Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 Innocent Sin Review
Ahh Persona. The good old days where you interact with your school friends, something out of the world happened, and you find yourself fighting monsters which out of the blue, emerged into your world. Welcome to the world of Persona, where consciousness and unconsciousness are turned upside down and your sense of reality is altered.
Anyway yes, I’m talking about Persona, a series of games professional at mixing demon/supernatural elements with real world settings. The Persona franchise had really been doing well these days. They had certainly went through a long road, from a game which hardly everyone even heard of, to now, where they had practically risen to one of the top JRPGs. This all started ever since the release of Persona 3 and 4, more and more spin-offs, drama CDs and merchandise had been released then, and even those haven’t been enough to fuel the fame of Persona’s franchise, until the release of Persona 3 Portable, and now, a remake of the original PS1 Persona 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 Innocent Sin on the PSP. The question is, how will it fare against the other Persona games released? Is it inferior? Is it superior? That is what we will be finding out.
You play as Tatsuya Suou, a popular 3rd Year high school student. The city he lives at, has become cursed. Any rumor, no matter how impossible, becomes a reality as long as there are enough people believing in it. At the center of all these mysteries, is a figure who called himself ‘Joker’, who can be summoned by chanting his name and calling your own cellphone. Because of an incident, Tatsuya Suou and his friends, Lisa Silverman, Eikichi Mishina, Yukino Mayuzumi and Maya Amano then began their quest in investigating this mysterious figure who called himself Joker, and in doing so, dug up hidden memories they long since forgotten..
The plot can be serious, and at times, funny, and at times downright ridiculous especially towards the end of the game. The story isn’t particularly dull as a whole though and some of the character developments are emotionally touching. One problem I find out about the story is the pacing, it seems like the game doesn’t have a really lengthy script as the whole game can be finished in an approximated time of 20 to 30 hours, even with the incredibly slow pacing. And no.. there is no social links whatsoever.
The game plays pretty much like the original, just a bit more polished. Moving around the buildings are much more smoother. Most of the audio tracks are remixed and remastered in better quality (though you can select the original PS1 version if you want). The game also has new menus and character portraits. I could name a few more improvements but ultimately, the game retains most of the atmosphere of the original PS1’s Persona 2. There’s the map you use to navigate around the city, there’s the rumor system, and there’s the battle mechanics, which played more or less the same.
Comparing Persona 2’s to the other Persona instalments, Persona 2’s battle mechanics are more similar to Revelations: Persona then their predecessors. Once again, you can engage in a conversation with the demons, and is certainly one of the main focus of the battles. The demons have four parameters, or emotions, if you will, which can be filled, by hitting in that direction three times. Doing so will yield pretty interesting results. The four emotions are Happy, Scared, Eager and Anger. Each demons have a different personality and the characters you used to interact them will also play big part in it too. Each character has a total set 4 actions to perform when engaging in a conversation, and each of them have their own unique actions. You can select multiple characters and initiate the demon with a group of 2 and 3, most of these lead to pretty humorous conversations at times. Selecting which characters to initiate the conversation is very important as it will affect the emotions for the demons. If they are happy, they will make a pact with you, if they are scared, they will run away, if they are angered, they will fight you and if they are eager, they will give you tarot cards. The latter is of the utmost importance since the cards can be used to summon even new and stronger Personas.
The fusion spells make a return, which would later be replaced by Persona 3 and 4’s All Out Attack. The former is more fun though, it reminds me of Suikoden where you can combine with other characters to form a collaborated attack, not like Persona 3 and 4 where their perception of collaboration is just an all out full frontal assault. The latter is still based on the stats and strength of the character’s equipped weapon so upgrading weapons is still a pretty important task. In Persona 2, buying weapon isn’t really a necessity, at least, not much focus is needed in the weapon department. Most of the fusion spell relies on the Int stats and the fact that SP can be regenerated just by moving along provides an even more of a reason to be using magic rather then physicals. With that being said, it is recommended that the MC went for a full magical build. In doing so, he can easily destroy any enemies that come in his path with just one or two shots from his magic.
The audio department is very good. And yes, I played the undubbed version so I was able to enjoy the voice acting to the fullest. There isn’t a lot of voice acting in the game, only some parts during the battle are voiced, but even limited, I enjoyed them. Tatsuya Suou is voiced by the one and only Takehito Koyasu! (who voiced characters like Ryousuke from Initial D). I really love his rendition on Tatsuya Suou. His calm, husky voice really gives Suou the outlook of a badass, just from the voice alone. Lisa and Michael’s voice actor did a fine job as well, though the way Lisa’s voice actor pronounce all those Cantonese words are pretty awkward, yet that awkwardness fit in well with Lisa’s character as a partially Cantonese wannabee and a martial artist fan. It’s only here that I noticed that the character for Chie in Persona 4 isn’t 100% original as some of her concept are from Lisa’s as well. Sad thing that the ending is still in English dubbed though..
Last but not least, there’s the rumor system as well. Rumors played a big part in the game, both in the story, and in the gameplay. By talking with certain rumor-mongers NPCs around the city, you can make the rumors come true, by enlisting the help of a certain detective, who will help you to spread the rumors, not free of charge of cause. By doing this, it will caused various effects to your overall gameplay. Players which used the rumor system well will be able to obtain new equipments, discounted prices, optional quests, altered maps, and so on.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 Innocent Sin had been a pretty fun game though for my final verdict, I would say the game falls a few steps short of it’s predecessors, Persona 3 and 4. The game is still great though and gamers new to the Persona franchise could take up this game first as well. I hope Atlus would make a PSP remake out of Eternal Punishment too though I will try not to be too hopeful..