Persona 2 is a game developed and published by Atlus for the original PlayStation. Due to hardware and story limitations, the game was split in two parts: Persona 2: Innocent Sin, released in 1999 in Japan (and would never see a release in the West until 2011, when it was remade as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2) and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, released in 2000 worldwide (though the PSP remake was released only in Japan).
In Sumaru City, Japan, a rumor began circulating about how a mysterious entity named Joker can appear by dialing your own number on a cell phone and will make one of your wishes true. If the caller has no wishes, he is transformed into a "shadowman", a vegetative human with no thoughts or wishes of his own. Tatsuya Suou, Lisa Silverman, and Eikichi Mishina, three amnesiac students respectively from Seven Sisters High and Kasugayama High School, summon the Joker, who recognizes them and scolds them for "doing something terrible to him in the past" and tries to kill them. The three are saved by the awakening of their Personae, physical manifestations of their inner self, and manage to scare Joker off. Shortly afterwards, the three discover that rumors that spread enough in the town become true. Realizing that the rumors spreading are the key to these mysteries, they set out to recover their memories and discover the meaning behind the Joker's words.
Maya Amano, a journalist for the Sumaru City branch of Kismet Publishing, is tasked with writing an article about the Joker, an entity that appears by calling one's own phone number and kills a person of the caller's choosing. Maya and her friend Ulala Serizawa track the Joker down to Seven Sisters High School, where they witness him killing the Principal. Katsuya Suou, Tatsuya's brother, is assigned to the case and joins Maya and Ulala in their search. As they investigate this mystery, Maya runs across a boy she finds familiar, and discover that rumors that spread enough become true. The three also have several encounters with the New World Order, a cult-like shadow organization ran by Takahisa Kandori, president of SEBEC (the main antagonist from Megami Ibunroku Persona), a massive research group based in Mikagi-cho, and Tatsuzou Sudou, Prime Minister of Japan, which appears to be involved with the Joker.
Why It Rocks
- Hugely improved battle system from the previous game, with the tedious grid system being removed, and the turn system was remade, with the turn order no longer being fixed, and instead can be manipulated by the player at will, which incentivizes strategy and makes encounters less boring to go through.
- Very good story which is deemed by many the best in the Persona franchise and, arguably, one of the best in the whole Shin Megami Tensei franchise. It's so complex that it required two different games to be fully explained.
- Fusion Spells are introduced, allowing characters to launch combined attacks (based on their turn order) by merging their spells.
- Plenty of things to do and locations to visit.
- Very well written characters who are, again, among the best in the series. Some characters who made cameo appearances in Innocent Sin return in Eternal Punishment and are given more prominent roles.
- Many different Personae to obtain and use in battle. Unlike subsequent games, every character can equip the Persona they want. Personae are obtained by summoning them with cards obtained by contacting enemies. Through repeated use, a Persona's rank will increase up to 8, learning new spells in the process. When a Persona reaches its maximum rank, it has a chance to mutate into a stronger Persona with new skills and stats. Each Persona also has an Arcana, which determines the type of cards required to summon it and its compatibility with the party.
- Each party member has different compatibility with Personae of different Arcana, with better compatibility increasing the chance for them to mutate upon maxing out their rank.
- The Contact system allows the player to obtain cards (required to summon new Personae at the Velvet Room), items, money, exclusive rumors to spread, or simply cause enemies to escape by scaring them off. If the player screws up, the enemy will become angry and the player will be unable to contact it again until the end of the battle.
- By speaking with certain characters, you can obtain rumors, essentially side quests which you can do to unlock new stores spell for demons or bosses you can fight for experience and unique or rare items, which helps the player feel part of the game's world.
- Eternal Punishment adds new characters, dungeons (both mandatory and optional), bosses, rumors to spread, and demons to recruit.
- The game has plenty of entertaining lines and moments, which helps shake off the tension.
- If you feel the game is too easy or too hard, you can change the difficulty at any time in the PSP version.
- The PSP versions of both games add new content, including new quests, bosses, battle cut-in portraits when using Fusion Spells, improved graphics, and rearranged soundtracks (though it's possible to revert to the original version in the options menu at any time). The PSP version of Eternal Punishment also adds a new post-game scenario that explains the story from Tatsuya's point of view.
- Most dungeons in Innocent Sin can be visited only once, so you need to be extremely careful when you explore them. It's possible to lock yourself out of four out of the six-party member's ultimate Personae if you don't find all four hidden rooms in Mt. Iwato and loot the masks inside them.
- Demon fusion, a staple of the Megami Tensei series, isn't present in this game. All Personae are obtained through summoning, which, coupled with the high card requirements to summon them later in the game, means that you have to grind cards a lot. Some have even argued that it's possible to beat the game using only the starting Personas, making fusing redundant.
- The PlayStation version of Innocent Sin was never released in the West. While the explanation for this is unknown, it's speculated that it's due to the same-gender romance between the protagonist Tatsuya Suou and his friend Jun Kashihara, as well as the appearance of Hitler and Nazi imagery (which had to be censored in the PSP version), as they were against the policies of CERO (the Japanese equivalent of the ESRB/PEGI) for overseas localizations. Another theory (which was later confirmed) is that Atlus had little time and money to complete the translation, as the staff had already started allocating their resources towards the development of Eternal Punishment.
- The PSP version of Eternal Punishment remained exclusive to Japan, and, while there is a fan translation, it's still unfinished. This means that there is no way to have both games on the same system without resorting to piracy.
- The English version of the original release of Eternal Punishment mistranslated some dialogue, in particular honorifics, though it can be excused, as they still weren't well known in the West when the game was released.
- Returning characters from Revelations: Persona also uses their North American names (i.e.: Nanjo is called Nate, Eriko is called Elly and, most infamously, Kandori still goes by the name "Guido") as opposed to their Japanese names.