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YMMV / Shin Megami Tensei IV

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  • Accidental Innuendo: If you walk into one of the weapons shops during a sale, the dealer says this:
    "You had to come now, didn't you?"
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Mastema. Either he's cleaned up his act and redeemed himself or he's simply learned to sugar coat his actions much better and is still as heartless. There's plenty of in-game evidence for either - on the one hand, he helped seal the Archangels away as he believed that God disapproved of their actions. On the other hand, his Bonus Boss fight on the Law route is very reminiscent of Strange Journey, and his death speech could either be seen as righteous fury at being betrayed by Flynn or a repeat of his hate-filled pre and post boss speeches from Strange Journey. On the one hand again, this doesn't happen on even the Chaos route, which is where you would fight him in Strange Journey. Apparently for him, the Archangels are a higher priority here than even Lucifer.
    • The Archangels brainwashed Johnathan into joining them. He only just barely qualifies for being a Law-Neutral character, and even then he's still far, far more Neutral than Law. Blasted Tokyo - which should be the decisive turning point for his alignment like how Infernal Tokyo pushed Walter a bit more towards Chaos - has him appalled at YHVH's treatment of the people instead of (like you'd expect a Law character to do) decide that it's their fault for disobeying YHVH, or even refusing to fight Pluto for being (in his own words) a tool of the Lord. This would explain his abrupt alignment in a way that works in-universe, as the Archangels aren't above doing so.
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  • Americans Hate Tingle: Due to Persona 3 and 4 being far more popular than every other Megami Tensei sub-series combined in Western territories, coupled with non-Persona Megami Tensei being either obscure or not available, IV tends to catch a lot of flak there for, well, not being Persona—the Early Game Hell and the lack of character development sideplots a la Persona Social Links have made this game somewhat of a turnoff to Westerners, who generally are not as familiar with mainline Shin Megami Tensei as Japanese players tend to be. Fortunately, the game still sold well enough for Atlus USA to bring over Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: Your AI-controlled companions use a random skill at the end of your turn. They don't take enemy resistances into account, meaning their spells might get nulled, drained, or reflected. And this has a chance to give the enemy the Smirk buff, pretty much guaranteeing that it will dodge all attacks and land a Critical Hit. Nozomi in the "Samurai and Hunters United" Quest is especially bad since two of her three skills can cause the boss to smirk.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • The "Errand for the Apocalypse" quest, which has you fighting all four Riders of the Apocalypse at once. All of the Riders are severely downgraded from their solo counterparts and can be defeated with a few high-end attacks. Expect to be sorely disappointed if you've been grinding your party to level 99 and expecting an epic struggle for victory. To be fair, however, it's a standard Challenge Quest, not a DLC boss or a 1/256 encounter, and if you're on the Neutral path, you've already beaten Lucifer and Merkabah. It's perfectly reasonable to go up against them and get a challenge on the Chaos path, however.
    • The Lilim Horde that defeats the party in Kiccigiorgi Forest. The rematch with it in Ikebukuro is played as the final challenge between you and the Black Samurai. Thing is, it has an absolutely crippling weakness to Gun, plus the weakness to multi-target attacks all Hordes share. If you picked up Stun Needles from a Shikome or Rapid Needle from an Ubu back in Shinjuku, the Horde should last two rounds at best.
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    • Ishtar, Goddess of the Harvest provides a rather peculiar example. It's a simple demon-slaying quest, so one wouldn't expect too much. However, one of the demons is Mother Harlot, who, by level, is the strongest Fiend in the game. However, considering David is hard for where he is in the game and the other Fiends are among the toughest bosses in the game, Mother Harlot goes down surprisingly easily.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
  • Broken Base: Fans are split over a number of elements of the game, including:
    • The title being a 3DS game, instead of a PS3, 360 or even Vita one.
    • Battles being in 2D like Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, instead of in full 3D like Nocturne.
    • Masayuki Doi doing character art and several notable Kamen Rider and other artists designing demons instead of Kazuma Kaneko. The main source of contention towards the Kamen Rider artists' designs is both due to many of them more following the artists' personal tastes instead of the creature they are based on and that they are often severely over-designed in contrast to Kaneko's philosophy that the fewer features a design has, the more memorable it will be.note 
      • The redesign of the Archangels in particular is causing quite the severe break in the fanbase; some people love them for being bizarre, eldritch, otherworldy depictions of angels; others hate them for looking nothing like any other SMT design and being overdesigned.
    • Changes to classic Nintendo Hard elements of the franchise, such as now being able to save at any time (and certain elements of the game almost seeming to encourage doing so).
    • The fact that the Archangels are DLC battles instead of being in the main game earned some ire.
    • One of the bigger base breakers, though, is the change to the battle system involving the utter lack of any kind of defensive stat aside from element resistance, which means everybody hits ludicrously hard now, especially compared to the slower pace of older games. On one hand, you're far more likely to be killed, even by lower leveled enemies. On the other hand, if you have a heavy offense, you can just as easily take down higher leveled enemies, which is good for grinding, and it's rare for a boss battle to take more than 10 turns.
      • To elaborate in detail:note 
    • Some have also thought that the endings of this game are a little lackluster compared to other SMT games.
      • Disappointingly short endings are almost a series staple, so that's saying something.
    • The European release. Some are just glad it's finally getting a release, but there's also been some very vocal outcry as the release was delayed for over a year, is going to be English-only and will only be available via digital download, moreso than when news of the EU release remained quiet.
    • The overall Sequel Difficulty Drop. Some praise the many difficulty-reducing features, such as the removal of Save-Game Limits (as long as you can open the Burroughs menu, you can save), Charon's revival services, the addition of an easy mode, and cheap Trauma Inn services. Others? See It's Easy, So It Sucks!. Even then, there are players who still find the game too difficult and Rage Quit before getting out of Naraku.
    • There is yet another break regarding more the feel of the game and how it handles the series legacy and mythology. Some think it tries to haphazardly incorporate past elements of the series with no regard for their actual meaning leading to the game getting an identity crisis, to those who think changes are necessary for the game to evolve and therefore the old things have to be put in a new light.
  • Catharsis Factor: For those sick of the constant warring between Law and Chaos present throughout the game, as well as several other games in the franchise, the Nihilism ending lets you take it out on a defenseless machine and destroy the entire universe as a result.
    • For those not sick of the series' darkness, on the other hand, the people offering the aforementioned ending are themselves very satisfying to beat up.
    • For those who got frustrated by Neutral's requirements (especially earlier on, when it was less understood what they were), the Law ending is very satisfying.
  • Complete Monster: Mr. Tayama began as a small-time Yakuza leader in Tokyo, but in the power vacuum following an apocalyptic war he seized control of the city via commandeering the Yamato Perpetual Reactor, Tokyo's main source of power. He thus established himself as the unquestioned leader of the city. While Tayama protects the citizens from the hordes of demons ravaging the city, he does so mainly for the sense of power it gives him; anyone who questions his rule is killed or worse. Tayama invented a Fantastic Drug, Red Pills, that can be used to pacify demons, but unknown to the people of Tokyo, the drug is made from human brains extracted from innocent people his Ashura-kai periodically kidnap and raise in a "human farm" until they die. Tayama is also breeding child slaves for this purpose. Though Tayama claims this is for the benefit of the greater population, he has also hypocritically cornered the market on smartphones, through which demons can also be tamed without causing harm to either them or humans, even demolishing an entire neighborhood to maintain his monopoly.
    • Apocalypse has Tamagami. See that page for details.
  • Contested Sequel: Many feel that the game is a steep drop in quality compared to the gold standard that is Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, due to comparatively weaker 3D visuals, the revision of some battle mechanics (especially the removal of defense stats), and the game lacking challenge in comparison. Others however, praise the game for being much more beginner-friendly than Nocturne and especially I and II.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Like some of the other titles before hand, you can start to feel this about the factions heroes and the factions they represent. Fortunately for these people the Nothingness ending allows them to vent these feelings.
  • Demonic Spiders: Macabre. Despite his weedy appearance he hits like a semi and can cause poison with everyone's favorite move, Blight, and at the time you unlock Shinjuku, where you can find him in the wild, he's likely to be a higher level than you. At that point, a party of three of them getting the first strike is usually more than enough for a Game Over.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Zombie Cop, due to his unique dialogue.
  • Fountain of Memes: The Black Market dealers are extremely quotable as a result of their condescending, annoyed tones. While their usual intro line ("Oh, a Hunter.") is the most famous, most of them ("This is real, right?" "You still got business here?" "Make sure you bring more Macca next time!") have reached meme status.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: When negotiating with a demon, sometimes the demon will order Flynn to kneel before it, and the only options shown are Submit, Submit, and Submit. In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Flynn is forced to submit before the Big Bad. On one route, he's brainwashed by someone else and indeed kneels before them.
  • Game-Breaker: Flynn himself, thanks to a combination of several factors.
    • First, Flynn is the only character whose status growth can be controlled by the player, which means he can reach a stupidly high attack power relatively early (especially combined with the game's lack of defensive stats).
      • Alternatively, you could put a lot of points into agility, which increases your evade rates. Considering that an enemy loses two turns if they miss you, it's a big deal.
    • Flynn can get skills through Demon Whispers and upgrade it, giving him absurd amounts of skill versatility, and this process did not take a lot of grinding to achieve.
      • Not to mention at max, damage skills do a additional 24 damage. That doesn't seem like much, but using multi-hit skills, maxing them out means you'll potentially do equal, or more damage than spells that hit hard only once.
    • Finally, with the App "MP Recovery", with a proper ability, he can and will destroy any kind of random encounters in one swoop, recovering MP before the next battle, allowing you to repeat this process, and saving your MP against Boss Battles. All you need to do now, is to build up Flyn's DEX or MAG, with some AGI to prevent surprise attacks, give him skills such as Blight, Javelin Rain, or the Megido line, and pair it with Charge or Concentrate, and call it a day.
    • Speaking of MP Recovery App, the final upgrade of this app allows you to apply its effect to the entire party. While it takes 150 App Points in total (MP Recovery 1, 2, and Party Recovery), having this App trivialized practically everything related to MP.
      • Which includes HP, since healing magic can be freely used in the field. With Party MP Recovery, the need for most healing items vanishes, making dungeon crawling much easier.
    • Additionally, it becomes much more feasible to spam instant death moves against enemy groups.
    • Much like in Persona 4, the app "Skill Augment" increases skill change probability to a reasonable chance, allowing you to use it to change early skills of decent rank into potentially game-breaking skills, with enough luck. Thanks to the ability to freely choose which skills and how many are inherited for your demons, breaking the game through this method is in fact much easier than how it could be done in Persona 4, with the bonus that you are no longer limited to a certain time frame, and with many more options available.
    • Guardian's Eye. At first glance it's Awesome, but Impractical since only Masakado's Shadow can learn it, it can't be inherited, and he will never have enough MP to cast it more than once before needing a MP recovery item. But with the help of the Fusion Lite app, it's possible to create several Demons with Guardian's Eye and enough MP to cast it twice before needing a recharge.
    • Huang Long: Resistance to all 4 elements and nulls Light and Dark. At level 80 he gains Drain Phys. He also has Samarecarm (Revives from KO with full HP) and Victory Cry (Recover full HP/MP after battle) as default skills.
    • There are three DLC missions which are designed to make grinding easier: one for EXP, one for money, and one for App Points. They require you to go around East Shinjuku and hunt Mitamas to get the drops. Once you're strong enough for them, they make the game a lot easier. The EXP one in particular is this, being easier than the other two (recommended for Lower Naraku, unlike the other two which aren't recommended until Ikebukuro) and has as one of the drops the Heavy Grimoire, which is an instant level up.
    • StreetPassing with a white card can earn you some pretty nifty bonuses. Aside from your demon gaining stats and potentially learning new skills, they may bring back incredibly useful items if you StreetPass a lot of fellow players, including the aforementioned Grimoires and 10-Point Cards (which give you 10 App Points without the need to level up). Of course, this depends on being in an area heavy with fellow players, which is quite uncommon outside of Japan; your best bet is to conduct your StreetPasses at Fan Conventions.
    • Kannuki-Throw is already a very unbalanced skill —it hits from 1 to 15 times for Physical damage, and it's the Signature Skill of Uriel, a demon who has very high HP, extremely high natural Str and Dx, and a good propensity for Critical hits. But if you take some time to build him up, you can give him Phys and High Phys Pleroma (multiply natural Phys damage by 1.20 and 1.50), Charge + Dark Energy (increase damage of the next Physical attack by 150 and then by 200% respectively), Pierce Physical, and your pick of Beastly or Draconic Reaction (increases accuracy+evasion, therefore, number of hits), Speed or Haste Lesson (increase agility, ergo, accuracy), and Bloody Glee (increase Crit chance) and then drop an Archangel's Law on him for the Smirk multiplier (and, for overkill, a triple-stacked Tarukaja) and there is nothing in the game that can survive a 15-hit Kannuki-Throw doing over 2000 HP of damage per hit. Pair him up with a demon that knows Guardian's Eye, and, well, only a Fiend's Megidolaon spam can even be a threat to your party anymore.
    • If you get a combination of Pandemic Bomb and Death's Door on your team, random battles become an absolute joke. Some of the worst damage sponges in the later parts of the game are vulnerable to Sick status, and if you manage to inflict it on them and then reduce their HP to 1 with Death's Door, you'll be able to knock them down with a light breeze, saving you a lot of MP and time. It gets even more hilarious if you're fighting Hordes, as Pandemic Bomb will attempt to hit 3 times thus improving your chances of sickening the enemy and Death's Door will also hit 3 times dealing horde's HP minus one on each hit, killing them instantly.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Players versed in Chinese Mythology may be confused at the appearance of Xi Wangmu, a benevolent, though imposing, figure in most myths, as a villain. The depiction in the game is fairly accurate, however, to an earlier and more obscure pre-Taoist version of the goddess, who was a fearful death and disease deity. When taken into Taoism, she received some Adaptational Heroism and a near-opposite portfolio of attributes.
    • Barbatos is the demon who will give you the most money using the Fundraise app. In demonology, he is often linked with the Deadly Sin of greed.
    • A number of demon weaknesses and resistances are actually inside jokes that only mythology fans will get. In particular, a lot of weaknesses relate to something the figure was killed or greatly harmed by in the myths, such as Thor being weak to poison.
    • The opening scene contains two Shout Outs to the Book of Daniel. One of the mysterious voices Flynn hears says "Mene, mene, tekel, parsin," the original writing on the wall that appeared to King Belshazzar the night before he was killed by the Persians. Another voice mentions a "horn" that "pierces the heavens" and "planets" being "trampled upon," a reference to a vision of Daniel's wherein he sees a hideous horned beast representing a cruel dictator who tears apart the world with iron claws and teeth. This beast, incidentally, is ultimately killed by the Ancient of Days, one of the game's hardest Bonus Bosses.
  • Goddamned Boss:
    • Omoikane is annoying to fight. He is fought pretty late in the game so at that point you can probably resist his light instant kill attacks and his other spells. What makes him annoying though is that whenever you get him to low health, his next turn he always uses a spell that heals all his HP. And he doesn't always do this at the point when his portrait flashes red so that means you have to gauge how much damage you're doing by yourself. Better hope your fire and force spell users, as well as attack buffers, are not weak to light.
    • The Fiends that aren't part of sidequests, due to each one having only a 1/256 chance of spawning in a specific, nondescript location every time you enter the area they're in. It can take hundreds or even thousands of re-entries just to get a Fiend to show up. And if you do get to fight them and lose, you either have to pay Charon to revive you on the spot for a guaranteed rematch or do it all over again.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Law path is a bit harder to steel through if you've played Apocalypse, as in this game's Law path, Aquila's statue is destroyed and Apocalypse delves more into Akira/Aquila's past. All those plans to one day reunite Mikado and Tokyo and they not only fall apart, but also the Archangels and the Samurai under their leadership basically shit all over him and his legacy.
  • Iron Woobie: Flynn. His best friend turns into a demon and he's forced to Mercy Kill him, the fate of his parents is unknown, and of his three True Companions, two of them sacrifice themselves for their ideals, while the third one commits suicide in front of him in the Law and Chaos routes. And yet he soldiers on to complete the important task given to him at the end of the game. Of course, this is lessened somewhat by the Neutral route.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: While it's not simple, quite a bit of hate has come to it for not being nearly as hard as the other games in the series, even on the hardest difficulty.
  • It's Hard, So It Sucks!: On the other hand, those who are better acquainted with Persona 3 and 4 find the (early) game to be too unforgiving to derive enjoyment from it. In short, whether you find this game easy or hard will depend on your past experience with mainline SMT games.
  • Memetic Loser: Walter, due to being that partner who will spam Agi even on demons that are immune to it and giving them free Smirk status; the boss battle against Minotaur, who has such an immunity, is infamous for this. This was acknowledged by Atlus USA in a blog post regarding Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse's accidentally-left-in Japanese lines:
    As you may know, SMTIV:A has partners that are permanently with you throughout the game, and you can select the partner based on what abilities they have that complement your play style. (No more worrying about a randomly chosen Walter casting Agi on demons that resist fire. WALTEERRRRRR!)
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Congratulations on completing the quest." Borroughs cheerful congratulations come whenever you complete a quest, even if it involved death or something extremely unsettling.
    • "Such is a samurai's skill!" [Reflect] "The foe smirks..."
    • "Meanwhile in Europe." Explanation 
    • The Dark Souls of PersonaExplanation 
    • "Oh...a hunter."Explanation 
    • " The White were right" has become a popular way to snark at people complaining about Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy in the series.
    • Walter's various amusing facial expressions and Jonathan's magnificently floofy hair, both of which are commonly photoshopped onto other characters for an Uncanny Valley effect.
    • Walter would you please stop casting Agi on the MinotaurExplanation 
  • Moe: Enforced by part of the development team with Isabeau, with some of the newer member of the team wanting the typical "sweet" female character in the game. Whether this was a good thing or a bad one is still debated both among the fans and the development team themselves.
  • Moral Event Horizon: If you choose the crueler responses to Isabeau's Boss Banter, you'll feel like Flynn himself has crossed it.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Any demon with the "valley girl" personality. YOU BETTER TREAT ME NICE!
    • OH, A HUNTER.
    • The angry noises that a demon makes if the demon learns a new skill or attempts a skill change, but you refuse it. Of note is Alice's:
    • In contrast to the entry below, some players find Burrough's recurring lines to be this trope. In particular, the message for having enough items to complete a delivery quest, as it's long, prevents the player from moving while being spoke (and is unskippable), and most delivery quests quickly lose relevance as the player levels, but it remains possible to complete them over and over throughout the game.
    • The Press Turn penalty sound, whether it be from hitting a demon's immunities, missing an attack, or a demon conversation going bad.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • ...on the other hand, said penalty sound becomes this if it was the enemy hitting immunities or missing attacks.
    • The demon's heart was swayed!
    • A boss demon exploding.
    • For those seeking certain rare demons: "I detect a very dangerous demon nearby..."
    • Burroughs herself provides plenty, thanks to her pleasant voice:
      "Good morning, Master."
      "I'll register that as a new quest on the list."
      "That's a new quest!"
      "That's it! You have all you need now. Just go deliver it and you're done!"
      "Congratulations on completing the quest!"
    • The Smirk noise, at least if it's your party member smirking.
    • Mido's "OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" Not only is he shamelessly hammy, but hearing that also means you've unlocked a new demon for fusion.
  • Narm: Lucifer's appearance after fusing with Walter. It doesn't really say "greatest enemy of god" so much as Fashion-Victim Villain.
    • The voice acting in the game's beginning: "Wwwwwwwwwooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaa! Who are you...? State your name!"
    • The fact that you can bribe Charon with Play Coins, and that he refers them as such.
  • Narm Charm: Pluto. Between the voice it has, its constant repetition and emphasis on the word "obliterate" it's ridiculous but at the same time resembles nothing so much as a fanatic Dalek.
    • Peallaidh. Whooooooaaaaaa... didja know? They can't clean him, bro! (Which sounds suspiciously similar to "Don't tase me, bro!".)
  • Nausea Fuel: In-universe at least, but Isabeau feels this way with the revelation that the Red pills are made from human brains.
    • For those not sufficiently disgusted by the above revelation, there's also the fact that in Infernal Tokyo, Demonoids do the same straight from the tap. It's lessened somewhat for some folks thanks to a surprising number of Neurishers liking their situation.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
    • The demon's Domain in Harajuku is pretty creepy to explore, like other Domains, until you encounter the head honcho of the Domain: Demonee-Ho! (Unless you're underleveled enough that he beats you dead with the unblockable Desperate Hit.)
    • Some of the more nightmarishly-designed demons seem a lot less intimidating when you talk to them, as they take on the mannerisms of a human rather than a bloodthirsty demon.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The ability to transfer skills from demons to humans allegedly goes back to the odd-man-out title of the series, Giten Megami Tensei.
    • Etrian Odyssey features the concept of (spoilers for EO) a Middle Ages-esque civilization being built on top of a destroyed, modern Tokyo years before Shin Megami Tensei IV did it.
    • Charon allowing you to avert a Game Over by bribing him with Macca dates as far back as Megami Tensei II.
  • Padding: The Neutral path requires you to complete 19 sidequests in Tokyo, including several unmarked sidequests that require you to have a camera that requires a previous sidequest being beaten. This continues for at least a few hours if you've been diligent in sidequesting.
    • Fiends for anyone going for 100% completion, due to their 1/256 chance of appearing every time you load an area. Especially if their encounter location requires you pass by a demon, as odds are you'll get hit at least a few times even if you use Estoma Sword.
  • Pandering to the Base: Twofold:
    • In an attempt to bring more people in to the franchise, famous guest artists from the Kamen Rider series where brought in to provide new designs for some of the demons. However, as other tropes on this page might have hinted at, this was less than well-received.
    • The game also tries to pander to the older SMT fans by including numerous callbacks and some returning characters from past games. How well this was actually executed is a matter of discussion among the fans however.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Several of Burroughs's Boss Warning Sirens can come off as this.
    • Upon entering an area that a boss lurks in: "Master, look out. I'm detecting a strong demon nearby."
    • If you're already in an area and then Burroughs warns you: "I'm detecting a strong demon ahead. Be careful." Two instances of this warning happen in areas that are dark and deserted (Blasted Shibuya and Blasted Ikebukuro).
    • Finally, depending on if you're actively seeking out the fiends: "I detect a very dangerous demon nearby. You should consider getting out of here." She's not kidding about the "very dangerous" part.
  • Player Punch:
    • The White all take on forms of familiar beings: Hugo, K, Isabeau, and Issachar. It's jarring, especially when you fight them in the Monochrome Forest.
    • After finishing the Monochrome Forest, whatever your choice was. If you have a good ear, you can briefly hear how Jonathan's voice is distorted into Merkabah's after his fusion with the Archangels. It's just an instant as Merkabah grunts as he awakens, but it's there.
    • The boss fight with Isabeau during your final trip to Camp Ichigaya. The game seems to be designed to make you feel as horrible as possible.
    • In the Law path, when destroying Lucifer's second form, you hear his voice break down into Walter's, wearily moaning that, as the strongest, maybe you were in the right all along. In Chaos, it's Merkabah's second form's voice that breaks down into Jonathan's, desperately asking what is it that you want.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Congratulations! You have sided with the White and will now destroy the universe to nothingness. Sure you put an end to God and his plan, and all you had to do was lose it all. Hope, love, and all that other good stuff? Gone. It kinda doesn't help that you're killing Isabeau as well. What was that about being saved and free huh?
  • Recycled Script: The game borrows a lot of elements and plotlines from the first SMT with things such as the protagonist meeting the alignment representatives in a dream, the protagonist loosing a close one to demonic forces early on, Lilith's involvement in the plot and her attempted execution (only this time the roles are revered), ICBM attacks against Tokyo, the Demon Summoning Program distributed as shareware, Masakado’s Katana being presented to the protagonist, the protagonist has to present a matchbook gain entry to a location, and so forth.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: An odd example in that it's a song that got rescued. The second game's Law theme is considered to be the weakest in the franchise, but its epic Boss Remix used for the Archangels has redeemed it in fans' eyes.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • A lack of an actual stat for defense means buffs and resistances are more important, but also means you can get nearly wiped from one unlucky ambush. And considering that a lot of bosses and unique horde encounters will be doing that quite often, well...
    • To some the smirk mechanic is greatly disliked due to some feeling it requires a bit to much luck as well as the status itself being considered extremely overpowered.
    • The fact that you have to carefully juggle your Karma Meter if you want the Neutral ending has gained some dislike, due to how easy it is to accidentally make yourself Lawful/Chaotic, as well as how, from a story standpoint, juggling your choices to stay Neutral makes no sense. Without knowing it, you can find yourself fighting Isabeau. You can't save scum easily, as you only have two save slots, and on top of that, the only way to determine your current alignment is through the "Cynical Man" present at Hunter's Association facilities throughout Tokyo, and he is not available for a significant chunk of the game that takes place right before alignment lock.
    • The overworld map. Unlike other SMT maps of Tokyo, which were relatively easy to maneuver around, the map in this game seems to place aesthetics over functionality and readability. For the most part, it's very dark - so dark, in fact, that it can be nigh-impossible to tell if any given path leads anywhere or if it ends arbitrarily. When compounded by a wonky camera which makes many locations look traversable when they aren't, navigation becomes a chore at best and a tiring slog at worst. Out of the many criticisms leveled at the game, this is one thing that everyone agrees is horribly implemented.
    • On top of that, many of the districts are only accessible by boats or subway. The former is guarded by an annoying Hunter who charges you 500 Macca to go across, while the latter is usually guarded by a thug who will only leave one you clear certain missions. Moreover, the game never clearly differentiates between cities, subways, etc. on the map, making it very easy to forget where something is.
    • Even worse is that players can't even look at the world map all at once, or see locations on it. The player can only see their immediate surroundings on their map screen, so if they have to get to a certain area and can't remember the direction it's in, their only option is looking up a map online.
    • The red mist that randomly begins snaring you in place starting around Shinjuku. Not only does it render you unable to land a first strike, it often causes the enemy to get it. Compounded with the issue with the nonexistent defense stat explained above, you may be jumped on and possibly wiped through no fault of your own.
    • The encounter rate of the Fiends; not only do they appear in very specific spots, but they only have a 1/256 chance of even spawning. If they do not appear, you have to exit the area and come back and try and see if they appear. Needless to say, it can take some players days or even weeks to get even one Fiend to spawn. Fiends are extremely hard bosses, much harder than the Final Boss, and if you get beaten to a bloody pulp, you have to get them to reappear again which can take hundreds more attempts...unless you actually pay Charon, as you respawn with the Fiend sttays if Charon respawns you. From here, you can save and reload for infinite attempts, but if you leave the area, the Fiend leaves, too.
    • Scouting demons. Once you get to the "offer them stuff" phase, there's really no way to tell whether you should keep giving them what they want (lest they see you as a selfish jerk for ending talks early) or cease negotiations (as they may run off with your stuff if you keep giving).
    • Not only can random-encounter enemies get first strikes like in other games, bosses can also get first strikes at random, which only serves as Fake Difficulty.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The real meat of the game is when you get to Tokyo and start picking up the gear and demons needed to mow down entire enemy squads at once. Unfortunately, this requires slogging through the rather difficult Naraku caverns first, and many players give up at Minotaur or Medusa at best.
  • That One Attack:
    • Blight does a surprising amount of damage for a "weak" physical attack, on top of inflicing poison. A lot of early-game enemy demons will have it. As such, bringing double-digit Dis-Poisons and Detox Solutions, as well as one or two demons with Posumdi, is never a bad idea.
    • Pandemic Bomb is a favorite of many enemies, including the boss of the "Rebirth of the Great Overlord" quest, Beelzebub. It inflicts Sick status on the entire party, which halves attack power, and can spread to other party members. Sick status also leaves the victim open to Death's Door, an attack that reduces those under Sick status to 1 HP, and yes, Beelzebub will happily abuse this.
    • Kenji's Ancient Curse, which puts five different status effects on the party, including Bind and Poison.
    • It seems that each of the DLC bosses has been given at least one of these, just to add to their frustration factor:
      • Gabriel's Lamentation, which is basically Ancient Curse 2.0. It inflicts the same status effects as the above, in addition to Brand, which prevents HP/MP from recovering. Brand can't be removed manually.
      • Ancient of Days' Damnation/Stigmatic Gleam combo. Heavy-hitting almighty damage with high chance of inflicting Poison and Brand, respectively. Nothing more annoying than constantly losing health and not being able to heal yourself at all.
      • Sanat's Gaea Rage, which not only deals some heavy damage, it has a high chance of inflicting the Lost status on your demons. Lost demons are out for the rest of the fight, but since they don't count as "dead", you can't bring them back at all. And he loves to spam that attack, especially when he can't use any of his other attacks (read:when one of your demons has Phys/Gun reflect). Be prepared to lose your entire team in a few rounds and have to fight him with Flynn alone.
      • And from the last DLC battle, we have Masakado's "Curse Thy Enemy" and "Guardian's Eye". The former is an almighty attack that hits hard, always hits as a weakness (thus giving him a free Press Turn), and more often than not makes him Smirk. Coupled with Concentrate, it makes for a very frustrating One Turn Kill. "Guardian's Eye", which he'll almost always use once he has around 1/2 HP left, gives him three extra Press Turns. For free. That's a grand total of eight Press Turns per round for him. Enjoy the oncoming onslaught.
  • Antichton is the Almighty spell to watch out for in this game; not only does it hit the entire party for massive unblockable damage, it also reduces attack, defense, and hit/evasion by one degree. And the Fiends will be happy to spam it if you try to get around their other attacks with elemental immunities or attack-reflection skills.
  • That One Boss:
    • The Minotaur is simply meant to be a Wake-Up Call Boss to teach you to exploit weaknesses and use buffs and debuffs. Unfortunately, his fight ends up turning into this if Walter is randomly picked to be your partner, as he will then cast Agi from time to time, not only being blocked but also causing Minotaur to Smirk and likely knock your entire party into next week.
    • Kenji, even if you reflect his attacks. He has Fire, Physical, Darkness and almighty skills. While the first three can easily be turned on the boss with Tetrakarn/Makarakarn, Megido bypasses Makarakarn. Worse yet, the boss is fond of using the latter multiple times a turn. He is also fond of casting Ancient Curse, which inflicts your entire party with all five major status effects, two of which prevent you from moving at all until they both wear off. And if that is not enough, towards the end of the battle, he will attempt to play dead and trick you into grabbing the remote that you are after; taking the bait will deal you massive damage. It's also the last boss before the player's alignment is set, so If you messed up the choices that happen afterward, you'll have to beat him again.
    • On that last point, that can be avoided by refusing to press the button, and then leaving the room to save before THEN pressing the button.
    • With regards to his remote bait, astute players will notice that the choice happens while the battle interface and music are still up, and that he has not yet done the "burst into red cracks and then explode" animation that all previous bosses have done upon defeat.
  • That One Level: Surprisingly, the dungeons are by far the most straightforward and simplest in the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games—series-traditional exploration hazards such as poison floors and one-way doors are few and far in between, difficult mazes are rare outside of demon Domains (and even those aren't quite brutal to navigate; just follow the wall follower rule) and the traditional final-dungeon invisible wall room does not exist. That said, a few areas stand out:
    • Pluto Castle, if only because it's one of the longest dungeons in the game not counting the final dungeons. Expect to rely on Level Up Fill Up if you haven't been able to stock up on Chakra items and don't have Party MP Recovery.
    • Monochrome Forest requires you to go through a five-section forest with teleports to hunt down four different bosses. If you're not keeping track of where you're going, you will probably go mad from seeing "Monochrome Forest - Open Space" over and over.
    • The final dungeon of the Chaos route and penultimate dungeon of the Neutral route, Purgatorium, has two sections with transporters that flip you upside down to the next Crown (floor) and vice versa. When upside down, the camera rights itself but your map doesn't, so walking left makes the map scroll right, and vice versa. It's easy to enter the wrong transporter if you aren't paying attention. Also, you can't talk to any demons here, save for whatever the Terminal Guardian throws at you, so you can't recruit them or Negotiate your way out of battle.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • The VR training battles can be a huge pain in the ass, being a major example of Trial-and-Error Gameplay. While the RNG is entirely fixed in these battles, trying to figure out the correct steps to beating each one without a guide can be a case of Guide Dang It! for some players. Fortunately, they are not needed to complete the Neutral path.
    • Getting into the members-only area of Ginza requires you to expend a large sum of Macca on a Chain of Deals: 55,000 Macca to get through two of the gates, 5,000 Macca to get a Gold Card (which the offering Hunter doubles to 10,000 if you try to accept), and 100,000 Macca to buy the Silver Coin needed to get the Black Card which will then let into the area. And that's just the beginning of your spendings: The shops sell awesome yet exceptionally expensive items and equipment, which get even more expensive if you're playing on Master difficulty. Did you want the Demonica armor on Master? Time to grind for 2.6 million Macca!
  • The Scrappy:
    • Mastema is back! He quite glibly crosses the Moral Event Horizon by collaborating in Tayama's Human Resources scheme and slips out as soon as he realizes things aren't going to go well. Thankfully you finally get to beat the snot out of him in the law route's New Game+.
      • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: In spite of the above, this time around Mastema is far more even-handed than his Strange Journey incarnation, and is actually supportive of humanity deciding its own fate (which he believes to be the Lord's ultimate plan.) He even rationalizes Tayama's Reds as a manifestation of this stance. He bitterly resents the Archangels interfering with the newly-founded Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, let alone trying to rule it, and puts up a Challenge Quest to defeat them before they can destroy Tokyo. In the Neutral path, if you visit him at the very end of the game, he praises you for defeating both the demons and the angels, and for restoring Tokyo to its people... all while being pleased that the doubts and uncertainty about the future will surely lead to the people seeking out God on their own.
    • Hugo is widely despised by everyone both in and out of universe, regardless of alignment.
      • Take That, Scrappy!: Albeit most likely unintentional but one of the forms The White takes is of Hugo, which means you can figuratively beat him up.
    • The most likable thing about Navarre is his voice actor; everyone hates his character, even in-universe. Alraune even calls him out for begging the heroes to save him from her despite trying to get them killed.
    • The Hunters that ask you to pay them Macca to cross rivers, all while chuckling smugly.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Some reactions to Masayuki Doi and several notable Kamen Rider artists as character designers instead of series regular Kazuma Kaneko.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Part of the reason for the Contested Sequel mentioned above is that this game had to live up to the stigma of being a sequel to Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, perhaps the most highly regarded game in the mainline SMT series as well as it being the last game produced by series creator Cozy Okada. Within the context of the entire franchise, the game had to face comparisons to Persona, which was steadily rolling in cash for Atlus at the time of this game's release, something that's more pronounced in the West where Persona is far more popular than mainline SMT.
  • Uncanny Valley: Yaso Magatsuhi's claymation-like style in addition to his already disturbing appearance has creeped out several players.
    • Despite that, you may feel pity for him because, just like the other National Defense Divinities, he doesn't like the boss he works under, or what the person in question is making him do, a fact which he manages to make clear to you only through the game's description of his facial expressions if you fight him.
    • Merkabah's first form, the second one is more straight up Body Horror.
    • Lucifer's forms as well. The first while having silly looking clothing, is still disturbing due to the alien-looking eyes. The second form is worse, with completely lacking eyes and having a fetus-like growth on the left arm, which is implied to be Walter after fusing with Lucifer.
  • Underused Game Mechanic: Some of the more interesting demon conversation skills, most notably Chitchat (cause the enemy to waste one Press Turn) and Negotiate (bribe the enemy until they let you leave, guaranteed escape if you use it while the target's asleep), do not reappear for Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. Then again, Apocalypse does introduce the Imposing Stance skill that removes one Press Turn from the enemy party's next round, and no boss in Apocalypse gets more than three turns (not even the Bonus Bosses), so having Chitchat (particularly Chitchat+, which takes away 2 turns) and Imposing Stance in the same game (thus allowing the player to make bosses lose all three turns at once) would've made for a Game-Breaker strategy.
  • Unexpected Character: Chemtrail. Not many players expected there to be a demon based on more modern conspiracy theories.
  • Unnecessary Makeover: See Broken Base, this trope was the opinion of quite a few people on the redesigns of several of the demons.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • When Tayama reveals how Reds are created, every named character who learns of it treats it as an act of pure evil, even though there is evidence around Tokyo that demons have quelled their bloodthirsty nature because of them. He also gives Walter and the protagonist (should you side with Walter) a vicious tongue-lashing for attempting to use the Yamato Perpetual Reactor to open a gate to the Expanse and allow the legions of hell itself to trample through Toyko. That said, his statement is not entirely correct as the Ashura-kai also antagonize demons that don't try to eat humans, and an Ashura NPC mentions that the Red Pill supply was running low by the time the Samurai enter Reverse Hills, meaning things were eventually going to go to hell at some point, in part because the Ashura-Kai casually throw Reds around like they're an expendable and easy to produce resource when they're not. Even Mastema knows it wouldn't last forever and was at best a temporary solution. That being said, the characters should be more appalled that Tayama doesn't seem to have any plan to deal with the demons if something happened to the supply of Reds than they should that Tayama is willing to make necessary sacrifices to save his people even if it means getting his hands dirty.
    • The White are completely correct that Law, Chaos and Neutrality inevitably lead to each other, that there's no final victory, and that YHVH will always continue to wreck humanity. Problem is, their solution (permanently annihilating reality) really doesn't have much going for it.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Some fans feel the Ikebukuro arc has nationalistic themes to it, as in real life, Ikebukuro is the district of Tokyo with the most immigrants, and in the game it's by far the bleakest area of Tokyo and is overrun with cannibalistic "foreign demons" led by Xi Wangmu, one of the chief gods of Japan's traditional enemy, China. Others think people are seeing things that aren't there.
  • The Woobie: The poor National Defense Divinities, who just want to do their job to protect their country, but have been enslaved by means on their Mediums to a tyrannical crime boss running Tokyo straight into the ground. Apocalypse makes their situation even worse by revealing that they were originally human prisoners who were forcibly implanted with the essence of Japanese gods and heroes by Japan's psychopathic Defense Minister, who intended on using them as doomsday weapons against foreign countries.

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