Awesome personified: 2012 is the Year of Persona 4

Monday, 30 January 2012 09:54 GMT By Johnny Cullen

Atlus is about to fill 2012 with so much Persona 4 that ignoring the fan-favourite JRPG is going to be impossible. Johnny Cullen takes a look at the continued adventures of Chie and friends.

The ulterior motive is obvious: to prepare for the announcement of Persona 5. Atlus has heavily suggested the reveal will be this year. Team Persona may have been busy with Catherine recently, but it was confirmed a fifth game was being made in May 2010, with a further report in August last year saying efforts were increasing on the title and a new engine is being used.

It’s doubtful Atlus expected the success enjoyed by Persona 4. The quirky JRPG – which sees students navigating a game world of crossover reality and fantasy – sold heavily over expectation in Japan on PS2 after it released in 2008, with its break-out performance forming a platform for re-releases of Personas 1, 2 and 3 on PSP. The series’s fourth game – which made Persona a fashionable mainstay among western hobbyists – is now readying a re-emergence on Vita.

The Persona series has now sold more than 1.65 million copies in Japan alone. It’s Atlus’s biggest property.

Atlus is set to go big on the P4 remake this year, and is planning to surround the new release with a swell of other promotions, from a fighting game to a live stage show. The icing on the cake is a potential announcement of a full fifth game in 2012.

This is the Year of Persona 4. Here’s why.

Persona 4: The Golden

Persona 4: The Golden is the Vita remake of Persona 4. This is the centre of the fourth birthday celebrations of the original’s Japanese release. This is going to be more substantial than the straight PSP ports of Persona 1-3.

For a start, there’s new story content, as well as a new character in Marie. There are new features, such as a wireless networking system that’ll allow players to call on help from others for dungeon battling. There’ll be new Personas – otherworldy alter egos used by characters in combat – anime cutscenes and more.

No date has been given besides spring 2012 in Japan, and Atlus hasn’t said if it’s coming to Europe or America – we’ve asked for clarification, but to no avail.

As well as the Vita release of Persona 4, Atlus will ship a spin-off fighter in 2012, named Persona 4: The Arena. It’s coming to Japanese arcades in March and to PS3 and 360 this summer. The game will feature fighters from the cast of Persona 4 and Persona 3 in a story that takes place two months after P4.

Come on, who wouldn’t want to play as Chie, for crying out loud? She’s perfect for this: she knows karate.

Persona 4: The Golden. Will undoubtedly
drive Japanese Vita sales.

Guilty Gear and BlazBlue developer Arc System Works is behind this one. A western release hasn’t been confirmed, but, as BlazBlue’s Continuum Shift 2 made it west through Arc System Europe, it’s not too much of stretch to suggest this’ll get out of Japan. Quite who will manage it, if it happens, is a matter of speculation; Atlus doesn’t have a European presence, hence Deep Silver recently publishing Catherine.

Persona 4: The Anime

The Year of Persona 4 isn’t just about games. The Japanese version of Persona 4: The Anime been running since October 7 last year, but a western release on Blu-ray and DVD is coming in early 2012; nothing more specific has been confirmed. It’s going to be soon, though; it’s just popped up on Hulu in the US.

The series in its current state, with Japanese voice dub and English subs, is excellent. The first few episodes focus on building the game’s initial events, but there are plenty of other aspects to the narrative.

For example, episode four focuses on the Yukiko backstory hinted in-game but never expanded upon. Episode eight does the same with Risette’s background. Episode 15 is a crossover involving Persona 3’s universe.

It’s great so far. I’m on episode 16, so I’m on par with those watching it in the US on Anime Network. There are going to be 20 instalments in total.

Other non-game activity includes the May release in the US of a new book featuring art from Persona 4 done in collaboration between Atlus and Enterbrain. Udon is publishing it in America, a few months after a similar book for Persona 3.

And then there’s the weirdest of the lot. There’s going to be a Persona 4 stage show this year. There’s not much to say on this at the moment, but it’s known the audience will get to submit suggestions for the name of the the physical version of Persona 4’s anonymous protagonist.

Atlus is going all out with Persona 4 this year. The ulterior motive is obvious: to prepare for the announcement of Persona 5. Atlus has heavily suggested the reveal will be this year. Team Persona may have been busy with Catherine recently, but it was confirmed a fifth game was being made in May 2010, with a further report in August last year saying efforts were increasing on the title and a new engine is being used.

Exciting. This is the Year of Persona 4. It will be, as Kuma might say, ‘bearific’.

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