ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Atlus to World: Persona’s Not Dead; Here’s the Games

Japanese game developer Atlus may not be the most well-known name among many circles, but there’s not one person who knows of the company who isn’t also a huge fan. For decades now Atlus has been consistently bringing out some of the finest JRPGs–and other, sometimes oddball genres–in video game history, but one could easily argue that their crowning achievement is the much-loved Persona series. In recent years production of these games was brought to an untimely halt during a severe financial crisis for Atlus and its associated company, Index Corporation, but earlier this year Sega Sammy swooped in to save the day by acquiring the companies and giving them a prominent position in Sega development. The result? We’ll finally get Persona 5, yes, but Atlus won’t be stopping there. To prove to the world what they claimed all along–that Persona was not dead–we’ll see not just that one game, but a grand total of four Persona titles (three of them spinoffs) over the next year or so. For now all of these releases are confined to Japanese shores, but considering the cult popularity of Atlus games in the west, it’s almost a sure thing that most–if not all–these games will see an English localization some time down the road.

Persona 5

For those who don’t know, the established formula for Persona games is playing as characters who are highschool students by day and monster slayers by night. The teaser trailer above certainly doesn’t make this abundantly clear (unless it equates highschool with slavery, which seems doubtful UPDATE: Atlus has confirmed that the intention is to portray modern society as shackles binding the characters) or anything else related to the upcoming game, for that matter. Five chairs might indicate five lead characters, or it might just be five for Persona 5. Not a whole lot of information is given in the video (much of the Japanese is merely credits) but at this point, all that matters is that the game is in the works and it’s coming to Japan winter 2014 exclusively for Playstation 3. Yes, that’s right: Playstation 3, not Playstation 4. Both Persona 3 and Persona 4 were late entries to the Playstation 2 catalog, so it makes sense for Atlus to continue the trend. I’m sure we’ll see more of this one as time goes on.

Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold

Next on the list we have a follow up to the pretty well-received Arcade/Playstation 3/Xbox 360 spinoff game, Persona 4: Arena. Contrary to Persona 5, this one holds much fewer secrets. The oddly-titled P4U: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold will feature more of Arc System Works’ legendary fighting mechanics coupled with Atlus’ Persona characters and environments. New characters will be added to the mix, old ones rebalanced, and new moves and abilities will make an appearance as well. It’s a sequel in gameplay and storyline, but P4U’s offering will probably not differentiate too much from the established Persona 4 Arena formula. P4U will make its debut on arcades in Japan, with a Playstation 3 release following sometime in Summer 2014.

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

We’ve known that the storylines of Persona 3 and 4 were connected, and we’ve even seen the characters of the two games interact in limited fashion, but never before has there been anything like Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. This Nintendo 3DS exclusive promises a return to Yasogami Highschool as chibi-fied characters from Persona 3 and 4 investigate the school’s Seven Mysteries, one of which being that anyone who listens to the clock tower bell until the last toll dies. There’s a lot in this trailer to excite long-time Persona fans, but as of yet not a whole lot to connect it all. The reappearance of Minato Arisato will alone be enough to set a lot of heads spinning, but I’m going to guess that we’re looking at a timeline set at some point prior to the end of Persona 3. Whatever the real story, Persona Q is something of a mystery in itself, and the big unveiling will begin when the game releases on June 5, 2014. UPDATE: It has been confirmed that Persona Q is being built on elements of Etrian Odyssey, another of Atlus’ series made for the 3DS. Like Persona 4 Arena, it will be something of an experimental title to bring some different gameplay mechanics to Persona without deviating from the core of the series.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Last and definitely least is a Persona-themed rhythm game coming by way of Dingo, the folks responsible for creating the famous virtual Japanese popstar Hatsune Miku and her associated Project Diva games. While there is an undeniable charm to the trailer above, I don’t think anyone really expected or asked for Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Maybe Atlus just didn’t want to leave the Playstation Vita entirely out of the Persona action, since that’s the platform this game will call home when it releases Fall of next year. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, but bear in mind these are all Japanese releases for the time being, and currently rhythm games of this style are selling much better over there than in the West.

So there you have it, Atlus fans. Something to look forward to for your Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, and Nintendo 3DS. Too bad us westerners will have to wait for localizations, but fingers crossed, they’re coming!