Kurt Kalata is an ardent video gamer from New Jersey. He has founded websites such as The Castlevania Dungeon, which focuses on Konami's long running, vampire slaying series, and Hardcore Gaming 101, which gives comprehensive reviews focusing on the history of gaming. His most recent book is Bitmap Books' A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games. In addition to his own sites and books, his writings have appeared in Retro Gamer magazine, Time Extension and at 1up, Siliconera, and Gamasutra.

The Unofficial Guide to Shin Megami Tensei and Persona by Kurt Kalata

UNOFFICIAL AND UNAUTHORIZED! Beginning as a 1986 science fiction/horror novel, Megami Tensei has since grown to become one of the most expansive Japanese RPG series of all time, comprising of over thirty titles in variety of subgenres. As the original "monster collecting" game, the heroes converse with hundreds of demons across various world mythologies and convince them to join their cause. While early entries focused on exploring post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the series has branched out in several different directions, putting you in the role of demon-hunting detectives and high school students, across other spinoffs like Devil Summoner, Persona, and Devil Survivor. This book catalogs all of them and untangles the web of the this complicated but fascinating series, reviewing many Japanese-only entries as well as other incredibly obscure titles within the series. Included features are reviews for every mainline and spinoff entry in the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series, including Devil Summoner, Devil Survivor, Last Bible, and all others, with over 30 extensive reviews in all; trivia and recurring elements; essays introducing the series and analyzing its use of demons; and reviews of various anime, manga, and other media tie-ins.


If you, like me, find the web of Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games harder to follow than the family tree of a soap opera patriarch, this book has you covered. Kurt Kalata does what he does best, recounting the history of the Shin Megami Tensei series and explaining how spinoffs such as Persona and Devil Summoner came to be, all told through Katala's penchant for entertaining narratives and lots of helpful screenshots. – David L. Craddock



  • "Kurt's writing is downright creative in the way he builds a narrative about each game, too, to the point that the book is just fun to read through. There's always a little bit about the gameplay, a little about the history, a little about the plot, a little about the characters, a little odds and ends, and each chapter leaves you wanting to play the game it was written about."

    – Amazon.com review



Names like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are famous among Japanese RPGs, but Atlus' Megami Tensei series has been around for just as long. Beginning as an adaptation of Aya Nishitani's novel series and released on the Famicom in 1986, it eventually spun off into its own series, with numerals sequels, spin-offs and tie-ins, though most of them share some commonalities. The Japanese title translates to "Goddess Reincarnation", seeing how the main heroine, Yumiko, is a reincarnation of the goddess Izanami. Many subsequent games in the series have a main female character being some type of reincarnated figure as well.

There are a number of key staff members from the early days, including Kouji "Cozy" Okada, the designer and programmer; Kazuma Kaneko, the artist; and Tsukasa Masuko, the soundtrack composer. Also involved in earlier games is Kazunari Suzuki, who crafted the scenario for Megami Tensei II and aided in a few other games, though he left Atlus fairly early on to create the Monster Maker RPG series. This trio worked on a number of games through the 32-bit era. However, Shoji Meguro took over the main role of composer with Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. Okada and Kaneko also distanced themselves from the series over the years, with the directorial role handed to Katsura Hashino, a designer who'd been with the series since the Super Famicom days. The character design responsibilities then passed to Shigenori Soejima and Masayuki Doi.