If you are expecting a review on books, this blog is all about video games. (You were forewarned)
I think almost a year ago now I did a blog on a video game by the name of Persona 5 Royal. Today I’m celebrating the release of Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden on all platforms.
Disclaimer: I’m talking about mature rated games, so this is for 17+ years of age.
On January 18, 2023, two of the main Persona games will be released across ALL platforms. That means, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation (4&5), and PC will get to experience two games that have been exclusive to PlayStation Portable, Vita, and PC only until tomorrow. (I’m writing this on the 17th of January.)
The Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series is a JRPG game. It usually centers on a male protagonist (you that I will refer to as MC for main character from now on) and his ability to summon demons called Persona. Since 3, the Persona’s the MC has a wildcard persona and that means that he can change his personas. Every other character has a persona of a certain Arcana and it does not change. Every game since 3 has a central ‘theme’ that I will get into as I talk more on the games. The more modern games are much different than 1 and 2.
So, in celebration of Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden on all platforms, I thought I would do a quick list of my favorite Persona main titles in order from my least liked to most liked. These ARE in order and I will only be covering the ‘complete’ versions of the games; i.e. Persona 3 (FES/Portable), Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal. Persona 1 and 2 are only the base games. There may be SPOILERS for the games, as I am reviewing them in full, so you have been warned. (I will not spoil the ends of the games, just might accidently cover some main storylines.)
This is one of my favorite series of games, so although I’m ranking them that doesn’t mean I hate any of them, it’s just an honest opinion of the games. (I like and love all of these games!)
5. Persona (Revelations: Persona)
Revelations: Persona (as it’s known in the US) is the first main title of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series. It was first released on PlayStation in 1996. The only way to play it, if don’t have a PlayStation, is through a PSP, PC emulator or since 2018 if you have the PlayStation Classic. The first two Persona games are similar to the more modern Personas (3, 4, & 5) only in the genre (JRPG), and general style of game play, i.e. story based, high school simulator. Since it was originally released in 1996 its graphics are nothing spectacular and honestly if you’re not a fan of Persona in the first place, most people haven’t played this game. The story is confusing at times, and all in all it’s just an okay entry in the series. Before 2018 it was hard to find, and there are some questionable choices made to certain characters if you want to know more about what I’m talking about there are many videos on YouTube about this game. I personally thought it was okay, but it definitely is my least favorite of the five.
4. Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment
Now, as you can see Persona 2 has two games. Innocent Sin is the first game, and Eternal Punishment is its sequel. However, you can play Eternal Punishment without playing Innocent Sin. Why do I know this? Because when the US first got Persona 2, we only got the release of Eternal Punishment, only Japan (at the time it came out 1999 & 2000) got both versions. It’s also the first time that you’re able to play as a female character (Maya) but only in Eternal Punishment. Even though Eternal Punishment is technically a sequel and NOT a main title, I still use it for this list as you get the full story with the two versus only one part. Eternal Punishment also breaks the mold of the main titles only being set in high school, as it is set in the group’s younger adult years. It’s the same style of game as Revelations: Persona so it still doesn’t have the functions that make the games easier (they are still hard) than the modern Persona games. However, the storyline in Persona 2 is far superior to Persona 1, in my humble opinion. This is why Persona 2 is ranked higher in my list, but will never surpass the modern titles in terms of my favorite games.
3. Persona 5 Royal
Now, this is probably a shock to some Persona fans, but I personally think that in terms of storyline Persona 5 Royal is not as good as the other two Personas I haven’t covered yet. It’s still a great game, and the storyline is also good, but for me personally I didn’t like some of the darker tones of the game. Like how you fuse personas by putting them in guillotines. (These games have a mature rating for a reason.) As I mentioned above the more modern versions of Persona (3, 4, & 5) have an overarching theme to them. In 5 the theme is Freedom, the MC is falsely accused of assault before the events of the game and is living on probation with a family friend. He fights against the societal views of how they see him as a criminal and he fights for his freedom. As do the rest of the group that the MC collect as the game goes on. Morgana is one of the more annoying characters to me in the series and he always made you do things on his schedule. (If you know the game, you probably know what I’m talking about. If not, just know there is a cat named Morgana in the game who won’t let you do some things at night so it restricts you more as other games. However, if you max rank a certain social link this will go away.) What makes this game great and widely the most popular is the story and the social links you form with your friends in the game. The characters are fantastic and really make the game good for me. I love story based games so I love that this game has over 80 hours in content (for the base) and probably another 20 hours of content in Royal. The MC is also one of the more liked characters from the entire series as well (he’s widely known as Joker).
2. Persona 3 Portable/FES
Now, I’m only going to be talking about Portable because that’s the version of the game that will be released on all platforms, however I did want to talk about FES briefly. In the original PS2 version of Persona 3 something happens at the end that leaves everyone looking for answers, basically it ended with a cliffhanger of sorts. So, when Atlus came out with Persona 3 FES a few years later, there was a sequel called The Answer included. Essentially it was what Royal and Golden have become, which is a rerelease with the full story. However, Persona 3 Portable is the version of the game being released and it DOES NOT include The Answer. P3P however does have more content in the form of a choice of playing as the Male character or for the first time playing as a Female Main Character. So, for a female like me, it was the first time we could play as a female and be able to get different social link romances with the guys! I know, that seems funny, but I was excited to be able to do something different. P3P has the overall theme of Death and it is evident in so many parts of the story. Character’s parents die, the main character’s Persona is Orpheus the Greek demi-god who tried to save his wife from the Underworld after she died, and so many other parts of the story involve Death. When I said that the overall tones of these games are darker, that’s what I mean. The story is fantastic though and there are so many twists and turns. Some of my favorite characters stem from this game, Akihiko, Shinji and Junpei are some of my favorites to this day. What doesn’t make this my top is mostly due to the main dungeon. I get sick of the same dungeon (it’s a tower called Tartarus). I know the different floors make it change, but it’s still the same objective, find stairs and get to the top of the tower, but with the feature where floors are randomly generated floors can be the same as the one before. It’s just a monotonous dungeon with little variety. However, the story and characters make up for it!
Now on to my FAVORITE game in the series!
- Persona 4 Golden
This is probably unpopular, but I love this game! The more comedic and lighter feel to this Persona game is in contrast to the darker tone of the others. However, the mystery behind the small town of Inaba in Japan keeps that darker tone while infusing lighter jokes and brighter look to the game. The MC is sent to Inaba, a small town in the countryside, after his parents get a job abroad. He’s sent to live a year with his uncle Dojima and cousin Nanako. Nothing usually goes on in the small town, so when a string of murders happens the students around the MC start investigating because they are the only ones who can. The MC finds out he can “slip into the TV world” and the adventure begins from there. The overall theme of this game is Truth and it is shown by the investigation team wanting to find the truth, by each character finding their own personal truths and through the social links you as the MC have to form with his friends. What makes this my favorite game is the story (the murder mystery is phenomenal), the characters, and the dungeons. My all time favorite character comes from this game, Naoto Shirogane. Along with Kanji Tatsumi and Yosuke Hanamura, these characters are ones I always remember and talk about when I’m discussing the best social link stories. Unlike P3 there are multiple dungeons in P4G and although they are shorter and have fewer puzzles in them, the dungeons are more fun. They are in places like bathhouses, strip clubs, an 8-bit video game, castles, and more. The overall look and design of the game is different than most of the other Personas and I prefer the more sarcastic choices of this MC than the others.
I didn’t talk about the music in my reviews but all of the Persona series has amazing music in it! I couldn’t add that in my lists preferences for that reason, but I will say P4 has my heart in terms of music.
So there you have it, we made it through the main titles of Persona. Now from spinoffs, rereleases, and complete versions there are a total of 21 games in the series. However, you do NOT need to play any of these games in succession and all of the games are standalone (main titles). The only game we have available from the Library is Persona 5, and as of right now the releases of P3P and P4G are only digital (as least as far as I know).