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Venatus Grata- SMT: Persona Review

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona for the PSP. Developer: Atlus, Publisher: Atlus ESRB: M

Over the years, I’ve closely followed the evolution of most console role playing games. From 1989’s Dragon Warrior on the NES, and the release of Final Fantasy the following year, I’ve seen several humble releases develop into gargantuan, sequeled franchises. One RPG sequence I didn’t follow from commencement was the Shin Megami Tensei series and its subsequent spinoffs, which caught my attention with the release of its two critically-acclaimed entries, Persona 3 and 4. The popularity of the series has created a large demand for the game’s original North American entry- Revelations:  Persona. I’ve watched the 1996 Playstation title skyrocket in price, as newcomers to the series were anxious to explore the game’s roots.

While most players would be happy with a port of the celebrated game to PSP screens, developer Atlus has taken several arduous, additional steps to reinvigorate the celebrated title. CG cutscenes have been added, and the game’s soundtrack has been skillfully reimagined under the supervision of series composer, Shoji Meguro. More importantly, the title’s localization has been revamped in an effort to make sure Shin Megami Tensei: Persona is faithful to its Japanese roots.

Gamers fatigued from role-playing games’ reliance upon the medieval, Dungeon and Dragons archetype will likely adore Persona’s contemporary setting, where players explore metropolitan schools and offices, instead of the customary caves and cellars. At the game begins, a persistent rumor circulates around the St. Hermelin School stating that those who engage in the ‘Persona’ game have the ability to foresee the future. As expected, a group of impetuous teens tests the legend, and inherits the ability to summon personae- spirits, monsters, and mythological gods. Simultaneously, a Pandora’s Box of demons begins proliferating around the neighboring metropolis, requiring the group to cleanse the city of its malevolency.

The game employs a variety of perspectives to showcase the proceedings, and to prevent the onset of any visual fatigue. The game’s overworld map shows highrises, parks, and other destinations of interest from an elevated outlook. Once the player enters a structure, the game displays in the interiors in a first-person perspective, as the group explores the building’s labyrinthine hallways. Finally, individual rooms and battles are shown in an isometric perspective.

Persona’s most interesting contribution is its ability to communicate with a group of foes, before charging into a fracas. Each team member of the player’s party has several unique ways of expressing themselves, all succinctly illustrated in the title’s Contact menu. If gamers are successful in charming a foe, the antagonist may stand entranced, attack his brethren, or even relinquish a card, which can be used to synthesize new Personae. Soothing the title’s savage beasts isn’t easy, and the imprudent player may infuriate a monster, adding to the opponent’s offensive stats.

When that happens, the game opts for some old-fashioned, grid-based combat, where your team confronts the maladjusted monsters. Players may use melee weapons, firearms, or their newly acquired Personas to battle the beasts. Players must carefully plan their attacks, as some foes may be beyond the span of a team member’s melee attack range. Combat is plentiful along the demon-plagued corridors of the game, but the title rewards the player accordingly.

Although some of Persona’s visuals have been devotedly renovated- from the efficient menus to the game’s support for the PSP’s widescreen display, the title still shows its Clinton-era roots.  Gamers accustomed to ostentatious battle animations may be slightly disappointed by the lack of fluidity and detail of Persona’s sprites. For many players, the game’s vibrant J-Pop soundtrack should compensate for any graphical grievances. No such fix has been made for the game’s quirky isometric controls; aligning your avatar with a NPC can be slightly troubling.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
will be available on September 22nd, at both retailers and via the Playstation Store. We recommend that RPG aficionados grab the game through brick-and-mortar outlets, so they can revive the game’s well-crafted soundtrack as a free bonus. Either way, series fans will appreciate the amount of care that went into the restoration and enhancement of this landmark RPG.
Hopefully, the title will be successful enough to warrant a equally accomplished revival of the two Persona 2 titles.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

45 comments

  1. Great review. I’ll probably preorder it this week.

  2. Excellent. But what the hell does your title mean?

  3. I’m so glad they are bringing this out. I almost payed $70 for a copy of the original game.

  4. What’s the price on this one? Looking forward to the game.

  5. One of my favorite RPG series. Glad to se Atlus didn’t muff up the game.

  6. Not really into RPG, but this review made it sound very interesting. Reminds me of a horror movie- teenagers opening the gates of hell and all that.

  7. Anyone that hasn’t played the series, should start with this game. I’ve played through it three times already, and will pick this one up.

    Great review.

  8. Are the kid fighting demons on a basketball court? epic!

  9. Hows the translation? Typical Atlus-quality?

  10. Does this have the dating games from P4?

  11. I think it’s Latin for wanted game. Maybe a variation off Persona(non) grata, which is an unwanted person.

  12. My friends have always tried to get me into these games. For some reason wearing chain mail and casting spells is more appealing to me.

  13. Whats up with the Hilter ‘stache on the good doctor. lol!

  14. You had me at Shin Megami Tensei!

  15. Walker Texas Rapist

    A PSN ps1 version would have been better; they we could have played it on our PS3.

  16. He look more like my uncle than Der Fuhrer.

  17. No need for this as I have the original (gloats)

  18. I’ve heard good things about the games. I may have to bite the bullet!

  19. Ding, ding, ding!

    We have a winner!

  20. Awesome review. $40 seems a bit much for me, though.

  21. Very good. Communicating with some of the demons made me actually LOL.

  22. This game is really $40? How much did it sell for originally?

  23. loved the forth game. for some reason I never picked up any others.

  24. Where’s the African-American character? Why they gotta take the Black man out 😉

  25. $40 with two disks is good, but $40 for a DLC game and no soundtracks is garbage.

  26. They actually added him to the US version, and now port if faithful to the original.

  27. Great review. I don’t like waiting three weeks though!

  28. Don’t order champagne in the Velvet Room! I want to know if the fixed the random battles. You’d get his every 5 step in the PS1 version.

  29. this ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  30. Good review. Putting my money on this.

  31. It seems like the reviewers are under a spell causing them to love all Atlus and NIS games.

  32. Why is it rated “M”!?!

  33. A definite rental for me.

  34. Atlus games will fall after a while. I’ll hit the stores at the $20-$30 mark.

  35. There’s come cussing and violence.

  36. Forget Persona 2, let’s see 3 on the PSP!

  37. Haha. I think it’s just DE is a RPG fan.

  38. Great review. I can’t wait for this one. I really want the soundtrack disks, so I’ll probably preorder.

  39. I must be in the big minority here. I love JRPGs, but J-Pop, I can’t stand. Last thing I need is the endless repetition of cutesy lyrics over and over.

  40. Joystiq basically confirmed Persona 3 stateside. I’m gonna wait for that one.

  41. Mother Nature is a MILF

    Really? Have a link?

  42. I will probably be getting this at Lamestop.

  43. Is this the series where the Japanese kids shoot themselves in the head? Sign me up!

  44. definitely want this, but at a lower price point I think

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