Just yesterday Atlus confirmed that Persona 5 R is real, which makes it all the more likely that the rumours about The Phantom Thieves joining Nintendo Switch’s extensive roster are also true. While Atlus have not yet confirmed what Persona 5 R is, fans are probably right in guessing that it is an enhanced edition similar to Persona 3: FES and Persona 4: Golden.
Regardless, the mere suggestion that Nintendo Switch owners will be able to enjoy one of Sony’s best exclusives is exciting. The cast are lovable rapscallions who quickly replace your real-life mates, the turn-based combat system is perfectly refined, and the palaces are unique dungeons brimming with character and outrageous sights. Because Persona 5 is the greatest JRPG of the current gen and something everyone should experience, we’ve decided to reminisce about its palaces by ranking them.
Warning: Spoilers for Persona 5.
The idea of a fast food boss perceiving his employees as expendable slaves is pretty damn accurate, but the problem with Okumura’s Spaceship is that it’s largely a stop-and-go maze that will p**s off even the most patient individuals.
It starts off good with the ridiculously prissy Haru joining your ragtag group of merry men as the self-proclaimed Beauty Thief, but it quickly becomes an annoying loop that repeatedly makes you backtrack. From stealing cards off specific employee ranks to trying to navigate through a complex maze of airlocks, Okumura’s palace is a headache inducing spaceship nowhere near as pretty as the USS Enterprise. And to make matters worse, the boss fight has a timer.
Like Okumura’s Spaceship, Shido’s cruise is a maze that requires you to frequently backtrack to find specific individuals to clobber. Atlus has never been good at hiding the fact your choices don’t matter, but the inability to avoid a fight when asking for letters of recommendation is an unfunny joke that was never even slightly amusing. With an unavoidable array of mini boss fights and mazes to complete as Cinderella’s white mice, Shido’s cruise is a marathon lacking innovation and fresh ideas.
However, while it is a grind thanks to repeating everything before it, Shido’s Cruise is the stage for two of the game’s best boss battles. The war with Akechi is an inevitable but ugly scrap that perfectly finishes his story, meanwhile the tussle with Shido is a gruelling fight with way too much testosterone.
Is Makoto Persona 5’s best girl? Eh… maybe! But even if she’s not the ‘best’, she’s certainly a lot cooler than the prissy Beauty Thief, the ginger from Splatoon, and the Britney Spears wannabe. Which is why Kaneshiro’s bank is favoured for being the backdrop where Makoto joins The Phantom Thieves.
Unlike Okumura’s Spaceship and Shido’s Cruise, there’s nothing particularly memorable about Kaneshiro’s palace other than it being a bank where people are viewed as nothing more than indebted slaves (again pretty damn accurate). But, unlike the aforementioned dungeons, Kaneshiro’s bank is a standard romp that never annoys or overstays its welcome. Sure, some people might complain about having to find the letters for the codes, but it’s nowhere as overbearing as running in circles around a maze to find the chief director.
Although slightly annoying with how clingy she is, Futaba is a fan-favourite due to being a mirror for many gamers with her blatant references to video game and nerd culture. That and her palace is also the most emotional and subtle in The Phantom Thieves agenda against tainted and abusive adults. Unlike all the other palaces where the grown ups are irredeemable tools corrupted by sins like lust, greed and envy, Futaba’s mother turns out to be a disturbing distortion created by guilt.
The puzzles are tricky but logical, the setting isn’t shoving its theme in-your-face, and it’s the only time in the game someone actually wants you to steal their heart.
Madarame’s Art Museum
Next to Shido, Madarame is Persona 5’s best antagonist for being a manipulative weasel who has duped society into loving him and ‘his’ art. While the comedy with Yusukue asking Ann to strip for his painting becomes old very quick, the cognitive version of Madarame’s shack is an exquisite beauty that exploits people’s nostalgia for Super Mario 64. That and you really want to kick the old man’s arse for being a conniving d-bag who has ruined the lives of countless artists by stealing their paintings.
Although the boss fight is a tad disappointing with Madarame’s final form being floating paintings, the manner in which The Phantom Thieves steal the treasure is an exhilarating moment that feels like a Mission Impossible heist.
As the first palace in the game, Kamoshida’s castle is initially boring because you’re forced to listen to exposition for hours before you and Ryuji finally awaken to your Persona powers. When you return to the castle after the tutorial, it’s a pervy dream that makes Riise’s strip club tame. There’s love hearts, buttocks and bosoms everywhere, as well as a sleazy distortion of Ann that’ll make anime dweebs cream their jeans. Oh, and Kamoshida is a robed buffoon with hairy legs and pink underwear that doesn’t conceal nearly enough.
The setting is interesting with the theme of lust being more than abundant, and Kamoshida’s final form is a sight to behold. And its conclusion is satisfying with the pervy gym teacher grovelling and begging for forgiveness.
There’s plenty of reasons Niijima’s Casino is Persona 5’s best palace. Whims Of Fate is an awesome song that never gets old, Akechi is part of your team, and Sae happens to be the misunderstood but still annoying thorn in your side from pretty much the beginning. Similar to Futaba’s Pyramid, the Casino mostly works because Sae is a closely related gal you actually want to save rather than just pummel. Learning how she’s pressured by others and herself to catch The Phantom Thieves makes her a compelling victim similar to your posse of menaces to society, and it all concludes in a satisfying and heart-warming manner with Makoto getting through to and hugging her sister.
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