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Video Game / Persona

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"Once, I dreamt I was a butterfly. I forgot myself and knew only my happiness as a butterfly. Soon, I awoke, and I was myself again. Did I dream that I was a butterfly? Or do I now dream that I am a man? Yet there is a distinction between myself and the butterfly. This is a transformation of the physical."
Zhuangzi, Persona opening, PSP version.

Persona is the first title in the Persona JRPG franchise, a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei video game series by Atlus. It's known as Megami Ibunroku: Persona: Be Your True MindTranslation  in Japan, Revelations: Persona in its first North American release, and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona in its later North American PSP re-release. Why all the titles? Because the first release had... issues... with its localization.

You are an Ordinary High-School Student who takes up a dare to play a ritual-like playground game called "Persona" with your school friends. Suddenly, your party is struck by lightning and fall unconscious, where you experience a strange collective dream involving a golden butterfly.

Although you do not appear to have any serious injuries, you are sent to the hospital for a check-up. While there, you decide to visit Maki Sonomura, a bedridden classmate who has been in intensive care for a year. Yet your visit is cut short when Maki is suddenly rushed into the emergency room and the hospital undergoes a weird transformation into a demon-filled labyrinth. Fortunately, you and your friends have gained a supernatural power to help defend against the demonic hordes, rescue Maki and find a way out of this maze: the mysterious inner-power of "Persona".


At the time, the Shin Megami Tensei series was known for its incredibly deep, yet Nintendo Hard gameplay. Persona was an attempt by Atlus to create a Shin Megami Tensei game that would appeal to the masses: a character-driven RPG that turned down the difficulty a few notches in order to be more accessible. And by and large it worked, creating a very successful series which (starting with Persona 3) has eclipsed the main series in popularity. Many of the main characters from Persona would later go on to make cameo appearances in the Persona 2 duology (Three even being playable characters in Persona 2).

The battle system is grid-based, which means that a character's position on the battle grid determines what they can attack. This makes melee fighting far more difficult than it has any right to be, and you often lose turns because your character isn't in range to attack anyone. While wandering in dungeons, you'll have a first-person viewpoint (a MegaTen mainstay at the time), but in certain rooms it switches to a third-person isometric view that lets you talk to your fellow party members. The conversation system that would be used in Persona 2 (and dropped in Persona 3) was first used here, and the bad localization makes it even more bizarre than it would normally be: in what other game could you convince demons to help you by dancing the hula? Likewise, in what other game can you be killed by an evil, hula-dancing toilet?


The really awful localization tends to be the most well-remembered element of this game outside of Japan. One of the earliest titles released by Atlus USA, it has gone down in gaming history as a textbook case of how not to localize a title. You see, Atlus had got it into its head that they were going to localize the Megaten series as the "Revelations" series note , and turn all the spells and demons into generic RPG-sounding names and make the characters Americans. The problem was, most of the translation didn't make sense. Yet despite all of this, it still has a die-hard cult following to this day, and copies of the PS1 English version are still incredibly rare and sell for more than twice the original retail price.

The sudden popularity of the franchise after the successful revival with Persona 3 led to a PSP Updated Re-release with brand new cel-shaded cutscenes (replaced the now-dated 90s era CG), a new interface, and numerous improvements to the game's balance, including a better mini-map and many more save points. This release came to America with much fanfare, especially from Atlus themselves, who were quick to point out the newer, more faithful script, restoration of original character designs, and inclusion of all content left out of the PS1 release.

Provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: To go with the Race Lift, several characters had their hair color changed in the English PS1 release.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted. All the guns in the game exist in real life.
  • All Myths Are True: At least those myths involving rituals that grant you demonic powers.
  • Alternate Universe: Early in the game, the Deva System ends up sending the party into a parallel world which is similar to how the real world was when Maki was first hospitalized, and indeed is practically a utopia for her. And as it turns out, the Maki traveling with you is from said parallel world. Disturbingly subverted much later, when it's revealed that the parallel world is actually the Deva System's projection of the real Maki's ideal vision of her world. The System is capable of replacing the real world with Maki's ideal world, which would enable the real Maki to live in it as her ideal self; however, Maki's inner conflict over whether to enforce the change or reject it manifested itself as the Strange Girls of the game, Aki and Mai.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: The hidden passage in Kandori's office.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Snow Queen Quest ends with Masao returning to the now unfrozen school to recruit his friends to rescue Maki from the SEBEC Building, thus actually tying the Snow Queen Quest ending to the main route of the game.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Your party is limited to five members. Once you have five, you can't recruit anyone else. While this makes sense gameplay-wise, and is explained plot-wise by having one of your party members pissing off a potential recruit so they leave, it's egregious because later events imply everyone worked to save the city together. Considering how both the SEBEC and Snow Queen chapters are canon, and how different characters become mandatory and optional in each, it's possible to have been with one person each if you choose Elly and Brown in the Snow Queen chapter and Reiji in the SEBEC one.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Each of the party members wields a standard RPG weapon (swords, spears, axes, whips, various throwing weapons, gloves). Oddly enough, each party member can also use a gun.
  • Arc Words: I am thou... Thou art I. Later became the Arc Words for the series as a whole.
  • Armor of Invincibility: Persona 1 dropped the ball in terms of ultimate armor. It DOES exist in the form of Caesar equipment for the head, arms, feet, and armor. Unfortunately, you can only make the Ceasar Feet once (as you only get that particular item needed in fusion once) and that's only if you return Ayase's ultimate persona, which means no Ayase, no ultimate legwear. The other parts come from returning three separate persona at rank 8 (Seioubo for the Head, Baal for the Arm, and Athena for the body). But, the armor is found on a level 90 persona, by which you don't fear taking damage anyway, as it's quite a pain in the butt to keep making Athena just for that. Thankfully, it's completely possible to beat the game with store bought armor.
  • Art Evolution: During the development of this game, Kazuma Kaneko discovered the power of Photoshop which led to his style starting to evolve from his old, somewhat traditional, art-style to his more distinct and recognized style that he would become known for. This becomes especially apparent when comparing the early game art to the art that appears later in the game.
  • Artistic License – Military: The default ammunition is 9x19mm Parabellum ammo. Any character can use this ammo with any weapon, even if they would be incompatible in real life (for example, the long rifles and shotguns or the Desert Eagle).
  • Ascended Extra: A few St. Hermelin students and teachers play a larger role the Snow Queen Quest while Yukino is fully playable.
  • Author Avatar: Tadashi.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Stat buffs/debuffs from spells will stack up to 7 (buffs) or 4 (debuffs) times. This means you can spam spells like Makakajanote  until the damage hits the 4000 mark... except that it takes many turns to reach that kind of damage, in which time most enemies can be killed repeatedly. In fact, it's only useful for the last boss, which spams debuffs, forcing you to counter with buffs. This was changed in the PSP port for game balancing so both buffs and debuffs only stack up to 2 uses.
    • Reiji, if you recruit him. He has the potential to have the highest physical damage output (even stronger than Mark) and has the option of using several unique Personas, such as Lucifer at level 99 and Beelzebub at level 77. What makes him awesome but impractical is that he can't equip Personas belonging to Arcanum of the other 8 members, which are generally the majority of the Personas of the game. In addition is the fact that both Lucifer and Beelzebub are two very high-level Personas well beyond the levels needed to complete the game (the gamer can generally finish around level 70 if not earlier), not to mention finding the demon (Alice) needed to drop Beelzebub's item (as well as her dropping the item), is about as rare as obtaining a pink tail. The only real bonus about obtaining Lucifer is that once he is maxed out, his 8th rank Judgment spell changes and he maxes all of Reiji's stats.
    • This is the only game you can make Nyarlathotep into your Persona! How awesome it is when you are taking the ultimate Big Bad of the Persona-verse to do your bidding?? Except he's not taking the same form when Kandori uses it, he has a different, inferior skill set, and only Reiji can use him; the rest have Worst affinity with him. Yes, Foreshadowing aside, Nyarly has been trolling you since day one.
  • Axes at School: As soon as you look at Mark's equipment, you see that he indeed brought an axe to school.
  • Big Fancy Castle:
    • Mana's Castle, helmed by Aki and Kandori.
    • Deva Yuga.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Drugstore song for international audiences, as it's left untranslated. The song lyrics are instructions on how to use the healing items it sells. Maybe that's why it's stuck in everyone's head?
  • Bishounen Line: Pandora crosses this in her second form.
  • Black Market: A location and a dungeon. While there's nothing to make it different than the others, it's the fact that you are trapped there if you enter that makes it dangerous.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The original US version.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Never once do the characters have to reload their guns.
  • Burger Fool: Peace Diner, though they don't serve food until Persona 2.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • At one point, you're given the option to cut a red wire or a blue wire, but either way the Deva System malfunctions and sends you back to your school anyway.
    • There's several other points where you have to make choices, and aside from a few events which decide whether you get the Downer Ending or go on to Earn Your Happy Ending, Thou Must.
    • If you didn't fulfill the requirements to get Reiji, and don't have Brown or Elly when you enter the Factory, when Ayase wants to join you, Thou Must.
  • Calling Your Attacks: In the Playstation version, some demons say the names of skills they use, or, at the very least, make sounds that vaguely resemble their names.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: The manga adaption begins with a class about The Butterfly Dream from the Chinese text Zhuangzi.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yamaoka, Nanjo's dead butler, returns as his Ultimate Persona. This gets carried over to Persona 2.
  • Cherry Blossoms: All over the place in the good ending in the SEBEC route. The emphasis is on the change, as this is the graduation day of the protagonists.
  • Continuity Nod: The Snow Queen Quest is rather similar to the plot of Shin Megami Tensei if..., given the fact that both games have a vengeful student draw demons into said school, forcing you to clean house. There's also the fact that both Shin Megami Tensei if... and Persona have two secret characters: one of whom in each requires jumping through some extra hoops and going for a portion of the game without a full party and turn out to have ties to the Big Bad (the two even have similar names in kana and romaji, though not kanji: Reiko and Reiji), and another who's tied to an alternate storyline (Yukino — who does briefly join the party in the normal game — and Akira).
  • Contrived Coincidence: The main characters playing the Persona game mere hours before demons invade the city. While it's clear that the game is a means for Philemon to select humans worthy of having a Persona, he has no control over who plays the game or when they do it.
  • Cool Guns: You get to use all kinds of them, from pistols to rifles.
  • Covers Always Lie: The blurb on the back of the PSP remake states: "In the near future, mankind has conquered dimensional travel, but the opened door swings both ways. Demons have invaded..." This is at best a half-truth; Kandori has managed to travel to another dimension, although he did create it, and demons are coming through. They didn't have to lie and say it took place 20 Minutes into the Future, as the game was made in 1996 and remade in 2009 note , but if they said what was really going on with the first sentence, it would be a huge spoiler. So no, the plot is not about a devoted team of scientists or even a demon invasion, but if you took the first part of the plot at face value, you'd start to believe the blurb. Weirdly enough, it would apply more easily to Shin Megami Tensei I, where teleportation experiments do cause a demonic invasion.
  • Creepy Child: Two of them. One of them is actually ostensibly on your side, the other... erm...
  • Cultural Translation: Nearly all references to Japan are gone in the PS1 localization, though the music in the Satomi Tadashi stores and what is obviously a Japanese Shinto shrine somehow made it through localization. This also makes the economy of the game somewhat easier, thanks to changing yen to dollars without adjusting for proper balance. As a result, many items are very cheap, and best of all, the healing spring that Trish (called Kelly in the US PS1 version) would've charged out the nose for is very cheap.
  • Cutting Off the Branches:
    • In the original game, you could pick either the SEBEC route or the Snow Queen Quest, and for the SEBEC route, you had a choice of Brown, Elly, Ayase, or Reiji, while in the SQQ, you had a choice of two between Nanjo, Brown, and Elly. In Persona 2, it is implied that the SQQ took place before SEBEC's first boss, and everyone was involved in the SEBEC portion of the plot (even Yukino, who you can't actually get in the SEBEC route in-game).
    • The game also establishes that the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei if... was a girl, though which route she chose in her game is unknown.
  • Demoted to Extra: Maki, Masao and Reiji are not playable in the Snow Queen Quest and have minimal presence in the story overall.
  • Die or Fly: The main characters all awaken their Personas when they're attacked by demons in pre-scripted battles.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • The Phaleg Persona, which learns Tarunda, Mediarama, and Crimson Sublation (in a game where stat buffs from spells stack), and it blocks most spells. Its level? 18. Granted, you can only use Twin Slash at first, leaving him at Magikarp Power as well.
    • Gozu-Tennoh gives you Megido and Megidola at level 18. Equip him on the main character and you're pretty much unstoppable, although you'll have to switch him out occasionally so others can get experience.
    • Returning Janus, a level 22 persona, earns Masao the Mandau Spoon, which jumps his weapon attack power from about 65 or 92 to 181. He can't find another excellent weapon until the player returns a max rank Varuna for his ultimate weapon.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: Deva Yuga. Technically it's the final dungeon of the Bad Ending, but the True Ending continues for three more dungeons.
  • Downer Ending: The Snow Queen Quest, if you don't collect enough mirror shards.
  • The Dragon: Takeda to Kandori. Anticlimatic, since he's merely a Warm-Up Boss. He's later replaced by Pandora, who not only provides much more of a challenge, but goes on to be The Starscream and Final Boss.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Philemon during the ending. The significance for this is that the five students have discovered themselves.
  • Dream Land: Hypnos Tower has the ability to put people in one.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Traveling through dungeons occurs in first-person, a holdover from Shin Megami Tensei.
    • Combat is grid-based, and you have to take into account the distance between the playable characters and the demons on the grid.
    • Most party members carry both a melee weapon and a firearm, a feature that disappeared in subsequent entries until Persona 5 brought it back.
    • While demons would be regular enemies in Persona 2 and Persona 5, this is the only Persona game that utilizes a race classification system for demons (like in other SMT games), which was used in tandem with their Arcana. After this game, only Arcana would be used to group demons/Shadows.
    • There are sometimes only one or two representative Personas for certain Arcana. Jack Frost and his ilk, most whom are aligned with the Magician Arcana in later games, are all Lovers Personas, and they're the only ones representing that particular Arcana. There is also no real significance to the Fool or World Arcanas; Fool Personas can only be made through a fusion accident in the Velvet Room, and the World Arcana is treated like the rest of the deck. Judgment Arcana has a little more significance compared to the two, being Eriko's default Arcana, but unlike latter games, it's not a late-game Arcana and you can fuse Judgment Personas normally in early game.
    • The Megido line of spells aren't Non-Elemental in this game: they're classified under the "Nuclear" line of spells alongside the Frei spells. (Which explains its symbol in Persona 3.)
    • Tied to Megido above, there are far more types of attacks, status ailments, and spells that haven't been seen since this one, and indeed, across the rest of the franchise as a whole. This is the only game where Garu (wind) and Zan (force, which is usually treated as the wind element in other games) are usable together, there are four types of physical attacks, and all kinds of status ailments like Virus, Happy, and Puppet.
    • It would later be retconned that Kandori was being controlled to some degree by Nyarlathotep, but this is the only game where the Big Bad is a human.
    • Kei and Reiji change their primary Arcana when they obtain their Ultimate Personas — Kei goes from Hierophant to Judgement and Reiji goes from Devil to Death. From Persona 2 onward, characters' Arcana are set in stone (including Kei himself in Persona 2, which moves Yamaoka from Judgement to Hierophant). The only exception is a particularly special circumstance resulting from the ending of Persona 3.
    • There are no Social Links and the player character's daily life isn't a gameplay mechanic.
    • Unlike 3 and onward, all of the party members can swap Personas within their respective Arcanas, instead of just the Fool.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Pandora, The Dragon and Final Boss, is essentially a manifestation of Maki's deep-seated desire to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, and looks exactly like... oh screw it, just watch this. Oh, and a warning — did I mention just how trauma-inducing this game actually is?
    • Then there's Kandori. Poor bastard... What makes the main villain a poor bastard? Well, his Persona is Nyarlathotep. This does, in fact, come back to screw him.
  • Electricity Knocks You Out: At the start of the game, the main characters perform the Persona ritual; after seeing an apparition of a girl appearing, the main character, Nate, Yuki and Mark are all struck by lightning — while indoors — and have a dream of a butterfly while they're unconscious.
  • Evil Mask: The Snow Queen mask, which is possessed by a vengeful spirit that wants to sacrifice Ms. Saeko in order to summon the Night Queen.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Snow Queen creates three towers within the school for a game. They are based off of Classical Mythology gods, Hypnos, Nemesis, and Thanatos and each have a guardian that exemplifies them.
  • Exposition Cut: Happens periodically. Then again, "There are really two different worlds, persons W, X, Y and Z, note  are from that world 1, person A is from world 2 note , Big Bad is from world 1, etc." would be quite a mouthful to read every time the players chat up an NPC.
  • Five-Man Band: Your party size is, of course, five. But aside from that...
  • Freudian Excuse: Humorously deconstructed in the Snow Queen Quest. The bosses of the towers all attempt to explain their tragic backstories, but the protagonists' reactions are more or less "so?", quickly pointing out how whatever sad things happened to them not only justifies little but also isn't even relevant.
  • Generation Xerox: There are multiple Satomi Tadashis around town, and all of them look the same. One of them is even implied to be a ghost, and looks just like the rest of them. Even the youngest of them, in the same high school that you're in, has a striking similarity to his relatives.
  • Glass Cannon: It can be anybody depending upon your persona setup. The character equipped with Gozu-Tennoh, for example, while possessing the power needed to sweep en masse, he is frighteningly fragile, and if any demon gets first shot at him, his host is toast. Same can be said for a persona of a holy element facing a Mudo spell and vice versa.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The missing shards of a Magic Mirror later revealed to be a MacGuffin.
    • Spell Cards. While they are useful since they're used to fuse Personas and you can use them to immediately shoo some enemies without fail, the Avatar Totem needed to fuse Vishnu can only be obtained if you collect ALL cards.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The SEBEC route true end. SEBEC and Takahisa's name gain media attention, but not the students who were involved, which is the heroes. Only they know the true story behind it.
  • Gratuitous English: The battle theme in the PSP port is sung in such mangled, poorly spoken English that only a line or two is readily understood by native speakers. The boss theme and school theme are only slightly better.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Chisato, which is why she decided to become the Harem Queen. Thankfully, her boyfriend helped her come to her senses. That, and a good beating.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Recruiting Reiji is notoriously difficult and requires one to take many steps that are literally counter-intuitive to any person who has ever played a game of this type before. Would you think to refuse every person to join you and go through entire dungeons with only four characters, when you have a Five-Man Band?
    • Getting on the Snow Queen Quest also requires a guide or obsessive exploration, since you need to pursue an odd chain of events for no real reason at a time you really have better things to do plot-wise. Once you've found the first step, it follows a fairly logical chain from there, though.
    • For that matter, the entire game is pretty much one big Guide Dang It!. You are either spending hours poking around trying to find items or experimenting with demons to try and get items and spell cards, or are spending a couple minutes with a strategy guide or online FAQ. Having a guide is practically REQUIRED for this game!
  • Hard Mode Perks: In the Snow Queen Quest, clearing the harder towers before the easier ones gets you more Ambrosia, which gets you more Ultimate Personas.
  • Haunted House: The Haunted Mansion.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Like almost all games in the Shin Megami Tensei series, you are allowed to name the protagonist at the beginning.
  • Hospital Hottie:
  • Ice Palace: In the Snow Queen quest, St. Hermelin High School effectively becomes one.
  • Iconic Item: The protagonist's pierced ear, Maki's pendant, Mark's hat, and Nanjo's #1 scarf, just to name a few.
  • Idealist vs. Pragmatist: In the SEBEC route, Kei's cold-blooded pragmatism often comes into conflict with Mark's hot-blooded idealism, and the party turns to you to make the hard calls.
  • Idle Animation: Every character sprite is set to nonstop idle animation, even during cutscenes. This could be fanwanked as them just being fidgety teenagers, though.
  • I Knew It!: In-universe. Mark's reaction to the Harem Queen being Chisato "...knew it." invoked
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Every character has it, but you best do some research beforehand on where to find them. The Casino in Sun Mall up to a point has some great weapons to use, but they'll pale in comparison to what you'll find by returning some Rank 8 Personas.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: The Velvet Room and Trish's Fountain.
  • Ironic Hell: Nemesis Tower inflicts these on people.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mark, Yukino and Nanjo.
  • Karma Meter: Sort of. In the SEBEC route, which Ultimate Personas you can fuse depends on making "good" moral choices at several points. If you speak to the little girl at Peace Diner and she says that you've made the wrong choice somewhere, you probably have.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Mark does this a few times, at least. The most prominent is when you run into Reiji in the second floor classroom. Considering it's Reiji's best contact (and the best contact in the whole game), it's hilarious.
      Mark: What a gloomy Gus! But hey, for all we know... Maybe he's the kinda guy who secretly practices magic tricks at home.
    • Yukino gets her share, for example, wondering why the shop clerks all look the same.
  • Last Day of Normalcy: starts with a group of friends from class 2A making preparations for the school festival, and then going to the hospital to visit a friend of theirs. They make remarks like "I have to get off in time for my part-time job" and stuff. And then they reach the hospital and the apocalypse strikes.
  • Last Disc Magic: The 'ultimate' Personas, which aren't unlocked until the last dungeon. They demand a very high level to summon, so you may find it easier to just muscle through with your current Persona.
  • Leitmotif: Maki, and the rest of the characters Brown, Elly, Ayase, Reiji and Yukino have their own. Unfortunately, except for Maki, Nanjo, Reiji and Masao's, the leitmotifs are removed in the PSP remake.
  • The Legions of Hell: Started pouring out into the real world after the first activation of the Deva System. They're mainly composed of Urban Legends, obake, youkai, and the odd angel.
  • Lethal Chef: The nurse is stated to be this. The characters actually feel sorry for her ex-boyfriend once they see her dream of him.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Including stun people, form into a ball and blow up half a city district to make way for an Elaborate Underground Base, and render the entire main cast unconscious so that they have a dream of a butterfly and gain their New Powers as the Plot Demands.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: About half of the soundtrack is made up of songs that are rarely played more than once or twice, especially the Leitmotifs.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Originally, the Deva System was this, as it made Maki's dream world a reality. However, Kandori adapted it to warp reality to his desire to destruction, a desire Maki shares.
  • Mana: How did the demons capture Masao? Simple — he ran out of SP.
  • Mister Exposition: Kei is this in the SEBEC route, explaining every plot twist that he already figured out. He can also be one of these in the Snow Queen quest but is optional and if not him, it will be Eriko.
  • Magic Mirror:
    • The Harem Queen uses one to grant her every wish, at the cost of losing her beauty.
    • The Demon Mirror can break the curse of the Snow Queen mask. Which is broken. You need to get eight shards in order to avoid the bad ending.
    • The Expel Mirror is needed to fight a boss in the subway.
  • The Mall: Location of all the shops, expect for those that are generously there in the dungeons.
  • More Dakka: The protagonist and Brown both utilize submachine guns.
  • Multiple Endings: Both SEBEC and Snow Queen Quest have good and bad endings to them.
    • Snow Queen Quest bad ending: You get 7 or fewer Mirror Shards. The Demon Mirror fails to free Saeko, and the Night Queen freezes the world solid.
    • Snow Queen Quest good ending: You get 8 or more Mirror Shards. The Demon Mirror frees Saeko, you defeat the Night Queen, and Masao recruits you to fight SEBEC.
    • SEBEC bad ending: You say the wrong things to Mai in the Lost Forest. After defeating Kandori in Deva Yuga, the other heroes escape, but Mai forcibly drags Maki into her ideal world forever.
    • SEBEC good ending: You say the right things to Mai in the Lost Forest. The heroes are able to convince Maki to keep on living and destroy Pandora, the physical manifestation of her own nihilism.
  • The Musketeer: All of the playable characters are this, with a system that rotates between melee weapons and ranged weapons for fighting.
  • Mythology Gag: In the alternate world school, after Aki announces her presence, Elly has this to say if you talk to her.
    Elly: A girl that can control demons... Sounds like a devil summoner to me.
  • Noob Cave: The Hospital.
  • Non-Elemental: Everything, even axes and uzi automatics, have strengths and weaknesses against demons. Apparently, Angels can take shotgun fire, but certainly hate getting peppered in the face by an uzi automatic. Upheld only on one some boss-only spells but they're still considered magic and can be reflected by Makarakarn.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Averted. Since Peace Diner serves no other purpose, it's hinted early on that it acts as a place where you can get hints from your party members, and in that sense is like the hint stand from EarthBound. More generally, this is averted in dungeons and exploration outside of the map screens. Talking to the party will invariably have them remind you what they're doing currently.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Dexterity, since Physical is essentially useless.
  • One-Winged Angel: Kandori and Pandora. Kandori is a variation, as his transformation is the result of his own Persona taking control of his body.
  • Optional Character Scene: Lots of these, as it so happens. Any time there's a room you can interact with, the game switches from first-person to an isometric view, where your party will be hanging around with unique things to say. And yes, this does mean every room in the game.
  • Personality Powers: The titular Personas are literally elements of one's personality given physical form.
  • Point of No Return: Upon your return to St. Hermelin, declaring your intent to fight SEBEC to Yuka locks you into the SEBEC route while finding the Snow Queen mask in the gym locks you into the Snow Queen route.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: The female protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei if... appears as an NPC and is given the name Tamaki Uchida.
  • Race Lift: The original US version, again.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The playable characters barely know each other at the beginning of the story. Several hate each others' guts. Guess who it's up to to save the world.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Masao and Kei.
  • Regenerating Mana: Walking around restores SP.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The PSP version had most of the soundtrack of the PSX version replaced with newer tracks, only those composed by Shoji Meguro were left intact.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: In a way. The guardian from the Thanatos Tower traps your Personas in Tartarus, and the group has to go in there to get them out. And yes, it's guarded by Cerberus.
  • The Reveal: Everyone from the alternate dimension? The imagination of a certain Maki Sonomura.
  • Revolving Door Casting: Igor is the only true consistent in the whole Persona series; while Philemon appears from time to time, he doesn't play a crucial role outside of Persona.
  • Route Boss:
    • After the first dungeon, the game offers you the option to either go through the SEBEC route, or the Snow Queen Quest. The two routes have absolutely nothing in common, so you fight completely different bosses in each.
    • In the SEBEC route, if you answer critical questions at specific points in the game incorrectly, you'll be forced to fight Hariti and the Teddy Bear. Having to fight these bosses is a surefire indicator that you're locked to the bad ending.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Yamaoka sacrifices himself to save some civilians early on, helping trigger your Persona powers.
  • School Play: Why the heck does the school play have an Evil Mask associated with it?
  • School Setting Simulation: St. Hermellin High is a recurring dungeon in the game that must be visited at least three times, not counting the begging where there are no random encounters. In fact, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is an extremely twisted version of it.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Justified since the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, leaving no time for a reasonable wardrobe change.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: The exact quote is a major part of the game!
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Variation: There are five possible party members — Brown, Ayase, Yukino, Elly, and (if you jump through the right hoops) Reiji. You get to recruit one of them. (Possibly two if you take the Snow Queen path, if you replace Ayase with Nanjo, the latter of which is the prerequisite for the SEBEC story.) The rest? Well, who knows what happens to them? It's worth noting that everyone was involved in canon, including the one who you can't bring on the SEBEC route.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: "Erusaer Tsymmom", the spell that Maki's mom taught her when she was little so she wouldn't feel lonely. Now read it backwards. They really did care for each other! Albeit slightly misspelled.
  • Self-Deprecation: Actually easy to miss even by seasoned vets to the game. At one point in the game, Aki calls Maki a flat-chested woman. Once you learn Maki's dirty little secret, the joke seems much Harsher in Hindsight, as she is apparently insecure about her figure.
  • Sinister Subway: You even get to fight Yog-Sothoth in it!
  • Skippable Boss: The mutant teddy bear and Hariti. In fact, skipping Mutant Teddy Bear is the only way to get the Good Ending. You can still get the Good Ending by fighting Hariti, but it bars you from getting some Ultimate Personas.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Tamaki and Tadashi have this relationship.
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Demons manage to capture Mark because he ran out of SP (explained as Personas draining one's energy). Also, Chewing Souls heal quite a significant amount of SP outside of battle, but a miniscule amount during it. Why? Because it's chewing gum. Characters can take it easy and savor the gum outside of battle, but they don't have that luxury during combat. The manga also manages to translate quite a few gameplay mechanics into the story:
    • Characters without a Persona (as seen in the beginning of the game and in Thanatos Tower) have just 1 Magical Defense. When Takeda hits Brown, Maki and Elly using magic, the latter two are merely scratched while the Persona-less Brown is gravely injured.
    • In the game, awakening battles have all party members level up and the game also features Level-Up Fill-Up. When Brown awakens to his Persona after the above incident, he's completely healed.
    • As Thanatos Tower also shows, characters without a Persona cannot be affected by healing magic. When the party tries to use healing magic on Yosuke, they remark that healing doesn't work on regular humans though it feels like being massaged.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Inverted in the Snow Queen Quest. In order to get enough Ambrosia to get everyone's Ultimate Personas, you have to do the hardest dungeon first.
  • Spoiler Opening: The PSP version's animated opening contains some clues to the Alternate Universe being a ideal Dream Land of Maki's, notably the way a giant Maki looms over the town. The song's lyrics also mentions dreams several times, and the lines "Don't wanna wake up/ 'Cause I'm happy here" are particularly heavy.
  • Stealth Sequel: To Shin Megami Tensei if..., due to the presence of that game's female protagonist, Tamaki Uchida (who's even noted in-game to be a recent transfer who's surprisingly knowledgeable about demons).
  • The Stinger: In the Snow Queen Quest's good ending, after the credits, Masao arrives to recruit the protagonist and his party to storm the SEBEC building and save Maki.
  • Story Branching: There are two mutually exclusive routes; the SEBEC path (the main one) and the Snow Queen Quest (which leads back into SEBEC in its ending).
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option:
    • In order to enter a certain dungeon where Kandori is hiding, the party is forced to cash in the Plot Coupon/borderline MacGuffin they only just obtained by using it as a key, which opens the door to the dungeon proper. Subverted in that Nanjo actually figures out the trap, but doesn't mention anything until after the Coupon is lost; according to him, Stupidity Is the Only Option if they're to confront Kandori. In the manga, he tries to get a Persona to open the door first but fails, meaning that there really is no other way.
    • Starting the Snow Queen Quest requires unsealing a mask that everyone says is cursed. Obviously the logical thing to do.
  • Summon Magic: The summoning of one's Persona, complete with lots of shouting and Instant Runes.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: The puzzle on the last floor before fighting Kandori basically amounts to free healing.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Not actually to death, but you have numerous options to escape without having to fight.
  • Taken for Granite: The Harem Queen casts a spell that causes every party member expect for yourself and Maki to turn into this. You are given the option to turn them back, but it's not preferred, AND the queen will actually be weaker for the boss fight if you refuse.
  • Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: One of the things the English dub of the PS1 original was infamous for. It attempted to change the location from Japan to the United States... despite the fact that one of the major areas in the game is a Shinto shrine, on top of many of the houses looking very Japanese influenced. Thankfully, this is Averted in the PSP remake, which keeps the setting in Japan.
  • Third-Option Adaptation:
    • It's implied that both the main and Snow Queen plotlines are canon... somehow.
    • The ending of the Snow Queen Quest puts it right before the first boss of the SEBEC quest, ending with the gang going to SEBEC to save Maki (who was left there when Mark panicked after being overwhelmed by the demons). After reuniting with Maki, things apparently went as they did in the main game, only with Yukino there, as confirmed in Persona 2.
    • Also, the manga apparently follows the SEBEC chapter, yet also has the fight with Toro from the Snow Queen chapter.
  • Trapped in Another World: Subverted in that it's not another world at all, but a manifestation of Maki's imagination.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Characters that are more efficient in combat — either by doing damage, buffing their allies, or healing characters with status effects, etc. — will gain more EXP for both their combat level and Persona level. This means that party members with less applicable use will get weaker and weaker as the game goes on. In short: The Protagonist, Maki, and Nanjo will level up normally. Everyone else will lag behind ridiculously, to the point where enemies can kill them in no time at all. It doesn't help that finished dungeons cannot be accessed after you beat them.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Played straight in the main scenario; averted in the Snow Queen Quest. For the main game, it's Avidya World, a massive cavern which for all its twists and turns combined with the gray matter lining the floors and ceilings; really represents the inner machinations of Maki's mind. Meanwhile, the lack of a final dungeon for the Snow Queen Quest is because - with the exception of the Nemesis, Hypnos, and Thanatos Towers - it takes place entirely within St. Hermelin High, albeit frozen over.
  • Video Game Remake: For the PSP.
  • Visual Pun: Takashi "Hannya" Hanya. What's interesting is that hannya themselves (female demons), appear as generic enemies.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Averted. While most students typically only have a few lines of dialogue at any given time, depending on the path, they'll all have new things to say in response to the situation. The game gleefully averts it with party members, as every room in the game has new things for each member of the group to say. Sometimes it's to give some characterization, others it's to foreshadow the plot (Nanjo's a particular target), and sometimes it's just a bit of fluff or a joke.
  • Wham Shot: A shocking revelation to players who read the manga adaption. Naoya suddenly turns against the party in chapter 20 but the next panel shows Naoya in a different room, meaning the Naoya in the party is an imposter. When the real Naoya shows up, he reveals who is the other person, his deceased twin brother, Kazuya.
  • Wham Line: After defeating Kandori, Kei asks this:
    Kei: Where is the real Maki Sonomura?
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Completing the SEBEC route will reveal the fate of the four main characters (and depending on who is the fifth member in the party) in the years to come.
    • Maki matures into a positive woman, wins an award at a major art exhibit, and enjoys spending time with her mother.
    • Mark moves to New York, where his street art style receives international acclaim.
    • Kei takes up a job as a salesman at a Nanjo Group subsidiary. He mellows out a bit and continues his quest to become Japan's number one man.
    • Elly becomes a famous model, becomes the face of young women her age, and continues her interest in the occult.
    • Brown becomes a famous celebrity. He continues to keep tabs on Mark.
    • Yuka gets a job at a trading company and marries a coworker.
    • Reiji marries shortly after graduation and has a son, who inherits his sharp toung and standoffish demeanor.
    • Since Yukino is not playable in the SEBEC route, hers is not revealed.
    • And as for the Protagonist's fate... that's for you to decide.
  • Where It All Began: The school library is a gateway to Pandora's lair.
  • World Tree: The Agastya Tree.
  • You All Look Familiar: Shop owners. The various Satomi Tadashis are handwaved as a case of Strong Family Resemblance, but there's no explanation for the others. Noteworthy because Yukino actually comments on this.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Kandori... pretty much wins, actually. His palace rises from the earth, he attains godhood, and the city is under his control.
  • You Bastard!: If you listen to Kei. His preferred options are to let Kandori's lead scientist die, and pull the plug on an unconscious Maki.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The first monsters fought by the party (and pretty common enemies in the first dungeon and the city map) are zombies.

Mark danced crazy!