Persona 5: Royal‘s all-new-area packs new shops, minigames, and more into another of Atlus’ miniature recreations of real-world districts in Tokyo.
In the real world, Kichijoji is located in the city of Musashiro, within the western portion of Tokyo prefecture. Because of its closeness to several Tokyo hotspots, it’s been ranked one of the most desirable places to live in Japan for over two straight decades. Persona 5: Royal‘s rendition of Kichijoji focuses on a few notable locations from the real world and brings them closer together, from a Buddhist temple to compact streets and plentiful food stalls. When the players arrive at the new area, they’re greeted by a sign welcoming them to “Sanporoad”, Persona‘s thinly veiled parody of the real shopping district.
The real Sunroad houses Gesso-ji temple, which is utilized in-game as a place for Joker to meditate and permanently increase his SP by 5. It might seem out of place for a shopping district, but the temple is right at home there. In real life, Gesso-ji temple is open to the public and hosts Aikido tournaments and classes out of a dojo on the grounds.
There are three food stores open to the player in Kichijoji, and all of them play to certain aspects of the real place. Houraku and the Hagoromo Meat Shop are both small quick-stop eateries, tucked in the narrower alleyways while MealPort, a chain grocery store, is placed along the main road with the other brick-and-mortar stores. Small choices in placement like that contribute to Royal‘s efforts to capture the vibe of two very distinct areas of Kichijoji – the main road shopping district, and the more cramped night scene of Harmonica Alley.
Harmonica Alley (parodied in game as “Harmony Alley”) is well-known for its standing bars and trendy food stalls, plenty of which have been reconstructed in Royal, even if we can only buy food from two. Like it’s namesake, Harmony Alley really springs into action at night. Most of the shops here are shuttered during the day, only opening up in the evening to reveal a maze of standing bars and restaurants.
Looking for something a bit more involved than window shopping? The darts and pool minigames added in Kichijoji are essentially the crown jewel of Royal‘s new additions, associated with a total rework of the Baton Pass system and a new Technical Rank mechanic. These minigames are also, in fact, great for setting the mood during the players’ daily-life segments of the game.
Even putting the gameplay aside for a moment, having the chance to kick back and play a few rounds of pool with a group of friends or try your hand at darts is a fun, atmospheric way to play to one of the game’s core strengths: most of the time, the Phantom Thieves are just regular teenagers. During the daily life segments, they do all the stuff that regular teenagers might enjoy, from going to the movies and playing darts to eating out as a group. The real-world Kichijoji has plenty of great places to kill time after school – it’s well known for being popular with students – so why would Persona‘s Kichijoji be any different?
As a nice finishing touch to this oh-so-detailed set piece, if you check in every week, you might find some familiar faces at one of the outdoor bars at night. Namely, the teaching staff of Shujin Academy. It’s another way to make the game’s world feel very lived-in, and another example of Royal‘s increase in cameos.
There’s plenty to do and see in this densely-packed diorama of Kichijoji, so players looking to experience everything the area has to offer will have their work cut out for them finding all the hidden gems and cameos.
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