Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus, and chronologically the third installment in the Persona series, a subseries of the Megami Tensei franchise. It was originally published in 2000 by Atlus in Japan and North America for the PlayStation. The game was later remade by Atlus for the PlayStation Portable. This version, released in Japan in 2012, did not receive an overseas release due to the PlayStation Vita and the upcoming release of Persona 4: Golden. In response to this, the PlayStation version was released on PlayStation Network in 2013 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation Vita.
Eternal Punishment takes place in the fictional Japanese city of Sumaru, and is a direct sequel to Persona 2: Innocent Sin. Taking place a few months after Innocent Sin, the game follows reporter Maya Amano as she investigates the Joker Curse, a malign phenomenon where people’s wishes and rumors are coming true and causing chaos. During her investigations, she and others who join her gain the ability to summon Personas, personified aspects of their personalities. The gameplay features turn-based battle gameplay, where characters use their Personas in battle against demons, and a separate Rumor system, where rumors spread around the city can influence events in the characters’ favor, either bad or good.
Due to Innocent Sin not reaching the sales that Atlus were expecting, a quick sequel was made in attempts to regain those sales, laying the groundwork for Eternal Punishment. The original producer (Kouji Okada), character designer (Kazuma Kaneko) and composers (Toshiko Tasaki, Kenichi Tsuchiya and Masaki Kurokawa) returned alongside Satomi. The second game began development months after Innocent Sin was completed, and while it reused most of the assets from Innocent Sin, the Rumor system were improved upon. The game’s theme song, “Change Your Way”, was written by English singer-songwriter Elisha La’Verne based on the game’s premise. Reception of the game in Japan and the west has generally been positive, with reviewers appreciating some improvements over Innocent Sin, the rumor systems, and the improved localization compared to the original Persona.
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a role-playing game where the player takes control of a group of characters exploring the fictional city of Sumaru. The camera follows the party from an adjustable angled overhead perspective. The city in general is navigated using an overworld map. A key element to the story and gameplay is the Rumor system: after the characters hear a rumor, they can spread that rumor around the city using certain characters, and those rumors can grant the characters special items or other positive or negative effects.
Battles consist of both story-related boss fights and random encounters with standard enemies. Battles are turn-based, with the player characters and enemies moving around a small battle arena to perform actions. Once the player has laid out their strategy in the battle menu, the characters perform their assigned actions until the battle ends with victory for one side or the player pauses the action to change strategies. Instead of the grid-based battle system from the original Persona, party members and enemy units act in the same phase of a turn, rather than being restricted by their placement on the field.
During battle, players cast spells using an assigned Persona: each spell drains a character’s Spell Point meter. Each Persona has different elemental strengths and weaknesses, and different Personas can be used for defense, healing or elemental attacks. While a Persona is originally quite weak, if it is used enough, it will achieve a higher rank, with Rank 8 being the highest possible. As the Persona’s rank is raised, that Persona is able to cast more powerful spells. In addition to individual actions, the player can align characters to trigger a Fusion Spell: when two or more party members use a certain sequence of spells, they will automatically team up to generate a powerful attack or help the party survive in battle. During battles, both characters and Personas earn experience points. The player has the option to activate an Auto-battle option, having combat play out without player interaction.
During battle, the player can converse with enemies, though they are restricted to a single set of dialogue options instead of four as in the original Persona. If the player succeeds in talking with the enemy using the right character, it both causes the enemy to leave the battlefield and gains a spell card (a Tarot card linked to one of the Arcanum or family of Personas), which can be used to create Personas in a location called the Velvet Room. In the Velvet Room, the player can summon a new Persona that belongs to a spell card’s particular Persona family group. As a character gains experience levels, more powerful Personas from a spell card’s group become available. In addition to pre-set spell cards, the player can also obtain blank skill cards by forming contracts with enemies through the right conversation. These blank skill cards can be tailored to fit a chosen Persona family.
Eternal Punishment was enough of a success to firmly establish the Persona franchise in the West, and was also to be the last Persona game to not carry the Shin Megami Tensei moniker in those regions until the release of Persona 5 in 2017. The next title in the series, Persona 3 for the PlayStation 2, was released in 2006. The game, along with Innocent Sin, received a spin-off manga titled Persona: Tsumi to Batsu (ペルソナ 罪と罰, Persona: Sin and Punishment), featuring new characters from Seven Sisters. Its 2011 reprint featured new content connecting the manga to Innocent Sin. In 2009, Atlus and Bbmf developed and published a mobile version of the game titled Persona 2: Eternal Punishment – Infinity Mask (ペルソナ2 罰 インフィニティマスク, Perusona Tsū: Batsu Infiniti Masuku). Similar to the mobile port of Innocent Sin, it incorporates the gameplay functions of the console version while tailoring them to a mobile device. Maya Amano was later featured in an internal tech demo for the graphics engine used in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.
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