Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

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As you know by now, one of the, uh, fun quirks of the Act Reviewing Machine is that it only does series in order and will not skip to a series newest game despite warnings to the contrary.

I tried on two separate occasions to play this game, and failed both times.

It takes a lot for me to not be able to get through a game, as you know. But SMT: Persona aka Revelations: Persona aka Persona 1 was so mind-numbingly boring on just about every front that at this point I just have to admit I can’t do it.

It’s hard to even know what was the worst part. There’s bland cast of characters I couldn’t keep track of, the obscene random encounters that were impossible to run from, the constant jumps in level that made it so you had to grind at every new area, the nonsensical and impossible-to-follow plot… and worst of all, the long, long amounts of time spent wandering through tunnels reminiscent of the old “maze” screensaver that made me so horribly motion sick I sometimes I had to put the game down because I couldn’t take it anymore.

The battles are repetitive, unfun, and unchallenging — just long slogs that you’re either high enough level to win or low enough to lose. The characters are absolutely abysmal — there’s so goddamn many of them, and none of them have any defining characteristics at all; I couldn’t keep them straight. The bizarre setting elements are never explained… Why the eff do we save games by talking to a tree? Why is no one weirded out by the creepy old velvet-room guy taking up in the school? Why is everyone so hum-ho about demons showing up? Why does the ‘persona’ game work, and where did it come from?

Let me tell you, internet, the old days of video games had some amazing stuff, like Chrono Trigger and Pokemon Red, but by and large I think we were just really, really desperate for digital entertainment. One of two other games I’ve bordom-quit on this blog was a 1991 rpg (Final Fantasy IV). And as I said in that post: “I do realize that when it was originally released in 199[6], it’s highly likely that at the time everything was all shiny and new territory and it was exciting and stuff. But if that’s true, it just hasn’t stood the test of time.”

Good God those tunnels.


  1. illhousen says:

    Yeah, that was about my experience. The grinding has defeated me.

    And you didn’t even mention that there is actually three separate kinds of grinding going on: first, there is the traditional kind, you kill enemies, get exp, level up, increase stats. Then there is grinding your Personae to unlock their skills (though thankfully it’s done at the same time at least). And then there is grinding for spell cards done through mini-game where you talk enemies into surrendering (which, btw, results in a very mixed message, especially in the context of Undertale: it’s very much possible to SPARE your enemies, but you also need killing to increase your power and survive the game).

    And it’s all just so tedious. And you can’t even really use the spell cards you get in a current location to create new Personae for you to use because that results in them being too high-leveled for you, you need to carry old spell cards for that, which is just bad game design.

    And, ugh, fuck it.

    Now, I didn’t play the second game because it looked pretty similar to that one and had one of the most cheesy openings I’ve seen. Specifically, it opens with the MC discussing something with his teacher, then leaving, and then the teacher dramatically proclaims “That boy… He carries so much pain inside him.” And I laughed at it and couldn’t really go on.

    But at least I’ve heard that first-person corridors are replaced with isometric view.

    The third game, on the other hand, is pretty neat. It got a major gameplay upgrade, it actually does something unique for the genre with social links and related stuff and, while the grinding isn’t gone, it’s much less tedious and can actually be fun.

    Not to say that the game doesn’t have flaws, but those are flaws worth talking about rather than something you just want to forget forever.

    It is pretty complex, though, when it comes to management, so I would recommend using a guide.

    1. Nerem says:

      Persona 2 is a good deal better overall, and has a lot better plot. Probably one of the better video game plots overall.

      It suffers from Silent Hero though. Unlike P3 and P4 where you get a ton of fun choices to help figure out who your protag is, there’s just none of that in P2, so you don’t REALLY get to see what the initial protag is like in Innocent Sin, just Eternal Punishment where he can suddenly speak, and Maya from the first game becomes suddenly silent.

  2. Dorne says:

    I applaud your decision to let go of some of your collection. Now then, how much for your Archer stuff? =P

    1. actonthat says:


      I’m actually trying to get my hands on the most recent Archer figure, but fucker’s so expensive and I make a writer’s salary.

  3. RandomName says:

    Fuck Persona 1 with a passion, Persona 2 is when it starts getting good and no one can convince me otherwise

  4. SpoonyViking says:

    Isn’t this the series that was inspired by the Stands from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?
    And isn’t it ironic how JRPGs tend to be much more plot-driven than most WRPGs, and yet they also tend to require much more grinding?

    1. Nerem says:

      Inspired, nothing. Persona are Stands, to the point that they asked for permission to use Stands in their game. Though they ended up heavily influenced by an earlier SMT game, SMT If…, where when you die, a Guardian Spirit emerged from your dreams to save you and became a party member (replacing your old one).

      Which Persona 1 is this by the way? PSP Version? You lucked out, as it’s way better then the PS1 version all around.

      That’s kind of scary, actually.

      I actually got pretty far in this game before my PSP was stolen. It is tons of grinding and stuff, but it has an auto-grind feature and great music so I could tolerate it a lot more then normal.

      I mostly just wanted to beat the alternate quest, since it got cut out of the PSX version for some reason.

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Really? Did they get it? I might actually go for the games, then, just for the possibility of using Hermit Purple to lay the smackdown on enemies. :-P

        1. Nerem says:

          There’s no JoJo Stands directly sadly, though they have a lot of design inspirations taken from JoJo Stands for Unique ones.

          I mean, just look at Izanagi or Konohana Sakuya,

          1. SpoonyViking says:

            Really? I’m not sure I see it with those two. I mean, there’s definitely a general Stand design being used there, but I don’t see any direct references to specific Stands.

            1. Nerem says:

              I was referring to the general stand design. If you threw them in with a bunch of Stands they would fit absolutely in.

              1. SpoonyViking says:

                Ah, ok. Then yes, that’s absolutely true!

      2. actonthat says:

        PSP. I originally tried the PSX one and thought maybe the PSP would be better, but it was not.

        1. Nerem says:

          They made the combat a little less tedious! That matters a lot! Can you imagine playing the game without an autobattle function? I can’t.

          I can’t.

          1. SpoonyViking says:

            So they made the game more fun by making it so you could skip something which must be 90% of the gameplay, at least?

            1. Nerem says:

              There’s a lot of grinding and a lot of the random encounters don’t really need you doing anything special. The boss fights are fine, it’s just the grind…

              Persona 3 and 4 fixes this by having actually dangerous and fun random encounters, though it doesn’t lose the auto-battle button.

              Not that I’ve ever used it.

              1. illhousen says:

                P3 and 4 are indeed much better when it comes to grinding. I would still prefer designer dungeons with set amount of enemies and various secrets to uncover rather than randomly generated ones, but now I at least can derive some pleasure out of fighting.

                The grinding does get tedious once in a while, though, especially if you want to keep your whole party around the same level.

              2. Nerem says:

                P4’s dungeons are actually completely set.

                I never really had to grind to be honest. I’d just go through a dungeon in a night, and then do social stuff until the next part unlocked. It just mostly involved taking different parties each time.

              3. illhousen says:

                Huh, didn’t know it. Still, they’re pretty bland, much like the ones in ME1 side quests.

                As for grinding, I generally have a low tolerance for the stuff. P3 and 4 (especially 4) are mostly fine in that regard, but I would prefer more plot elements or puzzles or something to spice up dungeon explorations.

              4. Nerem says:

                They’re still constructed to pretend to be random, but they’re actually set because of I presume the requirements for the Shadow Dungeon’s gimmicks.

              5. illhousen says:

                Aren’t only the floors with plot stuff on them set, like mini-bosses and puzzles? Pretty sure the floors between them are random.

              6. Nerem says:

                Nah I tested it. The between floors are equally set. It’s pretty convincing if you don’t ever come back.

              7. illhousen says:

                Hm, did you exit the dungeon, entered another and returned? They don’t reset otherwise, that I remember from spending an hour or two doing that damn quest that required gathering random drops.

                It’s been awhile since I’ve played it last, so it’s possible I didn’t notice dungeons being the same (I did notice it with plot-relevant ones). If so, that’s a pretty good imitation of randomly generated content.

              8. Nerem says:

                I did some looking around, and all the plot levels are set but apparently some non-ones are set too, but the rest are random, and they only reset if you leave the dungeon entirely like you suggested. So it seems I was fooled by one of the set floors. (I was testing in the next to last dungeon). So my bad!

              9. SpoonyViking says:

                No, I’m sure a lot of the fighting seems pointless and random – most did around that era of JRPGs. But I find it funny that one of your compliments to the PSP version was basically “There’s less game in it, so it’s more fun!”. :-P

              10. Nerem says:

                I wouldn’t call endless grinding ‘game’, and anything that shortens it is a huge improvement in my book. It’s why I don’t really care for the Dragon Quest games. Or Bard’s Tale.

  5. Negrek says:

    Let me tell you, internet, the old days of video games had some amazing
    stuff, like Chrono Trigger and Pokemon Red, but by and large I think we
    were just really, really desperate for digital entertainment. One of two
    other games I’ve bordom-quit on this blog was a 1991 rpg (Final Fantasy

    I’ve had very similar experiences with older RPG’s as well. I bought several of the remake early FF games, for example, and managed to complete none of them. It was always like, “Gee, look, it’s another giant maze-y dungeon with random encounters every three steps. This is gonna be fun.” It’s kind of cool, though, to look back on the very beginnings of these things and how far we’ve come since. Just don’t make me play through 30+ hours of one.

    1. actonthat says:

      I feel like FF could probably function almost as a kind of game-design history book. I haven’t play a lot of them, but with how prolific the series was I imagine you could see the trial-and-error learning curve of RPG design run through the games from the first one through the most recent.

      1. SpoonyViking says:

        Someone actually did, and it was a very interesting read, especially since it balanced plot and gameplay analysis. Would you like to see it? I think I can find it again.

  6. Gust says:

    I like that Caster keychain. Where’d you get it?

    Persona 1 always seemed like the redheaded stepchild of the Personas. P3 is where the series really hit its stride, P4 is more of that, and P2 is notable for having Nyarlathohotep, a bi protag, and Hitler. No one ever talked about it except to reference that Mark danced crazy, goofy localizations, and removing that one quest. Although I couldn’t finish P2: Innocent Sin either, but at least the story is interesting. Too many random encounters, demon convos are too unintuitive, silly voice acting, and no challenge at all (I think I kept the starting personas through that mall dungeon).

    I wonder what you’ll think of the later persona games, as someone who wasn’t really impressed by Persona 3 or Atlus’ habit of including a female protagonist once and being too lazy to do it again ever and also retconning her off. But then again, I feel Atlus has kind of a mixed track record on women. It’s not going to stop me from crawling back to P5 after I see some screenshots.

    1. actonthat says:

      A blindbox I got from some anime store in NYC. I was hoping for Rin or Archer, but the two I bought were Caster and Kuzuki, which was sad.

      As for Atlus, of the games they’ve published that they also were the devs on, yeah, the track record is pretty bad. However, they’re somehow responsible for Radiant Historia, one of my favorite jRPGs of all time, which is excellent about female characters. Wonder what happened there.

      1. Nerem says:

        I was pretty disappointed at the lack of female protag in P4 Golden,
        though I kind of understand that they included a female protag as an
        alternative in P3 because the plot allowed it.

        Onfvpnyyl, gurer
        jrer gjb cbgragvny cebgntbavfg’f va gur onpxfgbel. Gur pnaba bar jnf gur
        fheivibe bs n pne jerpx gung xvyyrq uvf snzvyl. Gur srznyr ebhgr va
        Crefban 3 Cbegnoyr vf onfvpnyyl ‘jung vs uvf fvfgre fheivirq?’. (ROT13)
        They put a ton of effort into it to not just make it a carbon copy of
        the male protag’s route though. Like, while the overall flow of plot is
        the same, things actually change a lot of things. She has a different set of Social Links (she’s more friendly with girls then the male protag, for example) and is actually a good deal more out-going and extroverted. And the mandatory romance of the game worries about her undeniable feelings for the female protag because they’re both girls.

        Funnily, that was the one thing they didn’t change. They gave her the ability to have a potential romance end with the male party members, but her default love interest is still a girl.

        1. illhousen says:

          On spoilers, eh, it’s not really a justification. As the entirety of Western CRPG shows, it’s relatively easy to have your character’s gender be up to you.

          Now, granted, the devs did put more effort into making the characters different than is seen usually, so it did actually require effort on their part. However, I would say it’s a mixed blessing in itself. Some of the changes I do like (the different set of SLinks and different order of their completion means you’re likely to use different Personae at the beginning of the game thanks to delicious bonus exp), while others… Let’s just say I have issues with Junpei.

          1. Nerem says:

            Well I was more getting at that it wasn’t just a completely undifferent character, but instead specifically a different character who existed before, whereas P4 doesn’t really have someone you can put in the same position as Yu.

            1. illhousen says:

              Yeah, I get it, I’m just saying that that still means they refuse to give us an ability to pick female MC unless there is a special justification for it.

              1. Nerem says:

                I wish they’d just give us a female Mc as the main. I can’t say ‘for once’ as we already had one in Eternal Punishment. But I’d just like more.

                But FeMC3 is pretty good as a oneshot deal.

      2. Gust says:

        I’d be happy to take Caster off of your hands. I like her design, but there’s so little merch of her. (in favor of another saber how can there be another bride saber coming out again *shakes fist at Takuechi* )

        One interview of a staff member on SMTIV mentioned there being a bunch of “traditionalists” on staff, so maybe all the traditionalists were busy working on something else (probably Devil Survivor or Strange Journey, considering their treatment of women and release dates) when Radiant Historia was being developed. Or maybe this is all a bunch of wild theories.

        Great, now I want to replay RH.

        I blame you for this tiny Archer sitting next to me right now.

        1. Zephyr says:

          I didn’t think Devil Survivor 1 was that bad for female characters, the artist’s weird reoccurring habit of drawing gravity-defying breasts aside, but yeah, I agree that Devil Survivor 2 was pretty shit. Really, devs? One of my female party members has to “act sexy” to lure out a demon? And it can’t be any of the adult women who might possibly be okay with this, it has to be the underaged school-girl who’s explicitly uncomfortable with the whole idea? Not to mention the whole debacle with the health exams and the terrible, terrible posing for the female character art…

          1. Gust says:

            Well, to keep this short, I didn’t like how Amane was kind of passive for her route while most of the other routes have the hero of that route be generally in control. Yuzu’s ending also left a bad taste in my mouth, but I know that gets fixed in the remake. Also Haru’s weird dress.
            What health exams?
            I didn’t even get that far in 2. There were too many characters for me to keep track of already, they were blander, the new social link stuff was annoying, and I knew ahead of time that the major players (the ones who have endings) were all male and that the plot was a rehash of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Not to mention the Niceaea AI assistant choices were sexy bunny girl or dapper guy wearing suit. And how one of the female party members is wearing only some very creatively wrapped scarves. The game tries to justify this by giving her a high speed stat because of course they do. Maybe Atlus wanted to appeal to the same demographic they attracted with persona?
            I mean, I understand why the protag of the first game was locked as male, but I don’t think there was anytihng in the second game preventing that.

            1. Zephyr says:

              Hmm, that’s true, I’d forgotten the details of Amane’s route. I remembered that she was a major player in her organisation, but I forgot she wasn’t actually the leader. And yeah, I liked Yuzu’s overall character as a realistic take on someone caught in that sort of situation, but when Yuzu’s ending is the only one that’s explicitly a bad ending… Obviously it won’t happen, but I like the idea of Yuzu and Atsuro swapping characters and routes – what do you think?

              Oh god, I’d completely forgotten about the AI assistants. And Hinako’s outfit – you know, in a better-written work, I think I’d be okay with it? She’s a dancer, she’s very comfortable with herself, and I think she mentions at one point that she likes the outfit because she’s fit and it shows off her body. She actually has a personality that would justify the outfit, and there are other female characters in less sexualised outfits so that reasoning could hold water. But DS2 has the problems of 1. not being that well-written, 2. only having one set of sprites (I think she would change into something more practical when she’s fighting constantly) and 3. the general sleazy air around so many other things.

              The health exams turned up about a third of the way in, I think? Basically the organisation that the protag and friends join wants to give them a physical examination, and it’s separated by gender for obvious practical reasons. Daichi, being the bastion of chivalry that he is, immediately proposes and keeps bringing up the idea of going to spy on the women’s side and the game heavily pushes you towards that option (although thankfully, you do have the option to not do so).

              I think even the first game could have justified having a female protag by just saying that he’d come back as female this time. It’s not like cross-gender reincarnation is a particularly out-there idea.

              1. Gust says:

                Yeah, that would be cool. I feel like technoligically competent female characters are pretty rare, and I like Atsuro’s character enough already that I’d like Yuzu if she switched his personality with hers. And making Yuzu the physical attacker and Atsuro the magic user would also be a nice reversal. But I bet there’d be a lot of complaining about how whiny Atsuro is.

                Maybe introduce her in that costume before everything goes to shit and then have her change out of it afterwards. And at least give her better support! That can’t be fun to dance in. And with all the other stuff in the game and the general atmosphere in the games industry (she breathe through her skin) it comes off as more fanservice and less of a character trait.

                The spying on girls thing reminds me of that hot springs event in Persona 3. I get the feeling that DS2 was supposed to feel like Persona to bring in the fans who were introduced to the series through persona.

                It’s been a while since I played, so I missed that line.

              2. Zephyr says:

                Yeah, Hinako probably was intended as fanservice with a ~~but she wants to dress sexily~~ slapped on top. Especially when the writing for the other female characters starts off okay at best and then degenerates into cliches. In a better story, having her change outfits would be part of a nice “Hey, we’ve found our footing and we’re ready to fight back” kind of moment.

                For the sake of fairness, spying on girls in the hot spring is pretty common in anime and anime-like games, but I think you’re right with DS2 being designed like Persona, especially with the all-but-in-name Social Link system.

        2. actonthat says:

          I blame Nasu for all of my expenses over the past year.

          Shoot me an email at our shiny new DQ email!

  7. BDsprite says:

    Yeah, even as a fan of the later parts of the series, Persona 3 and 4, I also tried multiple times to start the series from the beginning, but I just couldn’t. Persona 1 is just so outdated and clunky, not to mention completely different, tone-wise, to the ones I’m familiar with. I’d even go so far as to say that the classic Persona games might as well be a completely different series. I’ve heard some good things about Persona 2, but if I’m going to play that, I might as well just play all four starting from the beginning, and like you, I just couldn’t survive Persona 1.
    I’d honestly just recommend skipping the classics and jumping straight into the newer games. Normally, I’m a real stickler for doing things in the right order, but in this case I think there needs to be an exception. The games themselves are only tangentially related to each other anyway, kind of like Final Fantasy. For example, that Velvet Room is in every game along with the old guy that runs it, but save for one throwaway line in an optional scene, I’m fairly certain there’s only one reference to Persona 2 in Persona 3, beyond that it’s completely irrelevant.

    1. Nerem says:

      There’s several references to Persona 2 in 3/4 but they’re mostly obscure/cameros… until Persona 4 Arena, where things start heavily implying that Nylarahotep is involved in the background and that we’ll see more of the P1/P2 cast.

      Also, you know. The whole fact that the corporation behind all the shit in P1/P2 is the same one that caused everything in P3.

      1. BDsprite says:

        Wow, that plot thread about the corporation must have completely gone over my head back when I played P3, how overt was it? Was it something you would’ve picked up on even if you knew only the basic premises of the earlier games? If so, that’s embarrassing for me.
        The only reference I noticed was that thing during the Hermit social link where they both name their online avatars after the main characters of P2.
        I haven’t gotten around to Arena yet, but if the P1/P2 stuff is relevant again, I guess I’m going to have to check out Persona 2 at some point at least.

        Well regardless, the fact remains that even between Persona 3 and 4, you don’t really need to play the earlier games to be able to follow the plot just fine, since the stories are pretty much entirely standalone, save for the concepts that tie them all together. Unless we’re talking about crossover stuff like Arena or Persona Q, of course.

        1. Nerem says:

          It’s obscured if you only played the US versions of P1 and P2, sadly. Nate/Kei Nanjo is the heir of the Nanjo Group, which is revealed to be the conglomerate that the corporation in P3/P4 use to be apart of. I actually misspoke when I said the Nanjo Group was behind P1/P2, as I got them mixed up – they were actually the group supporting the heroes against SEBEC.

          “Stand alone but tied together” is kind of a big thing is SMT/Persona overall though. You didn’t need to play SMT If to follow Persona 1 or 2, but it helped. (The protag of SMT If is a major NPC in the Persona games, and it’s established that Persona 1 is a sequel to SMT If.).

          Another subtle but very interesting connection because the Persona games is Philemon. He’s directly in P1 and P2, but seems missing in P3 and P4… though his actual calling card is seen extremely commonly in P4. His calling card are butterflies.

          Also, in P4 they talk about an event that happened in P3, which doesn’t sound important until you realize the time frame she’s talking about.

          EDIT: Also one of the biggg connections is actually that the whole Shadow concept originated in P2 and is EXACTLY like the special ones in Persona 4. To the point that the villian of P4 Arena wanted to inflict it on the heroes to deal with them.

          1. actonthat says:

            Is Philemon’s deal ever explained in the first game? All the plot summaries made it seem like he was just, “Hi, plz save world, lol, good job, kbai.”

            1. Nerem says:

              Not really, to be honest. Persona 1 is definitely the second Weird Prototype of the series, after SMT If…. He gets massively expanded in 2 though. As far as playing 2, it’s a MASSIVE improvement over 1. I was disappointed that the PSP version did not have new music tracks for it like 1 did, though. Persona 1/2’s original music was pretty bad. Like think ‘generic Mortal Kombat music for a battle theme’ bad.

              The story is pretty good though, even though the rest hasn’t aged well.

              And, to be honest, we got screwed coming and going with Persona 2. Atlus was lazy and for both the PSP and PSX versions just never localized both games in the P2 series of either the original or the remake. They just lazily rereleased the PSX version of Eternal Punishment on the PSN, which sounds okay except for the fact that the PSP version of Eternal Punishment added a ton of extra plot to it, including a ton of stuff connecting it to P3 and P4 a lot more.

              1. actonthat says:

                For how big this series is, I’m always surprised it hasn’t gotten the US-market push more. It’s super-weird to me.

              2. Nerem says:

                Oh I remembered another big series connection. The entire thing with Persona 1 is actually what about what would later be called a Shadow Persona and a Shadow Dungeon. Thinking about that, that makes Shadows pretty much the overriding theme, as every single game is about them in some form.

                I only remembered this when I went looking to listen to the new P1 OST, and saw the art of the P1 Protagonist and his Shadow, which is interesting at P1 doesn’t have them directly, but the remake decided to make them prominent in the art.

        2. Nerem says:

          I’m gonna add in a note that Persona 4 Arena is actually not a crossover deal like Persona Q. It’s actually straight up a sequel to the plot of Persona 4.

          Though, Persona Q is technically canon, but how it works means that nobody really remembers it anyways.

          … And so is Persona 4 Dancing. It’s an actual canon story.

    2. actonthat says:

      I’m going to attempt 2, though considering it was apparently the same dev team I’m not too hopeful. Also the girl with heart boobs is weird.

  8. illhousen says:

    Oh, and also I find the first fight funny. Like, the characters went to a hospital to visit their friend, then suddenly demons attack, they have no choice but fight and… they all pull out swords, axes, bows and other weapons.

    Like, is it just something students do in this verse? They’ve made a big deal out of finding guns, but melee? Yeah, melee is just something you always carry around, I guess.

    1. actonthat says:

      Right?? Nothing about the RPG elements make any sense whatsoever.

      1. Nerem says:

        To be fair, I’m pretty sure this is just a hold-over from SMT If…/SMT in general where protagonists always had both a melee weapon and a gun. Though (blunt) swords, bows, and polearms aren’t weapons that it would be that surprising to see students carrying, since actual sports use them.

        I actually don’t remember if P1 actually bothers justifying them.

        The sequel games at least bother to explain where the weapons come from. Like Maya gets specifically given her trademark pink handguns.

        P4 is funny about it since there’s a scene where they pick up a sword and a pair of kunai to sneak them into the TV world and end up playing around with them in public and the cops show up and take them away, so they’re stuck with a golf club and a pair of wrenches, respectively.

        1. illhousen says:

          P1 doesn’t bother, which is what makes it so funny. Like, it starts as a pretty standard horror scenario: you’re in a hospital, suddenly demons attack. And then everyone pulls out axes, swords and bows because fuck if I know, they just have them around, I guess. I mean, I don’t know, maybe they decided to do some practice in morgue since they headed for hospital either way.

          (There is one character whose possession of a sword is justified by her being in a fencing club. Everyone else? Nope.)

      2. illhousen says:

        Yeah. The sequels… well, don’t improve on that front, exactly, but do make it more funny.

        In the third game you get your weapons from a cop cooperating with your shady bosses and vaguely aware of what’s going on.

        How the fuck a cop gets enchanted swords and why should I, specifically, pay for them (as opposed to my shady bosses) is not explained.

        1. Nerem says:

          Clearly, they hired the ‘metal artist’ from the fourth game to make your weapons. This is actually not particularly out there in the SMT/Persona verse though. Rumors make things real, remember?

          1. illhousen says:

            While it’s not than implausible, actually, I like to think the cop just regularly busts rings of dark sorcerers and such. The weapons he sells is loot that he and his comrades don’t use anymore. More amusing.

            1. Nerem says:

              How do you think they survived as cops in a world of demons and Shadows?

    2. The implication that St. Hermelin just lets students carry weapons around is hilarious. I could fanwank Yukino’s knives as easily concealable, but an axe? Nor do they make any attempt to explain each characters’ weapon proficiency; pen-pusher Nanjo can swing around greatswords and Maki can string a bow even though she’s not in the archery club. It would have been fun if each character had a justification of being part of a club like Elly, but no.

      It’s a shame, because I actually thought SMTif did this really well, where your starting weapons are just stuff you scavenge from the sports clubrooms.

  9. Furious Strong says:

    I tried this game when it first came out, and absolutely hated it. The first-person tunnels and the music have me a migraine.

  10. Furious Strong says:

    “Let me tell you, internet, the old days of video games had some amazing stuff, like Chrono Trigger and Pokemon Red, but by and large I think we were just really, really desperate for digital entertainment. One of two other games I’ve bordom-quit on this blog was a 1991 rpg (Final Fantasy IV). And as I said in that post: “I do realize that when it was originally released in 199[6], it’s highly likely that at the time everything was all shiny and new territory and it was exciting and stuff. But if that’s true, it just hasn’t stood the test of time.”

    This is true. I’ve replayed Final Fantasy IV several times, but that’s due to nostalgia (it came out when I was 4, and was the first RPG I ever played). It hasn’t aged well, but it’s miles better than any other RPG of the time period, which were often so bad they were unplayable.

    As for Persona, I think it only got played because people were desperate for a PS1 RPG. Before Final Fantasy VII was released, there were only 3 RPGs for the PS1 (maybe more, but these are the ones I remember) – Persona, Wild ARMS, and Suikoden. Persona was pretty much unplayable for me because it was such an unpleasant gaming experience with no redeeming qualities. Wild ARMS wasn’t much better – butt-ugly graphics in battle, totally generic and forgettable plot and characters, boring battle system, and boss battles that required tons of grinding. The worst was the sound – when you enter a battle (every few steps), you get an ear-piercing siren noise. The enemy sound effects were just hideous. Suikoden was probably the best of the lot, but it still was boring and repetitive. All of these looked and sounded considerably more primitive than Chrono Trigger, which was released earlier. Still, they were the only RPGs you could play in the Playstation until Final Fantasy VII was released.

  11. Act says:

    Update: Persona 2 is slightly more streamlined, slightly less grindy, and still incredibly unfun. The idea of rumors coming true is neat but it’s buried under the story/ gameplay schism and terrible writing (“He has so much pain in his eyes” are you ffs). It also spends so much time on Japanese high school drama idgaf about. The random encounters are just as awful, getting cards just as annoying, and dungeons just as boring. It’s definitely better than the first one, but only in the sense it couldn’t really be worse.

    1. illhousen says:

      “He has so much pain in his eyes”

      This was, in fact, the exact moment I’ve started to laugh and closed the game.

      I hope you’re going to check out P3, though. It’s massively more streamlined, has more interesting gameplay and is actually worth talking about. Not perfect by any means, but you probably won’t be defeated by grinding.

      1. Act says:

        Yep P3 is still on my list, I just felt the need to give this one the ol’ college try in case it was secretly like Chrono Trigger or something.

        but yeah the writing was laughably bad

        1. Nerem says:

          I’m actually still really mad we never got Eternal Punishment on PSP in America, as it actually apparently establishes a lot of connections to Persona 3 and on, and explains a ton of shit. But instead they just decided to port the PSX version with its awful translation instead and not bother, you know, giving us any of that important information.


          Also I couldn’t play Persona 2-1 nearly as long as I could Persona 1 because Persona 2’s soundtrack is garbage and they kept the original one, instead of making a new better one like they did with Persona 1.

  12. Nerem says:

    Final Fantasy is like, the main old-school RPG series that was actually at least playable outside of “There was nothing better”.

    Like I don’t even put Dragon Quest in ‘playable’ and it at least sometimes had a real good story for a while.

    1. Act says:

      The phone ports of the first four DQ games are quite playable! They were the perfect things to have around as time killers. It helps that they’re so short.

      1. Nerem says:

        The phone ports maybe, but the original ones on their original consoles? Nope.

      2. SpoonyViking says:

        The GBA port of the first two, as well.

        Can’t speak for the others, those are the only ones I’ve played.

        1. Nerem says:

          Yeah the remakes are all fine.

  13. Hello from the future! I finally got around to trying Persona 1, and dropped it for the same reasons you gave. I did, however, watch all the cutscenes on YouTube, so I got to see such gems as “I forgive you on behalf of all your victims,” “The abused girl who effectively committed suicide is a selfish whiner who is just as bad as her bullies,” and “The trick to talking down suicidal people is to dare them to kill themselves.” Also, for some reason Ideal Maki is shattered by the realization she’s an alter ego, even though alter egos existing is the premise of the entire series. I do not think you have as great an understanding of the human condition as you think you do, Persona!

    I can generously assume there was some version of the plot that made sense in the writers’ heads, but that did not make it onto the page in the slightest. Maki is sad she’s confined to a hospital bed, therefore she wants to destroy the entire world? Why??? What is the Deva System, why does Maki have a special connection to it, how is it treating her sickness? What does any of this have to do with Pandora’s Box?

    The plot point of bringing a fantasy object into the real world to use its powers was clever, but that was it.

    I did like the characters though! I didn’t think there were too many, since the game limits you to five (not that it tells you this), and I loved that they had unique dialogue for every single location that frequently involved poking fun at the game mechanics.

    1. Nerem says:

      I assume you played the PSP version? Unfortunately the PSX version’s translation cut out a huge chunk of the story, including an alternate story route that explains different things.

      The DEVA system is explained though. It’s a machine that takes a place and ‘adjusts’ its reality. It literally is a reality-bending machine that uses the power of rumors. It is intended to connect to someone and bend reality to their desires, and Maki was intended to be a disposable test subject, but it turned out that the machine can ONLY connect to one person due to how it works, so the bad guys instead decided to manipulate her to get their way.

      Also I don’t really get why you think the thing with Ideal Maki is so confusing. It’s not that she was shattered by the idea of Persona existing (not that Persona are widely known in Persona 1), but that she who thought she was the actual person turning out to just be a soul fragment turned ‘real’ by a reality-bending machine and not the real deal is probably pretty traumatizing! Being a fake made up of someone’s personal issues doesn’t help.

      1. I assume that Deva System lore is explained in the second game? Because none of that is clear from the first game.

        but that she who thought she was the actual person turning out to just be a soul fragment turned ‘real’ by a reality-bending machine and not the real deal is probably pretty traumatizing!

        If this were any other story I would agree, but everyone has been fighting with the help of soul fragments turned real by reality-bending magic this whole time. It’s absurd that she takes so long to even accept the possibility when this is the premise of the entire game. (It’s also weird she doesn’t know she’s a persona in the first place, given Mai and Aki seem to know where they stand.)

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