The Future of the Persona Series

Now that Persona 5 has been announced and is set to come out later this year in Japan, I’ve begun to do a bit of shuffle time in my brain, thinking about what changes should be made, what should be left the same, and the general ideas I’d like to see in the game. And in addition to that long-awaited sequel, there are also three other Persona games coming out soon – Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (known as Persona 4 The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold in Japan, which is a far more badass title), Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night. And then, there are also the upcoming Persona 3 movies and the Persona 4 Golden anime series.

If you aren’t familiar with the Persona series (or to a lesser extent, Shin Megami Tensei), a lot of this will just sound like nonsense.

In a strange way, I’m extremely hyped for everything I listed above, although definitely some more than others.

Persona 5

HHHHHNNNNNNnsndgggggsghhhhhhh. That is the sound I made when I watched the announcement.

First and foremost, Persona 5 needs to break out of the mold that Persona 3 set – while I would like to see some form of Social Links and the general method of exploration from P3/P4 return, they should completely change how the Social Links affect the game’s progress and also make them a bit more varied. As they are, Social Links are mostly self-contained, only affecting Persona fusion and, in P4, the squad’s Persona evolutions and certain abilities. And Social Links should have branching paths based on dialogue choices and other game decisions, not simply as a result of your choice to date someone or just be friends. But seriously, who chooses to just be friends?

I’d like to see Social Links closely tied to the main story – if their completion affected the story’s progression, that would be amazing. The Persona Team showed off that they can do multiple endings well with Catherine, so I’d love to see that idea put to use here. And even if they only go with one ending, at least make the story better than P4 (which shouldn’t be too difficult). Similarly, if Social Links/other actions affected who could and could not join the team, rather than it just being a set group, that would be quite nifty. If my brotagonist wants a team of all women for his squad/harem, it should be an option.

On the other side of things, I would like to see the exploration aspect of the game combined with daily life – sort of how Persona 2 did it, but without the godawful random encounters. P3 and P4 had the two sides of gameplay cleanly separated, so it would be interesting to see P5 bring them closer together.

After how well-received the female protagonist was for Persona 3 Portable, I’d like to see that option in Persona 5 as well. They might be shooting themselves in the foot if they decide against it, but I could certainly live without the choice.

P5 should definitely be a bit darker than Persona 4. I think P3 hit a good medium between the dark story and fun of daily life (not to mention the glory of the Babe Hunt), but P4 was consistently… happy. They definitely pulled this off well, but I think the story as a whole suffered from the lack of a serious mood. Or maybe it was just the lack of blood puddles all over the place.

While it may be a bit unrealistic, I would love for the anime cutscenes to be of the same quality as the Persona 3 movies. The movies look fantastic, so that level of quality in the game’s cutscenes would be incredible. And a huge improvement from P4’s.

And on the music (clearly the most important part) – I’d prefer something a bit on the unconventional side, but I don’t have any specific expectations. Meguro Shoji will deliver, and that’s all that matters.

I could rant on and on about other stuff, but I’ll leave it at this. I cannot wait for this. And now that I have a PS3, I just need to sit back and wait to import the game upon release.

 Persona 4 The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold

If this isn’t the cover for the US release, I will punt a small child off of a bridge.

The fact that I’m really looking forward to a fighting game is strange, but despite how much I suck at Arena, I really enjoy it and am looking forward to the story’s conclusion. And Adachi is going to be a playable character. ADACHI. Not to mention the Ken/Koromaru combo, Rise (what were they smoking when they decided on her?), Junpei, and Yukari. Thank Madokami they didn’t make Fuuka a playable character though, I can’t imagine her English VA attempting to voice a playable character in a fighting game. Regardless, my body is ready for this.

As far as the story is concerned, I’m afraid I’m setting myself up for disappointment. If you’ve played Elizabeth’s route in Arena, you’ll know that what she was doing tied in directly to the end of P3, yet wasn’t properly concluded. And in Ultimax, Tartarus is back, and the story seems more based in P3 than Arena was – hell, all of SEES is back. If they do not bring the story in the direction that they seem to be leaning towards, I will be sad (and possibly send mean messages to Atlus in poorly written Japanese). I don’t want to spoil things for anyone unfamiliar with Persona 3 FES (because The Answer is extremely important here), so I’ll leave out any details that would clarify my rambling.

What I really like about what I’ve heard are the different game modes and how the story will be handled. For game modes, they haven’t revealed much besides the “Golden Arena,” where success results in RPG-esque leveling and new skills. Whether these skills are all new additions or simply restricted at first for this mode, I do not know. If the former, I’d also be curious about how it affects online play, if at all.

For the story, there will be the “Persona 3 Story Episode,” “Persona 4 Story Episode,” and “Story Episode Adachi.” I do not know if you pick a character within a specific story and follow it with just them, or you use all the characters within a category – so for the P3 episode, you might use all of the P3 characters as the story progresses. The game hasn’t released in Japan yet besides arcades, which don’t have the full story, so it’s impossible to know exactly how they’re doing it yet.

A lot of people have theorized that Ultimax will have something to do with Persona 5, but I am really hoping that is not the case. Ultimax should be the conclusion to the P3/P4 stories, and P5 should do its own thing, with only cameos and what-not as throwbacks to the past installments.

While there are certainly specific things I’d like to see done with the story, I’m looking forward to the game either way, and I can’t wait for September 30th to get here.

 Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

I feel the need to point out that KOROMARU IS SO CUTE

This game actually released in Japan recently, and it seems the main gripe with it is actually the incorporation of the Etrian Odyssey IV mechanics (I haven’t played more than the demo, so I’m not very familiar with that game). Either way, this is a P3/P4 crossover in the truest sense, and I cannot wait to control Makoto/Minato/whatever you want to call him. And having Theodore, Margaret, and Elizabeth all in the same game seems… problematic.

Apparently, the game won’t be released in the US until November 30th, which is probably about the time P5 will (hopefully) be released in Japan.

 Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Kanji will be one of the playable characters. I am going to buy this game.

 Persona 3 movies

Duwang would be proud.

I definitely enjoyed the first movie, but it wasn’t as good as I would have liked. With the story fully kicking in soon, I’m hoping that the pacing and everything are generally improved. And Aigis is going to be joining the cast. That’s good.

 Persona 4 The Golden Animation

The fact that this will exist baffles me, but whatever, more Marie! P4G definitely improved upon the original release of the game, but a second anime adaptation only three years later? This seems pretty stupid. I’m curious to see whether this functions as more of an addendum to the original anime, or if they are going to do everything all over, except with Marie and her story added in. I’ll definitely watch this as it airs, but I’m not expecting much out of it.

Drakengard 3 review coming as soon as I finish Branch D. Which might not be for a while.

4 thoughts on “The Future of the Persona Series

  1. Definitely agree that the social links should have an impact on the ending. I’m trying to make an amateur RPG Maker game right now, and I have some ideas on how the relationship points can affect the ending – but my partner wants the endings to be “balanced” – like the relationships between the two female characters should affect the game outcome equally good/bad. Hehe… we’ll see how that goes.

    1. Yes, a more dynamic story in general would be a great improvement, and doing it via social links just seems to be the logical method.

      That seems like a difficult balance you’ll have to work out in your game. Good luck!

  2. Some good ideas, although I am more of a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” guy. Wow there are so many Persona titles coming out. I hope the franchise doesn’t end up suffering a Guitar Hero style burn out.

    1. While that’s certainly true, one of my biggest gripes about P4 is that the gameplay was basically the same as P3 besides a few minor changes. A significant departure in the details, all while maintaining the same general gameplay concepts, would be ideal (if that makes any sense).

      Once P5 comes out, I’d imagine there won’t be more Persona for a while. While there are four games coming out this year, excluding ports the most recent was Arena in 2012, and P4 before that in 2008.

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