I recently received a copy of the original Japanese PlayStation version of the first Persona game. I am such a huge fan of the series and the artwork associated with it that I am dedicating an entire post to this one game, and high resolution pictures there-of. Deal with it.
I have been steadily increasing my Persona collection over the past few years adding games as they were released (4, 1 PSPS, 3 PSP) and have now strayed into collecting Japanese releases. I still, however, do not own any version of part 2, which will change one way or another by September, as Persona 2: Innocent Sin is being released for the PSP.
Persona is one of the very few RPG series that makes honest to god improvements on the formula and execution of each subsequent sequel and remake. For the unlearned, Persona is a strange hybrid dungeon crawler/ Japanese social simulation game. The games in the series are unrelated plot-wise, but share common themes and a unified visual style.
All the Persona games involve demons/monsters called Persona’s, which you can equip to your characters. Multiple Persona’s can be mixed and fused together to create, new more powerful creatures. These creatures can than be equipped by member of your party and effect the characters abilities and stats in a variety of ways.
Each entry in the series follows a group of high school aged teenagers dealing with their own personas and an evil presence that threatens to invade and destroy their world. The first three titles in the series (Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment) used a different mechanic where you would contact the demons while you fought them. Using dialog trees to negotiate their surrender, you would attempt to have them submit there powers to you, thereby allowing you to fuse them and equip them as you see fit.
The social links, which were introduced in Persona 3 are now a hallmark of the series. The later games are split into 2 distinct parts. One part has your character attending school, working a part time job, doing extracurricular school activities, going shopping, hanging out with friends, reading, studying, going on dates; pretty much what teenagers do. The other half is straight up level grind heavy dungeon crawling. Taking part in activities during the day can strengthen your character, your personas, and effect your ability to create new personas in the rest of the game.
This original title has not aged well, and many of the advancements made in future installments are sorely missed when replaying this flagship entry in the series, none-the-less it is still a highly original and innovative RPG that birthed the style and substance that would make it’s sequels into modern masterpieces.
The first Persona game was released in North America on October 25th 1997 (Sept. 20th 1996 in Japan) under the title Revelations: Persona. The box claims it is the first game in the Revelations Series, but it turned out to be the only as the North American release of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (we never got Innocent for some reason) three years later ditched the Revelations title all together.