The last few years have seen a craze for remakes. On the whole, I’d say this is a good thing. So long as they’re not merely cashing in on nostalgia, remakes and ports play an important role in bringing classic games in front of new audiences. We’re at a point now where young people are playing games without having grown up with classic consoles like the NES, Super Nintendo or even PlayStation, and making classic games available helps develop an appreciation of video game history. Remakes and remasters can also help games find an audience if they were released on neglected or commercially unsuccessful consoles like the Dreamcast or Wii U. The PS4 has seen a glut of remakes over the last year and a half, and I caught up on games I missed on PS3 like The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls. I also played a bunch of Resident Evil HD remakes, while on Nintendo consoles I was finally able to enjoy Majora’s Mask and Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.
Of course, it’s important not to get carried away with remakes and re-releases. It’s arguable that you shouldn’t have to fork out for the same game on multiple consoles (like repeatedly buying the same port of a classic game on different iterations of Nintendo’s Virtual Console). Moreover, publishers need to be warned away from relying on cheap and badly done re-releases as an easy money-spinner: a rash of low-effort remasters is bad for the future health of the industry if people spend all their money on classics rather than trying new games.
But there’s one game I think is crying out for a remake: Persona 2. Persona 2 is actually two games, P2: Innocent Sin and P2: Eternal Punishment. They were released for the PlayStation in 1999 and 2000, and developer Atlus has since ported them to different Sony consoles. However, they’re still hard to get hold of: in the UK, you can only play Innocent Sin on PSP (and who plays PSP now?), unless you still have an old PSX knocking around and are prepared to mess around with NTSC discs off ebay. And even if you find a way to get the game up and running, you’re faced with a seriously outdated gameplay system and have to contend with an unreasonable number of random battles. Basically, the only way for a contemporary-minded gamer to play it now is with a walkthrough open the entire time. Moreover, the original English-language version of Eternal Punishment suffered from a poor localization, so a remake would provide a golden opportunity to deliver the best possible Persona 2 experience to fans around the world.
The Persona series is big business these days, not just in Japan but in the West too. The games are loved for their stories, characters, and dialogue; areas where Persona 2 does not disappoint, its uneven translation notwithstanding. The game’s story needs to be brought to a modern audience, many of whom would be put off by the game’s frustrating and old-fashioned mechanics. The graphics actually hold up pretty well, but would be easily improved; while the excellent soundtrack, which was re-done for the PSP version, barely needs any work at all.
Atlus could potentially release both games as one “Ultimate” version of Persona 2, perhaps even containing the original games as “extras” for the few diehards who might want to play them that way – the memory requirements are pretty trivial these days, after all. The overall play time for the two games combined would likely be around 80-100 hours, which is pretty standard now for most AAA RPGs. It would also help fill in the release schedule nicely before the next mainline Persona game. Finally, we know Atlus is not averse to ports and remakes: their release schedule is full of them, many of which were originally series spin-offs in the first place like Strange Journey or Devil Survivor. The sales ceiling for a P2 remake is much, much higher – even if the risk of damage to the brand is higher too.
This brings us to the small matter of Innocent Sin’s… unusual story, which is awesome but does contain time-travelling Nazis and at times adopts a surreal tone which might be poorly-received by some games journalists today. But this is surely not insurmountable. Persona 2 is a game which really deserves to be enjoyed by more people, especially considering how many have fallen in love with the series over the last decade. Atlus asked fans for their opinion on a P2 remake earlier this year, so they’ve clearly considered the idea. Now it’s time for us to apply the power of positive thinking!