Mark Danced Crazy - Let's Play Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

If you look back, it’s kind of a miracle that we ever got any of the good Shin Megami Tensei games localized in the West, let alone the later Persona games.

Up until the release of Persona 1, Atlus had been making the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series, known for being a Wizardry clone that was just as hard and dickish as Wizardry itself: the early SMT games hated you for playing them and would do anything in their power to make you stop. Somewhere along the line, Atlus realized that this was a problem. No one wanted to play a game that effectively required a guide (or hours upon hours of trial and error gameplay) to finish.

Megami Ibunroku Persona (the original title for Persona 1) was supposed to be a way of fixing that: a spinoff with lower difficulty that more people were likely to finish and that could largely be played without needing a guide every step of the way. In a lot of ways, Persona 1 is a direct successor to Shin Megami Tensei: If… which takes a single mechanic from SMT If (namely the “guardian spirit” mechanic) and turns it into an entire game… though actually it’s more like three games.

The first was the original Japanese release, known as Megami Ibunroku Persona: Be Your Own Mind, which was later re-released on the PSP as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. SMT: Persona is the real localization of the game, with an accurate translation and very few changes made from the original Japanese script (and most of those changes are references to other SMT games that were added in for the PSP version).

Then you have what Atlus decided to localize as the debut for Shin Megami Tensei in America, which was released as Revelations: Persona. It was… not great.


Apart from giving all of the characters western names, Revelations: Persona (as the original PSX release was called) was heavily censored and had half the game stripped out for no apparent reason. This is also the version that Sony decided to release on the PS1 Classic, which is part of the reason the PS1 Classic flopped as hard as it did. We will not be talking about or acknowledging the existence of Revelations: Persona in this LP, apart from a few of the memes that made it into the PSP re-release.

A side note: this LP is going to be done on an actual PSP Go, with no savestates or rewinding or any of that other bullshit. This is to keep the LP as genuine as possible, and also to avoid shit like that SMT 1 LP on the archive where the LPer abused savestates to do things that would be difficult to impossible to pull off on real hardware.

If this goes well, I’ll also probably do Persona 2 Innocent Sin, which also does not have an LP on the archive.

(Excuse the fingerprints, I only use this PSP in composite output mode with a wireless controller).

I also decided that what I’d do is upload my saves for Snow Queen, so that people can try the Thanatos First run for themselves. They can be found right here.

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9_2iVBrO_400x400: Welcome to Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. The game has its own background art on the PSP’s home screen and everything.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The PSP version has a new intro movie that plays at the title screen, and oh look I actually got it into the first update the first time for once.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: They also added a “movie mode” to view the new cutscenes once you unlock them.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There are technically two game modes in Persona 1: the main game and a side game called the Snow Queen Quest that is only questionably canon. As we’re doing the main game first (which I haven’t done before so I have that much more motivation to do it) we’ll be playing on Normal. I highly, highly recommend doing the Snow Queen Quest on Beginner and also not doing what I did and doing it first.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: My dreams are still haunted by memories of YIIK, so at this point being a butterfly would be an improvement.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: If you know anything about Persona 2, you’d know that the butterfly is an important symbol in both Persona 1 and the Persona 2 duology. Zhuangzi is a book about Daoism from ancient China.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Welcome to an empty classroom. While the blue-haired figure in the center may look a bit like the protagonist from Persona 3, that’s actually who we’re playing as.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Pretty much everyone who is going to be in our party at any point in this game is in this room right now.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Every character in this game has a nickname, which I think is something that was in the original Japanese release. The game will refer to them by their nicknames from here on out. Mark is one of the only characters not to have his name changed for Revelations: Persona.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Brown here was nicknamed “Brad” in Revelations: Persona, and really the only Brad in any RPG should be Brad from LISA.

Mark: “Alright… you’re on. I’ll bet you an all-you-can-eat dinner at the Peace Diner on Joy Street.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Ayase is the sole reason I’m playing an undub version of this game rather than the standard US release. Her voice is godawful, though the only real voiceacting in this game is in battle.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Elly is the Mitsuru or Yukiko of Persona 1, though definitely not capturing the “best girl” status that Yukiko enjoys.

Mark: “Are you guys serious? Yo Kei, Yukino! Who’re you guys going to side with?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Yukino is the only character in this room we won’t be seeing for a long time. She’s a central part of the Snow Queen quest, but barely shows up in the main game.

Mark: “Ugh! You guys are so cold, y’know? Hey, who’re you with? It’s gotta be me, right?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: And here we have our protagonist. Unlike the other Persona games, the protagonist in Persona 1 does not have a single canon name. In the game manual for the PS1, he’s referred to simply as “Boy with an Earring”. The manga used “Naoya Toudou / Naorin” and the official novelization refers to him as “Jihei Suzakin / Jay”. The most common fan nickname I’ve seen for him is Donnie Darko.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: It doesn’t really matter what we pick here. A lot of the later dialogue options do make a difference, up to and including who winds up coming with us later on. For reference, I just hit “Bet on Mark”.

Ayase: “Aww! Just wait… you’ll be sorry!”

Brown: “Heeheehee… this’ll be fun! Awright, let’s get started!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Who do you think you are, Jack Frost? Get the hee-hell out, ho.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: It’s hard to tell without seeing it in motion, but they’re basically doing the equivalent of the “stand in front of the mirror and say Bloody Mary” thing. Ayase, Mark, Brown and Elly are in the corners, and walk counterclockwise to the corner opposite them.

Ayase: “Umm… Persona, Persona! Please come here!”

Brown: “Hurry it up! All-you-can-eat! All-you-can-eat!”

Mark: “Okay, okay… Persona, Persona, c’mere… I guess.”

Ayase: “Hidehiko! You jerk! Now I look like a total idiot!”

Mark: “See? A fat load o’ nothin’. Hehe… looks like I win.”

Brown: “W-wait! Hold up! One more time! Please!? Mark screwed it up! C’mon, you gotta take it seriously when you do it!”

Mark: “Oh, you little…! What a sore loser.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: All of a sudden, there’s… what looks like a little girl standing in the front of the room. Nanjo is the only one who notices.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You can’t see it, but there’s lightning arcing out of the lights on the ceiling.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Well, shit. We got hit by lightning before we could even name our protagonist, and now we’re seeing… yellow butterflies. Surely, that’s not a symbol or anything.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I’m going to do an entire update on who Philemon is immediately after this one. Persona 4 Golden has an excellent primer on him, but I can’t capture video off my Vita and that primer takes like an hour to watch.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: So, what’s our name? We need a last name, a first name, and a nickname. You can use any of the canon ones, or make up your own.

Naoya Toudou / Naoyin
Jihei Suzakin / Jay
Yuuya Narumi / ???

I’ll take votes until tomorrow, and if I don’t get any I’m absolutely naming him Donnie Darko.

I’ll try to avoid the usual John Persona joke by suggesting you go with Jay.

The first time I played through Persona 1 (well, the Snow Queen quest at least) I thought Philemon was something that the writers for Persona had made up. As it turns out, I was wrong, mostly because I didn’t know about Jungian psychology.

Persona is heavily based on the works of Carl Jung, who invented “analytical psychology”, which is basically what happens when you combine one part science with six parts mysticism, pseudoscience, and also probably schizophrenia.


The concept of Philemon probably came from Jung reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has a story in it called Baucis and Philemon about an old couple who take a disguised Zeus and Hermes into their home when none of their neighbors would and are rewarded by watching all of their neighbors die for the crime of not letting the gods in for dinner.

Anyway, back to Jung. Carl Jung was very into recording his dreams, to the point where he kept a number of journals chronicling them. One night in 1913, he has a dream about an old man with bird wings and bull horns who flies around with keys in his hand. Carl Jung immediately decides that he needs to draw this so that everyone can see it.

Honestly, flying around with a handful of keys sounds like something you’d see Danny DeVito doing in an episode of Always Sunny.

[Image Credit: Philemon Foundation]

Jung names this guy Philemon, and from this point on spends the next several years writing down every single thing that happens to him in something called the Red Book, which Wikipedia tells me was not actually published until 2008 due to interference by Jung’s estate (probably because it makes him look fucking crazy). This is when Jung develops his entire theory of analytical psychology, at a point where even he was pretty sure that he was schizophrenic.

Philemon kind of evolved from a strange dream figure to what Jung called an archetype of the collective unconsciousness: if you’ve ever played any of the Zero Escape games, that’s basically what the “morphogenetic field” that makes everyone psychic is. Jung’s theory on the collective unconsciousness is something along the lines of there being these archetypes that guide the development of the self, and that can’t be seen or understood except through imagery and metaphors and shit.

Among the archetypes is something called the “Wise Old Man”, which is basically what Jung assumed Philemon was - the archetype appearing to him in a dream through imagery. A lot of movies and other media have kind of latched onto the whole archetype thing: there are charts out there showing how Star Wars (at least, the original ones) and Harry Potter are largely based off Jung’s archetypes.

Anyway, that’s my explanation of where the name comes from. Whether the Philemon in Persona has anything to do with Carl Jung’s crazy old dream man will have to be seen.

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I think I’ll go with Naoyin.

Neat. I own this game on PSP, but I kinda find it hard to play. Maybe if it’d come out in its unaltered form back when I was in high school I might have gotten more into it. Or not, I had more tolerance for grinding but was extremely bad at actually beating games back then. I read a bit about Revelations: Persona in an old gaming magazine (I want to say GamePro) back when it first came out, but could never actually find the game, which was probably for the best.

As for naming, let’s go with Jay, just so he doesn’t overlap with the antagonist of the original Devil Survivor, which I played long before this game.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Well, it looks like Jihei Suzakin / Jay won the poll, so let’s go with that.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Saeko: “I’m sorry you had to deal with my students, Natsumi.”

Mark: “C’mon, taking care of students is her whole job! What’s so bad about us…?”

Saeko: “Now, now, Masao! I want you to think about what you’ve done!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: School rules strictly forbid the summoning of Lucifer, or any kind of mental duplicate thereof, on school grounds.

Saeko: “Anyway, Eriko and Ayase told me what happened. No helping out for you today!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Yukino: “So you think there’s something wrong with us, too?”

Saeko: “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.”

Yukino: “So there is something that can faze you, Ms. Saeko. Alright, we’ll go.”

Mark: “You mean Maki, right?”

Saeko: “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.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.


9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s also this weird glowing pink plant in the corner.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Mark: “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.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We’re not, but this gives us a very important clue: there’s an open room on the second floor.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Mark: “Huh? Reiji…? You’re Reiji Kido! What’re you doin’ here?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Nanjo: “Hmpf. The standoffish sort, I see.”

Mark: “Look who’s talking.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Here, we want to talk to the only NPC in the room.

Mark: “Haha! ‘Hooligans’? Seriously? What a poindexter!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now we can finally leave the school.

Nanjo: “There’s a reason it’s said that one’s youth passes quickly.”

Mark: “That Nanjo pisses me off so bad… I’ll find a chink in his armor someday.”

Yukino: “Masao and Kei are both such children.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You’d think we’d be done with the cutscenes, but…

Nanjo: “Y… Yamaoka…!”

P1-Yamaoka: “Oh, my! Master Kei is leaving the premises with a crowd of friends! I’m… I’m so happy to see this…!”

Mark: “Master… Kei?”

Nanjo: "Y-Yamaoka! I’ve told you time and time again never to call me that! You dummy!’

Mark: “Did you just call him “dummy”? Hahaha!”

Nanjo: “N-No, I, ah… Oh, be silent, Masao! Look, Yamaoka, I dont need a ride today! Just… go back without me!”

P1-Yamaoka: “Oh, my! Will you be going out on the town with your chums, young master?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Yukino: “Snrk… Ahahahahah!”

Nanjo: “Enough! Let’s be on our way, Jihei! Yamaoka… do NOT follow us!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s also a very mysterious store that anyone who has played a Persona game before would recognize. Unfortunately, it’s locked right now.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Inside is Reiji’s mom, who we need to talk to in order to continue finding him.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We need to answer yes to both of her questions.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: North of the Joy Street Mall is our actual destination: Mikage Hospital.

Nanjo: “Best not to be idle, after all.”

Mark: “Heh… cold, man. By the way, Maki’s in Room 302.”

Yukino: “You’re pretty well-informed, Masao.”

Mark: “Uh… shut up! A friend of mine told me! Yo, Jihei, let’s just go already.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s also this mysterious old man who is totally not Yamaoka.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Maki: “Jihei… you all came… thanks…”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

Maki: “You’re so thoughtful, Masao.”

Nanjo: “What do you mean?”

Maki: “I told Masao I wanted to see everyone when he was here last time… isn’t that why you all came?”

Yukino: “… Yes, it is. How are you? Have you been feeling okay?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: How much do you want to bet she’s talking about Philemon?

Maki: “He’s like a father…”

Yukino: “Like that doctor? He seemed nice.”

Maki: “…I don’t like him…”

Mark: “Did he do somethin’ to you!?”

Maki: “No, that’s not it… I just… don’t like doctors.”

Maki: “She’s not my mom! She cares more about her job than me! She doesn’t care about me at all…”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I feel like if Maki got isekai’d into Ni no Kuni 2, she’d probably fit right in.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: 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.

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Not only is it white text on a white background with not a lot of black border it’s also slightly fuzzy on my screen so it’s blurry white text on a white background.

I’m sure it’s all very symbolic something something difficult to understand something work for enlightenment.

It did make sense with like here and the mall in SMT1, but yeah, silly 3D maze stuff.

Good to see this game being LPed, didn’t age the best but there’s some real good fond stuff with the PSP version I had.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I swear they made this specific moment in the cutscene so people would make memes out of it.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s going to be a bit of a blur on these next few shots. That’s because the screen is shaking and there’s a loud rumbling noise in the background. There’s also a new piece of music:


9_2iVBrO_400x400: I apologize if I spoiled the cutscene a few seconds in advance, but whatever.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Nanjo seems awfully brave for a guy who seems to need a butler to take care of everything for him.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You might think we’re exiting the hospital, but as the top-left indicates, this is the second floor of the hospital.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Apart from Yamaoka, this is extremely similar to the hospital sequence in Shin Megami Tensei 1, which is also full of zombies. Also, Yamaoka appears to be dead. What is it with me and LPing games where a character gets introduced and dies not even five minutes later? Looking at you, Ni no Kuni 2. At least Nanjo doesn’t have a goddamn breakdown.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I’m also kind of surprised that none of the zombies are trying to eat him yet.

Nanjo: “Y… Yamaoka…?”

Nanjo: “Yamaoka! You bastards… how DARE you?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We’ve now entered our first battle, and with it we get Persona 1’s main battle theme:


9_2iVBrO_400x400: The lyrics to A Lone Prayer might as well be gibberish, given that they sound like words completely different from what they actually are. There’s a few places out there with the lyrics and most of them are wrong, but the ones on the Megami Tensei wikia are (probably) correct.

Mark: “How the hell are we supposed to fight somethin’ that’s already dead?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We’ve got Personas now, though we’re not actually in control of the game yet: this is just to show off the fact that we’ve got them.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Seimen Kongou is probably the least garbage starting persona in that he only has one weakness out of the common elements (that being Electric), but his skills aren’t great.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Ogun is absolute trash in this game, which is remarkable given that he’s actually a mid to high tier demon when he’s in the mainline SMT games. With a weakness to most of the common elements, his only saving grace is that he can learn gravity skills… by which point we’ll have traded him in for something better.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Similarly, Vesta drains fire (meaing she heals from it) but is EXTREMELY weak to almost everything else.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Aizen Myouou is easily the worst starting persona of them all. He’s 2x weak to every form of physical damage, and has pretty trash elemental resistances.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: For that tutorial battle, everyone not only gets a free persona rank up, but also gains a level. You’ll notice that we’re distributing stats like the mainline SMT games. This is because Persona 1 splits stats into two groups: physical (which comes from your character) and magic (which comes from your persona’s stats). We’re mostly going to be focusing on Agility and Dexterity with our MC.

Nanjo: “Right, Yamaoka?”

P1-Yamaoka: “You’re a fine Japanese man… and a man must stand on his own someday. It seems that this… will be the last service I can provide for you.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I apologize for not using the portraits for this, but the site is fucking with the alignment on my images. I tried to work on this last night and it wouldn’t even let me upload anything. I’m thinking of just taking this to SA.

Nanjo: "Of course… of course I will. When that time comes, you’ll see. So until then – "

Nanjo: “Yamaoka? Hey…! Answer me… I’m begging you… Yamaoka!”

Yukino: “Nanjo…”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Thank god I just remembered the soft hyphen thing. Having to type ALT+255 between every line of dialogue is going to kill me.

Mark: “Let him alone. Hey, Jihei… could you hear their voices? That thing said it was me.”

Yukino: “I heard it too. Think it was that whole Persona thing?”

Mark: “It said it would lend us power, so I doubt it’s hostile. If we’re lucky, maybe it’ll listen to what we tell it.”

Yukino: “That’s how it felt to me, too. I have a bad feeling about this. Let’s go.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s a bit more optional dialogue and if this editor ever unfucks itself I’ll go back and add it in. We’re now in Mikage Hospital’s second floor, and random encounters are go.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Doesn’t take long before we get one, either.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Here’s our first actual encounter, against three Zombie Boys and three Zombie Girls. They’re largely identical stat-wise. You’ll notice that we have a couple of options. Let’s do the Undertale thing and talk our way out of this fight, just so I can show what happens.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: As in the mainline SMT games, each enemy is part of a “family”. They also have their own personality traits. Unlike SMT, negotiations in this game are not random. Each of our party members has four negotiation options.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You’ll also notice that there’s a moon tracker and a mood tracker in the top-right and top-left, respectively. Doing certain actions in negotiation will add to one of the moods and cause it to start filling up the square. Each demon has a particular action or set of actions it likes, so there’s a correct answer for each one. Filling the square entirely gets you… something.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Getting the “Happy” or “Scared” bars all the way up will usually cause the enemy to either give you something, which can be a bit of EXP (which does not count toward Persona levels), an item, or money. In this case, only Jay gets that 73 EXP. It is very, very hard to keep all of your characters in the same place EXP-wise. In my opinion, this beats the hell out of having every demon ask you for booze.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Yukino is better equipped to handle the Zombie Girls, so let’s let her handle this.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: As you can see, some demons have unique dialogue when negotiated with.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I honestly want to see Atlus remake Shin Megami Tensei 1 in VR, so that every time one of those stupid 80s zombies asks me if I’m a devil buster I can just pull my machinegun and blast them in the face.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: As you can see, the problem with negotiating is that we get no experience out of it. Typically, you want to keep negotiations to a minimum unless you’re doing it to recruit.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There are a bunch of rooms we can go into in the transformed hospital. A lot of them just contain save points: Atlus added a bunch of them in the PSP version, mostly in rooms that were empty on the PS1… except for where it’d matter, like in the Snow Queen quest.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We just picked up some equipment, so let’s take a look at what we’ve got.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Yukino has the best weapon of anyone, as it hits all enemies in a pretty large radius.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Mark also has an axe he’s apparently been carrying around this entire time.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Nanjo and Jihei both have the same equipment: basically nothing. This might seem bad, but due to the way Persona 1 handles physical damage it’s actually not.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Just down the hall from the room we were in, I got into another random battle. Because we were still in the New Moon phase, the Pixie in the back decided to try and reason with us right off the bat. Persona 1 is sort of like the mainline SMT games in that moon phases effect negotiations: New Moons make demons more likely to talk to you, while Full Moons make it harder (but not impossible) to negotiate.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: That thing in the middle is a Poltergeist, which is really annoying due to it exploding when it gets low on HP. The explosion hits everyone for a pretty high amount of damage.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: To get back out of the hospital, we have to first head back up to the third floor, because for some reason the part of the second floor that we were on doesn’t have access to ground level. See that pink thing on the minimap? That’s a save point.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Here’s another encounter that I hit on the stairs with a new enemy: a Slime. If you’ve played any of the SMT games, you’ll know that Slimes are not usually something you can negotiate with due to their membership in the Foul family.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I tried to recruit it, but wound up making it angry. If the demon asks for health, it’s usually better to just kill them.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: If you screw up a negotiation, there’s a good chance the demon will give you a status debuff that stops you from negotiating for a few turns.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: On the third floor, we pretty quickly pass the hallway where the party was when the earthquake hit.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I also got Nanjo to bribe a Poltergeist with a Life Stone, a low-level healing item that demons will sometimes give you in negotiations. We got one off that pack of female zombies that Yukino dealt with a bit ago. Unlike the later games, successfully negotiating only gets you a spell card, not an equippable persona.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We can only hold 12 spell cards, and some are far more important than others. I’m not going to do a Persona log thing like I did for the starter personas because we haven’t actually acquired Poltergeist yet and probably won’t, because just about all he’s good for is fusion fuel.


9_2iVBrO_400x400: Oh, right. Remember how I said Persona 1 has a strange way of treating physical damage? If you look at the top row of resistances, you’ll see 12 different boxes. Each weapon type in this game has a resistance specifically for it, so you can get into strange situations where an enemy is completely immune to rifle bullets but not to bullets fired from an SMG even though that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Just like in the cutscene, the ICU is gone. I think this is how you found out if you were playing the PS1 version.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: On the way out of that hallway, we get attacked by some Zombie Nurses. They’re basically slightly stronger versions of the zombies we’ve already fought. I grabbed a spell card off them, but I don’t even remember if you can use them as a persona or not.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Just down the hall from the dead end is the 3F Nurse’s room, which has some useless items (more QQ Helmets and a Dis-Poison, which cures poison) in it. Most of the enemies in this area drop QQ Helmets and I think by this point we had more than enough to outfit everyone.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Finally, we reach the stairs going down to the part of the second floor we can use to actually exit the hospital.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We have another random encounter shortly after getting off the stairs - a Preta, a demon that’s been around since SMT 1. Naturally, we make friends with it in the only way we know how.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Since I forgot to mention it earlier, recruiting a demon to the party requires raising their “Eager” emotion until it fills the box. This may not always be possible depending on who is in your party.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This update’s getting a bit long, so we’ll just save here (this is a save room) and continue on to the first floor and the rest of the main game route next time. Hopefully next time the editor will stop being garbage.

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It’s really hard to tell from Yukino’s sprite but I’m guessing she uses a straight razor?

Also I’m guessing Mark just having a battle axe prompted the “Yusuke has swords at the mall” cutscene in 4.

I wish more games let me ignore random encounters so hard they leave.

Hey now, don’t go knockin’ Lone Prayer’s… garbled english. That song is wonderful.

Yukino is actually using a throwing weapon of some sort - all of her weapons do the “thrown” damage type, so I’m assuming she’s carrying a set of kunai or something similar.

Shin Megami Tensei 1 has something even better: if your protagonist has a high enough luck skill, half the demons you run into suddenly become drunken old guys who ask you if you have any alcohol. I got confused as hell by this because there are bars in SMT1 where you can ostensibly buy alcohol (you actually can’t because your party is all underage) but really it’s just a luck check. The alcohol-loving demons are in fact probably the best way to farm money, because you can just give them some booze from your infinite stash and they’ll give you money for it.

I just now realized I forgot to post the actual lyrics to it, so:

For the longest time, I thought they were saying “Live in valid memory, spirits of consciousness” and also “ready for the bridge to nowhere” which made me wonder why a game from 1996 was referencing the infamous Alaska bridge to nowhere project.

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9_2iVBrO_400x400: Once you reach the first floor, it’s pretty much a straight shot to where we entered the hospital from.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Just like the mainline SMT games, if you run into an enemy you already have the spell card for and try to negotiate with them, they’ll just leave. Unlike SMT, this doesn’t fuck our alignment up.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: And here we are, back in the 1st floor lobby. That nurse there looks like she’s having a bad time.

Nanjo: “We haven’t time to waste here, Jihei! It’s too late for her, but not for us!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: It’s funny to me that Nanjo is positioning himself to be this game’s “chaos hero” while Yukino is the “law hero” when usually Atlus plays the whole “punk is chaos” thing straight.

Mark: “Yo, Jihei! The monsters are just around the corner!”

Yukino: “Don’t give up! I could really use a hand, Jihei!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: So, remember how I said that this game doesn’t have an alignment system? It doesn’t, but it has these choices instead. We want to answer all of these in a certain way for reasons that will become important later. For reference, we want to pick the top option.

Mark: “It’s no good! They’re coming!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Oh no, it’s two zombies that the MC could actually get to fuck off just by talking to them because we have their spell card. Oh, and Elly is here.

Elly: “Oh, my! There are demons here too?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There are two things I find incredibly funny about this. The first is that Elly has taken Nanjo’s position in the front row, and the second is that he’s telling her to get back when she has a weapon and he doesn’t.

Elly: “No worries! I may not look it, but I’m a rather capable fencer.”

Yukino: “Eriko! This is no ordinary enemy!”

Mark: “Sheesh! That girl’s crazy!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You have to love how in the manga, Elly is just straight up Sailor Jupiter. Nike is basically a straight-up better version of Aizen Myouou: she’s completely immune to all elemental attacks, and while weak to physical attacks takes less of a penalty than Aizen does. Nike also has a feature none of the other starter personas have (at least, from what I remember): if we somehow run into an angel-type persona while Elly still has Nike equipped, Nike will actually do the negotiations for us.

Yukino: “Eriko? Hey! Are you okay?”

Elly: “Nike… the archetypal portrayal of Christian angels… it’s me… and I’m it…”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Someday, I hope someone makes a Persona fan game where one of the characters just has Gritty as a persona and this fact renders them incapacitated for the rest of the game.

Mark: “No good. She’s completely gone.”

Elly: gasp “I-I’m sorry… I’m all right. I am an angelic bringer of victory! From now on, you have my protection!”

Mark: “…You idiot. We can do it too.”

Elly: “R-really? So I’m not the only one who was chosen…”

Nanjo: “Eriko… you dreamt of the butterfly, didn’t you?”

Elly: “How do you know about that? I’ve seen it quite often in my dreams… ever since I played the Persona game.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I don’t quite understand what she’s going on about here. As far as I can tell, this is still the same day: they summoned the ghost girl in the school, got zapped, and then went to the hospital.

Nanjo: “Just as I thought. That dream must be the cause of the phenomenon.”

Mark: “That aside, why’d you come here? Is it like this outside too?”

Elly: “Yes… there are demons everywhere. And it’s impossible to leave town. I looked everywhere, but it seems that the school is the only safe place.”

Yukino: “Oh? The school’s safe? Let’s go back there, Jihei.”

Mark: “What!? Dude, why didn’t you say so before!?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: As you can see, the nurse presumably made it out. We also now have our fifth party member - this game gives you a total of five, though for some reason I swear I remember having six in the Snow Queen route. Whatever. Anyway, it just now occurred to me that I severely fucked something up and had to restart the game. Remember how we were recruiting Reiji? Yeah, turns out all that has to be done BEFORE you go to the hospital and I missed some steps.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: What you’re supposed to do is that once you’ve talked to Reiji’s mom in the convenience store, you go right to the casino because of course that’s a logical thing that people would do.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We now get a clue as to where Reiji is, and this is the last time we have to talk to him before going to the hospital.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Reiji is in an abandoned factory south of the Joy Street mall.

Nanjo: “Hm…? Masao, is he one of your ‘crew’ as well?”

Mark: “Say what!? Huh…? So you’re the dude with the scar on his head… what’re you doing here?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I should probably mention why we’re even bothering with this asshole, since we’re pretty close to the point where we decide what route we’re going on.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The reason is that for the main route, we have a few possible party members. We’re required to take four: Jihei, Mark, Nanjo, and a fourth who we’ll meet shortly. The fifth character can be one of either Brown, Elly, Ayase, or Reiji.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The Snow Queen route is a bit different. There, you’re required to take Jihei, Ayase and Yukino. The rest of your party is two of Brown, Elly, or Nanjo. Therefore, to see everyone, we’ll be taking Reiji on the first route and Brown and Elly for Snow Queen.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I then remembered as I was recording the second run that I never showed off how combat actually works. Combat takes place on a grid, and each character can only hit certain spots depending on where they are in the formation.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Yukino is our best attacker right now, because she attacks everything in the giant box that is her range.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I also found this room, which is on the opposite side of the first floor from the entrance. The doctor here will heal the party for free, and the box contains a couple of healing items.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We’re now out of the hospital and back on the world map, which has different music:

Music Let The Butterflies Spread Until The Dawn

9_2iVBrO_400x400: My favorite part of Persona 1 is how all of the music is totally incomprehensible unless you’re looking at lyrics for it. Anyway, you’ll notice what appears to be a wall of vaporwave around the town, which keeps anyone from leaving.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The first thing we want to do is go south to where the Joy Street mall and SEBEC building are. You’ll notice that there are two red icons near SEBEC. Against all logic, we need to go there.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Naturally, Reiji is here. For some reason.

Mark: “Huh? Oh, hey, yeah, it’s Reiji. What’s he doing here?”

Mark: “That dumbass! He’s gonna get himself killed!”

Mark: “Hahaha, sorry to butt in. This guy’s not all there upstairs, you know? C’mon, blockhead. Time to go.”

Mark: “Sheesh, what is that dude up to?”

Nanjo: “So even you’ll lend a hand to others… interesting. I wouldn’t have thought it.”

Mark: “Idiot! Even guys like him have moms… she’d be sad if he got gunned down.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Thankfully, we’re now done with Reiji and Reiji-related bullshit for a while.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s a few new enemy types out on the streets, where there are now random encounters. Unfortunately, due to the whole split level system, we can’t recruit some of them.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We do, however, pick up a Nacht Kobold. Like most of the early Personas, they’re pretty much useless except as fusion fuel - their stats aren’t great and while they heal off any elemental magic they have a 2x weakness to physical.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Elly told us that Maki’s mother was at the shrine, so let’s head there.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Yes Elly, focus on the butterfly and ignore the woman bleeding out on the floor right next to you.

Yukino: “Hey… is it me, or is there something strange about this butterfly?”

Mark: “Wh-what’s up with this thing?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Oh look, it’s our good buddy, Old Man with Keys. I’ll write out all his dialogue because yeah, white on white was not the best design decision Atlus ever made.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: “We meet again, my friends.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: "Are you used to your personas now?’

9_2iVBrO_400x400: “As you have seen for yourselves, events are moving in an unexpected direction.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: “Only those with a strong will are capable of stopping the flow that has gone awry.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: “From here on, a number of paths will present themselves to you. Down each of them, you will witness the karma of those you meet.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: “But whatever path you choose… remember that the choice was yours and no one else’s.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: What he’s trying to do there, by the way, is give you a hint about the Snow Queen quest. You’ll see what the trigger for that is, and it is… another design decision that isn’t great.

Nanjo: " ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’, evidently."

Elly: “To be present for another once-in-a-lifetime event… how magnificent!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Maki’s mother looks a lot like Rachel Maddow.

Mark: “H-Hey! Did you forget about Maki’s mom here?”

Yukino: “Lady? Are you okay?”

Nanjo: “This is a gunshot wound. Who did this to you?”

Nanjo: “Kandori!? The president of SEBEC?”

Nanjo: “A device… and you’re saying this machine is causing the changes?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: So yes, at its core, Persona 1 has essentially the same plot as Shin Megami Tensei 1. In that game, Stephen Hawking winds up summoning demons as part of a teleportation experiment.

Elly: “Oh dear… the police station is already overrun with demons. I just came from there.”

Mark: “…How did you escape, ma’am?”

Yukino: “Lady! Whew… she only passed out. We have to get her to the school, quick!”

Mark: “You handle this, Jihei. I’ve got business to take care of.”

Nanjo: “Wait, Masao. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I’ll come with you. Remember, you won’t be able to get near Kandori without this card.”

Yukino: “H-Hey! …Tch. Thanks, guys. C’mon, let’s go back to the school ourselves. Honestly! Men never think about how the ones they leave behind feel.”

Elly: “Those two do have a similarly reckless temperament. Well, I’m sure they’ll give up and come back once they see the place.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Gotta love how Philemon will heal us for free, but not Maki’s mom. Anyway, the school’s right down the road. We want to head right there because with just Yukino and Elly, fights become much harder to win without devolving into a 10+ minute autobattle slugfest. I should mention by the way that SMT: Persona has probably the best autobattle system I’ve ever seen in a JRPG.

Saeko: “You’re all safe? Oh, I’m so glad…”
Saeko: “Oh? What happened to her…!?”
Yukino: “We’ll tell you later! We need to get her to the infirmary, quick!”
Saeko: “You’re right. Jihei, I want you to come with me to the infirmary! Yukino, Eriko, I want you to head to the passageway to the gym. Yuka and Yuko are there plugging up the hole in the wall. Please help them out!”
Yukino: “Right… gotta keep the demons from getting in. Will do!”

Saeko: “So that’s what SEBEC is up to, huh…? I can’t believe them!”
Saeko: “Hey, Jihei? Sorry to ask, but… could you go to the hole and ask Yukino and the others not to fill it up? Masao and Kei might have to come back through there.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The passage to the gym is at the corner just behind the infirmary.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now, we COULD talk to Ayase and her friend there… or alternatively, we could go to the gym where we’d have no reason to go unless we were doing Snow Queen. I should mention that rather than calling what we’re on the main route, I’m going to use the real name for it: the SEBEC route.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Anyway, behind the gym are a bunch of club rooms.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The club rooms have some equipment in them that we won’t be able to come back for, so I grabbed it.

Ayase: “I tried to stop her, but of course she doesn’t listen. Talk about trouble…”
Ayase: “Is there really a passage that leads outside of town?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Yuko’s portrait and character art look like they were done by someone making an RPG maker game. It feels like the kind of thing you’d see in Exit Fate.

Ayase: “Hey, if we block this thing up, is that really gonna make us safe? Huh? We’re not blocking it up anymore? Uh… is that okay?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The split between the SEBEC Route and the Snow Queen Quest is kind of poorly designed, in that it’s this one single choice. The top option puts us on the SEBEC route and will send us to the police station after Mark. The bottom option immediately puts us on the Snow Queen Quest without any possibility of going back to the SEBEC Route.
Ayase: “It’s like, impossible! Don’t do it!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Wait… what the shit?

Ayase: “Huh? Is… is that you, Maki?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I feel like this could absolutely be a line in the script for The Room.
Maki: “What’s wrong, Yuka?”
Ayase: “Woah… like, something’s seriously wrong with her, Jihei! There’s no way Maki would be that cheerful!”
Maki: “Huh? Yuka…? Hey, when did that hole show up? Ohhh, I get it. You made it, didn’t you Jihei?”
Ayase: “See? It’s totally not like her! I mean, wasn’t she in the hospital?”
9_2iVBrO_400x400: Oh, I get it. Johnny in The Room was like that because he had some kind of horrible anime disease, and now Maki has contracted the same thing. Also, what is it with characters named Maki and having the black/red color thing going on?
Maki: “Yuka! I’m going to get teed off if you keep saying that. Do you WANT me to be hospitalized?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Actually, that’s kind of a good point. I’m pretty sure all of the mainline SMT games (I know SMT1 and Strange Journey do it) have a part where a human gets merged with a demon.
Maki: “C’mon, Yuka, quit picking on her! Although… is something different about you today, Yuko…?”

Maki: “Oh, come on! Don’t you start talking nonsense too, Nanjo! What’s wrong, anyway? Why are you so bent out of shape?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This right here is why Mark is only in the SEBEC route.
Nanjo: “He mentioned getting weapons, so I went with him, and then…”
Nanjo: “Normally, I’d leave him. Unfortunately, he has the security card… I’ll need your help to rescue him.”
Maki: “Demons got Masao!? We need to save him, Jihei!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Ahh, here we are. Persona 1 and 2 have a system that Atlus dropped for the later games and only kind of brought back in Persona 5. If you’ve ever played any of the first three SMT games, you’ll know that physical attacks are fucking useless - they do no damage and need major stat investment to really begin to do anything. Guns, on the other hand, require no stat investment and often hit multiple enemies (or all of them) at once. This is still somewhat true in Persona 1.
Nanjo: “It seems it can be quite draining to invoke one’s Persona. Masao became exhausted after repeated use. That’s how they caught him. But forewarned is forearmed. Don’t forget to equip these.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Here’s Jihei with all of our stuff equipped. Thankfully, the game automatically unequips people who leave the party, so we got Elly’s rapier to use instead of nothing. The rapier might look like it does more damage, but the Scorpion SMG hits up to three enemies to the rapier’s one. The only reason we don’t want to use the Scorpion on everything is because some enemies (particularly the zombies we’ve been fighting) are immune to gun damage. I also have to question why a police department in Japan would have a Czechoslovakian 9mm SMG sitting around.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Nanjo gets an M16A2, which… is actually probably the least farfetched of all the guns we’ve gotten for a police department to have.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Finally, Maki gets a Russian-made Tokarev pistol. If you’ve played Persona 5 (or Smash Ultimate), this is the same gun Joker starts out with.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s also a bit of an oddity if we look at everyone’s Persona, in that Maki doesn’t have one. As soon as we step back out of the hole in the wall, though…

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I had horrible goddamn flashbacks to YIIK when I saw this.
Nanjo: “…This is hardly the time for jokes.”
Maki: “Excuse you! I wasn’t kidding.”
Nanjo: “It’s… a public service that maintains societal order. In this case, it refers specifically to the service’s headquarters.”
9_2iVBrO_400x400: I feel like he’s giving her too much credit.
Maki: “Oh… I think I kinda remember now?”
Maki: “Whoa! What’s with the gym back there? When did they rebuild it?”
Nanjo: “That happened while you were hospitalized. It’s been complete for roughly six months… you couldn’t have known.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: And this is the part where we find out that Persona is actually a sequel to Harvester. You always were a kidder, Nanjo.
Nanjo: “Jihei… does she seem to be suffering from amnesia to you? In her condition, she’ll only be a hindrance.”
9_2iVBrO_400x400: For once, I feel like Chaos Hero here is right and we should just dump her to be eaten by zombies.

Nanjo: “Maki, don’t do anything foolish!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: It’s blurry because of the motion, but Maki goes up to whip the demon and misses.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Maki’s Persona is the closest thing to a Persona 4 or 5 starter Persona in this game. It’s weak only to fire (and even then just barely) and has resistance to all other elements.

Maki: “Persona… the soul’s power. It’s another me, huh?”
Nanjo: “It’s Latin for mask. It’s the root of the word Personality.”
Maki: “So there are angels and demons within people’s souls? Is that it?”
Nanjo: “That’s a poetic way of putting it, yes.”
Nanjo: “As one fights fire with fire, it seems we’ll fight demons with demons. I don’t know the reasons for it, but it should certainly prove useful.”
Maki: “Okay, if this is what we have to do, let’s do it! Let’s root out the source of these demons and get our town back!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: As I was saying earlier, this game’s auto-battle system is kind of amazing. You’ve got a whole bunch of options here: the first one has the party repeat whatever their last action was, while “set actions” lets you set a specific thing for each character to do.

Next time, we’ll go into the police station and find Mark.

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This unironically could have happened in P5, and P5’s made it clear that it can and will happen some day.

Man, Maki is… way more obvious about what is going on when the translation isn’t shitty.

I’m fairly certain that it’s implied that Brown, Yuka, and Elly have all played the Persona game before and encountered the weird apparition, and possibly Philemon. They just haven’t gotten their Personas until now. It’s why Brown was so adamant that Mark was doing something wrong during the opening sequence.


“There’s a barrier around the city and demons have shown up.”

“Cool I’ll get my submachine gun.”

Suddenly they seem less like Typical Anime High Schoolers and more like the Wolverines.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Here we are at the police station, which is a dungeon in and of itself.
Nanjo: “Er… yes. Masao should be detained in the prison cells, Jihei. But we can’t access that section without a key. What to do…?”
Maki: “They might have left it somewhere. Let’s see if we can find it.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The key is in a locker behind the desk, because this is Persona and not Resident Evil.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The first floor of the police station is about as straightforward as the hospital was: there’s one clearly correct path and a bunch of dead ends you can see coming thanks to the minimap. Not that I’m complaining: we’ll see a lot of the egregious SMT 1 style bullshit map design in other places.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The egregious SMT 1 bullshit difficulty, however, is largely still in place. The police station sucks for several reasons. First, we have the weakest Personas in the game. Second, we’ve only got three party members. Third, the enemies here are slightly higher level than we are.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: To make things worse, the guns you start with do nowhere near enough damage to actually kill anything. The game basically expects that you’re going to be spamming magic like crazy. The bird monsters are a new demon type called Ba, and the green gremlin-looking thing is a Leprechaun. Unfortunately, we’re too low-level to negotiate with them.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I then game overed trying to leave the police station to heal, because I left guns on auto and fought a Preta (which we could kill in one hit at this point) and Pretas reflect gun damage.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Another random encounter with some new enemies: the Ghost in front and the Ukobach to its right. Again, we can’t really do much with these apart from kill them, though Ukobach is particularly annoying because it likes to spam a group accuracy down move. Most of these random encounters are long and boring, to the point where I eventually set animations to “skip” mode just to cut down on how much time I spend in them.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: All of this constant spell spamming makes our party’s Personas rank up pretty quickly. I realized now that I never explained how rank works, so here it is. In Persona 1, Personas do not level up. Instead, they “rank up” a maximum of 8 times. Each rank up adds some stats and gives them a new spell. How fast they rank up is determined by their “affinity” stat - which means you always want high affinity as a lot of personas start out without any damage spells.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Afancs are another very common enemy in the police station, and they are the worst thing we could possibly be fighting. They’re weak to ice, but have a skill called Water Wall that makes them absorb ice damage. This basically takes Maki out of the fight, though they’re weak to her handgun. They also resist wind, which makes Seimen Kongou borderline useless.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The first floor is mostly just a loop around that save room across from where we came in.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Upstairs, we run into what I believe is the last type of zombie enemy: the Zombie Cop. Like all zombies, they’re immune to gun damage, but Zombie Cops are extremely weak to most elemental attacks. Nanjo can actually be useful for once and instantly kill them with Hama, which in this game does light damage and has the added side effect of instantly killing undead enemies.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The second floor is a little less straightforward. As soon as we leave the stairs, there’s two paths to take - that third one is a clear dead end.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The left side is another dead end, but at least we know where the stairs are now.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The right side has a save room at the midway point, and then leads us right to the stairs. Like the hospital, we basically just did a loop to get to the other side of the 1st floor.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This time, all we have to do is walk right up to the door to the prison cells.

Mark: “You won’t get away with this!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Brown is here somehow, and this is part of why the Snow Queen half of the game is only questionably canon. You’ll understand more once we leave the police station. It’s also kind of weird that Nanjo wouldn’t know that Brown was there, given that he was there when Mark got captured.
Brown: “We should play nice for now and… huh?”

Maki: “Huh? Hidehiko’s here too!”
Nanjo: “Hah. A cage suits this monkey.”
Mark: “Nanjo, you dickweed! What took you guys!? Wait a sec… Maki?”
Brown: “Hey, it’s you guys. Ohh… I get it… you missed me that much, huh?”
Maki: “Hey, Hidehiko? Why were you gonna play nice with us?”
Brown: “Urgh…”
Nanjo: “Most likely, he mistook us for someone else. Fortunately, we’re on your side. Isn’t that good to hear, Hidehiko?”
Nanjo: “But tell me… why are you here, too? We thought only Masao had been detained.”

Brown: “So I came here looking for some, but I ended up getting caught with Mark!”
Mark: “Shuddup, Hidehiko! Just… shut up!”
Mark: “Maki, why’re you here? It must’ve been a long trip. Are you feelin’ okay?”
9_2iVBrO_400x400: The manga beats you over the head with it almost immediately, but Mark is definitely attracted to Maki.
Maki: “C’mon, Masao, why’re you joking around like that? I’m totally fine!”
Mark: “S-so I see… Okay, then. Anyways --”

Mark: “Look, Baldy, this is goin’ too damn far, even for a joke. I haven’t done anything!”
Nanjo: “Wait… something’s wrong! Masao, they’re–”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This is yet another one of those Persona awakening cutscene battles where we don’t do anything. Thankfully, this is the last one unless Reiji gets one.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Just like in the hospital, it cycles through everyone using their Persona automatically to kill the four Zombie Cops surrounding whatever that other demon is. We don’t get to know what it is since it dies in a cutscene.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Even though the sprites are blurry, what he’s doing is casting Bufu on Brown.

Nanjo: “You too, eh, Hidehiko? But why him, of all people…?”
Mark: “Alright, lemme explain it to you. Listen up…”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Brown is a goddamn space cadet.
Mark: “I don’t think he really gets it… oh well.”
Mark: “Anyways, I’m comin’ too, Jihei. I’d be nervous for you guys if you were out on your own.”
Nanjo: “We could say the same about you. You should leave the security card in Jihei’s care, Masao.”
Mark: “Alright… here’s the security card, man. Better not lose that thing…”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We’re not going to let Brown join, because doing that would stop Reiji from joining. This means we’re going to be stuck with four people for a while, which will make the game a little bit harder.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The game really wants us to bring Brown along just to get the fifth party member, but if we don’t get Reiji we won’t see him at all.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Just like SMT, the game makes us walk all the way back. Unlike the early SMT games, Traport isn’t a thing in Persona 1 as far as I know. There’s an item you can buy (at the cost of 10,000 yen, which is around 9 battles worth of cash) to instantly escape, but that’s about a quarter of our on-hand cash at this point.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The real reason we want to not grind here is because of how bad the starter personas are. At rank 4, Seimen Kongou only knows a couple of status spells, which are not nearly as good in this game as they were in SMT 1 where charming a boss was basically a win condition.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Maki gets Dia, the lowest-level healing spell. She also gets Posumudi, which is useless because I don’t think there are even any enemies at this point capable of poisoning us. Rapid Fire is hot garbage.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Nanjo gets Hama and Fist of Fury, a physical skill (which costs SP and not HP in this game). Candy Voice is some status effect trash that I don’t use.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Mark’s Persona is easily the worst skill-wise, because it only has physical skills and their range is godawful. Of all the characters, he’s the most likely to spend turns defending because he can’t do anything else until we get him a better Persona.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Mark’s gun of choice is a combat shotgun, which is good in that it hits all enemies in range but also bad because of its attack pattern and low damage.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: My first thought was to go back to the Alaya Shrine to heal, since it’s free. However…

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s been some major changes to the map. St. Hermelin is no longer in existence - that’s because it’s currently busy being the setting for the Snow Queen quest. Maki will also refuse to let us go back to Alaya Shrine, so our only choice at this point is to push forward to the Abandoned Factory and SEBEC HQ.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The good news, and the game never actually tells us this, is that we can now visit the Velvet Room. Naturally, this also means…

Music The Poem For Everyones Souls

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I’d just like to talk about this music a bit. The Velvet Room song goes by the same name in all of the Persona games, and is pretty much the one musical constant between all of the games. It was changed slightly in Persona 3, but is largely the same song it’s always been. Persona 1, however, gives more context as to why it sounds the way it does - namely that Igor has a pianist and a singer on hire. They even get names in Persona 2: the singer is Belladonna and the pianist is Nameless.
9_2iVBrO_400x400: Sadly, though, it’s unlikely that they’ll continue to use Poem for Everyone’s Souls in the inevitable Persona 6, as Igor’s Japanese VA died several years ago and Atlus will probably replace him with a different character.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Unlike the later installments, Personas in this game have to be equipped twice. The first time adds them to a character’s Persona list, and the second time actually equips them as the active Persona. One major upgrade over SMT is the addition of Guided Fusion mode.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This is Normal Fusion mode, which tells us which Spell Cards we have will fuse. Unlike the later games, we don’t fuse Personas but instead fuse Spell Cards. There’s also no Compendium to re-summon a lost Persona.
9_2iVBrO_400x400: Persona 1 simplifies a lot of things over the mainline SMT games. Fusing two demons of the same family (Grave with Grave for instance) used to produce an elemental that could then be fused with another demon to get a demon one tier higher. P1 got rid of that. I’m not entirely sure what all the arrows mean, but I’ll look them up at some point.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Guided Fusion mode works in reverse, telling us what Personas we can make using the cards we have. At this point, I think the main character was Persona Level 10, so there wasn’t much I could make. So I did a little grinding and made this. Interestingly enough, the main character in the Persona 1 manga actually uses Airgetlam at one point so even though there’s no official artwork for him in P1, I can still make a Personalog entry.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Airgetlam is a pretty solid early-game Persona. His resists are much better than Seimen Kongou’s, as are his stats. Earth damage isn’t really better than Wind, but it’s still damage.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: For Maki, I went ahead and made Ame no Uzume, who isn’t all that much better than her starting Persona except she has better skills…

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Also, those fucking resistances! Ame no Uzume gives no fucks about magic, and is weak to three out of the eight physical damage types. The only thing to worry about is Curse, but by the time that shows up we’ll have moved on.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Nanjo doesn’t have any really great options for a few more levels, so I got him a Jack Frost because even that’s less bad than his starting Persona.

You might notice that I didn’t get Mark one: that’s because Mark doesn’t really get any Personas with good or best affinity until Level 17. Next time, we’ll go to the Abandoned Factory and start busting up SEBEC.

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I don’t remember where I heard this, but doesn’t the Velvet Room have more than one song playing?