[Post-Mortem] (Devil Summoner) Soul Hackers 2

I couldn’t have been more excited when Atlus announced, of all things, a sequel to Soul Hackers. Sega had said it was one of their ‘brands’ that they planned to leverage in a meeting, but I sure didn’t think anything would come of it, especially not in form of an avant-garde live action… thing.

Still, there was a good amount to be intrigued by. Another cyberpunk game by modern Atlus? Then… gameplay showed up, and excitement was doused significantly.

The end result looked much less like Soul Hackers and more like #TMS, and anyone familiar with that game knows that’s less cause for excitement and more for worry. Still, I wasn’t about to let that scare me off. I had to try the game on general principle, so I did, day 1 and all. Where do I even start? Soul Hackers 2, right from the jump, surprised me with how many narrative threads it pulls from the classic games, even the Raidou games.

The Phantom Society are introduced as the key antagonists, the Yatagarasu are still running around trying to stop them, and the protagonists are caught in between the two in a fight for the future of the world. The core plot is, by the numbers, everything you’d want from an SH sequel. The introduction is definitely one of the more stylish parts of the game, feeling like a stylistic throwback to classic openings like the all-timer, Digital Devil Saga 2’s Alive.

Sadly, it’s all downhill from here. As the opening shows, the supporting cast are all victims of the Phantom Society’s schemes, and are revived by the protagonist, Ringo, to aid an AI system with saving the world from an apocalyptic scheme. As most reviews state, there’s nothing wrong with the cast. Arrow, Kaizo, and Milady(pronounced more like “Melody”) are all interesting, fully fleshed out characters, with interesting backstories and solid voice acting.

Unfortunately, the protagonist is probably the least interesting one. She has great banter with the cast, and her voice actress has a lot of fun with the role, but there’s never more to her than happy-go-lucky AI helps everyone stop the Phantom Society. Her partner, Figue, definitely gets the lion’s share of a character arc. She also has a much cooler design than Ringo, to the point that I wish she was the main character.

The direction her plot takes is also part of the problem, but we’ll get to that later(involving major spoilers). Let’s get the core negative out of the way: Soul Hackers 2 is super lazy. It feels like it was a low budget game, and it probably was, given how miraculous the game’s existence is. That’s no excuse, though. If they had gone for a smaller scale game instead of something full 3D, they could have made this into something that was more faithful to the original game in depth and variety, and also a more fleshed out game in its own right.

First, let’s look at just a handful of the dungeon variety in Soul Hackers 1:

Off the top of my head, Soul Hackers 1’s dungeons include a warehouse, a port side dock, a hotel, a corporate headquarters, an airport, a supermarket, an art museum, a virtual reality world, and a haunted mansion.

Soul Hackers 2’s dungeons include, in ALL, a virtual reality world, an abandoned building, a portside dock, reskinned subway tunnels, and the final dungeon. That’s literally it.

Soul Hackers 2’s dungeons are a boring slog, and the music is set to match. You only hear three-four tracks repeated ad nauseum, and they get super old, super fast, as opposed to Soul Hackers 1, which had a ton of variety, all of which was fantastic.

As per usual, the protagonist is a Devil Summoner, and has a wide variety of demons are her beck and call… but unlike the previous three games, the demons you accumulate are neither party members nor companions. For all intents and purposes, they’re just Personas, and function accordingly. You can change them on the fly during battle, and each has different weaknesses & skills associated with them. They also occasionally appear on the field to give out items and healing opportunities, but since quests revolve around finding key items, this quickly turns into more of a chore than using them in creative ways a la the Raidou games.

Oh, and demon negotiation? Utterly gone. Now your demons just act as a middleman for random demons and you can decide if you want them or not. If you do, they ask for one thing, then join. No questioning, no bartering, that’s all there is to it.

And good luck if you’re trying to find a specific one, you’d be better off ponying up for the fee to fuse them at the Gouma-Den. Credit given where credit due, Soul Hackers 2 does get a lot of the references right. Just about everyone you’d expect to show up in some capacity is there, right down to Victor and his ever-changing Gouma-Den(no Mary, sorry), and even Madame Ginko.

I can say a lot of things about Soul Hackers 2, but I can’t say it was done by people who didn’t know about the original game and how to pay homage to it. It was just with a lackluster budget and no creative drive to make anything that truly lived up to its legacy. Even the city is well fleshed out, and has some genuinely cool visuals and NPCs.

Don’t expect to get much in the way of exploration, though.

You get three tiny hubs around these shops, and apart from that, the city is just a vague backdrop, which doesn’t get to have much life. I’m not saying it should have been like Kamurocho in Yakuza, but…

Actually, yes, that is what I want. It’s something, but it could have been much, much more. (See also: the dungeons, but again, it’s clearly low budget, so that wasn’t gonna happen.) Which brings us back around to the story. Soul Hackers 2 has a decent rogue’s gallery of villains, and to its credit, they get to have a bigger role in the plot than some of those in SH1(some of whom literally appear only in a single scene!).

(Don’t let this image fool you. You NEVER fight them all at once. Cowards.)

Iron Mask and Ash are the definite highlights. They’re charismatic, memorable, have solid ties to your party(both are literally exes of separate characters), and even manage to be a little threatening. Iron Mask and Ash are not to be taken lightly, and can easily wreck an unprepared team. I can’t mention them without going into an extremely problematic element of Milady and Iron Mask’s backstory, though, so spoilers ahoy.

Iron Mask saved Milady’s life as a child, and so naturally, she winds up looking up to him and idolizing him as her savior. And later on? They become lovers.

If that strikes as you as all kinds of messed up, guess what? You’re right.

Does anyone call this out? Nope, and I doubt Atlus even thought about the ramifications of such a plot twist. It would’ve been nice for Ringo to chime in, but nah, she’s more supportive than anything.

Then… there’s Figue. At the zero hour, after Iron Mask is finally defeated, the weight of killing him becomes too much for her to bear, and she decides to take up his cause for little-to-no good reason.

EVIL FIGUE(ooh, scary) actually has a pretty badass design, but other than that, her inclusion makes no sense, which I guess is as good a cherry on top of Soul Hackers 2’s screwy narrative cake as any. Then the game ends, everyone goes their separate ways, happily ever after.

Soul Hackers 2 is an uneven mess, and I’m being nice. The gameplay is fun, but it lacks the depth and core aspects of the classic SMT games. The characters are cool, but the plot takes them nowhere special. The music and dungeons are generic drek. The classic Devil Summoner games, and even the Raidou games to an extent, felt like the passion of a small, devout team knowing what they wanted to accomplish, and did everything they could to make a fully fleshed out game within limited means. This feels like the exact opposite.

This was a few individuals who were tasked with making a sequel because it was considered to drive potential for brand recognition and profit, so they scraped together whatever they were given, and tried to make the most of it, while throwing classic fans a bone whenever they could, while also trying to keep it approachable for new fans, and creating an end result that isn’t anything special for any demographic.

But they nailed Victor, so… there’s that.

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment PSP Update

As you hopefully know by this point, another team released an official patch for Persona 2: Eternal Punishment’s PSP version yesterday, fully translating the game, all its menus, and the Tatsuya scenario into English.


Myself and the others working on our version were completely blindsided by this, and had no idea it was in the works until it came out, same as everyone else. There was initially a great deal of panic, confusion, and disappointment, especially since one of the team had formerly been helping us out with coding and graphic modifications on our project.

Fortunately, once the smoke cleared, we were reassured that none of our work was used in the final product, which I’ve personally confirmed. The new patch is just modifications to the original Atlus PS1 translation, similarly to what our project had planned, the only key differences being that the graphic formatting and fonts are different, and this version uses honorifics(which I tend to localize or make variations on).

That said, our team was still left demoralized by this sudden announcement, and it’s been decided that without the need or momentum to continue our version, we’ve decided to cancel our in-progress build.

As some of you also sadly know, we’ve been met with no small amount of harassment, insults, and hateful responses. Thankfully, the others on the team haven’t been the public face of the project like I have, so I’ve been largely bearing the brunt of the drama. That said, it personally saddens me to see how the SMT community has degraded into something like this, as someone who’s been playing games and been part of the scene since the mid-90s. Toxicity like this is what contributed to other long-term community members and fan translators like AeonGenesis leaving the SMT scene and avoiding future projects of the like, and now, I can unfortunately understand why.

I hope everyone can take this as an opportunity to leave things in the past and move forward to just enjoy the game and support the series as well as any other fans working on SMT projects without undue harassment or hostility. This is something we do in our spare time, for sheer love of the game, and nothing else. We have never taken donations, and never will. During the course of the Eternal Punishment project, we’ve endured family deaths, a pandemic, and even an ongoing war that personally affected a member of the team.

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is near and dear to me. I picked up my copy of Persona 1 in the late 90s, and Persona 2 at a store in Tampa in the early 00s. It remains one of my favorite RPGs ever, and nothing is liable to change that. Going forward, I plan on enjoying the new release of Persona 2’s translation as a fan, and look forward to whatever else Atlus brings in the future. If the renewed interest leads to Atlus releasing an official remake or re-release of the older Persona games, then that’s even better, and I fully plan to support that as well, and hopefully you’ll do the same.

In closing, just remember to do as Maya does.

P.S.: this is in no way affects the progress of ongoing projects. Devil Summoner is still in the translating/editing phases, as is Fate/Extra CCC. As always, we appreciate the support and patience.

iwakura.p state of the union – 2020

Crazy year, ain’t it?

Actual depiction of most 2020 social life, I imagine

Thankfully, we’ve been busy, so here’s where a few things stand.

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

As you may or may not know, I was able to test out the first playable build earlier this year.

Unfortunately, it only gets me so far, so I’ve been asked to keep it on hold until the rest of the gameplay text can be finished. This is fine by me, as it will make testing worlds easier on me, my Japanese is NOT that good.

Fate/Extra CCC

Thankfully(?), the updates are largely handled by the CCC team, so be looking forward to that soon-ish.

Things That Were Completed

(disclaimer: iwakura.p was only cursorily involved in some of these. Napple Tale and YaruDora in particular are the results of hard work by people I’ve worked with and am more than happy to signal boost.)

Napple Tale, c/o Cargodin and EsperKnight:

A quirky Dreamcast RPG with a devout cult following.


YaruDora, Double Cast, again, c/o Cargodin and EsperKnight:

A fully animated visual novel! We all knows what it is.


Sakura Wars (editor)

The classic RED/Sega strategy RPG, on Sega Saturn(shiro).


Last Blade 2 (editing and revision)

The classic SNK fighter, now with a new translation! And a happier ending. (May vary)


And now, a taste of things to come…

Moonlight Syndrome

One of Suda 51’s first outings as writer/director, a precursor to The Silver Case and the Kill The Past series. Suda is in full unhinged crazy town. If you think you’ve seen madness, you have NO IDEA.

Castle Shikigami 2

The sequel to the original, and IMO, one of the best shmups of all time… with one of the worst translations ever. Which, I for one, have no intention of abiding.

Here’s hoping 2021 will be better than 2020. It’ll sure be an exciting one, I think.

Catch you on the flip side.


Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (PSP) Update

I can’t let the CCC team take all the thunder, can I?

So as anyone who’s been following me on twitter knows, the reason for the delay has been due to a bug at Seven Sisters.

I’m happy to say that bug has been squashed.


The town text, which is probably a good 60% of the game’s dialogue, is already implemented, along with a sprinkling of dungeon banter(how and which rooms, I have no idea, seems completely random).

So where’s this leave us? With the dungeon and battles, and fixing any bugs in the shops(which already appear to be several).

I’ll leave on a positive note with more screens. Have an enjoy.



Crap, I ended on Nyarlathotep… uh, well, on a positive note, as my girl Ulala says, stay tuned.

Spaaaace Cha-

wrong game.

Sakura Wars Saturn translation joins the troupe! (and an EP update)

As you may have heard, another team began their own translation project for Sakura Wars… only the Saturn version.


I thought it seemed silly to make them do double work when we had so much done, so we decided to join forces, Japan and Paris Troupe style.


This is the result.




The Saturn version is light years ahead of the PC one(re: actually playable), so it’s moving along very well, but we have no intention of giving up on the PC version, it’s just gonna take a bit longer.

And as the deluge of comments and tweets imply, no, CCC is not cancelled, it’s on the backburner so projects like this and Eternal Punishment(which are WORLDS easier) can see completion.

Which, as you can see, is also seeing forward momentum.



A Status Update (or: in the name of all that’s holy, I swear nothing is cancelled.)


“Some people who don’t know about your Twitter might think all your projects are dead, though.”

“any chance of a blog post on how the EP translation is going along?”

“Is it alright to ask how the Devil Children translation is going though? (Also good luck with CCC)”
“e p p s p w h e n (actually did debisama happen? I’m out of the loop. I assume not yet)”

“Hi cj, is fate extra CCC english patch coming out?”

“Quick Question, is the Eternal Punishment project beeing cancelled or do you continue it? There has not been any update in quite a while”


You. get. the. idea.

So first things first, since I could fill the grand canyon with the requests for this and give E.T. a run for his money.


Yes, I know.


Fate/Extra CCC (PSP)


Unchanged. Not cancelled. Full stop. Do not pass go. Do not cut off Gilgamesh’s arm.

Actually, totally do that.



Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (PSP)

Moving along nicely! Making solid progress with the remainder of the editing. I can’t say a 2017 release is a given, but it’s damn possible, at least based on the text progress.

Devil Summoner (PSP)

Well, I’m not involved in this, but as an intermediary for Esper, I can assure you it’s happening.

Devil Children: Red & Black Book (PS1)

I am involved in this! Well, as a tester and the editor. And EsperKnight is too. I can’t wait, and you best believe as a proud member of the Cult of Mirai, I will not let this go unreleased.

Sakura Wars (PC)


Translation is maybe 40% done. Stay tuned.

Shadowrun (Sega CD)


Just kidding. I have to keep lighting a fire under Esper for this one. It’s a bitch, let’s put it that way. But we’ll get there.

That’s all I got for now, hit me up on twitter or something if you’d like to know more, but probably not much to share  that isn’t here already, unless you want excerpts of Shikigami lore or EP PSP’s script or some junk.


Back to Disgaea 2. Ciao.