Ever since 2007 when Atlus first released Persona 3 in the states, the series has exploded in popularity, spawning sequels, spin-offs, animated shows, and theatrical films. But the game in the Persona series that had some of the strangest luck was Persona 2, which was actually divided up into two separate games. The first half of Persona 2, Innocent Sin, was released in Japan for the Playstation back in June of 1999. The second half, Eternal Punishment, came just over a year later in June 2000. While Eternal Punishment for the Playstation was released in English in November of that same year, Innocent Sin had been left out. The reason for this has never been officially confirmed. Some believe it was because of the same sex relationship option, or the appearance of Hitler, or some simply believe at the time Atlus could only afford to bring one over and decided to go for the one that felt like the bigger conclusion.
So for several years, Persona 2 was cursed to be only half localized. Eventually an unofficial fan translation of Innocent Sin was released in 2008 by dedicated fans Tom and Gemini, but it would still be almost another two years before any news came in regarding Persona 2’s fate.
On October 26th, 2010, Famitsu Magazine confirmed that Innocent Sin was being ported to the PSP. Fans were instantly intrigued by this idea, because after nearly a decade, it finally seemed as if there was going to be a way to have both halves of Persona 2 localized. The game was released in Japan the following April, Stateside that same September, and thanks to GhostLight, Persona 2 first set foot in Europe as well. At the time of the game’s release, there had been no mention yet of Eternal Punishment getting the same treatment beyond a few members of the Persona team expressing an interest in the project.
In February of 2012, Eternal Punishment was confirmed to be getting the same treatment as its predecessor and was getting an update for the PSP. The game was set to be released in Japan on May 17th, and alongside the original story was a new scenario starring Tatsuya, the formerly silent protagonist of Innocent Sin which would go further into detail about Shadows and what happened between the gap of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment written by original series writer Satomi Tadashi.
However, it wasn’t before long that stateside fans began to notice that there hadn’t been any announcement made in regards to Eternal Punishment PSP being localized, and soon fans were doing everything they could to showcase their support for the title. At this stage, it was hard to imagine that history could really be repeating itself here by only half of the game being released.
Atlus USA remained mostly silent on the issue for several months until recently, Atlus employee, Nich Maragos talked about an upcoming blog post that would give closure on the situation in regards to why they couldn’t release the title. Maragos made special mention that fear of low sales were not the reason (the common guess based on both the PSP’s current state in the western market coupled with the surprisingly low sales numbers of Eternal Punishment in Japan). On February 25th, 2012, the blog post was revealed, and while all that was said in the released blog was that “unusual circumstances have prevented us from localizing Eternal Punishment PSP the way we’d have liked to” The details into these circumstances remain a mystery.
To extend an olive branch to the disappointed fans, Atlus announced that the original Playstation version of Eternal Punishment was to be released on Playstation Network on February 26th, 2012.
In the end, there are two versions of Persona 2 localized over a decade apart from one another. In the Playstation days, the former half was never released in English, and in the newer PSP era, the latter will not see a western release. At this time it remains a mystery if the two halves of Persona 2 will ever share a connected release in English.
As it stands now though it seems as if Persona 2 is being punished. Some sort of punishment that seems as though it will last indefinitely. Like an infinite punishment…I wonder if there’s a better term for that.