Persona 2 Innocent Sin

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Persona 2 Innocent Sin
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Original Release: 1999
Platforms: PS1, PSP
The first thing to know about
Persona 2 is that there are two of
them. The first is Innocent Sin; the
second is Eternal Punishment. They
share the same basic battle
systems and characters, but from a
storyline standpoint, they take
place in different realities.
STORY INTRODUCTION
The story of Innocent Sin
takes place a few years after the
first Persona, set in the town of
Sumaru City. As the game kicks
off, the city has been inflicted with
a curse which causes rumors to
become reality. In Seven Sisters
High, this has caused student's
faces to begin melting off.
Amongst the rumors is the
ability to summon a being called
the Joker - if one dials their own
cell phone number, he will appear,
and grant them a wish. If they
don't have any wishes, their
dreams and life essence is stolen,
leaving them as aimless shadows
of their former selves.
During a dispute between the
students of Seven Sisters and the
neighboring Kasuyagama (SPELL
CHECK) High, the Joker is
summoned. However, he
recognizes the main characters,
and seeks to punish them for
something they did in the past.
Unfortunately, nobody can actually
remember what that something
was.
Meanwhile, a cult known as
the Masked Circle has grown up
around the Joker, which has
started committing terrorists acts
around the city. A good chunk of
the story revolves around stopping
their attacks, as well as delving
into the actions of the past that
have caused the Joker to torment
them.
Persona 2 fixes up a huge
number of the issues that made the
original game such a chore to play.
The first person dungeon crawling
is gone, replaced with a more
traditional overhead perspective.
This makes for a more consistent
interface, with 2D sprites displayed
over rotateable 3D backgrounds.
The map screens are now 2D
backgrounds, essentially identical
to the type seen in Soul Hackers.
Other niceties include the ability to
save anywhere, and SP
regeneration as you walk around
the map.
There's now an optional
dungeon called the Abandoned
Factory, which opens up as you
proceed through the game and lets
you fight all of the demons you've
previously battled. It's mostly for
grinding, since you aren't allowed
to revisit most of the dungeons
you've beaten. In most dungeons,
you can also find Trish's Fountain,
run by a fairy who will heal your
party, though at an exorbitant
price.
In keeping with the "rumors
changing reality" theme of the plot,
the characters can spread their
own rumors to affect various
aspects of the game. You can
obtain information by talking to
NPCs on the map, and exchanging
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
information with assorted other
folks around the city, known as
"rumormongers". Once you get
some information, you can visit
the Kuzunoha Detective Agency,
who will further spread the rumor
for a price, thereby allowing them
to become real.
At the beginning of the game,
most of the rumors are kind of
boring, which mostly influences
the prices and stocks of various
equipment shops around the city.
As you progress, eventually you
can find rumors to alter the
layouts of dungeons or cause
specific enemies to spawn. In
other words, it's mostly where the
many assorted subquests are
unlocked. However, despite its
originality, it's ultimately a
somewhat tedious system, since it
mostly just involves running
around and talking to many
different people, many times.
It's also limiting in ways that
don't really make sense - after all,
what's to stop the heroes from
spreading a rumor that they have
ultimate power and make
themselves invincible? From a plot
standpoint, there really isn't, but
for gameplay purposes obviously
this would not be possible. It ends
up affecting the narrative too,
because something like that just
opens the doors to too many
possibilities, and thus numerous
plotlines. In order for the game to
make any sense, you just have to
accept the game with its
constraints - that is, the rumors
only apply when the game feels
that it makes sense.
**DEMON RUMORS??**
The battle system is similar to
the original game, though the grid
system has (thankfully) been
removed, making for much more
straightforward combat. The
characters and enemies now move
around the map, so it's more
visually dynamic, even if it doesn't
actually affect the fighting. Also
new are Fusion Skills, where
multiple characters can combine
spells for hugely damaging
attacks. They're kind of similar to
the Double and Triple Techs from
Chrono Trigger, except they're
never explicitly granted to the
player, and must be discovered by
using certain spells in the correct
order. The flow of combat has
changed a bit too, with a turn
queue that indicates when party
members and enemies can attack.
It's mostly automated, but you're
given the option to shuffle around
character turns, in case you want
one specific members to fight
before another, or to set up
Fusions.
-Earth (magna) and Water
(aqua) skills. Also, Frei (nuclear).
Five types of physical damage
(Sword, Strike, Ranged, Havoc,
and Thrown) - How do these
compare to Soul Hackers, as far
as physical damage skills?
The conversation system is
also mostly similar, with some
tweaks. In addition to the four
topics each character has, you can
also team up members for
additional dialogue options. As you
progress, you can also unlock
other optional team-ups, which
flesh out character relationships.
Near the end of the game, you
also get to pick one of your friends
as a romantic interest. (DOUBLE
CHECK THIS) It's incredibly
progressive in a way, because it
actually gives you the option of
one of the male party members.
However, these team-ups are
rarely needed, and generally only a
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
few topics are really ever
necessary.
Also new are Demon Pacts. If
you make a demon Happy three
times, and you're at the
appropriate level, they'll suggest a
pact. Then, when you meet the
same demon in subsequent
battles, you can either get them to
give you free goodies (if you make
them Happy again) or offer you
extra "Free" cards (if you make
them Eager). These "Free" cards
can then be changed into any type
of card you want. This makes
summoning Personas substantially
easier, since you don't need to
just specific on a specific type of
demon in order to mine their
cards. Certain cards (and thus,
certain Personas) can only be
crafted from these "Free" cards,
making it even more important.
Additionally, while there are
only minor plot branches (and only
one real ending), there are a
couple of optional choices and
items which will determine if the
characters will get special
(ULTIMATE? WHAT ARE THESE
CALLED?) Personas. On a whole,
the game is somewhat easier than
the other early Persona games,
particularly if the player can
discover and abuse certain Fusion
attacks.
While all of these fixes are
definitely an improvement,
ultimately Innocent Sin still suffers
from some obnoxious issues. The
battle system is slow, with
animations that take too long to
play out, and a frame rate that
occasionally struggles. The menus
are sluggish, inconsistent, and
ugly. The dungeons are tediously
designed, often having you run
through several rooms in several
floors to find specific items. In one
early dungeon, you literally just
run in circles a few times before
the characters figure out how to
leave on their own.
It also pulls a nasty trick at
the end of the game, where it
makes you think you're heading
into a climactic encounter...but
no, first you need to fight through
four more long dungeons, with no
narrative progression between,
before you can head towards the
final encounter.
There's also some weird
narrative dissonance that comes
as a result of the urban fantasy
genre. While it's unique that a
game would uses record stores
and casinos as dungeons, there's
no in-game justification for these
places being sprawling, enemyfilled mazes, no matter how many
wink-wink-nudge-nudges are being
thrown out.
The random battle rate is also
absolutely insane. Every few
battles, the game transition into a
fight, which are already incredibly
slow. And the skills to reduce the
encounter rate are also rare and
not found until later in the game
anyway. (DOUBLE CHECK THIS)
At the end of the day, so
much of the game feels like
padding, as if the story wasn't
quite long enough to stand on its
own, so it needed a huge chunk of
wasted time on slow battles and
unnecessary dungeon to make it
an acceptable length.
That would almost doom a
lesser game, but Innocent's Sin
saving grace is that the storyline is
fantastic. Compared to the onenote doofuses from the original
Persona and their bland, nearly
identical designs, each of the five
major cast members have
expressive hair styles, uniforms,
and character traits. They're also
defined by their relationships with
each other, which keeps their
interactions lively. What really
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
fleshes them out is when they
face their "Shadow" selves, the
dark parts of their personality
which take physical
manifestations.
Each character has some
pretty severe issues that formed
their personality and their outlook
on life - most of them having to
deal with parental abandonment and the backstories interwoven
into each go far deeper than the
usual "angry because their village
burned down" that typified so
many early RPGs. The themes are
based around dreams and
ambitions, and while these seems
corny at first, it's actually handled
in a fairly mature manner.
There does end up being a
problem for Tatsuya though. Like
the hero of all Megaten games,
he's the silent protagonist, but
apparently he does have a unique
personality, based on how the
characters react to him, as well as
his own Shadow. But if he's
supposed to be a unique
character, why bother trying to
make the player associate with
him as an avatar?
The storyline is slow moving
due to all of the dungeon crawling
and battling. And introduction is
somewhat confusing, because it
does a poor job establishing the
relationships between the
characters, and most already seem
to have Personas without any
explanation. (This is addressed
later in the game, at least.) But
once it gets over that initial
stumbling block, it's fantastic. It
steers away from the sci-fi theme
of the original Persona and back
into the occult, with some demons
taken from Lovecraft lore, and
much of the themes draw from
both Mayan mythology and
elements of the Zodiac.
But what really makes the
storyline so outstanding is how
batshit crazy it is. At te beginning
of the game, it's just about
stopping a cult. Somewhere
around the halfway point, Hitler
shows up, commanding an army
of spear-wielding flying mecha
Nazis, all on a quest to resurrect a
UFO buried beneath the city. In
other words, it takes a bunch of
nutso conspiracy theories and rolls
them all into one big, ridiculous
ball. Innocent Sin comes from that
era of PSOne JRPGs where each
game tried to out-crazy the last
with overtly convoluted storylines
(particularly Final Fantasy VII and
VIII, Xenogears and Chrono
Cross). Innocent Sin might actually
be the best of these, mostly for
the way it weaves real-life history
in with its fictional narrative, and
also for the fact that its story isn't
as bloated as Square's games.
Although Kazuma Kaneko
created the initial character
designs, as seen on the packaging,
the in-game portraits were
redrawn by Shigenori Soejima.
While they're less stylized, they're
also slightly more realistic, which
makes them feel more human. The
sprites are simple, but still a huge
step over the original game.
However, their character
expressions during cutscenes are
limited, mostly just silly ones
where they stick their hands up in
the air or their eye bulge out
comically.
The soundtrack was
composed by Toshiko Tasaki,
Kenichi Tsuchiya and Masaki
Kurokawa. It has a modern
electronic pop feel, similar to the
first Persona, though with a wider
variety of instrumentation, with
tracks featuring prominent use of
acoustic guitars and South
American-style flutes. A good
number of the main themes are
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
derived from the ending theme,
"Kimi no Tonari", a vocal song by
artist Hitomi. It's a very warm,
nostalgic feeling song, which
highlights the spirit of friendship
amongst the main cast, in spite of
the darkness of the plot.
The cutscenes are mostly
cheap CG affairs, and like all of
the other Megaten/Persona games
on the PSOne, focuses mostly on
environments, with the characters
rendered as illustrated stills. There
is some voice acting, but it's
restricted to pre-boss battle
dialogues and combat shouts.
While Innocent Sin doesn't
directly link into the first Persona,
it features a number of recurring
characters, including the incredibly
unlikeable Principal Hannya, the
chubby kid Toro, and practically all
of the main characters, excluding
the protagonist. Yukino is the only
returning party member, but most
of the rest show up briefly as
NPCs. Additionally, the presence
of the Kuzunoha Detective Agency
clearly ties the game in with the
Devil Summoner subseries. The
music is identical to the main
theme of that game, and the head
detective, GET NAME, is heavily
implied to be inhabited by the soul
of Ryuji Kuzunoha. His assistant is
Tamaki, the female protagonist
from Shin Megami Tensei If...,
though since there are no
references to that game's plot, her
presence is more of a nod towards
fans, rather than anything that ties
together the universes.
While Persona 2: Innocent Sin
is a substantial step about its
predecessor, it's really not a large
enough step, at least from a
gameplay standpoint. It's gone
from "basically unplayable" to
"fairly irritating". That being said,
the fantastic storyline makes it
more than worth its while, for
those who have the patience to
deal with the slow battle system,
random encounters and annoying
dungeons.
When it was initially released
in 1999, Atlus decided not to
release Innocent Sin outside of
Japan. Why? There are any
number of potential reasons: the
presence of Hitler, the gay
character, or the high school
violence around the time of
Columbine. However, no one
actually knows anymore, not even
Atlus.
In 2005, FAN TRANSLATION
EXISTS.
Following up the 200? port of
the original Persona, Atlus
released Innocent Sin on Sony's
portable platform. It marks the
first time that the game is
officially available in English. It's
faithful to the naming conventions
of the first Persona PSP game, so
there are still some inconsistencies
with the PSOne localization of
Eternal Punishment, but otherwise
it's the usual high quality English
writing and voice acting that Atlus
is known for.
Again, it has a new interface
with widescreen graphics, one
that's substantially more appealing
than the PSOne version, with a
sleek red theme. There's a minimap during exploration, a
traditional Megaten random battle
indicator, and portraits indicating
health and status. There are some
new character portaits in the
status screen, as well as cut-ins
during battle when performing
Fusion attacks, similar to the style
of the later Persona games.
There's an option for a lower
difficulty level, plus the ability to
skip over battle animations.
However, battle sequences are
still slow and clumsy, and nothing
was done to fix the random
Persona 2: Innocent Sin
encounter rate. The loading times,
even when the game is installed
on the Memory Stick, are longer
than the original version.
In addition to the original
music, there's also an option for
an arranged soundtrack. Most of it
is the same music played with
new instrumentation, or in some
cases slightly extended, like the
boss theme. It's decent enough,
but it's not really all that distinct.
There's also a brand new
location called the Climax Theater.
Here you can play some sidestories that are separate from the
main plot. These feature several
new characters, as well as some
new pieces of music. Annoyingly,
you cannot save your game in
these sections.
In the Japanese version, the
Climax Theater featured a number
of downloadable quests, as well
as the ability for the player to
create their own quests. Most of
the bonus quests were created by
assorted gaming magazines, with
a few others written by the
original scenario writer, Satomi
Tadashi. In particular, one of these
features a return to St. Hermelin
High, as the heroes of Innocent
Sin follow in the footsteps of the
heroes from the original game.
Unfortunately, both the DLC and
the quest creator functionalities
were removed from the English
release. Atlus remained vague on
the reason, but a similar issue
occurred with Nippon Ichi's
Disgaea 4, and they confirmed
that it was an issue with user
created content and the ESRB, as
well as assorted technical reasons.
Both versions feature some
weird bits of censorship. Hitler is
still in the game, but he's now
known as the more vague
"Fuhrer" and his identity is
"concealed" by a pair of ridiculous
sunglasses. Apparently this had to
do with CERO requirements
regarding the accuracy of
historical characters, but Atlus
discovered a clever, somewhat
tongue-in-cheek approach to get
around this regulation, so it's hard
to get too riled up for it. All of the
swastikas, of course, have all
been replaced by more generic iron
crosses, and the Nazis are just
called the Last Batallion.
The hero, with a weird bowl
shaped haircut. One of his
conversation options is to make
motorcycle noises. He wields a
sword and has an oddly deep
voice.
A somewhat flagrant punk kid
who mocks Lisa constantly. His
last name is Mishima, which he
derives his nicknamed Michell
from. His weapon is a guitar
case that opens up into a gun,
and Lisa calls him Captain
Underwear due to his prankish
tendency to pull down people's
drawers.
An American girl raised entirely
in Japan. She knows no English
but peppers her speech with
Mandarin, due to her love of
kung fu movies. Her nickname
is "Ginko", which comes from
her last name, Silverman ("gin"
means "Silver", "ko" is a
common suffix in girl's names.)
She also has a crush on
Tatsuya.
A reporter for a teen magazine,
she's been assigned to
investigate the Joker killings.
Perky and upbeat, her motto is
the garbled English phrase
"Let's positive thinking!" She
wields two pink pistols and
says "Ciao!" a lot. She acts like
an older sister to the rest of the
team, despite Eikichi's
flirtations.
Possibly the only non-irritating
character from the original
Persona returns as Maya's
photographer. She's the same
as before - calm, cool and
collected.
Tatsuya's childhood buddy who
seems to like him as more than
a friend.