It’s been quite a while since I posted something solely about Persona 5. Unless of course you follow me on Twitter, where I literally cannot shut up about it. And while it has only been about a month and a half, in the world of P5, it feels like ages since the Tokyo Tower event given just how much more we’ve learned about the game. Be prepared to read a small novel below.
The most important thing to come out is that the English version of the game will release on February 14th, 2017 in North America as Atlus USA looks to ‘take the hearts’ of the western audience on Valentine’s Day. There are still no concrete plans for European publishing and it isn’t looking good. I know this is frustrating to our European friends, but I must once again remind you that the PlayStations 3 and 4 are not region locked and urge you to import the game from America if you want a physical copy. If you’re fine with a digital copy, you can easily set up a North American PSN account, buy NA PSN credit through a third party, and download the game on launch. Either route is costly, yes, but this is Persona 5. It is worth it for not having to wait who knows how long to see the game get a proper PAL release.
Honestly speaking, a 2017 release date is gut wrenching to me. Again, if you follow me on Twitter, you know I did not have kind words for this announcement. Atlus is a frustrating company. Its problems with getting its games on shelves in Europe are well known, but beyond that it still seems as though the parent company keeps its western branch in the dark. Atlus is a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
The localization window for P5 is the same as it was for P4 back in 2008, which is painful to see because of how much the Persona franchise has grown and the fact that Atlus is now married at the hip with Sega – a major developer and publisher in the industry. Surely, I thought, this would mean a quick localization turnaround for the largest release in the history of the company. I was hopeful for an October release with the first week in December being the absolute latest. February is soul crushing.
In Atlus USA’s defense, they have been rather busy. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir released recently and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is out this week. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse will be out in September. And finally, much to their credit, Atlus USA will also be localizing and publishing Caligula for next year. That alone bought them a lot of forgiveness from me.
Speaking of P5 being worth it, I should say that I will not be waiting until February to begin my journey with the Phantom Thieves. I will be one of several American players importing the Japanese version in September and the plan right now is to stream at least the opening hours of the game live on Twitch. I plan to do so with a digital copy of the game, meaning I should be able to play it once it’s September 15th in Japan.
Keep in mind that I don’t know the language, so this may not be the best idea. I do have at least some experience in this. The last time I played the Japanese version of a game prior to its American release was Mega Man Battle Network 5 all the way back in 2005. With the help of some external guidance and my knowledge on the series, I was able to finish the game and not feel like I had missed on any part of the experience. The hope here is that will also be true for Persona 5.
If you’re interested in importing the game, then here’s a guide from Persona Central with all the available retailers. Keep in mind many of the retailers also have exclusive pre-order goodies as well. TRADUKO Soft will also provide a guide for helping us blind players learn the basics and finding our way through the game’s standard features.
(pst, follow Mystic)
And of course, while I and others won’t be posting spoilers, the Persona Twitter community will certainly be talking a lot about the game on the down low, so you don’t have to be alone in trying to figure the Japanese game out.
Now let’s really get into the game by talking about our cast of characters. The three new young ladies from May were revealed to be Makoto Niijima, Futaba Sakura, and Haru Okumura.
Their Personas? Johanna, Necronomicon, and Milady, respectively.
Makoto and Haru are each third-year students; making them your Senpai. Futaba is the age of a first-year, but it still isn’t clear whether she attends Syujin High like most of the other Phantom Thieves as she’s never been depicted wearing anything resembling the school’s uniform.
Then there’s the ninth and final party member revealed on June 15th as part of Atlus’ presence at E3: Goro Akechi.
Goro, who I stupidly thought might be Ken Amada, is a high school aged detective (real original there, Atlus). His name is either inspired by or a play on the name Kogoro Akechi – the Japanese Sherlock Holmes if you will who has appeared across Japanese fiction for years (including Lupin III). His codename amongst the Phantom Thieves is “Crow.” That’s all we know so far. I still have suspicions about Goro and what could possibly be so special about him that details about him are so scarce, but we’ll save that for another time.
Also revealed on June 15th was the name of the new social system: Cooperation. “Cooperation” had been part of the main menu UI seen all the way back in PV01, but my prevailing thought at the time was that it had to do with online play similar to Persona 4 Golden and Persona Q. Instead, it replaces the Social Link system (at least in name). From Hashino’s interview back in February, we learned that a lot of research had been done in improving the social system, so I’m sure the name change coincides with whatever functional changes that have been made as well.
Three ‘links’ or whatever you’d like to call them were also revealed: Munehisa Iwai (Hanged Man), Sojiro Sakura (Hierophant), and Tae Takemi (Death).
Tae and Munehisa were also each in PV01 as vendors. Munehisa runs a weapons shop and Tae runs a medical clinic. Sojiro is the main character’s caretaker and a friend to his parents. Of course, he also has the same surname as Futaba. As far as I know, there’s no concrete evidence as to what the relation is, if there’s one at all. However, it is interesting to me that one of the recent screenshots of what appears to be a Cooperation event with Futaba shows her in the MC’s room (with Morgana still present) and there doesn’t appear to be a romantic context. Could Futaba be moving into the home in the middle of the game? Or perhaps she’s there from the beginning and there’s ultimately more than meets the eye about the young hacker.
One quirky thing about the design of the new arcana is that Tae’s card appears to be drawn with the Roman numeral XIV even though Death’s numeral is XIII. Mystic explained to me this is likely an allusion to the significance the number four and the association with death it carries in Japanese culture due to the words for each sounding similar. It may be that the numeral was drawn to look like both numbers, even though it is in actuality still XIII.
In addition to Cooperation, another big gameplay mechanic was revealed during E3. The traditional Megami Tensei demon negotiation system is back in Persona.
Given P5 returns to the old way of fighting demons/Personas rather than the Shadows seen in P3 and P4, this was a logical step. Now when the player successfully knocks down all enemies on the field, they will enter what’s called a “Hold Up” (a phrase used for robberies) and have the option of going for an All Out Attack or beginning negotiations with a demon to earn either items, money, or convincing the demon to become a Persona for the main character. This in all likelihood means there is no variant of ‘shuffle time’ (seen in P3/P4) in the game.
Here are some quick-hitter notes about the game that have been revealed over the last month:
- Romance is definitely still part of the social system.
- The stylish screens we’ve seen for each character (Haru’s “Adieu” animation, the MC’s “The Show’s Over” screen, etc.) happen when a battle ends on an AOA.
- When a battle ends normally, you get the result screen where the MC congratulates the team and runs off (seen in Hashino’s 5/5 interview).
- The game has four difficulty settings at the start of a New Game: Safety, Easy, Normal, and Hard.
- P5 has been given a C rating in Japan by Cero which is for ages 15 and up. It joins P4G as the only Persona games with that rating. Other games had ratings for younger audiences and up, which differs with how the ESRB has typically rated Persona in America.
- There is online functionality. It will likely work similar to P4G’s. You can also see how other players answered questions you are asked in class.
- Ann has been going back and forth between spelling variants of her name (Ann vs. Anne). The material at E3 had it spelled minus the ‘e’ which is what it was a couple months back prior to it being spelled Anne at the time of the Tokyo Tower event.
- Through the Amazon Japan pre-order bonuses, it’s been revealed that Ryuji’s arcana is the Chariot.
- The team’s melee weapons are as follows. MC: daggers, Ryuji: blunt objects, Ann: whips, Morgana: short swords, Yusuke: long swords, Makoto: fists/gauntlets, Haru: axes, and Goro is unknown.
- Nuclear and telekinetic skills have been added to combat which do extra damage to enemies in a negative status.
- Shigenori Soejima said at E3 that character designs for P5 have been in development since P4 was still being worked on.
- A video at Atlus’ E3 booth had Morgana greeting guests with an English voice. The suspected actress is Cassandra Lee Morris.
- The song featured in PV02 is a battle theme in the game and features vocals by Lyn. It may or may not play for every standard battle or only during ‘Chance’ states (player advantage). For example, in P4G the original P4 battle theme, “Reach Out to the Truth,” became the player advantage battle song whereas “Time to Make History” took over as the standard battle theme.
- A woman appearing in magazine screenshots shortly after 5/5 shares the same surname as Makoto and appears to be a law/authority figure of some kind. Her role is unknown.
- Maps can be found in Palace dungeons and Third Eye is used in P5 to aid the player in solving dungeon puzzles.
Finally, we have another big Persona 5 event to look forward to on July 19th. The event is called “Take the Treasure” and will emanate from the Tokyo National Museum. Playable demos will be made for the first time and attendance is by invitation only through a signup in Japan. There will also be a live stream for it taking place at 6:30 am eastern time in the United States.
That’s all for now. At a future time, I’ll have another post with further speculations about the game and its story that can be made from analyzing the trailers we have so far.