game, the former for its sheer length and difficulty and the latter for its atmosphere, unique optical illusion gimmick and its bosses (particularly Mot)
  • Breather Boss:
    • Thor's second fight. Sure, he'll start using Dragon Eye when he hits half health, but really, you should be able to drop him from his full 8000 to 5000 fast, and then finish him in one turn.
    • Mara, even though he heals himself to full health on every turn. His strongest attack is Hades Blast, which isn't that bad even though it deals a boatload of damage. You're also forced to fight him during a full Kagutsuchi, thus enabling Bright Might. Bring a few demons that have it, and he'll be dead before he gets a turn.
    • To a much greater extent, Mithra is often considered by players to be the easiest boss of the game (not particularly saying much). The majority of his turns are wasted on Expel or Death spells, which are inaccurate and easily blocked by that point, meaning that even after using Dragon Eye, he'll end up not doing much. He is also quite frail for such a late-game boss, as he can be killed within less than 4 turns with little trouble. The only thing that can (not necessarily) mess you up in this battle is that you can't be immune to Death AND Expel at the same time at this point of the game (though your demons certainly can). And unlike when you unlock him for fusion, Mithra does not reflect Physical attacks when you fight him.
    • Black Rider is one of the easier Fiends due to not having any way to deal with buffs and debuffs and having no other gimmick like Daisoujou and Trumpeter other than being a Flunky Boss. Don't get too complacent though, as he does have Megidolaon.
  • Broken Base:
    • Hard vs Normal, and which to recommend to new players. Supporters of Hard claim that it's the true way to experience the game, supporters of Normal claim several of Hard's mechanics (most infamously, shop/compendium prices being tripled and being unable to run from any random encounter without Trafuri) are Fake Difficulty and Fake Longevity at best. Debates can become quite heated.
    • Dante vs Raidou. There are numerous debates between players over which character they prefer more, and which fits the game better. With the HD Remaster, it seems Atlus elected to Take a Third Option by including both (Raidou being present by default, with DLC that replaces him with Dante).
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Virtually everyone seeking the True Demon Ending will outfit the Demi-Fiend with a physical build by the end of the game due to Pierce, necessary to defeating the True Final Boss within a reasonable timeframe, only affecting physical skills.
    • Physical attackers in general are almost surely saddled with Focus, a very cheap spell that multiplies the damage of their next physical attack by 2.5.
    • Daisoujou is a very popular demon due to him not only learning Prayer (a full-heal and status-restoring spell) at a relatively early level, but also innately possessing an MP-draining spell that makes sure that he never runs out of MP, on top of being immune to pretty much every single status ailment in the game.
  • Crack Pairing: There's quite a lot of Pixie/Demi-Fiend art. This isn't quite as crazy as it sounds, she's the first demon to join you, she's friendly, and will stay by your side till the end, if you let her.
  • Crazy Awesome: Matador and Hell Biker, both personifications of death that are a matador and a motorcyclist respectively.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Nearly all the surviving humans are unlikeable in one way or another, making it hard to get attached to any of them. In particular, the three Reason bearers are hypocrites who don't give the player many incentives for joining them. Because of this, many players will opt to side with Lucifer and pursue the True Demon Ending (which, bear in mind, causes the destruction of a multiverse) simply because it offers the most content compared to the other endings.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way Metatron swings his arm to perform his regular attack may resemble a Nazi salute to some.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Lucifer and the True Demon Demi-Fiend get this a lot. Sure, fighting in the name of free will and stopping the Conception from ever happening again is noble, but you have to remember that you do this by destroying an entire multiverse and killing more people than the human mind can possibly count. Just to reinforce how destructive you've become, Kagutsuchi isn't just dark during the fight with Lucifer. It's cracked in half. Instead of a phase counter, it's just listed as "Dead". Congratulations, you just permanently destroyed all light in existence. I'm sure getting Pierce was worth it. This got worse when the creators themselves made SMT IV's Bad Ending into pretty much the exact same thing and people still didn't get it.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Matador, with a bit of overlap with Colbert Bump. Prior to the game's Maniax update, Matador was simply a fiend that looks like a skeleton dressed as a matador that is ready for a bullfight. Cue his jarring Wake-Up Call Boss battle and now Matador has become a symbol for the franchise of "Never, EVER think buffs/debuffs are pointless. Always invest in them. They will save your ass from being pounded flat."
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Hikawa's got an amazing pajama-esque suit and M-shaped widow's peak.
  • Fountain of Memes: For someone who only shows up for a single boss fight outside of fusion, Matador has a surprising amount of memes:
    • "I challenge you to a duel!" Despite the fact that there's more to the sentence, this is all that shows up in the one textbox, but with a comma replacing the exclamation point. Pictures of Matador saying this is a fandom joke of things getting serious.
    • "I swear, by my sword and capote, that I will once again prove victorious!" A rather spectacular Pre Ass Kicking One Liner that is one of the last lines before the fight properly begins.
    • Red Capote - One of his unique skills and the skill that defines the fight, which maxes out Matador's hit/evasion rate. As this was the first mainline game to be released in the West and the first game to use the Press Turn system, Matador is widely considered to be the boss for teaching players how to properly use buffs and debuffs thanks to this skill.
    • As a sub-meme of the above, variants of "Get the buffs ready" occur often when talking about the Press Turn system, and if the phrase is brought up, Matador is almost always mentioned.
      • Matador's hard lesson in the strength of buffs and debuffs has also led to a common line of advice regarding SMT, sincere or not, being "use buffs retard".
  • Fridge Brilliance
    • During the Third Kalpa of the Labyrinth of Amala while Dante is in there, the place is noticably devoid of demons to face. One might put it to Developers' Foresight so as you wouldn't be distracted when fighting against Dante, but think about it: Dante has been all over those floors of the Third Kalpa! It makes sense as to why there's no demons lurking there, he killed them already! Which is quite a feat given the hordes you face in game. Naturally, once Dante leaves after you defeat him, the demons are suddenly back in those floors.
    • The Freedom Ending is a bit odd in that it's said multiple times in the game that a Demon cannot conceive a Reason and thus cannot play a part in making a new world. You either have to side with one of the Reason holders, choose to keep the Vortex World active, or destroy it altogether. However, this is only in the terms of a "new" world. You can still try forcing Kagutsuchi to bring back the "old" world.
  • Goddamned Boss: If you come prepared and don't have Focus, Pierce, and Freikugel, Noah. Aurora causes the fight to drag on longer than it has to. If you're unprepared or don't know the pattern of his weaknesses, he delves into That One Boss territory.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • If you keep your Pixie that you had from the very beginning of the game and take her all the way to the Fifth Kalpa of the Amala Dungeon, your loyalty will be rewarded with a level 80 Pixie with maxed out stats and having learned Maziodyne, Samarecarm and Megidoalon.
    • The Freedom Route for the most part. The Demi-fiend was originally human in the first place living a normal life until the Conception came, and suddenly he's tasked with changing the world by the forces above him while his friends go crazy. Going in this route implies he has no desire of changing it, would rather have his old world and his friends back the way they were despite their flaws, and thus decides to force the Final Boss Kagutsuchi to undo everything that transpired. And it works in the end. Everything is returned to him at once without any catches, and Yuko thanks him for restoring the world while deciding to live for real.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate also features Dante from the Devil May Cry series.note 
    • As of 2019, Dante has returned to the franchise in Shin Megami Tensei Liberation: Dx2, as part of a cross promotion between that game and Devil May Cry 5.
    • When the reveal for the HD Remaster showed Raidou, many made jokes on how the Dante meme would no longer be applicable. It would later be revealed that Dante was coming back via paid DLC, rendering it all moot.
  • Ho Yay: Fun fact, having a female demon use Seduce (high chance of recruiting male demons when used by a female demon) or wooing (high chance of recruiting female demons when used by a male demon) can work on other female demons, while a male demon using either on another male disgusts the target and results in a guaranteed fail.
    • It doesn't work so much as it doesn't not work. A female demon's chances of recruiting another female demon using Seduce are exactly the same as if trying to negotiate normally. One would imagine that female demons are a bit more comfortable about being hit on by someone of the same sex than male demons.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: The Merciful difficulty added in the HD remaster has garnered the reception that it goes way too far in trying to make the game more approachable for new players.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Lucifer orchestrates events to ensure The Protagonist becomes the commander of his demon army. Turning him into a Demi-fiend after the Conception, Lucifer manipulates the protagonist into investigating the Amala Labyrinth, hoping to make him fight other powerful Friends to test his strength before sending a feared demon hunter after them. If the Demi-fiend chooses to break the cycle of the Conception, Lucifer congratulates him, before testing his power in a personal battle. When the Demi-fiend survives the fight, Lucifer graciously accepts him as the commander of his demon army and rejoices at the thought of beginning the war with what he calls the "Real Enemy". Ever gracious, if the Demi-fiend chooses any other route than breaking the cycle, Lucifer discretely steps aside and leaves the story, out of respect for his freewill. Manipulative to the core yet gracious and stylish, Lucifer proves himself to be one of the franchise's most dangerous and intelligent plotters.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • If Matador challenges you to a duel, get your buffs ready because he is dead serious.
    • Mot only spams Beast Eye on rare occasions, yet it's generally the first thing to come up when talking about the boss fight with him.
    • The Demi-fiend himself. His actions on the True Demon route and in Digital Devil Saga has amazed enough of the fanbase that, whenever questions of who the strongest SMT protagonist is come up, his only competition is Aleph.
  • Memetic Mutation: Other than the numerous memes spawned from Matador, we have these:
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The sound of the Demi-fiends punches hitting their target is beautifully satisfying.
  • Narm:
    • Listen to Daisoujou when he uses a physical attack. White Rider using God's Bow is also pretty Narmy.
    • Whenever Trumpeter speaks.
    • Every time Black Rider uses a spell. Heeeeee!
    • Mother Harlot has a rather terrifying introduction, culminating in a Jump Scare when she turns around and reveals her Skull for a Head... and then she goes clack clack clack with her teeth in a pretty ridiculous fashion.
    • Whenever Shiva does anything. Idle animation: dancing and jerking around like a mannequin on crack. Launching a spell: twitters like an angry bird. Doing a physical attack: "WHEEEEEEUUUU!"
    • He's less ridiculous than Shiva, but Vishnu's weird moan whenever he casts a spell is pretty darn Narmy itself.
    • Whenever certain types of demons try to speak with either all caps or erratic capitalizations and ellipses. Due to the lack of any effective scary effects coupled with such dialogue when speaking to them, they completely fail to come off as scary and fearsome.
    Specter boss: Me eAT yOU! aNd MaGaTSuhi ToO! Me EaT YOu, tOooOooOoO!! note 
  • Newer Than They Think: The Fiends have existed since Shin Megami Tensei I, and are usually represented by the Revelation Fiends (the Riders, Mother Harlot, and Trumpeter). They actually didn't debut until this game, with the Super Famicom games using a more varied roster that included the first three non-cameo Fiends in this game. The exception is Pale Rider, who was one of the original three Fiends along with Daisoujou, the second Fiend in this game, and David. The roster for every future game would follow this game's, with the six Revelation Fiends accompanied by three or four others.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The Third Kalpa chase with Dante/Raidou can be insanely nerve-wracking, as not only can they run as fast as the Demi-fiend, but they will occasionally shoot at him to slow him down. If the Demi-fiend gets caught by them, they will perform a move that has a high chance of instantly killing either Demi-fiend or one of his demons and then either flee or lock the player in an unescapable fight. Even worse is if you hear their boss theme playing, but have no idea where they are.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: While Nocturne is beloved by the fanbase for many reasons ranging from gameplay, atmosphere, and music; the story tends to not be one of said reasons. This is generally held to be due to the game's minimalist approach. To its credit it does raise some very real and interesting questions, but some can still be lost within the characters and ideologies.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • The PAL port of the game has numerous freezing glitches when played at 50hz. The solution is to play it at 60hz, but even then it can freeze during the True Demon Ending.
    • The HD remaster suffers from frequent and severe framerate drops, long load times, and lightning and animation glitches. It's also filled with compressed audio (including the music) and low resolution textures from the old PS2 version, with only a handful having gotten touch ups. And cutscenes are still in a 4:3 aspect ratio. And there are no quality of life improvements from later Atlus games, such as the ability to select skills during fusion or a minimap.
  • Sacred Cow: Criticising anything about this game around die-hard SMT fans tends to end badly.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • White Rider's spawn point is in front of every major Terminal after reaching Asakusa and completing the Second Kalpa.note  Pray that you'll be able to escape or beat him in one go...
    • Beast Eye/Dragon Eye, or any other move that grants the opponent free press turns. Mostly because it's one of the few things in the game that is blatant that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, with them using a move that is unavailable to the player, that costs only 1 MP, and sometimes even abusing it to outright win. And worse, depending on the enemy and the moves they use, it can be impossible to counter with demons that can nullify attacks.
    • While exacerbated by starting the game on Hard Mode, this page has a comprehensive list.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: With the game's challenge not being enough for some people, fans have gone out of their way to create a Hardtype mod for the truly masochistic players. It both adds some new content and re-balances fights to really racket up challenge.
  • Signature Scene:
    • The boss fight with Matador, known by fans everywhere as the "buff and debuff, or die horribly" boss.
    • The very last shot of the True Demon Ending, where the Demi-Fiend begins to march forward in the darkness, leading the Legions of Hell into battle against God. Fittingly, it's used as the title screen.
    • The CG of the world being destroyed and its remains twisting into the Vortex, followed by a Magatama forcibly shoved into your eye in first-person view, not an hour in. This drives home the bleak atmosphere of the game that sets itself apart even from other Shin Megami Tensei titles. Here, there's not even a world of humanity left to struggle for survival, your friends and teacher are gone, the remaining humans can be counted on one hand, and you're now a demon on your own. Good luck.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: Playing the game on the True Demon Path or the Freedom Path is considered a pretty good distillation of Friedrich Nietzsche's entire philosophy. The transcendence comes either way: True Demon has you destroying the old order and challenging the one who created it all, while Freedom has you take a good long look at everyone else's philosophies and stick a middle finger at them.
  • That One Attack:
    • Beast Eye and Dragon Eye. After consuming the turn, the enemy gains two or four half Press Turns, respectively. This leads to the enemies (generally bosses, too) proceeding to attack you up to five times in a row. Daisoujou and Hell Biker also have Startle and Hell Throttle, respectively, that are the same but give three Turns.
    • Matador's Red Capote will automatically max out his hit/evasion rate and is one of the main reasons he's the game's Wake-Up Call Boss.
    • Trumpeter's Holy Melody and Evil Melody. The former fully heals whoever has the lowest percentage of HP, while the latter would kill him. While when he uses it is predictable, it's also unavoidable. In addition, the Trumpeter can use Holy Melody on himself, but can't use Evil Melody. Interestingly enough, the same applies when Trumpeter learns it in your party...and Evil Melody only costs 1 MP...
  • That One Boss:
    • Matador. With the right strategy, he's not too difficult, but he's the first boss in the game that you won't be able to beat without fusing a party specifically to counter him. And even if you do he's still a pain in the ass, replenishing his Evasion faster than you can drain it.
    • Mot. He can use Beast Eye, but plenty of other bosses can, too. Unlike them, however, Mot isn't designed to do anything specific with Beast Eye - it's just a regular move to him, unlike most other times you run into it or Dragon Eye. Mot can also combine spamming Beast Eye with Makakaja and Megidolaon, meaning he can wipe out your team without you getting a single move.
    • Raidou (and Dante, for that matter). Let's go over the move set: We have Boogie Woogie (E & I for Dante), which deals light physical damage to one foe up to 4 times. Nothing too bad, but still a bit of a pain in the neck. Then, there's Yoshitsune Show Up (Rebellion), which does high physical damage with a high critical rate and is undodgeable. Yeouch. Next is Guardian Raptor (Holy Star for Dante) which negates any Debuffs cast on him, which takes a big chunk of any progress you've made in the fight off. And we can't forget Makoi Boomerang (Bullet Time), which does medium physical damage to all foes and has a 30% chance to inflict panic. Oh, and it's undodgeable. And this is just his first fight, he's WORSE when you fight him in Labyrinth of Amala. Have fun!
  • That One Level:
    • The cursed hallway in the Second Kalpa. Your HP gets cut in half every 5 or so steps, there are level 60+ demons that always seem to get through Repel. To get out you have to go back through the hallway, though thankfully there are several shortcuts so you don't have to go the whole circuit.
    • The lower levels of the Third Kalpa definitely count, too. You have to run around and flip switches while being shot at by Dante. Get caught by him, and he knocks your party around and sends you back to the beginning. In the second part, not only are the switches in mazes of invisible walls, Dante resets them after he catches you. The top level's not easy, either; it's a gigantic maze filled with one-way doors, and some of them teleport you if a certain stat isn't high enough. The only way to be sure that you won't get thrown all over the map is to have all your stats at 25 or higher, which would require absurd amounts of grinding at this point.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • The Labyrinth of Amala in its entirety. While the Shady Brokers will sell you demons with Game-Breaker skills, the loot is amazing, and contains cutscenes that flesh out a large chunk of the plot, even the mandatory parts will put you through the wringer constantly and remind you it's particularly hard to assemble a powerful team capable of resisting continuous assaults (many back attacks, particularly) at the beginning. The optional Grave Run is especially tough, even with the endgame stats.
    • Puzzle Boy, a young Manikin that makes you play a minigame of 20 increasingly difficult puzzles if you want to obtain all the Magatama in the game. He's practically required as the Magatama he gives you teaches the Demi-fiend all the second tier healing abilities, and is necessary if you want a shot at getting the secret 25th Magatama. Hope you're good at complicated block puzzles, and you have to complete all 20 levels in one go, or barring that, can slavishly reproduce steps in a walkthrough.
      • This proved so frustrating in fact, that the Hardtype hack changes it so you can just buy it in the shop. Yes, even a hack made to ramp up the difficulty thought it was unreasonable.
  • Tough Act to Follow: This game does an excellent job of making the Video Game 3D Leap, is known for its relentless challenge, has perhaps the widest variety of endings/routes of any game in the series, and is the last game produced by series creator Cozy Okada. Subsequent games have difficulty living up to the gold standard that Nocturne set.
  • Ugly Cute: Although we never get a very good look at them in game, the Magatama are pretty cute for parasitic spirit bugs.
  • Vindicated by History: Might be hard to believe today, but when the game was first released it actually wasn't all that well received from fans with many finding it way too different from past entries. The game didn't receive full recognition until the updated Maniax edition, and over time the game got more and more traction until it got the franchise cornerstone status it enjoys today.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Ongyo-ki. As long as you keep hitting the real one, he'll do very little besides buff himself. He even does this after the effects are maxed out.
    • Chiaki and Isamu. Seeing how strong their school friend has become, you'd think they'd consider coming with you. Even if they recognized the Demi-Fiend has changed, given how horrific the new world is, they're not exactly in a position to be picky. Especially the case for Chiaki, who you encounter early on before she or Isamu have found their Reasons, she could've avoided a lot of hardship if she hadn't decided to go it alone.


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