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Qazimod

Let's Play: Persona (1996)

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Disclaimer: I can see a lot of these initial posts being exposition-heavy before I get to work with dungeon-crawling, so future posts may be less frequent/wordy!

 

Quote

 

Once, I dreamt I was a butterfly.
I forgot myself and knew only my happiness as a butterfly. Soon, I awoke and I was myself again.
Did I dream that I was a butterfly? Or do I now dream that I am a man?
Yet there is a distinction between myself and the butterfly. This is the transformation of the physical.

-Zhuangzi

 

 

The game starts with the Velvet room music and a Zhuangzi quote (above), and we're presented with a classroom scene. No lesson is underway but a group of students appear to be gathered in discussion. We enter the discussion partway through - supposedly the power of Persona allows people to see their future if summoned, but Masao "Mark" Inaba isn't buying it. His colleague, Hidehiko "Brown" Uesugi, is more convinced, and other characters (Yuka "Ayase" Ayase, Eriko "Elly" Kirishima, Kei "Nanjo" Nanjo, Yukino "Yukino" Mayuzumi) place their bets on either side. Mark and Brown turn to me and ask who I believe. I already have the knowledge of three other Persona games behind me, but at this point I like Brown's character more, so I side with Brown.

 

Ayase, Brown, Mark and Elly arrange themselves across corners of the room and Ayase tries to summon something - "Persona! Persona! Please come here!" After walking to Brown, Brown then does the same before walking to the next person in the group, and this continues with Mark and Elly, but once all four are done, nothing seems to happen. The group argue for a bit, but then a ghostly figure appears behind Mark asking for help, and electricity flashes around the room, striking down our heroes.

 

b3tHVaG.jpg

 

Here, whilst unconscious, the player meets Philemon (above), who asks for a name. This is the name entry screen, so in keeping with my conventions in other games I go with "Senpai Kun" as a name and "qazi" as a nickname. Philemon credits me for remembering my identity, and then asks me if I'm aware of the "selves" I secrete inside me. He explains that we all wear different masks, and because I can hold on to my own identity so strongly, he grants me the power of Persona and returns me to reality. As an aside, Philemon is a key character throughout the whole Persona series, but he's much less prominent in the later games.

 

As I come to, I'm in the infirmary with Mark, Yukino and Nanjo. Nurse Natsumi and my homeroom teacher Saeko express their relief in seeing me conscious again, and Saeko tells all of us to go to Mikage Hospital for a check-up, and then home. Maki - another classmate of ours - is present at the hospital for...reasons, so we're encouraged to visit her as well. At this point, I have control - I find a Medicine in a nearby box and then talk to the others. Helpfully, Mark knows the way to the hospital - leave the school, go north all the way to the 3rd ward, then take a right at the Mikage Ruins. More importantly, a pink Agastya tree is in the infirmary we're currently at, and we can use this to save before we go to the 3rd ward.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv5

Playtime: 0h19m

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Good luck! I played through this myself a couple of months ago (like yourself, having bought it on PSP when it came out digitally). I played it blind, and while I appreciate you wanting to do the same I will say I missed a lot, and because it's highly unlikely I'll play it again it left me rather unsatisfied as a result.

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I won't rule out multiple playthroughs - it might take a while though! I was more disappointed that I never even found the patience to reach a "bad" ending. Even if I *only* accomplish that here, I'll hopefully have better knowledge about way more of the stuff in-between, making subsequent runs a little smoother. ;) (As an aside, I left P4 for months because I didn't know about the "true" ending or its conditions, so I can somewhat accept these things happening.)

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Good luck. I did a runthrough of the first games a year or two back and got really far into this before hitting a wall. I've since finished all but 5 (burned myself out a bit putting 100+ hours into 4 Golden). From memory I would suggest finding some way to look at some negotiation tactics without spoiling anything else purely because the game is really unintiitive compared to its sequels. I'll follow with interest though.

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I got some hours into my last playthrough so I know some things with negotiation - the key is to get Eager results for spell cards (for those that haven't played, I'll hopefully go into this more later on), and build my knowledge up about which responses to use against which traits. It'll be harder to waste turns negotiating against stronger foes, so it might be something I'll keep returning to after powering up.

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There will be frequent updates at first because I want to get this intro preamble out of the way! I need to go north to the 3rd ward, right at the Mikage Ruins, and find Maki at the hospital. I head for the school exit and Nanjo scolds us for being slow to get out of here. We make to leave but are stopped at the gate by Nanjo's butler, Yamaoka. This embarrasses Nanjo so we decide to jet. Now on the map screen, I head to the third ward, save at the Agastya tree, then east to the hospital. Mark tells us to find Maki at room 302, so we head there. The game's narrator tells us Maki has been bedridden for over a year. The staff leave the room and we start catching up on stuff, but then Maki has sudden pains so we call a doctor and wait outside. Worse still, an earthquake rumbles for a moment and then subsides. We rush back to Maki's room but before we can investigate, a scream is heard downstairs. Dead patients have risen up and started attacking people, including Yamaoka, who sadly doesn't survive the attacks. Furthermore, we find that the scream came from a nurse (who then flees the room), and we're taken into a new battle. Nanjo is eager to strike back because Yamaoka's demise has triggered the emotions, and the personae of me, Mark, Nanjo and Yukino automatically take out all of the enemies and cause us to level up.

 

Since I levelled up also, I gained 3 attribute points to spend - so now I can talk about this! Characters in this Persona game have five attributes they can boost with points - Strength (physical attack strength), Agility (defence, hit/evade, turn speed), Luck (supposedly random minor boosts to other stats?), Dexterity (magic skils, defence, hit/evade), and Vitality (defence/HP). I improve Dexterity and Strength, and we cut back to Nanjo, who says a touching goodbye to Yamaoka as he didn't make it. Afterwards, Mark and Yukino tell me that they heard a voice as they awakened, and as I talk to everyone Nanjo feels that he has no-one to support him with Yamaoka gone. I leave the room and find a nearby nurse's centre with medicine and equippable helmets, so I optimise all our gear and find a nearby save point. I then do a little random battling.

 

This is where I talk about negotiation - instead of fighting an enemy, you can talk to it; each party member has four interactions, and each demon has a number of personality traits. By assessing the traits and picking the appropriate interactions, you can make them scared, angry, happy or eager. Angry enemies hit harder, scared ones can flee, happy ones can give free drops, and much more. Crucially, eager enemies can drop spell cards, which are used in fusing new personae. With this in mind, I isolate Pixie (Joyful, Timid) and using the Persuade interaction I get her spell card first time! Right now the Velvet Room is closed, but once it's available I'll make use of Pixie's spell card.

 

I head for the exit, saving on the way, and we find a nurse trapped under some furniture that was knocked over. As we try to help, we're ambushed by more foes, but then Elly (the girl from the summoning ritual at the beginning) shows up and she's swept up in the ensuing battle. With no means of protecting herself, Nanjo tells her to back off, but as the battle automatically plays out, Elly summons a persona, Nike, who ends the battle in one turn! After levelling and stat allocation, Elly seems in a daze, but as she comes to her senses, she declares herself to be an angelic bringer of victory and protector of all...until Mark breaks it to her that we're all Persona users. :D Furthermore, it turns out she was looking for refuge and tells us that the school's safe, but she wishes to visit the shrine first (which I think is the Alaya Shrine in the 1st ward?)

 

Personally, I know I want to visit the Mirage Sun Mall for another save point. The Mirage Sun Mall is the equivalent of P3's Pawlonia Mall, offering various areas to go item shopping, and whilst the random encounters on the street don't offer a lot of experience we could still get some money for items or practice negotiations. Additionally, the Velvet Room is directly adjacent to the Mirage Sun Mall save point, but "the store is closed for now", so that won't play a part just yet. Instead, I negotiate outside the mall, hopping back in to save and buy items to heal. Eventually I'm unable to hold any more spell cards, and with the Velvet Room closed I have no choice but to press on and find the shrine.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv12

Playtime: 3h48m

(EDIT: I did do a little more negotiating after posting this, and I've updated these numbers and the last sentence to reflect this a little. The next proper update will hopefully be the shrine!)

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I put a few hours into this about 3 years ago and eventually just stopped playing because it involved hooking my laptop to the TV a lot. That and I think I was getting screen tearing from the way the signal was being sent across and just became a pain in the arse. 

 

I’m not too sure on where the main differences lie between the PSP version and the PS1 game (aside from remembering graphics looking a bit better for character models on the psp) but I was playing on the PS1 via exPSE. I’ve a fair bit of previous experience with Shin Megani Tensei on the SNES and much preferred that over Persona from what I saw. The map was horrendous and very very difficult to figure out how to get to where you were supposed to go (this might have been improved on PSP), the battles just felt too much and took way too long to finish. That whole system you referred to earlier was another part of it that I struggled to put up with. The SNES game played this well as they were super responsive, tight and quick fights, however even those became a pain later in the game when each battle would rematch you with more rounds in the the same fight against more enemies; this would increase and eventually ended up as much as 4 fights per battle on occasions. Annoyingly I’ve started that game (SMT) twice and never finished it despite being close to the end.

 

 

 

 

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Same as some of the guys above, I put about 5 hours into it on PSP a few years back, really enjoyed what I played, but got side track playing some other games. Might have been Mass Effect I think. Solid title from what I played started to build up the story very well, have most of the series, but haven't spend much time with it. Just wish the PSP release of Persona 2: Batsu had got an English release.

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I leave the save point in the mall and head for the shrine in the 1st ward. It's a small room with many masks adorning the walls and a glowing butterfly near the centre of the room. Elly tells us that this is where we'll find Maki's mother, but suddenly the butterfly begins to behave unusually and we're thrown into another FMV with Philemon! He tells us that events are progressing at a fast pace and a number of paths will begin to present themselves to us - however, we must remember that whatever path is chosen, we are the ones who made the choice. We return to reality and question what just happened, but at the same time we need to check on Maki's mother. We learn of SEBEC - an energy company with sinister ulterior motives that will be revealed later on - and find that Maki has been wounded by a gunshot from a SEBEC goon. She tells us that a device is being used by SEBEC to tamper with reality, causing some of the bizarre happenings. She was able to escape via an abandoned factory, and we get a security card for this location. First, however, we decide to return to school, and we also gain a healing point at the shrine thanks to the butterfly.

 

The shrine is just across from the school so we get back to homeroom without too much random battle grief. With Mark and Nanjo scoping out the police station, Ms Saeko instructs Yukino and Elly to go to the gym passageway (and help block up a hole - made by the recent incidents - that can let demons into school) whilst we go to the infirmary. Cut to the end of the conversation at the infirmary (literally "...and that's what SEBEC are up to"; "I see"), where Ms. Saeko then tells me to talk Yukino out of plugging up the hole so that Mark and Nanjo can use it if they need to come back that way. :P As I get to the hole, they aren't there, but other students mention that Yukino went back inside to try and find ways to block the hole. I examine the hole myself, but as I try to interact with it, someone else enters the scene - Maki! She seems much more cheerful than the mysterious girl who was bedridden for over a year, and seemingly has no memory of ever being in the hospital. After a brief exchange, Nanjo returns from the hole and is equally bemused by Maki's appearance and behaviour. There's no time for explanations though - apparently demons have captured Mark at the police station, so Nanjo's returned to get backup. It sounds like they made the same mistake as the Persona 4 cast - carrying weapons around in eyeshot of authority ;) - so we receive new firearms from Nanjo and make to leave for the police station... 

 

MU1mG1n.jpg

 

...only to be cornered by a demon on the way out! Nanjo tries to talk Maki out of fighting, and her first attack misses, but then she summons her persona, Maso, and takes out the enemy in one turn! Maki seems intrigued by the power of Persona and Nanjo quickly explains it as best as possible, then we continue the search for Mark. Once I have control, I drop into the status screen, as it's always good to compare new recruits to your own stats to get a feel for where your levels should be in the game. All of us, Maki included, are level 13, so yay! Unless the levels of new recruits aren't fixed. I forget.

 

We reach the police station with only one random battle on the way. Nanjo posits that Mark is somewhere in the cells, but we need a key. The big box on the wall labelled KEY helpfully makes the search fairly swift, and we enter the station - essentially a new dungeon. There's an Agastya tree immediately across from the entrance so I can save, and I also optimise Maki's gear and check our own, and we head in. It's only until I'm partway through that I wonder if I've fucked myself by saving in a dungeon without checking where the exit is, but it's not long before we find Mark and Brown in holding cells. As we let them out and try to work out what happened, a character named "Lieutenant" arrives via a back door and chastises Mark for leaving his cell. Immediately we twig that he and his fellow officers are in fact demons, so a battle ensues. For the moment, it's another "cutscene battle" where Maki, Mark, Nanjo and myself take out four of the five foes automatically with persona abilities. Brown wonders what's going on, and as he takes a hit and begs not to be killed, he awakens to his own persona and takes out the remaining enemy.

 

With all of us safe, Mark explains to Brown the nature of Persona awakenings, Brown joins our party, and we make a swift exit, making it back to town and the Mirage Sun Mall, stocking up on potions and then opening up the Velvet Room! Here, Igor explains that we can use our spell cards to create new demons and asks us if we want to do manual or guided fusion (essentially, selecting our ingredients or picking from a recipe list.) I browse guided fusion until I find what I'm looking for - Ame no Uzume. A Priestess persona, she immediately starts with Media (basic party-wide healing, but with our low character levels the healing will be quite effective right now), so I find the ingredients I don't mind losing, then obtain her. There's a brief moment of panic when I can't find her skills, but that's only because I haven't equpped her in battle yet, so of course I couldn't find them. Anyway, my next step is to save and then head south and east to find the abandoned factory we heard about earlier. (I did try hanging around in the police station but it was a little tricky, and I feel like the factory is the more natural path forward. In fact, I tried to re-enter the police station later on but Mark prevents this, saying that there's no reason to go back there. Which simplifies things for me at least!)

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv15

Playtime: 5h53m

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We exit the Sun Mall save point and decide to scope out the factory since it's only a couple of screens away and I can fast-forward through the easier street-level battles because emulation. The factory exploration starts in a dark alley adorned with some original Masao street art :P - apparently Mark visited this location often but never knew what SEBEC were getting up to. Oops. Just as we talk about investigating the area, Ayase walks into frame! It appears that she had to escape the school because there's barely anything left there that can be called a safe refuge. Ayase insits on joining us instead, but Nanjo suggests that she won't last long without a persona, prompting her to storm off.

 

After examing points in the alley, we find a place to enter. The interactible on the wall causes an elevator to emerge and we begin the first-person dungeon exploration. Except I don't - burned by the police station experience, I make sure I can leave and re-enter safely, then go in. I continue trying Invite against new demons, gaining Fuji Musume, and then find the first save point (luckily, not too far from the entrance) and also an ON/OFF lever. Adopting a "flick switches, ask questions later" approach, I pull it, then continue exploring, doing the same to another lever elsewhere. Along the way, we find the Comm passage, and then find a way into the SEBEC building itself! I find a save point and also do more negotiating to get the Angel spell card, and we also find Trish's spring; an in-dungeon healing point that restores us for 2000 yen. This would be great if not for the fast that I have Media and there's also a shop in the SEBEC building that sells Chewing Soul (gain SP.) In short, this is a great place to stop and level up safely - hit dudes, restore SP, heal, repeat.

 

At the end of this floor we find the reception desk, but the elevators there are broken and the staff aren't very helpful, so we progress to the second floor. We find an office with cupboards we can raid for equipment, so grab what I can, optimise our gear and leave for the 3rd floor. Here we find a group of scientists wrapping there heads around wtf's happening, but apart from a few items there's really nothing on this floor that helps us make progress, so I double back and try the 4th floor. Eventually I find a route back to a different area of the first floor which allows progress up through previously inaccessible areas of the upper floors, so we follow this new path to the president's office. A "stern-faced man" (later identified as Takeda, SEBEC security head) asks how "children" got inside the building, and Kandori (head of the Mikage-cho branch of SEBEC) mouths off to us too, ordering Takeda to deal with us. It's go time - which also means it's finally time for everyone's favourite boss theme:

 

Kidding aside, I think this is an awesome tone-setter, and as boss themes go it's every bit as good as Master of Shadows in 3 or I'll Face Myself in 4. The rocking chords, the organ bits, the electronic-y intro - it's ace.

 

This is a boss battle against Takeda and his goons, and Takeda is a Persona user too, so we need to be careful. My plan is to keep Senpai Kun on healing duties with Media, soften the goons up with Brown's Mazan multi-hit skill, and generally keep health topped up and get hits in where we can. Indeed, I can pretty much keep Auto on after this and fast-forward through the battle with little to no danger! We win the battle and level up, but Takeda legs it. We do get a new sword for Nanjo that was left in a cupboard though, so it's not all bad. I head back to ground level and save (although there's probably a save point not too far ahead), and next I'll be going back to the president's office, as there was a conspicuous switch that I know will lead us to a lab of some sort.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv20

Playtime: 9h40m

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I think you are mental. I thought this was such a grind when I tried it (after 2 and 3P, but before 4G and 5). I think I just gave up...

 

Reading you playing it though, it reminds me how much Persona games are just...how to term it...more mainstream versions of SMT? Maybe ‘mainstream’ isn’t the best description, but you can see why them making basically an SMT game but with teenagers in a more easy to digest setting, would be popular. I’m not sure if I’m making sense! 

 

I've never played Strange Journey and reading this has made me buy Redux, you evil sausage. I loved Apocalypse and IV and I’ve seen that a few people think Strange Journey is their favourite. Have you played it? 

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Emulator speed toggle makes the grind a little smoother. It reminds me of that Vita rip-off game Mind Zero; in that game you can queue up actions, set them to play out, hit a battle speed toggle and fly through the animations. It only saves seconds in each battle but cumulatively it makes a difference.

 

I haven't played SJ sadly, but that's not to say I've never been curious. I completely agree with mainline SMT being more intimidating (it certainly is for me!) but I'm sure I've heard that the jump from Persona to SMTIV isn't as terrifying??? :P So that might be an option when I finally get around to picking up a 3DS.

 

I may be back with a gameplay update later today - I have a mental checklist of things I want to get done but (1) I don't want to rush through and then end up underlevelled and (2) I don't know how long it takes in practice (vs. how long I remember it taking!)

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As previously mentioned, I'm a little nervous about moving on from the factory when I have this nice sanctuary provided by Trish's spring, the save point and the shop. It's that quintessential JRPG anxiety where I feel like I'll either waste time with unnecessary levelling, press on through the SEBEC building and get killed in the process (wasting time) or save myself into a corner somehow (RIP this thread.) So right now the second option is the lesser of the three evils. Before I cut back to the present, I can't emphasise how mad the SEBEC building can get. Essentially there are five floors to it, but the sensible office aesthetic is married to Persona map weirdness where you have to go to different corners of each floor to get to each staircase and then drop *down* several floors from a different point on the map to reach a new staircase that gets you back up to the same floor as before but in a different corner... Eventually, however, the switch we flicked helps us get from the SEBEC building to the SEBEC underground lab. Here, the music is a little more pumped up with a bigger beat, and there's a save point nearby - there's also a room next to the save room with some gear in chests. Exiting through the back door of this room leads us to another corridor, and the dreaded pitch-black room!

 

VAiy7Tg.jpg

 

I'll try and remember to add a screenshot here (EDIT: see above) - it basically gives you a black screen for your first-person view but an indication of location on the minimap. Which is actually a bit more generous than, say, the random "darkness" rooms in P3 that severely limited your field of view and also removed the minimap. This makes it slightly more bearable and aside from a random battle or two it doesn't take too long to reach the other side. Here, we find some more scientists who have realised that Kandori will probably flee this place with little regard for the workforce or the demons inhabiting the lab. Onwards into the next area, we find the room housing the Deva System Chamber. If you go back to my post last Tuesday, we learned then that SEBEC are using a device to tamper with reality - it seems that this matter-shifting invention is that device. However, Kandori and another staff member are also in the chamber room. Listening in on the conversation, it sounds like Kandori has been taking people he doesn't like the look of and sending them into other dimensions... but this conversation is cut short when Brown makes our presence known. Kandori dismisses our threats, and he and the staffer enter the Deva System invention as a last-ditch means of escape, but the staffer begs us to use the controls to shut down the contraption. Maki observes the controls and spots one button that will accelerate the process and another that's essentially an emergency stop. I take my chances with the latter in case I get more story later, but Brown believes that I've somehow accelerated the process anyway. Oops.

 

After a flash of white, a girl in black emerges from the machine. She begs us not to kill her "Daddy", but the screams in the contraption continue and the scene fades to white. With reality sufficiently tampered, my party and I wake up in the school gym, but it looks like the gym from the school six months ago, suggesting that a time-skip has occured. Nanjo tries to get confirmation from a nearby student but she tells us that the date is the same as we remember. This doesn't add up though - we go back to the gym passageway and there's now no more hole, so it's either been repaired or has yet to be damaged. Or this is some alternate-reality shit. At least the save point is still present in the infirmary! If I recall, the next step will be to go around and do a lot of talking in a lot of different rooms around the school, and then book it to the Agastya tree/infirmary when things inevitably go bad.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv20
Playtime: 10h13m

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6 hours ago, Qazimod said:

I haven't played SJ sadly, but that's not to say I've never been curious. I completely agree with mainline SMT being more intimidating (it certainly is for me!) but I'm sure I've heard that the jump from Persona to SMTIV isn't as terrifying??? :P So that might be an option when I finally get around to picking up a 3DS.

 

Yeah, I'd say the jump to certainly Apocalypse would be fine, but I thought IV was Dark Souls levels of difficult!  However, I was missing something pretty big that I think I missed by not paying attention, but it might have just been me not 'getting it' so I won't say, for fear of spoils.  Once I had this other tool in my armory of bribing/convincing/abusing demons, it was a lot easier.  But anyway...I think Apocalypse would be an easier jump...it has a nicer intro/tutorial from what I can remember.  Plot too, IV was a bit laboured.  A is more exiting.  I mean, post apocalypse or feudal japan?   

 

So much good stuff on the 3DS man...all the SMT's, the Etrian Odyssey's (with X, the final one, out in August JPN)...Persona Q!!!  

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Super-quick update just to explain the continuation of the last update! This does take longer if you're unfamiliar with where the dialogue/scene triggers are (because there are a lot of places you can go within the school) but aimless wandering doesn't make for a good update. From the infirmary save point, I talk to everyone present, including homeroom teacher Ms. Saeko and Nurse Natsumi. Saeko is literally giving us the ellipses treatment whilst Natsumi is healing me even though there hasn't been much battling going on lately. I leave and go to the Entrance Hall, where we find Yukino - Nanjo tries to get her up to speed, but weirdly she has no recollection of visting Maki or even the Persona ritual at the beginning of the game. Nanjo wonders if she has amnesia or if she's "not the Yukino we're familiar with", and we return to the halls. Next, I try and visit the principal's office to get a better feel for what's going on. The principal asks us if something's happened and if a "girl in black" has shown up "again" - Nanjo asks who she's on about, and the vice-principal explains that a girl in black has been appearing lately, and appears to be able to control demons. I can only assume that this is the same girl who we saw in the Deva System scene from before, but nobody dwells on the point for too long. What is certain, however, is that demons are present in St. Hermelin School, so this may affect gameplay later (random battles in a previously-safe location.)

 

Leaving the office, I go to the second floor and class 2-4. Here, we see a girl named Yuko talking about hiring a bodyguard to protect her from demons. The game's "narration" text introduces Yuko as "a kind girl working part-time to support her family, but..." and from first impressions she seems quite stuck-up, mocking Nanjo for hanging around with the likes of (my party members). Well, fuck this room and everyone in it. Or just Yuko. (As an aside, she has a character portrait as well, so she may play a more significant role in the game later...?) I make my way around the other side of the second floor and enter class 2-5, where we meet another character-portrait student, Yosuke. Introduced as a ladies' man who went missing two months ago, he tells us that the alternate-reality we're in is indeed another dimension or world, rather than a six-month time-skip. One detail that will seem familiar to players of P4 and 5 is that familiar real-world establishments have been transformed in this alternate reality - the police station has become a forest; the hospital a castle, and so on.

 

One more interesting detail is that the Maki in our party is actually the Maki from the dimension we've just travelled to, which perhaps explains her confusion from earlier in the game. Maki explains that she was dozing off in class and woke up in this other world (e.g. our original dimension), but didn't say anything because she was still piecing things together herself. We would continue talking but then we hear the voice of the girl in black, who is stirring up trouble nearby. The girl in black tells us that she's removed the school's exits, preventing escape, and so we have our next objectives. Find the girl in black, find a way out, get back to the correct dimension, etc. Furthermore - as assumed - the girl in black has invited demons into this dimension's school, so we need to explore a sealed "dungeon" and check for interactibles and NPCs whilst surviving battles and making use of the Agastya tree/infirmary. 

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv20
Playtime: 10h39m

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~Episode Tesso~

 

After scouring the school and scraping through a few battles with our fast talking, we discover another save point and then move to the courtyard of this version of the school, where we find... the girl in black! She stands on the other side of the courtyard facing us, and accuses us of "making trouble for (her) Daddy." Maki urges the girl to either "fix" the school or risk a beatdown from my party, but the girl refuses to listen to anyone but "Daddy". She then throws a volley of insults at us - Maki is dubbed "flatty", Mark is named "monkeyboy", etc - and then once the trash-talking is over she summons the next boss, "Tesso".

 

A6buRyJ.jpg

 

Looking like a mechanised mouse with some heavy weaponry mounted on its back, Tesso squeaks at our party, and then it's go time. To some "interesting" boss music that wouldn't sound out of place in Parodius.

 

 

As the battle starts, Brown mentions that the fight will be easy, and Maki remarks at how cute Tesso is, but after it opens fire on our party Nanjo urges us to take the battle seriously. Neither our melee or elemental skills seem to do huge amounts of damage, but I still feel like I can chip away at Tesso's health (even with Auto enabled), since it doesn't throw out anything that isn't immediately catered for by Senpai Kun's party-wide healing. We win the battle and level up, I throw some more points into Vitality and Agility, and we cut back to the girl in black, who threatens to grass us up to her "Daddy" before fleeing. As we begin to wonder what her deal is, Yosuke shows up and explains that "the school's back to normal" - so hopefully this means that we can explore it as before, without the threat of random battles! Also, he asks us to meet him at the library later, as apparently he knows someone who's been investigating the incidents. First, however, we leave for the infirmary. Walking down the corridor, the dungeon music has been replaced with the familiar school theme, assuring us that the school is safe to explore once more. Nurse Natsumi thanks us for restoring the school, but Ms. Saeko gives us the ellipses treatment. Anyway, I decide to save and then try to leave St. Hermelin to find a Velvet Room, but Mark prevents us from going anywhere until we've visited Yosuke at the library.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv22
Playtime: 11h27m

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With the school restored, I have a few things I'd like to do before advancing the plot too much - visit the Velvet Room, check to see if I can create anything decent, free up space for future spell card acquisitions, find out where the next plot-critical destination is, and (if I have the chance) maybe grind in the map area in case the enemies there have changed and I can get more experience or new spell cards. Before all of that, however, I have to visit the library. When we arrive, a suspicious student - literally named as "Suspicious student" by the game - identifies us as the "newcomers" that Yosuke told him about. The game's narration reveals that this is Tsutomu Kurouri, an occult obsessive with questionable info who appears to be the guy Yosuke mentioned in my last update. Maki explains that we're searching for Kandori, and we're told that Philemon was at the shrine and indicated that these events were destined to occur. Maki suggests that we head back to the shrine and see if we can get any information about Kandori's whereabouts. First, however, I head to the Velvet Room and browse guided fusion to see if there's anything new. What I'm aiming for at the moment is to eventually have a persona with Mediarama (moderate party-wide healing) but there's nothing that gains that immediately. Instead I have to take an underdeveloped persona that will *eventually* learn Mediarama, and grind battles out with them. How long that takes depends on Senpai Kun's level and the persona's level at the point of fusion. For example, the fusion result preview screen shows that Phaleg eventually learns Mediarama, but this is likely to be at a higher rank, and ranks increase the more you use a persona. However, even if I ditched Phaleg before and re-fuse him at my current level, it seems that I can enter one random battle and rank Phaleg up three times before the battle is over, so yay? Anyway, with this done it's not long before I jump from rank 4 to rank 5, and so now I have much stronger healing options (and in newer Persona games I hardly ever had to use the next party-wide healing skill (Mediarahan - all members gain 100% HP) so this should help me for a while...) I may have got this a little early - with our relatively low character levels (and therefore low HP levels) Media is still pretty effective - but eventually I'll want to switch to the stronger skill.

 

Before saving and quitting, I go to the Mirage Sun Mall and the armour shop Rosa Candida, because there's a ton of waaay better armour that I never picked up, and I have hundereds of thousands of yen to burn. I optimise our gear, do some grinding around the map, then head south from the Mirage Sun Mall to the shrine in the 1st ward. When we get there it's empty, but then the butterfly appears out of nowhere and Maki suddenly feels faint. As everything fades to white we get another Philemon cutscene, where he confirms that the world we're in is a "counterfeit" of the one we know, and that this counterfeit world is where Kandori's ambitions lie. He lets us know that we should pursue Kandori in order to discover both the nature of this false world and the best way to return to our own world. He tells us that Kandori has set up a fortress on the east side of town, and that he (Kandori) is searching for something that could bring an end to the world we know and the false one. In an amusing tone shift, he slips out of his grandiose speech and literally tells us to use the subway terminal to get to the east side of town - however, a guardian awaits over there and we will need an item known as the Expel Mirror.

 

I'll scope out a few areas but I know there are some I can instantly rule out - I'll go over some of these in my next update, but I want to make sure so I'll do some exploring between posts and report back.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv24
Playtime: 13h59m

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To begin with, the search for the Expel Mirror can seem quite daunting because Philemon doesn't give you hints about its location. However, as I've mentioned in a quick edit to my last update, there are a lot of places you can eliminate fairly quickly - places that serve a single, other, purpose (the sun mall, the doctor, Yin & Yan), places that are off-limits (many rooms in the school, the Kaneda residence, the underground lab (well, last time it was checked; you can't really re-enter after completing it)), the subway itself (you're automatically turned away as you don't have the item) and so on. I guess someone might think that the Expel Mirror may be for sale in the sun mall or Yin & Yan, but it seems like too much of a key item to just be purchased in a random store. There's also the Mikage Ruins, but this is a dungeon in itself, and as it isn't the subway dungeon most players will assume that this is an optional area. And if not...well, if you're going through potential locations for the Expel Mirror, you'd probably make the ruins the absolute last place to check - you don't want to go exploring a dungeon for hours when the mirror could be in a much more innocuous location...such as the historical society.

 

Between updates I used the sun mall save, so we don't have to travel too far to get to the historical society (the one battle that did trigger was kind of funny - I initiated negotiations, was talked into bribing the enemy with a life stone, and ended negotiations with the enemy fleeing and offering me the life stone back.) Nanjo and Maki confirm that they saw the Expel Mirror in this location before, and when we proceed through past the front desk, we don't enter a first-person dungeon sequence (as I feared) but instead go straight into a cutscene where Maki identifies the Expel Mirror in the Exhibition Room. That was... a little too easy! As we continue talking, an image of a girl appears, and she urges us not to take it (see below), but after a bit of chat Mark gives the mirror to me anyway, so the decision was made for me. I'm sure this won't have any terrible repercussions or anything! The scene fades to black and we're dumped outside on the town map again, so now I "just" need to get over to the subway terminal. I mentioned earlier that I explored the subway in my search for the Expel Mirror but only got so far before being turned away, so the map is already partially filled in.

 

1fFqHKo.jpg

 

We make it back to the subway area we were turned away from, and the being there identifies itself as Yog-Sothoth Jr. Acknowledging that we have the Expel Mirror, it still refuses to let us pass until we have defeated it. For the moment, it's all of us against one foe, but I'm not ruling out summonings of extra foes just yet. Senpai Kun uses Tarunda to lower the foe's attack, Nanjo buffs our accuracy with Sukukaja, and other allies use whatever elementals they have. It's revealed as being weak to blast and gravity, but absorbs ice, so Maki needs to use standard attacks, healing and support skills instead. I get a bit trigger happy on the auto-battle at first, and Mark and Brown get KO'ed but I have revival items and Mediarama, so I bring it back. After that, the only slightly dicey moment is a critical to Senpai Kun on its last turn, and then it falls and we all level up. I dump all my points into Agility to reduce the number of close calls in the future, and we cut back to Yog-Sothoth Jr's post-battle monologue. He says that his master would be pleased to see heroes as noble as us defeat him, or something, and then an offscreen voice is heard; the girl in black - now identified as Aki - has emerged from the shadows. She warns us that "up ahead is where I live", but Nanjo insists that we're going ahead anyway because we need to find Kandori. She promises to make us regret our actions and then vanishes.

 

Mission successful, Mark insists that we "get back topside and look for Kandori", but rather than turn back, I progress to the door that was behind the boss as there is more subway to explore - hopefully we can find a way out here. After a few more battles, we escape and emerge in the Mikage-cho 2nd ward,  where we find a Black Market that's similar in layout to the sun mall in the regular dimension. It even has a save point in a similar location to the sun mall's equivalent, so I can pick things up from here later...and try not to forget to re-stock my revival items.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv25
Playtime: 14h55m

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At this point in the game, the Black Market is one of the more interesting areas that becomes available. You're more or less led there by a desire for a new save point after defeating Yog-Sothoth Jr, and it contains a number of useful areas. You can save at the Agastya tree, gamble and play minigames for rewards at Judgement 1999, do your fusion and persona management at the Velvet Room, heal at the clinic, buy gear at Rosa Candida (I'll need the Parade and Daybreak sets for my party as they're all much better than what we have on right now), buy items (I'll need an Emergency Exit in my back pocket - it acts like a Goho-M and warps you to a dungeon entrance; useful if I'm too far in to retreat) and new guns and shells at Yin and Yan. There's also a diner here where a bunch of creeps bicker and bang on about the Harem Queen. You'd kind of wonder why they're miserable when they can leave the Black Market if they're not having any fun... except you can't leave the Black Market. Take the east exit and you'll warp through the west entrance, and vice versa. So what now? Well, across from the Velvet Room is a door and sign that are blank and rusted over - entering this door takes you to the Kama Palace... the actual next area. Happily, this isn't a dungeon that locks the door behind you as you enter, so the plan is to grind out some cash around the opening area of the Kama Palace until we can earn those Parade and Daybreak sets, making sure we can double back to safety if possible. The Parade set is as below:

 

Parade Helm: 12'800
Parade Armor: 31'200
Parade Guard: 12'000
Parade Boots: 10'800
Total: 66'800
x4 (Me, Mark, Brown, Nanjo): 267'200

 

And the Daybreak set is

 

Daybreak Helm: 16'000
Daybreak Armour: 34'400
Daybreak Gauntlets: 14'800
Daybreak Greaves: 14'000
Total: 79'200
x1 (Maki): 79'200

267'200 + 79'200 = 346'400

 

Right now I have...350'877, so... oh. I can buy it right now and flog all of our worse gear to make a bit of money back. Yes! With this done, I take my first steps into the Kama Palace. The enemies here don't seem too bad, but the dungeon itself has various walls, elevators, and broken ground that drops you down to other floors, so I imagine I'll be spending a lot of time mapping out this place as I try to find the way forward. There's an elevator nearby, so I choose the last button available - floor B7 - and find a Trish's Spring (party heal for 3'000) and a save point, so at least I have a safe place to return to as I try and figure this place out! Or at least I would if it wasn't for the broken ground sending me deeper in the palace. Like the SEBEC building, it's a very elaborate map where you have to fall through a hole on one floor, take an elevator to get back up to the same floor but in a different place, walk around to find another elevator or hole, and so on. At our current levels the battles here aren't particularly difficult, but I might have to spend some time between posts just mapping this thing out.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv27
Playtime: 17h48m

(adjusted to allow for tedious mapping between updates)

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In between updates I think I've uncovered pretty much all of the first nine floors of the Kama Palace and part of the 10th, but I wanted to save the end of the 10th floor for my next update because it's the main part with actual substance. I know that this might sound like you're missing out on content but I cannot stress enough how much of the palace is just back-and-forthing through holes and in lifts just to find your way forward. I won't post map images because it'll look stupid, but imagine a grid-based map (movement in P1 takes place on a grid) where instead of a connected route that branches off to dead-ends and items and the way to the next floor, you have a series of what are essentially small "islands". The islands are in different shapes and positions on each floor, and you move between floors by finding lifts or falling down holes on an island. Now, you can fall down hole after hole after hole on your "Z axis", but eventually you'll need to move around on your X and Y axes to find a lift that leads you to a completely different "island" on a previous floor that you couldn't get to before. And then start the process over. Of course, sometimes you'll be presented with multiple holes, some of which lead nowhere, so you have to backtrack and try again. All the while being interrupted by random battles. Now consider all this with the knowledge that (just like the newer games) you have to fill out your map by exploring, and so there's a lot of trial and error as you blindly pick routes, wind up in the wrong spot and have to take elevators back up to try again. Anyway...

 

w4dGkX1.jpg

 

You join us on floor 10; mercifully, this bit is pretty linear. We find a room with some random treasure chests along the way, and eventually find our next target, the Harem Queen we heard about earlier. In actuality, this is Chisato, Maki's best friend, and she was kidnapped by Aki (our mysterious girl in black), becoming the Harem Queen as a result of Aki's meddling. To make matters worse, there's already some animosity in the air - it's revealed there was a kind of love triangle between Chisato, Maki and Yosuke, and so the two girls aren't on the best of terms. As the dialogue continues, Chisato explains that she didn't like Yosuke as much as she was letting on, but she continued a façade because she knew it riled up Maki. Furthermore, both girls were in the St. Hermelin art club, and Chisato was always envious of Maki's superior skills. Whilst trying to piece this all together, Nanjo realises it's probably wise to explain that this Maki might not be the one Chisato remembers (due to the dimension hopping), but Chisato won't listen. When it's clear that none of us are getting through to her, I get the feeling that she's about to lose it and eventually we'll throw down. But it's worse than that.

 

Chisato shouts an incantation of some sort, and the scene fades to white. When the scene fades back in, the party find themselves back in the Peace Diner in the Black Market, and the team realise that they should go back to her location in the palace and continue where they left off. Yep - all of those holes, those lifts, those random battles? Do them again. It's a bit of a cheap way to pad out the Kama Palace, but with a complete map it doesn't take long to get back to where we were. And at least being sent to the Black Market gives us a chance to restock our items. We make our way back to floor 10 within moments (although at this point I chose to flee from a bunch of battles in order to save time), I top up our health and we visit Chisato again. Maki asks her to chill the fuck out, but Chisato then uses a petrification technique that freezes Mark, Brown and Nanjo in place. Turning to face me (Senpai Kun), she asks me whose art was better in the end. I know that Maki is in danger but in the dialogue options I still say that I prefer Maki's art. What follows is a boss battle with a twist.

 

Since most of our party has been petrified - and keep in mind this is cutscene petrification, not fix-it-with-an-item petrification - this is a battle where Senpai Kun and Maki make up my entire party, so my actions are limited. This does feel like a battle that goes nowhere at times - Chisato can use her turn to self-heal, and I have decent party healing, so there's a danger that it's a race to defeat her before my SP dries up. Furthermore, Chisato has paralysis skills, and at the moment the only way I can counter that is with an item (Dis-Stone) rather than a persona skill. Nevertheless, we pull it off, somehow (my strategy was just a basic attack rushdown so that SP is preserved for healing, with the occassional item used to cure petrification.) Senpai Kun levels up twice so I have plenty of attribute points to spend (Strength and Vitality get one point each; Dexterity and Agility get two) and when we return to the scene Aki shows up and criticises Chisato for losing the battle, before vanishing from the scene. Maki promises to catch Aki and apologises for all of the past drama with Yosuke. Just as Chisato is apologising back, the petrification of the other characters wears off, and Yosuke wonders what's going on, asking if Chisato is safe. Chisato tries to apologise for all of the love triangle drama, but Yosuke shrugs it all off and says that it's fine as long as Chisato is okay.

 

After more apologising between Maki and Chisato, Nanjo probes Chisato for any knowledge about Kandori and Aki's plans. It turns out that Aki operates from a castle of sorts, so finding this location is our next step. Once all of the dialogue is over, we're returned to dungeoning on the 10th floor - however, I still have a spare Emergency Exit (I always picked one up from the shop in between stints of mapping out the Kama Palace) and so within moments we're out of here. Furthermore, we're no longer trapped in the Black Market, so the next step is to find this "castle". (And see if Dis-Stones are available in a store so that I can restock them.)

 

Also I might head back to the Velvet Room and see if I can equip characters with additional personas (yes, that's a thing in this game.) This might be helpful just from a support perspective - I could give Sati to Maki and she'd have Recarm (revive a party member) in addition to healing options; I could give Aonbharr to Brown and he'd have Traesto (warp out of a dungeon) and blast skills. We'll see.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv29
Playtime: 18h46m

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With our skills sufficiently tweaked, I leave the Black Market and find the Mana Castle in the 3rd Ward. When we arrive, a cutscene instantly initiates - Aki (the girl in black) is cornered at the moment, but she boasts that we'll be unable to enter the castle from this location, at least not without the "one in the forest". With that, she opens the door herself and leaves the scene, closing the door behind her. Mark tries to force the door but nothing happens, so he asks Nanjo for any ideas. Apparently Nanjo saw Aki approaching a pedestal beside the door and placing something into the moon-shaped hole on the pedestal. It's a key hunt, in other words, and Maki knows that the forest mentioned by Aki is probably the one at the west of the map, known as the Lost Forest. This area's pretty hard to miss and we passed it a bunch of times when we hadn't yet unlocked the subway route to the 2nd Ward/Black Market - it's represented on the map as a cluster of pink trees, not unlike the Agastya Trees we use to save. Speaking of which, I know that there's a save point just down the road from the forest, so this will make it easier to reach next time around.

 

There's no cutscene when I reach the entrance area to the forest, so I head straight into this new dungeon. The enemies here are formidable (Lv31-ish), but I manage to map out enough to find a Trish's Spring that will heal us for 3'000, and also an Agastya Tree...so I may have to spend some time getting a feel for the difficulty of the enemies here (and levelling) before I make too much progress. One gimmick that is revealed in the Lost Forest is that there are areas of the floor that turn your viewpoint around and move you forward, and they're often placed at crossroads. This would make exploration tricky, but because of how they rotate the view, you can keep stepping on these tiles until you're turned in the direction you want to be going. I've tried striking up negotiations with enemies to get the Eager status and discover a new personae or two, but (just like the newer games) you can't gain a persona if you're below the required level. This is a shame, but it at least simplifies battles - I can either skip negotiations and get straight to combat, or maybe initiate conversations anyway and get them to give me items instead, or leave the battle entirely. Also, certain outcomes from negotiations can still result in EXP rewards, so this may help with levelling for the time being. Anyway I might grind out some experience before my next update just so that I can make progress without the ever-present risk of a KO...

 

(All that being said, it's not compulsory for us to explore the whole forest area; we just need to reach "one in the forest", so if I can inch my way to the right area and get the route mapped out, it might not be as much of a slog as I think. Additionally, the forest doesn't have "floors" according to the map toggles, so we won't have the kind of nightmare scenario that faced us in the SEBEC building or Kama Palace... nevertheless, the forest is still a pretty large area.)

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv32
Playtime: 22h49m

(adjusted to allow for mapping, levelling, etc)

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@MatOfTheDead - I'm only familiar with this release (2010's PSP download was the first time Europe got this game!) but there are details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revelations:_Persona#Ports_and_localization

 

In my own playthrough, there's a pretty important bit coming up... and those who are familiar with the game will know what's coming next. I've said before that I bounced off this game when I first tried it, but in reality it might have been this moment that messed things up for me and my save file. I present to you - Episode: Gingerbread House.

 

Between this update and my last one I filled out pretty much all of the Lost Forest aside from one room. I'm going to enter that room now, but first I'm going to create a second save file at the Agastya tree in the 3rd ward just outside the Lost Forest, and you'll find out why in a moment. I reload my first save and make my way to a door in one of the few areas of the Lost Forest that I didn't fill out on my map. I enter the door and make my way to the final unexplored area of the forest. There's another Agastya Tree just before an unopened door, and so because I have some Emergency Exit items I overwrite both saves here, as we're not at the important bit just yet. Moving on from this, there's another narrow area leading to a single door - the entrance to a gingerbread house. (No really, that's what it's labelled as in the game.)

 

As we enter, we see a young girl alone in the house. I'm not sure if this is the "one in the forest" that Aki mentioned earlier but at this point we've mapped out pretty much everywhere we can possibly go in the forest, so this might be our ticket into the Mana Castle. She asks "who's there?", and Mark notes that she looks like the girl we saw in the Exhibition Room that we retrieved the Expel Mirror from (see my July 8 update). The girl is named Mai, and it turns out she has a key that will complete the moon-shaped hole in the pedestal outside of the Mana Castle (see my Saturday update.) Since Aki seems to know Mai, we ask about her, but Mai insists that Aki isn't her friend and is a "bad Mai" that "came out of" Mai after an encounter with Kandori. Considering what we know about the Deva System it's not hard to believe that this could happen. Nanjo asks about the key, and Mai explains that the key "grants wishes", but that she can't use it to locate Aki because the other half is needed - and as we already witnessed, Aki has the other half. She explains that as long as Aki is using her half of the key for her own evil-doings, Mai's own wishes get "cancelled out", so instead she hides in the gingerbread house.

 

Mark asks if we can borrow the half, but Mai insists that us taking it is exactly what Kandori wants. Maki tells her not to hide, but Mai won't budge. She turns to me - Senpai Kun - and asks how safe she is here:

 

 

BhvdxsD.jpg

 

This is why this is the Important Bit, and why I created a second save. What happens next is a series of multiple choice questions that either sets you on the Bad Ending path (if you pick a wrong answer) or keeps you on the Good Ending path. I don't think it's nearly as extreme as Yosuke's interrogation in P4, but I think the reason this moment causes so much trouble (compared to later games) is because there's still quite a bit of gameplay between making the choices and seeing the bad ending, and it's easy to unknowingly overwrite your save and be stuck on the bad ending path.

 

Mai: Won't I be safe if I hide here?
-"Stop hiding."
-"Yes, it's safe here."
-"That's true, but..."
-"I don't really know."

 

This question is quite straightforward - we need to side with Maki, and the other three options just seem like we're backing down from that kind of attitude. Stop hiding, Mai. Maki says that Senpai Kun is right (yay!) and that problems like these need to be faced head-on, just like our party has been doing throughout the game. Which prompts the next question - why are we so determined?

 

Mai: Why are you all trying so hard?
-"For myself."
-"Just 'cause."
-"For everyone's sake."
-"That's how it went."

 

Hmm. The second and fourth options seem waaay too nonchalant as a justification for our actions over the last twentysomething hours, and the first option just makes Senpai Kun sound like a selfish asshole. We're doing this for everyone's sake. There's no real right or wrong confirmation here - Mark blurts out that we're wasting time and begs for her to let us borrow the key. But Mai isn't done. She then asks that with all we've been through, is it painful to keep living? (Jesus Mai, I know the random battles can be a bit rough, but still.)

 

Mai: What are you living for?
-"I don't really know."
-"To find my reason."

 

Just like the previous question, there's one option here that would make Senpai Kun come across like he doesn't give a fuck. Surely, he's living to find his reason. Brown at least agrees with me, so I guess I did a good, and finally Mai lets us borrow the half-key thing (stored in the "Other" tab of my item list as "Compact Half".) Since wishing to find Aki isn't working in the gingerbread house, Mark suggests that we leave the area and head back to the Mana Castle (one screen up from the Black Market in the 2nd ward.) With our next objective confirmed, I use an Emergency Exit, save at the nearby Agastya Tree in the Black Market, and delete my safety save from PPSSPP's data manager. Once again, however, I may need to do some serious persona management, negotiation and/or levelling because even basic random encounters in the Mana Castle can be tough!

 

EDIT: also Rosa Candida now has the Jagd set, a far better bunch of armour than the Parade sets we're still wearing, so yay. And Yin and Yan have better guns. This could get pricey.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv38
Playtime: 29h07m

(adjusted to allow for levelling in the Mana Castle, grinding out cash for the Jagd set & guns)

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Yep, I fucked myself on this part and locked into the bad ending, but I didn't find that out until I finished the game and checked GameFAQs to see if I'd missed anything.

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Whilst I said that the Mana Castle seemed quite tough, since then I've slowly managed to map out a number of the floors. Party-wide healing is still a great benefit to us, and multi-hit attacks are useful as well. The Mana Castle looks like it suffers from the problem of "islands" that I mentioned before - isolated areas that don't seem to lead anywhere - but the levelling I've done in the meantime has meant that I don't suffer through too many of the random battles (and keep in mind that I have the best gear I could find in the shops.) Also, on the floors I've checked I haven't seen a whole lot of "gimmicks" - no tiles randomly turning me around, no tiles dropping me through the floor, etc. Of course, there's still time for all of that to happen, but for the moment it's a relatively "normal" area.

 

One thing that I tend to do when entering a new dungeon is amble around the entrance and try out negotiations with the various enemies that I see in random battles. It's a useful activity to do when you're underlevelled because you can still get little bonuses and there's not as much threat of being attacked. That being said, we are underlevelled and even when I do figure out the correct interaction for a negotiation I can't actually get the spell card because my level is too low. In a way it's kind of daft - my low level makes combat risky, but negotiations are still a viable non-combat option, but my low level means that I can't obtain spell cards... and so on. (Yes, there are other benefits for negotiation, but they're usually so unsatisfying compared to spell cards that I may as well go for the kill instead.)

 

Whilst I can’t obtain demons just yet, I can at least play around with negotiation so that when I’m levelled up I immediately know what to do. So I made a text file that lists out the enemy types and recommended interactions in this dungeon. Most ones were straightforward; the only negotiation I haven't figured out is Kuchisake-onna, which makes me think that negotiations for that foe need...I dunno, Elly... or Ayase. So, not a whole lot of progress today but I did uncover a large portion of the map, and I'll try and go back around when our levels are high enough to make negotiation viable.

 

UPDATE: okay - after a bit more time levelling (to obtain spell cards) and negotiating, I've gained a whole bunch of new spell cards now... so I should at least be able to talk my way out of battling most of the initial foes in the Mana Castle. Kuchisake-onna is still an unknown but that's no biggie.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv42
Playtime: 35h41m

(adjusted for levelling, mapping and spell card collecting)

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As mentioned in my lil' edit up there, my party members are now the most charming bunch of individuals in the Mana Castle. ^_^ As much as I feel like the range of traits and responses could do with cutting down in this game, there's still something satisfying about getting an enemy's spell card and then talking them into fleeing any future encounter (so long as you have that card) - the more cards you gain, the more you can trim down encounter time. Anyway... since I saved in the Black Market last time, I first have to walk a couple of screens into the Mana Castle, but entering it with a near-complete map and fewer threats to worry about means that it doesn't take long to reach the end of the fifth floor. There are a few enemy types on later floors that I didn't negotiate with (because I couldn't hold any more spell cards) so for these I choose to flee, as I'd like to use as little SP as possible before the inevitable boss encounter.

 

8l5o73S.jpg

 

As we reach the last door of the fifth floor we find Aki, Kandori and a body on the floor. The one on the floor is Reiji, a St. Hermelin transfer student. There's no time to find out what happened, however, as Nanjo, Brown and Mark immediately want to throw down. Maki tries to talk sense into Aki and persuade her that Kandori is not her "Daddy", but she's not convinced. Maki then asks for the key for the pedestal, but instead Aki hands it to Kandori, and then shouts an incantation which makes a mirror materialise. We're then treated to an FMV where the mirror shows an image of the city being blasted by energy, shortly before a castle materialises in the space created by the blast. Kandori explains that this is Deva Yuga, his "new castle", and its creation is possible thanks to this mirror (dubbed the "Chaos Mirror".) The mirror is essentially the logical conclusion of the shenanigans made possible with the Deva System and the compact halves, and Kandori claims that he is destined to become a god and rule over humanity. As a show of power, he blasts Mark and Nanjo with bolts of energy then makes his escape, but not before summoning a new boss in the form of Saurva.

 

This battle begins with Mark and Nanjo at low HP due to the aforementioned energy bolts, but for the moment it's a single-enemy battle, so I have an advantage with the number of turns at my disposal. Magic attacks generally don't do a whole lot of damage to it, but Saurva is weak to Maki's ice attacks. He has single and multi-hit attacks named Magnara and Mamagnara which deal moderate damage to those targeted, and he can also inflict Mute status on party members, preventing them from using persona abilities - this could make things risky if the healers are affected. In reality, things aren't so bad - there were one or two hairy moments where Brown got KO'd but we could still use Revival Beads and Mediarama to get everyone healthy again. After enough attacks Saurva asks if we are really sons of man, vanishes, and we all level up. I improve Vitality and Dexterity just to make it easier to survive in future, and then we check on Reiji. It sounds like he wanted to take our enemies on by himself, but I guess that didn't work out. We get a lead in the form of a haunted mansion - a location where bodies have been known to disappear off to, or something... this might be where Kandori is hiding, and so it's our next stop. Back in control, I head back to the Black Market save point, noting that the haunted mansion is just south of here, and save our progress. I also checked for new gear - there seem to be better guns available in Yin & Yan, but that's about it. I might need to buy more Revival Beads from Satomi Tadashi though!

 

EDIT: as an aside, I goofed around on the map a while after posting this and apparently I can't use the subway, so travel is limited for the time being.

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv43
Playtime: 36h34m

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I imagine this may be a pretty short update because once I set foot in the haunted mansion I'll either be hopelessly underlevelled and get annihilated, be at a reasonable level and try and gain some experience, or be at an equal level and try to negotiate with whatever new enemies I find in the mansion. Firstly, however, I need to go back to the Black Market and visit the Velvet Room. Between updates I checked to see if there were any viable persona creations with the spell cards I had, and I spotted one possibility...

 

I haven't really been keen on giving my party members too many radically different personas (personae, whatever) because we cover a nice variety of elements between us. For instance, Brown's persona Nemhain has light blast attacks that are single-target and area-based, and he has a moderate area-based wind attack. And Stun Needle, which I rarely use. However, by fusing Arachne and Phunbaba and throwing a Moonstone item into the fusion, we create Macha - this persona has moderate blast attacks that are single-target and area-based, a similar wind attack, and Toxic Sting (which I might actually use.) In short, it improves what he had before without taking away anything I already rely on. I'll have to increase his rank before all of the skills unlock, but I'll be levelling either on the map or around the mansion anyway.

 

Whilst it doesn't take long to figure out how to get most of the enemies' spell cards on the first floor (there aren't a huge amount of enemy variants), I did still need to spend a long time levelling up various party members - even when you know the correct negotiation method, you can't obtain a spell card from a foe if their level is much greater than the character doing the negotiating. However, I eventually picked up most of the spell cards from the opening area of the mansion (Celaeno, Naga, Sumizone, Yaksini, Orthrus, Tisiphone) - Sumizone took the longest to get because SK's level wasn't high enough, but I got there after a while. (Also in doing all of this I quickly ranked up Brown's new Macha persona, so it ended up learning the crucial skills in no time.) Since battles aren't too risky right now my next update will probably be me progressing through the rest of the mansion (and sharing details of whatever gimmick-floor horrors are inevitably going to be introduced - this update has mainly been me pacing around the entrance figuring out the battles.) However, for the moment I'm just glad that some of the initial enemies have been placated. ;) 

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv46
Playtime: 39h53m

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At this point in the game there's pretty much nothing left for me on the first floor, since I have nearly all of the spell cards and I've opened up most of the map. I want to keep hold of these spell cards in case I encounter foes again on the second and third floors, but I'm going to chill out with the negotiations a bit. For one, I'll eventually hit my limit of held spell cards, and also I get the feeling that I'd be fine just engaging in battles and saving some time. I was hanging around the front door of the first floor before - exploring it fully reveals another pitch-black room where I follow the minimap. Through here, we find a room labelled "Chamber" where several scientists are present - talking to them basically leads to them saying that Kandori's schemes have reached a point where it's useless to try and stop him. The room does have some chests, however - we open them to receive a "Garnet" gem for fusion and a Metal Card for the arcade. Across from here are the steps to the second floor, and this is where we start to see foes we didn't negotiate with. Alastor is particularly threatening - he is weak to physical attacks but hits hard and can KO party members if you're unlucky. When negotiating, Maki's Plead interaction seems to be the best way to make him Eager - we're too underlevelled for the spell card but at least he'll leave us alone. The second floor also has a pretty long-winded "pitch-black room" segment (again, no corridors onscreen, just follow the minimap) where you have to enter the room, walk around some regular corridors to an exit and then go back into it from another entry point in order to find the stairs to the third floor. This floor also has a pitch-black room but it's mercifully shorter and simpler. Before too long we're near the end of the haunted mansion.

 

sG2o9GI.jpg

 

After leaving the pitch-black room your only route forward is an unopened door. Upon interacting with the door, Mark asks if I can hear something, and the subtitles reveal that a woman is sobbing on the other side of the door, looking for "Maki" and saying that she warned (Maki) not to come here. Nanjo suggests that it might be a trap, but this is pretty much the only route forward, so I opt to open the door. On the other side we see a Deva System teleport device thingy and a demon named Hariti, who speaks to Maki and asks her to come closer. Nanjo says that the voice is unmistakably that of Maki's mother, but since Hariti is brandishing a sword (and - something that doesn't come across in forum posts - the dramatic pre-boss-fight music is playing in this scene), Brown suggests that we take it down. Mark disagrees, and I'm left with another decision - fight Hariti or lower our weapons. For now I'm going to risk lowering our weapons - if she annihilates us, I imagine that's a game over, not a diversion towards a bad ending. Alternatively, both options could lead to battles, and lowering our weapons may simply give her the first turn (or make us start with reduced HP), so it's worth the risk.

 

There's a flash of light, and Hariti transforms into a young woman - identified in the dialogue box as Setsuko Sonomura, Maki's mother - whilst the music changes back to the "unthreatening exposition cutscene" track, so yay me! She explains that she's been looking for Maki, but before things get out of hand Nanjo quickly explains that the Maki in front of her is from the other dimension. Setsuko is curious about why there isn't another Setsuko roaming around another dimension, but our conversation is cut short when the passage from the Deva System teleport device starts to disappear, so we say farewell to Setsuko and hop in.

 

We emerge in a Deva System chamber only to be faced with Kandori, who explains that he's taken the Chaos Mirror I mentioned in Friday's update and used it to brainwash people around him into becoming his followers. Kandori explains that his power is so great that he could order people to kill each other and wipe out the human race in moments! Before we can try and get an explanation for why he's being a massive jerk, he runs away. Brown urges us to follow him and we take the only exit from the chamber, emerging in a new area named Deva Yuga. This is the same place Kandori told us about in my update from Friday, so we've essentially reached Kandori's base of operations. If we needed any more confirmation that this place was a big deal, the first areas we discover in Deva Yuga contain an Agastya Tree, Trish's Spring, General Store and Velvet Room. It's clear that going back to the streets of Mikage-cho isn't an option (hopefully not a problem as I had the best gear available in the Mikage-cho stores), and that this also serves as our new base of operations...so I guess I'll start getting into some random encounters and figuring out the enemies!

 

Senpai Kun status: Lv46
Playtime: 40h23m

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