It’s common knowledge that JRPG localization can be a controversial topic. Many games, especially of this genre, don’t get published in all regions of the world. When this happens, gamers usually step in, demand it comes to their region, and wait eagerly for the decision of the game’s publisher. The times when don’t get localized can be very disappointing. But alas, there is hope in remakes. Such is the case with Persona 2: Innocent sin. Back in November of 2000, JRPG fans in North America received a sequel to Revelations: Persona on the Playstation One titled Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. Unfortunately, what they received was the second in a pair of games that make up Persona 2. The first part in the pair, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, was left in Japan and out of reach of North American gamers. But earlier this year, Atlus finally took action and released Persona 2: Innocent Sin on the PSP. After eleven years, this game is definitely worth the wait, but you will have to be able to see past some classic JRPG pitfalls in order to get full enjoyment.
Taking place in Samarua City, a fictional location in the Persona universe, Innocent Sin tells the story of a delinquent highschool student named Tatsuyo Suou. The game starts with Tatsuyo going on a mission to infiltrate the base of a rival highschool to retrieve a kidnapped student. After a series of odd events, the retrieval mission results in Tatusyo and some other key characters summoning the spirit Joker. After a near-death experience surrounding the summoning of Joker, Tatsuyo is transported to the realm of Philemon, where he is granted the power of Persona. Eventually, the city of Samarua becomes cursed and any rumor spread turns to fact. It is up to Tatsuyo and friends to chase down Joker and lift the curse on Samarua City.
Overall the story in Persona: Innocent Sin is great, but not quite up to the high standards set by later entries in the series. While Persona 3 and 4 tend to focus on important facts and plot elements, Innocent Sin likes to glaze over these important aspects. For example, their explanation of the Persona powers, the basis of the game, is very limited and rushed.
Despite this oversight, Innocent Sin easily has some of the best characters in the series. Delinquent loner Tatsuyo Suou is the perfect protagonist and some of the supporting characters such as the Japanese obsessed Amerixan Lisa Silverman and flamboyent bully Eikichi Mishina help to make Innocent Sin a very enjoyable experience. One of the best features of Innocent Sin is when you walk into some establishments the characters will play out a special dialog sequence. This helps the player familiarize themselves with the characters and the majority of these sequences are quite entertaining as well.
You will be spending a lot of time with all these characters with all of the gameplay offered in Innocent Sin. The big draw to the gameplay back in 2000 was that for the first time in a Shin Megami Tensei game, the dungeon portions were third-person opposed to first-person. To this day, the third-person exploration still works wonderfully. Apart from dungeon exploration, the gameplay in Innocent Sin is nearly identical to the of the original game in the series, Revelations: Persona. The battles are standard turn-based JRPG battles that are fought in the third-person perspective. Traveling across the world map involves moving a cursor from a top-down-perspective, as does traveling across local district maps. Item shops are once again disguised as what could be real-world stores. By this I mean that you can go to a pharmacy or diner for medicine and a tanning salon acts as an inn. These shops are always interesting and full of vibrant, and often odd, NPCs.
As for the graphics, Innocent Sin on the PSP adds a new coat of paint to everything from the character sprites to the text boxes. Environments are nearly the same as the PS1 original, but there is a noticeable difference in the menu screens. The graphics look great on the PSP’s relatively small screen. They aren’t as great as what we saw from Persona 3 Portable, but they are an improvement over the remake of the original Persona. However, if you are eager to play an older JRPG such as Innocent Sin, the quality of the graphics definitely won’t be a deciding factor.
It may have taken eleven years for North America to receive a proper translation and release of Persona 2: Innocent Sin, but for JRPG fans, it was more than worth the wait. From the classic gameplay to the great story, Innocent Sin will keep JRPG fans hungry for hours. There are classic JRPG problems to overcome when playing through Innocent Sin and annoyances are sure to come frequently. But for your money, Innocent Sin is another shining example of what favor the Persona series has done to the JRPG genre.