Persona 2 is an excellent game, a masterclass in game design, and for it’s time very revolutionary. Even today it still holds up as a classic, and is worth playing for the story, even if the mechanics are a bit dated in a modern climate. I have tweeted at ATLUS that any disturbance in their dream cycle is simply the result of failing to remake Persona 2. I said it funny, they liked the tweet. Persona 2 is one of the most amazing stories in gaming history, and a good example of game design being more than the sum of it’s parts. It tells a story that will be remembered forever, and it crafted characters that you will never forget for the rest of your days. I remember them as good friends. Eikichi is my friend, on an emotional level, that is where my brain stores the memory, among my friends. I have found videogame characters to be better friends than most of the people in my life. Unlike most friends, I remember them fondly, the days Chie and I spent hanging out in the forest during our vacation week, and cooking the inedible food, is something I will remember forever. Whereas the humans I mostly remember as treacherous backstabbers who like to steal girls.
You can read my previous article on how to make a great JRPG HERE.
You might also want to check out my analysis and dissection of the greatest game ever made, Pathologic Classic HD.
Is it worth it to play Persona 2?
Yes it is definitely worth your time, Persona 2 is just smarter than normal games.
Does Persona 2 have a good story?
Persona 2 has one of the most brilliant stories in the entire series, You can start with either but Innocent Sin is first. The PS1 systems are dated today but the game is great.
Is Persona 2 underrated?
Persona 2 is as criminally underrated, as it is well written, it will stick in your imagination forever. The gameplay and graphics are poor, nevertheless, the world is huge and endless dialogue changes keep things fresh.
Why is Persona 2 good?
Simply, the story and characters and worldbuilding are so strong in this game, you can overlook almost any of the limitations of interface and gameplay from the PS1 it was designed on.
In Persona 2 you are the main character Tatsuya Suou. You are attending Seven Sisters highschool, and in the beginning you are accosted by a pair of bullies and then have what is now a standard persona awakening when you do. The school principle walks out and scolds isn’t enough, he castigates you, but this man is very popular around the school, despite being a horrible person, he is their most popular principal ever.
You eventually stumble into Lisa Silverman, a western girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, who speaks fluent Japanese. She has a not too well concealed crush on Tatsuya. During the course of your travels through the school, you hear about a horrible bully and his gang of goons making trouble for everyone. For whatever reason, I believe a note was issued challenging you. They had kidnapped your friend, I believe. You end up going to this monster’s hideout, where you find your friend happily eating snacks, she wanders off when you get there. Turns out Eikichi just wanted you to join his band, which is why he lied on the note.
For whatever reason, God who knows, it’s a persona game not shakespeare, you decide to play the joker game. Essentially, there is a rumor going around that if you call your own cellphone, the joker picks up, and he will grant your wishes.
So Tatsuya, Eikicki, Lisa, and the members of Eikichi’s band, call their own cell phones, and the joker really does pick up. A strange clown appears with a rectangular hat, he asks you what your ideals are.
For whatever reason, the member’s of Eikichi’s band have no ideals, and the pot is spoiled, as the joker said, and therefore he will reap his reward. The ideal energy of the band members is trained from them, they become like a shadow of their former selves.
The joker then turns to you, he screams revenge against you and your group, positioning to kill you, but then he is shocked to discover that you don’t even remember who he is. He asks “Is there any point in killing you if you don’t remember?!!?” And he wanders off into the abyss, warning you that demons will hunt your every move.
As your friends and you recover from this experience, you investigate Eikichi’s old friends….. They talks of the dreams the one had, and why they’re abandoning them….. They talk of their motivations, and how they’re gone now…… Eventually you learn, they will slowly disappear, nobody can see them, and nobody will ever remember they existed in the first place. They have become shadows.
You then embark on a quest to learn who the Joker is, why he has this to you, and what he had done to the city. Rumors are becoming reality. This is the outset to a game lasting easily 50 – 80 hours. One of the most epic in scale JRPG’s ever crafted.
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This is actually one of the places where Persona 2 really shines. The story mechanics are very well crafted, the world is very well crafted. It is full of stores and shops and places to go. There is a lot to see in this world, it is a big world. My favorite part is the Satomi Tadeshi store, specifically the Yumesaki store.
These Satomi Tadeshis are all over the place, each one has a different song, and they’re just a small cross section of the stores you will run into over the course of this game.
Every time the plot advances, in any way, every single shopkeeper and store will have a different set of dialogue and customers, everyone is paying attention to what’s happening in the city, and they all have something to say about it. They story easily plods along for 50 hours. And at each and every plot intersection, and they’re a lot of them in this story based game, you would honestly do well to explore the entire city, over and over, again and again and again, literally hundreds of times. If you want the full context this is what you HAVE to do. But in practice, it really just makes it like a living city, so that no matter where you go or who you talk to, there is always something fresh going on. There is always something new to hear or see. It is not really designed to have you obsessively talk to every human in existence, hundreds of times each, you can, but you don’t have to. It is designed to be living city approximating reality.
The graphics are crude and poor, the fighting and dungeon mechanics are dated and unpleasant to play. But you will struggle through these poorly designed systems, so you can experience the story, which is one of most beautiful one’s I have ever played, with friends I still cherish to this day, who never existed.
One of the first things you encounter over the coarse of the game is the VELVET ROOM, which other Persona Users will remember from subsequent games. IGOR is here, and still alive. The Velvet Room theme plays in mostly similar form to what you remember from the other games. Things are a bit different here, you don’t fuse persona’s from other personas, you collect cards by negotiating with demons, and then you can trade in those cards for personas with Igor, which you can equip at will, and level up. Unlike the other games where you are encouraged to trade up for better and better personas, this game encourages you to stick with your persona for a long time, until you have maxed out all your skills, only then will you unlock the really powerful fusion attacks with your other party members.
Playing this game like a regular JRPG is for chumps, you shouldn’t be using your normal attacks and spells much at all, instead you combine elements to unleash powerful fusion attacks which can kill your opponents in a few hits. For this you need personas bearing the spells you require, and unlocking the fusion attacks by practice and grinding. But mostly you are grinding for cards.
Which means negotiating with demons. The demons are very silly and stupid, some of them, they have their own motivations and desires and personalities, they will ask you questions about yourself and you must answer them in a way that makes the demon feel eager, you can also make them happy, or angry, or scared. Each demon is different, you won’t always be able to get the right result from the same answer to the same demon, but they do have personality types, and there are combo conversation attacks too, where the party members do unique and fun things like playing the guitar, reading fortunes, doing bit comedy routines, stuff like that. This often makes the demons very happy, and more likely to give up their cards, which you need to fuse personas. The really rare cards you might have to find in dungeons, and you’ll need rare cards to get the most powerful personas.
Here’s some Kotaku article about Persona’s Partying….
The game was never released outside of Japan. In the mid 2010’s a version was released on the market for PSP. Persona 2 was a weird title to say the least, with some of the most bizarre and jawdropping design decisions ever made in gaming history. It is unlikely to ever see a rerelease.
Culture has changed a lot since this game was on the market.
Still, it was one of the most interesting games ever made, with great characters, a well written story, a huge living breathing world, it was a beautiful game.