Review by Twisted Silence
"Everything about this game owns, except for the lag time"
Persona 2: Innocent Sin (also known as Tsumi) is the prequel to Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, and as of yet has not been released in the United States. Regrettably, the chances are fairly grim that we will see this game in English, for a number of reasons. This game includes a considerable amount of school violence, including a scene where the students kill their principal; also, near the end of the game, Hitler and the Nazis invade the city. This kind of questionable material, along with the mediocre sales of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment in the United States, are probably what's keeping Atlus from releasing this game outside of Japan.
You are Tatsuya ''Tat-chan'' Suou, a student at Seven Sister's High School. Along with several other residents of Sumaru City, including students Lisa Silverman and Eikichi Mishina, reporter Maya Amano, and photographer Yukino Mayuzumi, you decide to investigate the strange occurences that have been happening around the school lately. Eventually find that it is the work of a mysterious being called The Joker, who is stealing people's wishes and dreams when they dial their own number into their cell phone. But soon the storyline expands into something much darker and more mysterious than this relatively simple beginning, spiraling into the classic battle between good and evil. It keeps you guessing on who the bad guy really is in this (particularly when you fight your evil ''Shadow'' counterparts).
The gameplay of this game can be kind of frustrating, particularly the lag time in battle. It gets really annoying after a while when Eikichi screams, jumps toward the enemy, and fires his machine gun... but the sound of the bullets firing starts before he even lands and opens up his guitar case machine gun. Another bothersome feature is the inability to set ''fusion spells''. Characters can use ther personae to cast spells, and if put in the correct order, they can mix anywhere from two to five spells into one massive damaging spell. Perhaps I was a little bit spoiled by being able to go into the Fusion Spell list on Persona 2: EP and select the option that automatically sets up the characters in the order necessary for the spell; Persona 2: IS doesn't have this feature, so unless you can read Japanese fluently, it can be horribly annoying to remember all the Japanese characters and the order that they go in for each fusion spell.
Eikichi Mishina's uber-kakkoi character design alone would give this game a 10/10 in graphics, but of course there's other great graphics, as well. The character design is top-notch; easily the best in any game I've ever played. If you like anime-style drawing, then you'll freak out when you see how awesome this game's graphics are. The coolest part is that it has different face graphics for each emotion of each character... wait until you see the picture of Lisa when she's exasperated.
Replay Value: 3/10
Without a Restart and EX Dungeon function like in Persona 2: EP, there's really no reason to play through this game again, unless A) you want to see Tatsuya paired up with all of his possible ''lovers'' (you can only select one per game), or B) you're writing an FAQ/Walkthrough like I am.
This soundtrack is debatably better than Persona 2: EP's, and it has a similar style. If you like foot-tapping techno/trance music, then you'll absolutely flip over this game's music.
If you liked Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and have any inkling of the Japanese language, then I highly suggest you go buy this game immediately.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/09/02, Updated 03/09/02
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