About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier

Unskippable: Digital Devil Saga

By Shamus
on Saturday Mar 7, 2009
Filed under:


Current Blum saturation level: 50% of all Unskippable episodes now feature the work of Steven Blum.

I think the design doc that led to this scene must have been written about four hours after the author watched The Matrix for the first time. The scene was annoyingly muddled. While we could tell which side was the “good guys” based on the fact that the camera spent the most time with them, there was no context for anything else going on. Where they here for the artichoke, or was that something they stumbled on? What about Crossbow Guy? Was he after the artichoke, or was he on the same side as the artichoke, or was he after the main characters, or was this a chance encounter? The cat we can forgive – I’m sure he’s supposed to be symbolic / mysterious – but the rest just feels a bit random even by jRPG standards. This vagueness probably made the thing harder to lampoon as well, although I’ll still call it a victory for Graham and Paul.

“I think we can safely say, this is the only vegetable with orbital laser support.”

Comments (26)

  1. Jos says:

    Pfft. You thought that was bad? You should’ve seen the opening to DDS2. There, they explain everything that went on in the first pretty much from the start and it still doesn’t make much sense.

    Well… except the cat. The cat is only explained once you beat the second game.

    But mostly I think this particular opening was supposed to be confusing just so you’d play the game in order to find out just what the heck is going on here.

  2. Veloxyll says:

    I prefer my intros to make me think I’ll be a part of something awesome. Thus Mechwarrior 2 and Freespace 2 are still two of the coolest intros ever.

  3. DKellis says:

    For some reason this Unskippable seems to have struck a resonance in enough people that I see it posted everywhere. I mean I do think it is funny, but I think all the Unskippable episodes thus far have been funny, and that my sense of humour is weird.

  4. Patrick says:

    OK, someone here must have played this game. Does anyone know what the heck that was on about?

    Some dudes fight, magic eggplant does something, guys die, but maybe it was really all a dream or something. There’s a cat. And now a naked girl. Yeah… this really needs explaining.

  5. skizelo says:

    At one point, you explicitly promised that you would not post a link to this every week. For the love of god, just put a link in a side-bar and be done with it.

  6. Jos says:

    Oh, I know what it’s about. But explaining everything would ruin it.

    Suffice to say that this game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where it always rains named the Junkyard where six tribes fight a never-ending war for dominance because the only tribe left standing will be allowed into Nirvana where all their desires will be granted.

    However, the conflict is locked in a stalemate until that magic eggplant does that thing it does. More specifically, the beams of light that hit everyone turned them into demons. Cannabalistic demons (hence the unicorn zebra and “Eat them all”). And this new power (as well some… side-effects of the transformation) will allow one of the tribes to finally break the stalemate.

    As for the cat and the naked girl with the weird hair colour (well… weird for the Junkyard) I’m not gonna say anything too much, because revealing who they are exactly would either spoil too much and/or confuse you too much.

  7. Eric says:

    I remember back when I had GameFly I ordered this game. I played it for a couple hours, but even after that I didn’t feel like I was making any headway, so I just sent the game back. Not to mention I thought the gameplay was atrociously boring.

  8. Trianglehead says:

    Hah, definitely a victory. It’s the first one that has gotten me to chuckle out loud. Usually I manage to not draw attention to myself sitting here at work.

  9. Ralff says:

    To be fair, I don’t think it’s actually supposed to make sense at this point; I’ve played a bit of the game and it IS an SMT, after all. Whether purposely keeping it nonsensical is a good idea or not is a different story.

  10. Meow~

    This line left me in stitches for a good five minutes.

  11. Microphobe says:

    The fallout 3 quote had me in stitches.

    That and the
    “Hey, Loooosers!”
    “That guy just called us all losers!”
    I had to watch that one several times.

    And the guns/crossbows conversation was perfect. Hats off to Unskippable.

  12. Danel says:

    To be fair, the nigh incomprehensibility of the plots seems to be one of the draws of the Shin Megami Tensei superseries; that and an absurd difficulty level. It’s not something I grasp myself, but there’s a fairly devoted fandom who lap it up with a quasi-demonic spoon.

    The sense I got from it, given a sort of vague osmosis knowledge of the game, is that the gun-guys and the crossbow-guys were fighting over the artichoke’s sudden appearance, each believing it to be a weapon put there by the other. Then it turned them all into demons.

    The basic plot of the game, if I remember correctly, then follows our heroes as they use their new-demony powers to beat up all the other demony people in this post-apocalyptic hellscape, believing that should they successfully do this they’ll be able to escape. They succeed, only to discover that it’s more a Frying Pan/Fire thing than anything else. Yeah, nigh-incomprehensibility, hellish difficulty, demons and depressing events; that’s basically the series, I believe.

  13. MikeSSJ says:

    At this point, things are not SUPPOSED to make sense, because none of the main characters know what actually happened.

    These mysteries (INCLUDING the cat) all eventually get resolved.
    It helps to read the manual BEFORE starting the game, too, as you won’t be completely lost then. You’re kinda supposed to have read the backstory in order to understand WHY the main characters are doing what they’re doing in the opening.

  14. Zaghadka says:

    I thought this was one of their better ones.

  15. B.J. says:

    One of the points of the game was that the characters were in this extraordinary circumstance and yet never question it, until the chick shows up. It would have been a better game if it hadn’t been such a grindtastic grindfest of grindyness.

    Then you get to do it all over again in the second game.

  16. Cybron says:

    As many others have mentioned, Shin Megami Tensei is kind of known for having plots that don’t make too much sense at the beginning. Also, all the context is in the manual. I prefer it that way, as it helps to cut down on the number of info-dumps in the game.

  17. Broggly says:


  18. Amstrad says:

    >>It helps to read the manual BEFORE starting the game, >>too, as you won't be completely lost then. You're kinda >>supposed to have read the backstory in order to >>understand WHY the main characters are doing what they're >>doing in the opening.

    Explain to me again just why I should be reading the backstory out of the manual when the game should be equally if not more so capable of relaying this information to me in an entertaining and interactive fashion?

  19. Jabor says:

    I don’t know about you, but I thought that the Spaceballs quote in the middle was pretty hilarious.

  20. Stranger says:

    But of course the game can explain it for you in the actual programming. They do a fair amount of it as you play, and you can infer a lot as you go. Because it won’t spoon-feed you the plot and the details; not even Final Fantasy 12 did that, for all that series has fairly blatant use of infodumps anymore.

    At what point did people decide they didn’t need to read the game manuals anymore? I remember not too long ago lots of games existed where you were NOT given anything like a tutorial to start off showing you what the buttons did, or what the story was. When, suddenly, did it become “proper” to completely disregard the manual which came with the game as superfluous and suitable only to leave in the left hand flap?

    I’ve played and beaten this game. Suffice it to say, the story is well-crafted. It’s a lot LESS of a grindfest than the other SMT game I own (Nocturne), and a whole lot less likely to have me starting a notebook of information I need to know about how particular demons/enemies act and what skills they get as they level, what they “evolve” into . . .

    But you have to stick with it. After the initial dungeon area (which is easing you into the game, yes, but not a “tutorial level”) you get a small infodump section. You shouldn’t need more than an hour (two hours TOPS if you want to grind levels and abilities out) to reach that point. That to me is acceptable considering you can easily sink 40 hours into the game without grinding for hidden things.

    I happen to like this game a good bit, and want to eventually go back and beat the luck-based hidden New Game + boss (Hitoshura, the Demifiend, the destroyer of hope . . .) All that said, I find this entertaining anyway.

  21. DKellis says:

    Some games don’t even have manuals. This happens a lot with digital distribution (Steam et al), even though they’re supposed to include a PDF or something. Even if the games come with manuals, the tutorials are often mandatory anyway.

    Stories in the manuals I have mixed feelings about. Some of them are about as useful as the blurb on the back of the box. Some of them are only available in the Special Limited Edition. Some of them are flat out wrong, mostly because the person who wrote the manual didn’t actually play the game. With all of these variations, there’s no reason to believe that any given manual will have anything truly necessary for me.

    Personally, I stopped reading manuals when manuals stopped being worth reading.

  22. Jabor says:

    Personally, I read the manual for the first Baldur’s Gate. As well as the flavour book. Actually, I always read the manual when the developer cares enough to give me a printed version.

  23. ATMachine says:

    On the question of putting a game’s backstory solely in the manual, I tend to think that whatever storyline is presented in the game should make sense on its own, without need of reference to extraneous literature.

    On the other hand, having additional background information is always a plus, as it’s the sign of a well-thought-out story. I’m not opposed to leaving some of the game’s context in the manual; what matters is that the essential bits are conveyed within the game, letting it stand as a work on its own.

    Let’s be honest: the days of gargantuan manuals, lavishly put together and offering entertainment in themselves, are long gone. Wal-Mart put the biggest nail in that coffin when they made publishers shrink their game boxes.

  24. LintMan says:

    My favorite bit:

    Nooooooooo! It was supposed to be gently simmered!

    The Unskippable guys seem to be getting better – this one got me to laugh out loud in a few places.

    As far as stories in the manual – I guess I’d prefer it onscreen, but I don’t really mind it. And if it’s a question of wether to include extra back-story in the manual, or just leave it out, I’d certainly take it.

  25. Stranger says:

    The thing is, and I said, the background story is out there in the game itself if you do the diligent “Talk to the NPCs bit”; there is a sort of immersion level going on which is intriguing. Chatter changes as the plot progresses, and your home base of operations has characters who slowly reveal different things.

    I dunno, maybe I’m biased because I enjoyed the game (and the grinding levels was not completely lame to me, like mashing the X button constantly to just attack).

    I recommend this game for people who like RPGs, so long as you go into it knowing it’s going to require you to save often, save different files for backups, and actually plan a bit in advance for big boss battles or mid-boss battles.

    However, I don’t think Shamus would like it much, considering him and I disagreed on “Final Fantasy XII”. But he could definitely enjoy lampooning it if he really does hate it, heh,

  26. Tofu says:

    I thought the video was pretty cool, back when I first saw it.

    I dunno, bizarre openings are part of the appeal of the SMT games. I haven’t played DDS, but Persona 3 was awesome, and it starts with an equally confusing opening. You have to dig a little to understand what’s going on (generally your characters know as little as you did).

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *


Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>