The Persona series has always had its roots tied deep in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, but it’s also very much been its own unique IP since day 1. Placing an emphasis on contemporary society and settings that don’t get overrun with demons, Persona serves as a nice parallel to Shin Megami Tensei.
Unfortunately, the first game failed to make much of a cultural impact despite selling and reviewing quite well for the era. Persona should have been a success, but it was Persona 3 that ultimately helped elevate the franchise’s popularity. That said, this doesn’t mean Persona 1 isn’t worth going back to.
10 “Revelations: Persona”
Bizarrely enough, Atlus was hesitant to use Shin Megami Tensei as a title while localizing the franchise as a whole. Last Bible for the Game Boy became Revelations: The Demon Slayer and Megami Ibunroku Persona became Revelations: Persona in order to display the brand connection.
It’s a bit strange in hindsight, especially when considering how heavily Atlus would use the Shin Megami Tensei name in the West just a few years later. Only now is the franchise being appropriately titled in the West, and that may frankly be just because Atlus has been taking it slow with SMT related releases lately.
9 One Of The PS1’s Worst Localizations
Persona was notably butchered when it came time for localization. The PlayStation era in general saw a lot of issues with proper script translation and censorship, but Persona was one of the worst offenders. Not only was the game heavily censored, the script was doctored quite a bit with some characters completely changing between translations.
The revised script also lacks the nuance of the original Japanese text, opting for something that’s still engaging and interesting, but nowhere near as meaningful. The original PS1 release really does the game no favors when it comes to story. Just play the PSP remake.
8 The Lost Snow Queen Arc
Another good reason to play the PSP remake over the PS1 original is the fact that the latter actually cut out an entire half of the game. Persona features two story arcs and any given playthrough can branch into either: SEBEC, the game’s “main” route,” and Snow Queen. The PS1 release only bothered translating and including the former.
Naturally, this is no way to experience Persona. Half the fun is experiencing that other story arc and witnessing just how different the game becomes between arcs. Snow Queen has its own plot, its own themes, and its own arcs. That Persona includes two fairly full length RPG narratives is impressive to no end.
Taking place in Japan, it perhaps goes without saying that every major party member in the first Persona is Japanese. This is a truth that can extend to really any game in the franchise, but the last thing Atlus wanted in the 90s was for westerners to know that Japan existed. In the medium’s efforts to crush culture from playing a role in games, Persona was heavily edited for an American audience.
And, spoilers, it’s embarrassingly xenophobic and at times borderline insane. Masao Inaba becomes Mark, a black high school student whose sprite was edited from an Asian boy. Other characters also undergo visual changes like the main character going from having black to the All-American red.
6 The PSP Remake’s New Score
Persona’s PSP remake is incredibly well made and the definitive version to experience the game, but it comes with one major problem: the soundtrack. The new PSP soundtrack is awful compared to the original PS1 score. The PS1 release features a moody, atmospheric, and thought provoking soundtrack.
The PSP release features generic J-pop that adds nothing to the experience. If anything, it actively detracts as the music just isn’t on the same level as the original. Of course, anyone playing the PSP release before the PS1 won’t notice a lack in quality, but it very much is there, hurting the game.
5 The Start Of The Original Persona Trilogy
The first three Persona games are connected in a very interesting way that doesn’t seem immediately apparent; and by first three, that doesn’t include Persona 3. The original Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment all connect narratively and thematically, the P2 duology more clearly— obviously.
In that respect, Persona starts something of the original trilogy for the franchise. Each game builds off the last, referencing events and characters in the process. Eternal Punishment even feels like a culmination of threads that were established in the first game. Sadly, Persona 3, 4, and 5 just don’t have the same connection.
4 Ties With Shin Megami Tensei: If…
Persona’s ties to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise are fairly interesting as the series isn’t just a spin-off. It’s actually a spin-off once removed. Shin Megami Tensei had a Super Famicom spin-off titled Shin Megami Tensei: If…, that more or less set the foundation that the first Persona would ultimately follow.
If that weren’t enough, Shin Megami Tensei: If…’s main character actually exists and appears in the Persona sub-series, directly tying Persona as not a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off, but a Shin Megami Tensei: If… spin-off. SMT: If is one of the most interesting games in the series, for it to live on through Persona is a net positive.
3 The Most Unique Persona Game
It’s not unusual for the first game in any series to have its own eccentricities, but Persona takes it to another level entirely. In terms of story, it doesn’t share much with any of the games after Eternal Punishment, if anything. In terms of gameplay, Persona 5 comes the closest to matching it, but even then not quite.
This is a story driven dungeon crawler with a party that the player can build how they please. Combat involves weapons, guns, and magic. While Persona 2 shares many of these features, they’re handled much differently in Persona 1.
2 The Persona Manga Adaptation
Most Persona games have manga adaptations, but Persona 1 stands out for having one of the better manga adaptations of a video game out there. Don’t feel like playing the game, but still want to understand the story? The Persona manga does a good job at showcasing the game’s arcs and themes in a way that doesn’t much up the game’s legacy.
Playing any game will always be the best way to experience them, but the manga serves as a great alternative that tells its story well. Persona 3 and 4 also have fairly decent manga adaptations— the former in particular— but Persona 1’s manga leaves the other adaptations in the dust.
1 Persona Was Localized To Compete With Final Fantasy And Breath Of Fire
The PlayStation was a fantastic console for JRPGs. It basically picked up where the Super Nintendo left off, bringing the genre to its next level of quality. Between titles like Final Fantasy VII, Breath of Fire III, and Suikoden II, the PS1 wasn’t hurting for RPGs. Which Atlus knew perhaps too well.This caused them to localize Persona as competition for the many RPG franchises on the PlayStation 1. This might have worked in the West had Atlus not made a fatal mistake: they didn’t localize Innocent Sin. Persona 1 sold well and reviewed well, but Atlus skipped localizing its sequel and instead localized Innocent Sin’s sequel.
NEXT: 10 Things Atlus Cut Out Of The Persona Series That Will Have You Asking Why