f13.net General Forums => The f13 Radicalthon => Topic started by: Falconeer on February 28, 2018, 12:46:18 PM

Title: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on February 28, 2018, 12:46:18 PM
The full disclosure is that even though I love this game to death I could never finish it back in the PS2 era. Could anyone around here ever do it? It was known to be hard and I thought "oh come on it can't be that hard". I think it is and here is why:

- You can screw up your character, pretty much having to restart hours and hours in.
- Boss battles are unforgiving since the very beginning. You don't get the boss' weakness down? You are done.
- Good luck reforming your party after a wipe trying to catch the right demons you need and leveling them up for the task.
- Cause not only that involves a lot of grind, but sometimes it is not enough. In every fight a shit RNG can kill you no matter how well prepared you are. That is not entirely true, as there are lots of counters for pretty much everything, but here's why the game is HARD...
- Information is everything. Knowing what every creature is weak to or what they hit for is THE most important thing. And if you are not cheating (no internet, no guides) the only way to learn that is by a lot of note-taking and a lot of... well, dying and reloading.

So basically, it is impossible not to die over and over, but unlikme Demon's Souls where you can get good, here you have to die in order to learn, AND you also need to grind a lot. There's no way around it. The worst part is that it is easy to feel that you have done enough grinding, except you haven't. Or maybe you have but the bss decided to line up two rare super-powerful attacks instead of the usual one.

The Persona/Megami Tensei games have a certain degree of fairness built into it, but SMT 3: Nocturne has very little of it in my opinion. Sure, knowledge is power and remembering everything (including WHERE should you go farm for that particular demon you need to craft another demon) can be very rewarding, but I honestly believe this could be the hardest RPG I have ever played and that I can think of. I can't even imagine who would/could finish a game like this without ever peeking at a guide. Maybe prison inmates who only have one game to play for the rest of their lives? Or people stranded on a deserted island waiting for unlikely rescuers?

With all that said, I am now cheating as much as I can. Which means I am playing on the emulator which allows me to save whenever I want including before a single boss attacks so I can reload if they hit me too hard or I can reload if I score another fucking miss. And I am reading all the guides in the world, about where to put points, what demons to recruit and fuse, and where and how much to grind. And it is still fucking hard. And I love it. Not because it is hard (seriously, it's too hard), but because the world, the atmosphere, the mood, the visuals, the silly sparse conversations, the despair that permeates everything, the beautiful loneliness, the zany characters designed by a god by the name of Kazuma Kaneko and the surreal environments made it and still make it one of my most memorable gaming experiences and now that it runs on the emulator so well and allows me to cheat I will probably (maybe?) finish it and I decided to try and document the whole journey through screenshots.

Here they are.


You know what's funny? There's actually TWO difficulty setting. "Normal" and "HARD". Hilarious.


All the Shin Megami Tensei games take place in a distopian Tokyo, which has been destroyed or ravaged by demons. The world, as usual, came to an end.


Here begins the journey into a vaguely Lynchian kind of dream. A lot in this game evokes the Twin Peaks lodges and the Red Room. After all, it's all about a realm od demons taking different forms.


Chiaki is your school friend. She waits for you in the hospital waiting hall while you go get yourself in trouble and basically witness the end of the world. Just before the world-ending event occurs, she is reading an occult fanzine that predicts the world-ending event.


The hospital basement is the base of operations of the world-ending cult. This guy is not happy with my snooping around.


To everyone's surprise, your school professor is part of the conspiration too. She still hates the world enough to end it, but likes you enough to save you. Kind of.


In the meantime, you dream of weird people who seem to have a lot of control over what's going to happen to you. The world ends, humanity disappears except for a few friends of yours (we'll get there later) and you get transformend into a demon.


That's you, after the demon treatment. Which involves ingesting horrible bugs (magatama) that give you different powers or stats.


As a newborn demon, you suck so bad.


As I said, humanity pretty much disappeared into nothingness. Except for a few co-protagonists that just fell through the world end and are now confusedly stumbling around in destroyed and demon ruled Tokyo. This guy is the guy who wrote the occult fanzine, so at least he seems to know a thing or two about what is going on.


The weird ones who saved you my making you into a demon make sure to keep it mysterious and remind you that you will play a big role in the near future.


SMT and Persona games are all about befriending demons and making them join your party. Here's our first recruit.


Fighting Pretas which you can only communicate with during a full "moon", or with the right member already in your party. Just to make it all more straightforward.


Forneus is the first boss. He is not too hard, which made me think maybe this game wasn't as hard as I remembered.


Our party grows with new "friends".

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on February 28, 2018, 01:00:57 PM

We finally leave the hospital and get a first glimpse at what has become of Tokyo.


Also, looks like we are being followed by... a Capcom celebrity.


This is your resident healer. Thing would be literally impossible without her. She still wants money for it.


These are the new citizens of Tokyo. This demon actually had a date with Forneus (who we just killed) but she doesn't know why he's running late...


Zio means "uncle" in Italian, but it means Electricity Spell in the SMT/Persona world.


In a demon bar, we meet Chiaki again. She survived. No idea how or why.


Overall she took things pretty well. She is turning into a nihilist of sorts and wonder if she should be happy to see you now that you are a demon. Eventually, she decides to keep wondering alone cause nothing really matters anymore anyway.


At Club Inferno we also meet a Nekomata who mentions the Assembly of Nihilo for the first time. Looks like the city of Tokyo is under the rule of two parties. The Assembly of Nihilo, and the Mantra Clan. You are not the only one who is confused here. At this point it is still absolutely unclear what you are supposed to do, other than familiarize with what is going on in this new world.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on February 28, 2018, 01:13:21 PM

The recruitiment process continues. Some negotiations go better than others.


We find another bar. This is Nyx the owner. Demons sure like their bars.


Hell, Loki himself hangs around here.


Now this is an interesting development. I honestly don't know for sure but I'd say it's that guy in the hospital basement. Which would also mean the Assembly of Nihilo are the ones who ended the world, which would probably make them the bad guys.


I don't only recruit female-looking demons, but I love Kaneko's portraits of them




After fumbling around in Shibuya long enough, it's time to try and get to Ginza. Here we meet the Manikins, some sort of doll-people who are being squeezed and exploited by the Mantra clans. Are the Mantra bad guys too?


The way to Ginza is blocked by this guy. The first real boss battle and DAMN IT IS SO FUCKING HARD. When I first played this game in 2005 (I think?) I threw more than one thing at the screen over this boss fight and took me three different sessions/days to eventually make it. Out of luck, of course, when he did not get the right rotation in.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Trippy on February 28, 2018, 02:31:21 PM

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on February 28, 2018, 06:25:15 PM

Making your way through Ginza and the Mantra palace gets you arrested. In order to prove your innocence (?) you gotta win a trial by combat. First guy is a pushover. Second fight, with Yaksini, not a probelm. Third one though...


... is with Thor himself. Or 'a' Thor. Regardless it is another tough fight that I could win only after enough grinding, enough minmaxng the party and enough luck.


Winning gets you Thor's permission to go upstairs and talk to his boss. We'll get there later. Because before you can do it you will be intercepted by that other famous demon hunter.


Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the Mantra Clan has one of your friends captive in their prison. No trial by combat for him so you'll have to find another way. He also reveals to you that the professor that likes you is with the Assembly of Nihilo. This confirms that the guy leading Nihilo is the guy from the hospital basement.


He wants for us to save Ms. Nakao, but I am under the impression she doesn't need any saving.


This is what happens when you try to negotiate while drunk. Ehr... confused.


And this is the result of me beating Thor. Rumors about you starts to spread.


Eventually, it's time to meet the leader of the Mantra, Gozu-Tennoh. He made me an offer I decided to refuse. But apparently, this is gonna shape the ending (maybe more?) of the game. I decided not to look ahead. After that, it's time to go pay the Assembly of Nihilo a visit. Something Gozu-Tennoh seems cool with, as he considers them "dangerous" and wants me to see for myself.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: schild on February 28, 2018, 10:47:38 PM
Man, what a game.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Yegolev on March 01, 2018, 08:15:41 AM
The only thing that I think is bad is the part about screwing up your character in a bad way.

Having gone through Digital Devil Saga, I guess you either enjoy some of those bullet points or you don't.  I did find that luck could be minimized quite a lot in DDS simply by being prepared.  Obviously there is the part where you have to learn weaknesses, as well as fully exploit the combat mechanics instead of windmill your arms and shout to victory.  Extra turns are the core of this.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: schild on March 01, 2018, 09:12:25 AM
Digital Devil Saga is about 500x more forgiving than Nocturne.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 01, 2018, 10:08:19 AM
I might replay Digital Devil Saga next. Or Persona 3. This emulator thing makes me so happy. These games are the best, Katsura Hashino is really one of my favourite devs ever up there with Hidetaka Miyazaki.

By the way, Hashino's absence is so terribly obvious in both the Shin Megami Tensei 4s (regular and Apocalypse). I like them but they are soooooo nothing compared to SMT3, DDS and P3/P4/P5.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: schild on March 01, 2018, 12:02:03 PM
Emulation looks great actually.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Yegolev on March 01, 2018, 01:44:16 PM
Digital Devil Saga is about 500x more forgiving than Nocturne.

Yeah I didn't get very far at all in Nocturne. :oh_i_see:

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 01, 2018, 02:25:33 PM
One thing that I completely forgot in the past 10 years after all the Personas is that sure the game wants for you to exploit the enemies' weaknesses, but it's not like all the demons you get have an element based spell. In all the subsequent games, pretty much every demon you get has a element-based nuke of some sort, so all you have to do is make sure that you have at least 1 nuker for each element in your roster. WELL WELL in Nocturne that is not so easy. A lot of demons come with fuck nothing other than buffs and debuffs or ho ho ho! ...negotiation skills. So you can't just pile up demons mindlessly and fuse them to get the higher level ones, no sir. You have to carefully build or rebuild your party over and over and make sure to carry over nukers or even just healers appropriate for the area you are visiting (cause they -for the most part- have a predominant element). That seems to make sense, except sometimes you just don't have any of those anymore and you either have to pay (which means grind, as resummoning is very expensive) to re-summon one of the old ones (which is probably quite lower the level you'd like for them to be) or go back to an area where you could capture them or the ones needed for the fusion. And let's not forget that demon negotiations are almost totally RNG based. Sometimes you just can't win the negotiation no matter what you say (I cheat-checked) so you just waste time and resources for it.

Once again, not impossible. Just very time consuming and unforgiving. A lot of these things, if you haven't planned ahead with a guide or saved enough times at the right places, might force you to retrace your steps basically playing extra hours just to grind what you need. And we are talking about the endgame.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Goldenmean on March 01, 2018, 02:29:51 PM
The full disclosure is that even though I love this game to death I could never finish it back in the PS2 era. Could anyone around here ever do it?

Yeah, I did it legit with the true demon ending. I was funemployed at the time though, so had nothing but time to grind and grind and grind and grind. I think I've beaten all of the localized SMT family games with the hidden boss/ultimate ending with the exception of the two different SMTIV's, which I agree aren't nearly as good as the other stuff (while still being better than most of what gets released domestically)

Eventually having SMT V as an exclusive was the only thing that pushed me into buying a stupid Switch (though now that I did, I'm finding Xenoblade Chronicles 2 enjoyable enough)

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 01, 2018, 03:12:42 PM
I will buy the Switch as soon as SMT5 comes out, just for it. But not a day before.

Anyway, seriously, congratulations on finishing it at the time. Did you use a guide or was it just a lot of trial and error?

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 02, 2018, 12:18:50 PM

Leaving Ikebukuro and the Mantra HQ to head to Ginza and the Assemble of Nihilo to try and figure out what's going on.


Before I can that, this (optional) boss who doesn't seem to be particularly evil plans on teaching me wiser manners.


He is not even super hard but sure it is a long fight. His insta-kill party-wide spells are no jokes though.


Kikuri-Hime is my main single-target healer at this point. She is not bad, at least she is level 24. The problem is...


... that Uzume (level 18) is still my only party-wide healer and she is level 18. Can't find nobody else with Media (group heal) and the fusing options I have don't seem to carry over the skill.


Since we are in a world of nightmares, time doesn't have to make much sense. While we were walking towards the Assembly of Nihilo's HQ, the Mantras raided it, successfully. Or at least so it seems.


But it turns to Hijiri once again, who jumps around using a teleport network hoping not to be spotted cause he wouldn't survive a second, to inform us that the Assembly of Nihilo was not really defeated and that Hikawa (their human leader, from the hospital basement) orchestrated a ruse.


The mantra demons thought they hit the core of Nihilo power, but that's not the case. So I have to infiltrate the depths of the Nihilo base and find its real core reactor.


I get a new cool-looking demon in the process. Bright Might is a cool skill but hard to use consistently. It makes every physical attack critical during a full magatsuhi (moon/sun?).


Everyone knows that roaming around dungeons is the fun part of dungeon crawlers, right? Especially when they are literally mazes where you have to understand the logic of some stupid switches to get where you are supposed to go. WHILE being interrupted every 5 seconds by random battles.


Let's not make it too easy though. Let's put a demon there that flicks the switches you have already switched to make sure you get FUCKING LOST EVEN WITH A MAP.


And while stupid winged thingies bully you with Evil Gaze, a skill that reduces the target character to 1 HP forcing you to deplete your mana or healing items pools.


Let's not forget these nice ladies. They stone-gaze you which not only prevents you from doing anything, but the next physical attack will insta-kill you.


With enough save-scumming and walkthrough-reading, we made it to the other side of the stupid dungeon and kill the demon who loved to flip swtiches.


Faceoff time. He is certainly not more surprised than I am.


The short explanation is that he wanted to remake the world. Magatsuhi, the energy the runs this world, animates the demons and all, can be harvested to eventually summon a god of creation that will reshape everything. That's what his nightmare System is doing, sucking all the magatsuhi away from everyone except his people. And of course we are too late to stop him as we are gonna die, he claims. He also reminds us that the maiden, Ms. Nakao the teacher, is with him and she has a pivotal role to play in all this. Good to know, as we are not gonna die tonight.


Hikawa does not want to fight us (does he not consider ourselves worthy? Or is it because after all he is still human so kind of a weakling compared to us) and sends this tiger boss to take on us. He was surprisingly easy compared to some of the other stuff. Enough buffing and debuffing made its attacks manageable so I killed it at first try.


There is nothing left for us to do at the Assembly of Nihilo. We found out what's the plan of their leader and we ALSO found out that while the Mantra were rejoicing for their Pyrrhic victory, the Nightmare System started draining the magatsuhi from Ikebukuro basically sucking them dry. That's where we are headed next, back to the Mantra HQ to see what's up with them.


This is where we meet Chiaki again. Still alive, still sad but with a newfound determination.


Somehow she knows how things work here and inform us that she wants to shape a new world too, but according to what I have gathered she is NOT with the Hikawa guy.


As a survivor who found the strength to keep going though the horrors, she now sees herself as a chosen one and.... seems to want for weaklings to disappear...?


She intends to summon a different god of creation and shape a different world. Where Nihilo want a world of silence and harmony in death, Chiaki wants a world based on the survival of the fittest. She also asks me if I feel the way she feels and I chose to say no, I do not. Either way, she leaves again, not explaining how she plans on accomplishing her plan. At the moment all we know is that she is a human girl lost in a world of demons that could kill her in a second. I am left to assume she has allies, or found some power-granting artifact. Or maybe she is not really human anymore. Confused byy these questions, I push forward into what's left of the Mantra HQ to find out what's happened here.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 13, 2018, 02:34:24 PM
I have been working too much in the last couple of weeks so no time to play no updates no nothing, but I still managed to get something. Now the official Prima guide goes for about $100 in good conditions but I managed to get this bundle which has the game (which I already have, but back in Italy) and the guide. Reason I paid so little is because the book is in abysmal conditions, but it was too good of a deal to pass. One more for the museum.



Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 27, 2018, 11:28:11 AM

On my way to see Gozu-Tennoh, this agonizing Manikin mentions their leader Futomimi. Looks like he's being held captive somewhere else.


With the Mantra falling apart, Isamu is finally free. He seems to want to find Futomimi himself, as the manikin leader seems to be able to see the future and could have lots of answers.


On a more technical note, I finally managed to build a healer that can stand its ground. The startling discovery is that when you fuse two demons they inherit random stats from the previous ones. The thing is, if they are not inheriting the skills you want all you have to do is cancel and try again... well.. after inverting the order in which you push the buttons. As a result, to get the demon you want to inherit the skills you want you have to press buttons back and forth until you get the right combination, which can easily take up to 15 minutes of furious pressing. What the hell.


As expected, Gozu-Tennoh is being stripped of its magatsuhi and is dying.


Thor on the other hand, being THE Thor, doesn't seem to phased by the magatsuhi issues. And let us know that he is too cool for this place.


This means a boss is approaching...


Ugh. This is the boss. OK.


After taking care of it, I head for the prison where the manikins and their leader are being held.


It used to be a school.


Now it's a place that exists on two levels of reality. The guards love to go into the mirror version of it and torture the manikins.


One of the smartest manikins is trying to escape by digging a hole with a spoon. Somehow I manage to make him lose it, so fetching a new spoon is the CRITICAL part of the quest.


Recruiting new and powerful demons never cease to be the most important part of the game. Unfortunately, you have to be at least their same level.


Mizuchi is the boss of the prison. A Mizuchi is a normal snake demon, but this is the boss version. Not too fancy, and not too easy. It tends to panic all your party members which is a problem...


...as you can see in this picture. This fight is rather costly.


But eventually Futomini is freed. He does not tell us much to be honest. To the point that our next step is.... gosh... go to where he estabilish the manikins' new home. Couldn't we just have a full conversation right there?!


We also meet Isamu again who managed to get here and survive but, obviously, couldn't free Futomini. Turns out he is pissed at us for not... protecting him? It's unclear but he is mad and decides that he wants a world where everyone is independent and can and should count only on themselves. So long. For now.


Hijiri is also nearby. He moves around within the Amala network (the teleports/save points) and he seems to be the only one with a bit of sanity and reason left. He points us in the Manikins direction.


Using the old abandoned underground stations we manage to head for Asakusa.


Just another normal day at the Shin Megami Tensei office.


The underground tunnels are now occupied by some Oni leader. To get to him, and out of here, we have to defeat his three lieutenants. Sui-ki is the first.


Kin-ki (?) is the second.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: schild on March 29, 2018, 10:40:02 PM
I have the entire run of the meaningful doublejump books mint condition. Best strategy guides ever made.

Title: Re: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - So hard that I have to cheat
Post by: Falconeer on March 30, 2018, 10:05:24 AM
I only have the Disgaea one in perfect conditions. They were incredible. Only problem: no way to use it and keep it in one piece. Too many pages for such a weak spine.