Saturday, March 7, 2015

Video Game Review: Persona Retrospective: Persona (PSP) Part 3: Live long and prosper

Leonard Nimoy
March 26 1931- February 27th 2015
Previously on the Persona retrospective. Some High School kids got struck by lightning, they somehow survived without any brain damage, we meet several characters, one of which might cause those with apophenia to go completely ape, our gang then goes around town looking for the Fonze before finally meeting their friend at the hospital, and after causing her to have an episode about her workaholic bitch of a mother this happens.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO y-yeah, bit of a day. But hey at least it can't get any worse then this. Then things immediately get worse then the gang finds out that monsters have started showing up.
Close, but not quite as random or insane.
No no, this is relatively more mundane, it's just zombies who viciously attacked Yamaoka who was saving a nurse from them. Mark is naturally bewildered by the zombies while Nanjo attacks them for what they did to Yamaoka. When the zombies attacked, Naorin discovers his power that was granted to him by Philemon, his Persona, Seimen Kongou of the Emperor Arcana.
A Rakshasa of Hindu lore and a guardian deity of Japanese Buddhism, he was originally a monster who spread various diseases and plagues before changing his ways to cure the diseases that he once helped spread.
His new power was easily able to destroy a zombie as the other members of the group in turn awaken their Personas. Mark's Persona is Ogun of the Chariot Arcana.
A god of steal and iron from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, Ogun was the one to show man how to forge steel and iron into tools.
Yukino then gains Vesta of the Empress Arcana.
The Roman goddess of the Hearth, Virginity and Sexuality.
And finally Nanjo gains the power of Aizen Myouou of the Hierophant Arcana.
In Japanese Buddhism; Aizen Myouou is one of the Vidyaraja or "Great Wisdom Kings". He represents when Lust becomes enlightenment and Passionate love becomes compassion for all living things.
Once the zombies are dealt with; Nanjo rushes to Yamaoka's side, desperately begging his father figure not to die. Yamaoka, with his last breath asks his Master to promise him to become the number 1 man in the country and carry Japan on his back. Nanjo makes that promise before Yamaoka dies in front of him.
While Nanjo grieves Mark, Yukino and Naorin discuss what just happened. They at least come to the conclusion that the power they just used isn't hostile so it should be safe to use. Once they leave the room we get our first real fight where we'll discuss the battle controls.
"Now, shed your preconceptions, lay your young mind bare as I, as you teacher lovingly embrace you with wondrous knowledge"
For the love of, GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE ASS-CLOWN! Someone call Chris Hanson and tell him we have a live one here. Ugh, anyway the combat system. From the menu you can use the up and down directional pads to scroll and the X button to select an action. Fight lets you choose a characters combat actions; from using a Persona skill, using your personal weapon, using your gun using items or switching to another Persona in your stock (we'll get to that later) and guard which is pretty self explanatory.

Take note however that your weapons, guns and some Personas skills can only hit enemies in their range, but you can change your characters formation (thus giving you more attacking options) by choosing a character formation from the Form action. This lets your characters switch between four of your own customized formations that you can set up outside of combat. Free tip, try to wait until you have a full party to create formations as it will give you time to learn how each of their individual weapons work, also try to create two formations, one where your party is all on the left side and another where everyone is on the right, because some enemies have attacks that work on the party members directly in front of them in about three or four rows. However be warned, switching formation wastes a characters turn if their position changes from the original formation that they entered combat with.

Next is the contact button which lets you talk to demons, this is important as talking to demons and getting their spell cards is the only way to get new Personas in this game, you can have about 12 spell cards on you before you either use them or lose them. Now talking with demons is a whole other mess entirely, once you've completed a negotiation with them and get a card, the battle ends with no EXP or Yen earned, that's not that much of a problem if you just take the other enemies out first before you talk to your target demon. Each of the characters have four conversation techniques that each affects demons in one of four ways, there's "Happy" in orange which when maxed will make the demon give you something, whether it be Yen, EXP or a item, "Scared" in blue which will make the demon run away, "Anger" in red which will not only make sure the demon sticks around but it will also try to intimidate you which might hit you with a status effect, and last but not least is "Eager" in yellow which you should be aiming for with every new demon you encounter because once it's maxed you can ask it to give you their spell card. Once you have a demons spell card if you talk to them again while you still have it they will not only leave the battle but they may also give you an item or Yen. However you can't get the spell cards of demons that are higher level then you so be careful.

I know that there are some people out there that are thinking "hey, maybe I can just go through the game gathering spell cards and not actually fight the demons" yeah, free tip, DON'T! Not only are there demons that don't give up spell cards but sometimes an action that makes a demon eager can also get them moving toward another emotion without warning, not only that but the escape option at the bottom of the select screen barely works, meaning you'll have wasted a turn trying to run away and subsequently get flattened. But most importantly if you don't level up, the bosses will just flat out steamroll you. Making matters worse, all demons have various personalities that can make negotiations even more difficult, fortunately here's a link to a guide that will help you with demon negotiations 90% of the time.

Then there's the Analyze button, which lets you look at the stats, strengths and weaknesses of demons that you've defeated before. Be careful however as some demons have hidden weakness and strengths against attacks that aren't listed. You can analyze easier by just pressing the right trigger and the left trigger lets you see your parties conditions. Lastly is Auto, which lets you set your party to automatically use one action, or just use the actions you took last turn with repeat, be careful however because if you use repeat, it may not target the same enemy you selected last time if you used any attacks that hit an individual target if an enemy is within the targets range of the spell itself it can be rotated between targets.

Now for the biggest problem I have with this game, the EXP system. Remember in Final Fantasy 8 where the party member that dealt the last blow to an enemy gets more EXP? Well here it's worse, EXP is dealt between your party members on how effective they were in combat, so if a character does nothing but guard during the fight they'll get a minuscule amount of EXP compared to the others, also there are actually two levels that your characters have, your characters level and their Persona level, Personas will get less EXP if the enemies are finished off with weapons or firearms. The reverse is true if the enemies are killed by the Persona's skills. But you can solve this by just grinding.

There are some points in the game where after you clear a story event everyone will gain EXP to match that of the MC so keep that in mind. Once you level up, your characters will gain a stat boost in one of five attributes, Strength, Vitality, Dexterity, Agility, and Luck. As characters level up they will boost their own stats with three stat points that they will assign themselves, the MC however is up to you. So you can give one point to three stats, put two point into one while giving the last one to another stat, or pour all three points into one stat. The choice is yours, though personally I try to keep my stats equal, once that is done I tend to pour all three points into one attribute at a time.

Now that that is all taken care of we can finally get back to the story. While you are wandering around the renovated hospital, be sure to check inside of every room you come across as some have equipment you will definitely need. By talking to your party members and the hospital staff you find, you'll learn that Maki is still stuck in ICU and that Nanjo is pretty damn shaken up after Yamaoka's death. Once you reach the reception area Yukino will find a Nurse that is still alive but trapped under a vending machine, Nanjo however says that you don't have time and to just leave her behind. The situation is made even worse because Mark says the demons are still in hot pursuit. Even the nurse is telling you to just leave her and run.

No matter what your choice is the demons will still show up (though you should help her, as it will be important much, much, MUCH later) Elly will show up to help you fend off the demons. And it just so happens that she has a Persona as well, Nike of the Judgement Arcana.
The Greek Goddess of Victory as well as the archetypal portrayal of Christian angels.
Elly is naturally flummoxed by this, and after being brought back to her senses by Yukino she actually thinks that she has become Nike given that whole "I am thou, thou art I" shtick, until Mark tells her that the rest of the group can summon Personas too. Nanjo asks if she had the dream about the Butterfly, and she says yes confirming to him that those that have the dream are granted the power of Persona. Elly explains that not only are there demons outside of the hospital but a barrier has been erected around the town so escape is impossible and the only safe area is inside the school. Yukino suggests heading back but Elly says to head to the Shrine first since Maki's mother was hurt and collapsed there.

Before you do however head back to the SEBEC building to see Reiji try to threaten his way inside. But before he can be made into Swiss Cheese by the heavily armed thugs with very itchy trigger fingers Mark gets him out of there. Where Reiji just storms off again. Speaking of leaving I think this is where I'll call it quits for now. Now that all of the boring tutorial stuff is done we can finally focus on the story itself.

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Shin Megami Tensai Persona is owned by Atlus and Sega.
Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan is owned  by Paramount Studios and Gene Roddenberry.
Cabin Boy is owned by Touchstone Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures.
Kill La Kill is owned by Studio Trigger, Hiroyuki Imaishi, Kazuki Nakashima and Aniplex of America.