Friday, June 10, 2011

PERSONA 2 ETERNAL PUNISHMENT




Persona 2 Eternal Punishment
Developer - Atlus
Publisher - Atlus
Release date - December 22, 2000

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus, and chronologically the third installment in the Persona series, a subseries of the Megami Tensei franchise. It was originally published in 2000 by Atlus in Japan and North America for the PlayStation. The game was later remade by Atlus for the PlayStation Portable. This version, released in Japan in 2012, did not receive an overseas release. In response to this, the PlayStation version was released on PlayStation Network in 2013.


Story

Set a few months after the ending of Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Eternal Punishment takes place in 1999 in Sumaru (
珠閒瑠?), a fictional seaside city in Japan with a population of 1.28 million, its own television stations, and a structure leftover from its foundations during the Warring States period. Many of the characters come from two high schools in Sumaru: Seven Sisters (七姉妹学園?), a prestigious school that is the setting of Innocent Sin, and the less-prestigious Kasugayama (春日山?). All the protagonists wield Personas, manifestations of their personalities. The ability to wield Personas was granted to them by Philemon, a benevolent personification of humanity's Collective Unconscious. The events of Innocent Sin are said to stem from a contest between Philemon and his opposite Nyarlathotep to see if humans could find a higher purpose in life despite embracing contradictory emotions. During the events of Innocent Sin, Nyarlathotep influenced events in his favor and all the world except Sumaru City was destroyed. In order to reset events, the party used the power of the Collective Unconscious to will the key event that caused the events of Innocent Sin out of existence in exchange for their memories of those events: this created an alternate timeline, with the Innocent Sin timeline existing as a separate "Other Side". A key element to the story of Eternal Punishment is Kegare, a negative energy that can possess humans and trigger rises in crime and the perpetuation of more Kegare.

The main protagonist of Eternal Punishment is Maya Amano, a reporter for teen magazine "Coolest" who was a playable character in Innocent Sin. She is joined on her adventure by others, including people who were involved in the events of Innocent Sin: Tatsuya Suou, a student at Seven Sisters and the main protagonist of Innocent Sin; Ulala Serizawa, a school friend of Maya's an aspiring fashion designer; Baofu, a former prosecuting attorney out for revenge against the Taiwanese Mafia; and Katsuya Suou, Tatsuya's older brother and a sergeant in the Sumaru City Police Department. Returning antagonists include Tatsuya Sudou, a madman who was involved in the incident that precipitated the events of Innocent Sin; and Takahisa Kandori, a former servant of Nyarlathotep and the main antagonist of Revelations: Persona who is resurrected through the power of Kotodama. Kandori in turn serves Tatsuzou Sudou, Tatsuya Sudou's father. Two other central characters from Revelations: Persona, Kei Nanjō and Eriko Kirishima, act as supporting characters and optional playable characters. The other protagonists of Innocent Sin (Eikichi "Michel" Mishina, Lisa "Ginko" Silverman, Jun Kashihara) play minor supporting roles.


Gameplay

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a role-playing game where the player takes control of a group of characters exploring the fictional city of Sumaru. The camera follows the party from an adjustable angled overhead perspective. The city in general is navigated using an overworld map. A key element to the story and gameplay is the Rumor system: after the characters hear a rumor, they can spread that rumor around the city using certain characters, and those rumors can grant the characters special items or other positive or negative effects.

Battles consist of both story-related boss fights and random encounters with standard enemies. Battles are turn-based, with the player characters and enemies moving around a small battle arena to perform actions. Once the player has laid out their strategy in the battle menu, the characters perform their assigned actions until the battle ends with victory for one side or the player pauses the action to change strategies. Instead of the grid-based battle system from the original Persona, party members and enemy units act in the same phase of a turn, rather than being restricted by their placement on the field.

During battle, players cast spells using an assigned Persona: each spell drains a character's Spell Point meter. Each Persona has different elemental strengths and weaknesses, and different Personas can be used for defense, healing or elemental attacks. While a Persona is originally quite weak, if it is used enough, it will achieve a higher rank, with Rank 8 being the highest possible. As the Persona's rank is raised, that Persona is able to cast more powerful spells. In addition to individual actions, the player can align characters to trigger a Fusion Spell: when two or more party members use a certain sequence of spells, they will automatically summon multiple Personas to generate a powerful attack. During battles, both characters and Personas earn experience points. The player has the option to activate an Auto-battle option, having combat play out without player interaction.

During battle, the player can converse with enemies, though they are restricted to a single set of dialogue options instead of four as in the original Persona. If the player succeeds in talking with the enemy using the right character, it both causes the enemy to leave the battlefield and gains a spell card (a Tarot card linked to one of the Arcanum or family of Personas), which can be used to create Personas in a location called the Velvet Room. In the Velvet Room, the player can summon a new Persona that belongs to a spell card's particular Persona family group. As a character gains experience levels, more powerful Personas from a spell card's group become available. In addition to pre-set spell cards, the player can also obtain blank skill cards by forming contracts with enemies through the right conversation. These blank skill cards can be tailored to fit a chosen Persona family.


Development

The concept for Eternal Punishment emerged during the writing for Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Halfway through writing the latter's script, Tadashi Satomi felt that the draft gave him the impression of needing an alternate point of view to that of the main hero. This concept formed the basis for Eternal Punishment's plot. To foreshadow this, the team showed the main characters from Eternal Punishment through minor roles in Innocent Sin. Eternal Punishment began full development after the release of Innocent Sin. Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment both used the same game engine and structure. Kouji Okada, Innocent Sin's producer, returned in the same role. When developing Eternal Punishment, the development team took what they learned from Innocent Sin and used it to improve the gameplay and the Rumor system. One of the biggest concerns when making Eternal Punishment was how much the development staff wanted to include, which went well beyond their original plans.

The overarching theme of Eternal Punishment, as with Persona and Innocent Sin, was exploration of the human psyche and the main characters discovering their true selves. While Innocent Sin focused on the protagonists as teenagers, Eternal Punishment looked at the protagonists as adults: for its central character theme, Eternal Punishment focused on how people realize their true selves as adults faced with reality. A theme carried over from Innocent Sin was the "power of Kotodama", the Japanese belief that words can influence the physical and spiritual world, with this power manifesting through the spreading of rumors. Terms and concepts used in the games, including Persona, Shadows and the character Philemon, were drawn from Jungian psychology and archetypes. The character of Nyarlathotep, who had made a cameo appearance as a Persona in the original game, was inspired by the character of the same name from H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Other antagonists and enemy creatures in the games were also drawn from the Cthulhu Mythos and played a key role in the narrative.

The main characters were designed by Kazuma Kaneko, while secondary characters were designed by Shigenori Soejima. The protagonists of Eternal Punishment were adults and so could not be given a single standardized outfit as the high school protagonists of Innocent Sin had been. While designing the outfits for Eternal Punishment, Kaneko tried to keep an image of normal adults in mind, but in doing so was restricted when trying to portray the characters' heroism. In the end, he designed the characters to look normal while having a "different feeling" from other people. One of the characters that helped drive this style home was Ulala, who was a minor character in Innocent Sin and a main protagonist in Eternal Punishment. The Joker character from Innocent Sin was carried over into Eternal Punishment: the new Joker's actions were made increasingly murderous, creating a contrast between the two incarnations.


Ports and localization

Eternal Punishment was first announced in April at the 2000 Tokyo Game Show. During the show, Atlus held a talk spot hosted by Kouji Okada and Kazuma Kaneko, and featuring an appearance by Elisha La'Verne, the singer responsible for the game's theme song. Unlike Innocent Sin, Eternal Punishment was chosen for release in the West. Its localization was significantly different to that done for the original Persona, released in 1996. Persona received numerous alterations for its overseas release, including altering character and location names. For Eternal Punishment and future titles, Atlus decided to remain as faithful as possible to the Japanese version. According to Atlus, the game marks a "halfway point" in their localization history: while more faithful to the Japanese version than the original Persona, it still needed to take that previous localization into account for the naming of returning characters. Its release in the West was officially announced the following month at that year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, with Atlus previously teasing it as a "secret RPG". Eternal Punishment received a limited reprint exclusive to Amazon.com in 2008 to celebrate the release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4.

Eternal Punishment was remade for the PlayStation Portable. Like the remake of Innocent Sin, it was directed by Shoji Meguro. The original plan at Altus was to have Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment released as a single game, but both could not fit onto a single UMD. Even before the completion of Innocent Sin's remake, when there were no plans for a remake of Eternal Punishment, Meguro was keen to make one if the opportunity arose. For the remake, the team had two points of reference: the original version, and the remake of Innocent Sin. The team carried over most of the features implemented Innocent Sin's remake while further simplifying and streamlining the mechanics, aiming for a "culmination" to Persona 2 as a whole. A large portion of the initial work was playing through the original version. A new opening animation was created by anime production company Madhouse. In addition to the gameplay modifications, a new scenario was added focusing on Tatsuya's activities before he joined the party. Satomi, after having written the script for a downloadable quest for Innocent Sin's remake, was asked whether he would like to write a new scenario for the Eternal Punishment's remake, and accepted willingly. During the writing process, Satomi suggested giving Maya dialogue, but this was vetoed as Persona protagonists were silent without exception. The scenario's new characters were designed by Masayuki Doi.

The remake was announced in February 2012 by Famitsu. For the packaging, Kaneko was asked to design a new piece of key art. The artwork features Maya and her initial Persona Maia. The remake was not released outside Japan due to "unusual circumstances". Game Informer included the game on its list of "RPGs Released Late In The PSP's Life Cycle", games that were likely never to see a release due to the flagging western PSP market. In response to the decision not to localize the remake, the original version was released on PlayStation Network in 2013. As part of the announcement, PlayStation Blog released a guide showing which characters had received name changes in the original localization.Intended to be playable on PSP, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3, a fault at release meant only the PS3 version was playable, with Sony creating a fix for the problem after players complained about the fault.


Music

The original music for Eternal Punishment was composed by Toshiko Tasaki, Kenichi Tsuchiya and Masaki Kurokawa, the composers for Innocent Sin. As with Innocent Sin, Tsuchiya found the writing process difficult for a number of reasons. Tsuchiya's favorite piece for the score, which was carried over from Innocent Sin, was "Maya's Theme". The tune has remained popular with the Persona fan base: Tsuchiya has attributed its popularity to the enduring nature of the Persona series as a whole, and compared it to a fashionable item of the time that now requires a "certain courage" to wear in later times. The game's theme song, "Change your Way", was written and sung by British singer-songwriter Elisha La'Verne, and the music was composed by T.Kura. La'Verne wrote the song with the premise of Eternal Punishment in mind, and so she wanted the song to sound positive. For inspiration, she drew on her experiences of walking round London and seeing homeless people who appeared unable to improve their status: the song's theme is that there is always a way out of a bad situation and you can change that situation for the better. The title also stemmed from this concept. Together with Innocent Sin, Eternal Punishment is the one of the first entries in the Megami Tensei series to feature voice acting.

For the PSP version, the music was remixed by Toshiki Konishi, Ryota Kozuka and Atsushi Kitajoh, who also worked on the remixed music for Innocent Sin's port. The team, while remixing the music, did not want to destroy the original's foundation. The ruling concept, as defined by Konishi, was "not to far and not too close to the original". For the opening animation, Meguro requested Konishi to personally remix the game's original opening theme. It was the first time he had been put in charge of an opening theme, and it proved troublesome for him, as he needed to rerecord the vocals and make sure he did justice to the original version. For Kitajoh, one of the most notable arrangements he did was for "Maya's Theme": Meguro, who had previously remixed this track for Persona 3: FES, asked for a remix with a faster tempo and incorporated hard rock elements. The new scenario also used remixed music from the original game instead of new tracks.

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