1999-2: Persona 2: Innocent Sin (Gaming and “The Consumer”)

InfernalMage “The following is a contributor column by the Infernal Accountant Mage.”

Enthusiast gaming culture in the modern era is powered in no small part by the concept of consumer advocacy. The idea is that “gamers” – self-identifying, blah blah blah, we’ve been over this – as a consumer base are mistreated by the industry at large and the only way to make a difference is to call out each and every perceived mistreatment. It’s come to define mixed-audience settings when they come to video games: for every topic talking about a game, you’ll see three complaining about some “anti-consumer” concept. With that in mind, let’s talk about Persona 2.

Persona 2: Innocent Sin is the first of a duology of games that together comprise the sequel to Revelations: Persona. It was also not released outside of Japan until 2011, over a decade after its initial release. While the second half of the duology, Eternal Punishment, was localized, the two need to be played together for a complete experience. A significant chunk of the plot is lost if you play one and not the other, especially if you’re playing the latter game alone. I wasn’t able to play Innocent Sin until years after I played Eternal Punishment; when I found out there was a Persona game I wasn’t able to get hold of and play, I would daydream in class for hours about what it was like and how great it must have been. (It’s not bad, as it turns out.)

The ramifications of the situation are a little hilarious. Here’s a two-part game you can only play the second half of. Here are references you won’t get, plot beats that will appear nonsensical because you lack context for them, a save import feature that still isn’t available outside of Japan because Eternal Punishment’s PSP version never made it overseas. It is, in short, a woefully incomplete experience despite Eternal Punishment being a fairly decent game in and of itself.

It’s also a fairly difficult situation to consider given the localization standards of today. Leaving a series incomplete by failing to localize a key entry? That’s practically unthinkable. It’s not unheard of, but it’s certainly less of an issue than it once was; you might recall that we jumped in Final Fantasy games from “III” to VII, actually skipping over II, III and V altogether for years until Square finally saw fit to localize these titles.

Today, of course, the word of the day is outrage. The hardcore gaming community, such as it is, is absolutely fantastic at throwing enormous tantrums over anything even vaguely perceived as an injustice. Enthusiast media and content creators are more than happy to encourage this behavior and reap the benefits of the hate-clicks it produces. Pre-order bonuses, PC ports that don’t run especially well on a computer purchased direct from Wal-Mart, games shutting down because their population has grown too small to sustain server fees, games incorporating inclusive elements…the list goes on and on and on. Everything other than bug-free AAA-quality titles released at bargain-bin prices runs the risk of being labelled “a slap in the face.” Announcing what you don’t plan on buying and why you won’t buy it has become a semi-sport all its own.

Meanwhile, publishers just keep on localizing pretty much everything – how many Hyperdimension Neptunia games have released, for instance? How about Senran Kagura, which wouldn’t have come close to seeing the light of day in the West in 1999? How about the multiple and myriad options we have for playing the various Final Fantasy games – all of them, not just a few, and they’re all even numbered correctly? That’s not even talking about the numerous consumer-friendly pricing options that have come to drive the industry, such as the free-for-subscription games from PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, the Netflix-like Xbox Game Pass or even the bottom-of-the-bin prices we see each and every time Steam runs a sale.

There is, frankly, no better time to be a fan of video games if the games are what you’re interested in. There is a vast array of entertainment available for pennies on the dollar. Even if you only purchase games for $5 or less each, you’ll have more to play than you’ll ever have time to finish. The concept of a “backlog,” where people own games that they haven’t had the time or energy to play, has come into vogue. Yet the rallying cry in the gaming community is one of outrage – of railing against each and every injustice dealt upon an innocent consumer base by greedy publishers. Me? I’m over here remembering how I actually beat Inspector Gadget on the SNES – remember that one? – because each and every game was stupidly expensive so I didn’t have anything else to play.

Even the much-loathed EA offers free games on a regular basis along with a subscription option. Just saying.

 

The Infernal Accountant Mage believes the pen is mightier than the sword…well, depending on how sharp the pen and sword are. A child of the ’90s and a prolific writer, he strews his work about like Legos made of words, just waiting for your brain to step on them. He enjoys a devilish challenge, so when it comes to talking about some of the more difficult games out there, you might just run into the Infernal Accountant Mage. Some advice: hold on to your soul around this guy, and don’t sign anything. Read more at popzara.com

 

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