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Let's Play: Persona 2: Innocent Sin


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I guess this is happening?




Firstly, a huge thanks to anyone who dropped into my Persona 1 Let's Play thread around June-August of last year; I wasn't planning on doing a follow-up at first, but as it's the new year I'd like to attempt at least one of the two P2 games. Persona 2: Innocent Sin was first made available in Europe back in 2011, and the second game - Persona 2: Eternal Punishment - exists on PS1 somewhere, maybe only in the States? Anyway, I'd like to take things one step at a time and look at Innocent Sin for now.


Whilst I made a spirited effort with P1 back in the day, I don't know if I got more than 15 minutes into Innocent Sin, so a lot of this will be new to me. In preparation for this thread I did go a little bit further, so I at least know about things like the new Rumour system (which I'll explain when I get there), but the majority of this will still be very new. The same caveats as before will apply - I'll be playing on the lower difficulty due to my inexperience, I'll be using the PPSSPP emulator for screenshot purposes, and I invite others to play along but keep spoiler etiquette in mind.


Bonus caveats this time around will include me taking my time getting my head around the Rumour system, and choosing to do this thread in a year that promises a whole bunch of fun new 2019 videogame releases. I can't say my time won't be divided between new and old games, but I think it'll work out fine. Oh, and I'll try and introduce the opening of the game later today as well, so stay tuned.


If you want more Persona LP threads, take a look here:




Author note: private backup of images stored on photobucket at https://beta.photobucket.com/u/qazimod - in case these imgur files vanish or something ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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I think after your bout of madness deciding to play P1, this will be a cakewalk! It's still on my Vita somewhere...I imagine that the load times on PPSSPP will be non-existant, which will be a huge win for you. They were horrific on PSP. :omg:


It's brilliant, this will great fun.  

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We begin at the bike racks, where a student is in the middle of fixing his motorcycle. We see the engine blow out, and he shakes his head in confusion. A couple of other students approach and show something off, saying that the motorcycle won't start without it - theft/vandalism ahoy. This quickly turns into "I don't like that prissy face of yours" (even though the bike owner hasn't said a word yet), but things escalate quickly... in an unexpected manner. The bike owner drops to his knees and hears a voice "Take... my... hand..." - this behaviour unsettles the bullies, but before anything else can happen the principal shows up and tells us all to bugger off because the bell rang a while ago. The bullies split and give the motorcycle owner his belongings, and the principal demands to know the name and class of the motorcycle owner. This is where we find out that this is the player character - the name entry screen fades in and so I bring back my P1 character's identity, giving him the name Senpai Kun and the nickname qazi. We cut back to the bike racks and the principal says that although I'm late, he'll let me off for now. After he leaves, another student arrives to tell me that a "Ms. Saeko" is looking for me, so I enter the school - Seven Sisters High - and end up going between students who give me conflicting details of where Ms. Saeko is, padding the game out until one girl tells me Ms. Saeko is by the bike racks. :hmm: We find Ms. Saeko here, and she asks us if we've decided what we want to do after graduation; a binary dialogue choice. Saying that we've decided, she then asks if we'll go to college or get a job...so I pick college. She thinks that we're just saying that, so we're given another choice - do we *really* want to go to college? I say yes, and she wishes me luck.


As I make to leave, a new character shows up and stops me. Lisa Silverman is introduced as a class 2-C student who's Caucasian and fluent in Japanese. Ms. Saeko leaves the scene so that Lisa and I have some privacy, only for Lisa to chastise me for wearing my school emblem, because of the "emblem curse". (Damn girl, this has all been cutscenes so I didn't have much choice.) More interestingly, Lisa received a "challenge note" for me - we learn that Kasugayama High (named "Cuss High" by Lisa) is the rival school of Seven Sisters High. Furthermore, the "boss" of the rival school, Eikichi "Michel" Mishina, is "holding a girl from (Seven Sisters) hostage" unless I visit the Sumaru Prison alone. That said, my character doesn't know the way, so Lisa offers to come with me to the prison.


The scene then cuts to the prison, where the girl - Miyabi "Kozy" Hanakouji - is being held by Eikichi. The narrator introduces her as the editor of the Seven Sisters' school paper and an investigator of this supposed emblem curse. Supposedly, Kozy was lured into this "hostage" situation when Eikichi told her that he had information of the curse, but right now she seems kind of nonplussed by her "captivity", and before Eikichi can say a whole lot, Lisa and I arrive on the scene. Fronting as some kind of ladies man, Eikichi tries to turn on the charm in front of Lisa, but it fails miserably and Eikichi's pals explain that they were just trying to lure out Senpai Kun because they thought he'd fit in with Eikichi and his "band". This is turning awkward fast, and it's made worse when Kozy decides to leave the scene as there's no information here after all. Now would be a fine time to leave, but Eikichi's embarrassment quickly turns into rage, as if something's taken over him. Cue a "battle" sequence where Eikichi summons the demon Rhadamanthus and Lisa and I awaken to our own personas. Before anything else can happen, we collapse - awakening before Philemon in the "gulf between consciousness and unconsciousness".




Philemon explains the power of Persona and how we can summon the selves we secrete, and he warns that we'll face a fearsome entity that threatens our existence. With that, we're sent back to the real world, and everyone is struggling to believe what just happened. In a moment of inspiration, Lisa offers to play the "Joker Game" and find out if this is reality or a dream. The Joker Game is an activity similar to the summoning ritual of the first game; by calling your own mobile and saying the right words, the entity known as "Joker" will appear and give you an opportunity to tell it your ideals. Sure enough, the ritual works - the game introduces Joker as "A masked figure rumoured to grant one's dreams. Why he does this, and who he is, is a complete mystery." Joker appears and demands our ideals, but everyone is too shocked to say anything, and Eikichi's pals are struck by Joker, who turns them into "lifeless shells of dreams... true shadows." Not stopping there, he drags Eikichi, Lisa and myself into a battle sequence and summons foes to attack us. Lisa and I automatically defeat them, and we attempt a fusion spell against Joker but it's too weak and he KOs us.


This would be his cue to kill us all for good, but it seems like he can only murder people who remember the sins they've committed; for now, he spares us. So apparently we had all done something that angered Joker, and it seems like the premise of the story will involve remembering our sins and facing him again. Back in control, I speak to everyone. The "true shadows" of Eikichi's friends seem to have forgotten their purpose in life; meanwhile, Kozy, Lisa and Eikichi promise to look into Joker and figure out what's going on. Kozy thinks we should prepare ourselves with weapons, and says that there's a rumour circulating about a ramen shop in Kameya Alley that sells weapons. I leave the scene, end up on the town map, and save my game.


Senpai Kun status: Lv1
Playtime: 0h42m

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Quick update here as I want to wrap up the intro scene-setting. Making our way to Kameya Alley, we're able to pull up a list of locations to visit, including one ramen shop - Shiraishi Ramen. As we enter, we witness a customer struggling to keep a strawberry tanment down and then asking to "get down to business". It seems like Shiraishi Ramen trades weapons with people who can stomach the menu offerings, and if you know what to order you can get in on some of the deals. We also overhear the lady behind the counter - "I was a spy, but that was so long ago... I just run this ramen shop now. Why would I be selling weapons?" So this is definitely the right place, and another customer explains that people can get an under-the-table deal if they ask for the secret dish. The customer has heard that the secret dish is "something disgusting", but so far he's been unable to make the right order (poor guy.) Back in control, I speak to Eikichi and Lisa. Eikichi thinks this is a dead end, but Lisa wants to do more investigation on what the "secret dish" might be, so she suggests that we go back into Kameya Alley and browse the location list for the Kuzunoha Detective Agency, where we might be able to ask the chief detective for more information.


At the agency, we speak with the chief detective and find that they deliberately spread rumours to wind up a younger detective, Tadashi Satomi. Eikichi looks disheartened and says that rumours can't magically come true, just like Joker can't have magically appeared out of nowhere - he's always existed. Bringing up Joker attracts the interest of the detective agency, as they're investigating Joker as well. We get them up to speed and conclude that the recent unusual events could indicate that rumours are coming true after all. The chief then asks if we want them to spread a rumour about what the secret dish is. Back in control, we can interact with the chief and get the following options: spread rumours, check rumours, talk or cancel. Checking rumours shows any rumours that are being spread by the agency or by demons, and asking to spread rumours gives us one option - to spread the rumour about the ramen shop owner selling weapons. We confirm this, and he then tells us to go back and order banana char siu ramen.


Later in my playthrough I'd unlock more rumours as a result of talking to people in the town areas, and it's only then that you see the real nature of the rumour system. By talking to enough people in the town areas you can unlock "rumours" that are listed back in the detective agency. These essentially act as gameplay modifiers and "keys" to unlock locations and narrative. In the narrative world of Persona 2: Innocent Sin, one common theme is that rumours have a tendency to end up becoming true - and so in the detective agency, spreading a rumour about Rosa Candida selling armour will unlock an armour shop there. Furthermore, many rumours have "modifiers" of their own; when you choose to spread the rumour about Rosa Candida, you can add a detail to the rumour that says, for instance, "the armour is decent but expensive", "the armour is cheap but low-quality", etc... and this will affect the products and prices in the store. So: talk to people, check in at the detective agency, and choose your rumour modifiers carefully (from what I can see, you can't go back on your modifiers.)


Back at the ramen shop, the dialogue exchange happens automatically, and each of us gets a new weapon! Before I can equip anything, Kozy bursts in, telling us that the Seven Sisters principal was witnessed talking to a "mysterious masked figure", so it might be worth asking him about Joker. We arrive outside Seven Sisters where there is a lot of noise and commotion, and a student explains that "the big clock in the tower suddenly started moving". Apparently there had been a lot of rumours about the tower - Lisa thinks that if the clock starts up then ghosts will start appearing, for instance. Some nervous conversation continues amongst the crowd, and one student references the "emblem curse" I mentioned in my previous update - where students bearing the emblem will be cursed if they don't remove it. Something creepy already seems to be going on, as black markings appear on one girl's face and everyone runs inside. Lisa wonders if removing the emblem from your uniform won't be enough to lift the curse, and we hurry to find the principal.


The principal's office is in the northwest of the third floor, but the school has become a dungeon now, and we quickly run into a random battle. However, the enemy wants to give us a tutorial on negotiation! The enemy explains that negotiating can make demons happy (potential to form a pact, which can lead to receiving bonus tarot cards or additional dialogue), angry (end the conversation), scared (they flee the battle) or eager (gain tarot cards for use in the Velvet Room). He also explains that demons have various personality traits, and these help in knowing how to interact and manipulate the four emotions. Lesson over, we're back to exploring. Mercifully, we're not locked in here - we can back out of here and onto the town map, and also go to Kameya Alley and the Chiropractic to heal up. And save our game. So expect a bit of battling, levelling and healing in between updates (also expect the playtime stats to blow up if I use the speed toggle), but our main objectives will be to find the principal and also figure out how to lift the curse of the emblems.


Senpai Kun status: Lv4
Playtime: 1h21m

(adjusted to allow for levelling, healing, saving between updates)

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Apologies for what will be a slight detour. Originally I wasn't sure if the Velvet Room would be much use at this time, but it's right there in the list of locations in Kameya Alley, so I decided to take a moment to speak to Igor and see what's going on. He welcomes me and explains that the Velvet Room awakens aspects of man's soul, and that he's been instructed by Philemon to wait for us. We're also introduced to Belladonna, who's stood behind a mic stand and seems to be singing the Velvet Room theme... as well as Nameless, a pianist who accompanies Belladona's singing, and an un-named "demon painter" who paints the gods and demons within man. (Interestingly, if you hang around in the Velvet Room for long enough, the Velvet Room theme ends and Nameless starts playing Clair de Lune!)



With the intro over, we're back in control, so I take this opportunity to get my head around persona summoning. In this game, the tarot cards we earn through making demons Eager are essentially used as currency; we received three Tower cards from our earlier conversation with a demon, but - to take a random example - we'd need 108 cards to summon the Tower demon Kanaloa. Yikes. Furthermore, if a demon doesn’t drop Tower cards when made Eager you can instead negotiate to make them Happy and they will form a pact with you. And if you make a demon Eager when you have a pact with them they’ll drop “free” cards that can be exchanged for tarot cards of any arcana you desire. So collecting tarot cards through negotiation will definitely be a thing (I have my eye on Pixie - who requires eight Lovers cards and gains Media), but right now I'd also like to progress to the principal's office. We head back to Seven Sisters and head to the principal's office, which is in the northwest of the third floor.




The principal isn't present, and worse still, Seven Sisters students are in the office and spot Eikichi, who justifiably gets bodied because he's in his Cuss High gear. After some arguing between Lisa and Eikichi, a pair of new faces enter the scene. We're introduced to Maya Amano, part of the editorial staff for "Coolest" magazine, and Yukino Mayuzumi, a returning face from P1 and a freelance photographer accompanying Maya. The two of them are investigating rumours about the emblem curse and the Joker Game, but few students will give them any details. Eikichi lets slip that we're aware of this stuff, but before we're shaken down for details, a pair of demons enter the room.


What follows is another automatic battle - Eikichi tells Maya and Yukino to stay back, but Maya summons her own persona (named "Maia") and eliminates the first enemy; Yukino then summons the persona Vesta and takes out the other one. Following the battle, everyone gets up to speed and our characters tell Maya and Yukino that we use personas as well. We make a plan to group together and destroy the emblems in the school so that perhaps the curse will be lifted. Lisa notes that in addition to the uniforms, the clocks in the classrooms also have the emblem, so our next step is to find all of the clocks in the school and interact with them to smash them. (For anyone considering playing this game, be aware that you can rotate the isometric view on PSP, which helps locate clocks in this sequence!)


Senpai Kun status: Lv4
Playtime: 1h35m

(adjusted to allow for levelling, healing, saving between updates)

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In between posts I had a look at the Velvet Room offerings and edited a note into my earlier post, explaining that Pixie is probably the "easiest" persona that obtains the basic party-wide healing skill Media - by "easiest", I simply mean that she requires the least amount of Tarot cards. To get hold of Pixie you need eight cards of the Lovers arcana, and one way to get these early on is by negotiating with Pixie herself in battle. If I ask Senpai Kun to "discuss manliness" with Pixie during negotiations, it's a pretty reliable way to make her eager and gain a few Lovers cards. Once I have enough, I can obtain Pixie and then simply grind for a bit until she learns Media.


With Pixie obtained, I set about looking for all of the clocks in the school. This involves entering various rooms, walking around and rotating the camera in case you see a clock, walking up to it and interacting with it. (If you remember the Hierophant and Lovers dungeon in P3 where you destroy the warped mirrors, it's a bit like that.) It kind of pads things out a bit because unless you're playing a second time you have no choice but to check every room. I kept a few notes on locations from my previous dabbling so it's a bit easier for me - they're mainly in the classrooms with a few in the teacher's lounge. I leave the teacher's lounge until last, and when we arrive there Ms. Saeko is trying to get everyone to chill out (because rumours are getting out of hand.) This is also there first time Yukino and Ms. Saeko meet...at least in this game. As they were both P1 characters they already have a bit of history, and after some catching up we're given permission to destroy the last emblems. However, this isn't enough. We still need to go to the clock tower on the fourth floor - but before we can consider this, an announcement comes over the PA from Principal Hanya, demanding that we "cease all destructive activity within school grounds!" Oops. Happily, our work is nearly already done, so my next step will be to visit the clinic and heal everyone, then find a way to get into the clock tower. (And continue unlocking skills for Pixie.)


Senpai Kun status: Lv6
Playtime: 2h43m

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Did I say the clinic? It turns out you can heal at the janitor's room on the first floor, as long as you speak to the caretaker there. Damnit. We'll be coming back here in a moment, but first we need to go back to the teacher's lounge. This next bit is slightly fiddly as it involves a lot of talking and interacting with all of the things in the right order before the game says you can move on... and it's easy to miss an interactible without knowing and find yourself unable to progress. Anyway, my first step is to make sure that I've spoken to everybody in the teacher's lounge - if we talk to one of the teachers about looking for the key to the clock tower, we fool him into thinking that we're helping to clean the mess. He tells us that the janitor's room has a spare key, and this room can be found in the northwest of the first floor.


We enter whilst the janitor is present - Maya asks if we can have the key, but the janitor seems quite old and forgetful, so Yukino recommends that we look for it ourselves. This is one of the "interact with all of the things" bits so I don't know the exact things you need to check, but after checking enough things a cutscene will trigger. Eikichi finds the key, and we head to the clock tower on 4F. 


We emerge on a small platform in a room with huge moving cogs and Eikichi starts complaining about how dusty it is. Before we can even plan our next move, an apparition appears behind us! The dialogue box names this "Teacher's ghost" and warns us about proceeding, but the dialogue is cut short when Joker appears with Principal Hanya! Lisa starts laying down the accusations, saying that the principal "teamed up" with Joker and caused the "emblem curse" and other strange happenings. However, the principal thinks that the curse is a divine punishment and a consequence of poor student conduct. He says that more people should believe in and follow Joker, and that he wished for Joker to make him a principal beloved by students. Joker himself doesn't give much away and vanishes from the scene... so we're left facing off against the principal in the first real boss encounter!




Being the first real boss, Principal Hanya isn't too tricky - fire is particularly useful against him, so Yukino can spam that all day. Meanwhile, Maya and Lisa have healing skills within their personas, and so does Senpai Kun thanks to Pixie. I barely have to heal at all though, and indeed I can just fast-forward through most of the battle after the initial setup of physical attacks and fire is established. We complete the battle easily and all level up, and then as we return to the cutscene the clock tower starts to shake. Principal Hanya tells us we will never find peace as long as we defy Joker, and he leaps out of the tower. With Principal Hanya gone, Maya wonders if she's seen Joker anywhere before, and suggests that we continue following rumours to find out more about him. Kozy is one particular lead we have, but before we can leave a female student bursts in, explaining that he heard about Principal Hanya and wants to know if he's dead. We get a dialogue choice here and I tell her that "no, he made it" - elated, she exclaims that "our dear principal is invincible! I bet he'll show up again in our hour of greatest need!" Uh, sure... In any case, our next stop is Peace Diner in Yumezaki Tower, Yumezaki - the likely location of Kozy.


Senpai Kun status: Lv7
Playtime: 3h16m

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We arrive at Peace Diner, but Lisa notes that there's no sign of Kozy. Before anyone can say anything else, a blue-haired girl enters the diner behind us. This is Chikarin, a writer for Kozy's newspaper. The game's narration tells us that she's also known as Rumormonger Chikarin, and is scatterbrained but good at finding scoops. Chikarin tells us that she was investigating the emblem curse with Kozy -  she discovered that the rumour was started by Kasugayama students and that those students were currently at the "Zodiac" club, so Kozy went there to investigate. Eikichi refutes claims that "his guys" would do such a thing, and thinks Kozy has it all wrong... but Yukino interrupts and suggests that it would be better for everyone if we visit Zodiac ourselves and find out what's happening. Back in control, we can go and speak to people, including the part-timer working at the diner. She offers us a menu of dishes, but there are no details of the dishes beyond "???", so I leave this for now and head to Zodiac.


There's no intro dialogue or cutscene in the first room of Zodiac, but then we enter the main club area, where we run in on a girl asking her sister (later identified by the narrator as a Seven Sisters dropout who was once a track team star) to leave this place and come home. This fails hard so the girl leaves, and then Yukino steps in and basically tells the dropout to be a better person... which also fails and causes the sister to leave. However, all of this a preamble for a Kasugayama student to step in - "what's with the preaching in our place? You think you're hot shit or something!?" More rival students crowd around out party and tell us to beat it, but then Kasugayama boss-man Eikichi steps in and warns them not to make him angry. The rival students dismiss the threats, stating that he's not their boss anymore, but Eikichi grabs one of them and dares him to say that again. The student stammers slightly and explains that Eikichi's demotion from boss status is just a rumour going around, and this prompts Maya into asking about the "emblem curse" rumour that supposedly started at Kasugayama. The unnamed student explains that the Kasugayama "leader" told them to spread the rumour in order to tarnish the reputation of Seven Sisters, and tells us that the leader is in a lounge area within Zodiac. More worryingly, the unnamed student tells us that Kozy is here and went to see the leader herself. Eikichi freaks and hurries to find her, but Maya stops him and tells him that he shouldn't go there on his own. Eikichi doesn't listen and leaves the scene, so now we have to explore Zodiac with one less Eikichi in our party.


From what I recall you don't explore more than about three floors of this dungeon for the moment before you have to leave - at least based on the dialogue options I've picked in the past - but it might be a good opportunity to pick up tarot cards and level up Pixie. So I may do some grinding in-between updates, and then my next update will see us finishing the grinding and finding Eikichi. (Also it's easy enough to leave the club and go somewhere like the Hirasaka chiropractic if things get dicey...)


Senpai Kun status: Lv9
Playtime: 4h28m

(adjusted to allow for levelling, healing, grinding out skills for Pixie)

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With Pixie maxed out and Media learned, I head back into Zodiac, beyond where we saw the rival school students and through a back door into the dungeon proper. I do what I can to fill out the first floor map as it's kind of huge, but there isn't much going on besides random battles. We find the stairs to the second floor and a Zodiac staff member stops us - "Whoa! Hold it right there! Did you remember your mask? You can't get into the party without one." He tells us that if we forgot our mask then there should be extra ones around here somewhere (wow, not the tightest of security in this place if a stranger can be told to look for a mask in the club in order to get in), and so we need to search the club for a mask item. Whilst there isn't one on the second floor, there is a Trish's Spring if I go in a southwest direction.


Trish's Spring is a location from P1 where you pay money to get your party healed, but this is the first time seeing it here. We approach Trish and the narrator introduces her - "A greedy, money-loving fairy. She was kicked out of the fairy realm and can't go back until she's done her share of good deeds..." - before we get our menu options. Healing costs 5000, but Pixie is serving us well for now so I decline and continue the search for the mask. As we make it to the third floor, Yukino speaks up and tells us that Eikichi is "calling for us... just up ahead." We move north, east, and back down, and we find the door to a staff room, where we find the key item "Strange Mask" in a box in the south-west corner. This must be our way into the party, so we leave the room and head to some double-doors at the north of this floor. The doorman greets us: "Welcome to the wild dance, my brothers! The smokin' hot party's still going on inside." We open the door...




As the scene fades in, we see a Kasugayama member named "Leader" beating the crap out of Eikichi with his goons. The narrator introduces him as Hiroki Sugimoto: the new leader of Kasugayama, and mentions that he'd been "plotting revenge against Eikichi since his humiliation in middle school." He also knows about persona abilities and tells Eikichi "you know what's gonna happen to this chick if you bring out your death spirit". So yeah, Kozy got caught up in this mess whilst following her investigation. Eep. With no persona to fall back on, the Kasugayama goons continue the beatdown and mock Eikichi, but he takes the hits and says that the goons are in for a world of pain if anything happens to Kozy. This continues for a bit, and then Lisa snaps and says that she'll summon her persona. Yukino stops her and mentions that us intervening would hurt Eikichi's pride, and we're given a choice: to save him or wait and see what happens. I choose to save him. Y'know, for the experience.


This leads to a boss battle with the new leader, who brings out his own persona. It's only a single enemy boss battle and he's level 9 so it shouldn't be too tricky. The non-healers cast their elementals, SK saves his resources for Media casts, and we even get a few fusion spells in there. We win first time although only Eikichi levels up since he's been out of the party. Back to the dialogue, the beaten "leader" slurs out an apology and Eikichi admits that he's been acting wrongly and using his persona as an excuse to act big and tough and threatening etc. He apologises for his past attitude and says that he's "done being Boss" - he also checks on Kozy but she flees the scene so I guess we'll find her later. Meanwhile, Yukino walks up to the "leader" and tells him to explain why the gang was spreading rumours about the emblem curse. The leader explains that the Kasugayama student council president offered to use Joker's powers to help him out if he ruined the reputation of Seven Sisters. He also explains that if Joker successfully grants your ideal then you have to join a certain organisation, and that he heard there was going to be a ceremony for new joiners - hence his interest in Joker. We let him go, and then Lisa advises us to seek out the Kasugayama student council president. Aaand we're dumped back on the map. I think that our next stop is Kasugayama High, Hirasaka, but this is pretty much where my knowledge of previous dabblings runs out, so future updates will be blind. :P I'd like to think that the amount of tarot card drops will increase as we enter new dungeons too, so hopefully we'll open up some new Velvet Room stuff in the future!


Senpai Kun status: Lv10
Playtime: 5h07m

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As we enter the high school Maya comments on how excited everyone is, wondering if there's some kind of festival going on. Eikichi refocuses on matters at hand and says that we should get to the student council room on the second floor to get to the bottom of these rumours and curses and whatever. We then begin the dungeon and I deliberately walk back and forth to check out encounters and potential negotiations. I try out SK's faithful "discuss manliness" interaction against Empusa and this instantly makes her eager and nets us 12 cards, so the drop rate is more generous in this new dungeon. We proceed to the second floor whilst trying out more negotiations, and enter the student council room. Inside, a couple of student council members tell Eikichi that the student council president is afraid of him, and said president is "hiding somewhere in the school". Talking to him again reveals that the president was on his way to class 3-1, but the one guy in 3-1 tells us that he's in class 2-4 now, and the students in 2-4 tell us he's in the basement. Wheee.


When we get to the basement we hear a voice from behind the door: "P-please... let me go... I-I was wrong... I'll never do it again... J-Just forgive me..." I don't know about the characters in the game, but I'm expecting a trap and a boss battle any moment. However, Lisa and Eikichi rush in without the others, closing the door behind them, so we follow.


The next screen is black aside from the dialogue box. Eikichi tells the president, Yasuo, to come out, and as SK takes out a flashlight, we hear Yasuo's voice from a walkie-talkie nearby. He tells us that he wants to make the school a facility worthy of his genius, but that this means exterminating the "vermin". Eikichi gets mad and smashes the walkie-talkie, and with no further contact possible we have to explore what the game identifies as the "Kasugayama High Bomb Shelter". I proceed through the door and we enter a new dungeon.


There are lots of traps and poison-slinging enemies in here, so I didn't last very long during my first visit! I reloaded and ended up back at Kasugayama High, and found that negotiating with Phantom gets me enough Devil cards to obtain the Poltergeist persona from the Velvet Room, and this persona eventually learns Posmudi (cure poison, single target)! So I've assigned Poltergeist to Eikichi, and I'll be back after unlocking its skills. (EDIT: also, I found while reloading that you can't just go to the basement if you know he's there - you have to do all of the talking again.)


Senpai Kun status: Lv10
Playtime: 5h30m

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I hope everyone likes slightly obtuse oldschool RPG dungeon design! In between updates I discovered that the Bomb Shelter dungeon is a massive "loop" where you navigate your way to one door and emerge at what seems like the original entrance area. This took multiple attempts and reloads to figure out what was going on - because I was filling out the map and trying to see if there were alternate paths - but when I realised that the one new door we kept finding led us to the same room, I changed my plans a little. Firstly: I ensured that every time we ended up where we started, I would talk to all of the party members just to see if the dialogue changed (it did.) This at least hinted at "progress" of some form. Secondly: since there's a little highlighted path on the map to show where you've been, I would try to map out the area more carefully - through doing this I found that the "correct" path is generally quite simple and easy to follow back and forth. So as long as you find a door which isn't the one you used last, you'll be "making progress". Also, in doing all of this I managed to find out how to successfully negotiate with many of the demons in the area, so battles were never too troubling and I got a few more cards for fusions.


After a few "loops", entering one of the doors eventually leads to an automatic dialogue sequence... at least confirming that "progress" is being made with all of the walking around. Lisa echoes the player's thoughts by exclaiming that there's no exit to this place, but Maya has an idea. Eikichi once mentioned that someone previously escaped the bomb shelter by using a mirror, so this may help our current situation. Unfortunately, none of the girls have a mirror to hand, but Eikichi does! Er, he did! Fumbling with it, the mirror drops to the floor, but everyone is too exhausted to get mad, so we decide to rest and consider our options later. Whilst everyone is resting, Maya sits by Senpai Kun and asks if we can get out of here, but then tells herself to remain positive. She tells Senpai Kun that she's having fun with all of this adventuring, and wants to find out more about Joker. She says that she'll keep an eye on everyone so that Senpai Kun can rest, and then we see a new cutscene in Senpai Kun's dreams - here, a much younger Senpai Kun and another boy (named "Boy" by the dialogue box) are outside a store window, and the Boy asks if the two of them are alike. Senpai Kun says nothing, but then Boy takes out a "treasure" from his Dad and passes it to Senpai Kun, saying that he can have it. Senpai Kun then looks at a watch he's wearing, and offers it to the boy as his own new "treasure".


(As an aside, mirrors and "treasure" are key themes in P1 - the Expel Mirror and Chaos Mirror were Important Things in my other thread, and Aki's "Erusaer Tsymmom" chant is "Mommy's Treasure" reversed!)


Eventually Senpai Kun wakes up, and Yukino suggests thinking about how to get out of here. Maya has a theory - she explains that the air raid shelter had a rumour centred around there being no escape, since nobody knows where the exit is. However, there's also Eikichi's story about the person who used a mirror to escape -  assuming that the person wasn't to know about how the mirror worked, it must have been an accidental escape, hence the uncertainty and rumour. Maya points out that even though nobody knows where the exit is, that doesn't mean that no exit exists. Perhaps the "exit" exists but cannot be perceived by the human eye - so, a mirror or digital camera photo of where the exit would be may make it materialise. And this is how we escape and get back to the basement!


This was a big enough update even when knowing the trick of the "loop", so I'm not surprised that the playtime stats blew up. :D I've saved in the basement, and next time I'll see what's happening in the other areas of the school.


Senpai Kun status: Lv12
Playtime: 7h17m

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Walking upstairs from the basement to the first floor of Kasugayama High, there are banners and decorations around the hallways, and as we pass a student he tells us that he didn't want to clean up in the hallways, and that he wanted to go to the masquerade. Another student tells us that the masquerade is going down at the gym, which can be located if you go to the northwest of the first floor.


Inside the gym there's all manner of music and dancing and...lasers?... Yasuo, the student council president of Kasugayama, appears to be drawing energy from the mask-wearing students at the masquerade. At least that's what the slightly subtle lasers shooting from the masks towards him seem to indicate. Furthermore, another named character, Anna, is present, and we tell her that it's not safe here. After Eikichi tells Yasuo to stop what he's doing, Yasuo flees and we pursue him.


We head to the roof, but when we get there all we find is a walkie-talkie. Just like before in the bomb shelter, Yasuo communicates to us through the walkie-talkie, and talks about wanting to "reshape" the school. As he's talking, Eikichi follows where his actual voice is coming from, finds him around the other side of a wall, and clocks him around the head. He commends us in escaping the bomb shelter, and explains how he wants to work with Eikichi to take over the school. Eikichi rejects the offer, and we ask for him to return the energy-drained, mask-wearing students to normal. It's clear that he won't though, and we enter another boss sequence.


Yasuo is weak to fire and strong against wind, but has moderate single-target ice attacks and some form of status ailment that prevents actions being taken. Even so, I let our healers heal, our casters cast (unless the element's ineffective) and the others use regular attacks, and we beat him on the first attempt.


With Yasuo beaten, we ask him why Joker is "harvesting people's ideals". If you remember at the party in Zodiac, we discovered that Yasuo was trying to use Joker's powers for his own pursuit, and that he was trying to join an organisation that we now know as the Masked Circle - a cult of mask-wearing individuals who seemingly follow Joker. He tells us that people who want to join the Masked Circle have to draw "ideal energy" from "dreaming hearts"... which I guess explains the lasers? Anyway, Yasuo tells us that Lady Scorpio, one of the executives of the circle, could have granted him a higher position in the Masked Circle if enough energy was drawn and given to her. Despite all of this, it turns out that Yasuo didn't really want to draw out energy from people; he just wanted to shake off any competitors to the position of student council president.


As the conversation continues, it's interrupted by the materialisation of Lady Scorpio herself, as well as a new masked individual, King Leo. He immediately vaporises Yasuo, and the narrator introduces him as "An executive of Joker's Masked Circle. He seems to harbour a deep grudge towards Maya. An insane man who hears voices." He criticises how Lady Scorpio handled the festival plan, and explains that there will be consequences. He then turns to Senpai Kun and Maya, and tells us that we will burn in purgatory; that we "can't escape the fate the Exalted One has in store for (us)". Hmm. He vanishes from the scene and we try to talk to Maya. Apparently, King Leo has been "stalking" her for quite some time, but we don't find out much more than that. Nevertheless, Maya endeavours to press on and continue pursuing Joker.


With most people either vaporised, defeated in battle or sucked dry from the "ideal energy" lasers, sticking around in the gym won't get us anywhere, so Maya suggests that we go around the city and see if there are any rumours circulating about the masked circle or Joker. Aaand we're back on the city map. I might do some of the rumour-checking in-between updates, because essentially you're going to every location and talking to every individual in the hope of getting some kind of lead.


Senpai Kun status: Lv13
Playtime: 8h07m

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Okay, this sequence of information gathering isn't too bad; as long as you exhaust dialogue options you're likely to end up with a lead. The map places us outside Kasugayama High, right next to a dialogue icon for a student. The student tells us of a rumour about armour being sold at the "Anima Mundi" store in Yumezaki, and claims that if we want more information we should find a "stout man" named Toro, who "loves fatty tuna". I move along the map to Kameya Alley as I know there's a sushi place there...


...and I talk to the stoutest man there; a large, round customer named Toro! As we go through the dialogue options for rumours and small talk, we discover locations for various armour and weapons shops - Time Castle and Rosa Candida in Rengedai, Anima Mundi and Tony's Shop in Yumezaki. So it looks like I've just unlocked some shops! Exhausting the remaining dialogue options, we're left with the choice to "talk to Toro"; here, Toro says that he's never heard of the Masked Circle cult, and says that the "girl at Peace Diner" may know more about it. We leave Hirasaka and immediately head to Yumezaki Centre, Yumezaki - entering Peace Diner, we find Chikarin, the writer we met here during my January 11th update. Chikarin tells us about the armour and weapon stores again, but we also discover that the club named Planet Mu in Yumezaki is a casino (something I think I already figured out when I randomly explored the map.) When choosing the generic "talk" option, she doesn't know anything about the Masked Circle, but tells us to visit a fortune teller in the Kounan district who might know details.


I think Kounan is a new district on the map, so there may be a few places I can check out here between updates, but first I head to the Seaside Mall and find the location that sounds the most like the location of a fortune teller, "Sumaru Genie". Talking to the rumourmonger there, she tells us to find the "man at Honmaru Park", which is in Rengedai. He directs us to the "salesman at the sushi restaurant", but this feels like it would only direct us back to Toro and send us in circles, so it's probably time to bring these rumours back to the Kuzunoha Detective Agency mentioned in my January 3rd update.


As we share rumours, we hear that the agency knows rumours as well - apparently there's an idol group named Muses who perform at the "Planet Mu" club, and posters have been faked to make people think that Lisa is secretly a member! Furthermore, Lisa recognises some of her friends in the poster, and this causes concern amongst the party due to the dangers of rumours becoming true. Clearly, our next stop is Planet Mu in Yumezaki - as we enter, we overhear a conversation... It seems like a Muses performance is going to be filmed here and the crew need to find extras to fill the crowd. The director calls to our party and asks if we want to be in the recording, and we see this as an opportunity to explore Mu and find Muses. This sets the scene for the next dungeon - I took a quick peek in here without saving and it looks like you only have to explore about four floors at first - also, the battles aren't too tricky so I'll try and do some negotiating and levelling if possible.




Senpai Kun status: Lv16
Playtime: 10h33m (adjusted for speed-toggled grinding and negotiating!)

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Between posts I updated my rumours at the detective agency (EDIT: also, after you've discovered Mu and visited the detective agency you can use rumours to unlock playable minigames there, and also manipulate the difficulty and payout of the games), and then did a whole bunch of negotiating and (sped-up) levelling on the first floor of the Mu Casino because I'm worried that I may be slacking on both (even though I haven't really found the battles too challenging just yet.) My usual plan is to negotiate first, and then when I screw up I continue with combat - at least this way, if I don't get cards then I still get experience. As a result of grinding foes out and using the speed toggle, my playtime ballooned a little... but it should make the trip to the fourth floor a little easier. In between here and there I made a few successful negotiations, got some battle wins and also encountered "Faust": a demon who can't be negotiated with - at least, not with the party members I'm using - and seems pretty strong. In short: flee.


With the other demons... well, playing on PPSSPP at least means that I can pull up a Notepad window beside the game and quickly note the routes to successful negotiations, because I'm that obsessive/forgetful... and it's nice to have a backup plan if going in with combat ends up doing more harm than good. This sort of obsessive note-taking makes battles a bit less threatening...but there are still a number of arcana I have hardly any cards for, so I know that there's still plenty of negotiating in store later on. I rarely keep these notes because I'm running into new enemies (that drop more cards) so often, and the notes of older negotiations become redundant when I can just stomp older enemies in combat. Eventually.


As for the map itself, it's not as nightmarish as the Bomb Shelter but it does have a kind of classic gimmick where you climb a load of floors to find a staircase back down that leads to an alternate path up different stairs to the actual end. There's also a Trish's Spring for party healing on the third floor, so the dungeon does take mercy on players. Eventually you end up in the "Video Game Room" of Mu where the performance is being filmed, and we get a little animation and music sequence for the performance itself! Afterwards, Lisa runs into Miho and Mami, schoolfriends of hers. It turns out that they both ended up as performers for Muses, which might be a result of the prior search for "extras", and also ties up with the theories about rumours becoming true. Lisa's worried about the fate of the performers, but they brush her off and leave for a "live radio performance at Giga Macho". Maya suggests that involvement from the Masked Circle is likely, so we make a plan to follow the schoolfriends to Giga Macho... presumably so that we avoid more lasers and draining of "ideal energy" or whatever.


PS: and no, the Mu Casino theme isn't as catchy as P5's "Whims of Fate". ;) 


Senpai Kun status: Lv16
Playtime: 11h01m

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Before I proceed with new stuff, a quick note: when I visited the detective agency to look at the Mu rumours I could manipulate, I realised that all of my walking around and talking to people had opened up other rumours I had barely used, so I've revisited my January 3rd post - when I discovered that the detective agency is used to spread rumours - and added some more detail about rumours as a gameplay mechanic. Y'know, because I didn't have a lot of examples to work with before. In all seriousness though, it's one of the bigger additions to P2's gameplay, and something that doesn't really seem very intuitive until you've spoken to a bunch of rumourmongers and unlocked more options at the detective agency.


Back to the present, we're headed to Giga Macho. It's just down the road from Zodiac and there's no pre-dungeon dialogue to set the scene; you're just dropped straight into the dungeon. Enemies on the initial floors are around Lv14-15, so we should be fine here... the main gimmick seems to come from the fact that the floors are pretty massive. Also, the battles pack a large variety of enemies with various strengths and weaknesses so it's hard to just rush through with basic attacks - we have to start setting up our elementals, but also regenerate SP over time between battles. Even so, there are only about five floors to the whole dungeon until you reach an event, so the huge map and complex battles are offset by the low number of floors. I actually reached the fifth floor so quickly that I reloaded my game as I wanted to do more levelling and negotiation!


After the reload, I battled and negotiated my way to the FM Viewing Studio of the fifth floor of Giga Macho, where Lisa's friends are rumoured to be. We walk in just as a radio interview with a music producer, Ginji Sasaki, is ending. Ginji says that he wants to "give the people what they want and (announce) the third member of Muses! Lisa Silverman! There you are!" Well, that escalated quickly. Lisa panics and asks the party for advice, and Maya tells her to play along and try use it as an opportunity to get information about Joker. Maya also tells Senpai Kun that she detects a "persona presence" from the producer, and wonders if he's part of the Masked Circle. Things escalate further when the producer reveals that Muses’ next single will be called "Joker", which is a little on-the-nose, and exactly the connection Maya was looking for. The show wraps up and Muses leave for a concert hall in Aoba. Maya advises that we follow, and we're dropped back on the town map.


I went back into Giga Macho as I wanted to see if I could get to the dungeon area and do even more levelling and negotiating, but it's now closed off and I can only visit for shopping. Boo. Aoba is next, then...


Senpai Kun status: Lv18
Playtime: 13h42m

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Okay, fine. It's probably for the best that I can't do anything else in Giga Macho, as I'll have better opportunities to level up and gain cards when I visit the next area. Aoba is another mini town hub with routes to Aoba Way (the shopping district), Kismet Publishing (Maya and Yukino's workplace), Aoba FD (the fire department), Sumaru TV (a broadcasting network of sorts) and Aoba Park (our next destination, and the route to the concert hall.) We begin by visiting Kismet - here, Maya introduces us to Shunsuke Fujii; he's a photographer for "Coolest" magazine and Yukino's mentor. Fujii tells us that Yukino's a great apprentice, but their relationship is strictly professional. Yukino tries to join in with the introductions, but she's totally red-faced around Fujii, so we finish our business here (you can't go anywhere else within Kismet) and down to Sumaru TV. Here, Yukino introduces us to Brown, the same Brown from Persona 1! He's now a popular TV personality, and wishes us the best in our investigations. Elsewhere is a staffer who complains about not being able to broadcast the Muses concert for their network, and Junko Kurosu: a popular actress who thinks we're just here for an autograph. We can't go anywhere else within Sumaru TV, so I head over to the fire department. There are only a couple of firefighters here and nothing much to examine - and the firefighters don't have much to say other than mentioning that they're on standby in case something happens at the Muses performance... so we head to Aoba Way.


This is the main shopping hub, where we can dine in at Clair de Lune to increase Vitality, or visit an internet café (Double Slash) to check on rumours. These rumours help to open up shops in Aoba - and so we go to Rosa Candida, another armour shop which has slightly better armour for Maya and Yukino. Elsewhere in Aoba Way, we can heal at the health club Etheria, visit the Velvet Room, or buy general items at Satomi Tadashi - I check in here just in case they do Emergency Exits (warp to the exit of a dungeon), but no luck. So I think I'll be updating my armour at Rosa Candida and then going to Aoba Park. Outside of the park is a person who claims that flowers can talk, and that we should give it a try - so before I do anything else, I go all the way back to the detective agency and manage my new rumours - flowers can talk, and the Aoba stores sell goods. The park itself begins immediately in the dungeon with no intro party dialogue or anything... and I quickly see the effect of the flowers rumour. There are numerous large flowers around the park, and each of them tell the player short riddles if you interact with them. If the player answers a riddle correctly, they get a bonus item; if they are wrong, they get nothing and cannot speak to them again. Alternatively, giving a wrong answer can result in taking damage or receiving a status ailment. For example, the flower named "Adoring yellow flower" says the following:


"I wonder why I'm here... Why did I root myself into the ground? He's just as yellow... and just as bright... Please, tell me his name."

-The moon.
-The clouds.
-The sun.


And obviously, the answer's the sun. So it's a little like Nier's Forest of Myth or whatever, and if I'm so inclined I might reload and retry conversations just to get whatever bonuses I can from this sequence. Then again, the park's a pretty large area and so it might take some time locating each flower.


Anyway, I'll be back with another update after I've done some levelling and negotiating at the entrance and am happy exploring the dungeon further. (Also Lisa is still trying to get information about Joker from Muses, so she won't be in our party for this next sequence...)


Senpai Kun status: Lv18
Playtime: 14h19m

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Okay, I'll admit that I haven't quite figured out everything in Aoba Park, as there are still a couple of interactions that I have question marks next to. Even so, I feel like I've done enough to make relatively smooth progress through the area. If you head north and explore around here you find an "exit" that leads to the next area, "Aoba Park North" - this is just a continuation of the park where you find a few more of the flowers and their riddles, as well as more random battles and trap tiles on the ground. However, there is a weapon for SK in the upper corner of this new area; the Kiku-ichimonji has much greater attack power than his current weapon, and the details say that the hit-rate and crit-rate are greater. Yay! Feeling my way around the walls, I spot a big room on the map near one of the northern walls, and as I approach I find a Trish's Spring, allowing us to heal for 20000, but since I've been negotiating so much I've barely taken any damage!


Heading east from the Trish's Spring, we eventually find another exit, which places us at the back door of the concert hall! Maya asks us how we should get in, and Yukino spots some part-timers by the door. If we can bribe them into selling their badges, it'll get us into the concert hall. First, however, I double back slightly and save between the Trish's Spring and the park exit so that if things go awry I have a safe place for grinding and - if necessary - healing. Back at the door, we talk to the staff; they generally sound like they don't want to be there anyway, and so it isn't hard to buy their badges and get into the concert hall. We can chat to people in dressing rooms but they don't have much to say, so we continue down the hallway to another backstage room, where we can hear Lisa. The game cuts to a conversation on the stage between Lisa and some of the performers. Lisa is pretty shaken up; it seems like the performers had certain expectations of her, but right now she's in the middle of confessing that she can barely speak any English, and that she's tired of people making assumptions of her language/nationality based on her appearance. The performers try to support her, telling her that she's "cool because she stands out", but Lisa is still pretty mad - being "cool" now never helped her as a child, it seems, and she doesn't want to be labelled in any way. Just when I think things can't get any more rough, the performers tell Lisa that she can achieve her dreams with the help of Joker and the Masked Circle - clearly, they're buying into the very thing we're trying to investigate and put a stop to. Oof. 


It cuts back to the rest of our party in the backstage room, and Eikichi warns me that Lisa's going to be "tricked into betraying us", but before we can take any action, one of the managers of the concert hall bursts in and tells us to get back to our shifts - I guess if we're in this backstage room with part-time badges it's easy for people to think that we're actually working here. We're then back in control and can walk around the concert hall itself - guards block any exits and I can only talk to Eikichi. He asks is we should rescue her or "wait and see what happens." I trust in Lisa, so I choose to wait. We then see a short animated in-engine sequence where the performance plays out, and afterwards Lisa walks to the front of the stage and confesses to people - she can't speak any English, but she doesn't want to lie to herself or others. She thanks the audience, and they continue cheering!... but then things take a turn for the worse. Eikichi finds "something under the (concert hall) seats" - explosive devices have been planted around the venue! Everyone except my party evacuates, and we meet Prince Taurus, an executive of the Masked Circle. Worse still, King Leo is further back on the stage, criticising Prince Taurus for letting the audience evacuate before they could be drained of ideal energy. Nevertheless, King Leo has other plans. He says that "four pillars will rise" around the town, and that the park "will soon be engulfed in flames". It turns out that the bombs in the concert hall are just part of a bigger plot to set bombs off around the city in order to fulfil a prophecy about the four pillars of fire - a prophecy that they believe will grant the Masked Circle some kind of ideal future. Leo leaves, and we enter a boss battle against Prince Taurus.




Analysing Prince Taurus only tells us that he's level 24, and after trying a few things we find that most elements are kind of ineffective. However, Prince Taurus himself doesn't do a whole lot - there are some status ailments we can kind of ignore for the most part, some party-wide attacks that can be countered with Media, and some single-target attacks that can we can easily handle for a few turns before healing is necessary. It does drag on a bit however, and at times it feels like it goes nowhere. One positive that does come from all of this is that Maya's persona ranks up during the battle and gains Media, so I have another decent healer in my party! Eventually, we win (and with SP to spare) - we all level up to either Lv19 or 20, and we cut back to Prince Taurus. He admits defeat for now and flees the scene, but we can't celebrate yet, as Yukino reminds us that we need to start finding the other bombs...and flee this place before it blows. Eager to dig up clues - and faced with a time limit of three minutes - we continue searching the rooms of the concert hall and end up finding a note in one of the dressing rooms. It's from King Leo, and it invites us to find the next target. With this done, you can easily leave the area in about 30 seconds, and when you leave you're treated to a cutscene of the bombs ticking down and the area exploding. We make it out in time, and plan to go to Double Slash at Aoba, where Yukino has a contact who may be able to help us out.


EDIT: also I need to update my equipment at some of the stores around the map, so I'll be spending a bit of time between updates just comparing numbers...


Senpai Kun status: Lv20
Playtime: 17h29m (adjusted for FUCK, WHICH NUMBERS ARE BIGGER)

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With my newly-optimised gear equipped, I navigate to Double Slash and we're introduced to Elly! Formerly one of the heroines from the first Persona game, she's now doing stuff here. Walking over to one of the monitors at Double Slash, Elly shows us an overhead view of the city and discusses the next likely point where the Masked Circle will strike. Maya quotes one of the clues we received during our pursuit of Leo: "Twelve beasts crown the Pleiades... When the winds of change blow... All descend with smiles to the netherworld..." Elly and Maya deduce that the twelve beasts refer to the twelve signs of the zodiac circle, and Elly uses the overhead view to superimpose an image of the zodiac circle with Seven Sisters at its centre. Elly adds that the "winds of change" line could refer to a direction - she tells us that Aquarius is known as a "wind sign that presides over aspects of change" and that we can plot a line from Seven Sisters towards Aquarius' point on the circle, ending at Smile Hirasaka (the "smiles" of the clue.) It's a hell of a stretch... but this is mostly all automatic plot development, so all I can do is go with it. Elly says that she'll stay at Double Slash and investigate the Masked Circle further, and we move.


Inside Smile Hirasaka, Maya takes a lighter from SK and tries to set off the smoke alarm so that we can get people to evacuate. We're caught by a cleaning lady who asks us why we're in here, so we decide to split - literally - and each search a different floor of Smile Hirasaka. Things can get a little rough at the start of this next dungeon sequence, because we begin with only SK in our party, so negotiation options will be limited. On a more positive note, battles seem to be adjusted for a solo party, as you often encounter solo enemies in a battle. I begin at 4F and find some stairs down to 3F - I haven't finished checking 4F entirely but I'm keen to see if other party members are available on other floors. I found that if you go east a bunch and try and stick to the south, you can find a little corner where Maya is investigating. Maya says that if we don't have any leads just yet it might be worth finding the others, so I return to the stairs to get to 2F. There's nothing much going on at 2F but we do find an elevator and options to visit 1F and B1F so I'm hoping I can find someone else on one of those floors. Sure enough, Lisa is in the southwest of 1F. She tells us that she hasn't found anything just yet but maybe we should look for Yukino. This next bit is easy to miss, but essentially you want to go to 3F and find an alternative route downstairs - this takes you to an isolated area where you can find Yukino.


With a few more party members available, I'm happier continuing my exploration of 4F, so I head back there (locating a Trish's Spring on 3F in the process) and interact with every door I can find. Which is just as well, because Eikichi can be found in the women's restroom trying to "investigate". After some protesting from Eikichi, Maya searches the area and finds another clue and a remote transmitter. We have about five minutes to escape before another detonation, but we're interrupted by the arrival of another Masked Circle goon. And a boss battle! The battle pits us against the Masked Circle member "Ixquic" and the demon Belphegor. Focusing on Belphegor first, we find that he's weak to several of our elemental attacks but only the elemental skill Magna has decent damage numbers. However, once he's down it becomes way more straightforward - the only thing I do after this is make healers use physical attacks on Ixquic and make other party members use elementals (because they don't need to save the SP.) It's a long battle and our SP runs dangerously low but we complete it and all level up. Also, we've discovered a new clue from doing all of this; after the battle, Yukino receives a call from Elly and we share the next hint - "Twelve beasts crown the Pleidas... When the spring of death and rebirth gushes... The way to El Dorado opens from dream's cape." Elly figures that the spring of death and rebirth refers to the "water sign" Scorpio, and plotting another line leads us to Yumezaki.


Where in Yumezaki is unknown for the moment, but the game helpfully narrows it down to two options - the gaming locale Pachinko Silver, or the fitness club GOLD. If the line about the spring refers to Yumezaki, then El Dorado is a reference to the city of gold, so I imagine it's the fitness club. Onwards!


Senpai Kun status: Lv22
Playtime: 19h14m

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I'm really nervous about the Smile Hirasaka dungeon splitting us up like that, and I'm worried that each hint will be followed by a mini dungeon sequence where we're split up and Senpai Kun has to find his allies. It's not so bad if the encounters are suitably non-threatening, but who knows what's in store for future sequences. We head to the GOLD fitness club in Yumezaki - Eikichi wonders if security is going to be strong, as Maya needs to vouch for us before we can look inside (her roommate has a membership here), and when we get in we're introduced to said roommate, Ulala Serizawa. Maya tells Ulala about the bomb threat, and whilst Ulala has her doubts, it isn't long before Eikichi finds a detonator in the room. Ulala flees, and I exit the room to begin exploration of the gym. Luckily, at this point in the game our party aren't split up, and there aren't any countdown timers just yet... if I can just find a Trish's Spring, I might actually be able to use this place for levelling and negotiation!


Whilst searching around, we do find a supply closet on the first floor but there aren't many interactibles. There's no Trish's Spring here though, so I make a move to the stairs at the south-west of here. We do eventually find a Trish's Spring at the south-west of the third floor which heals for 20000 yen, and we find the next transmitter and a new riddle when exploring the men's staff room in the north-east of the floor. The transmitter is destroyed, but there's also a little scene where an onlooker spots us and flees. Yukino thinks it's odd that they haven't evacuated, and Eikichi thinks the onlooker was a Masked Circle member trying to stop us from finding the transmitter. (Note: nobody investigates what's written in the riddle just yet - so I haven't deliberately skipped that detail!)


Continuing the exploration of the third floor, the Women's Dressing Room to the north has a Mediarama card - it's one of the better party-wide healing skills, so that may be useful. We eventually find the onlooker back at the boxing gym on the first floor - Eikichi asks why he ran off, but he's not very co-operative - "I'm under orders from our Queen... You will all die here!" Nice. We don't die - in fact, Ulala shows up, asks where he's been and chases him out of the room! With the onlooker dealt with, we turn our attention to the riddle: "I'll be waiting at the Aerospace Museum in Kounan - King Leo". Yukino asks if it's a trap, but Maya says that it's a clear invitation for a showdown. We find ourselves back on the town map, so at least I can save and re-stock items before moving on. I think the Abandoned Factory in Kounan is available if we need to do last-minute grinding, so that's an option too. (Also, that Mediarama card we found? It grants the Mediarama skill to any persona we're able to fuse... but I don't know if I want to use it now, or wait until I have more tarot cards and more fusion options. We'll see.)


Senpai Kun status: Lv23
Playtime: 21h08m

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The invitation from King Leo tells us that he'll be at Kounan's Aerospace Museum, although it looks like the place is open for business. Yukino notes that there are some kids in the museum who seem to be on a field trip, and it would probably be better if we were able to evacuate the building. Not too long after this, we hear King Leo's voice - as a corner of the floor goes ablaze, he tells us that each floor of the museum has a trap that will ignite after a given amount of time, and that the traps will start going off from the lowest floor - presumably as time passes traps on higher floors go off. Maya insists that we get all of the kids to the roof, and that she remembers this place having four floors. After a bit more conversation, we're in the dungeon.


The dialogue generally gives us everything we need to know about this sequence - find all of the kids within a time limit (displayed in the corner of the screen and counting down from ten minutes) and get to the roof. A couple of things make this a little more bearable; firstly, there are only about four floors to the museum. (There's a fifth, but it's tiny and is more like a spot to heal up before the boss.) Also, I believe time pauses whilst you're in menus. In addition, there are no random battles until a particular event around the fourth floor where King Leo taunts the party and says "starting now, you'll be up against my demons!" Maya recommends that we shouldn't let them slow us down (in other words, flee) - but in reality, the timer appears to pause between battles, which is generous. (Also, this timed section really tests my frequent habit of toggling turbo mode, as I can't afford to run up against a wall at hyperspeed whilst time disappears.)


I make it to the roof with 1:51 on the clock and King Leo greets us. He taunts Maya and Senpai Kun, claiming that he won't let us forget what we've done to him...but neither of us know what he's on about. King Leo continues talking, explaining that the transmitter bomb things we've found weren't the only ones he had. Cue a cutscene of Smile Hirasaka blowing up and being engulfed in flames. And then GOLD. Well, damn. Eikichi and Lisa are mad, and tell King Leo (now identified by the in-game narrative as Tatsuya Sudou) that this wasn't part of the deal; meanwhile, Maya demands to know what Joker's goal is - Tatsuya tells us that the "exalted one" wants to "sublimate mankind to the idealians"; furthermore, Tatsuya believes that Joker can help him become part of a new race of god-like beings with the power to obliterate Earth. Maya asks if Joker's really capable of planning "the evolution of humanity", and demands the true identity of Joker. Before we can get any answers, the building starts to fall apart, and Tatsuya conveniently disappears down a hole made by the earthquake. Speaking of convenience, Maya spots a blimp nearby and advises that we use it to escape. We're treated to a little cutscene of the blimp's flight, but then it gets attacked by Tatsuya, and we finally throw down. 


Most of the elementals we have do around 20-40 damage, although fire and wind are kind of ineffective, and some of our physical attacks are just as strong as the elementals. Bufu is the main weakness I identify, although with our current personas only Maya has Bufu, so she kind of has to alternate between ice attacks and healing, unless SK takes on all healing duties. In the end I opt to use physical attacks and Bufu from Maya - with a bit of party-wide healing every few rounds - and he falls. In the post-battle dialogue, Tatsuya laughs and tells us that we're all going to die when this blimp crashes, and Maya ignores these taunts and demands to know who Joker is. No answer. Aaand cue the post-battle screen. We all level up and I balance out my stats a little, then we bail from the blimp and land near a beach.


After recovering, we get a call from Ulala and find that our party is being blamed for the bombings, and that people are saying we're Masked Circle terrorists. This is actually pretty bad what with the whole rumours-becoming-true thing, so we decide to fight back with our own rumour-spreading. We all agree to split up a little (in order to look less suspicious), and then I'm back on the map screen as a two-person party of Lisa and SK. Next stop: the detective agency.


Senpai Kun status: Lv25
Playtime: 22h15m

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~Lore Drop Warning (also, Nazis)~


Okay, so obviously I can't do any levelling or negotiating now, so we've got to let plot happen. And I imagine plot will happen if people are saying that we're part of the Masked Circle - that we're the insane cult setting off bombs, draining "ideal energy" and believing we can ascend beyond humanity in an ideal future. What we need right now are rumours so that we can sway opinion, so Lisa and I head to the detective agency in Kameya Alley, Hirasaka.


As the agency scene fades in we arrive in the middle of a conversation with one of the detectives - she says that we aren't part of the "Last Battalion", and Eikichi explains that our party don't even know what the Last Battalion is. We ignore this point for now, and we find that our counter-rumours have been spread but we'll have to wait and see what happens next. Another detective starts pointing at the TV, and we see part of a news report "...we've just heard from the children who claim to have been saved by the five individuals currently wanted for arson."  The report continues and elaborates on rumours circulating around the bombing - "some are claiming that it was the work of the remaining radicals of the Führer seeking ancient ruins hidden in Sumaru City..." A military analyst is also in the newsroom and dismisses these claims, stating that the so-called Last Battalion only exists in rumour. So, we can gather that the Last Battalion are... Neo-Nazi terrorists? And people think that we're part of the Last Battalion because we were at the scene of the bombing? Oof. Furthermore, this may mean that the Last Battalion or the Masked Circle could be responsible for bombings. Hmm.


The report continues - also present in the newsroom is an occult magazine contributor, who responds to the military analyst by saying that there are accounts from people that hint at the Last Battalion's existence, and that people are saying that the Führer lives. It's at this point that the remaining members of the party show up, so Yukino asks the detectives what they know. We don't see the whole exchange of information, but when the scene fades back in we find that the "Last Battalion is an elite unit which helped the Führer escape in secret - an insane army with cutting-edge weaponry and a powerful relic that absorbed Christ's blood, bent on enacting the Fuhrer's grudge". Lisa thinks that's impossible, but we're told that a book named the "In Lak'ech" details everything that the Last Batallion are doing right now. The next few dialogue exchanges seem so bizarre that it's hard to know how much one should take seriously. Deep breath.


The detective who told us about the In Lak'ech book explains that Pleiades aliens left mankind a message from the Maians, known as the "Oracle of Maia". These aliens have been guiding mankind since the ancient times, and the detective has been working on documenting what's known about the Pleiades, Maians and Last Battallion, which is how the "In Lak'ech" book came to be. Yukino asks what this has to do with the city, and the detective tells us that the Maians sleep in a netherworld beneath our own - there, one can find the "Starship Xibalba", and she believes that many civilisations originated there. When the Maians died in war, another race - the Bolontiku - took control of the starship. All of this, apparently, is proven in Mayan myths of South America - ruins of ancient civilisations were modelled on Sumaru City. The younger detective in the room asks why the Masked Circle or Last Battalion would be interested in Xibalba, and we're told that Xibalba can grant one's ultimate dream if the Oracle is fulfiled. However, in order for the dreams of a few to be fufiled, mankind must perish - so that's something we want to avoid.


Lisa speaks up - "This is all a lie! The Masked Circle is...! Eikichi! You remember don't you!? About playing "the Masked Circle"!" She tells us that she has some memory about the Masked Circle and Joker but was never sure if it was a dream or a reality, and asks us to come with her to the Alaya Shrine, where she'll tell us the truth about the Masked Circle and Joker. I'm finally back in control and immediately speak to Lisa - she tells me that she understands everything and that the Masked Circle isn't connected to the story spun by the detective. As we leave, the detective gives us the "In Lak'ech" book, and tells us to stop the Oracle being fulfilled. Lisa tells us to go to the Alaya Shrine in Rengedai, and when we get there she spills the details. Not before a scene with Philemon though! We're transported to his location and he tells us that we're ready to face our past, and that we need to visit the reflecting pools of the Alaya Cavern to see our pasts and inner selves...


The next dungeon, Mt. Iwato, is now open, and we can exit and save on the map if necessary. After walking through a short room in the cavern we get more dialogue - Lisa tells us that 10 years ago this cavern was a secret hideout for her, Eikichi and Senpai Kun during the summer holidays. Going south through the dungeon, we find the first "reflecting pool" and a flashback cutscene immediately starts. Young children are shown playing outside the shrine and wearing Power Ranger/"sentai" masks. A younger Eikichi then runs into view with his own mask on, and the children introduce themselves with their sentai nicknames: Black Falcon, Red Eagle, Yellow Owl. Soon, the younger Lisa walks into view with her Dad, and we offer to play together. Black Falcon then comes up with an idea - we could create a secret friend group that doesn't remove their masks when they're together. And he has a name for the secret group, too - "The Masked Circle".


The flashback ends, and things become clearer - once upon a time, we were the Masked Circle, a name we gave to our group, but one that's now attributed to the actual cult following Joker. In other reflecting pools, we get more backstory - in one, Lisa explains that she was always picked on when she was younger, and only got to play with others in the Masked Circle;  in another, Eikichi reminisces on how we would make decisions on who would be the "boss" with games like rock-scissors-paper. There's probably more to discover, but I want to use this opportunity to level up and negotiate as much as I want to discover more details, so I'll save the game and continue exploring another time... (Also from a brief look Mt. Iwato is huge, and contains a few hidden paths in the walls which have to be found in order to progress, so I may have to do some mapping in addition to negotiating and levelling...)


Senpai Kun status: Lv27
Playtime: 23h48m (adjusted for levelling and negotiating between updates)

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In between updates I did a lot of negotiating and mapping to make this a little smoother, but I didn't re-save - instead simply taking notes - so hopefully there can be some continuity. Leaving the reflecting pool area, we head right and find a room that contains a pink mask item - I imagine this is one of the masks from the Masked Circle game. I speak to Eikichi and Lisa and they talk about how they hid their masks here. Yukino thinks that the Masked Circle origins are kind of tragic, and Maya believes that putting masks in a secret hideout is simply childish (no shit.) We leave this room and find another reflecting pool in the northeast. This is another flashback with the masked heroes playing together - afterwards, Eikichi and Lisa reminisce some more, Yukino gives us ellipses and Maya just laughs to herself. There's another exit from the reflecting pool and we go into a new area - spotting a cave in the north we find another hiding place for a mask, so we grab this and continue exploring the new area. There is another mask item in another secret room if we keep wall-hugging - Senpai Kun's in fact - so we grab this before going to the next floor.


Feeling our way around the walls the location name indicates a cave nearby, so we go through here and use the location name to find a Trish's Spring (at the west) and another passage (at the north). It's right about now that the dungeon starts getting shitty with its collapsing foundations that send you back a floor so that you have to make your way back and walk around the traps next time around. Nevertheless, we eventually find another reflecting pool: this flashback shows the masked kids playing with another girl - who they refer to as "Big Sis" - and in the scene we find that this is where they first learn about the Persona game; a kid's game that shares similar themes with the idea of rumours becoming true, except it's personal childhood dreams instead of rumours. If we exit and head directly south(ish) we find another hiding place for a mask, so we grab this and go to the next floor. I don't find many more events - masks or reflecting pools - on the third floor so I continue on to the fourth. There's one more wall-hugging hidden path and reflecting pool on this floor before we reach a new event.


It's another flashback with the masked younger heroes playing, except the younger Eikichi and Lisa are asking why Big Sis has to leave, and begging her not to go. This is when the younger Lisa hatches a plan to lock Big Sis in the shrine for the rest of the day so that she misses her trip back and doesn't leave. No, seriously. Aside from the fact that this is pretty fucking dark for a bunch of kids, I wonder how big Big Sis can be if she's overpowered by these masked psychopaths. After the flashback, Yukino asks Lisa what happened next - apparently both Big Sis and Senpai Kun were put in the shrine (it turns out SK was against the whole idea so he ended up in there), but when Lisa and Eikichi returned the next day the shrine was burned to the ground from an arson attack. As I'm wondering how SK is here now, Lisa continues - no bodies were ever found at the site (which explains things), and Yukino says that this must be a relief. Lisa disagrees, and thinks that Big Sis was actually Joker all along. (It's a bit of a leap in logic but thankfully the ?! emotes from everyone acknowledges this.) It's about here that Maya speaks up.




She tells us that she was "Big Sis", and was posing as a party member to take revenge on us, but only after we had visited the reflecting pools and remembered everything. (If you remember at the start of the thread, Joker originally told us that he could only kill those who remember the sins they commit.) She prepares to attack but there's a blinding flash, and another Maya is standing in her way. This is the real Maya - the one that's been in our party all this time - and she tells us that the vengeful Maya is in fact a masked circle spy. As if to confirm this, Joker materialises into the scene to explain that he and the vengeful Maya were just trying to guide our party to these reflecting pools so that we would "drown in despair" - probably so that we would feel guilty to the point that we'd take our own lives. Since this backfired, however, we're throwing down against the vengeful Maya... or, as the narration names her, Shadow Maya.


Shadow Maya can be pretty annoying, with status effects, insta-kills and an attack known as Diamond Dust that deals heavy party-wide damage, but Senpai Kun and Maya can both use Media so we can counter the damage effectively. The only thing I didn't plan in advance was "stocking up on revival items" - most of the end of the fight happened with Yukino being KO'ed. However, eventually we win. Shadow Maya is in disbelief, telling Maya "you were so eager to die", but Maya tells her she couldn't be more wrong. We all level up and return to post-battle dialogue.


The real Maya confirms that she was Big Sis, and Eikichi and Lisa immediately apologise for the incident in the shrine. Maya says that it was all a misunderstanding... but why would Joker know about this? It turns out that he was originally a childhood friend of the party's, named Jun; he played the Masked Circle game with them and was in some of the flashback scenes, and so he probably became pretty messed up after the events of the fire. (Again: Joker originally told us that he could only kill those who remember the sins they commit, so he and the Shadow Maya (again, a masked circle spy) both had their reasons for orchestrating this.) After a little more dialogue we're whisked away to another Philemon scene! He basically tells us that Jun/Joker is all messed up in the head, and that in order to save him we have to go to the "Caracol". After the flashback we resolve to find Jun, but we're interrupted by planes filling the sky. The Last Battalion has arrived on the scene and a new map location is available - Mt. Katatsumuri. But, y'know, I've got a lot to catch up on in terms of shopping, talking to people for new rumours and Velvet Room visits too...


EDIT: also during the Philemon scene Lisa had a reawakening and gained the persona Eros Prime, so I want to spend time unlocking some skills for that. There's a possibility this could have been a similar deal to the P1 ultimate persona unlocking; you open up more personas depending on how many correct choices you made earlier. Hmm.


EDIT 2: also, if I'm going to spend my tarot cards on something in the Velvet Room, I'd like something with minimal elemental weaknesses and Diarama, and then I can throw in my Mediarama card on top. Demeter of the World arcana looks like a decent summon, but I'll dabble a bit before I commit.


Senpai Kun status: Lv29
Playtime: 25h33m

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Despite all of my plans earlier, I've decided to stick with the persona I'm using at the moment, if only because the better skills would cost a lot of SP to use, and at my current level I would be very limited. Anyway - Time Castle at Rengedai has better weapons but I'm not left with a lot of cash afterwards, which is a pain because Rosa Candida, Rengedai also has better armour for everyone. Damn. And I'm sure there are other places around the map with decent equipment too. The thing about spreading rumours to gain expensive but high quality gear at stores is that you can't go back and change the rumour details, so I just have to make some more money. Whatever - I'll go and take a look at Mt. Katatsumuri. The map for this location has a cable car you can examine, but the Last Battalion are around here so we can't actually use it. Our only option is to go to the entrance.


When the entrance scene fades in there are a bunch of Last Battalion troops stationed around the place, walking back and forth. Our party is hidden behind a hedgerow of sorts, and Eikichi says that if we bust straight in from the front then the troops won't hold back. We have two options - go in from the front or take the mountain path. Yukino and Maya mention that the direct approach from the front would save time but would be difficult. I've looked at both options whilst dabbling between updates and found that the mountain path is very confusing and maze-like, with lots of similar-sounding map names and cryptic clues to directions on signposts. Meanwhile, the direct approach has a tough battle at the beginning, but even if you just scrape through you can double back, hit the clinic, heal up, save, and go back in without that initial battle.


I pick the dialogue option "Bust right through". We're immediately launched into a battle against the "Kommandant" miniboss (Lv47) and four "Sturm Soldat" adds (Lv32). In my notes made between updates I basically have the note "spam elementals and healing", so I use area-based skills on the adds just so that the enemy has less turns, and I win first time (well, the Kommandant flees) with only Yukino getting KO'd. Then I back aaaaaaaall the way out, heal at a chiropractic in town, return to the mountain entrance, and save. At least this way I'll be able to take the direct approach without that initial encounter.


Fighting through Mt. Katatsumuri, the battles are tough but not impossible at our current levels - my biggest concern is the race to find a Trish's Spring before we get too deep. As promised with the dialogue options, this is a very direct route with few branches - you just have to deal with that initial miniboss and a long journey before any opportunity to heal. It turns out that there is a Trish's Spring at around Area 7; healing there costs 35'000 - so at the risk of killing the LP I'm actually going to save here and do some levelling; I can make up the funds after about five or six battles so I'm entirely "safe"... it's just that I might have a long walk if I want to get back to town. :P


Senpai Kun status: Lv32
Playtime: 27h28m (adjusted for levelling etc)

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From Area 7 nothing remarkable really happens; we fight more battles and can more-or-less rush enemies with physical attacks, occasionally using healing skills if necessary, and the path continues to be pretty linear. From Area 7 you have to explore up to and including Area 12 before you begin to reach the end of Mt. Katatsumuri, and then you find an entrance to an area of Mt. Katatsumuri named "Goketsuji".


When we arrive here there's a small scene where a group of monks are faced with several Last Battalion troops who have guns aimed in their direction. The head monk seems confident - "It'll take more than their fancy weapons to beat our Gouketsu Style martial arts!" - but then Eikichi shouts at the troops from offscreen and we have another forced encounter. This one's very similar to the encounter we had when we decided to bust in through the front entrance of Mt. Katatsumuri - one Lv47 "Kommandant" miniboss and four Lv32 "Sturm Soldat" adds. In this scene the Kommandant actually flees after the first turn so it's much less of a boss encounter than the previous one. We finish the battle fairly easily and SK levels up.


As we've found some friendly monks, we can get some info here - Yukino heard that Shunsuke, a reporter colleague of hers, was to be found around here (understandable since they're investigating this stuff), and a monk tells her that he's at the summit after "seeing the soldiers descend from the sky". He also tells us that Shunsuke wanted Yukino to keep hold of his camera, which to my pessimistic mind sounds like he's probably not coming back. :P In any case, we have to head to the summit and find a location known as the Caracol temple (no doubt this is the hiding place of Jun that Philemon told us about in my Friday update.) There's more standard mapping and battling for the next few areas, although now the map name has changed to "Mt. Katatsumuri Peak". I find a Trish's Spring in Area 3 of the peak; I don't need it right now, but it's another good opportunity for a manual save. After a bit more battling and about four more areas we reach a new area - "Caracol".


Here, we see a cutscene where people are fleeing the Caracol temple and being gunned down by Last Battalion troops. Maya tells us that the Carcol temple is a Mayan ruin once used as an astronomical observatory, but before we can find out any more we're spotted by some minibosses. Yukino tells us to "form groups of two to take them out", so we'll be doing a 2v1 battle. I team up with Maya because then at least one of us will be able to cast Media in a turn - the miniboss is fairly straightforward except for a few moments where it prevents you using persona skills, but I complete the battle on the first attempt. After the battle, we hear Shunsuke's voice and find him bleeding on the ground. He tells Yukino that despite his injuries from fleeing the Last Battalion he got what he wanted "all captured on film", and after a bit more dialogue he passes away. Yukino says that she doesn't want to fight anymore if this is what happens - and we're given an option to either go on without her or take her with us so that Fujii's death isn't for nothing. Naturally, she's coming with us. Just as well, too, because Philemon arrives (in butterfly form) to awaken a new persona for Yukino, named "Durga".


I head inside the Caracol temple, save, and then try to back out. In a surprisingly generous gesture, backing out from the Caracol temple puts us back on the town map instantly, and it exists as its own location in the Mt. Katatsumuri map, so I have the opportunity to go back and do shopping or levelling before I head in for real. (Also I'll need to do levelling anyway in order to unlock skills on Yukino's new persona...)


Senpai Kun status: Lv34
Playtime: 29h05m (adjusted for levelling etc)

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With my gear optimised, I begin the exploration of Caracol. The map of the first floor is huge, although if I go straight north I eventually find an elevator that's currently inoperable. I map out the rest of the floor and go down to B2F. There's a room at the southwest of this floor that leads to "Stella Hall", so I go around and uncover the rest of the map first, then head in. Inside we run into yet another take on the ["Kommandant" miniboss and "Sturm Soldat" adds] encounter, and their levels are even the same as they were before so it's no big deal. Once more, the Kommandant flees before the battle is over, and we continue on, finding some stairs to B3F. All I can find here are what look like trap tiles, and also some stairs back up to B2F.


With no obvious way forward in sight, it's about here that I'd think I was missing some kind of hidden wall thing that takes me to another floor, but then I realise that I'm just assuming every icon on the map screen is a trap tile that will damage me in some way. Pulling up the main map and bringing up the legend reveals that these are actually teleporters; there are five situated on B2F and six on B3F, so this is probably going to get confusing pretty quickly.


In the north corners of the map of B3F there are six teleporters arranged in a 2x3 formation. The lowest two and the middle left teleport me to an area of B3F I've explored before, but the middle-right teleports me to a new passage that I couldn't access before,  which is our ticket to the fourth floor. The fourth floor is comparatively simple, containing one or two chests and a door to the central bridge. Here, we find Anna - the girl from the Masquerade event a while back - being attacked by more Last Battalion troops... so we're headed into another miniboss encounter. This has three Lv41 enemies and so I think it'll go the same way as other Last Battalion encounters... until my team get KO'd. Ooooops. At least I know how to get there now. Hopefully my next update will pick up from me succeeding in the miniboss encounter.


Senpai Kun status: Lv41
Playtime: 34h39m (adjusted for Last Battalion preparation (speed-toggled levelling))

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It's no good. I'm going to have to get out of the Caracol area and back to the Velvet Room, hopefully gaining some levels along the way. I did some experimentation between updates and I may have an idea, but I haven't put it into practice yet. In my last update I did a manual save in the middle of Caracol so before I do anything else I have to fight my way back out to the surface. I get out, head to the nearest Velvet Room, and summon the persona Heimdall (Sun arcana) - this persona repels electric attacks; one of the main things that was killing my party during the previous boss attempts... particularly Yukino. As a helpful bonus, once it's fully levelled up I can get Magarula (moderate wind attack on a group of targets) and Ice Breath (moderate ice attack to multiple targets) so this may help bring down the health of those adds. With all the skills unlocked, I leave to heal up at a clinic, save again and head to the boss.


Magarula costs a lot of SP to use, but it deals around 150 damage to two of the foes in the boss encounter, and twice that to a third. I imagine in reality it's one of those "each enemy is weak to a particular element" battles, but soon enough the three foes are reduced to one, and the remaining foe is defeated after a few more rounds. We all win and level up, then Yukino checks on Anna. Anna asks why Yukino cares about her, and Yukino reveals that there was a time when she wished everything would disappear, a time when she didn't know why she should keep on living. Before she can finish her thought, Shadow Yukino enters the scene! She reminds Yukino that originally she wanted to be a photographer, but she also wanted to be a teacher like Ms. Saeko - however, reality got in the way of her dreams. Yukino gets the message, and turns to Anna: she tells her that even when things don't go the way she wants, it's important to keep going rather than wishing everything would vanish. Yukino then faces Shadow Yukino and tells Senpai Kun to get out of here and find Jun/Joker...and she throws down against her shadow as we flee.




After the scene fades out, we find ourselves on floor B4F, so we're not quite done with Caracol just yet. Happily, there's a Trish's Spring here that heals for 40'000, so we can do some levelling here. The other important thing to note is that Yukino is no longer in our party, so we'll have fewer negotiation options... Oh, also the Heimdall persona I had just created was assigned to Yukino to protect against electricity. But it's fine, honest! *twitch*


EDIT: also, from what I can see there is no way to backtrack from B4F for the moment, so there's no opportunity to tweak equipment or even visit the Velvet Room. And I've already saved. Eep. At least this means I won't have to negotiate (because how will I make use of the cards?) unless I just want to end a battle...


Senpai Kun status: Lv42
Playtime: 35h42m (adjusted for levelling etc)

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~Wow, That Got Dark~


With Yukino left fighting her shadow and no way back, our options are to press forward (or die trying), and grind near the Trish's Spring. Stairs to B5F are just to the west of where we saved, and as we explore further there are more traps, such as the floor tiles that deplete everyone's SP. Nice. We find another doorway and as we enter the new room we find ourselves in an enclosed hallway. A small boy materialises in front of us briefly before the screen goes white and we get another flashback.


Remember in my update on 8th February where the party played the Masked Circle game in their youth but locked Maya ("Big Sis") in the shrine so that she would never leave? And how they also threw Senpai Kun in there because he was the only one who was against the idea? And how the shrine was allegedly burned down by an arson attack (which we never ended up seeing in the flashback?) That flashback was pretty fucked up, but this new flashback revisits the memory. Here, Eikichi and Lisa are begging "Big Sis" not to leave, and SK and Jun/Joker are only giving everyone the ellipses treatment. Again, Lisa hatches a plan to lock Maya in the shrine, and Jun continues protesting - "We have to let Big Sis go!" Lisa then says "To make sure she can't go anywhere... We're gonna kill Big Sis, right?" and meanwhile inside the shrine Maya is banging on the door: "Please let me out! Please... Help me, Jun-kun!" We then see a persona being summoned by one of the group, before the shrine is set ablaze. The younger Jun cries out: "Aaaaaaaaaaaah! Big Sis!" and the flashback ends.


Well, god damn. No wonder Maya reacted so badly to fires created by bombs earlier in the game, and no wonder Maya's shadow was so hostile in that earlier encounter. I thought the Nazi stuff was beginning to get a little fucked up but now we have full-blown child arsonists. However, flashbacks aren't necessarily accurate memories, and we might not have the whole story here (also, attack animations are so simplistic it's hard to tell if the fire was the persona's doing - it's entirely possible that something else caused the fire before a summoned persona could do anything - but that's just my own personal take on events)... Back in the Caracol area, the party see an image of the younger Jun materialise before them; sobbing, he says "Big Sis... I'm sorry... I'm sorry! I... I couldn't save you..." Eikichi and Lisa try and bring Jun around to the truth - that SK tried to help Maya, and Eikichi and Lisa are the ones to blame. Maya then speaks to Jun and tells him that she's alive, but Jun isn't buying it, and vanishes from the scene, leaving behind a "Raspberry flower" item. Maya reckons that Jun knows the truth deep down, but maybe the truth is being twisted by the whole rumours-becoming-true thing.


We proceed through the Caracol dungeon until we reach another hall and another flashback, showing Maya, Jun and SK playing together. As Maya and SK fade from the flashback, Jun turns, as if he's facing our party, and tells us how "Big Sis" promised to play with him and SK... but we took that promise away. After the flashback we gain another flower item - an "Aster Tataricus" - and make it to B6F. It's worth mentioning that Caracol is getting a bit much with its floor traps - there are a lot that deplete the party's SP, and so I kind of have to hope that I can level people up (to replenish their SP) before things get bad. I eventually find a door named the "Rings of Time" and save in a new save slot for now...


EDIT: oh, and I went back to check the descriptions of the "flower" key items - the Raspberry flower has a meaning of "deep regret", and the description suggests that Jun may be aware of a "false memory". Meanwhile, the Aster Tataricus flower has a meaning of remembrance, and the description says that Jun needs SK's help. Hmm.


Senpai Kun status: Lv43
Playtime: 37h33m (adjusted for levelling etc)

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I load my new second save, burn through a few expendable health items to top the team's HP off, and go through the door. We enter a large room, and Lisa, Eikichi and SK all call out to Jun/Joker. Maya asks him to "stop this nonsense", and the camera pans across to reveal several Last Battalion troops, a few other characters (including what appear to be doubles of SK, Lisa and Eikichi based on the sprites - these could be more shadow selves similar to the Maya boss?) and Jun/Joker himself. Remember that insane story from the detective about how the Last Battalion are seeking out the Starship Xibalba? It turns out that Jun/Joker has gathered people "qualified to raise Xibalba and have their desires granted." The camera pans down to "Führer" - yes, Hitler -  who says that his troops are also qualified. As for Führer's desires? "Destruction and progress... These contradictory impulses are constantly at war within man." Jun/Joker personally wouldn't mind Führer not being here, but it was the manifestation of rumours that brought the Last Battalion here in the first place. Maya speaks up, telling Joker that you can't just "give" people dreams in this way, but Jun/Joker and Führer dismiss her comments.


We're then treated to an animated scene where we see the starship Xibalba rise above the city, with four temples surrounding it. Führer laughs in triumph: "Since (the starship)'s risen, there's no more use for this place!" He and the Last Battalion leave, and Jun/Joker tells the doubles of SK, Lisa and Eikichi to go after Führer. Eikichi tells Jun/Joker to come to his senses and remember who he really is, but an "unknown voice" within Jun tells him "Don't forget... You are Joker... Kill..." Cue another boss battle - 30something hours after originally facing Joker at the start of the game, we have to prove we can take him on. This boss battle has two phases - at first your party is facing Joker in his regular form, and I try to get through this with little more than physical attacks and healing so that I don't waste SP. Joker himself has party-wide attacks and solo attacks but they're all fairly weak - some come with ailments such as panic and poison, but in this first phase we only see SK hit with panic and a few party members hit with poison as we win during the last round of turns. We all level up, and we go to another cutscene.


Here, Yukino and Anna arrive on the scene and asks what's going on, but the "unknown voice" comes back as well, urging Joker to wish for the power he desires. As Joker declares his wish, Maya urges him to stop, and then a figure emerges from within Joker - a figure the dialogue text identifies as "Nyarlathotep". This is a pretty significant detail - in my LP of the first game, one of the core antagonists - Kandori - ran into Nyarlathotep during his transformation into God Kandori, so this guy's a big deal. Nyarlathotep promises to grant Joker "heavenly strength", and a second boss battle occurs - this time against "Angel Joker". Mercifully, our HP and SP are refilled for this encounter, but some ailments remain on party members. Angel Joker has his standard attack, Hamaon (light-based insta-kill for one party member), and strong elementals such as Ziodyne, but by using a combination of party-wide healing and our own elementals, we beat Angel Joker on our first attempt - the only casualty being Eikichi (KO'd at a time where we'd run out of healing items.)


We all level up again and see another scene. As it fades in, we see the party surrounding Jun, who's led on the floor and wondering if he was having a nightmare. Before we can get him up to speed, a new character teleports in. Identified as "???", he scoffs at the former Joker taking pity from people who were once his enemy. Jun reveals that this is his dad, and asks him to change his ways and help lead people to their dreams. Jun's dad replies with "It's now your turn to grant MY dreams" and asks Jun to go with him. After Jun refuses, his dad effectively boots him out of his former position as Masked Circle leader and teleports away. Following this, we're whisked away to another Philemon scene - he tells us that in time we will learn more, and Yukino asks Philemon to pass her Persona ability to Jun as she has no need for Persona (I guess the duel with her shadow self was the last thing she needed to prove to herself.) Jun gains the persona Hermes, but Philemon isn't done - since we've been through so much change, each of us gets a new (or evolved) persona: SK gets Apollo, Maya gets Artemis, Lisa gets Venus, Eikichi gets Hades. He also promises to guide us to Xibalba, so after the Philemon scene is over, we say goodbye to Yukino, and our next course of action will be to explore the four temples that have emerged around Xibalba. That being said, there's lots of other stuff to be done - unlocking skills for personas, checking stores for new equipment, and actually seeing if we can buy revival items somewhere. :P 


EDIT: by the way, there isn't really much mention of Yukino's duel against her shadow self - I was considering the possibility that she might not come back, but the party seem kind of nonplussed!


Senpai Kun status: Lv45
Playtime: 38h11m

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