Hacking Your 3D Soul

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The fact that Atlus has been a big fan of making enhanced ports of games in their back catalog is good for fans of their games outside Japan. These have been titles that were either originally translated poorly (see Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, though age hasn’t been kind to it, even with the enhancements) or titles that plain never left Japan -- see Persona 2: Innocent Sin and the upcoming Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time for examples. The Geek Babble column that Angela wrote three years ago still rings true to this day, given the newest announcement form Atlus: an enhanced port of Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers for 3DS.


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Soul Hackers is the second game in the Devil Summoner franchise, following, well, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner. It originally released on Saturn in Japan back in November 1997, for the tenth anniversary of the Megaten franchise. It was a fitting anniversary title, too, as it shared the same cyberpunk tone and setting the older Megami Tensei titles -- something sorely missing from the current games. It was ported to PSOne in April 1999 with a bunch of extra content, including a casino, an added scenario and event, and an extra dungeon.  And now it’s being ported again to 3DS.

 

The 3DS version (which is based on the enhanced PSOne version) will add more new features, including full voice acting, a new opening from Japanese animation studio Satelight (who provided one for the aforementioned P2: IS for PSP), shorter loading times, and animations in battle. As an enhanced port, the graphics will be mostly identical to the original, but hopefully the added animations part refers to the demons. This game shares a lot of demons with Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, so they might be reusing the animated versions from that game for this one, and animate the remaining ones.  The field and battle locations are being retrofitted to take advantage of the 3DS’ widescreen aspect ratio, while the map will be displayed on the touch screen. There are also UI adjustments, similar to their earlier ports.


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The core game is similar to the original Persona. But before you freak out, people who have played it have said it’s aged much better. In fact, it's been compared to SJ too.

 

It’s worth noting that this was the first Megaten game that character designer Shigenori Soejima was involved with. He’s far more known for his contributions to Persona 3 and 4 these days, but he got his start with providing the in-game portraits for Soul Hackers, and later fulfilled the same role with P2: IS and Eternal Punishment. However, like the PSP version of the latter, Masayuki Doi is redoing the main character illustrations for SH, previously drawn by Kazuma Kaneko. For an example, let’s compare Hitomi Tono’s old and new designs:


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Her original design from Kaneko’s is on the left, and her new one from Doi is on the right.

 

Rumor has it that Atlus USA originally wanted to localize the PSOne version, but Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s concept approval process blocked it because of their rampant and idiotic anti-2D stance during that time, especially if it was a port. They also blocked them from localizing the original Devil Summoner’s PSP port, because it didn’t meet their enhanced port criteria, which demanded they add new content. If that happened, they shouldn’t run into the same issue here, since Nintendo of America has no such process or demands. See, that’s one good thing about them!

 

What this means for the currently-ongoing fan translation from Gemini is unknown. It’s almost finished, so it’s possible that it will still be released if Atlus USA doesn’t confirm an official localization soon.

 

The 3DS version of Soul Hackers hits Japan on August 30. The possibility of Atlus USA localizing it is pretty high, but fans are expecting announcements of Eternal Punishment for PSP, Persona 4: The Golden for Vita, and Etrian Odyssey IV for 3DS to happen first, in that order.


Images courtesy of Famitsu.

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