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Persona 2


Persona 2 (ペルソナ2, Perusona Tsū?) is a two-part series of Japanese console role-playing games for the Sony PlayStation, developed by Atlus. Innocent Sin (, Tsumi?) and Eternal Punishment (, Batsu?) are two chapters of the same storyline. Atlus did not localize Innocent Sin for release outside of Japan. The duology is a direct sequel to the first installment of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series, Revelations: Persona, with several characters from that title playing various roles, both minor and major, in both games.
Set in the fictional metropolis of Sumaru City, Innocent Sin follows a high school student named Tatsuya Suou. Eternal Punishment, which takes place afterwards, switches focus onto Maya Amano, a young magazine editor. Both characters have near-death experiences which transport them to the realm of Philemon, an astral being who exists outside of the waking world. Philemon grants them the ability to summon a Persona, an alter-ego which manifests as a mythological figure.
Unlike other Atlus' older games, which are traditionally restricted to a first-person viewpoint, Persona 2 is seen from a third-person perspective.Several game elements, particularly the characters Philemon and Nyarlathotep, are drawn directly from the writings by Carl Jung and H. P. Lovecraft.
Although the Playstation version of Innocent Sin never received an official localization (but received a fan-translated English patch on October 15, 2008) in North America, the PSP version will be officially released Fall 2011.
As Persona 2 begins, strange things are afoot at Seven Sisters High School. The school's emblem has been cursed, and students are suffering from unusual, disfiguring ailments. Meanwhile, a dangerous new trend is spreading: teens are using their cell phones to summon Joker, a mysterious figure who might make your dreams a reality, or sap your soul and leave you a shadow of your former self. And on top of it all, any rumor that spreads to enough people in Sumaru City inexplicably becomes true. The pieces that make up the story's puzzle are interesting--ancient Mayans, aliens, and Adolf Hitler are all involved--but the story doles out new information much too slowly to make you feel invested in the early happenings. The shallow character sketches of somber Tatsuya, intense Michel, lovelorn Lisa, and the other party members aren't enough to make their quest feel personal or involving at first, and it's far too many hours into the game before you start learning more about this unlikely team of heroes. When you do, though, the characters reveal themselves to have fascinating connections, both to each other and to the events in which they're embroiled.



Persona 2
Persona2isbox.JPG
Persona2ep.jpg
Japanese box art for Persona 2: Innocent Sin
and North American box art for Eternal Punishment
Developer(s) Atlus
Publisher(s)
  • JP Atlus
  • NA Atlus U.S.A.(PSP)
  • EU Ghostlight (PSP)
Series Megami Tensei(Main)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
(Sub-series)
Platform(s) Original
PlayStation
Remake

PlayStation Portable
Release date(s) Innocent Sin
PlayStation

  • JP June 24, 1999
PlayStation Portable
  • JP April 14, 2011
  • NA September 20, 2011
  • EU TBA 2011
Eternal Punishment
PlayStation

  • JP June 29, 2000
  • NA November 30, 2000
Genre(s) RPG
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) Innocent Sin(PSP)
  • CERO: B
  • ESRB: T
Eternal Punishment
  • ESRB: T
Media/distribution Original
CD-ROM
Remake

Universal Media Disc


Gameplay

Persona 2's environments composed on 3-dimensional maps, with characters represented by animated bitmap sprites. The camera follows the party from an angled overhead perspective which can be rotated in 8 cardinal directions. The game's main party holds up to five people. Whenever the party is in a "safe" area (i.e. a room with no demon encounters), each party member can be conversed with. In dungeon mode, all party members besides the player character (Tatsuya or Maya) vanish, and only reappear during battle sequences. Player can trace their steps by using the Auto-Map, a basic floor plan of the current dungeon. As the main character moves around, the map will automatically mark new areas.
In addition to standard equipment, each character can equip one Persona apiece; In doing so, the character combines his/her attributes with the Persona, along with its innate strengths or weaknesses. Characters will also be able to cast any magic spells that are available in that Persona's attack list. Each party member starts out with a default Persona, though they can obtain new ones at the Velvet Room, a ghostly ballroom which is accessible from any point of the city (as well as in certain dungeons). To acquire a Persona, players must first gather Tarot cards by enticing demons during battles (see Contacting demons), then exchange those cards in the Velvet Room.
When a new Persona is obtained, it starts out at Rank 1. By summoning the Persona in battle (casting spells), it will increase in Rank and learn new magic. A Persona's Tarot class dictates which character will have a high "affinity" with it. A Persona equipped on someone with good affinity will consume less SP (Spirit Point, a substitution for Magic Point) than on a character with bad affinity.
The Rumor system, which ties into the plotline, is an important function in Persona 2. The player can collect/exchange rumors thorough the game by interacting with Rumormongers, non-playable characters who inhabit nearly every district of the city.Once the party hears a rumor, it will not take effect until they visit the Kuzunoha Detective Agency and speak to its boss, Todoroki Daisuke. For a fee, Todoroki will spread the rumor, which will result in it becoming real. Rumors usually involve stores becoming fronts for black market weapons or armor, but the effects can vary depending on random chance. Players often have a choice of two or more possible outcomes for a rumor.
Combat

Three Personae join forces to cast a Fusion Spell
Battles in Persona 2 are initiated by random encounters; this switches the action to a battle screen, where party members physically attack, use Persona Magic, defend, or run away. The grid-based battle system from Revelations: Persona is abandoned; instead, party members and enemy units act in the same phase of a turn, rather than being restricted by their placement on the field. The party earns yen from battles, which is required to buy goods in the city.
The "Battle" command initiates the fight once the player is ready. The battle sequence is based upon the commands entered in the strategy menu. If Battle Mode is set to Normal, battle rounds will occur one continuous sequence, which only ceases if the player cancels it. If set to Single, the Strategy menu reappears at the start of each round. Using the menu, the player can change the actions of the party, adjust the sequence in which each party member will act (at the expense of waiting until the slower characters have moved), and switch to another Persona. When a character loses all their Hit Points (HP), he or she is knocked out. If all characters fall in battle, the game ends and must be restored from a previous saved game.
A secondary function of the Strategy menu is to align characters to trigger a Fusion Spell. When two or more party members use a certain sequence of spells, they will automatically summon multiple Personae to generate a powerful attack.
Unlike the later games in the series, both Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment have Earth and Water elements - Magna and Aqua are their spells. Also, Bufu and Zio spells only come in their single varieties.


Contacting demons


Ulala attempts to Contact a demon
In Persona, most demons can be negotiated with, rather than fought. The purpose of the Contact option is to talk to a demon and elicit a response. When the Contact option is selected, a menu appears which prompts the player to choose up to three party members who will talk to the demon; the chosen character(s) then approach the enemy and make an attempt to converse. After their short speech, the demon will react by becoming joyful, interested, fearful or angry. Once a certain reaction is provoked three times, the demon will either offer friendship or be repelled by the party. Results vary depending on who participates; up to three party members can perform a Contact together, usually affecting the dialog.
When you're not exploring one of the game's many dungeons, you move about the modern-day Japanese metropolis of Sumaru City on a map. Here, one of your most important occupations is gathering rumors from homeless people, fortune-tellers, and other rumormongers and employing the services of a detective agency to spread them, making them come true. But these aren't exciting rumors about buried treasure or even juicy high school gossip about who's dating whom; these are rumors about shops selling weapons and armor. You might get a hot tip that one shop sells poor weapons for cheap, for instance, or that another has high-quality armor, but the prices are high. Collecting and spreading these rumors is a dull process, and it's one you need to engage in repeatedly to have equipment that suits your party's level.
A demon surrounded by a green light is "Happy"; if at least one party member has reached an experience level equal to or above that of the demon, it will propose to forge a Demon Contract. "Interest" is hinted at by a yellow light and an "!" mark over the demon's head; an interested demon will hand over Tarot cards. A demon surrounded by a blue light indicates "Fear"; if the demon is frightened repeatedly, it will flee in terror. Finally, a demon surrounded by a red light indicates "Anger"; a furious demon will gain a preemptive attack on the party, and it will be impossible to Contact it any further in the same fight.
If the party has a Demon Contract with a specific demon, they can ask it for an item, some yen, a rumor, or to spread a rumor (demon rumors make navigating the current dungeon easier). If the party is too weak in level, the demon will compensate by healing the party or handing over some yen. In addition to their respective Tarot cards, "Interested" demons will hand over Free Tarot cards if a Contract already exists. Free cards can be taken to the Velvet Room and changed to any arcana of Tarot card. Contracts will be broken if the player makes the same demon scared or angry in a later battle.
Tedious, repetitive gameplay makes even inherently suspenseful situations like this one fall flat. As you explore a location, you're interrupted after every several steps by a random encounter with demons. The frequency of these encounters drags down the pace of the game, and the tiresome, menu-driven nature of the combat makes the battles a chore. At the start of an encounter, you can opt either to do battle with the demons or to attempt to communicate with them. Each member of your party has four different ways of making contact with these creatures. Tatsuya can "do impressions" and "discuss manliness," among other things, while Yukki has the abilities to "reason" and to "take photo" in her repertoire. If you say or do the right things, demons give you tarot cards, which you need in order to summon new personas. Initially, it's fun to see how demons respond to your different communication techniques, but it quickly stops being interesting. Once you learn that you can make a cockatrice hand over tarot cards by using Maya's "compliment" ability or that you can please a puck with Lisa's "kung fu" demonstration, the mystery is gone, and successful contact becomes a matter of just selecting an effective technique from the list again and again.
Of course, you don't want to talk your way out of every potential fight; you need to get experience killing things so that you can kill the tougher things you encounter later on. In battle, you can use physical attacks or call on your personas to cast spells that harm your enemies or benefit your party. As you use a persona, it gradually ranks up, giving you access to more spells. And some personas can work together to cast fusion spells, which, in addition to being powerful, are accompanied by attractive character portraits that depict the participating heroes with their hair blowing dramatically in the wind. But, like communicating with demons, battling them is generally a simple, repetitive matter of selecting the same effective options from menus again and again, and because these encounters happen with such frequency, this process quickly becomes a drag. You also have the option of triggering auto-battle, which makes the characters keep repeating your last selected actions until either the battle is over or you interrupt, but this option doesn't speed up the action. You still have to wait for every animation to play out, which is frustrating when you're tired of combat and just want to move on.

Plot

Setting

The story takes place in Sumaru City, a fictional metropolis (city designated by government ordinance) with a population over 1.28 million in modern-day Japan. Once the main story begins, the city becomes cursed; any rumor that reaches enough people will inexplicably come true. Sumaru City is navigated via an aerial view map. The party uses the map to visit each district as they become available. Each district has key locations to visit, as well as a shopping mall where the party can converse with locals and visit restaurants or shops, as well as the Velvet Room. There is always at least one Rumormonger stationed in each mall.
The city is the place to spend yen that the party has earned from winning battles. Most stores feature traditional role-playing game elements, such as a tanning salon which restores Hit Points, or a designer clothing store which sells armor. The "Satomi Tadashi" chain of pharmacies sells basic consumable items and is present throughout the game world.

Characters

Innocent Sin

Persona 2: Tsumi (Innocent Sin) begins a few years after the events of the first Persona. Yukino is a returning playable character from Revelations: Persona, and is therefore already familiar with demons and Personae. Maya, on the other hand, only has vague recollections of her Persona, believing it to be a guardian angel that appeared when she was a little girl.
The six playable characters are Tatsuya Suou, a student at Seven Sisters High School; Lisa Silverman, a popular caucasian girl and fellow student of Tatsuya; Eikichi Mishina, wannabe musician and self-professed "Gang Leader" of Kasugayama High School; Maya Amano, optimistic editor for a teen magazine; Yukino Mayuzumi, Maya's co-worker and a survivor of Revelations: Persona; and Jun Kurosu, son of a teacher who met a grisly death inside the school.
The silent protagonist of the game is Tatsuya Suou. His path intertwines with those of two other students, Eikichi and Lisa, during an encounter with the Joker, a jester-like antagonist who is rumored to grant the wishes of people who dial their own cell phone number. Anyone who fails to tell Joker their wishes, either because they lack one or refuse to tell, has their "ideal energy" stolen, reducing them to ambition-less shells called Shadow Selves. Joker tells the three students that they did something horrible to him in the past, and is angered when they do not recognize him. Swearing revenge and wielding an odd Crystal Skull, he departs, leaving the trio confused and eager to investigate the Joker. Later on they make a point of saying that Tatsuya and the Master Joker look alike...

Eternal Punishment

Although this game picks up a few months after its predecessor, it is set in a parallel world where the events of the Innocent Sin did not happen. All of the characters from Innocent Sin are present, but they do not know each other. The central character this time is Maya, who reverts to a silent protagonist much like Tatsuya in the previous game. There are a total of seven playable characters, although two of them can not be recruited at the same time. They are Nate Nanjou and Ellen Kirishima, two returning playable characters from Revelations: Persona.
New faces include Katsuya Suou, a by-the-book homicide investigator and older brother to Tatsuya; Ulala Serizawa (seen in Innocent Sin), Maya's lonely roommate who has a checkered history with men; and Baofu, a seedy criminal with veiled motives. The final character is Tatsuya, the sole person left who remembers what happened during the previous storyline. The plot of Eternal Punishment provides scattered flashbacks and references to both Revelations and Innocent Sin.
Maya, an editor for fictional teen magazine Coolest, is caught up in the investigation of a bizarre series of murders committed by a serial killer known as the "JOKER". Victims reportedly receive a note stating "You're next!" from the JOKER before they die. While covering an assignment at Seven Sisters High School, a grisly murder brings Maya, her roommate, and a Police Detective together to solve the mystery of the JOKER murders.


EX Dungeon

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment features a special mode called "EX Dungeon", which is independent of the main game. Approximately halfway into the game, the player is given the choice of allowing one of two characters, Nate or Ellen, to join the party (both are returning characters from Revelations: Persona). The EX Dungeon is made available only after the player has beaten the game twice via a New Game +, completing both Nate and Ellen's routes. Utilizing the save file on the player's memory card, all Persona data, items, equipment, and character experience levels are transferred into EX Mode. A great deal of this dungeon is devoted to references from Innocent Sin.
The PSP version introduces a movie theater you can visit to play two new side quests, so those who imported the original PlayStation release will find some new content here. But Innocent Sin wasn't hurting for content to begin with. The main story lasts a few dozen hours on its own, and there's no shortage of side quests you can complete that offer significant rewards for your party. But despite its length, the $40 price for a 10-year-old game whose visuals and mechanics make it a relic of a bygone era is much too steep. Diehard fans of the Persona series who are eager to experience every chapter in the saga might find that their enthusiasm enables them to overlook Innocent Sin's dated design, but those who are just in the market for a fun and satisfying RPG are much better off going with one of the more recent entries in the series. Though we might sometimes yearn to turn back the clock, we can't relive our teenage years, and we can't go back to 1999, when Persona 2: Innocent Sin was an exciting example of what an RPG could be.

Watch Persona 2 video trailer.

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