After the Shin Megami Tensei panel I had a chance to join a roundtable interview with Nich Margos, Veteran Editor, and Yu Namba, Senior Project Manager at Atlus. Since the game was just announced Atlus couldn’t disclose juicy details like what Kuma is. I really wanted to know that. Also since the interview was conducted with 1up and Dale North from Destructoid I thought it would gentlemanly to base this transcript on the questions I asked and discussions I started. The result is a truncated interview, but rest assured we’re going to have more Persona 4 coverage. Think of this as an appetizer.
Every time it rains or the weather changes, is it a take off the existing Moon system [from Persona 3]? Will it only “rain” once a month?
Nich Margos, Veteran Editor at Atlus: You’ll see how that plays out in the game.
Yu Namba, Senior Project Manager at Atlus: Don’t forget there are things like rainy seasons and dry seasons.
NM: You’ll see, it’s different than I would say, from the month system.
Persona 4 seems rooted in Japanese mythology with Jiraiya and so forth. How do you feel you’re going to be able to explain the origins of the Personae to the American audience?
YN: Don’t forget that even in Persona 3 and FES there was such a thing as the Personae Compendium.
NM: But the hard part about that is you’re talking about…
YN: You’re talking about the teammate personae?
YN: Yeah, that’s a pretty difficult one…
NM: It’s something I’ve been kind of struggling to get across as well. One thing I’m only dreaming up right now is we might toss a sentence or two in the manual in the character descriptions. If we can fit in one sentence or two it would be nice.
Andrew Fitch, 1up: There is always Wikipedia.
Especially since Persona has become so mainstream it would be great to bridge the gap. Just from my experience with Persona 4 it feels so rooted in Japanese culture with the mythology and the rural setting. When people think of Japan they usually think of Tokyo. They may not think of Japan’s rural areas.
NM: Something interesting I guess about the Japanese references is I’ve been doing a lot of my own research on the Japanese mythology for my own benefit to help understand where Jiraiya comes from, where Sukuna Hikona comes from and it’s really hard to find in books in America.
YN: One thing, you know you gave me the idea really, what we might be able to do is add a little of those descriptions on our website.
Dale North, Destructoid: That was just what I was going to suggest.
NM: That would be good.
YN: We’ll see if we can do something about that.
Are there multiple plot points [in Persona 4], a branching plot?
YN: You guys know that Persona 4 is basically a murder mystery which means who knows what will happen right?
What can you tell us about the dungeon system and how it’s evolved from Persona 3 and FES?
YN: I wish I could say a lot about that, but not too much. Have you taken a look at the screenshots?
YN: From my personal view it looks better, at least.
Dale North, Destructoid: It looks more wide open to me.
YN: We’ll you’ll see. In P3 and I guess in FES also each section of the dungeon had its particular theme. Some of them look like HR Giger. Some of them looked all psychedelic. You’ll see that kind of trend, but way strengthened in P4.
One dungeon reminded me of an 8-bit video game. Is there a video game themed dungeon?
YN: You’ll see. I think it will bring back a lot of fond memories of playing those eight bit games, I would say.
How has the combat changed? I saw in the trailers partners can pick each other up when they get knocked down. I know you’re still using the Press Turn system, but what else has changed?
YN: I don’t know if too much battle system information has been released in the Japanese info, so I don’t know if we can say too much about it. The only thing is that you will see more character interactions.
NM: One big change is you still have the option to set all your party members to AI, but you can also give them individual commands. If you didn’t like the AI system you now have a choice.
Nich are you adding any slang in? I know that was a big part of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army. Are you guys having any type of unique slang or dialogue?
NM: We’re trying to keep it modern. We’re trying to make the characters sound like modern youth. I’ve seen a couple of issue of slang, I wish my memory was better, it’s terrible. But yeah, there is going to be American slang in the game, pretty much. They should sound to me, I believe, like how modern high schoolers sound.
Andrew Fitch, 1up: Is there any kind of rural connotation you’re trying to get at?
NM: I went the wrong direction at first I admit. I had a misunderstanding what rural meant in this case. I’m from Louisiana so if you want me to do rural, I can do rural. I started writing one of the characters more rural than was really called for. I discussed it with a translator and they told me that the characters aren’t that – they’re not hicks. They are normal people, they sound normal, they just happen to live in a place that isn’t a major metropolitan area.
You may not know this yet, but is Persona 4 backwards compatible with the 80 GB PS3?
Aram Jabbari, Assistant Manager of Sales and Marketing: We really hope so.
YN: I don’t think we have an 80 GB version.
NM: I think I talked to Carl about this once about trying to get a PS3 to make sure our PS2 games, but I don’t know if anything came through.
YN: The big issue though, is it’s not like we have a copy of the game that works on retail PS3s.
AJ: We won’t really know until it comes out.
That’s this month in Japan.
YN: I think if the Japanese version works there is a huge chance it will work for the US version, as well.
Images courtesy of Atlus.