persona marathon

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment – NPC Powers

p2ep-00018Our first encounter in the dungeon was the Helpful Slime from the original game, who does the conversation tutorial again. Guess I’m opening this post with mechanics, huh?

Conversation with demons is much the same in this version of the game (although Pacts are called Contracts, ala SMT), with two major changes. First off, everyone has only one interaction they can use solo, instead of four. I suspect this was also the case in the PSX version of Innocent Sin, because it makes way more sense with the team-up conversation system than the version we got on the PSP, where everyone already had 4 options each and the team-ups seemed superfluous. Unfortunately, this does often catch you in situations where there’s literally nothing you can do to manipulate a demon to a particular mood. One thing that does feel like a change is that team-ups now produce different interactions depending on the order you select members, which took us a while to grok to: Maya -> Katsuya is not the same as Katsuya -> Maya! Secondly, the emotion grid isn’t visible in the PSX version. That’s only screwed us up once (it was me, for the record), so I can’t say it’s been all that awful, though I would rather have been available.

Footnote, but whenever the game gives you items in this game, it refers to them both by their name and their category, so a Medicine isn’t just “Medicine,” but “Item/Medicine.” I bring this up because all cards are referred to as “Trt./”. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that stood for “Tarot,” thanks to the silent second T!

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Persona 2: Eternal Punishment – Oh dear

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Oh dear.

Here I sit, at the end of our first session, and before I go to bed, I force myself to stay awake another few minutes, because I know I have to open the Journal with: “Oh dear.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. Welcome to Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – 7 Grand Dads (fused at the hip)

p2is-00037After stocking up our items for the final charge, we returned to Xibalba. The demons get more powerful from this point on, but they still weren’t a match for our overpowered spells. Unfortunately, the mazes also got harder and longer, with damage squares to boot. Our first flashback in the latter half of the dungeon saw us in the past, with Big Sis looking after Jun while they wait for someone to pick him up. They talk, and it’s clear that Jun doesn’t like his mother for some reason, but they’re interrupted by the arrival of a man who resembles Jun’s “father” from the present day, just a little more slovenly. The man tries to introduce himself, but Jun interrupts him, telling Big Sis that this is actually his “uncle,” which the downtrodden man doesn’t confirm or deny. The present-day Jun once again keels over in pain as video game amnesiacs are apt to do, unsure of the facts of the matter. After the fact, Lisa notes that the “uncle” looks just like the clocktower ghost, and also that Jun’s father supposedly wrote In Lak’ech, and also that Ms. Ideal said the man who died in the clocktower wrote In Lak’ech. Kyle and I really appreciated that, since a lot of these details had been lost on us in the intervening months. In short: Jun’s real father was the teacher’s ghost from the clock tower.

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Hot singles in your plane of existence

p2is-00023Because I wasn’t sure if we’d get another convenient Battalion teleporter leading back to the city even closer to the final boss, we decided to go and visit the game’s last Theatre mission right away, even though it was marked as Level 70 and we were below 60. We figured that if it was like the original two missions, we’d be fine, and if it kicked our asses we could just leave. We needn’t have worried – it was easy even at our current level, if you can believe it. Much shorter in terms of story, too. Let’s take a look.

This story is called “The Persona Thief,” and I suspect it was written/developed by a different author than the person who did “School of the Heart,” because there are major stylistic differences between the two. “The Persona Thief” prefers to have the characters narrate directly to the player, sometimes describing some real trifles. For example, you might see a scene where Lisa says, “Let’s go talk to that person,” followed immediately by a fade to black and Lisa narrating, “We decided to go talk to that person,” followed by the characters talking to that person! Holy shit! I get the impression that the person in charge didn’t care to program characters to move around, because this sort of narration tends to happen when someone would have to move from place to place. One side effect of this mode of story-telling is that Tatsuya barely feels present in the story, since everyone else gets such an inflated amount of screen time. Like “School of the Heart,” your fifth party member doesn’t appear in the narrative – Jun, in our case – though now that Yukino’s left the party, we finally know why: they had to account for either party combination!

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Dip a toe in the final dungeon

p2is-00010There’s legitimately no way to pick up Tatsuya and Lisa’s legendary weapons at this early point, so we’ll return to the plot. After you complete the last temple, you get a call from Tamaki at the detective agency with bad news: Ms. Ideal has just been kidnapped by Prince Taurus! Jun explains: the Oracle of Maia demands a sacrifice of a “Maia Maiden,” and since King Leo had been twisting every step of the Oracle of Maia to fulfill it all along, it seems the plan was to just sacrifice a Ms. Ideal, whose name is Maia, instead of actually going to Central America or wherever to track down a descendant of the “Maians.” Evil bonus points for mopping up after themselves by killing the source of these rumours, plus who knows what else. Although… if they get away with the sacrifice, that sort of bonus might not matter any more.

Since Prince Taurus has such a strong lead, Jun figures it’s best if they just head for the centre of Xibalba, the final dungeon. It turns out it’s closer to home than anyone expected: the Naruto stone back at Sevens. Sure enough, we headed there and found out that someone had already opened the gate, and the Battalion had gone through (either after Taurus or before him, the witnesses weren’t clear).

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Gygax Weeps

p2is-00001Yukino’s rushed exit finally complete, we checked out some of the surroundings, but got bored early and decided to pursue the main plot. Still, I’ll go over our results. There were doomsayers gathered in the park, waiting for the end of the world under the assumption that they’d become Idealian when it happened (they had been lifted into the sky, which probably feels like a significant omen). We also checked in for new weapons and armour, bankrupting ourselves yet again. Jun uses thrown flowers for his weapons, taking a page from Tuxedo Mask’s book while also sticking to the same weapon element (Thrown weapons) as Yukino. Jun soon came to serve as one of our primary demon negotiators, since there were very few demons that didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with his “Fawn” and “Horoscope” options. Not sure why, he just is! Jun also adds to the Maya pile of contradictory voice clips with his “I don’t want to fight!” followed by a smug and self-satisfied, “You got in my way!”

Oh, before I forget, Jun is voiced by Bryce Papenbrook, voice of Zidane Tribal in Dissidia and Tiz in Bravely Second, as well as many other mainstays: Naruto, Digimon, and Danganronpa. I presume he’s also the voice of Joker from earlier in the game, but in voice acting you can never be certain about that, which is why I’m only getting around to Papenbrook’s credit now, since I’m only certain about Jun. Or at least, as certain as I can be about these unsourced credits!

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Alternate Sin

p2is-00153Further in, we came to another room where we were suddenly confronted with another flashback to the party’s Power Rangers days. In fact, it’s one we’ve already seen: the one where they lock Maya in the Shrine. But this time, Tatsuya does the locking and Jun the protesting, and suddenly Lisa and Michel are openly talking about murdering “Big Sis,” which Tatsuya does personally with his Persona, with no involvement from the future King Leo. It’s clear this is some false memory that Jun has been operating on for the past ten years, now raising the question of who planted it there. Joker is being manipulated, but why and by whom?

In another flashback a few rooms later, we learn that Tatsuya and Jun once tracked Big Sis down to her house some time before the incident, and hung out with her at a park without their masks, which reinforces the scene we saw earlier where Tatsuya and Jun were hanging out alone at some other point. It seems these two were cheating on the deal! Big Sis talks about how she was spooked to see them, and is inspired to recite Franz Schubert’s “Der Doppelgänger.” Apparently Maya was just that kind of teenager! Besides introducing the term “doppelganger” to anyone who might not know it, the poem also introduces the idea of a doppelganger as a reflection of past grief that just won’t go away no matter how much time has passed. No significance there, no sir!

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Must not make a joke about “holy lances…”

p2is-00164Since the final developer-created “film” in the theatre was set at Level 70, we weren’t willing to risk it quite yet (though we’re probably going to play it well before Level 70 after this “Level 30” experience, let me tell you!).  Instead, we moved on with the plot.  First things first: replacing all the items we had wasted in the extended previous dungeon, including buying a handful of expensive Balms of Life.  We then turned in 50 sweepstakes magazines, because we were so irritated at having not won already.  I think it’s funny how we’re willing to spend money on 50 magazines but still haven’t even spread the rumour that opens the casino, but hey, lotteries are passive and easy!  Casinos force you to pay attention!

On with the story, then, and on to Mt. Katatsumuri, which belonged to a brand new region of the map almost all its own!  This dungeon begins with your party discussing how to get past the Battalion soldiers guarding the gate up the mountain.  Your choice determines actually has you branching between two different dungeons: Kyle chose the “direct approach” in a flash (rather than the “sneaky approach”) when I told him it would get us more EXP than the puzzle-ridden alternate, but what a slog!  Fight after fight with nothing in the rooms but enemies, not even any chests until towards the end!  And we didn’t even find most of those!

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Piggy Power

p2is-00124Kyle and I actually hung out for a few hours the next day, so Session 2 continues. We started the day by learning that Jun had ordered his lesser cultists to actually defend the town from the Last Battalion, though why, I don’t know (if this is the game’s effort to make him appear less villainous, it’s not working. He’s the one who created the rumour-Hitler in the first place, so far as I can tell!). Despite the cultists’ efforts, the Last Battalion had basically occupied the city, and that wasn’t even their primary objective! At this point, we went to the Abandoned Factory in hopes of finding another boss you could recruit after you defeat them (the same way we had encountered Sakya), but we didn’t have any luck running into them even after we finished our exploration of Room 4, and decided to go on with our day rather than wait for this forever, especially since we had checked out the Persona in the Velvet Room and weren’t all that impressed.

At this point, we were now past level 30 (by the way, we couldn’t find our characters’ levels in the main menu, and had to win a random combat just to see them!), and we decided to check out the first pre-loaded scenario in the Theatre, which was marked as Level 30. It turns out we probably should have shown up way earlier, but I’ll explain why as we go.

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Persona 2: Innocent Sin – Eponymous

p2is-00108We went to the Alaya Shrine, where Lisa talked about a rumour of a ghost of a teen girl that haunts the place. Their conversation was cut off by Philemon (asshole probably lives here), who also said nothing about evil Maia, and instead complimented the party (read: Lisa and Michel) for working as much as they had about their forgotten pasts. He directed us to go to the cavern behind the shrine – you know, the one that was the way to the land of the dead in P1? No big deal!

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