The persona series is one that I have just gotten into recently, and in the short time I have had with the series, I have fallen in love with it. The atlus-made(spelled correctly, the publisher’s name is spelled like that) persona series started off as spinoffs from the shin megami tensei series, but have recently ditched the SMT subtitle and have become their own thing. The more recent entries in the series, P3 and P4 especially depart from the SMT series by adding the feature of social links.
The games are turn based JRPG’s, but these social links add a bit of a sim game to the formula. When not in dungons fighting shadows with your persona (ill get to that later), you are playing as a japanese high school student making friends, and adding social links. These social links give you additional abilities while in battle. Now, as promised, on to the personas and shadows. Personas are manifestations of your spirit that come out to assist you in battle (similar to stands from JJBA I might add), with various abilities. You have a variety of teammates that also have personas that you add to your party of people to fight with you, but your character is different than your teammates. You have access to the “wild card” contract, which allows you to have full access to a place known as the velvet room, a place meant for those who have a special fate to push them toward their destiny. The room allows you to access multiple personas, and fuse personas together to make new and more powerful personas. This is where the social links help. Each social link represents a tarot card, and each persona is represented by a tarot card. The higher you are on your social link of said card, the more powerful personas represented by that card will be after fusion. The games are very fun, and have very good stories, but the best part is probably the music. The music in the series is simply beautiful, and easy reckoning with its signature engrish lyrics. You can not find music quite like persona music anywhere else.
The games do not stop there. There are also a number of spinoff games, mostly centered around persona 4. In 2012, they released a fighting game sequel/spinoff to p4 called persona 4 arena, which got a sequel recently called persona 4 arena ultimax. These fighting games were made with arc system works, the company behind hits such as blazblue and guilty gear. P4A and its sequel are both very good as fighting games, and as persona games, and I would recommend them for fans of either. A crossover between P3 and P4 is going to be released for 3DS this year called Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth. The game will combine the characters of the persona series, and the gameplay of the Etrian Odyssey series and looks to be quite good. One other Persona 4 spinoff, is definitely the strangest, Persona 4 Dancing All Night, is a spinoff game, that revolves around the character rise, a teen idol pop star, and has rhythm based game-play and involves making the characters dance. Odd how we got to a dancing game from a JRPG game about a murder case. That will be releasing next year for the PS vita, and despite how strange it is, it looks to be good. One final bit of news to bring joy to the fans is persona 5, the game that has just been announced. The game will be releasing sometime next year for PS3 and PS4.
If you care to check out the previous games in the meantime, P3 and P4 are PS2 games, but can be downloaded via the PS store on PS3, and also, you can get the games in the series on PS vita, most prominently, the remake of P4, Persona 4 Golden was made just for the vita. If you aren’t a persona fan, I recommend you become one, because these are games you do not want to miss.
By Reuben Malone