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Persona (series)

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For the video game of the same name, see Revelations: Persona.
Persona
Persona PSP logo.svg
The logo of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, the remake of the first game in the series. Each game uses its own font and styling.
Genres Role-playing, Social simulation
Developers Atlus
Publishers
Creators Kouji Okada, Kazuma Kaneko
Platforms Arcade, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
Platform of origin PlayStation
First release Revelations: Persona
  • JP September 20, 1996
  • NA December 1996
Latest release Persona 4: Dancing All Night
  • JP June 25, 2015
  • NA September 29, 2015
  • PAL November 6, 2015
Official website http://p-ch.jp/

Persona (ペルソナ Perusona?), formerly marketed in Western territories as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, is a series of role-playing video games developed and primarily published by Atlus. Other third-party companies such as Ghostlight and NIS America have published titles in Europe. The series is a spin-off from the developer's Megami Tensei franchise. The first entry in the series, Revelations: Persona (released in Japan as Megami Ibunroku Persona), was released in 1996, and since then there have been seven further entries (four main entries and three spin-off titles) not counting ports and mobile titles, with another two (one main and one spin-off) known to be in development. The series takes its title from the manifested aspects of a character's personality, which is summoned during battles.

The series began life as a spin-off based on the high school setting of Shin Megami Tensei if..., which had proved popular in Japan. The series' trademark features include a high school setting, a group of students as the protagonists, a silent protagonist similar to the mainline Megami Tensei franchise, and combat utilizing Personas. Since the release of Persona 3 in 2006, the series has also used a social simulation function called Social Links, which are directly linked to the gameplay. Central character designs have been done by series co-creator Kazuma Kaneko (Persona and the Persona 2 games) and Shigenori Soejima (Persona 3 onwards). The overall theme of the series is exploration of the human psyche and how the characters find their true selves. The series' recurring concepts and design elements draw on Jungian psychology and archetypes, along with multiple world mythologies and popular literature.

Revelations: Persona was the first role-playing Megami Tensei title to be released in the west, and beginning with Persona 2, the localizations have been notably faithful to the Japanese versions at the insistence of Atlus. The series is highly popular in Japan and the west, becoming the best-known Megami Tensei spin-off and helping establish Atlus and the Megami Tensei franchise in the west. Specific entries have earned both praise and controversy over their content and themes. Since the release of Persona, the series has sold six million units worldwide, forming a substantial part of the Megami Tensei franchise's total sales. Numerous adaptations have been made, including anime television and theatrical series, novelizations, manga and stage plays.

Titles[edit]

Main series[edit]

  • Persona 2: Innocent Sin is the second entry in the series, released in Japan in 1999.[1] After the success of Persona‍ '​s PSP port, a port of Innocent Sin was greenlit. For this version, the team made adjustments so that it played more like its sequel, along with added features and a new scenario.[7][8][9] The port was released in 2011 in all regions.[10][11][12]
  • Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is the third entry in the main series, released in 2000 in Japan and North America.[13][14] Like Innocent Sin, it was remade for PSP, and included a new scenario by the game's original writer.[15] Released in Japan in 2012, it was not released in the west. Instead, the original version was re-released on PlayStation Network (PSN) in 2013.[15][16]
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is the fourth entry in the main series. Developed for PlayStation 2 (PS2), it released in 2006 in Japan, 2007 in North America, and 2008 in Europe.[1][17][18] A director's cut featuring new content and an epilogue, Persona 3 FES, was released in 2007 in Japan and 2008 in North America and Europe.[19] The main portion of FES was later ported to the PSP as Persona 3 Portable: while it featured a few additions such as a female playable character and the ability to control all characters in battle, some content was adjusted or removed so it could fit on a portable platform.[20][21]
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is the fifth entry in the main series, released on the PS2 in 2008 in Japan and North America, and 2009 in Europe.[22][23][24] The success of Persona 3 Portable inspired the team to create a portable version of Persona 4. Reluctant to use the PSP again as they would need to cut content against their wishes like with Persona 3 Portable, the team instead developed the port for PlayStation Vita, which allowed them to add new features and content. This version was titled Persona 4 Golden.[21]

Spin-offs[edit]

Persona 3 received a spin-off online game titled Persona 3: The Night Before;[Jp. 1] it follows a similar cycle of daytime activities and night time combat as the original game, with one player being chosen as the party leader each night.[25] A fighting game sequel to Persona 4, Persona 4 Arena, was released in arcades in Japan in 2012.[26] Console versions were released in 2012 in Japan and North America, and 2013 in Europe.[27][28][29] A sequel, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, was similarly released in Japanese arcades in 2013, then released in 2014 in all regions.[30][31][32] A spin-off for the Nintendo 3DS, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, was released worldwide in 2014;[1] while a spin-off featuring the casts of Persona 3 and 4, it is classed by Atlus as an official entry in the Persona canon.[33] A rhythm game set after the events of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, was released worldwide in 2015.[34][35][36]

A number of Persona mobile games have been made by Atlus in partnership with other Japanese mobile companies such as Bbmf. Their first partnership was in 2006 with the development and release of Megami Ibunroku Persona: Ikuu no Tou Hen,[Jp. 2] a 3D dungeon crawler set within the environments of Persona.[37] The companies later collaborated on two mobile titles based on the Persona 2 games: Persona 2: Innocent Sin - Lost Memories[Jp. 3] in 2007, and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment - Infinity Mask[Jp. 4] in 2009. Both titles carried over the basic gameplay functions of the original games tailored for mobile phones.[38][39] Many mobile spin-offs are related to Persona 3: there is an RPG side-story titled Persona 3 Em,[Jp. 5] an action game prequel set ten years prior to Persona 3 titled Aegis: The First Mission,[Jp. 6] and an alternate version of Persona 3 featuring different characters titled Persona 3 Social.[Jp. 7] Multiple Persona 3-themed puzzle games have also been developed.[40][41][42][43][44][45] An online mobile RPG set around the high school featured in Persona 3, titled Persona Mobile Online,[Jp. 8] was released in 2009.[46] Persona 4 likewise received a mobile spin-off, this time a card game titled Persona 4 The Card Battle.[Jp. 9][47]

Common elements[edit]

Gameplay[edit]

Screenshot featuring an example of the series' staple turn-based battles against monsters called Shadows using Personas. The image is taken from Persona 4, which builds upon mechanics introduced in Persona 3.

The gameplay of the Persona series revolves around turn-based combat against various enemies (Demons, Shadows, Personas).[48][49][50][51] In Persona, the fighting takes place on a grid-based battlefield, with characters' and enemies' movements dictated by their placement on the battlefield.[49] This system was abandoned for the Persona 2 games, with characters instead being able to perform an action on any area of the battlefield. In the Persona 2 games, the party is assigned a set of moves, which can be changed in the menu during and in between battles.[52][53] For Persona 3 and 4, a key element in battle is the "One More Turn" option: should a party member or enemy land a critical hit, they gain an extra turn. If all enemies are knocked down by critical hits, the party can perform an "All Out Attack", with all party members attacking at once and dealing high damage.[51][54] In Persona 3, the party is controlled by an AI-based command system apart from the main character, while there is an option to manually control all characters in Persona 4.[55][51] In Persona and Persona 3, there is a lunar phase tied to gameplay, time progression, and the plot. In Persona 4, this was changed to a weather-based system, where changes in the weather keyed to the story affected enemy behavior.[56][57][51]

A defining aspect of the gameplay and series are Personas, manifestations of a person's inner psyche used in battle to attack enemies directly and cast a variety of spells.[58] Personas are generally inspired by Graeco-Roman mythology, while in Persona 4 they were based on Japanese deities.[59][60] For all these games, all characters start out with an initial Persona, which evolves through both story-based events and use during battle.[52][61][62] In multiple Persona titles, two or more Personas can be summoned at once to perform a powerful Fusion Spell.[52][53][62] In Persona 3 and 4, only the main character can wield and change between multiple Personas, while the other characters use only one.[61][63] During the course of the game, the party gain access to more Personas through a system of Skill Cards (tarot cards) representing a different Persona family. Two (later up to twelve) Personas can be fused together to create a new Persona with improved and inherited abilities.[49][52][61][63][64] The summoning ritual for Personas in battle varies throughout the series: in early games the party gain the ability to summon through a short ritual after playing a parlor game, in Persona 3 they fire a gun-like device called an Evoker at their head, while in Persona 4 they summon their Personas using Tarot Cards.[58]

A system introduced in Persona 3 is Social Links, a form of character interaction system tied to the Persona system. During their time outside battle, the main character can interact with and grow a particular Social Link, which acts as an independent level system tied to a Persona family or Arcanum. As the main character's relationship with the character representing a Social Link grows, its rank is raised and more powerful Personas related to the Social Link's assigned Arcanum can be summoned and fused.[54][63] Attributes related to the main character's social life can also be used to improve their Persona abilities.[61][63] An updated version of Social Links are to be featured in Persona 5.[48] In earlier games, there is also a Negotiation mechanic carried over from the Megami Tensei series, in which player characters can talk with enemies and provoke certain actions depending on their dialogue choices. Some responses yield Skill Cards for use in creating new Personas.[49][52] The specific Negotiation element was removed from later Persona titles, although Atlus staff considered the Social Link system and aspects of Persona Fusion to be a "disguised" version of it.[65]

Setting and themes[edit]

The Persona series takes place in modern day Japan, and almost always focuses on a group of high school students. The exception to this is Eternal Punishment, which instead focused on a group of adults.[58][66] The setting has been described as urban fantasy, with extraordinary events happening in otherwise normal locations.[67] The typical setting used is a city, with a noted exception being Persona 4, which takes place in a rural town.[66] While they are typically stand-alone titles that only share thematic elements, the Persona games share a continuity, with elements from previous titles turning up in later ones.[58][66] Persona and the Persona 2 games shared narrative elements which were concluded with Eternal Punishment, so Persona 3 started out with a fresh setting and characters.[68] The first in the series is Persona, set in the year 1996 CE. This is followed by the events of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment in 1999. At the end of Innocent Sin, the main characters rewrote events to avert the destruction of Earth, creating the Eternal Punishment reality, with the original reality becoming an isolated Other Side. Persona 3 and subsequent titles stem from Eternal Punishment‍ '​s continuity.[69][70] Persona 3 is set in 2009 to 2010, while Persona 4 is set two years later in 2011 to 2012. The Persona 4 Arena games and Dancing All Night take place in the months following Persona 4.[69][71][72] Persona Q takes place in a separate enclosed world which the characters of Persona 3 and 4 are drawn into from their respective time periods.[73] The main character of each Persona game is a silent protagonist, so they can represent the player: when the writer for new story content in Eternal Punishment‍ '​s PSP version wished for the character to have spoken dialogue, this was vetoed as it went against the series tradition.[74]

A central concept for the series is the Collective Unconscious, a place generated by the hearts of humanity and from which Personas are born.[69][70] According to the official Persona Club P3 book, the Collective Unconscious was generated by the primitive life on Earth as a means of containing the spiritual essence of Nyx, a space-born being whose presence would cause the death of all life on Earth. Her body was damaged by the impact and became the moon, while her psyche was left on the surface and locked away at the heart of the Collective Unconscious. The fragments of Nyx's psyche, known as "Shadows", both stand as a threat and a crucial part of humanity's existence. To further help defend against hostile Shadows, people generated the deities that exist within the Collective Unconscious, many of which manifest as Personas. Nyx appears in Persona 3 as the main antagonist.[75] Two recurring characters generated by the Collective Unconscious are Philemon and Nyarlathotep, the respective representatives of the positive and negative traits of humanity.[69] In Innocent Sin, it is stated that the two are engaged in a proxy contest as to whether humanity can embrace the contradictory feelings within them and find a higher purpose before destroying itself.[70] Philemon makes appearances in later Persona titles as a blue butterfly.[59] Another recurring location is the Velvet Room, a place where Philemon's agents, especially an enigmatic old man called Igor, aid the main characters by helping them hone their Persona abilities. The Velvet Room is a place between reality and unconsciousness, shifting form depending on the psyche of its current guest.[76][77]

The main theme of the Persona series is exploration of the human psyche and the main characters discovering their true selves.[78] The stories generally focus on the main cast's interpersonal relationships and psychologies.[79] There is also an underlying focus on "the human soul".[80] Many of the concepts and characters within the series (Personas, Shadows, Philemon) draw from Jungian psychology and archetypes.[77] A recurring motif are the "masks" people wear during everyday life, which ties back to their Personas. This motif is more overtly expressed in Persona 5.[81] Each game also includes specific themes and motifs: Persona 2 focuses on the effect of rumors on the fabric of reality (referred to by the developers as "the power of Kotodama"), Persona 3 employs themes involving depression and the darkness within people, Persona 4 focuses on how gossip and the media influences people's views of others, and Persona 5 shows how the main characters pursue personal freedom in a restrictive modern society.[59][67][82] A recurring element in the earlier entries is "The Butterfly Dream", a famous story by the Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhou. It ties in with the series' themes, and also with Philemon's frequent appearance in the form of a butterfly.[69] Philemon's original appearance was based on Zhuang Zhou.[77] The character Nyarlathotep is based on the character of the same name from H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, and the Mythos as a whole is frequently referenced in Persona 2.[59][83] The Velvet Room was based on the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks.[77]

Development[edit]

The Persona series was first conceived after the release of Shin Megami Tensei if... for the Super Famicom. As the high school setting of if... had been positively received, Atlus decided to create a dedicated subseries focusing on the inner struggles of young adults.[80] The focus on high school life was also decided upon due to the experiences of the series' creators, Kouji Okada and Kazuma Kaneko: according to them, as nearly everyone experiences of being a student at some point in their lives, it was something everyone could relate to, representing a time of both learning and personal freedom. In their view, this approach helped players accept the series' themes and the variety of ideas included in each title. Kaneko in particular tried to recreate his experiences and the impact it had on him during his time with the series.[84] The main concept behind the first game was a Megami Tensei title that was more approachable for new and casual players than the more hardcore main series. The abundance of casual games on the PlayStation reinforced this decision.[77][85] The game's title, Megami Ibunroku,[Jp. 10] represented the title's status as a direct spin-off from the series.[86] It was later dropped to further define Persona as its own series.[83] After the success of Persona, Innocent Sin began development, retaining many of the original staff. Halfway through the scriptwriting for Innocent Sin, it was decided that the world needed a new perspective to that of the current main protagonist. This decision laid the groundwork for Eternal Punishment.[83][87]

The conceptual Persona 3 was submitted to Atlus by Katsura Hashino, who had worked as a designer for multiple Megami Tensei titles and had been the director for Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Gaining Atlus' approval of the concept, development started in the same year, after the completion of Nocturne and the first Digital Devil Saga game.[88][89][90] Ideas were being passed around about Persona 4, but the title did not begin official development until after the release of Persona 3.[80] Preparations for Persona 5‍ '​s development began in 2010. The team decided to shift towards more challenging story themes, saying that the shift would be more drastic than that experienced with Persona 3.[91][92] Aside from Atlas, other developers have helped develop entries in the Persona series. During the pre-production stage of Persona 4 Arena, Hashino approached Arc System Works after being impressed by their work on the BlazBlue series.[21] For Dancing All Night, development was initially handled by Dingo, who were well known for the Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA series. Citing quality concerns, Atlus took over primary development.[93]

Music[edit]

The music of the Persona series has been handled by multiple composers, but the one most associated with the series is Shoji Meguro. Meguro began working on Persona shortly before he joined Atlus officially. His very first composition for the game was "Aria of the Soul", the theme for the velvet room and a recurring tune within the series.[94][95][96] During his initial work on the series, Meguro felt restricted by the limited storage space of the PlayStation's disc system, and so when he began composing for Persona 3, which allowed for sound streaming, he was able to fully express his musical style. His main worry for his music in Persona 3 and 4 was the singers' pronunciation of the English lyrics.[57] He was unable to work on the Persona 2 titles as he was tied up with other projects, including Maken X.[97] The music for Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment was handled by Toshiko Tasaki, Kenichi Tsuchiya, and Masaki Kurokawa. Tsuchiya had originally done minor work on Persona, and found composing for the titles a strenuous experience.[98][99][100] Meguro returned to work on Persona 5. For this game, Meguro used the game's themes for inspiration, and used elements of acid jazz to achieve the right mood.[101] Meguro later wrote the theme song for Persona Q, while the rest of the soundtrack was handled by Atsushi Kitajoh and Toshiki Konishi.[102]

Design[edit]

Advertising artwork for Persona 5 created by the game's art director Shigenori Soejima, whose work has become strongly linked with the Persona series.

The two primary character artists for the Persona series are Kazuma Kaneko, who is also a central artist in the main Megami Tensei series and designed characters for the first three Persona games, and Shigenori Soejima, who worked in a secondary capacity alongside Kaneko and took Kaneko's place as the main designer from Persona 3 onwards.[77][103][104][105] Kaneko, while designing the characters for Persona, was inspired by multiple notable celebrities and fictional characters of the time, along with members of Atlus staff. In Persona and Innocent Sin, the main characters all wore the same school uniforms, so Kaneko differentiated them using accessories.[77][103] For Eternal Punishment, the main cast were adults, so Kaneko needed to rethink his design procedure. Eventually, he designed them with the concept of ordinary adults in mind, while giving them designs that would stand out in-game.[84]

Soejima's first major work for the series was working on side characters for Persona 2 alongside Kaneko.[106] Kaneko put Soejima in charge of the series' art direction after Persona 2 as Kaneko did not want to imprint his drawing style on the Persona series, and also wanted Soejima to gain experience.[104] Soejima felt a degree of pressure when he was given his new role, as the series had accumulated a substantial following during Kaneko's tenure.[107] In a later interview, Soejima said that while he respected and admired Kaneko, he never consciously imitated the latter's work, and eventually settled into the role of pleasing the fans of the Persona series, approaching character designs with the idea of creating something new rather than referring back to Kaneko's work.[57] For his character designs, Soejima uses real people he has met or seen, looking at what their appearance says about their personality. If his designs come to close to the people he has seen, he does a rough sketch while keeping the personality of the person in mind.[105] For his work on Persona Q, his first time working with a deformed Chibi style due to its links with the Etrian Odyssey series, Soejima took into account what fans felt about the characters. A crucial part of his design technique was looking at what made a character stand out, then adjusting those features so they remained recognizable even with the redesign.[105][108]

Each Persona title, particularly from Persona 3 onwards, has been defined by a different aesthetic and key color. It is one of the first artistic decisions made by the team: for example, Persona 3 had a dark atmosphere and serious characters, so the primary color was chosen as blue to reflect these and the urban setting. In contrast, Persona 4 had a lighter tone and characters while also sporting a murder-mystery plot, so the color yellow was chosen to represent both the lighter tones and to evoke a "warning" signal.[105] According to Soejima, blue was the "color of adolescence", while yellow was the "color of happiness".[57] For Persona 5, the color chosen was red, to convey a harsh feeling in contrast to the previous Persona titles and tie in with the game's story themes. Its art style was described as a natural evolution from where Persona 4 left off.[81][109]

Release[edit]

The series currently consists of ten games (main titles and spin-offs), not counting re-releases and mobile titles.[1] The greater majority of Persona titles were either first released on or exclusive to PlayStation platforms. This trend was broken with the release of Persona Q for the 3DS in 2014.[110] All the Persona titles have been published by Atlus in Japan and North America.[111] An exception in Japan was the Windows port of Persona, which was published by ASCII Corporation.[3] Due to the company not having a European branch, Atlus has generally given publishing duties to other third-party publishers with branches in Europe, which frequently results in a long gap between the North American and European releases.[32][112] For Persona 3, Atlus gave publishing duties to Koei.[18] For Persona 4, European publishing was handled by Square Enix.[24] A regular publishing partner is Ghostlight, whose relations with Atlus go back to the European release of Nocturne.[113][114] A more recent partner is NIS America, which published Persona 4 Golden, Persona Q and Dancing All Night.[36][115][116] Persona 4 Arena was originally published in Europe by Zen United after a long delay, but the digital rights were eventually returned to Atlus, resulting in the title being removed from PSN.[112] Atlus ended up publishing the digital PlayStation version in Europe.[117] They had previously digitally published the PSP port of Persona in Europe and Australia.[6] Arena Ultimax was published in Europe by Sega, who had recently purchased Atlus' parent company. It was speculated that this could lead to a new trend that would shorten the release gap between North America and Europe.[32] Persona was the first role-playing entry in the Megami Tensei franchise to be released in the west, as previous entries had been considered ineligible due to possibly controversial content. As examples of this content were in a milder form for Persona, the restrictions did not apply.[118][119] According to Atlus, Persona and its sequel were to test player reactions to the Megami Tensei series in the west.[111]

Localization[edit]

Masao "Mark" Inaba as seen in the Japanese versions of Persona (left), and the Revelations localization (right). In the localization of the PlayStation Portable version, this change was reverted.[120]

The localizations for the Persona series are generally handled by Yu Namba and Nich Maragos of Atlus USA, who also handle localization for multiple Megami Tensei games.[121][65] The localization of Persona was handled by a small team, which put a lot of pressure on them as they needed to adjust the game for western audiences: the changes implemented included altering names, changing the appearance of character sprites, and removing numerous cultural references. An entire alternate main quest was also removed.[118][121][120] After Persona, it was decided to keep all future Persona games as close as possible to the original Japanese releases.[121] Namba's first localization project for the series was Eternal Punishment.[122] For the release of Innocent Sin, there was a debate over whether to release it, as it contained potentially controversial content including allusions to Nazism.[121] In the end, due to staff and resource shortages, Innocent Sin was passed over for localization in favor of its sequel Eternal Punishment.[118] Later, when the company developed the PSP ports, the team released the ports of Persona and Innocent Sin overseas so fans attracted by Persona 3 and 4 would be able to easily catch up with the rest of the series. The localization for Persona was completely redone, reverting and restoring all the previously altered or cut content.[118][120][123] The port of Eternal Punishment was not localized due to "unusual circumstances", so the company released the original version on PSN instead.[16]

For the localizations of Persona 3 and 4, the team incorporated as much of the original Japanese content as possible, such as using Japanese honorifics and keeping the game's currency as yen rather than changing it. As far as possible, they incorporate Japanese elements unless they would not be understood by the view, such as with certain jokes.[65][65] Nevertheless, some changes had to be made. In one instance, the character Mitsuru Kirijo was originally an English speaker, but her second language for the localized version was changed to French due to her cultured appearance. School tests also needed to be changed due to similar language-based issues.[121] The Social Links were originally called "Community" (コミュニティ Komyuniti?), but this was changed as the word "Community" had a very specific meaning in English. The new name was inspired by the way the character Igor made reference to concept using words such as "society" and "bonds".[124] Some in-game Easter egg references were also changed: in Persona 3 references to Shin Megami Tensei by a character in an in-game MMORPG were changed to reference Persona, while mentions of a fictional detective in Persona 4 were altered to reference the Kuzanoha family from Eternal Punishment and the Devil Summoner series.[124] Character names have also needed adjustment, such as the stage name of Persona 4 character Rise Kujikawa, and the way characters referred to each other was adjusted to appeal more to a western audience.[124][125] It is planned to follow this localization approach for Persona 5.[122]

The titles of games have also been altered. The banner title for Persona was also changed from Megami Ibunroku to Revelations, principally because the team thought it sounded "cool", though it was removed for Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment.[118] After the successful release of Nocturne, the "Shin Megami Tensei" moniker was added to the series title to help with marketing.[118] This has not been the case for some titles: Persona 4 Arena‍ '​s original title, Persona 4: The Ultimate in Mayonaka Arena, was shortened as it sounded awkward, and the "Shin Megami Tensei" was dropped as it would have made the title long. The same change was made for Persona 4 Golden, with the team also dropping the "The" present in the Japanese title as it would have looked and sounded odd in western territories.[124]

Reception[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Revelations: Persona 79% (PS)[126]
78% (PSP)[127]
78/100 (PS)[128]
78/100 (PSP)[129]
Persona 2: Innocent Sin 90% (PS)[126]
76% (PSP)[130]
75/100 (PSP)[131]
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment 83% (PS)[132] 83/100 (PS)[133]
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 87% (P3)[134]
87% (FES)[135]
90% (Portable)[136]
86/100 (P3)[137]
89/100 (FES)[138]
89/100 (Portable)[139]
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 92% (P4)[140]
94% (Golden)[141]
90/100 (P4)[142]
93/100 (Golden)[143]
Persona 5 N/A N/A

Since the release of Persona in 1996, the series has sold 6.2 million units worldwide by the end of the 2014/2015 fiscal year, forming a large part of the total sales of the Megami Tensei franchise.[144] The first Persona was referred to at the time as a sleeper hit, and the success of it and Eternal Punishment helped establish both Atlus and Megami Tensei in the west.[118][145] According to Atlus CEO Naoto Hiraoka, the main turning point for the franchise was with the release of Persona 3, which was a commercial success and brought the series to the attention of the mainstream gaming community. Persona 4 received an even better reception. The Persona series' success has allowed Atlus to build a strong player base in the west, contributing to the success of other titles such as Catherine.[110]

The Persona series has been referred to as the most popular spin-off from the Megami Tensei franchise, gaining notoriety and success in its own right.[58][67] According to io9's James Whitbrook, the series has become notable due to its balance of normal life and fantastic elements, commenting that "that's much less common [in the west], and the way the series portrays urban fantasy through that lens is what makes it so different, especially from what you would normally expect from Japanese RPGs".[67] Nintendo Power, in an article concerning the Megami Tensei series, cited the Persona series' "modern-day horror stories" and "teams of Japanese high-school kids" as the perfect example of the franchise.[146] Persona was mentioned in 1999 by GameSpot's Andrew Vestal as a game that deserved attention despite not aging well, saying "Examining Persona reveals three of the traits that make the series so popular - and unique - amongst RPG fans: demonology, negotiation, and psychology".[147] The game has been named as a cult classic.[118] Persona 3 was named by RPGamer as the greatest RPG of the past decade in 2009, and RPGFan listed Persona 3 and 4 in second and fourth place respectively in their similar 2011 list.[148][149] Persona 3 was listed by Gamasutra as one of the 20 essential RPGs for players of the genre.[150] Persona 4 was also listed by Famitsu as one of the greatest games of all time in a 2010 list.[151]

In addition to critical acclaim, the series has been the subject of controversy over its content. This controversy reached back to the localized banner title of the original Persona, which raised concerns due to its religious implications.[118] Kurt Katala, writing for 1UP.com in 2006 about the controversial content of the Megami Tensei franchise as a whole, made reference to Innocent Sin‍ '​s references to homosexuality, schoolyard violence and Nazism, considering them possible reasons why the title was not originally released in the west.[152] 1UP.com's 2007 game awards, which ran in the March 2008 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Persona 3 was given the "Most controversial game that created no controversy" award: the writers said "Rockstar's Hot Coffee sex scandal and Bully‍ '​s boy-on-boy kissing's got nothing on this PS2 role-player's suicide-initiated battles or subplot involving student-teacher dating."[153] Persona 4 has in turn been examined by multiple sites over its portrayal of sexuality, particularly homosexuality and gender identity.[154][155][156]

Related media[edit]

Promotional poster for Persona 3 The Movie: #1 Spring of Birth, the first in a tetralogy based on Persona 3.

The first anime adaptation of the Persona series, a television series titled Persona: Trinity Soul, was aired in 2008. It was animated by A-1 Pictures, directed by Jun Matsumoto, with character designs by Soejima and Yuriko Ishii, Persona designs by Nobuhiko Genma, written by a team that included Yasuyuki Muto, Shogo Yasukawa and Shinsuke Onishi, and music composed by Taku Iwasaki.[157][158] It was distributed internationally by NIS America.[159] Trinity Soul takes place in an alternate setting ten years after Persona 3, making it a non-canon entry in the franchise.[158][160] An anime adaptation of Persona 4, Persona 4: The Animation, was aired in 2011. The 25-episode series was produced by AIC ASTA and directed by Seiji Kishi.[161][162] In 2014, a second series based on Persona 4 Golden, titled Persona 4: The Golden Animation, was produced by A-1 Pictures. This series, which retains the cast of the first series, adapts the new material included in Persona 4 Golden, focusing the protagonist's encounters with new character Marie.[163][164]

The first Persona 4 series was made into a condensed film adaptation titled Persona 4: The Animation -The Factor of Hope-, was released in Japanese cinemas in 2012.[165] Persona 3 has also been adapted into a series of anime films produced by AIC ASTA and featuring staff from Persona 4: The Animation, released in cinemas in Japan and licensed for release overseas by Aniplex.[166][167] The four films are titled No. 1, Spring of Birth, No. 2, Midsummer Knight's Dream, No. 3, Falling Down and No. 4, Winter of Rebirth. They were released from 2013 through to 2015.[168][169][170][171] For both Persona 4: The Animation and the Persona 3 film series, one of the main concerns was the portrayal of the lead character, whose portrayals were originally dictated by player actions.[172][173]

Persona was adapted into an eight-issue manga series titled Megami Ibunroku Persona, originally serialized in 1996 and later reissues in 2009.[174] A second spin-off manga, Persona: Tsumi to Batsu,[Jp. 11] was released to tie in with the release of the Persona 2 games. Set within the same setting of the Persona 2 games, it follows a separate story. In its 2011 reissue, new material was added that connected the manga to the events of Innocent Sin.[175] Persona 3 and Persona 4 have both received manga adaptations, serialized in Dengeki Maoh.[176][177][178] Another manga based on Persona Q was also serialized: two separate manga storylines, based on the two storylines featured in the game, were written and dubbed Side:P3 and Side:P4.[178][179] Multiple novels based on Persona 3 and 4 have also been released.[157][180][181]

Three stage plays based on Persona 3 have been produced under the banner titled Persona 3 the Weird Masquerade. They received limited runs and featured separate performances for the male and female versions of the game's protagonists. The three plays are titled Ao no Kakusei, Gunjō no Meikyū and Sōen Kesshō.[182] Persona 4 was also adapted into two stage plays, both produced by Marvelous AQL receiving limited runs in 2012: Visualive and Visualive the Evolution.[183][184] Action figures and merchandise such as clothing related to Persona 3 and 4 have also been produced.[185][186][187]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ ペルソナ3 ザ・ナイト・ビフォア Perusona Surī: Za Naito Bifoa
  2. ^ 女神異聞録ペルソナ 異空の塔編
  3. ^ ペルソナ2 罪 ロストメモリーズ Perusona Tsū: Tsumi Rosuto Memorīzu
  4. ^ ペルソナ2 罰 インフィニティマスク Perusona Tsū: Batsu Infiniti Masuku
  5. ^ ペルソナ3エム Perusona Surī Emu
  6. ^ アイギス THE FIRST MISSION
  7. ^ ペルソナ3ソーシャル Perusona Surī Sōsharu
  8. ^ ペルソナ モバイル オンライン Perusona Mobairu Onrain
  9. ^ ペルソナ4 ザ・カードバトル Perusona Fō Za Kādo Batoru
  10. ^ 女神異聞録, lit. "Goddess' Odyssey"
  11. ^ ペルソナ 罪と罰, lit. "Persona: Sin and Punishment"

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External links[edit]