Megami Tensei,[a] marketed internationally as Shin Megami Tensei (formerly Revelations), is a Japanese media franchise created by Kouji "Cozy" Okada, Kazuma Kaneko, Ginichiro Suzuki, and Kazunari Suzuki. Primarily developed and published by Atlus, and currently owned by Atlus (and Sega, after acquisition), the franchise consists of multiple subseries and covers multiple role-playing genres including tactical role-playing, action role-playing, and massively multiplayer online role-playing. The first two titles in the series were published by Namco (now Bandai Namco), but have been almost always published by Atlus in Japan and North America since the release of Shin Megami Tensei. For Europe, Atlus publishes the games through third-party companies.
The series was originally based on Digital Devil Story, a science fiction novel series by Aya Nishitani. The series takes its name from the first book's subtitle. Most Megami Tensei titles are stand-alone entries with their own stories and characters. Recurring elements include plot themes, a story shaped by the player's choices, and the ability to fight using and often recruit creatures (demons, Personas) to aid the player in battle. Elements of philosophy, religion, occultism, and science fiction have all been incorporated into the series at different times.
While not maintaining as high a profile as series such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, it is highly popular in Japan and maintains a strong following in the West, finding critical and commercial success. The series has become well known for its artistic direction, challenging gameplay, and music, but raised controversy over its mature content, dark themes, and use of Christian religious imagery. Additional media include manga adaptations, anime films, and television series. In Japan, some games in the series do not use the "Megami Tensei" title, such as the Persona sub-series. However, English localizations have used the "Shin Megami Tensei" moniker since the release of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne in 2003, with the exception of more recent Persona games. Most of the early games in the series were not localized due to them being on Nintendo platforms, which had strict guidelines about religious subjects and topics in the West at the time.