The Struggle Begins Anew

Well, as stated in my previous article, I am giving Persona 1 another try! As annoying as the game can be, I am excited to be back at it. Not only so I can experience this game again to its fullest, but because this series is getting me back into the video production process. On top of the skit I posted previously, I get to edit the videos in this series and have fun with it, providing more info than I can in the actual commentary with edits and the like. I think that once I start getting into the combat elements of this playthrough, I will even go so far as to provide the stats for every single demon, their strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps some information on the lore behind them! If it gets to be much, I can even make separate videos talking about them, since I want to go all-out with them.

The first episode of this playthrough is live on YouTube as of today! Feel free to check it below and let me know if you have any feedback!

Why I Can’t Leave Persona 1 Alone

For those who don’t know, I started a YouTube/Twitch playthrough for Shin Megami Tensei: Persona last year, specifically, the PSP version with a patch that includes the original PS1 soundtrack. After over a year of hardship with the game, I finally got to the end and technically beat it, though the recording containing the ending was lost. It didn’t matter anyway, since it was the bad ending of the SEBEC chapter. I didn’t even get to see the full game. Once that was over with, I was also “done” with the game. As much as I enjoyed the characters, the atmosphere, and the story, some of the RNG was just so annoying to deal with that I couldn’t play it any longer.

Or so I thought.

It’s been about a month now since I got the bad ending and attempted to go back for the first time, and I’ve been thinking about the game. I’ve been listening to the music, thinking about the characters, and figuring out why I can’t just leave it be. It got to me bad enough to completely rid me of any motivation I originally had to play it. Why am I still thinking about it?

The answer’s simple: I actually enjoy the game despite what I keep telling myself. The RNG might be brutal, but it is by no means a bad game. It could absolutely benefit from a remaster that, at the very least, elaborates on the characters more and fixes some of the balancing issues in combat, but it’s still amazing as is.

With that being said, I ended up making and releasing an announcement video on my YouTube channel for the playthrough in which I go back to this game and play it all the way through, including both the SEBEC and Ice Queen chapters. I will be playing on the Beginner difficulty for both playthroughs in hopes that the RNG is a little nicer to me, because I’m just in this for the story, really. The game is about 55% combat anyway, so I’d rather get through battles quickly so I can see more of the story and how things develop over time.

If you’d like to see the announcement video I made (people seem to like it), feel free to check it out below! The hope is that I will be releasing Persona 1 videos every Tuesday and Thursday starting tomorrow. I hope to see you there!

Thoughts on Persona 1 (PSP)

This song never gets old, I swear.

I apologize for not exactly uploading these as frequently as I originally intended when creating this website. I’ve just been up to a lot lately. I recently finished writing my latest novel, I’ve been spending more time with my family, and I’m getting into digital art now, so I’m sure I’ll be posting some of that on here eventually. But regardless, we’re not here to talk about all of that. I would like to talk about a very overlooked game: Persona 1. Specifically the PSP version, since I’ve never been able to play the PS1 version.

I don’t have much of a history with this game in particular, so there isn’t a long rant awaiting you this time like there has been in the past. Like many fans of the Persona series, the original trilogy was sort of a mystery to me for a while, given that Persona 3 was my introduction to the series. So when I got Persona 1, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Funny enough, pretty much the entire first hour I played of the game, it immediately gave me Shin Megami Tensei if vibes. The whole scenario of hopping between one dimension and another reminded me an awful lot of the series’ predecessor, and I was quite pleased with how it handled. The characters had a fun and unique dynamic, the music was fantastic, and I fell in love with the first person dungeon-crawling elements I’d come to know and love playing games like the old school Shin Megami Tensei games or the Etrian Odyssey series.

In terms of the combat, there was a bit I didn’t understand initially. It felt like regular turn-based RPG combat, but its proximity-based system threw me for a loop initially. Depending on characters’ placements on the map, their attacks could only reach a certain distance. Some regular melee attacks could attack just one enemy, some could attack multiple, the list goes on. I got sort of used to it, though my patience wore somewhat thin during my first attempt at playing the game. I got to the warehouse beneath the SEBEC building, and suddenly the game felt much more difficult. I stopped playing for quite some time. It wasn’t that I disliked it at the time. I just knew I wasn’t ready to play it.

I finally picked it up again months after, deciding to start over from the beginning, and I had way more fun with it. I don’t know what was different, necessarily. Maybe I just understood the combat more. I took more advantage of the auto battle feature when level grinding, which is something I never do in RPGs for some reason. As soon as I started doing that, it felt like I was suddenly playing the game the way I was meant to.

There isn’t much I can say about the game without just getting redundant, but it has quickly become one of my favorite games in the series. The music is just so good, the characters are well-written, the combat is fun once you’re used to it, and the story itself is a wild ride. Like I mentioned, I had no idea what I was getting into when I first played, but the game certainly went places I never expected it to. In my personal opinion, I feel like this game is a must-play for any Persona fans. If you’re used to the newer games, the combat can feel a little slow at first, but you quickly become accustomed to it. It is a fantastic game, and I hope that maybe this has shone some light on why I love it so much.

If you’re interested, I’ve been doing a blind playthrough for this game on my Twitch/YouTube! It’s very intermittent in terms of when I play it, so the playthrough is far from over, but I’ll put the playlist here if you’re interested. In any case, I hope you have a wonderful day!

I definitely need to finish this playthrough some time.

Persona 3 Portable – First Impressions

Look at Yukari way out there; got Mike Wazowskied by the ESRB rating

First thing you should know about me is that I absolutely love all things relating to the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games. The music, the characters, the gameplay, the spinoffs, I love it all. Like many fans of the series, Persona 3 was my introduction to the series, my introduction to the incredible company Atlus in general.

My background of the game is a little interesting. I’d first heard of Persona 3 when I was about 12 years old, so a couple years after it came out. It’s not so much the game itself I heard of, but the music. I’ve been writing novels most of my life, and I always enjoyed listening to video game music to fuel my creativity.

For video game music aficionados like myself, you may have heard of SupraDarky’s Best VGM List on YouTube. It’s a series that’s been going on for over a decade and is still going. Well, I was randomly listening to music on a somewhat old music-sharing site called Grooveshark, and when scanning through the lists of video game music on there, one came up called Best VGM 21 – Persona 3 – The Battle For Everybody’s Souls, and I quickly fell in love with the rock/opera combination. It remained one of my favorite video game songs of all time for many years after.

The name Persona 3 didn’t come back to me for a long time. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school back in 2015. I already started working full time and saving enough money to buy the games I couldn’t get as a kid, and the first console I dropped money on was the PlayStation 3. It was initially for the Kingdom Hearts remastered editions that were released on it at the time, but eventually, I saw a familiar title when scrolling through the PlayStation Network store.

This isn’t the original version, of course, but it was the one I got.

I decided to download the game on a whim and give it a try. At the time, I was working a swing shift, which always made me nervous when I tried new RPGs before work, since I never knew how long it would take before I could save. To make a long story short as this isn’t the version of the game I intend to discuss in length, I fell in love with this series all because of this game. The music, the characters, the writing, the unique gameplay, it was all amazing.

Now, let’s fast forward to a more recent day. I’ve known that there’s a female version of the protagonist in Persona 3 Portable for quite a while now, especially since I’m way into this whole series too much for it to be a healthy obsession. I got a PS Vita in early 2018 so I could play Persona 4 Golden, among other games, and one of them was Persona 3 Portable. Unfortunately, the digital version of that game liked to crash, and it eventually bothered me so much that I just stopped playing it.

Fast forward again to last week. I recently got my PSP back from a very good friend of mine who was borrowing it to play a game I recommended to her, so I decided to check out how much it would cost to get a physical copy of Persona 3 Portable. It was a little more than I expected, but after getting more accustomed to saving money, I figured I could afford it at the time. I got the game and I’ve been enjoying it since.

The addition of a female protagonist, in my opinion, is a genius idea on Atlus’s part. Seeing the game through the eyes of a female protagonist, whom I’ve named Minako Arisato, is a breath of fresh air. She has such incredible personality for being a silent protagonist, and the music in her version of the game is, well, arguably better than in the male protagonist’s version.

My favorite out of the numerous Persona 3 intro themes. It’s just so good.

Songs like Soul Phase, A Way of Life, and Wiping All Out are what made this game worth the purchase for me. Ever since I was a kid, the music was always my favorite aspects of video games, and it still is. If I could, I’d talk all day about how much I adore these songs, but of course, I want to discuss Persona 3 Portable as a whole rather than just rant about the music. Though I may eventually write a separate entry all about that.

I only have two criticisms about the game: one of them is simply preference-based, and another is just a technical thing. The first is that when you’re anywhere other than a dungeon, instead of moving about the maps like you do in the original game, you have a cursor and you’re moving it through an image, like a visual novel in a way. I don’t at all consider this bad, though. In fact, the more I play the game, the more I enjoy it. I’ve been discovering more things in the game than I did with the standard method used in the original version.

The second criticism is just a nitpick of mine, and that’s the load times. I’m used to PSP games, but the load times in Persona 3 Portable are a little awkward at times. Mainly, going from dungeon-crawling into a battle screen is usually a little weird, and sometimes during voiced cutscenes, it takes a second for the voice clip to play alongside the accompanying text. Speaking of which, there’s an entire line that was messed up slightly. When the character Junpei is speaking about the main protagonist, even though the text uses female pronouns, the voice clip is the same one from the original version of the game, having the clip refer to the protagonist as “he” instead of “she.” It’s not anything that turns me away from the game or anything. In fact, I find it more funny than annoying. Yet another thing Vic Mignogna messed up. (Yes, I’m one of those people who are against him.)

Those criticisms aside, this is a very solid remake, and dare I say even improves upon the game as a whole. I know it doesn’t feature The Answer storyline from Persona 3 FES, but the fact that so much of the game changes simply by having a female protagonist, including the social links, makes me so happy that they went the extra mile to do so. I’m personally very excited to see the female protagonist again when Persona Q2 comes out in the US. I even pre-ordered the Showtime edition and everything.

All that aside, I just want to say that I appreciate what this game does and what it is. While Atlus is known for playing it safe with how they make these games, I hope they consider giving the option to play as either a male or female protagonist again in a future installment.