While Final Fantasy may still rule the JRPG space, there are a handful of franchises that have hunted its crown. Persona is one such series, with roots on the original PlayStation and its most recent mainline release on the PlayStation 4 wielding overwhelming critical praise. Smart character development, intricate leveling systems, and gorgeous presentation are essential pillars of Persona, and while it has seen entries on a number of platforms, it’s always been beloved amongst fans of portable gaming.
The Nintendo Switch is one of the best handheld gaming devices of the last two decades. Its impressive and surprising ascent to the top was earned through its pioneering functionality and exceptional list of games on offer. Among those games, there are plenty of Japanese role-playing experiences that satisfy fans of the genre, from Xenoblade Chronicles to Pokemon, and so Persona would fit wonderfully into the Switch’s ecosystem. To deny fans of either the system or the franchise the opportunity to experience any of the mainline Persona games on the Switch would be a shame, and squash the potential that the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Portable started.
Persona’s Portable Past
Persona may have begun on the original PlayStation in 1996, but its willingness to find a home on portable devices makes it almost synonymous with gaming on the go. From Persona 3 Portable on the PSP finding success and a cult following to the definitive version of Persona 4 being one of the best titles on the underappreciated and mishandled PlayStation Vita, the franchise has reveled in its ability to be played on the move. The relationship between Persona and portable gaming even stretches to Nintendo, as Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth offered a new perspective for the series on the 3DS. With this being the case, missing out the Switch would not only be a terrible shame, but a shocking omission.
The gameplay of Persona lends itself so well to portable gaming. With randomly-generated dungeon design, plenty of Social Links, and dialogue that goes on for a long time, it’s perfect for the pick-up-put-down philosophy. Pushing a few floors into a dungeon in Persona 4 Golden is a great way to spend time on the morning commute, and investing into some tonally bleak but mechanically light story beats in Persona 3 Portable when players have a spare five minutes is where the series truly shines. One of Persona 5‘s biggest issues was its length and pacing, but when it can be experienced over the course of months in short bursts of gameplay it can be far more easily digested.
Persona in Smash Bros
Receiving an invitation to join the festivities of Super Smash Bros. is cause for celebration in the industry. The crossover fighter is one of the most beloved series in all gaming; its willingness to pull characters from all the industry’s corners is impressive, and for gamers it’s a real treat. Among those inclusions there are always a few that are truly a surprise. Solid Snake’s inclusion in Smash Bros. Brawl was a total surprise, and the same could be said when Persona 5‘s Joker was included in Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s DLC. It wasn’t anything that anyone expected, and to this day it’s the only thing that boasts Persona 4 Golden‘s gorgeous aesthetic on the Switch.
To fight in an arena draped in Persona 4 Golden‘s colors and backed by some iconic songs from the PlayStation 2 JRPG is wonderful, but it’s a shock that Smash Bros. would acknowledge the existence of Persona without featuring the series’ mainline games on the system. For Solid Snake, the case could be made that the original Metal Gear game was on the NES, and so he has a short history with Nintendo. Persona 3, 4, and 5 don’t have such a past, so the series’ inclusion in Smash is curious.
Persona on Game Pass
Following the announcement at the Xbox and Bethesda showcase that three Persona games would launch of Game Pass in 2023, fans were left with both excitement and confusion. As Persona has always had a strong relationship with portable devices, it was a head-scratching moment that the series would find a new home so early with the one company that doesn’t have a dedicated portable device on offer. Game Pass is a platform that is continuing to gain traction and prove that a subscription model can work with gaming as well as TV and film. It’s not necessarily shocking to see Persona on the service, but to be featured on Game Pass before the Switch was puzzling, and a letdown to the over 100 million owners of Nintendo’s hybrid system.
With the Nintendo Switch’s success and the recent arrival of the Steam Deck, 2022 is the ripest the industry could possibly be to give Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable in particular their time in the sun. The former’s mobile experience was isolated to the PlayStation Vita, which was a commercial flop, and the latter was released far before Persona became known to a wider audience. Persona 4 Golden was recently verified on the Steam Deck, so there’s hope that it will find the audience it deserves, but to truly gain widespread popularity it simply needs the Switch’s market.
Will Fans See it Coming?
Persona and the Nintendo Switch are a match made in heaven. The series’ insane length and well-crafted design lends itself beautifully to portable gaming, and for the Switch to pass gamers by without any mainline Persona games being available would be a huge letdown, let alone a missed opportunity. The Switch doesn’t need Persona but it would absolutely be better with it, and while Atlus may not admit it, Persona needs the Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is one of the most revolutionary consoles in the history of gaming, and will likely be revered by fans for years after its successor hits shelves. Bringing Persona to its already impressive list of available games is something that just feels natural. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate teased it and the Steam Deck proves that the series still fits handheld gaming like a glove, so it would be a shame to not bring the two together. Gamers want to see it coming.
Persona 5 Royal is available on PS4.