Shin Megami Tensei III Beginner Guide

Last Update: May 18, 2021 10:47 AM /


Shin Megami Tensei 3 Beginner Preview Image

There is a LOT that this game gives you, way too quickly with very little information. Using this Shin Megami Tensei III Beginner Guide I'll be going over some of the questions that you might have headed into this dense JRPG. It's been a little under 18 years since Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne first released but with an increased popularity of the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises it's not surprising if you haven't played this game before.

What do the DLC for Shin Megami Tensei III do?

There are multiple different DLC packs that are available for Shin Megami Tensei III.

  • Maniax Pack
    During regular play on SMT III you'll frequently run into Raidou Kuzunoha the XIV. He's the silent protagonist of the Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzonoha series. He shows up not only as a party of the story, but also a boss fight and even party member later in the game. You'll get to meet Raidou if you select the NEW GAME option on the title screen, but if you select New Game: Maniax Mode then the role of Raidou will be replaced by Dante of the Devil May Cry series.

    Essentially there's no difference, just instead of being hunted down at times by a Devil Summoner you're hunted by a Devil Hunter. The boss fights of course are different as each has their own separate set of moves, this of course also carries over to if you have them as your party member far later in the game.

    It's important to note that the save game data between regular mode, and Maniax mode are incompatible so if you get 20 hours into one and just don't like Raidou, or realize that you REALLY want to have Dante in your party then you'll need to start over. The save files are separate though so there's nothing lost, except for your time.

Shin Megami Tensei 3 Raidou

  • Mercy and Expectation Map Pack
    This DLC gives you access to two new dungeons called "Where the Demi-Fiend was born" and the "Center of the Conception." These dungeons are accessible after reaching Ginza, but aren't traditional dungeons. If you travel to "Where the Demi-Fiend was born" you'll face relatively weak enemies, but they will drop Grimoire items that give you copious amounts of Exp, the "Center of the Conception" is similar but with items that can be sold at a high price.

    For a game known for its difficulty spikes these DLC dungeons are essentially a way to skip through farming. If you get to a point in the story you need to raise a few levels what might take hours normally you can instead do in 15 minutes. Is this not the way you want to play the game? that's totally fine, there's no other reason to visit this location. If you're looking to shave a few hours off this already 45+ hour title though then that might be a good incentive.
  • Shin Megami Tensei BGM Pack
    This DLC quite simply just allows you to swap the music between a few different titles in the SMT series of games. You have the following games to choose from:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne
    • Shin Megami Tensei
    • Shin Megami Tensei II
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

          You can alter these background music settings at any time you want from the config menu.

  • MERCIFUL Difficulty
    Another round of Atlus recognizing the criticisms of the original game being too difficult there is a MERCIFUL difficulty. This quite simply is just an easier difficulty than what originally released with the game. The difficult can also be changed at any point in time during the game.
  • Chronicle Pack
    This DLC adds a new mode where you play directly as Raidou Kuzonoha exploring the Amala Labyrinth.


Shin Megami Tensei III Beginner Guide — What are Magatama?

The Magatama are special parasites that the Demi-fiend gets access to throughout the story. They work as your main characters class throughout the game. They can be swapped at any point from the main menu and have a variety of effects on the Demi-field. Each Magatama alters the following:

  • Character stats - Each Magatama will give your character additional values in their stats
  • Resistances - Depending on which Magatama you ingest you will become completely invulnerable to different types of attacks
  • Weaknesses - With attacks you'll be invulnerable to, you'll also become susceptible to others. 
  • Abilities learned - What Magatama you've ingested determines what moves you'll learn, but you can always swap away and come back to different Magatama as the need permits

Shin Megami Tensei III Beginner Guide


Shin Megami Tensei III Light Meter/sun phases — What are they?

The light that you see in the top left of the screen is for the Kagutsuchi, this is the source of light within the world of Conception. You won't see any kinds of evidence of a day/night cycle but there are a few things that will change in the world based on what phase of the Kagutsuchi is in. Below is some important things to know about different phases from Phase 0 New all the way to Phase 8 Full, and back:

  • At Full Phase
    • Demons will act drunk, raising their attack power and blocking escape attempts
    • Demons will ask yes/no questions if trying to recruit, but might also just ignore the Demi-Fiend
  • At New Phase demons will be calm and easy to converse with
  • Depending on were you are in the phase will also determine which demon you'll be able to summon at the Cathedral of Shadows

Spells that increase/decrease demon encounters, as well as those that grant the lift and light skill, will be active until the next New phase as well. This may help you decide when you want to activate a spell.

Shin Megami Tensei 3 Kagutsuchi


How to recruit demons in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD?

While it might seem like old hat if you're coming from the newer SMT titles it was Shin Megami Tensei III that was one of the first to introduce the idea of pausing combat to talk to a demon. You can get items and money from demons talking with them, but what you'll most likely what is to recruit them.

In order to recruit a demon you need to make sure it's the last one on the battlefield. From there you can select the talk option. There's a number of things that can happen:

  • The demon can ignore you
  • can request Macca, the currency of the world
  • can request items
  • can ask you hypothetical yes/no questions

Depending on what your answers are the demon can:

  • Flee giving you nothing
  • Give you money
  • Give you items
  • ask to join

Depending on what stage of the Kagutsuchi you're in you'll have better or worse chances of recruiting in these encounters. Your active demons can also have skills that make recruiting easier.


How to battle efficiently?

Shin Megami Tensei III has an extremely unique mechanic in combat. Each round of combat you have enough moves for the number of party members. Each action takes up one of the moves, and skipping a character's turn only counts as half a move. This allows you to cycle back around to characters in case you might not have anything effective to do with one, but can deal high damage with another.

Shin Megami Tensei 3 Battles

On top of that if you deal a critical hit, or damage that an enemy is weak to you'll gain an extra move. If you miss or hit an enemy with something they're strong against then the reverse is also true. This is true for your opponents too as well, if you get hit badly it might mean that you're going to keep getting it.

This puts a huge emphasis not just on becoming strong, but also focusing on your character's Luck stat for critical hits but also their agility to dodge as many attacks as possible. As you level up your Magatama's the final upgrade for a lot will also allow you to get a skill that nullifies certain damage types. By 2/3rds of the way through the campaign my Demi-Fiend didn't have many special attacks but was resistant to Fire, Electric, Ice, Dark, and Light damage. It's extremely breakable.


How many endings are there to Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD?

There are six different endings to Shin Megami Tensei III. The first three are based upon supporting Reasons. These are the characters who have a strong belief about what the new world should be ruled by. The reasons endings are as follows:

  • Shijima - When Hikawa asks you questions answer with responses that show you agree with his belief
  • Musubi - When Isamu asks you questions answer with responses that show you agree with his belief
  • Yosuga - When Chiaki asks you questions answer with responses that show you agree with her belief

Shin Megami Tensei 3 Reasons

If you don't agree with any of the above choices then you get an ending where none of them get their way. From here there are two possible endings:

  • Freedom - You choose to return the world to the way it was
  • Demon - You choose that the world remains as it is with demons ruling

If you manage to gather all of the Menora and complete the optional dungeon, the Labyrinth of Amala, descending to its lowest level you'll be locked in for the final ending of the game.

  • True Demon - You beat the game, and then fight one last super boss


All of the above should give you a good idea of not only what to expect when starting this game as a Shin Megami Tensei III beginner. You should also now have a good idea of what you'll want to be aiming for as you progress through the game.

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at

Andrew Stretch Headshot
| Senior Content Manager

Andrew has written Video Game and Entertainment news, reviews, and guides for 10+ years. As Senior Content Manager, he assists in creating and editing… More about Andrew

More Info About This Game
In This Article
Release Date
February 20, 2009 (Calendar)
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)