With Persona 5 stuck in my head right now, I thought what better Top 10 to have than the tremendous library of games Atlus has developed and published. I could do a Persona-based list, but that’s something better suited for closer to Persona 5’s April 4th launch next year. So Atlus games it is!
Now remember, this list is of games I’ve actually played. There will probably be a few games missing that you guys are like “WHAT?! HOW IS THAT GAME NOT ON THIS LIST?!” and that’s why, I haven’t played them. I wish I could have played every single game ever made, but y’know the whole money thing. And time. And my sanity.
Anyways, here’s my personal top 10 Atlus games!
Cue the eyebrow raise from everyone! But actually, I really liked this game in an era when I was in my early teens and I still enjoyed tennis games whether it was more realistic or more arcade-like. Hard Hitter Tennis for me was a pretty solid tennis game that always challenged me enough to keep coming back to it and the fictional characters in the game were all very unique and different. Hell, there was a girl in that game who looks suspiciously like a dude. There was a little bit of everything in the game. It’s not anything super special, but it was fun enough for me to include it on this list.
I was such a sucker for this game when it came out. The art style is so perfectly cheesy and colourful and the idea of this over-the-top dodgeball game coming out with an anime-like art style to it, it was so perfect to me. The game was varied enough and offered enough of a challenge to keep the average player interested long enough to get their moneys worth. And come on! It’s dodgeball! How many dodgeball games have ever been made? To be honest, this is the only one I can come up with from the top of my head.
Now while these games kicked my ass and then some, the first entry into the Souls series in the PS3 game Demon’s Souls, I can’t deny just how polished a first entry into what became a resurgence of a genre of hardcore, challenging game that Demon’s Souls was. I still hate it because it grabbed me, bent me over and spanked the shit out of me, but it’s a love-hate relationship. Though ever since that game, I haven’t really been able to get into any other of those games.
I remember when I saw this game for the first time, I thought it was an ingenius idea. Both the Wii and DS versions in this series were such a great idea to me, motion controls or a touch screen allowing you to do precision (well not really, but…) surgery sounded so damn cool! Then attach an anime art style to it, some ridiculous over-the-top anime bullshit with superpowers and stuff and you have a series of games that are a lot better than one would’ve expected.
While a tough game to get into, especially for those who are used to the Shin Megami Tensei name being behind the Persona series, this game is still a very solid JRPG, it’s just suited for the more hardcore tactical JRPG audience who prefer a more dark and dreary kind of storytelling and universe surrounding it. I’ve yet to finish the game (because Destiny is so good at pulling me away from newer games), but the time I’ve spent with it has been fantastic and hopefully after writing this article, it’ll convince me to go back and finish it.
It’s weird because I don’t remember much about this game, I haven’t played it or looked at it since I got it on release day in 2005. That’s 11 years where I haven’t played the game, or even seen screenshots of the game. By Google Image searching the game, I remember bits and pieces here and there, the combat system, some of the characters and especially the beautiful anime art style. What I can tell you for sure though is that when I played and finished this game (real quick cause I couldn’t put it down), at the time it was definitely one of my favourite games, I loved the hell out of it!
I love the Persona series. I also love the Arc System Works 2D fighting games such as the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series respectively. So what do you think happens to me when both come together? Yep, I break my golden rule of not pre-ordering games. Both the first and second entries into this series have been some of the best fighting games I’ve ever played, rivaling games like Guilty Gear X2, Super Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat (remake) and many other fantastic fighters. The art style is so perfect, the music is fantastic and the game has arguably the best story mode ever in games, unless you hate visual novels as a style of storytelling. But if you’re into Persona and even if you’re not too big a fan of fighters, this is worth a play and then some.
Speaking of things mixing together, THEY MIXED SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI WITH FIRE EMBLEM!!! AGH!!! Upon hearing this concept, my mind blew. After cleaning up the brain juice on the floor, I was now waiting in anticipation for what would come out of this and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The art style is so goddamn good, especially considering this is on the WiiU of all consoles. The battle system is a great mesh of the Shin Megami Tensei with Fire Emblem elements (not the tactical overhead stuff, but the sword/axe/spear setup) and the characters are all very unique. There’s so much to love about this game and I’m so happy that this amazing crossover didn’t end in failure.
Now we get to the good stuff. I can remember reading PlayStation Magazine and seeing this game getting an 8.5/10 rating. This is during an era where I was completely done with JRPGs because in the second half of the PS2’s lifespan, JRPGs were 95% shitty anime art games with a clunky battle system. So for anyone to rate a JRPG that high, that got my attention. Upon playing it, I was shocked by how much depth there was to this game, even today this game holds up so well for its story, characters, battle system and just how much there is to do in the game. While I’ve had trouble getting into the first two Persona games, Persona 3 definitely kickstarted my love for the Shin Megami Tensei name and certainly put confidence back in me for the JRPG genre.
But then Persona 4 came along and not only improved upon the greatness Persona 3 already was, but completely shattered it. There were even better characters, better storylines, better sidequests, better battle systems, better world to explore, everything was better and then some. In fact, this game was so goddamn good, I’ve played through it more times than any post-PlayStation/Nintendo 64 era game, not just JRPGs, but all games. The only game I’ve played through more is Final Fantasy VI for the SNES, which is probably the only game I would put above Persona 4. It’s that good a game and if you’ve still not played it, you’re doing yourself such a major disservice by not doing so.
And that’s the list, thank you so much for reading this, I hope you enjoyed it!
If you have your own games that I’ve missed (likely because I didn’t play it), list it in the comments below. Keep the conversation going!