: Well, it looks like Jihei Suzakin / Jay won the poll, so let’s go with that.
: Honestly, I feel like Atlus’s choice of white subtitle text in a cutscene with a character whose clothes are also white was a bad one.
: What Philemon here is doing is referencing the first three Shin Megami Tensei games, all of which had an alignment system that was utter bullshit at best and an afterthought at worst. None of the Persona games have an alignment system.
I can’t help but wonder if this cutscene, which uses a lot of the same poses and shots as the opening cutscene to Pokemon, was a dig by Atlus at Nintendo.
: Wait, what? What does her cooking ability have anything to do with… you know, I’m not even going to bother. I honestly don’t even know why they bother introducing the nurse. Unlike the later games, Persona 1 doesn’t have the whole “life sim” element and this is probably the last time we’ll ever see her.
: Saeko here is a character who seemed like a throwaway in the PS1 release, but in fact is very important in the Snow Queen quest. This is going to be a recurring thing with the first playthrough, where we run into stuff that isn’t important until then.
: “I’m sorry you had to deal with my students, Natsumi.”
: “C’mon, taking care of students is her whole job! What’s so bad about us…?”
: “Now, now, Masao! I want you to think about what you’ve done!”
: School rules strictly forbid the summoning of Lucifer, or any kind of mental duplicate thereof, on school grounds.
: “Anyway, Eriko and Ayase told me what happened. No helping out for you today!”
: This game shares a lot of plot beats with Shin Megami Tensei 1. SMT1 had a very similar beginning in that the first place you wind up in after the demons invade is a hospital.
: “So you think there’s something wrong with us, too?”
: “Oh, not like that. I can tell by looking at you that you’re perfectly sane. But I’m worried you might have gotten hurt while collapsing, so go see the doc.”
: “So there is something that can faze you, Ms. Saeko. Alright, we’ll go.”
: “You mean Maki, right?”
: “Yes, that’s right. You should visit her while you’re there. She’s been laid up there for over a year now… I’m sure she’s lonesome.”
: We’re now in “walk around” mode, which is mostly only used in rooms where you could potentially talk to people. The controls for this are… rather strange in that they’re isometric but also don’t really correspond to the directions the way you’d think they would. It’s kind of like Jay here has the same disease as the QWOP guy.
: By the way, the music that plays in the school at this point is a track that Atlus added for the PSP re-release. It sounds like something you’d hear in Persona 4, and that’s probably no coincidence.
: The box has a single Medicine in it, which in SMT would be immediately tossed for taking up precious inventory space that could be used on an incense or life stone. One of the really nice changes Atlus made here was giving you an unlimited inventory.
: There’s also this weird glowing pink plant in the corner.
: The plant is a save point, which I took here only because there’s no earlier opportunity to save. Weirdly enough, the Agastya is an actual species of tree, but it has red flowers and not pink ones. We can also talk to everyone, but Mark is really the only person with anything to say that doesn’t relate to Snow Queen.
: “It’s way to the northeast. You leave the school, head north… and go all the way to the 3rd ward, then take a right at the Mikage Ruins. Eh, if we just wander around we’ll get there sooner or later.”
: Welcome to first person mode, which is the meat of Persona 1. Right now, we’re on the first floor of St. Hermelin High School located in the (fictional) city of Mikage-cho. This is a major departure from the SMT series, which tends to use locations named after actual places in Japan.
: You’ll notice that we have a minimap in the bottom-left that’s already filled in to boot. This is an absolute godsend compared to the early SMT games. The map even shows you where you’ve already been.
: Now, in true Atlus style, most of St. Hermelin is completely empty. We could just walk out the front door, pictured here, and make our way to the hospital. However… we don’t want to do that.
: Just past the main entrance to the school, heading North, is the teacher’s lounge. This is the start of a very specific and kind of arcane series of events that will lead us to a secret party member.
: I think of my problems with this game is that entering an empty room will cause your party members to spread out around it, which can make finding NPCs a bit difficult. In this case, we want to talk to the guy in the brown suit in the bottom-left.
: We’re not, but this gives us a very important clue: there’s an open room on the second floor.
: The one thing I think the early SMT games did better is that they’d tell you what a room was before you entered it. Granted, they HAD to do this because the hallways were usually a single color and there were a thousand identical doorways, but still. This is the empty classroom, located on the far western end of the 2nd floor.
: “Huh? Reiji…? You’re Reiji Kido! What’re you doin’ here?”
: Meet Reiji Kido, local JoJo reject and the secret party member of the main route in Persona 1. Getting him to join is a gigantic pain in the ass.
: Reiji then just kinda fucks off without a word. I apologize for the blur, but that’s what happens when you’re taking screenshots off real hardware. I swear you don’t notice it when you’re playing.
: “Hmpf. The standoffish sort, I see.”
: “Look who’s talking.”
: Now, you would think that the logical thing to do would be to find where Reiji went, but no. What we need to do instead is walk to the other side of the second floor and enter clasroom 2-1. Thankfully, the classrooms are marked by signs.
: Here, we want to talk to the only NPC in the room.
: “Haha! ‘Hooligans’? Seriously? What a poindexter!”
: Cue laugh track. I get that Mark is sort of meant to be the mouthpiece for the protagonist, but it feels like he’s in a permanent state of auditioning for a role in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He’s still not my least favorite party member though. That’d be Ayase.
: Now we can finally leave the school.
: “There’s a reason it’s said that one’s youth passes quickly.”
: “That Nanjo pisses me off so bad… I’ll find a chink in his armor someday.”
: “Masao and Kei are both such children.”
: You’d think we’d be done with the cutscenes, but…
: “Y… Yamaoka…!”
: “Oh, my! Master Kei is leaving the premises with a crowd of friends! I’m… I’m so happy to see this…!”
: “Master… Kei?”
: "Y-Yamaoka! I’ve told you time and time again never to call me that! You dummy!’
: “Did you just call him “dummy”? Hahaha!”
: “N-No, I, ah… Oh, be silent, Masao! Look, Yamaoka, I dont need a ride today! Just… go back without me!”
: “Oh, my! Will you be going out on the town with your chums, young master?”
: I should mention that in Revelations: Persona, Yamaoka is named Alfred. Because of course he is. This actually causes a really strange translation error that I can’t talk about without spoiling stuff.
: “Snrk… Ahahahahah!”
: “Enough! Let’s be on our way, Jihei! Yamaoka… do NOT follow us!”
: Finally, we’re on the world map. There’s other locations we could visit in this section of Mikage-cho, but there’s not much of a reason to right now.
: On the next screen to the East is the Mikage Sun Mall. Like the early SMT games, Persona has way more shopping areas than it ever really needs. The Mikage mall is somewhere you’ll get very acquainted with during the Snow Queen quest.
: Going east again brings us to another mall - this one is the Joy Street Mall. We need to make a stop here on the way to the hospital.
: Just inside the entrance is Judgment 1999, which is a casino. This is VERY, VERY important to the Snow Queen quest, but we don’t have any real business here on the main route.
: There’s also a very mysterious store that anyone who has played a Persona game before would recognize. Unfortunately, it’s locked right now.
: Our actual reason to come here is for this place: the Yin & Yan convenience store. There’s at least three of these in Mikage-cho: a standalone near the school, one in the Mikage Sun Mall, and one here.
: Inside is Reiji’s mom, who we need to talk to in order to continue finding him.
: We need to answer yes to both of her questions.
: North of the Joy Street Mall is our actual destination: Mikage Hospital.
: “Best not to be idle, after all.”
: “Heh… cold, man. By the way, Maki’s in Room 302.”
: “You’re pretty well-informed, Masao.”
: “Uh… shut up! A friend of mine told me! Yo, Jihei, let’s just go already.”
: Before we go up to visit Maki, there’s a few NPCs we can talk to in here. The only one with anything interesting to say is this guy.
: Wait, what? I think if I was seeing a little ghost girl and fake stairs, I’d probably be a little more freaked out than that. SEBEC is a major employer in Mikage-cho - in fact, we passed their building on the way to the hospital.
: There’s also this mysterious old man who is totally not Yamaoka.
: In true Shin Megami Tensei style, the hospital has both stairs and an elevator. This was a recurring thing in the early SMT games, where you could often skip half a dungeon with the elevator simply because there was nothing on certain floors.
: None of the doors in the hospital are labelled, but all of the doors on the third floor are locked except for Maki’s room.
: “Jihei… you all came… thanks…”
: Meet Maki. Maki is our last possible party member, and also has anime disease. They have to keep her in the hospital or she’d collapse into an anime singularity.
: “You’re so thoughtful, Masao.”
: “What do you mean?”
: “I told Masao I wanted to see everyone when he was here last time… isn’t that why you all came?”
: “… Yes, it is. How are you? Have you been feeling okay?”
: How much do you want to bet she’s talking about Philemon?
: “He’s like a father…”
: “Like that doctor? He seemed nice.”
: “…I don’t like him…”
: “Did he do somethin’ to you!?”
: “No, that’s not it… I just… don’t like doctors.”
: “She’s not my mom! She cares more about her job than me! She doesn’t care about me at all…”
: I feel like if Maki got isekai’d into Ni no Kuni 2, she’d probably fit right in.
: All of a sudden, Maki starts clutching at her head in pain.
Next time, we’ll get to some actual gameplay in a scene very reminiscent of Shin Megami Tensei 1.