While remakes, spinoffs, and re-releases of the demon summoning franchise Shin Megami Tensei series seem to be released every few months these days, for the longest time the releases were confined to Japan only. In Japan, the franchise is the third most popular RPG series after Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. However, the game didn’t hit U.S shores until almost a decade after its 1987 debut on the Game Boy, largely in part due to its religious themes and Nintendo of America’s stance against such material. Thankfully Sony, just beginning the recognize the popularity of RPGs like Suikoden, Vandal Hearts, and the upcoming FFVII, had few such restrictions.

The first SMT game to be released in North America was part of SMT spinoff series Persona. What’s so unique about this game, and much of the SMT series in general, was that the game didn’t take place in some sci-fi/fantasy timeline, but instead in Modern Day Tokyo. Instead of summoning demons, the characters summon figments of their psyche. Playing as your typical nameless RPG hero, you and your friends, a group of Japanese high school students, find yourselves at the center of some weird happenings after visiting a sick classmate. From there, it’s up to you and your crew to save the city from a demonic threat. You do most of the exploration in a first person view (at least until one of the many random encounters, this being an JRPG and all), while you go into an isometric view for battles and conversations. The game underwent several changes for its U.S release. It was re-named Revelations: Persona, and its cast underwent several changes to make them more westernized. In many cases, characters were given different faces. One character originally named Masao was renamed Mark and made into an African-American. Several places were also renamed as well, and some enemy names were changed in order to avoid referencing Japanese folklore.

The battle system offered several twists on the typical turn-based RPG system. You could battle them with meele weapons or spells as usual, but you can also negotiate with the demons. If you succeed, you can either scare them off, convince them to give you an item, or even have them join your team. You can even combine them with other demons to access new powers. Of course when all else fails, you can blow them the fuck away with your guns. That’s right, guns. In an Japanese-RPG (this was 1996, and guns weren’t as widespread in the genre as they are now). Matter of fact, the acquisition of guns is a major part of the game’s storyline. The game contains several puzzles, and multiple endings.

If you have yet to experience this classic, then you can either hunt down the original Playstation game, or you can grab the PSP remake, which features new cinematics, a new soundtrack, new puzzles, new dungeons, a new translation, and an all-new translation. You can either buy the PSP disc (which contains a cd soundtrack) or download it from the Playstation Network. Either way, you need to play one of the finest RPG franchises on either side of the Pacific.