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Aged Better Than Most

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Persona is a series about Japanese High School students beating off the oncoming invasion of demons from whatever small town/city they happen to live in.  This is the first game in the series, originally released in 1996, and now getting some much needed love on the PSP.  For many people, this will probably be a first time playing this game, possibly because the game itself was rather rare when it came out or maybe because they were too young at the time.  For whatever reason Persona shouldn’t be missed because the game itself is simply amazing from start to finish.

That isn’t to say that all of the aspects of the game held up perfectly well – most notably the graphics, which have not been retouched.  Most of the blurry characters and lanky movement can be chalked up to the game being almost a direct port of the PS1 version, but that does not explain the painful first person perspective of the dungeons.  The game does supply a map that is filled out as an area is explored, but sadly only one small section of the map around the player is seen and most dungeons have several floors that make playing annoying at times.

Enemies are another issue that didn’t seem to be addressed well either.  The encounter rate seems to be amazingly high.  It isn’t uncommon, especially on the world map, to be thrown into a fight with every step.  Nor is it uncommon to not have a single fight for several minutes.  Rarely does the game seem fit to decide on a nice balance between those two extremes.  The encounters also seemed to range in difficulty, one minute the battle would be one hit kills on the monsters while the next would be killing my characters in seconds – again with almost no balance between the two.  With level grinding, typical enemies start to become slightly easier, but in the mean time, each simple encounter is almost as challenging as a full blown boss fight.

This version of the game does debut with a fully translated and playable version of the Snow Queen quest.  This section of the game was cut from the original release 10 years ago for various reasons, and this marks the first time that North American players have been able to experience it without going through several annoying loops.  The title “quest” thrown at the end makes this experience sound like a small after thought, but in fact it takes place of the entire main story and is about similar in length, which kind of makes this chunk being in feel like a sizeable addition to the game.

Persona not only returns with the series trade mark story and enjoyable characters, it also returns with probably one of the best sound tracks of any game series.  The soundtrack was redone for this rerelease, and this does show as this game sounds more like the recent Persona titles than any game in the ‘90s. 

The game comes in two flavors: a retail release that comes with the standard assortment of bonus items that Atlus is becoming famous for, and a digital downloadable version.  They both retail at 40 dollars, which is a good price considering how much the game used to go for on eBay.  Aside from the better load times gotten from playing directly from the memory card, it seems a little hard to suggest download the game due to the shear amount of collectables that come with the UMD bundle.

This series is probably one of the best that has come out for the RPG gaming world, and while not the shining moment in the series that is the later titles, this installment is still very good.  Persona is a great package that is worth the price, regardless of the purchasing method.

Not As Good As: Persona 4

Also Try: Any other Shin Megami game

Wait For It: Strange Journey on the DS

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