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Shin Megami Tensei Online: IMAGINE

女神転生IMAGINE プレミアムパッケージ (Premium Package)
女神転生IMAGINE メモリアルパッケージ (Memorial Package)

Official Website: megatenonline.com
Official Developer Journal: megatenonline.com/blog/
Japanese Release: 2007
Retail Price: ¥ 5,229 (or a free version for download)

Megaten Makes the Leap to Online

The debut of Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE marked Megaten’s first foray into the online gaming experience. IMAGINE is described as an MMORPG, or “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game,” which means that players all over the world are able to engage one another online via the internet in ways previously unavailable to Megaten enthusiasts. This monumental feat appears to be subcontracted by Atlus, Co. Ltd. through a Japanese partner and Megaten virgin known simply as CAVE. Worldwide Aeria Games & Entertainment, based in California, has announced it’s intentions to deliver IMAGINE to an international audience with plans so far for servers located in North America and Germany.

Before Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE was firmly in the hands of gamers everywhere, many incarnations of the project were documented to be in development ever since Atlus announced it’s intentions to bring a MMMORPG (Megaten MMORPG) to market. For a complete accounting of these events including leaks of different IMAGINE prototypes and official public relation stunts, don’t forget to checkout the Early IMAGINE Information & Beta Release pages.

Following Beta testing until sometime after IMAGINE would celebrate its one year anniversary (since Beta testing concluded) the working title was for the time being simply “Megami Tensei Online IMAGINE.” The absence of the hallmark Shin[J] created a space for ambiguity interpreting its place within the wider Megaten multiverse. Officially however IMAGINE is now part of Shin Megami Tensei canon. It’s possible the name change was due to legality concerns, or perhaps the original title was simply an oversight, but without further information it’s impossible to say. Either way the official website domain remains megatenonline.com.

Get Ready as IMAGINE Blasts from the Past

Borrowing from themes more directly attributable to the classic and somewhat sacrosanct Megami Tensei II, yet sandwiched between the timelines of Shin Megami Tensei I & II - according to opening cinematics - IMAGINE presents a rich tapestry of possibilities for a part of official Megaten canon. A short stroll through some of Megaten’s more esoteric history is informative. For starters, the atmosphere of IMAGINE parks its nexus squarely atop an enclave of Megatendom known only to Devil Busters - and as we will see, a slice of Megaten esoterica privy only to the most dubious of Megaten know-it-alls.

For the hitherto unenlightened, a “Devil Buster” is part of an elite school of demon hunters, and until ASCII set loose its little known Giten Megami Tensei: Tokyo Apocalypse upon the Japanese PC-88 scene circa 1996 - and later hastily retooled with flashier graphics technology taking advantage of Microsoft’s DirectX platform in time for a Windows 98 operating system debut - Devil Busters was simply the title of an infernal video game enjoyed by the Megami Tensei II hero and his friend (to be dark hero) from the confines of an underground shelter deep beneath a smoldering Tokyo set ablaze by the now infamous demon apocalypse.













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That is to say, the Shin Megami Tensei franchise itself has never (until now) featured so much as a Devil Buster per say, though on at least one or more occasions the word itself has appeared in “Easter egg” form - part of Devil conversation dialogue. Giten Megami Tensei on the other hand parallels IMAGINE very closely. Both titles appear to take place inside the Devil Buster universe and include DB training as part of the gameplay regimen. Further similarities abound at every turn, however few if any plot or stylistic elements bare much similarity. Nonetheless, all told Giten’s gameplay may still be reasonably summed-up an offline variation on IMAGINE, or visa-versa.

Back in Megami Tensei II land, for the Megaten faithful it is hard to miss the heavy doses of sly nods to the now long lost MT2 gospel. So much so it remains difficult to predict what direction IMAGINE could head… will it carve out its own course? Or continuing aping much of MT2, further leading some to wonder whether the universe of IMAGINE is the real-deal or some virtual reality demiurge’s idea of a joke?

The Page by Page Breakdown

Sit back, this is going to take a while. This article is broken up into multiple pages because of the truly massive complexity of Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE Online. It truly puts the Massive in MMORPG!!

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