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Megami Tensei is a series of Japanese role-playing games made by Atlus. It is known for its use of real mythologies and the ability in many games to recruit enemies to one's party. Though not as popular as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, or Pokemon, it is, nevertheless, a longtime series with many critically praised installments.
The original game in the series, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei, was based on a book, and was released in 1987 for the MSX and Famicom. It had a sequel in 1990, simply titles Megami Tensei II. However, these would be the only installments in the series to simply be named "Megami Tensei," or "Reincarnation of the Goddess." Future installments would be titled Shin Megami Tensei or "Reincarnation of the True Goddess."
After Ohga Shrugs
Shin Megami Tensei was released in Japan for the Super Famicom on October 30, 1992. A sequel for the same system, titles Shin Megami Tensei II, was released two years later. However, true sequels of these games would become uncommon, with Shin Megami Tensei III only being released in 2003 for the GameCube and IV being a 2013 Game Boy 3DS game.
In between these many releases, many Megami Tensei games were, nevertheless released, including entire series of spinoffs. In the 90's, these included remakes of the original duo of games for the Super Famicom released in 1995; The Last Bible series for the Game Boy, and the Devil Summoner games for the Saturn. Devil Summoner in particular was one of the most popular games of its type for the Saturn in Japan, selling over half a million copies.
Until 2004's Western release of Shin Megami Tensei III, the series was almost entirely exclusive to Japan. However, the growth of JRPG's in the West, especially Final Fantasy and Pokemon, convinced Atlus to localize more games outside of Japan. Some games were even designed with an international release in mind, such as 2009's Strange Journey. The series began finding a home on the Game Boy series in particular, with both ports of older games and entirely new ones being released on the Nitro and 3DS
The Megami Tensei series's reception is hard to gauge. On one hand, any single amin installment of the Pokemon series would dwarf the entire franchise, as every game combined has sold under ten million units at retail. On the other hand, the series has usually been profitable for parent company Atlus, and has been their main series for about two decades. Furthermore, Megami Tensei games are critical hits as a rule, with no major game in the series receiving less than mediocre reviews over the past ten years.