The Persona series began in 1996 as an experimental spin-off of the Megami Tensei series of RPGs. 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. More modern Persona games (Persona 3 and onward) place additional emphasis on "Social Links", a visual-novel like system where the player character converses with various NPCs, including their party members, and helps them through the struggles of their individual character arcs. In turn, the strengthened bonds of the Social Links grant the main character additional power, 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, not unlike the Xenoblade Chronicles series. 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 the guns and Negotiation system.
The original scenario for the game was to emulate a backpacking journey around the world with a theme of self-discovery. 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 to follow their mindsets after such an event. From that point on, the scenario would instead focus on the “adventurous spirit of the human mind,” as Hashino put it, through the lense of the Japanese. To achieve this, the scenario adopted a more picaresque tone where the main characters were 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 III, 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. 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 upgraded version with additional characters, dungeons, and Confidants called Persona 5 Royal will be released in Japan in October 2019 and worldwide in 2020.
The Persona series makes its Super Smash Bros. series debut as the first DLC franchise in the Fighters Pass. 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 from or in the Super Smash Bros. series