Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

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Nerroth
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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

Postby Nerroth » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:33 am

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona is a series of Japanese RPGs (and other games, novels, and other related works) originally developed by ATLUS Japan, which is presented in the West by Atlus USA. Originally spun off from the broader Shin Megami Tensei franchise, the Persona series of games has been one of the rare cases where a derivative has become as well renowned, of not more so, than its progenitor.

Persona started off in the West as the PS1 game Revelations: Persona, which has more recently been re-mastered and made available on the PlayStation Portable as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. It was followed by a two-part story arc, Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. (the localization history of Persona 2 has been somewhat disjointed. In the PS1 days, only the second half of the saga, Eternal Punishment, was brought to Western audiences; the original Innocent Sin was passed over for localisation to Europe or North America at the time. More recently, both titles have also recieved PSP do-overs; but of those, only Innocent Sin has been picked up at this point, with the fate of Eternal Punishment's remake as yet uncertain.)

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However, the real kick-start the franchise needed came in the PlayStation 2 era, when Persona 3 was first released. A radical re-vamping of the concepts behind the series (which I'll get to shortly), P3 became a very popular game in its genre, spawning a "director's cut" edition (Persona 3 FES), a handheld adaptation which added the option of playing as a female protagonist (Persona 3 Portable), and set the tone for how the series woudl progress going forward.

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The latest numbered Persona title has been Persona 4, which was originally released in the fading years of the PS2, and has in 2012 been re-mastered (and extended) in Persona 4 Golden, a game which currently sits at the top of Metacritic's list of Vita games released outside of Japan (with an average score of 94 percent based on 28 critic reviews, which puts it at the top table of games released in North America for any platform in 2012.)

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Among the many adaptations and extensions that P4 itself has generated in its own right, to include an anime adaptation and a light novel spinoff for one of its major characters, one of the more prominent is Persona 4 Arena; a 2D fighting game co-created by Arc System Works (who do their own BlazBlue fighters based on similar design principles) which won the VGA award for Best Fighting Game of 2012. (Unfortunately, it's also the first game to be region-locked for the PS3, due to a directive handed down from Atlus' parent organization in Japan; sparking a controversy that the game didn't deserve to suffer.)

In the longer run, Atlus Japan's Team Persona are said to be working on a Persona 5, though no details have been revealed about it just yet.

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But what is the big deal with Persona, anyway?

At its heart, Persona is about facing one's self. In this world, each person has a Shadow; a subconscious echo of their minds which, in more mundane circumstances, never boils to the surface. However, in certain special circumstances (such as being cast into an alternate "shadow world"), these Shadows cam make themselves manifest. Only by facing one's self - the fears, repressed feelings, forlorn hopes, or self-delusions - that coalesce in the form of one's own Shadow can one transcend these failings and acquire one's Persona.

Typically, each person who manages to face their true selves in this manner acquires a Persona of a given Tarot Arcana, based on whichever facet of the deck most reflect that individual. Some manifest a persona of the Strength Arcana, or the priestess, or the Hierophant, and so on. (They can also draw from different myths and legends in their manifestation; from Greek figures like Orpheus to Japanese entities such as Izanagi, or at least in the forms that the Persona user's subconscious might envision them as.) Rare as these Persona-users are, rarer still are those who carry the power of the Wild Card; those with the power to draw from multiple Arcana at once. It's no coincidence that Wild Card users tend to show up in Persona games as protagonists.

But then, life as a protagonist isn't all about what emerges from the sea of one's soul. There are still those day-to-day tasks of ordinary life to go through; going to school, finding a job, cooking food, hanging out with your friends, and so on and so forth. Indeed, in game terms, this side of life is critical; for users of the wild Card (from Persona 3 onwards) are able to form bonds called Social Links. By spending time with a person of a certain Arcana, the Wild Card user is able to strengthen the bonds which form between them, and in so doing increase their own ability to summon Personae of that Arcana. (To avoid seeming entirely mercenary in its approach, the point of the S-link progression is to benefit both parties involved; you're not supposed to be able to fake it.)

Or, if you'd rather be shown than told (or both shown and told), some of what I'm getting at can be seen in IGN's video review of P4G.

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In RPG terms, there is a lot of potential in the SMT:P series; both in terms of adapting pre-existing stories (particularly Persona 3 and Persona 4, both of which have handy visual guides published in English).

Alternatively, with a whole wide world to choose from outside of Tatsumi Port Island (the setting of P3) or Inaba (home of P4), one could envision books set in wholly new settings, with brand new characters, Personas, Shadows, and dramas to try and wrestle with!

In short, Persona has earned a name for itself as part of the very top tier of role-playing games you can interact with on a video game screen.

It might be a long shot to ask for, but I would argue that Persona could also make for a compelling setting in pen and paper format, too.

"I am thou...

Thou art I...

Thou hath opened thine eyes...

The time...

...is now!"
The above post is 100% unofficial.
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Mage
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Re: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

Postby Mage » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:07 am

I am very familiar with this series, the games are great, and I would love to see this done, absolutley love it.
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Nerroth
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Re: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

Postby Nerroth » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:27 pm

Not long ago, Atlus Japan (now under new management) announced that four new Persona-related titles will be coming out for various platforms - most notable of which being Persona 5 for PS3.

Today, Atlus USA confirmed that all 4 are heading to North America, though it remains to be seen what will happen for these games over in Europe.
The above post is 100% unofficial.
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Nerroth
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Re: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

Postby Nerroth » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:28 pm

For anyone here with an interest in this game series, the first gameplay trailer for Persona 5 was recently posted, while more info on the game has been posted here.
The above post is 100% unofficial.

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