The Persona universe (ペルソナ, Persona) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties from the series of role-playing social-simulation games developed by Sega subsidiary Atlus. A sub-series of the Megami Tensei franchise, the games blend life simulation with dungeon crawling RPG elements of its parent series. This franchise, alongside its parent Megami Tensei franchise, is considered a flagship franchise for Atlus, helping to establish Atlus and the Megami Tensei franchise's popularity outside of Japan. Persona 5, released in 2016, is the single best-selling and most popular game in the franchise.
In 1986, Japanese author Aya Nishitani created a serialized piece for the Oh!PC magazine inspired by his time at an electronic manufacturing company. This was later expanded into a full novel title Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. A blend of science fiction and horror, the novel became a commercial success and spawned a trilogy. An anime OVA based on the plot of these novels was created a year later by animation studio ANIMATE. Namco acquired the rights to create a game based on the OVA, and hired the then up and coming studio Atlus to develop. The game also released in 1987 for Famicom and was successful enough to create a sequel Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II in 1990. Atlus also fully acquired the rights to the game franchise from Namco around this time and self published titles going forward, starting with Shin Megami Tensei, a remake of the two prior games, in 1992. The Shin Megami Tensei brand in particular would spawn a franchise of its own, with new installments being made to this day.
Following the positive reception of Shin Megami Tensei If..., a spin-off of the Megami Tensei series which saw the series' traditional post-apocalyptic setting replaced with a high-school setting, Atlus commissioned an experimental spinoff with a dedicated focus on the inner struggles of young adults. The first game in what would become the long-running franchise, Revelations: Persona, was released in 1996. Departing from the traditional first-person gameplay and post-apocalyptic setting of its parent series, Persona games take place in a modern metropolis and focus on a party of high school students, each wielding the power of "Personas". Personas are described as "masks to wear through everyday life", and bestow the user with a guardian entity which takes the form of a mythological figure and is capable of magic and other supernatural abilities. The games take heavy symbolism from Jungian psychology, as well as the tarot cards. Each game takes place in a separate locale and makes few direct references to its predecessor, though various Personas recur from game to game, as does the series' mainstay location "The Velvet Room" and its mysterious master Igor. Inevitably, the protagonists end up confronting the supernatural being responsible for the game's central conflict, and defeat them in combat in order to resolve it. Starting with Persona 3, the series placed additional emphasis on "Social Links", a visual novel-like system where the player character converses with various NPCs, including their party members, and forges bonds by helping them through their struggles and fulfill their individual character arcs. In turn, the strengthened bonds of the Social Links grant the main character additional perks, such as new Personas to wield or added inventory to shops.
Planning for Persona 5 began after the release of Persona 4, though full development did not officially begin until after the release of the puzzle game Catherine in 2011. The game's development was handled by P-Studio, an internal team within Atlus who were responsible for the core Persona series and Catherine. One early concept for the game was to incorporate an action battle system with real time elements. However, doing this would have meant throwing out everything the studio had cultivated over the course of the series, so the idea was scrapped on the spot. Rather, the team would refine what they already have built on, such as the Persona fusion system, as well as bringing back concepts from earlier Persona titles such as guns and the Negotiation system.
The original scenario for the game was to emulate a backpacking journey around the world with a storyline that diverged from the established paths of Persona 3 and Persona 4, with "self-discovery" and "journey", being its keywords. However, just as the team began solidifying this direction, the catastrophic 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. The aftermath of the disaster deeply affected director Katsura Hashino, who then decided to refocus the game's scenario on Japan. More specifically, it has been noted that the Japanese government's actions in response to the earthquake and tsunami's fallout, along with Japanese citizens' reactions to how the government acted during that time, may have served as partial influences on the game's themes. From that point on, the scenario would instead focus on the "freedom and how the characters attain it", as Hashino put it, through the lens of the Japanese. To achieve this, the scenario adopted a more picaresque tone where the main characters were lovable misfits and rebelled against the conventions of society armed only with their wits. This became the basis for the Phantom Thieves of Hearts and "Social Links" were renamed to "Confidants". The party's starting Personas also reflect this change, as most of them are named after famous outlaws and criminals such as Arsène Lupin, Zorro, William Kidd, Carmen, and Pope Joan. The choice for the more stylistic user interface for Persona 5 came from the picaresque direction to reflect the rebellious nature of the Phantom Thieves. This did not come easy, as the team had to continuously test and adjust the UI until it achieved a good balance between style and clarity. Many critics and fans took note of and praised this UI, saying it complemented the themes of rebellion well and calling the game "effortlessly stylish" because of it.
After what amounted to a five-year development cycle, Persona 5 was released in September 2016 in Japan and April 2017 worldwide. The game went on to become Atlus's single best-selling title in Japan in just three weeks as well as the fastest selling Persona game ever internationally, selling 3.2 million copies worldwide by the end of 2019. Critics praised the evolution of the game's combat, Social Links, and story and called it one of the best Japanese role-playing games of its generation and of all time. The game went on to receive many Game of the Year nominations throughout 2017 and placed highly in many outlets' "RPG of the Year" category. An enhanced version with additional characters, locations, and quality-of-life improvements called Persona 5 Royal was released in Japan in October 2019 and was released worldwide in March 2020. Reviews of Persona 5 Royal have eclipsed those of the original, with outlets citing the improvements to exploration, menuing, and the gameplay and story additions as welcome ones and calling Royal a defining example of how to do an updated rerelease. A hack-and-slash style sequel developed by ω-Force, the primary developers of the Warriors franchise, called Persona 5 Strikers was released in Japan in February 2020 and worldwide in February 2021.
The Persona series makes its Super Smash Bros. series debut as the first DLC franchise in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1. While most of the content present is from Persona 5, the series is also represented with content from Persona 4 and Persona 3. In addition to one newcomer, the series is represented by a stage, several character cameo appearances, 11 music tracks from across three games, four Mii Fighter costumes, and 11 Spirits. The series made its debut alongside the version 3.0.0 update and its associated new content.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Persona series)
Persona received three arrangements for Ultimate.
Tracks sourced directly from the Persona games.
Main article: List of spirits (Persona series)
Games with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series