"Long Awaited, Shockingly Archaic"
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 - Innocent Sin is going to be a title lost on most gamers. To begin with, it is the first chapter of a game for the original PlayStation released in Japan back in 2000 (Persona 2: Eternal Punishment). Second, it’s for the PSP; a system which has pretty much neared the end of its life (by now most people’s are collecting dust in a forgotten corner, or are sold). It is going to be clear that not many gamers will pick up this game unless they are long-term fans of the Shin Megami Tensei Persona series awaiting this first chapter to be localized. Well, it’s finally here, nearly twelve years after its initial Japanese release.
- Is that your nose, or are you just excited the game has finally come west? -
Even though most people checking out this review are probably long-time fans, or are just plain confused on what this Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 game is, I’ll delve into gameplay just a wee bit. Essentially a JRPG, the game has an isometric perspective, throwing random encounters at you as you crawl through dungeons. While other Persona games use a tactical RPG-like approach to battles, Persona 2 - Innocent Sin uses more basic, traditional JRPG mechanics. Enabling players to still use their Persona demons (if you don’t know what these are, then Persona 2 - Innocent Sin is not a good starting place for you to get into the Persona series) along with a few other basic RPG attacks, including combos. All in all, battles in Persona 2 - Innocent Sin are very generic RPG fare that we’ve seen a hundred times since the 90s.
This archaic JRPG gameplay is perhaps what hurts Persona 2 - Innocent Sin the most. Of course, the game is over ten years old. However, even for the time this game seemed to be a ‘retro-throwback’. Some may argue with me, but by 1999 (when Persona 2 - Innocent Sin was originally released) we were only two years away from FFX, three away from Morrowind, and we already had Xenogears, and nearly Chrono Cross. Even worse, Persona 2 - Innocent Sin (and Eternal Punishment) deviated from the classic Persona battle system, and that never felt right with me. After all, that’s why I enjoyed Persona. Even many years later, playing the dry, random-encountered, generic RPG battles in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games doesn’t feel right – and worse off, it feels old. Really old. The game slows to a crawl. While I have fond memories of playing the mostly well developed random encounters in FF4 and FF6, this Persona 2 game just feels undeveloped, banking on the Persona name to drive sales.
- Even this park's excited... too bad gameplay is more archaic than retro -
Persona 2 - Innocent Sin moves between two realms: dungeons and contemporary Japan – of which, the former is a random encounter slog and the latter mostly involves talking to people to gather information about item locations or gaining new weapons. Whereas the entertainment from other Persona games came from the hilarious antics of high school drama, or the advancement of some kind of odd but cool story, Persona 2 - Innocent Sin is absolutely flat in plot and content. However, there are plenty of side-quests and quite a bit of hours of play in the storyline to make fans of the game happy (or at least to make them feel that they got their money’s worth quantity-wise). Unfortunately, the story does nothing for the game, nor does the tedium of dungeon-crawling or the overall flatness of the game, which are all strange for a Persona title.
What is good about Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 - Innocent Sin, is that, even though it took forever, and the PSP is at the end of its career, Atlus actually gave us the port. For fans, this is great to finally have. The graphics are a bit rough but the music is still great, and the character drawings are bright and unique (even for anime). For Persona 2: Eternal fans, this port is well deserved and long awaited.
GameDynamo's Score for Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 2 - Innocent Sin (PSP)
Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
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