[[image:nn_090224_persona_01.jpg:A colorful cast of interesting characters. Not pictured -- your blank cipher.:right:0]]The Shin Megami Tensei franchise got off to a rocky, late start in here in the States, but with each release since 2003′s Nocturne, its cult reputation seems to grow closer to its star status in Japan. That’s why so many are overjoyed (if unsurprised, given how good they are about these things) that Atlus USA is definitely localizing the PSP version of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, which actually marked the beginning of Megaten’s bizarre naturalization when it appeared on the PlayStation as Revelations: Persona.
In 1996, Sony’s “mature” image made the series’ occult imagery passable for the first time in the States, but Atlus was evidently still uncomfortable releasing a game that clearly took place in mysterious, foreign Nippon. (The fact that RPGs were comparatively niche prior to Final Fantasy VII probably helped stay their hand, as well.) You might think a story about a rag-tag group of youths wading through a demonic outbreak would be pretty universal, but they weren’t satisfied until nearly every playable character was altered for lighter hair and chalk-white skin, just like Brad and Mary down the block. (Except for the Scrappy-Doo of the gang, who was made black — which might qualify as a hate crime.) Aside from aesthetics, the so-called “Snow Queen quest,” a game-length sequence entirely divergent from the main story, was also hacked out in order to make a deadline.
For the PSP, not only will a new localization recant the original’s patronizing xenophobia (“Pay no attention to the singing Japanese man behind the curtain”), but the Snow Queen quest will be accessible to Western players for the first time. The general gameplay seems to be enhanced to make it friendlier by recent RPG standards — and really, it’s all new to the legions of fans who didn’t get into Megaten until it really took off (and Revelations was ancient history). So while it’s typical to moan that ports and remakes stagnate the industry, the second coming of Persona is a fortunate exception.