Friday, October 10, 2014

Video Game Review: Persona Retrospective: Persona (PSP) Part 1: Welcome to the Velvet Room

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One of my personal favorite series of games is the Mega-ten franchise, more specifically the Persona series. This sub series of games focus on themes of Jungian philosophy, self-discovery and realization, the strength of bonds gained from those close to you, and that every person has the power to change themselves. Of course when you just look at the series in a mechanics sense Mega-Ten games are basically Pokemon only with an actual plot, only instead of Pikachu you can summon the Devil!
Pika, Pika mortals!
Instead of what can be considered legalized cock fights you instead control demons and various mythological figures to fight against creatures of pure darkness and negativity. Sounds like fun right? Well it sounds better then anything Square Enix crapped out in recent years regarding Final Fantasy. Now for us to start off at the beginning. Now I won't be covering the original American release of Persona 1 known as Revolations Persona since, well A: I didn't play it when I was younger and B and this is the important one; B: the original localization team took a chainsaw to everything! They pretty much went out of their way to make this as "American" as possible, name changes, dialogue, the whole nine yards. They even resorted to putting one character in black-face, I'm not going to show it for obvious reasons but look up Masao Inaba and see for yourself. Basically they Lolcolized the ever loving crap out of this game, and I refuse to give that version the time of day.
Unclean heathen, you dare to refuse the generosity of American publishers sparing your pure American mind from foreign influence? That's it, I want you out of my country right now, In America! Now if you'll excuse me I'm going back to the most American place on earth, In Columbia!
Wow, I was wondering what happened to that guy, anyway I'm going to be talking about the PSP re-release that came out in 2009. And because it was on PSP it's now on the Vita! Now for the game itself, we open on a classroom in St. Hermelin High School in the town of Mikage-cho where seven friends are discussing whether they believe in a rumor called the Persona game which apparently would allow people who participated in the ritual to be able to see their futures or other similar phenomena. Now for me to introduce seven out of our nine heroes in the order of their introduction. The first is Masao Inaba nicknamed Mark.
Oh hai Mark.
Yeah I'll just be using the characters nicknames for this recap in order to make it easier for me. Markey Mark here is the lighthearted class clown of the group. The person who instigated this event is Hidehiko Uesugi aka Brown.
He could be this universe's Kamen Rider Blade judging by that shirt.
He's also more of a joker then Mark and a bit more smug but he does have a good heart. Next is Yuka Ayase.
I don't like her.
Why? I'll get to why later, she's an air headed Kogal who can get more then a little annoying. For those of you wondering what exactly a Kogal is. Well, think of them as Japan's answer to valley girls and you'll be close enough. Next is Eriko Kirishima aka Elly.
Coming down the isle showing our new school fall lineup!
Elly is a rich girl who returned from studying over seas in America for most of her life. She has a calm, lady like grace and elegance to her, along with an interest in the occult, and she's one of the most popular girls in St. Hermelin High. Next is Kei Nanjo.
Screw the meme I have a Persona!
Nanjo is the heir to the Nanjo group, a group of various corporations. Due to him being a bit of a rich brat he tends to be more of a cold, logical thinker, have some of an heir of arrogance to him, and tends to be the stick in the mud of the group. Next is Yukino Mayuzumi.
If you need help, just call me.
She's a former yankī who is trying to reform with help from the groups teacher, Saeko Takumi. Yukino is often seen as a big sister to most of the student body.
No, but that would make her even more awesome.
She still does her best to look out for people and help where she can in her own way. And finally there's our main hero. Like most main heroes in the franchise he's a silent protagonist and you can give him whatever name you want. But for the purpose of this retrospective I will be using the name given to him in the Manga. This is Naoya Tōdō aka Naorin.
Anything you want to say to the audience? Nope? Okie dokie then.
As we go through the game we get to see this guy develop by his interaction with the rest of the cast and certain choices he makes during the journey. As for the other two heroes, we'll get to them later. Our heroes are attempting the Persona game ritual with Nanjo and Yukino choosing to stay out of the proceedings as they find it to be just bunk. Mark thinks it's bunk too but decides to participate due to a bet between him and Brown. Ayase and Elly side with Brown while you can choose to side with Brown thinking the Persona game is real; or you could side with Mark thinking this is a joke. For this we'll go with Brown since we know what'll happen next. The ritual goes like this, four participants in each of the four corners of a room facing inward, with the rest of the participants standing inside the room. One of the people in the corners will shout out something along the lines of "Persona, Persona, Please come here." (The come here part varies with each speaker). Then the first person walks to the right, till they're standing by the second person in a corner. Then that person repeats that action, ending up near the third and so on. The game ends when the fourth person reaches the spot the first was positioned at the start of the game.At first the group think that the game was a hoax, but they turn to see a small girl that wasn't there before.
No, not that one.
This one actually doesn't want to kill you instead she cries asking for help when all of a sudden lightining fills the room and hits Yukino, Nanjo, Mark and Naorin, knocking them unconscious. They're then transported through a tunnel of gears and whatnot where the eventually meet this guy.
    
After you answer his question Philemon grants you with the power of Persona, he explains that Persona is the power to access the various other "Selfs" that reside within them, the selfs suffused with divine love, the selfs that are capable of demonic cruelty. All of these various forms of the self can be accessed through the power of Persona. For this and the next two installments of the franchise Philemon mostly acts the role of the mentor, guiding the heroes to their next objectives, teaching them about the enemies they face, and how to access greater power. For now he says that they will need the power soon and that they should return to their proper place and time. Good advice, I'll get back to you next time where we discuss the last two members of the party, the setting, the enemies and the annoyance that is the EXP system.

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Shin Megami Tensai Persona is owned by Atlus and Sega.
Yugioh is owned by Konami, Kazuki Takahashi, Toei Animation, Shonen Jump and Viz Media.
The Ring is owned by Dreamworks Pictures, Benderspink and Parkes/MacDonald Productions
Bioshock 2 is owned by Take2 interactive, 2K Marin, and 2K Australia