Countdown to Persona 5 News

And so it begins.

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Atlus’ official page for Persona 5 has updated to show a countdown clock that begun at over 300 hours*. The end time? 5/5/2016.

This reveal comes just 48 hours after signs of P5’s release date began to show. This is just speculation on my behalf, but I imagine we’re about to get our fourth full-length trailer and release information for Japan. I’ll take it a step further and say with what Atlus USA has been teasing in regards to E3 this year (and the fact that release info on Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse is already known), not only could we be learning Japanese release info in May, but we could be learning American release info in June.

For those wondering.

A post shared by Jack Frost (@atlususa) on

All aboard the hype train.

*Note: The time displayed on the site depends on your system. The countdown ends at 8:30 AM Eastern time on 5/5/16

Persona 5 Release Date Rumored Between Aug 18 and Sept 30

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Today’s news comes way of ore-no-web4th,  a Japanese blog with connections in retail known for leaking release dates in strange and vague fashions. Their latest ruse is the following. 

  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End — May 10, 2016
  • Dragon Quest Heroes II — May 27, 2016
  • Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers — June 30, 2016
  • Toukiden 2 — June 30, 2016
  • The Idolmaster: Platinum Stars — July 28, 2016
  • Tales of Berseria — August 18, 2016
  • Yellow children’s umbrella
  • Final Fantasy XV — September 30, 2016

As you can see on their site, each upcoming game is shown by its Amazon Japan listing, with a conspicuous yellow umbrella amidst highly anticipated games.

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What’s the connection? The pictured umbrella is for a TV show called Chikyu Sentai Fiveman. Readers are making a connection between the “five” and Perosna 5’s advertised release date of summer 2016.

August 18 –  September 30 is still a rather large window; nearly a month and a half (and the final week or so would technically be fall 2016). Still, this would fall in line with what we last heard from director Katsura Hashino in February: fans will get to enjoy P5 prior to celebrating Persona’s 20th birthday on September 20th.

Of course, this would also put P5 out prior to its prime competitor, Final Fantasy XV, with it still being on track to seeing English localization before the end of the year.

Credit Where It’s Due: Persona Central

I’m sure for many of you who’ve been kind enough to venture here from Twitter, this is not news. Over the last few months, I’ve become more engrossed in a fantastic community of Persona fans largely thanks to Persona Central.

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PC is the Internet’s leading blog on Atlus’ Persona series (as well as covering other interests regarding Atlus). I’ve been a reader for almost a year now thanks to the excitement regarding Persona 5. I don’t consider myself someone that creates exclusive Persona/SMT/Atlus content like they do. More so, it’s simply the theme for this year thanks to P5. That said, if not for PC, I wouldn’t be able to reach the Persona fan base like I have been.

Truth be told, it’s thanks to PC and all the followers they’ve gained on Twitter that I’ve been able to find so many interesting, entertaining people over the past few months and have been able to share my own excitement with them. If you’re one of those people who I’ve followed since the turn of the new year, I can almost guarantee you it’s because you also followed PC.

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In the event you’re not familiar with PC but want updates on Persona, then I strongly encourage you follow them on Twitter and read their updates. You’ll find the little things that aren’t always posted by the big sites, such as insight on Atlus’ emerging role in PlayStation VR. You can also bet on the latest news regarding P5 from Japan before condensed, lower quality version of that news hits the big gaming sites.

So thanks, Persona Central, for all that you do and helping bring us together.

Persona 5 Director Katsura Hashino Interview in March’s Official Persona Magazine, Reaction

Pmag-9-724x1024Translations of Katsura Hashino’s latest interview featured in the March 2016 edition of the Official Persona Magazine are beginning to surface and were they ever worth the wait.

First of all, I cannot take credit for the paraphrasing I’m about to do. This is all secondhand from very dedicated translators whom you should go pay respect to immediately. Shoutout to @MysticDistance on Twitter and to Siliconcera’s Sato.

The biggest thing to address regarding new info is that Hashino reaffirms and is adamant that P5 will release in 2016 and will do so prior to Persona celebrating its 20th birthday on 9/20/16. This falls in line with the game releasing in the summer, though it may still come as late as August.

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Regarding the game’s story, Hashino states that P5’s cast has been wrongfully labeled by society as “useless.” The game’s central theme seems to be rising up and changing society as the story progresses. The setting in Tokyo differs greatly from Persona 3’s and Persona 4’s fictional settings of Tatsumi Port Island and Inaba. Hashino says having the setting in a world we know will allow for a thrilling ‘Phantom Thief’ drama.

New details are given on the cast members. Ryuji Sakamoto is unsurprisingly the main character’s right hand man and enthusiastic about the prospect of the Phantom Thieves changing the world. Though he may be a bit rough around the edges and defiant, he’s described as being a good guy.

Yusuke Kitagawa, the eccentric artist of the group and most recent character revealed, is described as being more than meets the eye. He is gifted and bright, but also has a certain charm to his personality, apparently.

Most interesting are comments about Morgana and Ann Takamaki. Ann is said to stand out among peers and be popular, but lacks any true friends and feels isolated. Once she joins the team, she’ll be the life of the party and will ultimately play a large role in the ultimate fate of the main characters.

Morgana, the game’s mascot character akin to Persona 4’s Teddie, is said to have been in the ‘phantom thief business’ prior to having met the main character and Ryuji. Her experience allows her to act as a mentor to the team. Hashino also states there is a reason why Morgana appears as an average cat in the real world as opposed to her more cartoonish appearance in the other world (“Palace”). Also stated is that Morgana has a specific goal she’s looking to accomplish – one she’s had since prior to meeting the other characters.

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P5’s cast, minus the main character

News regarding gameplay is that the Social Link system, or at least something very similar, will be making a return, however, it is said to be far more in-depth than what was in Persona 3 and Persona 4. The goal in Persona 5 is to improve the human relation component to this part of the game and ATLUS did significant research in how to do so. Additionally, dungeon gameplay will be very different than what has been seen in the past.

Finally, Hashino states that come the 20th Anniversary Festival in September, ATLUS will be making an announcement that he hopes will please fans. However, keep in mind, this would be after P5’s release and Hashino says that he wants fans to enjoy P5 first, before the announcement.

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As far as gameplay goes, I was certainly unsurprised about comments regarding the dungeons. Given that P4’s initial release was on PS2 and this game is coming to PS4, plus what we’ve already seen in the first three preview videos, it’s always been clear that Persona 5’s biggest advantage over its predecessors is just how in-depth and unique its dungeons will be. Dungeon gameplay in P3 and P4 was somewhat monotonous, though that was more a symptom of the era they were made and not bad game design. As time has gone on, it’s those parts of the games that have aged poorest whereas P3’s and P4’s story writing and combat systems have held up splendidly.

News regarding the social aspect of the game leaves me a little bit weary. I’m a big fan of the Social Link system from Persona 3 and Persona 4 – particularly from P4 where it was seemingly perfected. Part of me says “Why fix what isn’t broken?” Then again, this is Katsura Hashino and his team we’re talking about and they’ve certainly earned my trust. Ultimately, what I want to see is that whatever this new system is, whether it is still called “Social Link” or not, is something that takes no more or less in-game time as the previous system, but simply reimagines the way each event occurs. In P3 and P4, each Social Link rank-up was sort of on rails. You were always going to get the same dialogue and same response options in every play-through. It’d be interesting to see the system be more alive where responses in earlier events shape the dialogue and response options in later events. We’ve already seen something like this with Marie’s Social Link in Persona 4 Golden.

Comments on Ryuji’s and Yusuke’s characters were also about what I expected. It’s hard not to compare P5’s cast to Hashino’s past characters, so I must say that Ryuji does come across as a mix of Persona 4’s Yosuke and Kanji.

What was surprising was to hear that Ann will play a role in the fate of the main characters. Some of the things said about her were reiteration of what we already knew: she’s part caucasian and feels a disconnect with her peers. Hearing that she becomes the life of the group once joining the team is also expected, given some of what we’ve seen of her in the first three previews.

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Ryuji, Ann, and Morgana

Comments on Morgana leave me intrigued. As was the case with Teddie in P4, it’s expected that she know more about the other world than the main character and other team members. In fact, that sort of mentor relationship was made clear enough in PV03. What has my interest is whatever her “goal” is. I have my own idea, but it may be too outlandish for now. I am eager to learn the nature of her existence, which undoubtedly ties in with why her appearance changes in the real world versus what it is in Palace. Much like how players discovered Teddie’s origins towards the end game of P4, the truth behind Morgana will likely be hidden to the main character throughout much of the game.

As time goes by, the more I question my initial reaction to P5’s first impressions. Hashino’s previous two games had two very clear themes. Persona 3’s theme was death and its corresponding color was blue. Persona 4’s theme was truth and its corresponding color was yellow. At first glance, the theme of P5 seemed to be “freedom” and unquestionably its corresponding color red. But with last September’s debut of PV03 and the first look of new vocalist Lyn singing the opening theme of the game, I’ve thought the overarching theme of this game may not be freedom, but rather “change.” This interview has reaffirmed that idea.

For as much comparing as I and many others are doing with P5’s known details to Persona 3 and Persona 4, I must say that a lot of what is known about this game thus far reminds me of the earliest entries in the franchise: Megami Ibunroku Persona and Persona 2 Innocent Sin. For starters, in each preview, we’ve seen the Phantom Thieves doing battle not against the Shadows we’ve become familiar with from P3 and P4, but instead actual Personas – the same Personas that have their roots in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise’s signature demons. Prior to Persona 3, the player would battle demons and negotiate with them to earn cards in order to fuse into new Personas in the Velvet Room. It isn’t yet known how new Personas will be acquired in P5, but the sheer fact that the player is battling proper Personas and not Shadows is a drastic change from P3/P4 and is a callback to the franchise’s roots.

The most recent thing that makes me think of P1 and P2 are these new comments about Ann. The idea that Ann will not just be another cast member no different from Ryuji or Yusuke is surprising. Stopping to think about it, there wasn’t really a character like that in P3 or P4. The closest anyone comes would be Aigis from P3, though her uniqueness was more so tied to the game’s background than the ultimate fate of the rest of the cast. There are, however, young women that fit this description in the original two games: Maki Sonomura from P1 and Maya Amano from P2. Each character was extremely central to their respective game’s story and ultimate outcome. It remains to be seen if Ann will play such a pivotal role in P5, but it would be interesting. Keep in mind that unlike the original games, P5’s social system will undoubtedly include romance, just like P3 and P4. So if Ann does hold some sort of heightened significance, one can only imagine how the perception of the story may change if the player pursues an intimate relationship with her.

Persona fans often joke that P1 and P2 never existed, largely due to ATLUS’s treatment of those games and the way they’re essentially ignored compared to everything P3 and later. At the corporate level, there may be some truth to that. In the recent past, ATLUS hasn’t been quick to acknowledge those games, but 2016 marking the 2o-year anniversary may be an exception. All of that said, I’ve never gotten the sense that Persona’s creative directors have ever meant to bury the legacy of the original games; especially when you remember that the series’ composer, Shoji Meguro, worked on Megami Ibunroku Persona and directed the re-releases on PlayStation Portable. P3 in particular had several allusions to P2 and even some of P4’s art design and naming choices can be seen as a callback to P1. Persona 5 releasing close to the franchise’s 20th birthday and having design callbacks to Persona’s roots would hardly be surprising.

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Finally, Hashino stating that they hope to make a big announcement after P5 releases was a huge takeaway from this interview. I can only imagine what it could be because it’s truly anyone’s guess. ATLUS making a big Persona related announcement after launch could be anything from another new game going into development, an older game getting a re-release/remake, or possibly even downloadable content for P5. DLC has made its way into the Persona franchise recently, but only in the spinoff games. P5 could mark the first main entry to receive DLC. Whatever it is, more Persona after P5’s launch can only be good.

There are some things I’m still disappointed we didn’t hear about, even though it was probably unreasonable to expect that we would. We will unquestionably have to play through the game to learn more about P5’s two new Velvet Room attendants, Caroline and Justine. On that note, we also don’t know what year P5 is set in, thus we don’t know how much time has passed since P4 and how that relates to why Margaret is no longer the attendant. Along those lines, I’m incredibly eager to see if Margaret’s absence, and perhaps the absence of Theodore as well, will somehow relate to the ongoing story that ties back to P3 and that game’s attendant, Elizabeth. You know what story I’m talking about, Persona fans.

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I’m also anxious about the size of the cast. I’m expecting more characters to be shown and would prefer to see a larger cast like what was in the last two games. I didn’t expect for a new character to be revealed via an interview. That would have been impractical. I was, however, hopeful that Hashino would comment about there being more party members in the future. We’ll have to wait for a likely PV04 for this to change.

And of course, as an American, the most frustrating thing about the slow trickle of P5 news is just how little we know about the game’s localization process. Did I expect to hear anything about that in this interview? Of course not. It’s just a tough reminder that while Hashino is opening up more about the game in Japan, ATLUS USA’s last comment about P5 was five months ago and incredibly vague. In this digital age, months between P5 launching in Japan and seeing English localization would be painful, because that is a lot of opportunities for this game to be spoiled by the Internet’s endless supply of cretins. It’s such a large concern that I’m considering taking a class in Japanese over the summer so that I may be able to take advantage of the PS4 being region-free and try to stumble my way through this game’s story. That’s crazy, I know, but that’s how much I value having an untainted experience of this game. I pray everyday that P5’s American release is as close to the Japanese release date as reasonably possible. As much as Hashino is keying on the story of P5 being a Phantom Thief drama that “surprises” the player, I hope the decision makers on that side of ATLUS are aware of just how much a delayed localization process could hurt the game outside of Japan. Ideally, something on the U.S. front will be said at E3 in June.

For now, this is all we have, but I will be happy to update if more detailed translations add any new pertinent info. The final thing to report is that another issue of the magazine is slated for “sometime within Summer 2016,” but we should get more info before then (hopefully). Until the next stop on the 2016 Persona 5 Hype Train…

2016 Persona 5 Hype Train

If you have read, seen, or listened to anything I’ve made in 2016 prior to this, you know exactly what it is I’m living everyday of my life for this year:

Persona 5.

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Credit: ATLUS and Famitsu

It’s hard to believe for many, but Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is approaching 8 years old. It’ll be learning long division and cursive any day now. Since 2008, the Persona franchise has exploded. I’m talking multiple animations, movies, re-releases, and multiple spinoffs starring the casts of P3 and P4. What the world hasn’t gotten, however, is a new mainline, numbered entry in the series. That changes this summer. (Hopefully.)

To say I’m excited for Persona 5 would be like saying the surface of the sun is kinda warm or that Bryan Danielson was a solid wrestler. It doesn’t even begin to describe the levels of hype that are so high, a full powered locomotive can barely contain them.

Hype Train!
Credit: Some1CP on YouTube

To commemorate this year, I’m doing two things. For one, I’m spreading the word about this game as much as I can. I love Persona, but as much as it’s grown recently, P5 is still taking a backseat in the industry compared to other titles releasing this year such as Uncharted 4, The Legend of Zelda, and P5’s greatest rival, Final Fantasy XV. Every PlayStation 3 and 4 owner would be doing themselves a disservice to not try the next entry from one of the most brilliant directors I’ve ever encountered: Katsura Hashino.

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Katsura Hashino. Credit: Persona Central

The next thing I’m doing is playing through every title dating back to Persona 3 on YouTube; including spinoffs. Well, except for Persona Q, because that would be too expensive to get the equipment to record. As of now, P3 is entering its final stages and P4 will begin on April 11th – the exact date Yu Narukami arrived in Inaba in 2011. P4 Arena, Arena Ultimax, and Dancing All Night will follow shortly after.

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From January’s Game Informer. It hangs above my desk, taunting me.

As things currently stand, we still don’t know anything more about P5 since the Tokyo Gaming Show in September. Tentatively, release is slated as “Summer 2016” in Japan with ATLUS USA last commenting that we will see localization simply in “2016.”  However, February 23rd will mark the next issue of the Persona Official Magazine and a new interview with Hashino. Another trailer and release information may be just around the corner.

Until then, all we can do is sit back and wait in anticipation.