Oct 11, 2011

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin PSP Review

Persona 2: Innocent Sin PSP Review

It took over twelve years, but North American gamers are finally able to get their hands on the one entry in the Persona series that has previously eluded them. Originally released in 1999 in Japan, Persona 2: Innocent Sin received very positive reviews. But how well does this port of the PlayStation One classic compare to the current generation of today’s RPGs?

One of the key elements in any RPG is the story. You can have a fantastic battle system and stunning graphics, but they can only do some much to draw gamers in.  The plot of Innocent Sin follows Tatsuya Suou, a high school student from Seven Sisters High, and his companions as they delve into a mystery surrounding rumors coming true and a creepy man known as Joker who seeks revenge for actions that Tatsuya and the gang don’t recall. The story does start off a little slow, and compared to the recent entries in the Persona series, it doesn’t rely on setting up any background on the characters or what is going on. Though the majority of the party are high school students, you will spend more time going about the districts than you will in the school buildings. The story does have its share of humorous moments and dark serious ones. The balance between them is good, and they don’t really interfere with each other. However, the story goes from what I felt was a more believable plot to something out of left field. This twist comes after what I thought was a very strong and emotional moment in the game. The characters are all likable, from the silent Tatsuya to the visual kei Michel, to the always positive Maya. Even though you are not given too much information about these characters when you meet them, it isn’t hard to relate to them. Their varying personalities really click together and make demon negotiations interesting.


Demon negotation is a very important feature in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. This is how you gain the cards needed to summon new and more powerful personae throughout the game along with forming a pact with the demon. You don’t have to have a pact with the demon to gain tarot cards, but the pact does make it easier to rack up currency, items, rumors, and the Free tarot cards. Each character has four dialogue options unique to them, and can be teamed up with up to two others. Not every pairing will result in the characters working together. While I really liked and got a giggle from some of the interactions, a couple seemed a bit out of character. Tatsuya, the silent and very popular main character, has one where he very convincingly mimics the sounds of construction tools and a motorcycle engine. Perhaps he keeps quiet to make sure his voice can get the right pitch of the engine. And it is a hit or miss on finding out whether a Jack Frost enjoys being seduced or if talking with your fists is the key to learning what rumor it is that Pixie will share.


When compared to the original version, one can see the improvements made on the graphics and menus. There are new animated images of the characters when you preform a fusion spell, along with new cutscenes. Of course, you are able to watch both the new ones and original scenes in the gallery. Unlike the original version, you are not given the option to change the background on your menus. I didn’t feel that this hurt anything, as the color combination used really fit. Graphics, for the most part, are crisp and vibrant. Battles are where one can really see the age of Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Instead of the sharp battle sprites, you are treated to the dated ones that might have been praised when the game was first released.

The game’s mechanics are pretty well done, with the ability to use both the directional pad and analog stick to move characters in the field and the cursor in the menu screen. The battle system can prove to be tedious if you have to constantly switch up attacks, but for the battles where you know what skills to unleash, a simple press of the Triangle button puts the battle in auto-mode. This allows the characters to spam the same moves over and over until either the enemy is defeated or you run out of SP.  There are animations for skills, which you will likely want to skip. The load times for when you load a game, enter a battle, cast a skill, exit a battle, and traverse among the districts does tend to slow down the pace of moving forward in the story. Another factor that hurts the pacing is how often you will encounter enemies. Unlike Persona 3 and Persona 4, there are not shadowy figures to indicate how close to a battle you are. Instead, you have to rely on the outline of the mini-map in the lower left corner. Blue means you are safe, while yellow and red let you know that any step you take could pit you against an enemy.


One thing that I truly loved about the soundtrack in the game was the ability to go between both the original and the remixed ones via the menu at any time. Both soundtracks are worth listening to, and it was hard for me to stick with just one or the other as I progressed through the story. The music doesn’t drown out the vocal track in the game or really overstay its welcome. In fact, and I will state that this could be me, I had the volume at a higher level than I normally do with games. Especially when I was in the Velvet Room. As with its previous release for the Japanese PlayStation One, there is just a sprinkling of spoken lines throughout the game. This doesn’t detract from the game, though, in my opinion. Lines right before boss fights add to the emotion and the characters have their little quips made during fights and demon negotiation.

As with the other titles in the Persona series, Innocent Sin is no lightweight when it comes to game length. Not counting the special side quests you can partake via the movie theater, you’re looking at a solid 50 or more hours to devote to this port. With the new game plus+ and multiple endings, fans of the game have ample reason to play the game multiple times. While this might not be one you start over right after beating the title, it is a game that I personally feel is worth revisiting often.

Persona 2: Innocent Sin doesn’t not fit into how RPGs are done nowadays. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that this game is worth playing. If you prefer, or just want to relive, the old-school RPG style, Persona 2: Innocent Sin is for you. However, if you like your RPGs more up-to-date, then this might not be your cup of tea. I personally hope that Atlus brings us a port of the sequel, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, with the same upgrades as they did for this title.

SMT: Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Platform: PSP
Genre: RPG
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $39.99