Updating RPG Persona: from PS1 to PSP

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Like the president of the Hair Club for Men who’s also a member, I’m not just part of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona localization team, I’m also a fan. I was there in 1996 as the original game was released on PlayStation to an audience of RPG fans who needed something to play until Final Fantasy VII’s release, and to my surprise, the “filler” game ended up making as much or more of an impression on me as what I bought the system for.

But it wasn’t perfect. The localization standards of the day meant it was compromised in a few respects; some major, some minor. The translators and editors at 1996-era Atlus actually acquitted themselves fairly well when it came to the dialogue: major story beats were properly conveyed, and the personality of the nine playable characters shone through pretty well. As for the changes made to the rest of the game… well, at the time, there was nothing else in the series available in English, so it might not have been the highest priority to make sure it upheld series traditions like the modern-day Japanese setting or the mythological underpinnings of Personas and demons.

When we learned that our parent company was remaking the game for the PlayStation Portable, though, those of us at Atlus U.S.A., Inc. who’d played the game 13 years ago were nearly salivating at the chance to polish the original Persona up the standard we’ve become known for with games like Odin Sphere, Persona 3 and 4, and Knights in the Nightmare. All the dialogue has been touched up to read more smoothly and naturally than it did even in the PlayStation original, but there were three key areas where the re-localization will pay off most for recent converts to the Persona series.

Persona comparison 1

The first is the retention of all the original Japanese names and locations. Whereas the PSX release maintained the polite fiction that the game took place in the American city of Lunarvale, where you and your friends Mary, Nate, and Mark were off on an adventure, for the PSP release we’ve kept everything true to the Japanese roots. Here, the trouble starts in the city of Mikage, and you’ll need help from your friends Maki, Nanjo, and… Mark. Strange to say, but in the Japanese version of Persona, a few characters went by nicknames, and Masao Inaba was called Mark by his friends throughout the game. So whereas he was Mark due to sweeping translation changes on PSX, on PSP he’s Mark out of fidelity to the original. Funny how that works, eh?

The second is the greater attention paid to the proper names for the Personas and demons. The Shin Megami Tensei series has always prided itself on attention to detail in its accurate and careful use of world mythology; for instance, if you know the backstory behind the various demons in Nocturne, that right there is enough to draw a few conclusions about the factions they side with. The original translation kept very few of the true names, though in fairness the character limit was very strict and the vast online resources our current localizations make frequent use of didn’t exist at the time.

Persona comparison 2

For the PSP remake, we used references such as online mythology databases and Japanese series guides like Persona World Guidance to ensure accuracy in the names. We also worked with the developers to implement a font for the names of enemies, Personas, skills, and items was thin enough to display what we needed. As a result, players needn’t worry about scratching their heads over a Pawn or a Lance anymore—they’ll be named Airgetlam and Cu Chulainn as they were intended, which should keep the Celtic mythology buffs in our audience happy.

Persona comparison 4

Finally, the skill names are now consistent both with what fans know from other games in the Shin Megami Tensei series as well as internally within Persona. There’ll be no more confusion as to whether “Ray,” “Wave,” and “Sonic” are all part of the same family of spells—now they’re simply called Zan, Zanma, and Zandyne. (And if you’re totally new to the SMT series and wish you could have Ray, Wave, and Sonic back, don’t worry. The new interface in Persona lets you access spell descriptions in most menu screens.) The skill types are also a little clearer than they were on PSX: if you had to find out the hard way what Physical skills were, perhaps it’ll be easier to understand now that it’s known as Force magic.

Persona comparison 3

As you can see, a fresh coat of localization paint can make a lot of difference, both to the story and atmosphere as well as to the player’s understanding of the game’s mechanics. Hopefully, our retranslation, combined with the improved interface and speed enhancements, will let a whole new generation of RPG fans see in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona the same things I did 13 years ago.

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9 Author Replies

  • Looks cool….never played it, could be a good time to pick it up

  • It’s good to see quality remakes, not re-hashes.

  • Every RPG fan with a PSP should give this game a go.

  • I can’t wait to pick this up. Huge SMT fan and just recently got into the persona series.

  • Persona
    Shin Megami

    Finally got into these games after wondering for so long why all these gamers talked about them so much.

    Oh man are they incredible games. Can’t believe I missed them for so long.

    Atlus FTW

  • stop making rpgs for psp and put them on the ps3

  • What I want in a new persona game on the PS3, that sure would be sweet. ;)

  • I’ll be picking this up sooner or later. Getting the UMD version of course.

  • Will this be for download on the PSN?

    • Belmonth,

      It will indeed. Look for more news from us regarding the PSN version soon!

      And, since we never tire of mentioning it, the UMD version of the game will come with the game\’s full soundtrack—spanning 2 CDs—all at no extra cost to the customer.

      Thank you for the question.

  • This is probably one of the games I’m looking forward to the most his year. Funny enough, right before this was announced I had started up my PS1 copy of the original game that I’d never really played and the localization made it a real chore to play.

    So, can we expect to see Persona 2 get the same treatement, and for both versions (Eternal Punishment and Innocent Sin)?

  • Make the game like the PSone Classics. It would be great if it was available to PS3 and PSP.

    • If it had been released as a PSone Classic, then all the crusty old localization and interface issues I pointed out would still be around. This way, more audiences can enjoy a spruced-up take on the game.

  • @10 (Belmonth) Yeah, they said it’d be downloadable, but you’d be missing out on the awesome packaging and the 2 disc soundtrack. :)

  • They said download and UMD available at Launch. Problem was that the digital and UMD versions are $39.99. With the soundtrack and other bonuses for the UMD version, other then needing/wanting digital, not much reason to buy the digital instead of the UMD.

  • i would really like to see some atlus psone classics on the ps store. that would be an amazing experience for people like me to play some games again, and for people who havn’t touch any kinda rpgs from atlus to start getting into them.

  • Played Persona 3 and 4 but never got a chance to play this. I plan on picking it up.

  • When will we see a SMT game for the PS3?

  • Why cant you guys add Persona to ps1 classics? I was all worked up and happy that finally some good ps classics coming to psn until I read the damn text.

    • infamousXX87XX: See the response to Ultranium\’s comment above. With a remake rather than a simple re-release, a lot of improvements and tweaks can be added to make it a much smoother experience.

  • 1) Above you mention a “PSN version”. Are you talking about an actual PSN version of the game with trophies, or did you mis-speak and actually mean a downloadable PSP game? Hoping for the actual PSN port of this game. If this is not already in the works, please let the powers that be know that there is interest.

    2) When will you be posting about the Demons’ Souls strategy guide?

  • I’m assuming there won’t be an option to keep the old names…I’ve become attached to them over the years…

    Also is the Snow Queen quest in this version?

    • Unfortunately, the old names aren\’t in anywhere, but the Snow Queen Quest is! And it\’s not just an extra dungeon, as some have thought, but an entire 30-hour alternate quest to the main storyline.

  • Can’t wait to get my hands on this game.Any word if you guys are going to release the Persona 3 PSP remake as well?

  • A good friend keeps bugging me to try out the series, but I always find it hard to join in a game when you start late in the series. with this release it will give me a great opportunity to start from scratch in the series and learn about it from there. I was considering Persona 4 but now I’ll have to try this first. my entire opinion of the persona franchise hangs in the balance of this single game!

    • Haha, well, I hope you\’re satisfied enough with this one to give the others a shot. But if you\’re not, you should know that P3 and P4 are both stand-alone entries in the series, and you don\’t need to have played the first three games to enjoy those.

  • Would you be able to release the remake for the PS3?

  • Sweet, looking forward to replaying the game with improved translations on my PSP. Is there any word on the timeline for P3Portable? Looks like you guys will get me for a 3rd copy of the game. =)

  • First off it looks great I can’t wait!! Second will this be available for download for PSPGO and if so will it be playable on the PS3 and if not why?

  • As someone who played the original Persona when it came out, these changes look great.

    I just wish they hadn’t changed the music. :(

  • “No, your stupid!” from the picture *VivaGardner puts his face in his palm*

    And we wonder why our young aren’t too bright.

  • Sounds good. I agree with sNsKid

  • This looks great, but I’m not very big on portable systems. For all the mistranslations and problems, I’d still buy the original PS1 Persona if it were released as a PS1 Classic, simply because I have a PS3, and no plans for a PSP. Now, if this remake were playable on PS3, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, but since it isn’t, I hope you do consider showing your PS3-owning fans some love with the original two PS1 games.

  • I read on IGN recently that the price for the digital download version (ie. PSP-Go) is the same as the UMD version albeit with less content.

    1) Is this true?

    2) If so, how can ‘you guys’ feel right about doing that? I think that anyone other than market folk can tell that that is a rip off.


    • 1) Yes, it is true, but the PSN version is not lacking in content. Rather, the UMD version available at retail has bonus items (and the infrastructure doesn\’t quite exist yet to make the same offer available for PSN customers).

      2) There are a number of factors that play into digital pricing. As consumers ourselves, we hope that as the format matures, any savings that digital downloads may offer can be passed along to the end customer.

      Thank you for the questions.

    • And by bonus items I mean the game\’s full soundtrack on 2 physical music CDs, all packaged in a nice outer box. Something we had no means of delivering to digital customers at this time, regretfully.

  • Hope you guys get Atlus Japan to compile Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment to PSP so you can translate IS and retranslate EP as EP’s translation after IS’ fan translation is pretty painful.

  • Sweet, I’ve been a big fan of this series!

    Can we expect any new Persona or Shin Megami game to be released on PS3?

  • This is great, Plan on picking this up Day one.

    Can ask, do you guys have any plans to release P3P or Persona 3 for the PSP here stateside?

    And are you guys gonna remake Persona 2 for PSP? P1 n P3 are getting PSP ports but not P2, Why?

    Other than that, I would really to see a Persona Collection for the PS3 like the GoW collection. That would be awesome.

  • wow. Personally i don’t really like RPGs, so i can’t really comment on the game.

    But… releasing a Downloadable game for the same price as the UMD is always retarded and something i hope people will boycott. So… releasing the Downloadable game at the same price as the UMD AND CD bundle is, quite frankly, insane.

    Honestly… That’s insane. Not sure how much this game cost’s, but it should certainly be lowered for the downloadable version. If its 30-40 bucks or something high like that, then i see no reason why any person would get the downloadable game.

    It doesn’t really effect me at all. >.> But if they were to do this with say Motorstorm Arctic Edge, i’d be throwing a rather large temper tantrum. lol

  • This game is coming on the PS Store?

  • I want to thank Aram Jabbari for answering my questions. Even though the answers reitterated what I already knew/suspected, at least you took the time to answer at all.

    Thank you.

    Hopefully in the future the fact that Digital Download will equate to slightly cheaper pricing.

    As an aside, too bad you guys couldn’t include some kind of iTunes code for the Persona soundtrack (assuming that the soundtrack were to be made available via iTunes of course).

  • I understand being confused about the digital version being the same price as the physical version but you have to step back and see the bigger picture. This is not a case of Atlus deciding to rip you off. There are so many factors that go into selling games.

    It’s not just Atlus, you have to factor in Sony, retail videogame stores, outlet stores that stock videogames. All of them have a stake in the price point of a game. I think if these retailers find that people will buy digital versions of the same game cheaper then they could refuse to stock games to sell and could make a real big mess for Sony & the publishers.

    “Boycotting” isn’t going to change anything and you’re only going to hurt the good people who are trying to bring you the videogames you love to play. I think these smaller publishers are doing the best they can do within the rules they’ve been given.

  • can’t wait! ATLUS & SMT RULE!!!!

  • Atlus, I really love your games, but if you guys haven’t noticed We’re on a PS3. You guys seem to be focusing more on PS2, and PSP games more than PS3. I plan on getting a PSP later but even though I will buy some I can’t get all. It would be 100x better if you would put this on the PS3.

    Come on Atlus, are you Fired Up? Ready to Go!

  • Yes, I know of Demon Soul’s and I plan on getting it. But come on I want me some Atlus Anime on mah PS3!

  • I’ve had this pre-ordered since June. Can’t wait.

    This might finally be the game that can kick Dissidia out of my PSP. Man that game is addicting…

  • Cant you just emulate this on the PS3 so people without PSPs can enjoy it too? I really want to play Persona 1 and 2 but cannot afford the original games or a PSP.

  • Nothing for the UK then i assume

  • You do know that it’s “You’re stupid”, not “Your stupid”, right?

    • Well, yes. The first screenshot is 13 years old. The version on the right is the brand new, spiffed-up localization.

  • Nice! I actually never got a chance to play this game so this is great news for me. I just picked up Persona 4 though so I think I’ll wait until after I get this to play 4. (=

    Hey speaking of RPGs, has anyone over there at SCEA heard anything on Tales of Vesperia for PS3 coming stateside?

  • Looking forward to this game!

    Will there be a chance Persona 2 (EP or IS) will come out in some way or another (PSOne classic, PSP remake, PSN game)?

  • If only PS3 would get some RPGs… With PS2 being the best console for RPGs ever PS3 is probably the worst.

  • more rpgs for the ps3 plz

  • I love that you guys added your signature description of characters if you don’t know their name. Most games either just put the characters name even though it hasn’t been said yet or put question marks, but you guys put stuff like smug student, such a small thing but it’s something that I know Atlus for.

  • Woo! We finally get to experience the original game! Can’t wait!

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